Firstly I wanted to say all of the stories posted here have moved me greatly and I feel this website is doing such a wonderful job in bringing these issues out of the shadows.
I grew up in an abusive household and I guess I didn’t know what a normal relationship looked like. I moved out when I was 17 and wanted to start fresh. I thought that I had finally escaped my abusive past and fallen in love with my Prince Charming.
The first two years everything seemed good. It appeared to me that I was living in a bubble of happiness and I genuinely thought this person was my best friend. Looking back on it I can see that there may have been signs as there were a few instances where he was short tempered with other people but I shook those off because I loved this person completely.
My bubble burst about two years into the relationship when things turned to violence. I remember it began slowly where during an argument he would hold me down or pinch me surreptitiously in public if I said the wrong thing. Then one time he threw me off of our bed and began to kick and hit me. I was in total shock. There was no apology. There was no recognition of what had just happened. We both just walked around as though it had never happened. I mentally blocked it out as best I could because this was the man that I had broken my virginity to, this was the man that I loved, the man who loved me.
Similar incidents began to occur with greater frequency. I remember he launched at me and smacked my head into a cupboard when I was arguing with him about watching pornographic material. I believe this caused me concussion because I was in a lot of pain and very dazed and confused and all I wanted to do was sleep. He was very clinical about it and said that I couldn’t sleep because if people have concussions then they can die so he kept me awake for half an hour. It has always puzzled me why he did that. Was he afraid I would die and then he would be charged with my murder? It seems like a very strange thing to be so concerned about after having done the act itself.
Another time I was having a huge panic attack and shaking all over and he began to punch me so that I would stop. He punched my stomach repeatedly. I said to him I felt like I was dying and I just remember him saying, “you’re not dying” and punching me as though in his mind he was just trying to make me see reason. I felt like I was the person in the wrong and that he was just doing the right thing by calming me out of my panic attack. Its strange how we can be made to feel that things are out our fault.
Another time he flipped me over on the bed and began sinking his nails into my neck and as I struggled to get up he pushed me back down. I remember wondering whether my neck would snap; whether it was a reasonable or unreasonable fear I don’t know. I just remember feeling very afraid.
I recall countless incidents after that of being throw across the room, attempted strangulation, blood nose, blood lip, bruises, scratches, being thrown out of my chair and being denied the ability to contact a therapist. I can see now why he didn’t want me to speak to a therapist because he was worried perhaps that I would report him. It seems the more depressed I became the more the violence continued, he even ripped a number of special items of clothing and one necklace while it was on my neck which he had given to me.
One of the final counts of violence was when I was at his house. I was surfing the net and I think I must have had a cup-of-soup in one hand. I had brought up the number for a psychologist. He came behind me to see what I was looking at and seeing this he flipped me from my chair and the soup fell all over me and scalded me. He didn’t say sorry and he didn’t help me clean myself up. At times I asked him why he did these things and he said that it was because I made him do it.
I found the entire experience incredibly dehumanising. Perhaps the greatest blessing in disguise was that he ended up ditching me for another woman (I sincerely hope he never hurt her). However, I was finally free as I don’t think I would have known how to free myself I was that deeply entrenched in that world. My whole reality was altered. I suffered with deep, deep PTSD after the relationship broke down and was even hospitalised with severe symptoms.
Since then I have rebuilt my life and I am proud of how far I have come and what I have achieved. I am writing a law honors thesis on a legal issue to do with domestic violence. I intend for the exercise to be healing and to propel me in my journey, which I hope will ultimately be one that helps other survivors.
Despite the fact that I hear so many tragic stories, I do still believe in love. I believe that love can conquer all burdens and wounds. However, I now know what healthy love looks like. I am an eternal optimist.
It may not seem original
Do not ascribe that to my lack of creativity
Or free thought
It is attributable only to the fact
That I am not the only woman to live through this
Far from it
Blame this lack of originality
On our society
And its teachings
And its lack of unlearning
The need for control
I am merely one in four
On college campuses
That has been
Can that even be considered
A minority group
In our society anymore
Can that even be
Like I did.
I had no choice but to.
I had no choice in any of this.
On that word.
A defining factor of yourself
Shoved onto you
Penetrating your self-perception
A black mark
Unwanted and unasked for
Forced onto you by another
And their selfish desires or lack of self control
Somehow it now defines you
Ask yourself.. How fair.
where is our justice.
Being burdened with this word
Let alone the memory.
Breathe it in
Exhale deeply through it.
Center it within your body and feel it’s presence
Weight on mind
Heavy on heart.
