“I dont know how to heal.”

imfine
Testimony by Vina L.
My story is not a short one. Like all the other stories, it is also not an easy one to tell. My story begins when I was 16, though the horrors started long before then. I was in love for the first time, with my first boyfriend. He was from Scotland. He played bass and his dad was in a band. He was totally cool, and cute, and I felt so lucky. He came to visit during my spring break and I showed him everything about the US that I could, while he told me everything about Scotland. I was still incredibly shy about boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. We hadn’t even started holding hands yet when he grabbed me and kissed me. I guess that was my first warning, but I was too overwhelmed to be see the signs. Later, he told me that his dad said I was very “well-endowed” while giving him a thumbs-up. That was my second sign, but after a lifetime of being bullied I was happy to take it as a compliment. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could go back in time and slap myself and make myself understand how dangerous my first boyfriend turned out to be. He wanted to kiss me everywhere. I always felt awkward about PDAs but he forced me. He would constantly pick lint off my shirt because he needed “his girl” to look perfect. The first time he abused me was in a dark theatre. I don’t even remember what movie we went to see. I was crying the whole time. All I could remember was how much it hurt because he had long fingernails, and how much I bled and hurt the next few days.  I wish I could say it stopped there, and that my story is over. But it’s not. The next day, while my mother was out, he pinned me against my bedroom wall and kissed me, saying it was time to have sex. That that’s what people in love did. I panicked. I kept saying no. He didn’t listen. he kept “assuring” me that it was what we needed to do. I said no so many times that the word started losing meaning. Eventually I gave up and let him touch me. The only thing that stopped the assault was him prematurely ejaculating before he could get inside me. The rest of his visit, I stayed in sight of my mother, though my mother was convinced I wanted sex despite our previous sex talks where I firmly stated that I didn’t not want to have sex before I was an adult. That belief, I am proud of myself for, because I never faltered from it. But I knew I couldn’t tell my mother what happened, because she would never believe me. She spoke fondly of him for the next couple years. To this day, 8 years later, she has a picture of him on our wall, though I don’t think she realizes that it causes me pain. I have to stare at it every day now that I am living at home again. I am too scared to ask her to take it down, too scared of opening old wounds. When he left, I saw him off with a heart of stone. Many would assume that the nightmare ended at that point. But it was just getting started. After the assault, I started having nightmares so horrible that I would wake up covered in sweat. I showered a lot in those weeks. And then I remembered everything. I was molested by my uncle as a child. I don’t have an exact age – possibly 4 or 5. He used to babysit me sometimes. He would have me lay on his bed and play SEGA while he would touch me and penetrate me. I remember complaining to him that he made it hurt to pee so much, but he would say that him touching me would make me better at the games. He told me he did it because he loved me so very much. A few years later, my cousin, who was about 4 or 5, started touching me, too. He wanted to feel my chest, though there was barely anything there. He told me that his dad said all boys should touch as many girls as they could. He only touched me once, and I told him it wasn’t okay. I repressed those memories for many years. It took being assaulted to remember. By time I realized what had been done to me, the statue of limitations was long past. And so I kept this knowledge a secret, knowing there was no point in telling anyone. There is one last, bitter chapter in my story of abuse, though this did not happen to me directly. Recently, my cousin (who is 15 now) had been accused of molesting three of his younger siblings. He was charged for one of them and given simple probation. The legal proceedings haven’t started for the other two yet, but I hope he goes to jail. I feel like I need so desperately for those kids to have the justice I never had. The nightmares haven’t stopped since I heard the news about this. I feel partially responsible for not speaking up as a kid. Maybe all of this could have been prevented. But it is pointless to think those things, to blame myself. Maybe there’s nothing I could have done to change it. Maybe my uncle would have gotten away with it anyway. I wish I could have a happy ending to all this, or some way to inspire others and tell them that it will be okay. But it took me until my early 20’s to fall in love again, to learn to trust again, and I ended up leaving him because after years of dating, a controlled, yet powerful sexual desire had built up between us (we both wanted to wait for marriage, him for religious reasons and me because I needed time, and so we respected each other’s wishes). It was beautiful, and everything love should be, but nothing ever came of it because I made up every petty excuse I could find to leave him. He never knew the truth. I’d rather he hated me than know the truth. To his credit, he later opened the door of friendship to me and we remain best friends to this day. I guess that’s kind of happy. I am now nearly 24 years old. After everything that has happened, my heart is truly stone and will not let love in. I do not feel like a survivor. The term “survivor” feels like something reserved for men and women far stronger than I could ever be. Lately I have been tired and unmotivated. I see my friends going out and having fun and dating and getting married and having kids, but I am afraid to go out in public. it takes a lot of mental preparation to leave my house, though I play it off as if I’m perfectly fine. I don’t know how to heal. I don’t know how to not be a victim anymore. I want to be a survivor. I just don’t know where to start.

