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don't be blind

untitled by monica

My story begins about a year and a half ago. It was the middle of January, the week before winter exams. I had just turned 18, and was in my final year of high school. In general, things were going pretty well. I had always had a good life, although I admit that I was a bit naïve. I knew that the world wasn't perfect, that there were a lot of bad things going on. But in my mind, those things only happened to other people. It didn't take long for me to learn otherwise.

I had planned on staying in that Saturday night to study for exams. Maybe I should have. But I had no way of knowing that my life, my world, would suddenly be turned upside down.

An old friend, who I hadn't talked to for almost a year called. I'll say his name now; I can no longer think of excuses for protecting the guilty. Greg wanted to know what I was doing that night. He suggested going to a movie so we could catch up. I probably would have declined, had it been anyone else and used the time to study, but I was really happy to hear from him. I remembered how I used to spend countless hours with him, Jason and Lisa a few years before. The four of us would always be together. Even a couple years ago, I used to go to his hockey games with some other friends. I had no reason not to trust him. He was a safe person. But more importantly, he was my FRIEND.

He picked me up, and we went to the movies. To this day, I still can't remember what we saw. Afterwards, I thought he was going to drive me home, but instead he pulled into this popular spot by the lake. He said that we hadn't really gotten a chance to talk during the movie, and suggested going for a walk. We got out of the car and headed for a path on the cliff, overlooking the lake. We entered a small forest, but even the tall trees couldn't protect us from the cold January wind. We were freezing, and decided to head back.

Once in the car, Greg turned on the heat, then leaned over to kiss me. I was seeing someone at the time, so I pulled away and told him that. He said he'd always had a crush on me, but could never do anything before, cuz of Jason, who I was previously involved with. I was flattered. Especially since I used to have feelings for him too, but never acted on them. But I couldn't cheat on my boyfriend. And when Greg kissed me again, I began to get annoyed.

All of a sudden, he was holding a Swiss Army knife in front of my face. One of the big ones. The blade was out, although I have no idea how he managed to do this without me noticing. He held it against my neck, not applying too much pressure, but just enough for me to feel it. The metal was so cold against my warm skin, and I shivered. I was no longer annoyed; fear had taken over.

He told me that I had been flirting with him all night, and that I 'wanted it.' Plus, he had paid for the movie, so in his mind, I 'owed him.'

I started to cry. I had never imagined that something like this could happen to me. I was begging him to stop, but he wouldn’t. He hit me, and told me to shut up. I stopped talking, but couldn't stop crying. I tried to be as quiet as possible though, not wanting to do anything to make him mad.

He ripped off my shirt. A maroon button-up shirt I had recently gotten, which I absolutely loved. At one point, he put the knife down, but pinned my hands together, above my head. My arms were at a strange angle, and all I could think of for a couple minutes was how much it hurt.

I remember looking in his cold blue eyes. Pure evil. This wasn't Greg, the guy I'd been friends with for five years. I was with a complete stranger; a monster.

He took off the rest of my clothes, then undid his pants. I didn't try to fight. I didn't scream. Not vocally, at least. On the inside, my mind was screaming, begging, pleading for him to stop, for someone to come and make things all better; for someone to save my life. No one ever heard those screams. The silent screams. It really doesn't matter though; there was no one else around.

I wasn't a virgin at the time; I'd had sex with a couple guys before. Not so much because I ever really loved them, but it was just the thing to do. But even though it wasn't my first time, it was still painful.

So this is what dying feels like...

I remember looking at the glowing lights, and the time was 12:36. It was around then that I stopped paying attention to him. I lay there and stared up at the stars. So many stars. At that moment, I wanted to be anywhere but in my body. My mind started to drift away. I was up high, with all the stars. Thinking about my upcoming trip to Europe. Looking down at this scared girl, who I realized was me. Wanting to run to her, and take her in my arms, and make everything be okay again. But I couldn't. I was far away, far away like whoever watches over me. Except she was no where to be found.

I snapped back to reality. He was done, and threw my clothes at me. He told me to get out of his car, and trembling, I complied.

I got dressed in the cold, shivering the whole time, as he sped out of the parking lot. Driving away, taking my life with him. Finally, the full extent of what had happened hit me. I sunk to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. I felt like I had died. A large part of me did die that day.

