sexual assault

An Unacceptable Reality

Trigger Warning- rape, sexual assault, suicide

Tuesday of this week started as a normal day. I woke up, went to job #1, and while on break had a delicious lunch at my go-to lunch break spot.

I went to job #2 excited and ready to make hella money (rent is in a week!)

And then shit hit the fan.

That asshat piece of slime bartender who assaulted me this winter had picked up someone’s shift and was at work.

I wasn’t ready for it. Some part of my psyche wasn’t guarded. I hadn’t taken the necessary steps to prepare my mind and protect my emotions from seeing his stupid face.

And then I broke. The years of trauma came washing over me as I had to interact with this fucker and it was too much for me.

I stepped outside. I smoked a coworkers cigarette to see if that would help. It didn’t do anything but make me dizzy.

I was bawling. I was a fucking hysterical mess. And I realized I had two tables I needed to go greet. Fuck.

So I said hello with a smile while tears poured down my face. I refilled their water while my fucking soul fell out of my eyes.

And my manager noticed. Whoops.

He walked outside with me and asked what was wrong. He gave me a hug that lasted a million moments and it was amazing. He told me I was safe and he would always fight for me to feel that way.

He said he wanted me to stay there and he knew I wanted to stay. I thought he was talking about the night but he may have been talking about in general.

He let me leave.

I was incapable of human interaction, guys. For the first time in my professional career as a server my trauma controlled me and I feel so goddamned weak to admit that. I feel weak and cowardly to have needed to leave.

But I needed to leave. I had no coping skills. That evening my mind forgot all of the work I’ve been doing and I was again just a lost fifteen year old who had just been raped by her best friend.

That night I was a victim instead of a survivor.

And my old manager who now works at the restaurant one door down saw me suffering outside. She walked to me and hugged me. After nearly an eternity she asked me if I wanted to talk about it. I always want to talk about it.

She opened a space in which I felt warm, safe, and well-received.

But her soothing words left me feeling uneasy.

You see, she told me that she was proud of me for leaving. For realizing shit was too hard and that I needed to do something for me and get the hell out of there. She said that so many of the girls she knows who are survivors never do the things to take care of themselves.

So many of the girls she knows who are sexual assault survivors. 

She told me that when she first came to the restaurant where I work now that she asked all the front of house staff if they have ever worked in a job in which they were not sexually assaulted.

Not one single fucking person raised their hand.

Not one.

She told me this story to jokingly share that the two male managers who had been there before her (and are still there) had noooo idea how big of an issue sexual assault was in the workplace, especially in restaurants.

I did not find comfort in knowing that I share this horror with others.

Of course nobody wants to be alone when dealing with something- we all want people to relate to. But sexual assault should not be a given. Sharing my trauma from shitty bartender should not be met with “ohh, you work in a restaurant? Yeah, I could have told you that would happen.”

What even?!

Female manager told me she knows countless women that have been sexually assaulted, raped, attacked….

Countless.

Guys, this is a fucking unacceptable reality. We cannot be okay with this.

Things can’t continue this way. We can’t excuse predators because it “happens all the time”

We can’t put the onus on survivors to do what they need to do to take care of themselves.

We need to fucking punish the idiots who think that someone else’s body is meant for them.

We need to stand up and say this is UNACCEPTABLE.

I know that female manager was doing her best to comfort me but really all I got was angry. I am angry that those words were supposed to comfort me. I am angry that I am now thrown in with millions of people who have been assaulted. And nobody is doing jack shit to change that.

I work for a company that requires 75 write ups before someone can get fired.

HR told me if my assault didn’t happen on premises they can’t do anything about it.

My managers hands are tied.

Fuck you and your tied hands that man assaulted me and does not deserve to work in a place where there are countless women he can assault again.

Once a predator always a predator.

But nope, when I am a crying heap of uselessness that can’t get her shit together my emotions are shameful and I need to “buck up” and “realize that it happens to everyone.”

That is not comforting. That is scary.

Writing the rest of this post two days later is a little surreal. I feel calm and in control of my emotions. Tuesday I did my best to make sure I didn’t wake up Wednesday morning.

Buutttt I did. And here I am. Proof that not everyone can kill themselves on the first, second, third, or even fourth try.

Time and time again I have thought that my emotions and my trauma were too much to bear. The oily, pervasive feelings of anxiety that try to make knots in my stomach but slip around like a ball of snakes make me feel worse than anything anyone can say to me.

And they are not alleviated when I am told that this happens all the time.

We have to stop this.

 

 

 

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Letter Series Continued

To the jackass I work with:

Yo, it’s me. You know, that girl you assaulted a few months ago?

Come on! You can’t have forgotten already.

Oh wait! I forgot. You were drunk.

Oh wait! I forgot. You were “in a bad place”

Oh wait! I forgot. You don’t remember.

Can’t remember

Won’t remember.

No matter how many times you change your story when you straight-up lie to me about that fateful night I will never, ever forget what you did to me.

And I will never forgive you.

Because you are a predator. You are a manipulative, dishonest, violent douchebag that only knows how to deceive and hurt.

You are not a good person. It is so painful to work with you because I see my colleagues/my friends/people I care about interact with you and they are so kind to you.

They don’t know you like I do.

Even the ones who know what you did to me smile at you and happily interact with you. Sometimes it hurts to see this. Sometimes it is just confusing.

Occasionally I will see you or hear you at work interacting with others and I think maybe I should just ‘get over it’ and be pleasant with him at work.

And then reality reminds me that you fucking sexually assaulted me.

You put your hands on my body when I told you not to. You kept going when I told you to stop. You ignored all of my protests so that you could get what you wanted.

But now you’ve conveniently forgotten. I wish I could.

What you did to me was not the worst thing that has happened to me. But it is so similar to those even more terrible things that every time I see your goddamned face I only remember terror and pain.

