I was almost sixteen that summer. I was growing up sheltered in a small
midwestern farm town. That summer had been a good one. I'd earned enough
money through babysitting to pay for my late nights out with my friends.
We were -- and still are-- a good group of kids. We cruised the "strip",
a two mile street spanning the center of town, honking at friends, blaring
our music, and sipping cherry cokes from Sonic. My parents were letting me
spread my wings a little, beginning to realize that their baby, their only
girl, was growing up. It was a good time. A happy time. A safe time.
I left for debate camp on July 5. My best friend and I stuffed our parents' cars full of office supplies, clothes, radios, and anything else a teenager could find "absolutely necessary" for a two week sojourn into the unknown. We were spending two weeks on a college campus in Kansas City, working on the activity that had so easily become our lives. Debate camp was exciting-- it was a time to meet other debaters from around your state, not to mention from around the country. My family had scrimped and saved ever since April when the camp brochures came out, not wanting to tell me no, spoiling me even more. When they settled me into my room I could tell that they didn't want to let go just yet...this was a college campus...this was two weeks away. I was so young. And yet I was already running from room to room, meeting new friends, urging my parents to go, that I would be fine. I thought I was grown up already, but the truth was I was still an innocent little girl. A girl who's world would begin to fall apart within the hour...if only someone had known.
He was sitting right in front of us, but I paid no attention. I was busy talking it up with a new friend, a girl who I had seen on the circut before. We were loud I am sure--but we were two giddy fifteen year old girls, too happy and too much alike not to be. Suddenly, he turned. I paid no attention--he had been speaking earlier with a group of boys behind us. But this time his words were for us. They were uncontrolled, angry. "Shut-the fuck-UP," he said, eyes flashing. I was stunned. No stranger had ever spoken that way to me. I should have kept that feeling on file, remembered it for always. Maybe then it wouldn't have happened.
It was a week later and I sat on the concrete steps leading into the lecture hall, basking in the early afternoon sun, feeling the warm sun on my face as I ate my dinner. M y friends had already gone back inside to cool off before evening classes. Before I could stand he was beside me. He grinned and brushed his dark hair out of his eyes. Looking back there are so many things I should have noticed...the way his eyes shifted around. The occasionally mocking tone of his voice. The fierce anger of a week earlier. But at that moment I saw nothing but the way his dimples flashed when he smiled, the way his exquisitely cut dark hair ruffled in the wind. The way his ice blue eyes danced. He sat beside me and I could detect expensive cologne, a kind I had smelled only in department stores. He took my hand in his, and I noted how soft they were--he had never worked with his hands. He traced a finger over a line of stitches on my hand and asked how I had been hurt. I told him of the accident on the Fourth of July that had sent me to the emergency room. We talked for twenty minutes and as we walked back into the cool auditorium he asked if I would help him move his things into the dorms that night. I said yes, and that night we kissed.
Before camp was even out he was pushing me along sexually. I was very innocent in that department. I had had a boy or two touch me through my shirt, but that was all. Yet here was this seventeen year old boy who was somehow getting me to consent to more, faster. My family loved him, as did all of my friends--he was a "good" kid--the only son of a KC millionaire, attended a prestigious private school, planned to become a lawyer and potentially enter politics. His family loved me--a sweet small town girl teaching their son about some of the simpler things in life-that money doesn't buy it all. I didn't meet his friends, but I never thought much about it.
He controlled me from the start, without me even knowing it. He came to see me every day after camp was out, keeping it up the entire week before he left with his family on vacation. He called every night. He almost immediately began saying that he loved me. I turned sixteen and he showered me with affection and gifts, driving down to attend my party. He kissed me as I slid behind the wheel of the Mustang convertable that had beent he gift from my parents, and he gave me his class ring. In everyone's eyes I was the luckiest girl in the world.
But there were so many little things. He would call twenty minutes early to see if I was home, waiting for his call. If I wasn't he was upset. He kept pressuring me to go further, sexually, than I felt ready for. When the night came that he had decided we would have sex for the first time, my period came. The look in his eyes frightened me for a moment. It was pure rage. He basically told me it was my fault, and that I may as well have not even come to see him. A week later I "made up for it". He was happy then. I was beginning to feel cheaper and cheaper.
He told me that his ultimate sexual fantasy was to rape someone.
He told me that he would kill me if I left him. I thought it meant he loved me.
It was our six month anniversary the night it happened for the first time. I had driven up to see him. He had spent the day at a debate tournament so I talked with his parents. Somehow the subject of ACT and SAT scores came up. I had taken the tests as a freshman and scored fairly well on them. They were impressed--my boyfriend never brought up my intelligence. What I didn't know is that his scores had came in that week--and been less than mine were as a freshmen. That night, upset with a poor showing at his tournament, he was also teased for dating a "smart" girl. "Looks like she's got both the looks and the brains--what do you have?" his father asked. He glowered and guided me downstairs to the basement family room. I sensed nothing wrong.
His parents left minutes later for dinner. My boyfriend had been rather quiet. I mentioned possible activities for the evening, all of which he shunned. As a joke I mentioned Trivial Pursuit, then laughing and saying that I would win so it wouldn't be fair. He got upset. Getting in my face he told me not to "act smart." In my flippant way I said-"It's not an act."
I didn't feel the stinging slap until a moment later. I rocked back on my heels, hitting the edge of the fireplace mantle. I was stunned. But I was petrified at the look in his eyes. His eyes were cold, ice cold, and in them burned a hatred I had only read about in books. That's when I learned what it meant to be afraid. It was a lesson that I was taught over and over again for the next year.