Feel the disgust spreading through your extremities
This word is somehow an ugly composition of lines
Or is it tainted with the meaning.
Focus it until you corse with the colors that I did
Mainly the darkness of self-loathing
I want you to feel what that word is
To one in four women on college campuses
Do not look away.
stare at it
It is an ugly word
Only because it is the one of the most despicable acts
One human being can use to inflict on another
While most can barely read the word
Keep looking back at it
Just to make sure its real
I wrote it there
So you couldn't ignore it.
Deal with it for the 3 moments it takes to read this.
As I live with the memory of it
For my entire life.
Do not shy from the connotation that bites painfully into you
You want to
To shelter yourself
To pretend it does not exist
It doesn’t happen
Not to me
Not to my girl friends
No man I surround myself would do that to
My body- that I respect and honor
My soul’s sacred temple
Whose walls could never be graffitied
by such a perverse act.
It just doesn’t happen to me
It doesn’t happen to anyone
Now repeat that
A million times to yourself
And your friends
And your colleagues
Then look up the statistics
Then please contact me
Write to me
Talk to me
Yell at me
Did ignorance change the prevalence of it?
the vile truth
stop it from happening
To another woman
Unwanted physical contact.
over another’s body.
Being the one out of control...
Powerless is not a word descriptive enough to tell you
What I felt that morning
It was the first day of a new year.
that was the first thought I had upon waking.
The first day of a year of days yet to be filled.
hopeful and fresh.
Still naive to the retrospective happenings
That happened right where I was laying as these thoughts came to me.
I woke up in your bed.
Tired after a full night's sleep?
I had thought I had slept in your bed alone.
Residual drag could be blamed on my drunken stupor the night before.
How did I get here?
Last thing I remember was..
Whats the last thing I can remember?
Ball dropping in times square
Countdown… palpable pulsing excitement
Screaming 3.. 2..1..
Happy new year!
that following time period is a sensory deprivation chamber
One I have been in before
One I have come safely out of
In the morning
After empty sleep
Later laughing with friends
Over silly things that I did
I could not remember
But thats what friends are for.
To keep you safe
To remind you of your late night
Innocent in their nature
I went down creaky stairs to find you.
To find out what laughable things I had done.
I had spent new years eve
Out. enjoying time with my friends.
Friend. I was still blind. So you were still this to me.
I find you. I sense…… Nothing wrong
I return to your room. To clothe my body. In something of mine thats appropriate. For the first day of the new year.
I see it. All too suddenly it is laid before me. Shoved into my view.
It has been called the glass slipper of our generation
And it is all the evidence I need. Repulsive. Mind suddenly racing. Thoughts
slurred together, as if the alcohol I’d ingested the night before had suddenly
come back. And ruined my ability to think clearly.
Any contents it held had long ago leaked onto the wood of your bedroom like a
It drowns me
But no memory
Of the previous nights happenings
See I thought we had an understanding
Maybe you were hopeful, we had made out a few times but 2 weeks prior
I explicitly stated
We are just friends
Sorry if this disappoints you I just don’t feel that way for
Is that not my right?
I have to know
Because it couldn't have happened
There is no way in hell.
This really does not happen to people
At least it doesn’t happen to me..
But in a few questions
you confirm my worst fear
And I resist throwing up on your bedroom floor.
Has to be given to someone
What other target
I was the one who got me drunk
So drunk I fell down at the party
So drunk you had to carry me home
Like the good friend I thought you were
You laid me in your bed.
And then apparently laid down beside me
And proceeded to have sex with me.
To then believe my drunken agreement that
I want it
Give it to me.
My drunken consent
Its no consent at all
How can you justify that it was agreed upon by us both
When you remember ever ongoing
And I was told of it by the used condom still laying on you floor
Would you even had told me if I hand’t asked?
What gave you the idea
That you could get away with this
it was okay
I was clear thinking enough to give you permission
Even tho you carried me home
my drunken state had no effect on my ability to consent
Even though I couldn't even stand at the party
That I wanted it even though I had told you I had no interest
When I was sober
Well tell me
Which bullshit excuse to validate your actions was it?
You gave me $40
To pay for a pill
Composed of chemicals
Which I do not agree with putting into my body
Under normal circumstances
But had to
Because I cannot have a child now
So you paid me off
I felt used
Even more worthless, as if this money was to be a compensation, a fix-it, an eraser of what happened, of what you’ve burdened me with.
As if a fertilized egg was the only burden.
I was not, in that moment
Even worth that $40.
But it was my fault
Because I got drunk
And trusted him
Sitting in my car, Repulsed to still be next to you
But hiding it , Because I would not be unkind to you
When this was my fault.
