Dearest Loved Ones, For those of you that know me personally this will be an exceptionally hard read. Please do not feel obligated. And if you do continue on, I promise I’m ok. Love, CK
I sat in a room full of women. Women whose stories I had come to know on such deep levels. Women who had suffered tremendously at the hands of others and sometimes at the hands of themselves. Women who had battled the devastations of molestation, rape, drug use, alcohol, legal troubles, loss, abuse, pain. I looked around at every single one of these women who, on the surface, were so harshly judged by society. I looked around at the faces of these women who I carried deep respect and compassion for. This was a room full of broken. But also a room full of incredible strength.
The week before, I had been joking with a male friend and it turned into a playful wrestle. He laughingly and gently and playfully wrapped his hand around my throat and his laughter immediately died. Without thinking, my eyes had grown wide with fear, my smile erased, and my body folded in on itself with one huge cringe. My reaction terrified him. He pulled back his hand and tried stuttering out an apology. I could only try to suck in a breath and stare.
That moment replayed over and over in my head for the rest of that day, into the night, and was all I could think of the following morning. That reaction had triggered a fear I didn’t know I possessed. That reaction terrified me. And the flashbacks began slamming into my brain. The void where that fear lived suddenly taking shape and the words for that fear slammed into my brain with such force and I began to write. Pencil to paper, I scribbled words. Without thought of punctuation or spelling, I word vomited all over that paper. And when I was done, I was shocked at what had come pouring out. I set the pencil down, crawled into my bed completely depleted of all strength, and I slept.
When I woke up, I looked at those scribbles on the paper and the dull pencil and I knew what I had to do. You see, speaking words out loud… no. Speaking YOUR TRUTHS out loud take the power from them. By voicing your deepest pains to the universe, you are freeing them from yourself and letting them go. Without doing this then these emotions, triggers, hurts live inside your skin and won’t let you go. I knew it was time to begin to remove them from me. To take away the power of my past. To voice it. To share.
I walked into this room full of women I adored for all their good but also all their bad. I was frightened. Who was I compared to all these women and what they had endured? Who was I to feel sorry for myself? Who was I to even think my experiences came close to theirs? I was afraid. But one thing I’ve surely learned in this journey is that if something scares me… if something shakes me to my core… if something grabs a hold of me and will not let me go then I had better do it. Face it. Jump. And so with my voice quivering, I read to them my almost illegible scrawls …
Everyone always thinks of it as violent. Fast. Rash. You think of it as strength forcing against weaker unwillingness. Pain. Physically restraining. Nails digging deep to fight. You think of brute force. Holding ones neck or covering their mouth to silence. The victim thrashing, limbs fighting, teeth marks, bruises. The physical equivalent to a power struggle. If it wasn’t violent or physical struggle, I never thought of it as rape.
But rape can be slow. A methodical breakdown of ones self. With each item of clothing he forced me to remove, the scathing words would peel another layer of my self worth away. Layer upon layer as I tearfully would peel my shirt off, my pants, begging him not to make me. His words cursing my existence, listing all the ways he could destroy me if I didn’t acquiese. Telling me what he could take from me and making me believe I was nothing without his mercy. He would never touch me at this point. His words clipped, harsh, dead. His eyes little slits that boiled with hatred while all the while managing to seem empty. He made sure I knew he thought I was vile. That touching me was repulsive to him. If I tried to reach out, he would recoil and hiss almost as if he were a snake.
Once I stood naked before him, trembling and terrified, he would slowly eye my exposed body. Studying it motionless as if I were a statue on display at a museum. No lust. No emotions except the glittering of his slitted eyes. Mouth pulled into a hard line.
I can’t recall how long these times would last where he would let me stand in terror completely naked while he was fully dressed. The fear gripping me as I wondered what was coming next. The panic rising and the tears sliding down my face. The door behind him my only exit, knowing that any attempt to escape was futile. I was too terrified to move, to speak. Wondering if this was the way I was going to die. Wondering how much it would hurt.
He would make me lay down and methodically strip off his clothing as he tore me to shreds with his words and his eyes. Finally entering me, slamming into me with fury calling me “slut”, “whore”, “wife”, “bitch” until he came in me with ferocity and fell on top of me soaking me with his sweat and I would hold him as if he gave me a gift. When his breathing would steady, he would push off of me violently as if my skin burned him. His eyes returning to slits. I wouldn’t dare move or breathe.
After, the tirades sometimes continued. Sometimes I would kneel in front of him as he kept the onslaught of words coming. Sometimes when he would leave, I would just shake. Other times the tears came. Always, I felt depleted, exhausted, unworthy… and I would wonder, “How many times can I do this?””
Silence. My hands shaking and my eyes staring down at them, I waited.
In this room full of women who had experienced horrors I could not fathom, I expected criticism. I expected smirks. I expected rejection. Instead I looked up into one pair after another of eyes filled with tears. I saw compassion. I saw anger and hurt and understanding. I saw a room full of women with arms wide open to me and saying, “me too”.
It was on that day that I knew irrevocably that I had been through something awful and yet I was standing on the other side. It was on that day that I gave up questioning my reality and gave into it. I had been raped hatefully by my monster time and time again. And I was allowed to hurt. To fear. To mourn. To speak. But dammit, I was also allowed to heal.
Thank you, my dear women, for validating me and finally allowing me to step foot across the threshold into a future where I would never be used like that again. Thank you for a safe place to unveil my shame. Thank you for playing a part in my healing. Women, we are not alone. Know this. Step into fear and speak your truths. And rest assured, there is a room full of us waiting on the other side with arms wide open.
noun 1. rape committed by the person to whom the victim is married
2. any unwanted sexual acts by a spouse, committed without consent and/or against a persons will (obtained by force or threat of force, intimidation, or when a person is unable to consent)