Let me start off by saying I will write the most personal post I will ever write in my life and I want to make sure that you know the reason behind it isn’t to have a pity party or anything along those lines, but simply to share my experience, because it’s very likely someone reading this has had a similar situation happen to them (or know someone who has).
This post has been sitting in my drafts folders for some time now (obviously I’ve modified it several times) but wasn’t ready to press the publish button until now. So if you are ready for a long read, then here it goes.
Yesterday was a crappy day for me… every year, June 24th is a crappy day for me. I just want to curl up in a ball and do nothing. Do what comforts me because that’s what I need. Hugs from my husband, my kids and even my mom for that matter. But yesterday was even harder than the years before… and I finally figured out why. Yesterday, June 24th 2012… marked 15 years since I got raped. 15 years ago, I was 14 years old, celebrating with my cousin our national holiday and drank for the first time (yes, underage). It was a time of firsts and let me tell you even now the whole story sounds a little surreal.
June 24th 1997 – Our national holiday (St-Jean-Baptist) I went over to my cousins house for the day and was extremely excited about our plans for the night. We were going to the parc to watch live bands and fireworks. Obviously the plan was to chill with my cousins friends and boyfriend, but I was the youngest of the gang, only 14. My cousin almost 17, promised me she wouldn’t leave me out of her sight because we weren’t in a place I was familiar to. We were having a blast, dancing, singing and laughing… but then the alcohol hit me like a ton of bricks and I barely remember what happened. I remember lying on the floor (on a blanket we had brought) starting up at the spinning stars and this guy (who clearly I didn’t know) started talking to me. I can’t tell you what we spoke about, nor could I tell you what he looked like, but I remember him having blonde hair (rather long). I remember he helped me get up, and making our way to his car (a black car – that I remembered) and driving off.
I can’t tell you where we went, and honestly I felt so dazed and confused with all the mini blackouts I had. Clearly I had no idea what was about to happen. The car stopped, I could hear water (I believe we were along the river) Blackout. He untied my seat belt and his, turned up the music and proceeded to undress me. Blackout . I remember talking to him and saying i didn’t want to. Blackout. I felt pain I’ve never felt before but was too drunk to even speak . Blackout . The car turned on and we left, at that moment I remember pretending I was sleeping because I knew what had happened. He dropped me off in front of where he picked me up. My cousin and her boyfriend were frantic running everywhere asking if anyone had seen me… so when they noticed a car and me coming out of it, fumbling over with my bra over my head they knew it was bad news.
There was a women with them, a stranger who lived across from the park. She asked if we wanted to go inside until I sobered up a little to know what happened. She not only worked in a field of abused children, but the guy, who pulled up and dropped me off, was a guy she knew. He actually was an ex-boyfriend. This woman, was the sweetest ever and helped me in a way no one could understand. She dressed me, asked the right questions (even though she knew what had happened) and proceeded to help me go to the washroom. I remember seeing blood and not just a little. Yes, I was a virgin and this man took that away from me. I found out, this guy was 32 years old and father to a 7 year old little girl and he too worked in the field of abused children.
After I washed up, we left the house and headed straight to the police office to report the sexual assault. I was exhausted, still drunk (and underage) waiting for an investigator to come take my statement. It took what felt like hours. All I wanted to do was sleep, but that wasn’t an option. Once I told them my version of the story, off I went to the local hospital and that’s when they called my parents. I balled, not because of what just had happened but more because I didn’t want my parents to be disappointed in the fact that I drank underage. I felt like such a disappointment, like a horrible daughter. Once my mom arrived at the hospital, she hugged me for what felt like hours but I didn’t want to let go. We cried but knew we would get through it together. They packed my stuff and off I went to another hospital where they would examine me. (The local hospital wasn’t allowed to “examine me” in the case of a crime)
After hours of getting examined, waiting, talking to the doctors and the investigator, I was finally allowed to go home. I walked out of the hospital and could hear the morning birds chirping. In the far distance, I saw my dad and my sisters. My dad gave me a huge, I cried, and told me 3 words that barely came out of his mouth. “I Love you” (a moment that is forever engraved in my mind) Honestly, I can not even start to imagine what emotions my parents went through. I just know they were grateful that I didn’t remember what happened that night. Made the healing process go much quicker.
Why didn’t he go to jail right there and then? Well, unfortunately because I was 14 by-law meant I was old enough to consent to sex. I turned 14, 1 month + 1 day prior and if I had been 13 then yes, he would of been convinced in a heartbeat… but alas, I decided to go testify against him in court so that he couldn’t do this to anyone else. My attorney told me that he had a clean record and was a first time offender, but obviously he played the “she said yes” card. We went into 3 or 4 rounds of court, everyone testified, including his ex-girlfriend (She actually testified against him.) I can’t give you major details about that whole process because I deliberately blocked in out of my mind but I do remember 1 important moment… when his mother came up to me. She held my hand and apologized for her son’s actions. I told her I accepted her apologies and that I even forgave her son for what he had done. She started crying and walked away.
Yes, at that moment, in court, I had forgiven him for what he had done to me. How? Many people asked me along the years, and I have no other explanation other than “I just did, I had to if I wanted to move on with my life…” The verdict was in, he was guilty and served 2 years in jail no probation. He could no longer work in his current work field and was banned from being in the same area as me. Yes two years isn’t much but it was more than nothing. It was worth going through the whole process to make it known what he had done. Sure I wasn’t physically abused on top of it, (very thankful for that) but I was abused in another way and that alone was enough.
I’m not the type of person that is ashamed of what happened. I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason (though I have to admit I did ask multiple times “why me?! ) As you probably know, I’m a pretty open book when it comes to my life, so it’s only normal I am the type of person that actually talks about what happened. I’m at peace with what happened and I wouldn’t be who I am today if it hadn’t happened to me. I talk about it because I know it might help someone somewhere, tell them that no they aren’t alone and they can speak out. In college I would even do public speaking about my experience and have a Q & A session. People were amazed at my courage and strength but to me, it was what I was meant to do.
15 years ago I was a rape victim, but today I’m a wife and mother but more importantly I’m a woman of strength. I’m me.