One in four women
May have believed At some point afterwards
That they asked for it
In the way they dressed, in the way they acted, in the way they flirted
Because thats what you are taught.
I want you to scream NO.
Whisper it at first.
Then scream it at the top of your fucking lungs
And put some heart into it.
Because it is time that every single person
Not just one in four women
Not just women
You did not ask to be raped
The only blame to attribute is to whomever defiled your sacred temple
Without your permission.
One in four
is no longer a minority.
One hundred percent of this
Can no longer be ignored.
And do not let that word distract you.
It is not how I perceive this
It is no minor event
No part of this is minor
One in four is too many
One is too many
So read it again
As many times as necessary
To see how ugly it is
I pray that you
You won’t do it
Because every woman
Deserves to wake up
To a fresh day
Or a new year’s first morning
Without having to live every day on
With the memory
that she has been
Once upon a time there was an idealistic little girl. Her parents had separated when she was 6 years old and her mother moved on with a new man. This man did everything he could to ruin the idealisms of this little girl and her two brothers for many years. He used his words, his fists, his strength & his authority to try to tear them down. This little girl was me and this is one piece to my story.
Years passed and I started to change into an idealistic young lady. One fateful day when I was 12 years old, I came home to find that the house was empty for my stepfather and me.
I had been in the house alone with him many times before, but lately I was growing more and more uncomfortable. It had started a few months prior, innocently enough. He would ask me to sit on the couch and watch TV with him.
He gradually began to ask me to lie down and cuddle with him. Caught somewhere between a little girl wanting to feel close to a father figure and a young women terrified to anger an abusive man, I obliged.
However on this particular day, our cuddling took a turn that I would never be able to erase or brush off.
“Come lay with me,” he said. I began to walk over, quietly saying “okay.”
As I started to lie down in my usual spot beside him, he grabbed hold of my hips and lifted me onto his body. He held his arms tightly around my wrists with his hands resting on my lower back. My legs were left to dangle between his legs and my belly rested on his.
I could feel his arousal hard against my leg, although I barely registered what that meant at the time. He began rubbing my back and stared at me.
“Do you love me?” he asked. “Yes, of course,” I said. As mean, abusive and hurtful as he could be, he had been a father figure in my life for nearly 6 years and we had shared some happy memories as a family. He seemed pleased with my answer and rested for a moment.
Taking a deep breath and looking noticeably nervous, he looked up at me again and said, “Kiss me.” I leaned down and gave him a quick kiss, no different than I had done many nights at bedtime for many years.
He laughed lightly and said, “no, kiss me like you kiss your boyfriends.”
Not fully understanding, I leaned down and kissed him exactly as I had before and said, ‘that is how I kiss my boyfriends.’
This was true, since I had only had one or two boyfriends at this point and had only made it to holding hands and chicken peck kisses.
When he realized that I wouldn’t or couldn’t give him the kiss he wanted, he looked upset. Sensing and fearing a shift in his gentle approach, I quickly told him I had a lot of homework to finish and that I needed to get started.
He hugged me to him again, then pulled back and asked, “Do you still love me?” I said yes again. I didn’t want to anger him.
This level of confused intimacy, with gentle kisses and caressing, carried on for 3 years before I had him arrested for physical abuse. I never told the police at the time about the sexual assault. It would take me 2 more years before I ever shared it with a few close friends and I was nearly 20 years old before sharing the details with my mother and father, at the suggestion of a therapist.
Although the acts never escalated too much more than his arousal and some physical movement with clothes on, his kissed became more determined and he would hold me tighter against him. As I grew older, I became more aware of the inappropriate nature of these moments. I grew increasingly distant while it would take place, abandoning my body to fend for itself as my soul went to somewhere better.
Looking back, I often wonder what he was taking from me saying that I still loved him. I still wonder if he would have pushed the sexual acts further if I had fought him off with more force and aggression. The fear of what could have happened & the memories of what did, cast a small shadow in my resilient idealistic nature.
I haven’t spoken more than a dozen words to him since he was arrested. I wish I were brave enough to confront him. To tell him that he didn't ruin my life. He overshadowed many good memories for nearly 10 years of my childhood, but I get the rest. I have a wonderful life and he is just a mean old bastard living in the same small town. I win.
I am happy. I am loved. I am endlessly idealistic.
