Saturday, November 15, 2008

This is MY story

I start my story at around age 14. Sad, that I can’t remember the exact age, but maybe that’s just for the best.

I had begun attending a youth group in a nearby town. It started off small – maybe 5 kids & the youth pastor. We met in someone’s living room. But then it took off. Teens came from all over to be a part of this youth group. Eventually we grew out of that living room & started meeting in a local church. Our youth pastor was this amazing guy. Maybe 25 years old just got back from seminary in Seattle. At least that’s what I remember. We would meet every Tuesday night… Monday nights were set aside for Christian Skate Night at a local roller rink. Youth group opened my eyes up to life beyond my small little town. I wasn’t the only Christian teen. I heard new music and went on adventures.

B*, our youth pastor, was this really charismatic guy. The kind of guy you wanted to be around. We flocked to him. What you didn’t get at home, you could get from him – love & acceptance. B took us everywhere. If you needed a ride to skating or group, he would pick you up in a huge van.

For a while, I had an interest in writing. I was always writing poems, plays & short stories. Because our youth group was SO large (we got up to 80 teens at one point), I started a newspaper/newsletter. Just about the goings on of group – trips, activities, etc. A few of the other girls from group helped me with it….

I didn’t drive – so B would pick me up & bring me to the church to use their typewriter & copier. It was always a group of us, but this one night, I was the only one who could make it. After finishing the typing on the newsletter, I was cutting out some clip art (yes, actual clip art from a book) to use. I was sitting at the church secretary’s desk working; B came up behind me and started massaging my shoulders. No big deal – right? I was feeling really uncomfortable. I remember getting up & walking around because I was that uncomfortable. It wasn’t just massaging. He would move my bra straps & try to peer down my shirt – but it was all very ‘innocent’. But something in my brain screamed at me. After that, I tried to never be alone with him again.

This was the 80's - the decade of SPANDEX BIKE SHORTS. And yes, B would ALWAYS wear them. Of course, I was so naive to life that I never really noticed how indecent they were.

It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I figured out something was wrong. I knew that I was uncomfortable around B, but never really understood why.

I was walking home from work on Sunday evening. It was spring, so it wasn’t that dark out. I had worked at a local ice cream place. I stopped by my friend’s house on the way home, but she wasn’t there. So I continued the walk home. You’ve got to realize, my town was TINY!!! 1 square mile – or was it 1 mile square. Either way – it was small. I was about a block from my house. It was darker now. Maybe the street lights were on. I was walking and there was someone else walking to. I think he might have crossed the street and came on my side. I don’t remember that well because it has been so long, plus it all happened so fast. He reached out & grabbed my breast. He made a rude comment. I pulled away & ran home. Police were called & about a week later an arrest was made. That incident opened up my eyes to what was going on with B. He was molesting me & MANY other girls in the youth group.

During this whole old man situation (the attack on the street), I also told my parents about B. They did the biblical thing; approached B with my accusations. He vehemently denied them – of course. My parents believed me, so they took the next step. Talk to the elders of the church. Eventually, I was asked to leave the church. Youth group was disbanded & had to stop meeting at the church they were using and I was an outcast. My Christian family deserted me.

I’ll be honest… I hated God. I couldn’t believe that all of that happened to me and I was the one who got tossed. These were God’s people… and they left me when I was hurting the most. They rallied around B – he had a history of abuse which made it acceptable to be an abuser. The worst part – I KNEW I wasn’t the only one. There were about 15 other girls who he was doing this to, but no one would come forward. In fact, those girls made my life miserable. They all blamed me for trying to ruin B’s life.

I stopped attending church by then.. not just THAT church, but any church. I hated God. Just like that. Done.

I coasted through high school with a string of broken hearts. Graduated, went off to college, came back & went to community college. At 19, I was working at The Gap and having fun. I met up with an ex-boyfriend from high school and we went out. I had to go home because I needed to watch my foster sibling (I can’t remember which one we had at the time). I do remember it being toward the end of April. My parents were out & my Grandmother went home. It was just me & D*. A lot had changed at my house since we dated, so I showed him around. My room was moved up to the attic, so we went up there. We started kissing, groping. He told me that he knew that I had had sex with someone & was upset that I wouldn’t have sex with him when we were dating. He wanted to be my first. He said that it belonged to him. Right there in my room, he took off my pants & laid me on the bed. I cried. He sexually assaulted me. Then he left.