He apologized every time, saying it would never happen again, but I had just pushed him over the edge. I felt like a failure. All of my other friends had boyfriends, and they were't making excuses for oddly placed bruises. I was a bad girlfriend. And my boyfriend was a saint--I mean, he was at least holding on to me...another boy would surely leave me when he discovered how horrible I was. And so it continued. He was smart- never where it could be seen by others. He only lost control while hitting me once--the one time I fought back. He slapped me hard enough to knock me off the bed. I stood up and belted him in the lip. It split...he felt the blood and looked at me with disbelief, and for that moment I think he may have understood...may have stood in my shoes. But in a heartbeat it was gone and I was on the floor, bruised and bleeding. He was fast and smart, working only when his house was empty...my house never was.
He gave me concussions *we believe* and never took me to a doctor. He belittled me to the point at which I truly had no self worth. He kicked me, punched me, bit me, grabbed me. He groped me in public, embarrassing me beyond belief, making me feel like a whore. He expected sex every time we were together, irregardless. And when it was over, he immediately left. I was there to service him, nothing more.
July came again, and with it debate camp. I was back at the same place where we had met, a year older, a year wiser. He was about to move five states away due to his father transferring. After that he would go to college. He assured me that he had people watching me though--I would never get away. I went to debate camp feeling like a felon on parole.
The day of our anniversary, he snuck into the dorms, a major offense. It was lunch, and I was alone in my room when he arrived. We kissed and hugged, exchanging small talk. Our kisses grew more passionate. I told him to stop, that I didn't want to get it on in my dorm room, I had to get back.
He told me no. That it was too late. That we were going to have sex one way or another.
And then he raped me.
I don't remember everything...I have blocked so much out. It wasn't the last time though. While visiting his new home he acted out his greatest fantasy. Tricking me into thinking no one was at the house, I relaxed in the living room. Before I knew it someone was behind me, a knife to my throat. I fought, I tried to scream. They lived in a very affluent area, and I knew it could well be someone breaking into the house. It wasn't until the person had dragged me up the stairs into the bedroom that I realized who it was. And I think I was more afraid then, realizing how he had put this whole thing together. He took me with horrible force, holding me down, my arms behind me, the knife against my skin. I still bear a small scar from where it dug into my flesh. It's a reminder of the nightmare that I lived with for so long.
He went to college and became a heavy drinker. I can't count the nights he called, totally blitzed, and accused me of horrible things. We decided to see others while dating each other. I came to visit and made it very clear that no sexual activity would occur between us--not as casual daters. He agreed, sullenly. But that night he took me to a party. I had never drank at that point...never. Yet the next morning I woke up stinking of alcohol, on his dorm room floor, naked. Around me were numerous empty condom wrappers. I remember him joking about me being "free to friends". I never had the courage to find out if they took him up on it that night.
For a month we talked little, and my life began to see some normalcy. I began seeing a boy I knew from school. Hearing the news through the grapevine, I recieved a late night call informing me that my "collar" was back on. I belonged to him and only him again, and was to come see him that weekend. I obliged.
We agreed to go out to dinner with another couple. He belittled the way I dressed in front of them, saying I should have brought nicer clothes. He became angry when I talked to Josh, his friend. He glowered when I flirted harmlessly with a waiter at dinner. We had a small spat at the bowling alley, but I thought it was okay. While bowling I slipped and injured my wrist slightly. It was a bit swolen, but nothing too serious.
Back in the privacy of his room, my boyfriend lit into me, calling me every name he could think of from bitch to whore to far worse accusatory names. He grabbed my neck and pushed me into the bed. I struggled away...and he grabbed my wrist. Twisting, he asked how I liked it. I cried out for him to stop but he twisted harder. Finally he let go, and I fell to the floor. He tossed me a sheet and told me to sleep down there--that there wasn't room for me in his bed.
He refused to take me to a doctor, so it was over 42 hours bfore I returned home and went to the emergency room. The wrist was broken, and I was placed in a splint--the swelling was too bad to cast it yet. I told my parents I had slipped while bowling. I'm a klutz--they believed it. My boyfriend didn't call for two weeks.
We broke up right at Christmas time. He had found someone new, someone totally unlike me in every way but looks. In looks she is a clone. He said we'd stay friends, the ultimate kiss off. I was hurt...but happy. I was always afraid of what would happen if I called it off. Would I even be here? I don't know. I honestly don't know.
It's taken me a long time to heal. I didn't disclose my story until December of '96, two years after we broke up. I was entering a semi-serious relationship and needed to lay my cards out. It began my healing. Some of my friends were unable to handle the truth, and shied away from me. That makes me angrier still. Not only did he rob me of my innocence and dignity, but of my friends.
My healing didn't really begin until I met my now husband. He has taught me so many things. That it's okay to love myself. That I'm pretty. That I am good. I still have a long way to go. I recently noticed that I have some self-injurious behaviors that I am working to eliminate. I have difficulties with trust sometimes, and there are always certain phrases or movements that make me cringe. There are the nightmares. But it's one day at a time, just keep on surviving.
Occasionally he calls me up. I don't know how he finds me. I know that he is moving to this area, and in many ways I hope he looks me up. I want him to see me now. The scared little sixteen year old is a beautiful woman with a wonderful husband and a great house. The kid that would never amount to a damn is putting herself through college and has offers already. The selfish ninny works with developmentally disabled kids and loves it. I want him to ring the doorbell, and see...I want him to see me now. And then I want to shut the door on him and say simply--I do not need you. I do not want you. Go. I have survived.
Back to the Survivor's Sanctuary's lobby.