More of Crys's writing can be found online on her blog Ideally Speaking
and on Twitter
When I age 5, I remember my dad hitting me for no apparent reason. I was forced me to hide underneath furniture (like the dining room table) for safety. My mom always looked on and never said or did anything when I was attacked. At the age of 8, it got so bad that I moved in with my grandparents (my mom's parents). In the fall of 1985 (when I was 9), my Grandma died from cancer and I took care of Grandpa and household duties the best that I could. I felt Grandpa's House was my safe haven. Grandpa told me that he would always protect me and that I would be safe at his place. He died in 2003.
But before that, when I was 15 in 1990, while visiting my parent's house my dad bit me in my left shoulder. My mom covered the attack by putting me in the hospital saying I was depressed and "mental." She promised the violence would never happen again, but it did. The staff wanted to put me in foster care and I wish I had taken them up on the offer. But my mom begged for me to not to enforce child abuse charges against her and my dad because she would lose her government job. She was the sole financial provider at the time and encouraged me to speak to the staff to discourage charges and foster care. So I did what my mom requested, and I greatly regret it. In 1997, my brother followed my dad's footsteps and attacked me in my apartment, threatening me with a knife. Due to my mom's and brother’s police connections, the charge was dropped to disorderly conduct.
In 2011, I moved into my childhood bedroom with my then fiancée and my dog due to avoid being homeless due to the harsh economy. In Nov of 2011, we got married. My family did not acknowledge our marriage. We never received a congratulations card or a wedding gift. About a month later on the day before Christmas Eve, my life changed forever and will never be the same. We both were attacked, and my mom looked on and said or did nothing again (just like the last 30 years). I physically witnessed my dad attempt to stab my husband in the side with a screw driver, and my brother attacked me, slamming me down onto the living room floor while threatening me by waving a blue handled knife in the air. Worse, we had just learned a few days earlier that I had gotten pregnant on our wedding night.
Christmas Eve arrived and my husband and I were in jail falsely arrested because of my Mom's political connections and my brother's friends on the police force covering things up for him. The charges against me were dropped and I was released on the 24th. The charges were reduced to two disorderly conducts for my husband although he was innocent. He sat 30 days until I could afford to make bail. I had to sell my wedding ring and confirmation rings to make bail of $500. We missed our first Christmas and New Years together as a married couple as well as his birthday in January.
I worked for my Mom's business for over four yrs. Because I had called 911 to report the attacks, she fired me on Christmas Eve after she picked me up from jail. (I had no record with the law only a $10 seat belt violation in the last decade.) I was forced to spend my Christmas Eve homeless alone while my husband was in jail as an innocent man. My frozen tears were attached to my face like ice. It was in the 30's outside and I was leaning against the gas station wall for warmth. Had to leave our dog behind and come back for her. Cars drove past me and did not acknowledge me outside freezing. Then one man stopped to gas his SUV up and asked if he could help. He looked a lot like my husband. On December 26th with a sprained ankle I walked approx 5 miles to the nearest taxi pick-up to be taken the the next town 10 minutes away. There I was greeted with a bus driver (the old high school football coach) who knew my late aunt and my late cousin. He drove me another 10 miles away from where I was attacked so I would be safe and shared his great memories of Shirley and Oscar.
It was then that I realized that my late Aunt Shirley was my Guardian Angel. She opened the doors for me to reach safety against all odds. Her late parent's church paid for my hotel room although my grandpa and step-grandma have been dead since the 1980's.
In May 2012, is when a piece of me died. During a routine ultrasound, the doctor said our baby had no heartbeat and that I would have a miscarriage. In June, I went to my primary doctor about a month after my miscarriage because I was not feeling right. They took a urine pregnancy test and told me to come back in a month. In July, we relocated out of state for a fresh start and for safety reasons. (I even got a PO Box and a prepaid phone to guarantee our safety.) I was rushed to the ER where they discovered via an ultrasound that our baby still was inside me. They had to do an ER DNC surgery because of the toxicity.
Since August, my Mom has made attempts to have a relationship with me via email, phone, and text. She has not shown any compassion for our loss as of this letter, asked for forgiveness, or showed by her actions that she's sorry about giving the violence towards me a blind eye for nearly 30 years which recently cost us the life of our baby. I doubt she ever will. I am disconnecting our phone number and will get another and will continue to use my PO Box.
This is my heartbreaking story. I may never see justice for what was done to us nor be able to hire an attorney for damages. But what I do have is my life and a great husband that loves me unconditionally with all his heart. It doesn’t matter if I have a dollar to my name. He loves me just the same.
Dedicated in loving Memory of Aunt Shirley, Grandpa Ralph, and our friend Doug for being there in spirit during my most darkest hours and guiding me to safety when I needed help the most.