March 10, 2019
Hello friends! Long time no post… sorry about that <3
I’ve been asked by a lot of people to share my story lately, so I thought I would ease some curiosity and share the parts of the sexual assault I experienced that I am willing to share.
This is my trigger warning – I promise it will not be graphic or detailed in any way, but I do want to provide that warning to anyone who may be sensitive to sexual assault/trauma.
Starting at the beginning:
The man who assaulted me I had dated for nearly 3 years – from when I was 18 until I was 21. After those 3 years, we were then on and off again for quite a while.
Looking back, I can see a lot of red flags from that time. Where there were a lot of control power plays going on, but I was just happy to have my best friend back in my life again, so I ignored those important signs.
In June of 2017, we drove with a friend down to California to watch our friends get married and go on a little vacation.
We did have a lot of fun! I got to see the golden gate bridge for the first time and we went to dinners and lunches at some really fun places.
The last day of that trip there were quite a few moments where we were all getting annoyed with each other. We had all been together for almost a week, so it wasn’t really a surprise since that is a LONG time to spend with the same two people.
That night was when he raped me.
The next morning we packed up to drive back to Washington.
I quickly realized I couldn’t remember any details about what happened the night before, but I knew that we did have sex.
I had a few very vague memories. I call them the puzzle pieces of that night. I don’t think I will ever have all of the pieces of that puzzle, but I do now have enough to remember saying ‘no’ multiple times.
On the drive back home I spent most of the time sleeping and refusing to really talk. The times I was awake on that drive I mostly pretended I was still asleep because I was so confused and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to go home.
When I was finally at the part of the drive that I got to be alone I called my best friend crying. I couldn’t give her any details about what had happened and I just kept repeating, “I don’t know.” I really didn’t know what to say or how to explain how hurt and broken I felt.
I’ve talked to him in person twice since this happened. Once was a few days later when we went to the movies and the next time was when he came to pick up the stuff he had left at my house.
My friends and I now refer to this man as R, because in our lives he no longer gets the right to have a complete name. When we talk about times before that night we do use his real name, because that was a different person than he became that night.
Very quickly rumors about me started spreading through our friend group from college. Things about me pushing R to get married and not ‘letting’ him have friends outside of me. In reality, he was the one pushing me repeatedly to get back into a relationship with him and becoming upset with me for talking to my male friends. These stories continued to circulate and still do from time to time. When I’ve asked people where they heard them they are nearly entirely from R himself or from his family. I have 0 intention of asking them to admit it was untrue, but I do hope people who believed those rumors will listen and understand that there are two sides to every story.
I often get questions about why I am so open about what happened.
It is because if I hadn’t heard other women telling their story I never would have been able to identify what those feelings of confusion were in my life.
I spent months completely unsure about what really happened that night. The few times R and I texted and he would mention it I would try to change the subject or hint that I was confused about that night.
A few months later (around November) I started getting the memories back. The first one was that I had said ‘no.’ Slowly I started to remember even more. Those are details that I will not share with anyone, but please understand that it was very clear that I did not want what was happening.
It was around the time that the memories were coming back that I stopped sleeping at night due to nightmares and a never-ending and paralyzing anxiety when I was around people I didn’t know.
Thankfully I had friends in my life who encouraged me to come forward and talk to my pastors at the church I worked for, Open Life. I did and they quickly acted to help find next steps for me. They were and have continued to be endlessly supportive and compassionate to me. Even though I no longer work there I still see a few of them on a regular basis and never feel surprised when I see a text from them. I often find myself emotional just talking about them and their compassion and love.
My pastors spoke with the Northwest Ministry Network and they told us what the next steps could be for me and provided resources of people to call and talk to that had been through similar situations. I was very blessed by the support I received.
I met with the pastors at the church that R currently works for. They asked quite a few questions about what had happened. Questions about whether I had been drugged, what I was wearing, whether or not alcohol had been involved. Then they asked me questions about what I wanted to have happen next. That was not a question I was expecting and not a question I could have appropriately answered. I cared deeply for R, but that makes it impossible to really answer that question – I wanted what was best for him because I still couldn’t see the whole picture of the puzzle clearly. I tried to say that I just wanted him to receive the help he clearly needed, but I didn’t really know what to say beyond that.
I took the steps to try to obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order. I was eventually denied due to being unable to prove what had happened and that it took months for me to regain the memories of that night.
From the time I spoke with R’s church to the time that we received the results of the protection order, he was placed on administrative leave. He is now restored to his full duties as a worship pastor.
The stress of not having that protection left me exhausted from my inability to sleep and began a time in my life where the only real feeling I had was deep anger that I could not seem to manage.
Eventually (March of 2018) I was able to get in to see a doctor. I was immediately re-diagnosed with anorexia, severe major depressive disorder, PTSD, PTSD induced anxiety, and PTSD induced insomnia. I now have about thousands of dollars in medical debt due to medications, therapies, specialists, etc. I have to take 3-4 medications every night just to fall asleep and stay asleep. One of them helps reduce my nightmares, but they are still quite often there.
I go to therapy between one and three times a month to try to reduce and manage my symptoms. I did have two therapists but have recently reduced it to one (trust your gut about your therapists lol).
During July or August of this last year (2018) I thought I had seen R’s car around. I ran into my downstairs neighbor at my apartment complex (one of the most wonderful humans I’ve met since moving to the South Sound) and told them that I was concerned and uncomfortable. I sent a picture of him to all of my neighbors because my neighbor thought they saw R’s car, too. I pretty quickly got a phone call from one of them saying they were certain they had seen him outside of the apartments multiple times. Over the next few days, other neighbors had corroborated that as well.
I moved as quickly as possible. But until I moved I became terrified to leave my home. Thankfully, I was able to find a new home near my work and with a yard for my dog. So while the reason I had to move was awful… it really worked well for us.
There have been a lot of tearful days, a lot of angry days, and even more just CONFUSING days. If you don’t receive help with PTSD it can quickly control your life and your view of the world.
I could easily give you dozens of examples of times that PTSD had controlled my response to something. It often feels like you aren’t making the decisions in your life, but someone else is making rash decisions for you. It’s a very strange feeling to believe that there is nothing in your life that you are in control of – including yourself.
As I’ve regained that control I have learned so much about myself, but I think that’ll be a blog for another time.
I do want to address an aspect of being assaulted by someone who was in your life for years that you did truly care for that it seems not many people talk about…
I still have positive memories of my time dating him. We grew through our early adult years together and made a lot of fun memories along the way. I’m not at all saying our relationship was perfect, but I did love him and in a weird way, I miss that side of him. Those are the times I call him by his real name because those can still be fond memories. I don’t want to ever look back on my late teens and early 20s and feel I wasted them just because of a decision he made later on. He was my best friend for those years and I don’t want to erase that from my life.
This was not an easy write, but I hope that others can find peace in knowing that they are not alone in these very complex and confusing emotions that come along with sexual assault.
You don’t have to be alone in that pain and confusion.
It’s a hard journey to finding freedom and healing, but you have to start somewhere <3