I didn't know what to do. I just wanted to be home, to feel safe again. I couldn't walk back though, it was too far, and too cold. I half stumbled, half ran to my friend's boyfriend's house. I called her, and she picked me up, then drove me home.

I felt so dirty. Never in my life had I felt like this: so filthy, so ashamed, and wanting nothing more than to just curl up in a ball and die. I headed straight for the shower, turning the water as hot as it would go. I couldn't quite get it hot enough, and after an hour, I felt just as dirty as I originally did. But by then, the water was cooling down, and I was exhausted.

Back in my room, I remembered a song on one of my CD's. I had gotten Tori's Little Earthquakes a couple years earlier, but never became too attached to it. However, I remembered the song Me and a Gun. When I first heard that song, I naturally thought it was sad, but couldn't really connect with it. But now the horror she sang about was all too real for me. I put the song on repeat, then laid in bed and cried for the entire night. I knew that I would never tell anyone what happened. It would be my secret, but it would be okay, because Tori knew too, and she understood.

From January to August I thought about it non-stop. No matter what else was going on in my life, this was there too. I couldn't escape it, although I wanted nothing more than to just forget the whole thing ever happened.

Finally, Septemeber came, and it was time for me to move away from home, for my first year of University. I thought this was perfect; it was my chance to start over, to put the past behind me, once and for all. I left all my Tori CD's at home under my bed, and vowed to get on with my life. At school I made some amazing friends, and got involved in some incredible extracurricurlar activities. The rape was still in some corner of the back of my mind, but I think I was genuinely happy a lot of the time.

For a year I was silent. In that time, I wish I could say that I succeeded in going about my life as though nothing ever happened, but I can't. I think that a lot of people who haven't experienced rape or sexual assault cannot fully understand the extent to which it affects a person. The rape didn't end that night. It affected me in more ways than I can begin to describe. Finding out that everything you had ever held true about yourself, about people in general, is a lie, comes as a big shock. I saw everything in a new way. Not a good way.

It finally got to the point where I couldn’t handle things on my own anymore. I borrowed a friend's copy of Little Earthquakes, and as I heard Tori's voice, I remembered in detail all of the things that I had never really forgotten. I also remembered the comfort that comes with knowing that someone else in this world understands, and has been there too.

Finally, after a year of silence, I broke down and told someone. An incredible, caring, amazing person, who most importantly, understood. A large part of where I am now can be attributed to her. She arranged for me to see the counsellor at my university (another wonderful person), and eventually I was able to tell some friends, who even now continue to amaze me with their support.

I was raped at 18, and in the following year and a half I went through the motions of living. Not even living, but sometimes just barely existing. I either had to be drunk, or turn myself into a prostitute in order to feel. It was not exactly the type of life I could be proud of. So here I am, seventeen months later. 19 years old. I survived. Although I am not yet at a stage in my life where I would like to be, I have learned what's really important: I'm still alive.

the meadow by amanda

I was twelve. Would be thirteen in four days. I had just gotten my period a few months earlier. I still liked to crawl in bed with my mother when I had a bad dream. I still watched cartoons on Saturday morning. I still made my mom take the crust off my sandwiches. I had a nightlight. I was still a little girl. I still saw the world with innocent eyes. I was not afraid to walk alone at night in my safe suburban neighborhood. I still believed that there were no TRULY bad people. On the night of November 17th, my innocence was brutally and cruelly stolen from that little girl. I learned what evil was.

My memories of what happened come to me in spurts. In dreams. In hazy half-thoughts. At inopportune times. Always frightening. Always painful. I have remembered that night in stages. Never as a whole. It has taken me five years.

I had been hanging out with friends, and I was spending the night at Cory's (Carrie? Kelly? Kristy?). It was about midnight. I was wearing a long, flowing black skirt, a velvet top, and new black sandals. I was stoned. I was walking down the main road of our neighborhood. Our SAFE neighborhood. Our little, tiny, safe, suburban neighborhood.

I heard footsteps behind me, and looked back, and no one was there. I kept walking. I heard the footsteps again, and I again turned around. There was no one there, so I turned to keep walking. There was a man standing in front of me. He had a smile on his face that made me cringe. I stumbled, and leapt away from him. I turned back around, to run in the other direction. There was a second man behind me. I turned to my left. There was a third man there. I turned to my right. A fourth man. I was surrounded. I sunk to the ground and wept.