You’ve noticed that I don’t like to be scheduled to work with you and that I go out of my way to not work with you. Why would that matter if you never did anything wrong? Why would I do that if you never did anything wrong?

Guess what, jackass? You did something incredibly wrong.

So when you tell me “I know you don’t like working with me. I always try my best to stay out of your way. I know you don’t like me. I don’t really know why but it’s whatever” all I hear is “blah blah blah I’m a predator blah blah let me try and manipulate you.”

So fuck you. Goodness gracious good gully gosh, fuck you.

And that’s really all I have to say.

My Trauma Narrative Continued

Trigger Warning: Rape, sexual assault

…this is a long-ass post. Buckle up.

It has been about two years since I actually posted on the internet that I am a sexual assault survivor.

In those two years I have come leaps and bounds past where I thought I would be and I get so emotional when I think about Past Jess and her hopelessness.

This blog has been a huge part of that. Telling my story, even in stages, has helped me understand and process my own feelings on what I’ve been through.

But I’m not done yet with my trauma narrative. Just about, though so that’s cool.

I want to talk about the two most recent attacks on my body. I’ve blogged about them both before but they were terribly reactive posts instead of being reflective like this narrative should be.

Enter the DC chapter of my story.

I moved to DC in June of 2015. I got a job immediately and made so many friends there. I had also made hella connections with my housemates and had a solid support group. So when my housemate said “let’s go to a Juanes concert!” I couldn’t turn that shit down. And when my friends from work asked if I wanted to go out with them after my concert I was stoked to have a Friday night full of fun with people I cared about.

Of course that concert was dope as hell. And my housemate kindly accompanied me to the bar to meet my colleagues before dipping out. I got real real drunk and had a lot of fun with the friends.

Then we decided to go get some late-night ihop and traveled across town.

Here is where I forget much of what happened. Of course, it’s the integral part. It’s the “you will actually believe me if I could tell you all of these details” part. It’s the “I can totally describe what he and his car look like” part. The part that makes it real.

It still doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel real that I came to awareness while my head was being forced down on a stranger’s body. I realized I was crying and began to sob and scream. He slapped me in the face and told me not to cry. That I should like it. And when I didn’t stop crying he stopped the car and told me to get out. Dazed, drunk, terrified, and confused as all hell I got out of the car as he sped off.

I didn’t know where I was. I was sobbing uncontrollably and wandering around a neighborhood without any idea of where my phone was, what time it was, or where I was going. A stranger parked his car nearby and got out with his groceries- he asked me if I was okay, and if I needed to go anywhere. I just answered with a wail and fell to the ground crying. He helped me up.

He helped me up and he led me to his car and he asked me where I lived. I said the name of my street but didn’t know or couldn’t remember the cross street and I just described the surrounding area of my house. He drove me home, and watched until I got to my front door before he left. I was too drunk to remember where we kept the key on the front porch and I sat outside until I was able to wake up someone to let me in. I immediately went to my housemate’s room (the one I went to the concert with) and told her what happened.

So drunk. So sobbing. Much terror.

I tried to call my sister, my brother, my mom, my dad. Could not remember a single phone number. I fell asleep with mascara on my cheeks.

The next morning I came to and my housemate had messaged my sister on Facebook and my sister had called the cops and sent them to my house. I eventually called and reported the violation.

I was in the hospital for so long waiting to get my exam. DC provided me with someone called an advocate. She came in to the room while I was waiting and explained she was there as a legal representative for me. Free of charge. To help me cope with what happened and get through the investigation.

DC provided me with a human who understands the horror that is the aftermath of being assaulted. And she was amazing. She held my hand while the doctor asked me questions. She wrote me weekly emails in the months after the attack. Checking in, offering support. I am so grateful for that. She got me therapy at the DC Rape Crisis Center and she got the city to send me a check to cover the value of the clothes that forensics had to cut into tiny pieces so they could try and find the man that assaulted me.

The detectives came to my house the next day and the entire time I did not feel validated. I wish my advocate had been with me for this first interaction. I felt cold and like it was my fault. Because I was drunk.

IT IS NOT MY FAULT BECAUSE I WAS DRUNK. IT IS NOT MY FAULT. 

Sometimes I have to remind myself…

The conversation with the detectives was recorded. But my tears weren’t. All that was recorded were my answers to their questions. Usually some form of “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember” or “that part is fuzzy.”

Do you know how hard it is to report an assault you can’t remember? It is so frustrating and so toxic to know you were violated but to not be able to explain the details of the event? It physically hurt every time I had to tell them I couldn’t answer their questions.

The conversation was recorded but my internal feelings of shame, confusion, and absolute certainty that I was attacked were not.

On and on more stuff to do with the investigation. blah blah.

Basically they still haven’t found the dude and I doubt they ever will. But I reported it. And I jumped through the hoops. And it was incredibly hard.

I am sobbing right now as I write this because I haven’t thought about the humiliation of shouting “I was attacked! Me! I was hurt and I was used and it’s not okay!” and the first questions being “Were you drunk? How drunk? What were you wearing? And you can’t remember the color of the car?”

“Why did you leave your friends?”

“Why didn’t you call an uber and make sure the license plate matched?”

“Why did you leave your phone in his car?”

“Why did you get into a strangers car?”

Shit. I was drunk. And I was taken advantage of. Put drunk me anywhere and that doesn’t mean I’m going to be taken advantage of. The only part of the equation that got me assaulted was the man willing to assault me.

It is all on him.

It is not my fault.

Why don’t we tell men not to rape women instead of telling women what to do in order to not be raped? Get your shit together, America.

My narrative isn’t even fucking done there, either. Because trauma is forever and because I was assaulted again more recently. By a coworker.

And now I’m mad. I’m thinking “when the hell will this end because I am tired of getting attacked.” But I digress. Let me tell the story.

Bartender at one of my million serving jobs. On valentine’s day he gives me one of the roses the restaurant was giving to guests and he tells me I’m beautiful. Asks for my number.