Her Name was Sophia Marquez

angelswinging

Testimony by Patriarchy Survivor

Two summers ago I was summoned for my first jury duty. Since it was my first time I was a little nervous but my friends assured me that I would just sit around all day and  that my name would never get called. I was in the court house for all of five minutes before my name was called, and I was immediately one of twelve jurors on a murder trial.  I wanted to tell the judge about my anxiety disorder and about the fact that I was a rape survivor myself and didn’t know if I could handle the stress of the trial. But I was still struggling with overcoming the shame of the attack and wasn’t ready to share that story. So I made it on to the jury.

The victim’s name was Sophia Marquez. I can still see her face in my nightmares. I can still see Sophia’s sister crying on the witness stand because Sophia had been raped, strangled to death and left naked on the side of the freeway. The accused had no alibi at all, there was convincing DNA evidence and absolutely no reasonable doubt. The other 11 jurors and myself convicted him of first degree murder during an attempted rape (there wasn’t enough evidence to prove completed rape).

Most victims of sexual assault do not get justice, and it’s horribly cruel that a rape victim (or attempted rape) usually has to be murdered for the criminal justice system to even consider prosecution. If Sophia had just been sexually assault and left naked but alive on the side of the road she wouldn’t have gotten justice. The statistics are no better now than they were in the 70’s, most rape kits just sit in evidence lockers collecting dust, because the police cannot be bothered to investigate them. I am glad that Sophia’s family got justice for her murder, but most rape/ attmepted rape victims will not – their cases won’t even be investigated. And I am angry. I am angry that the district attorneys will not prosecute rapists without media pressure. I am angry that society blames rape victims and forgives rapists (boys will be boys!). I am angry that most rape survivors will not even report getting raped because the police victim blame and slut-shame. I am over this, I want things to change. Women are human beings, and our lives have value. I shouldn’t have to explain this to people, but I do.

Her name was Sophia Marquez, she was murdered during an attempted rape  in Sacramento, CA, and her naked corpse was dumped on the side of a freeway. I will never forget her face, I will never forget her name.

My Two Year Anniversary

intherain

Testimony by Lucy Kidd

This week was the two year anniversary of the last time I was sexually assaulted. This last time was the most traumatic to me for several reasons. First, It was the only one I actually shared with people in my life, second, there were witnesses, third, there was the combined trauma of the sexual assault and the victim-blaming, 4. my attacker wrote a letter of apology to my boyfriend for attacking me (but not to me, because apparently I’m  just my boyfriend’s property), and 5, I had a mental breakdown afterwards and had to quit my job, and 6, because the attack happened in my own home I no longer felt safe there, and 7. I couldn’t sit through a class without having a panic attack, so I had to withdraw from all my classes, even though I was supposed to graduate that semester. With my previous attacks I was able to cope somehow, but not this last time. Not two years ago.

To someone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted, it’s hard to explain the phenomena of the “anniversary,” but I will try.  For some reason, the memories come back in full force – unwelcome and all-consuming. The nightmares of being attacked returned this week as well, the uncontrollable crying, and the intense feelings of anger towards the people in my life who victim-blamed me. There are the feelings of intense shame and humiliation, and the inability to control my emotions.

There are some positive things that came out of my anniversary – it forced me to deal with the fact that I am not yet recovered, that I still have a lot of work to do. I finally had the courage this week to seek out sexual assault counseling.  two years overdue but never too late. I am now able to hold down a job and a loving relationship. These are things I can be proud of.

To the Reader: your input is welcome, so long as it is not victim blaming, slut shaming, or advice on how YOU would have dealt with being attacked. If it’s not your trauma, then you have no idea.