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.

13 comments:

Velvet said...

Um, holy crap. He died? Is that lifes way of saying everyone gets what they deserve? Anyway, Christina Aguilera has that song "Fighter" which I believe applies here.

Here's the beginning of the song...

After all you put me through
You'd think I despise you
But in the end, I wanna thank you
'Cause you make me that much stronger

I'd post the rest, but it's way long and the message is the same over and over.

Thomas said...

Does the comedienne's sidekick ever need a sidekick?

Because I might be your guy.

Ashburnite said...

wow....10 years old? Holy shit

I'm sorry you had to go through that...It never ceases to amaze me what people can do to each other.

I'm one of those people who's actually been raped twice- once only a few months ago (attacked while running one evening), and once in college (the guy I was dating at the time slipped me a rufey (sp?) and let his friends have sex with me in exchange for pot). I didn't report either- in college I was too scared and the more recent one I didn't see the guy's face (and he used protection). At least the guy in college (or his friends, rather) were a little more gentle than the guy this summer.

It does amaze me how many women have been through it.

Rachel said...

Velvet ~ He died at a very young age for a heart attack. Karma's a bitch, isn't it?
I will have to look up that song and read the lyrics.
Thomas~ Awww that was sweet. Thanks for the offer.
Ash~ It is scary how prevalent sex crimes are. To a lot of society it is a crime that no one wants to talk about or they think that you somehow deserved it.
Sex crimes are like an insidious poison. It creeps in slowly and eventually takes over.
My biggest fear is that sex crime will eventually become no big deal because it happens so much.
Sometimes I find myself being unsympathetic because if you hear the same story too many times you become immune to it.

Rachel Heather said...

WOW

I am sort of speechless here

I cried by this but it also gave me hope at the same time.

You might not have read my blog for that long but I was also attacked - not raped (I was rescued in time) but I know how being attacked physically (I had bruises and cuts) can make one feel.

But like you, it made me stronger,

Your story inspires me and I wish more women could read it. I know a couple of girls that have been victims of rape as well and I am sending them to your blog.

Bravo for saying it

Erica said...

Rachel, I am really sorry you had to go through this, such a young innocent girl; I hope he felt fear at the end, like he made others feel. You seem very strong and I admire you for that.

Rachel said...

Rach~ I am sorry that you were attacked, but you definitely have an angel on your shoulder to have been saved.
Please, send whomever you want to to my blog. It brings me peace to write about it and maybe it can bring hope to someone else.
Erica ~ I was VERY young and he took my innocence. What he was unable to destroy was my self worth.
Thank you for your kind words.

Funny Girl said...

Wow, Rachel. You are my best friend, and I hate that this happened to you. But you handled the pain so well, using it as a building block, and not an obstacle. The more I learn about you, you the more you inspire me. I hope you know that.

Rachel said...

FG~ You inspire me every day. Love ya chica!!

minijonb said...

"wow" is right... you are a very brave person to be able to talk so openly about this. i guess that shows how you've moved on and made something good out of your life.

Sofi said...

Wow! You are a very brave lady, and your mother is too. I'm sorry you had to go through this. But it seems to me that you carry yourself with grace and dignity, and that is why you were able to overcome and live a happy life.

Rachel said...

mjb~ There are times when I know that the experience still impacts my life, but for the most part I am pretty grounded and don't sweat the small stuff.
I hope that when I do grow up that I will make some kind of difference in a positive manner to others.
Amy~ I am very much like my mother and I am very proud to say that because my mom is awesome. I definitely learned how to deal with difficult situations gracefully from my mom. She is my inspiration.

Dayngr said...

Karma's a bitch huh.