Texts me 7 times in a row.

I tell him I’m doing shit and I’ll see him at work.

“Oh so it’s like that.”

Of course it’s like that I don’t know you stop texting me so much.

Fast forward to me having to return to work late one night to pick up the jacket I had left there. He asks me to go have a drink with him. I don’t see the harm in it and sure I had a long day so I’ll go for a drink.

He puts his hand on my leg in the car- I take it off and ask him not to touch me. He does it again and I tell him not to touch me.

We get to the bar and I’m glad it’s one near my home. We get drinks and I finish mine real quick. He has to take a call and the bartender asks if I’m okay. No I’m not okay I think he’s going to hurt me. “Yeah I’m fine, thank you for noticing my discomfort.” I text my housemate groupchat and they all tell me it’s okay for me to leave and that I should leave.

He comes back from taking the call and asks me to kiss him. I tell him I don’t want to and he pulls my head toward his and kisses me. Then he gets mad “why don’t you kiss me back do you not want me?” No I don’t want you. You scare me. “I don’t want to kiss you.”

I start to cry because I’m fucking triggered and I tell him I’ve been assaulted before and I don’t like the way he is making me feel and he says “stop crying I didn’t do anything wrong” and I call an uber and he tells me to stay. “Just stay here with me. We can go back to my place. Just stay.”

No. I go outside and get into the car. He follows and attempts to pull me out of the uber and my driver, a wonderful woman, asks if she needs to call the cops. That makes him let me go. I slam the door shut and start to hyperventilate, trying to hold back a massive panic attack.

My driver tells me I’m safe. That she’ll take me home or to the police station, whichever one I want. She takes me home, gives me her card, and tells me to call her if I ever need a ride.

Work has been pretty supportive but I’m still kind of pissed that they accidentally schedule me with him on the reg. I’m trying to work with HR but legit this shit ass should be fired. The work part’s a little more intricate but I’m tired of thinking about that right now.

You know what I’m noticing in both of these stories? Immediately after my assaults in DC I was faced with incredible people who are completely worthy of trust. I am able to trust a stranger right after being attacked by a stranger.

I don’t know if that makes me crazy or kind or just normal. But I am so grateful for the fact that I am able to continue trusting people. I wake up and usually am not afraid of the world. I feel stronger every day when I can find genuine joy and feel positively about my self and my body. Because it is hard to do that when your body has been stolen from you. When your self has been damaged seemingly beyond repair.

And thus ends my narrative as far as my past goes. But every day I’m writing my story and I am in control of where it’s going. I will always be living with trauma but I will still look for joy in every moment possible. This absolutely doesn’t mean I’m done blogging about my story (sorry not sorry) but I have finally concluded this portion of my therapy, of re-telling my trauma narrative and reflecting on how to take my story from here.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, friends.

 

To the Woman on the Bus

You don’t know me
And I don’t know you
But there are many people like me
People who listen

And when you say “I think six months is fair…”
About that Stanford Trial we all know about
…we hear you
And we listen.

You’re saying this to me
And to girls like me
And to girls like the woman who was so awfully taken advantage of

To the woman on the bus:
You don’t know me
But as you sit behind me and tell your husband that she

Drank too much

Or that she

Wore too little

Remember that you are a woman. And remember that we must stick together.

Because when you speak of that case, and you say out loud to a full bus that it was the victim’s fault

You are telling me that it was my fault

I can hear you. And I am listening.

When I was fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty, and twenty-three years old you are telling me it was my fault

When it happened time and time again

It is my fault they took parts of me that I’ll never get back

It is my fault they took some of my joy I will never find again

When you say that she shouldn’t have gotten so drunk. When you say that he was drunk so he’s not responsible

You’re telling all survivors, those of us listening, that they didn’t do enough to keep themselves from getting violated.

You are part of the problem.

So when I walked off that bus and I told you “it is never the victim’s fault” I wasn’t just telling you that

I was reminding myself

Because you blindly shouted to your husband and the girl in front of you that you are siding with a predator. And this girl was listening

And you reminded this girl that she needs to keep fighting, to keep listening

She needs to keep fighting a culture that teaches daughters about safety but doesn’t teach sons about consent

Keep fighting a world that tries to tell women their feelings aren’t validated

Keep fighting people like you who don’t realize the triggers they are spouting to a stranger on a bus.

But people like you remind me that listening is not enough. I need to be telling. I need to be sharing my story and telling everyone that it is never the victim’s fault.

Because it isn’t

And maybe, if I keep talking

I will be louder than the people like you.

And everyone who is listening will hear me over you

After I looked you in the eye I walked away with my heart pounding and my hands shaking

Because I was fighting my mind

I was battling the guilt that I have beaten down in the past. You reminded me that I once believed it was all my fault.

We must stand together.

We must remind each other that we are strong and that our emotions are validated. That it is never our fault.

To the woman on the bus:
People are listening. So change your dialogue. Don’t feed into the culture- we have terrible judges that give out six month sentences to do that for us

Change your dialogue and tell the people who are listening that they will be okay

That it isn’t their fault

And that you stand with them.

Sincerely,
The Girl Who Listens

Letters: Part One

Trigger warning: rape

This is a letter to the man who violently raped me in Spain.

You,

When we met you seemed like an awkward yet kind person who wanted to make a human connection.

We got drunk on tinto de veranos and the night. Your friend enchanted mine and suddenly my walking buddy was gone.

It was us. You and I in a bar together. I didn’t have exceptionally good feelings when I realized I was alone with you but I ignored my gut and decided to trust you.

I trusted you the bare minimum of human trust. I trusted you to respect my space, to respect me as a person, and to not hurt me. That’s it.

But the night was in your favor. And we left together. I looked for my friend and you told me not to worry. So I worried.

You pushed me up against a wall and kissed me. You said you had been waiting to do that all night. I asked you not to do it again.