A few days later, watching ‘The Accused’ on TV, I started to realize what had happened that night. I had been sexually assaulted. Even though there wasn't penetration, it was still a sexual assault. Still just as damaging.

A year later, I was dating a guy named N*. He was a nice guy. I had been friends with him for a bit before dating and always had a great time. We were hanging out at his mother’s house with his friend, W*; just watching some TV in his room. His mom & brother were in the living room, right next door. At some point, N got up & put a weight in front of his bedroom door. I didn’t think anything of it. The next thing I remember is N & W taking turns raping me. Right now, you’re probably thinking – if N’s mom & brother were in the next room, why didn’t you scream? Trust me, I screamed as loud as I could. They also took turns holding a pillow over my face so I couldn’t be heard.

If I wasn’t angry with God before!! In the course of 6 years, I had been sexually attacked by 5 different guys. There must have been something wrong with me. God must have really hated me. I wouldn’t leave my room, I couldn’t sleep. Things got bad. I was drinking like a fish & having sex with just about any guy I knew; friends with benefits. If I was worthless, I might as well enjoy myself, right?

In 1993 (I was 20), I was looking at some old pictures. I came across a picture of me & The Mayor from when we dated years before (when we were 15). Something inside of me told me that he was who I was supposed to be with. I was going to call him, but chickened out. What if he didn’t remember me? What if he remembered me, but hated me? What if he was married? I did something that night – still not sure why – that I hadn’t done in years. I prayed. I prayed that if I ever had a 2nd chance with The Mayor, I would make it work.

A few days later, I was on the phone with a friend. Something happened & we got disconnected. I hung up the phone & it rang immediately. Figuring it was her calling back, I answered with some rude comment. But it wasn’t her. It was a guy on the other line….. guess who? THE MAYOR! He was on winter break from college and had been thinking about me. He finally got the courage up to call me & got in touch with my dad. My dad then gave him my number. As you could imagine, I was dumbfounded. I just sat there saying ‘Oh my God’ repeatedly.

We went out the next night. I told him all that had happened to me. He needed to know what he was getting himself into. The Mayor loved me IN SPITE of what happened – just like God loves us in spite of what we do!!!

We’ve been together ever since. What brought me back to God? An answered prayer. I’ve learned that God didn’t desert me through all of it…. He LOVED me. It broke his heart each time I was abused. Yet through my anger, He still loved me. That was the beginning of my road to becoming a SURVIVOR.

I am not a rape victim. I am a rape survivor. Those things that happened, yes, they initially broke me. But I am a MUCH stronger person for it. I don't wish any of it on my worst enemy, but I know how good can come out of something SO bad.

*these names have been omitted to 'protect' the identity of the accused.


Lynnette Kraft said...

Wow. Bless your heart. It's so sad that people hold God responsible for man's sinful and terrible acts of violence - but I think that's just a natural response, to blame the One who could have kept it from happening. If only people would run to God during those times realizing that he's the ONLY ONE who can truly make all things right. You know?

Well, I'm so pleased to hear that you can see how God worked through it all - just as in Jobs life and Joseph's life...he's always working things out for good.

Thank you for sharing about God's love and compassion. You're right, every time you hurt, he hurt.

Genesis 50:20 "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..."

Your new friend,

Jeni said...

Wow ~ Wow ~ Wow! As of the cardinal/ladybug thing wasn't enough! I just got through reading your story and as you started to talk about the youth couselor my heart sunk - i knew it wasn't goin to be good AT ALL because. this happened to me with mine! and again with the story of being raped without penetration as you fought him off and then the actual rape!!!! I was meant to find you..... I never talk about these things. I hated God too. I became like you and even drank myself into 3 detox's and 2 re-habs. I am sober 7 years now. I have a husband who loved me through it all - my life is bliss - minus the physical loss of my sister Mary.
I'm so happy i found you and love the amazing synchronicity with your husband and you! What an angel! He was sent to you from God! I too love God now and am loving these signs as you are receiving.... you are a sign!
No coincidences my new friend.
I LOVE Sunflowers too ~ they are my all time favorite!

I look forward to your friendship!

fellow survivor,