They were wearing black from head to toe. And ski masks. Those cliché knit ski masks. They sounded like they could have been in their mid-late twenties, no older than thirty. They had that surfer sound, "dude" and "right on". One of them grabbed me by the arm, and pulled me through the dense trees on the side of the road. Into a meadow. I screamed, kicked, cried, begged.

They made me stand in front of them. The first man took out a knife. I remember how the light glistened off the clean blade. Just a tinkle while he moved it. He told me to take off my clothes. I sobbed and shook my head, and begged for them to let me go home. He came towards me, and pushed the blade to my neck. Told me he would slit my throat. I made a motion for him to stop. I did as he said. I took off my shirt. My skin stiffened from the shock of the air. I was wearing a brand new bra. I had been so excited to get it, because it had been my first pretty bra. It was off-white satin with little pink rose buds on it, and a bow where the material met in between my still growing breasts. He told me to take it off. I remember throwing it to the ground, and watching it land on the wet earth. Watching the creamy satin splash with the mud from the light rain earlier that day. That was when I knew. That was when the little girl who slept with a nightlight left me. Fled. Ran screaming from that meadow.

He backed me up against a tree. Reached under my skirt, and cut off my white cotton underwear. I sobbed. He touched me. Put his fingers I inside of me. His dirty, lascivious fingers. I could FEEL the filth. He made me tell him I liked it. I kept begging for him to let me go home. Over and over again. Please. Please. Please……. Please?

He unzipped his pants. Black denim. A tiny hole in the knee. And then there it was. Ugly. Repulsive. I wanted to throw up. He made me touch him. Make him hard. I could feel the bile gathering in the back of my throat. Before I knew what had happened, he was inside of me. I felt him. Felt myself rip. Felt the pain. Such intense pain. Pain like I had never experienced before. My feet left the ground. I left my body. I watched the whole scene from afar. I watched a man thrust into a little girl. Watched with frightened, confused eyes. I saw the look on her face. She stared into the night. Blank eyes. Surrendered strength. She stared. I wanted to run to this little girl. I wanted to take her in my arms. Stroke her hair. Kiss her eyelids. Beat the will to fight back into her. But she just stared.

He came inside of me. I thought it was over. I thought they would let me go. And then he threw me to the ground. Motioned for the second man to come over. I watched her. I watched her lay there. She just lay there. No tears. No fighting. She just lay there. He assaulted me orally. To this day I can feel his tongue inside of me. Like a snake. Listening to my body. And then he was inside of me. I had gone numb. The pain had numbed my body. There was a rock digging into my right shoulder. It was a little rock. No more than a pebble. But it dug. Dug into my soul. Lodged itself in my heart.

They all took their turns with me. Four hours later they stood up. My skirt was around my waist. My eviscerated underwear lying next to my soiled bra. My shirt was in the branches of the tree. My skin was dirty. My breasts cut and bruised. The first man leaned over me. His face millimeters away from mine. He smiled. That sick, nauseating smile. And then he pushed his mouth to mine. He kissed me. A soft, closed mouth kiss. Almost tender. Almost loving. And they left. They got in their car, blasted Guns N Roses, and left. Left me there. In the mud. Dirty, bleeding.

There was no moon. I lay there, searching for the moon. And she wasn't there. I sat up. Cringed from the pain between my legs. I sat in the mud and I rocked. Back and forth. Rocked through the pain. Rocked and sobbed. Cried tears for the little girl that had fled when I threw my bra to the ground. I just rocked and sobbed.

I eventually stood up. My skirt fell back down around my ankles. I put my dirty and ripped shirt on. Left my bra and underwear in the mud where they had landed. I couldn't bear the sight of my beautiful bra, soiled and destroyed. I went home. I got in the shower, and turned the water on as hot as it would go. Couldn't get it hot enough. The dirt washed away. My skin turned pink. The cuts on my chest swelled, and the skin around them became spongy. I still felt dirty. Couldn't escape the feeling that they were coming for me. That they had followed me home. I stayed in the shower for two hours, and crawled into bed as the sun was peeking it's head over the hills.