You did it again.

So I got sassy. I told you to go home and I would do the same. You said okay and sulked away.

But I didn’t know that you didn’t keep walking. As I made my way to the main street through a convenient alleyway, you hit me on the head with something ridiculously painful.

Were you intimidated by me? Is that why you had to sneak up behind me and knock me unconscious? Was I just that sexy? Was I so attractive that you very literally needed to take me?

I don’t know, nor will I ever know the motivation behind hitting a woman in the back of the head just to drag her into an apartment entrance so you can violate her.

I woke up feeling intense pain and the weirdest pleasure. I absolutely hate you for that. I came out of unconsciousness and for a split second I felt good. And then, as my splitting headache made itself aware, I understood what was happening. And I felt sick.

All I could think about was getting as far away from you as possible. So I kicked you as hard as I could while you were penetrating me. It didn’t stop you but my screams of agony that I thought were only in my head alerted three angels nearby. Three men that came when they heard my screams. And they removed you from me. One even pulled my leggings up as I sat crying in the alley.

And he grasped my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and told me to run.

And I wanted to run. But what I really wanted to do was hurt you. And when I approached you with my fists clenched I wanted to take your life. Because you had just taken a strong woman and yanked her all the way back to when she was a frightened teen who has just lost her virginity to rape. I wanted to beat you bloody- I was ready to. And when I hit you it felt good. But then I didn’t want to touch you any more. So I stood there, fists at the ready, sobbing because I had been reduced to nothing but a vessel for terrible memories. And as I turned and ran I heard one of the angels tell me not to worry and not to listen.

You broke the wall that had been holding my memories back. You unearthed the mountain of pain and self hatred and guilt that I had been burying for years.

Thanks for that, asshole.

Because of your bullshit, pathetic, disgusting display of dominance and “manhood,” I have talked about my assaults. I have looked at my trauma head-on and have done my very best to come to terms with it.

You terrible human. You awful man made of hatred and greed. You disgusting creature bent on controlling others… I won’t let you have me.

I won’t give you my fear. I won’t give you my tears or my sadness or my guilt. I will shoulder those things. I will pack them up nicely and only sort through them when I want to. When I have the time. I am my own human and what you did to me will not take my identity away, you fucking waste.

You were not my first assailant. But your letter was the first I chose to write. Because you were the most integral to my recovery. Had you not been the mass of idiotic dick-brain that you are, I might never have been so traumatized that I had to reach out for help.

I may have never found my road to living with trauma.

And while my nights of sleep are sometimes interrupted by your voice or the feeling of you inside of me, I’m still here. And I get the fuck up out of bed and make something of myself and my life every day. Because fuck you. You tried to take my feelings of security and self-love. You attempted to rob me of myself.

And you failed.

I am here and strong and I am telling my story.

Sorting Through Stuff

Do you ever start cleaning your room and find that random box full of old letters and pictures and report cards? And you sit down and go through and look at everything in the box? You let all of the memories wash over you with every flick through the photo album. You feel your feelings associated with your baby blanket or that binder full of notes your best friend passed you in eighth grade. You take everything out of the box and hold it in your hands before setting it aside. Then, you might throw a few things away or you might choose do display some stuff but you pack everything else up and put it back in the box.

That’s what this blog is for me. My recent series of posts related to my trauma are me unpacking my baggage and sorting the fuck through my emotions and memories. Getting a grip on my experiences and my personal identity.

This blog is really important to me. I am always safe when I’m writing. I am able to be reflective and basically talk to myself without getting any weird looks on the train. And it means the world to me when someone I know (or don’t know!) reads my thoughts and tells me I’m not alone.

The next few posts on this site will be letters I have written to those who have traumatized me. The men who sexually assaulted me and the individuals who I encountered directly after certain assaults.

But it’s not all going to be trauma-centric and sad. I also have a series of letters to write to the people who have supported me through my suffering and who have never let me forget that it is Not My Fault.

So these next few posts are potentially going to be graphic. They will definitely contain strong language and sweeping emotional realizations. These letters will allow me to say all the things I have never even known I need to say. They will be another step on my road of surviving with trauma.

Join me on my journey if you’d like.

Learning My Boundaries

Alright. Fair warning- this is a really dark post and I’m a little bit afraid of posting it but I don’t think some men understand how shitty they are and I don’t think some people understand how hard it is to live after sexual trauma.

Trigger warning- rape, sexual assault, suicide

Fuck, why am I writing this?

Why am I about to tell you the actual thoughts bopping about in my head?

Right now I very literally want to die. I want to crawl into a ball and shrink and shrink until nothing exists anymore. I want to find any possible way to end the feelings and the thoughts in my head.

Because of one asshole.

Let me tell you a story. It should be pretty short but I’m sure I’ll make it longer than it needs to be.

I work at like 30 million restaurants. A good thing for this particular blog post because I’m about to talk to you about a coworker at one of my jobs.

I recently met this individual at work. On Valentine’s day, while we were working he and I had our first real conversation.

He got my number in that conversation. No big deal because we work together and that info is readily available.

That night, after I had worked a double, he asks me to hang out. I tell him I’m tired but he gets pushy and weird. Sending me hella texts and emojis and whatever- my housemate, E, told me to stop talking to this guy because he’s weird and coming on way too strong. I had to agree with E.

Fast forward to tonight. Between V-day and tonight he has probably asked me to hang out 15-20 times. And every time I say no- whether I’m working, tired, or just don’t want to- he makes it about himself. “Oh, so you don’t want to talk to me.” “Oh, so you don’t actually want to hang out you just gave me your number for no reason.” blah blah.

Clearly this guy is a dick. Also clearly (in everything I ever do….ever) I am tooooo nice.

So tonight I had to go back to job #1 to get my coat ’cause I forgot it when I left for job #2. Guy I Work With happened to just be getting off of work, so he told me to come out for a drink with him.

