I was 14 years old and invited to one of my first parties. I didn’t have my driver’s license let alone my permit yet so I needed rides to and from the party. There was going to be juniors and seniors there. I remember being so very excited to be invited. I was the only kid in my class invited. I had heard about how fun these parties were. Heck, my older cousin was always there. What could go wrong?
We all drank at the party and almost everyone was drunk. However, it was a cabin that had Foose ball and pool tables. Everyone was either playing card games or pool, foosball. We had the music blaring and just having a good time.
My designated driver was either drunk or had left already, I can’t remember. A guy who was sober was leaving the party when someone mentioned that he drives right by my house on his way home. At this point of the night, I really didn’t care who brought me home. I honestly didn’t care if I just crashed at the party.
I remember on my way home with him, he wanted something in return for the ride home. He kept mentioning he was going to be late for curfew because of me. The actual conversation was fuzzy because one I was not sober and second, it was almost 20 years ago.
I remember him driving past my house and turning onto a dirt road. I remember telling him that he was going the wrong way. He kept driving. It was early in the morning, but still dark. He drove to the little bridge. It had grates on it. He told me he wanted sex. I was a virgin. I just wanted to go home.
He opened the passenger door and drug me out. He pulled off my jeans and underwear. I remember crying, asking him to stop and the pain, so much pain. They say during traumatic incidents, you can disassociate yourself from the experience. I know I did as I still don’t remember much after that part.
What I remember next was that I woke up during daylight back at the party. I felt ashamed. I also thought I can’t go to the police. I’m 14 and was drunk at a party. I don’t want to get in trouble.
My jeans were on backward, unbuttoned and unzipped. There was blood on my jeans. Everyone was asking me how I got back to the party. I honestly couldn’t’ remember. And I was not going to tell them about what happened.
Fortunately, I was able to sneak into the bathroom and fix my pants. It was also the era of sweatshirts tied around your waist, so I tied one around my waist to cover the blood. Everyone was joking and laughing about how I made it back to the party. I made a joke and said I forgot where I lived. I was trying to act normal, but I was dying inside. All I wanted to do was crawl into a dark hole and cry. I won’t lie, I wanted to die that day and many days after that.
My cousin brought me home. It was a Sunday. My mom and I had always gone to a bar/grill to watch the Football game together every Sunday. Almost immediately after I got home, she was chipper and ready to go to the game. I wanted to tell her what happened, but I felt like part of it was my fault. I felt like no one was going to believe me. I was totally embarrassed. So, I put on a smile and my football attire and away we went.
The road where I was raped, was about a 1/8 mile from my driveway. It was also the back road my mom decided to take that day. That was the day my panic attacks started. That was the day I learned what anxiety felt like. As we grew closer to the small grated bridge, I felt my chest get tight and my breathing was short. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt a crushing feeling in my chest. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. I wiped them away as I looked out the window hoping my mom didn’t see. I kept telling myself to keep it together or I would have to tell my mom what happened and why I was crying.
Then, there on the side of the road on the grates, lay my underwear. I remember my mom making some sarcastic type of comment about the underwear. That was the first day of a changed me.
I kept thinking I would go to school and everyone would hear how I gave my V-card to him and I would be named a whore. I had seen it many times before. The guys always bragged and high fived and the girls deemed a hoe.
However, no one ever heard about it. It was this terrible secret he and I had. It had a hold of me so tight. In hindsight, I now know he knew what he did was so wrong and he wasn’t going to brag about it, because he didn’t want to go to jail.
I couldn’t even make eye contact with him at school. I couldn’t even sit near him in the lunch room without having this absolute urge to leave the area. I don’t mean the lunch room only, but the entire school.
The years following this, I was withdrawn from my social circle. I used to be that totally goofy girl that made everyone laugh. I just wanted to get my high school diploma and leave. I also made myself so incredibly busy that I didn’t have time to think about that night. I did multiple sports, many school activities and also drank multiple days a week.
I then stopped eating and going to school. I would sleep for pretty much days on end. My mom thought I had mono. She sent me to the doctor and had them run tests. Everything came back normal.
I started to have full out panic attacks that left me curled up in a ball lying in hallway floors crying and gasping for air. I couldn’t tell my family why I felt this way. I just told them all they came out of nowhere.
At the most inconvenient times, I would get the flashbacks, or I would hear someone say the name of the road or his name and it would trigger the episode. There were times the panic attack would start without any type of flashback or association with the assault.
I was seen in the hospital and the doctor for panic/anxiety attacks multiple times. I was given medication and also sent to therapy to find out what was triggering these attacks. I met with the therapist like I was supposed to. I was told I was taking on too much activities and needed to slow down. I never told my therapist about the sexual assault. I never told him that if I slow down, I will remember that night and things will just get worse. If I told him, he would tell my mom and then I would have to talk to the police and I was not ready.
I told my best friend a year or so after it happened. She wanted to expose him and report it to the police. I was not ready or willing for that to happen. I remember telling her that if she told anyone, I would deny it. She was angry with me and didn’t understand my internal struggle. She supported me but wanted me to come forward.
There were a few times that I took too many dosages of my medication in hopes that I would fall asleep and just never wake up. I thought that maybe things would be ok then, but I always woke up.
As I grew older, I was able to work through my depression, anger, anxiety and learn to not forgive or forget, but to move forward. I still have times where I struggle, but I still see a therapist who knows my story and can help me work past the flashback or episode. I still take medication as well.
I have never reported this to the police and honestly can say I probably never will. I finally told my mother about 2 years ago and she cried and was angry. She asked me why I didn’t tell her when it happened. I didn’t have a good reason. I just told her that the struggles I went through in High School were because of that. We have never talked about it since.
My husband knows what happened to me and has always worked with me when I am struggling. He has always helped me when I need it. I don’t think I could be where I am in my life without his emotional support to work through everything. It takes a huge support system some days, but I am always getting better every day.
As an adult, I have been diagnosed with PTSD from various things, but I can honestly say this was the most traumatic thing that happened to me. It was an invasion into my privacy and something so intimate and abusive that I don’t think I will ever fully move on, but I have learned how to live my life on my own terms. I know I will never forgive him. People tell me the best way to move on is forgiveness, but I can’t.
I am now a stronger and mature woman who may not talk openly about my personal experience, but I have and still do use it to help other women. I use my history to remember and understand what these women are going through. I remember how I was too much of a coward to come forward and I work hard to give these women all the support they need during this time.
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