When I woke up the next afternoon, I remembered nothing. It took me a week. I spent a week wondering why I felt so afraid when the sun set at night. I spent a week full of nightmares, and asthma attacks, and crying jags. And then I heard a Guns N Roses song on the radio. It hit me. I started screaming and sobbing. I threw things, and smashed every dish in the cupboards, and eventually curled myself into a ball on my bedroom floor, and wept. I tried to kill myself that night. I tried to rip open my wrists with a kitchen knife. I tried again a few months later. I took an overdose a few months after that. I wanted so badly to die.

I didn't tell anyone for two years. I spent two years in silence. When I finally made the decision that it was time to tell my mother, I sat her down, and I explained what happened. She didn't even look at me. When I was done, she told me that she didn't believe me. That I was making it all up for attention. I ran from the room, and I have spoken nothing of it to her since then. About six months after that day, I tried to kill myself for the final time. I took 174 Tylenol and aspirin. I spent a week in a psychiatric hospital, told them what they wanted to hear and they sent me on my merry way, with medications in tow.

I have spent the last five years pretending that it didn't happen. I have always been honest about that night, but I never really believed that it had affected me the way it did. I pushed it into the background. Pretended like I was okay. Well, I can no longer pretend. I'm NOT okay. I have realized that in the past few months. I got myself into therapy this week. I think that will be the first step in my healing. Admitting that I can't do this on my own. I can't heal myself. All of my friends know. They have been so supportive. They talk me down on my crazy days, and build me up on my suicidal days. If it weren't for my wonderful friends, I would have slashed open every vein in my body by now.

I was raped when I was twelve, a junkie by thirteen, a prostitute by fourteen, and a mental case by fifteen. I have visited every possible venue of self-destructiveness. And I lived to tell the tale. So, here I stand. I am 17. I know that someday I will be a whole person again. Someday I won't have nightmares that steal my breath, and leave me clamoring for a razor blade. Someday the panic attacks will stop. Someday I will be able to have a man touch me, and not cringe. Someday I will be happy. Someday I will be a survivor. Someday.

untitled by anonymous

I was raped by my best friend and occasional lover of two years. I don't know how to explain it. I wanted him so badly, but he treated me like dirt after I got an (irritating-but-not-deadly) STD. Then one day I was at his house fooling around with him and he put on these mirrored sunglasses and started pushing me. I got real scared. I tried laughing it off and he climbed on top of me. I said, "What are you doing, Ian? You're scaring me." I knew this guy, I knew what deodorant he wore, his favourite toothpaste, and he's pinning me on the bed, and I'm saying, no, don't do this, please. I felt this couldn't be real, that something was going to stop it. This couldn't happen to me. I can remember the details, but they happened to someone else, all I remember is the screaming in my head, I cannot be violated like this. Cornflake Girl was in my head, you know, "THIS IS NOT REALLY HAPPENING." Sweetie, you bet your life it happened. I couldn't escape. I believed him when he said he remembered it being consensual. I went back, I went back too many times. My friends stopped believing me when I told them what was happening, when I called them during panic attacks. Why do I keep going back, they said. Until it happened to one of them, a girl more shy then me, she down plays it, won't say what happened, just something did. And his girlfriend was the only one who believed me. I call her Angel, she thinks I'm being sarcastic, but without her I would have doubted my sanity. It was especially hard to deal with because I had been molested as a child and enternalized a lot of the blame. I was still trying to deal with that, and I kept thinking, this was no big deal compared to 4 years of it before. At the time I was trying to rebuild my trust in people and I confused it with dependence. And now, after 3 years I know why I went back, I didn't want admit I was a victim. I didn't want to go through the process- I didn't believe anything could heal me. I just felt broken. So I married someone worse, I found myself in scarier situations. I didn't leave until he started hitting me. Even then I wasn't convinced I was in danger, until one day I was telling my friend Ree what was going on. She said, do you KNOW what you sound like? I said, I know but it's different, he really wants to change. And she said, do you have any idea how many dead women say that? That finally convinced me I had to avoid situations where I'd be harmed. That, as a human being, I have a right to a peaceful existence. And people who don't allow me that are wrong.

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be blessed!