He told me to come out for a drink with him.

There was no opportunity to say no. It wasn’t a question.

Yes, guys. I know logically that whenever I don’t want to do something that is all the “explanation” I need to give. Just. No. Fuck you. I want to go home. I am tired and I don’t want to go out with you. All of those things could have been said. But I didn’t want to be mean.

Because fuck me, right? I never want to be mean. I never want to hurt peoples’ feelings. And this guy had been sort of annoying- but he had yet to give me any reason to be mean to him or to not give him a chance. He’s cute and seemed nice from what I knew of him from working with him every weekend.

But, dude. I had a bad night tonight- I was stressed out and soooooo tired from working all freaking day long. And then I felt pressured into spending time with this dude because even though I’ve recently learned how to say no- I am still learning when and how and with how much force I need to say it. I got into his car and we drove to the bar. He touched my thigh and I took his hand off and told him “no, thank you.” He still touched my thigh two times after that.

I still went to the bar with him. Because he’s just a guy, right? And he hasn’t done anything to hurt me. I’m just pretty and he wants to touch me- that’s okay, right?

So we went to a bar. A bar very conveniently located around the corner from my best friend and just a mile away from my house. Uber-friendly, yaknow?

While at this bar all my head is screaming is “get out- you’re uncomfortable and don’t want to be here. Leave! Leave! Fucking LEAVE! ALERT, RED FLAGS!” But I am calmly talking to this guy. And I am apologizing for being mean to him. Because he said I’m mean to him. And I’m drinking a drink that he bought me. And I decided to come to the bar with him so that means I’m obligated to stay, right?

He is all shitty because I pulled his hand off me in the car. “Oh, I’ll just sit far away from you, then. I’ll leave you alone, then. Sorry I touched you and made you uncomfortable, I’ll just never look at you- how’s that?”

So we talk. And I tell him that I don’t know what I want with my life and I’m in a tough transition and I tell him that  I am uncomfortable because I have been assaulted many times in the past and I don’t trust men whose first instinct is to rub my thigh before getting to know me.

He tells me he’ll never pressure me into doing something I don’t want.

He kisses me.

I tell him I don’t want to kiss him.

He gets mad and asks me why I am at a bar with him if I’m not interested.

I say I just wanted to try and get to know him outside of work.

He grabs my head and kisses me again. Tells me to kiss him back.

I look at the bartender and he thankfully comes over to ask if we need anything- gets Guy I Work With to order some food.

I realize that I am uncomfortable and suddenly feel very, very unsafe. Fight or flight has kicked in. AND I FEEL BAD ABOUT THAT.

GIWW gets a phone call and excuses himself. I text my roommates and my bff that I don’t know what to do or how to leave. They all suggest a sudden emergency. But I didn’t feel comfortable lying to the dude. I start to panic because I feel super vulnerable and scared and worried and all of those things that lead to anxiety.

I start to cry. And Guy I Work With asks why. I tell him I feel uncomfortable and I want to go home. He immediately begins to apologize. Not for anything in particular. Just “I’m sorry, stay. I want you to stay. I don’t want you to go. Please stay, I’m sorry.”

But I want to go home. And he says “fine, you just want me to ignore you at work and never talk to you again.” And I tell him that’s stupid and to go from one extreme to another is unfair and bullshit to me. And he says “please stay.”

At this point, I could have stayed. Which would have spiraled into more drinks and more anxiety and more “feeling obligated.” Which is often followed by worse things.

But for the first time in my  life I left because I needed to. (also because alll of my housemates were telling me to leave and stop giving a shit about this guy)

Regardless, I left. I called an Uber. Guy I Work With said “can I at least walk you to the car?” …. I said yes. Because to say no would be rude, right? (God, I am so fucked up)

He walks me to the car and makes me kiss him goodnight. I go to get into the Uber and he pulls me back, pulls me very close to him, grabs my ass, and says “wouldn’t you rather come home with me?”

I looked at him, pulled myself away, and said no- I want to go home.

I closed the door and broke the fuck down in the car. Thankfully my Uber driver was the best freakin woman in the world and she let me cry and talked to me and gave me tissues and her personal card- told me to call her if any man ever made me feel this way again. Because I’m pretty and I’m young and I need to learn how to “leave they asses on the street.” I think she and I will be friends.

Thankfully my housemates were here when I got home. Thankfully E just walked to me and hugged me and told me I was safe. Thankfully S made me some tea and told me she was proud of me for leaving.

Because had they not been home I don’t know what would have happened.

Because, the thing is, I know logically that this guy gave me approximately ONE BILLION red flags for “asshole” before we even made it to the bar. And I know that I owe nobody anything ever for anything they do for me. Whether they’re nice to me or buy me a drink or anything. I know this.

But knowing and feeling are two very different things. And I always feel like I always owe everyone everything just for dealing with my existence. Because I am fucked up. And I am a lot to handle. And I know how stupid it was for me to hang out with this guy. I know that I need to listen to my inner alarm bells and not give a shit if I am “upsetting” or “hurting” or “offending” the other party. Because myself and my safety come first.

But I can’t help but trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt. I just trust people. Which could be part of the reason I have been repeatedly assaulted in my life.

It could also just be a character trait. I refuse to say flaw because, even though it brings me a lot of trouble, being able to trust people(men) after being raped is not common. I somehow manage to hold on to some strange innocence and I always see people for their best intentions.

And I keep getting let down, guys. I keep finding myself in terrible, painful situations where had I just been a little bit more selfish I could have avoided. But I really don’t think I can change that.

Should I change that? Should I try harder to not trust people? Or to actually be mean? I don’t know. All I know is that being too kind/nice/trusting has translated into “being in ridiculously awkward/uncomfortable situations” too often for me.

