Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Part Of Me
I had a discussion the other day that really bothered me. It didn’t start out as a serious discussion. It was more of a “How old were you your first time” discussion. Then someone dropped the “R” bomb.
One of the girls who was participating in the discussion said that her “first time” was when she was raped at the age of 19. She then commented again that she was raped a second time at the age of 21 or 22.
This was extremely disturbing to me. It really started the wheels turning in my head and I thought back to all of the discussions that I have had with other women in the past.
If you are a girl, you already know this, but just in case you aren’t I will break it down for you. Women talk about past sexual history – good and bad.
When I think back to all of the women that I have talked to where the subject of sex abuse or molestation has come up, I can remember only 2 that have definitively told me that they have never been molested or raped (this includes date rape).
What kind of world am I raising my son in where only 2 out of many women haven’t been harmed in a sexual manner? Unfortunately I am not one of those two.
I was 10 years old when my cousin, Ben, and I were hiking by an elementary school and he held me down and raped me. At the age of 10!!! He was 16 or 17. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time because I felt all of the classic feelings like it was my fault or that I did something to cause him to hurt me. I hadn’t even had a menstrual period or hit puberty. I was in 4th grade.
We were going to family counseling because my parents were going through a divorce when I disclosed to my therapist what had happened. She told me that I needed to tell my mom and I did. All I have to say is that my mom freakin’ rocks. She reminded me of a valkyrie running head on into battle. It didn’t matter to her that she wasn’t handling the situation quietly like was suggested by Ben’s side of the family. He had hurt her little girl and there was no way that she was going to allow them to sweep it under the rug.
My mom called the police and my cousin was arrested and charged with sexual assault. I had to go to the police station and pick out a drawing of what my cousin looked like naked. They were basic anatomy drawings and were depicting different ages. That was really disturbing for me and I still remember it vividly.
The hardest part of the entire situation is that my father did not believe me. It was his sister’s son who raped me. His favorite nephew. Since my mom and dad were getting a divorce it probably was a difficult time for him as well, but for him to deny it broke my heart. I had always been a daddy’s girl.
I was too young to go and testify in court, but they used my police interviews as evidence. Ben eventually admitted what he did for a plea deal and was sentenced to probation and counseling. My aunt and uncle had begged the courts to go easy on him since he was a first time offender.
I wish that I could say that he never re-offended. I wish that the court system actually protected the innocent and future victims. But it didn’t work. The next time he molested a 4 year old little girl that his girlfriend at the time was babysitting.
I was still pretty young when that happened and to be honest I don’t remember what the outcome of that case was. What I do know is that he ended up paying dearly for what he did.
I have forgiven Ben for what he did to me. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to tell you about it now. I wouldn’t be able to move on with my life.
It is sometimes cathartic to tell others about my experience. It helps the scars fade even more. Sometimes I don't even remember that they are there.
A couple of years ago I was talking to my Aunt. Ben's mom. She asked me to forgive her. She said that she knew that Ben had done what I said he had but that she thought that she could help him. She said that she knew that she was wrong and that she was so sorry for causing me more pain. I was her favorite niece and for a long time she was in denial that Ben would ever hurt me that way.
At first I was angry. Why did it take her so long? Didn't she know that her betrayal hurt me too?
I did forgive her and after I said the words a weight that I never even knew was there lifted off my shoulders.
I know that I have scars that will never completely be healed, but they have faded with time and have helped mold me into the person that I am today. I am a stronger person today then I probably ever would have been without being violated.
It is a strange dichotomy when you almost want to thank the person who harmed you the deepest. Because without the pain, I wouldn’t have had anything to overcome. I wouldn’t be me.
At the age of 30 Ben died of a heart attack in his bedroom. He died alone. I am sure that he felt that terror of being helpless to stop what was happening. In the end he received a little taste of what he inflicted on others.