When I was 16 I’d been dating a high school boyfriend for a year. The topic of sex had come up…naturally. I’d made it clear that I was not ready to “go there.” But, I was in LOVE, or, as much in love as you can be at that age. In spite of that, he clearly understood my stance on sex. what happened in that relationship is why I was glued to the Brett Kavanaugh hearing.
He was a senior and to celebrate his senior year our parents gave us permission to skip school one day and go to the lake for a picnic. Tom had a friend who got us beer. I packed a picnic and off to the lake we went.
I had never been one to drink. I grew up with an alcoholic father and shied away from drinking and, especially becoming drunk. That day, though, I drank too much. It didn’t take much to get me there!
I remember us eating, drinking our beer and then going for a walk around the lake. I was disoriented and just tipsy enough to feel good. When we got back to our picnic blanket he opened another beer and we shared it. That is the last memory I have until I woke up.
I had passed out. When I came to he was kneeling between my knees, my pants and underwear were off, and he was saying, “the rubber came off, the rubber came off.” I turned my head and violently threw up. He jumped up and started yelling at me to get my pants on. I could hardly stand up so he helped me get dressed and threw me and our stuff in his car.
He drove me to a middle-aged couple’s home. I didn’t know them but, I became quite intimately acquainted with this wife in a very short period of time. There were whispers between Tom and the man, then between the man and his wife. I was sitting on a chair in their kitchen shaking violently and trying to process what had happened and was happening.
The wife came to me and said, “Come with me, I’m going to get you cleaned up.” She took me in the bathroom, reached under the sink and pulled out a box of Summer’s Eve douche. She showed me how to use it and left me to myself in the bathroom.
When I came back into the kitchen there as a cup of coffee waiting for me. I suppose it was meant to sober me up. Tom and the couple explained to me what had happened. He and I had had sex and the douche was to keep me from becoming pregnant. They were “protecting” me, they said.
I sat there and sobbed. This middle-aged woman put her arm around me and told me it would be OK. “YOU made a mistake, we’re going to help YOU so no one ever has to know you made a mistake.”
Self-blame and the repercussions
And, that is what I lived with for decades. The belief that I had “made a mistake.” That I was the one who had done something wrong. I know now that he purposefully got me drunk. That he wanted sex whether I was on board with having sex or not. I know now that the douche was not to keep me from getting pregnant but to wash away evidence of a rape should I come to my senses and realize that is what had happened.
I lived with the repercussions of that day for decades. At 19 I had my first panic attack. By 24 I was full blown agoraphobic and terrified of men and in my head, I played over and over again, that it was all because I’d made a mistake. I was 27-years-old before a therapist helped me come to terms with the fact that I had been raped.
Processing and accepting that I’d been raped didn’t alleviate the repercussions of the rape. I had relationships with men but there was very little sexual activity. When I did have sex, I threw up immediately afterward. In my mind, sex was wrong, I was bad for wanting it and, at 28 decided I’d hold off until I met, “the one.”
At 30 I met, “the one.” Or, so I thought. He was kind, considerate and understanding about my issues with sex. He was willing to wait until I was comfortable going there with him. He failed to disclose to me that he had been molested by a Priest as a child. He made it all about me and my needs without letting me in on the secret that he has his own issues with sex and a past sexual assault.
Talk about the blind leading the blind!
His, mine and ours. How sexual assault destroyed a marriage.
We eventually had sex and, it was wonderful. We were randy, couldn’t keep our hands off each other and I thought I’d worked through the hurdles put in place by being the victim of a sexual assault. We then married. The night we married, his issue with sex reared its ugly head.
He lost interest in sex. He assured me it wasn’t about me. But, being the empath I am, I made it about me. If I were thinner, had a neater home, cook better meals…he’d want to have sex with me. I spent years turning myself inside out trying to find a way to attract my husband sexually.
After 14 years of marriage and 2 children, our marriage imploded. I lost my marriage and my intact family because I’d married a man who couldn’t face doing the work needed to deal with his own sexual assault as a child.
My rape had played a role in me not being able to properly choose a man to put my trust into. His sexual assault played a role in him not being able to connect intimately with his wife.
And, that is why I was glued to the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. I know first hand what sexual assault and rape can do to the lives of victims. I know also, that it isn’t the least bit unnatural for victims of sexual assault and rape to wait to tell their story or, worse yet, never tell their story.
I watched as a courageous woman came forward and told her story in front of millions of people and to old, white, privileged men who had no intention of believing her or, even if they did believe her, no intention to hold the man who had assaulted her accountable.
I watched for every woman and man who has been a victim of sexual assault. I watched because Dr. Blasey Ford, set an example for all of us…whether you are believed or not, you have a right to tell your truth. It’s a powerful message to those of us who’ve had our lives and marriages ruined by men and women who thought we were there’s for the taking.
I hope her courage, rubs off onto anyone holding in a secret because it wasn’t your fault, you aren’t to blame and, as much as anyone will try to shame you, you should, like Dr. Ford, hold your head high and rid yourself of the toxicity of the shame that comes from being sexually abused. You are worthy, you are of value and you are NOT alone!