I started writing this post thinking I wanted to kill myself tonight because it is so hard to feel as if you can’t make your own decisions. It is so painful to feel as if you’re stuck in your body without a say in the world. That you are just there for someone else to have fun with. It is sickening and painful and oh my dear lord almost impossible to describe.While he was kissing me tonight, all I felt was a hot, heavy weight in my stomach as if I were stuck there. I felt dirty and sick and lost and scared.

And I told him I was uncomfortable. And he kissed me again and told me to kiss him back- if I was at a bar with him I was interested and that means I should kiss him back.

But after writing all of this out I realize that I did make a decision for me tonight. It was fucking hard- and it took me long enough… but I left because I didn’t want to be there anymore.

I told him no. I took his hand off of my thigh two times. Yes, two times out of like twenty. But two more than zero.

I am slowly (and so very painfully) learning how to assert my boundaries. And although I feel so small and useless and unworthy of love right now I know that I performed an act of self-love tonight. And I should be proud of that.

This blog post has very seriously helped me from hurting myself tonight.

I am too honest. I am too nice. I don’t think about myself enough. And I am disclosing way too much personal information on the internet.

And I don’t fucking care. Because that is who I am. I am too nice. And I am probably letting you see way too far into my head. But I’m still here. And I will continue to trust people too easily and to love people too unconditionally because that’s how I know how to live.

I am learning my boundaries. It’s a hard process but I’m learning them. And I am proud of leaving tonight. I am in a much better place now than I was when I left that bar this evening. But even as I left the bar, I had a million times more respect for myself and my feelings than I did a year ago.

So…there’s that.

Thanks for reading.

Therapy and My Trauma Narrative

TRIGGER WARNING- Rape, sexual assault

Hey friends-

I haven’t posted recently so while I wait in the lobby of the DC Rape Crisis Center, I figured I would write a little somethin’ somethin’.

It has been four weeks since my last therapy appointment….and it has also been about four weeks since I have given a shit about myself.

These last four weeks I have distracted myself with friends and family and a sort-of boyfriend (who, I am sure, would not appreciate that title)…distracted myself with work and binge-watching Netflix.

It is actually sometimes a solid choice to distract myself. It is an effort to not feel feelings and an effort to not succumb to the healthy act of just feeling a little bit shitty and allowing myself to process my shitty feelings.

I am scared to go to therapy today. Because I know what is on the docket to talk about…

Today will be the first time I have ever talked about the two rapes that followed losing my virginity. Both in my sixteenth year of life. One sick and violent and almost life-threatening. One sad and depressing and a moment of almost rock-bottom.

These last four weeks have taught me that I really do rely on therapy to keep me accountable. And that is good- it keeps me accountable! It is also kinda shitty- because I have been bad about keeping myself accountable in my self-love. I have fallen off the bandwagon of working out, my self-love-activity shortened to just three or four minutes of stretching in the morning in place of the 15 minutes of yoga I was doing, which was a replacement for the 30 minute full-on workouts I was keeping up with so well. I missed my last two classes of my Financial Peace University class because I was on vacation, and thus I fell off another bandwagon. Not like I had much money to waste, though.

So…yeah. Four weeks of distracting myself. Partially because I think that I moved my source of validation. I went from being really awesome at loving myself and saying “good on you, Jess! You’re great!” to searching for external sources of validation (namely, boys). That’s dangerous. Because I went on a spree of needing attention in order to feel good about myself. Which is what all of the fucking therapy is supposed to be changing. Jesus. So I went on a shitty bender of bad habits. And I knew I would have to fess up to the therapist as well as talk about these two assaults and I am nervous as hell. So I kept ignoring the problem instead of fixing it.

After Therapy

Balls. That was a rough sesh. I think it was the second time I’ve cried while in therapy with the DCRCC. Talked about the ups of the last month- vacation, boyfriend, how incredible my support system (housemates!) in DC is, new job. Then the last 40 ish minutes were a continuation of my trauma narrative. A part of my story that I’ve never told before. I talked about the two sexual assaults that occurred after I lost my virginity to rape. Unfortunately, they were also the next two times I had sex.

A few months after my first assault, I was invited to a birthday party of a moderately close acquaintance. I had met her through J, my first assailant. I was hesitant to go, but she apparently wanted me to come really badly, so I convinced my mom to let me have a sleepover at a different friend’s house….and I did the shitty teenager thing- went with the friend my mom allowed me to spend the night with to this “rager” of a 17th birthday party. Ha.

Got there and her stepdad was already drunk. He called me by the wrong name and told me I looked pretty. I ignored him ’cause he was gross, old, and drunk, and I was happy to hang out with a bunch of teenagers. Stepdad came to the gaggle of teens and asked if anyone would help him go down to the basement to get more beer from the fridge or whatever. I volunteered, because I am just too damn helpful. 

He calls me the wrong name again, and sends me down first. He said the light is out, but to make a left at the bottom of the stairs and go through the first doorway. The basement was smelly and unfinished, but seemed to have separate rooms. I went through the doorway, and the door shut behind me as he turned the light on.

There is a bare mattress on the floor and a set of chains on the wall. Fucking chains. He kisses my neck and pulls at my clothes (clothes I still remember and have never worn since).

And it wasn’t until he had just gotten me on the mattress that J, of all people, pushed the door open and got the guy off of me. I look back now and find some sick irony in my first assailant pulling my second off of me. At the time I was just mortified and broken. I rushed getting my clothes back on, and left with the friend who went to the party with me. She got her mom to pick us up…and I actually did end up spending the night at her house. She was the only person I ever told this story to. 

In my therapist’s office, a comfortable place that always smells like cookies and has a big, comfy IKEA couch, I sat frozen in fear with tears streaming down my face as I recounted that buried memory. Just thinking about it now, in my own dining room, surrounded by familiar and comfortable things, I feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Because I always think about the “what ifs” of that situation. And my stomach turns. And the tears come back. Because that was probably the single most terrifying experience of my entire life.

A few months later, I had gone through a hella rough time at home and school. I had gotten caught shoplifting (eyeliner and cold medicine for a friend- I know, I’m an idiot) and mom got called. She basically exiled me and told me that I was the scum of the earth. Fair enough, mom. Thieves and liars are the scum of the earth to ya, and I had fallen into one of those categories. (FYI- mom and I are cool now. I understand where she was coming from. She’s a damn good mom.)

So for the first time in my life I was grounded. And I was pretty depressed. And on the third night of my grounding, a boy from school texted me and said he was down the street from my house- did I want him to come over and hang out? I told him I was grounded and he asked if there was a way he could sneak into my house. I said yes. So he hopped in the window of my sister’s old room and we chatted for a while. I told him it was getting late and he should probably leave when he pulled a bottle of Kahlua out of his backpack and chugged some (super gross, I know. Silly teenagers). He offered it to me and, you know, how could I say no? So I drank that shit. And I got a little bit drunk off of it in like thirty minutes. And I told him he should go. But he told me I was pretty. So he wanted to stay. And he started to kiss me and I felt like that was okay.

Then he started to put his hands on me, and I pulled away. I told him I wasn’t ready for that. He just told me do drink more and it would be okay. I had another drink and he undid my pants. I kept pushing him away and saying no. 

Well, there’s a pattern with my stories so I won’t finish that one in detail. But that was big ‘ole number three. I never told anyone about him, either. Because once in that school another girl claimed he had raped her. And the fucking school turned on her. Now I’m inclined to believe she was telling the truth. But at the time I just didn’t want to get a nickname calling me crazy or having people put notes in my lockers that said “do you really want to get raped?” Because that is what happened to her. And I wish with all my might that I could go back in time and be the only person in that school to believe her.

It has taken me a week to write this post. Because these stories are hard as fuck to tell. And because yes, I want to make you feel uncomfortable, dear audience- but I don’t want to scare you or give you too much at once. Because I want you to come back and keep reading my trauma narrative. Because I want you to share these stories with anyone you think they might help. And because I want to give you the confidence to share your own truths.

I think this one is as good as its gonna get. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my narrative. I’m doing this for me and my healing process, but I am also doing it for all of the people who contact me and tell me that they read my story and it gave them hope, or gave them confidence. Thank you for being so brave and strong and keep on being the beautiful you that you are.

Until next time, friends! ❤

Stories

Hey friends!

Two posts in one week! What is this magic?!

So. I want to kind of give an introduction to the next series of posts and also explain the content of my last few a little bit. Because I like to talk about this shit. In a strange way, I really like to tell my story even if it brings up feelings I haven’t felt in such a long time thanks to my incredible ability to bury the hell out of my responses to trauma.

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE 

I love stories, guys. I love listening to them, watching them, reading them, and recently I’ve found out that I love telling them. My story, to be exact. It is cathartic for me to tell my stories. Whether they’re about my day or about the trauma I’ve survived, I love it. And the best things that has come from my posts about my trauma are all of the stories people feel comfortable sharing with me. Women and men who I have never had a real personal connection with have messaged me on Facebook to thank me for my story and to share theirs. And that is amazing. Because I hope people share their stories in any way they can. Write a book, paint a picture, sing a song- whatever. The fact that I have been able to help even one person share his/her story makes the difficulty of sharing mine completely worth it.

Aaanyway, I’ve been to three sessions with my therapist, now. And we’ve gotten through the preliminary talks and we’ve done the “easy” homework. Now we are going to shortly begin what is called my “trauma narrative;” AKA My Story. We have discussed how I am going to do it and I’ve decided that I’d like to blog about it. Because I want to share my story with the world. And because I want people to see that it is okay to share your story.

So here is blog number one, I think. A general introduction to my narrative. I don’t know how these posts are going to unfold. I never really know until I write them- which is totally my favorite part of blogging. Having a conversation with myself a little bit and being egotistical enough to assume that other people want to read it 😉

My Story is a long one. It is pretty intricate and it involves so much outside of the actual incidents of rape and sexual assault. My Story starts with my childhood, really, and the fact that I was always pushed to be beautiful. I remember really shitty talks with my mom about how I would be beautiful if I lost weight or how I could solve my issues of boys not liking me if I could fit into a smaller size. Now, my mom is not a bad mom. She just doesn’t word things the best sometimes. And I don’t blame my mother for anything that has ever happened to me- because my mom is fucking amazing and she now knows how much those conversations hurt me and has apologized for saying things that didn’t help my self-esteem. Of course it would have been better to be told “your problem isn’t that boys don’t like you- it is that you don’t like you,” but maybe she didn’t know that. I know it took me a while to learn that. And, all-in-all, I’m a pretty okay human now. She (and daddy-o!) did a pretty good job making me not an axe-murderer.

I digress.

(Next up: my first traumatic experience. Skip this if you’re squeamish) 

Anyway, my story unfolds into a night with my best friend at the time. I was allowed to spend the night at his house because he seemed to be a good kid, my mom knew exactly where he lived, and his parents and my mom were friendly. They weren’t friends, but neither party had a problem calling the other if the kids got into shenanigans. So it was a Friday night and I was spending the night. We got into our usual shenanigans of playing videogames and cussing like we had just discovered those delectable words, which we sort of had. I was fifteen. As I began to get tired I complained of a headache and he got up, went to his medicine cabinet, and came back with two blue pills. He told me they were Tylenol P.M. I thanked him and then took them. We went to bed- I on the futon in his room and he on his bed. I remember tossing and turning and not being able to fall asleep. After what felt like hours of electrified muscles and crazy physical sensations, he asked “are you still awake?” And I said yes. I couldn’t sleep. I felt weird. He sat on the edge of the futon and asked how. I explained that I felt as if my body were turning to silly putty and I just felt fluid and restless. So he got into bed and began massaging my shoulders and told me that would help. I don’t remember the next transition…

Then he raped me. I remember feeling physically good but mentally uncomfortable and I tried to push him off I don’t know how many times. I said “no” often and the only thing I remember him saying during the act is “your cherry is already popped, I might as well keep going.” It seemed to last for days, but I’m sure it was only a few minutes. He got back into his bed, leaving me alone, confused, and terrified. He said “you’ll come down in a little bit and sleep like a baby.” I went to bed thinking that at least I was pretty enough for him to want to have sex with me. I am so sickened now when I think about how, in some fucked up way, that made me feel good. It made me feel wanted. What the shit.

It didn’t hit me until the next morning when my mom picked me up that he had drugged me.

He fucking drugged me! I was no longer sad, I was furious. My mom asked what we did and I told her about the videogames and the going to bed. I never told her about the other half of my night. I never told anyone (except my bff S) about that until after I came back from Spain.

(Retelling over, you can resume. Still TRIGGER WARNING for the rest of the post. I don’t know your triggers)

Losing my virginity to rape set the stage for my sex life. And I’m still trying to recover from the fucked up notions it gave me about sex. It told me that all I was good for was my body and how well my body could please someone else. It told me I was only worthy of love if my body was worthy of sex. It said that I couldn’t make my own decisions about my body, that I had no rights to my body. It seriously fucked me up.

I never saw a therapist for my trauma. I never acknowledged the trauma. I just decided the best thing to do was to push on and pretend it never happened. To focus on other things so I wasn’t bogged down. Which is so freaking unhealthy. After seeing a therapist for other reasons I realized that I really needed to do some work on my self-love.

Which opened lots of more discussions and thoughts and realizations. But I’ll leave this for now. This thing is long enough as it is and I can’t tell my whole story in one go.

Plus, I have a date to go on with this awesome dude. 😀

Until next week, folks. Let me know if this made you feel uncomfortable or sparked a new line of thinking. But ESPECIALLY let me know if it has made you think about sharing your story. I would love to hear from any or all of my readers. Thank you!

No Excuses

Buenas noches my darling friends!

Today began my journey to taking my life back. I’ve been coasting these last few months and I can’t allow myself to do that any longer. I’ve been ignoring pain, evading responsibility, and giving up on my physical and mental health. And in no way do any of those things ever make you feel good.  So I (and my new therapist) have decided that I should probably get my shit together at least a little bit.

Last week I told you about the goals I had to do for homework in therapy. They were: Start creating once a week, stop making excuses, and change how I prioritize decisions and remember to make sure I’m accounting for my feelings.

Today I’d like to talk about my stop goal. I need to stop making excuses for myself. “Excuses are the nails that build the house of failure” is one of my favorite quotes by my favorite college professor. She’s right. Excuses allow you to cut corners and get lazy. They insult you and the expectations of those around you. They say “yeah, I could do that, but I simply won’t.” And that’s silly. Because I should work hard every day to be the best fucking me there is.

So today, I re-started my journey to fitness. But this time I’m not going to focus solely on my physical fitness. This time I’m going to remember that my emotional and mental fitness are just as (if not more!) important.

So, no more excuses. No more “I’m tired,”  “I walked an extra mile today,” or “but it’s easier to not think about.” No more “Chinese is more convenient,” “I woke up late,” or “I deserve to feel this way.” No. No more of that. Because it is bullshit and I need to call myself on it.

Basically, my biggest excuse is that I’m really just afraid. I’ve been getting really anxious these past few months. For my entire life I have been fat. I have been able to hide behind a screen of stereotypical unattractiveness. I have been able to develop a rapier wit and charming personality so everyone who got to know me did so on a basis of them being a relatively awesome person and actually getting to know me for how awesome I am. I had good friends and anyone who pursued me romantically did so because they liked who I was. Guys. I hated myself every day for waking up and being society’s opposite of defined beauty. Because society also told me that beauty was all I could ever get.

Tangent aside- I have been able to shield myself for a long time and the people who I didn’t want in my life sort of weeded themselves out before they actually met me. In all actuality- it was pretty awesome. But since my journey to fitness began last September, I have chosen more often than not to love myself. And to put work into myself. As a result, I’ve lost over 40 pounds and I look damn good. Add a hair cut, great friends and family, and a solid year of feeling like I was being a successful college grad and you’ve got yourself a hot-and-ready confident lady.

The thing is, that confidence shows. And it makes cat calls happen. And it makes general harassment happen. And it has opened my eyes to the fact that when I walk out and about in the world I am 100% unabashedly me and that makes me feel so damned vulnerable.

So I’m afraid. Since I was assaulted again recently all rules for my fitness have flown by the wayside. I guess I figured that if I just stopped caring about my food choices or working out that I would just get fat again. And that would help keep me safe again.

But hey… then I remembered that I was assaulted when I was 15 years old and I was the fat kid in my high school. I was bullied daily for how ugly I was- but somehow I was desirable enough either in lack of self-esteem or in body to attract a rapist. Then I remembered that I was assaulted again when I was 16, in the same context but at a different high school. Then I remembered that when I was in Spain I was almost at my heaviest weight and I still managed to attract an asshole with no regard for others.

Then I remembered that no matter how beautiful or ugly you are, how skinny or fat, how tall, wide, fit, or weak you are, you are always vulnerable if you don’t love yourself. My fat never saved me, it only gave me the illusion of safety because it gave me slight anonymity. Loving myself is the best protection I can give me because it tells most people “hey, fuck you. I won’t stand for any of your bullshit.” And that is a better safety net than a plus size.

I didn’t expect that to get so deep. Sort of sorry. Also I don’t know how to conclude this post so it’s probably just going to be continued.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, gorgeous humans!

P.S. I worked out for forty-five minutes today! And I did 30 burpees! THIRTY! Even if I don’t wake up early and work out tomorrow morning, I’ll definitely work out again after work like I did today. I feel electric. 😀