It Happened to Me Too
As women around the globe have reignited the Me Too campaign highlighting sexual assault, violence, and harassment women experience at the hands of men, I share my story from an excerpt in my book Spirit Rising: Workbook for Healing and Empowerment.
The Descent- Raped, Molested, and Pregnant at Thirteen
Turning 13 changed everything. They say that number is one of transformation and that is exactly what I went through during my 13th and 14th year. During that time, questions of who I am began to first emerge. They probably started with my first conversation with my biological father. Being raised by my grandparents, I didn’t become aware of my true parentage until I was nine years old. It was then that my grandmother finally told me that the woman I knew as my sister was, in fact, my mother. It was also then that I discovered that my daddy was actually my grandfather and that no one really knew where my real father was.
While I seemed to cope well knowing about my mother, my curiosity about my father remained and at thirteen, I finally had a glimpse of what he was about through my first conversation with him. As the years went by, that conversation became even more important because as of this writing, it would be only 1 of 3 times I would ever talk to him. So, the first conversation left me with the question ,” who am I.” It was that question that I tried to answer for the next 25 years.
The other thing that the conversation did, was leave me searching for him through boys and relationships. Although my grandfather was certainly there for me financially, he also had a problem with drinking that left him emotionally unavailable to help me navigate through my teenage emotions with boys. My smart mouth and constantly changing moods left both of my grandparents quite frustrated and eventually landed me for a short while with my mother who lived 500 miles away in Ohio. During that time, I first came face to face with the negative side of sexuality and found myself near a man my father’s age fondling me and inappropriately touching me. Scared, by myself, and feeling trapped, I allowed him to do what he wanted and ran out as soon as I could get away. My grandmother, after finding out what had happened and having always loved me granted me a reprieve and allowed me to come back home to St. Louis where I would be safe.
I guess in the end, there were no safe spaces because in less than a year later I found myself being raped by my boyfriend while on a date. The prior molestation, coupled with emerging new hormones, left me more willing to engage in suggestive conversations about sex with boys who were much older than myself. In the case of my boyfriend, he was 17 and I had just turned 14.
One night, I arranged to sneak away and he picked me up to take me to a relative’s house. This relative was away on vacation so the whole house was ours. Although I talked sexually over the phone with him, I really had no experience with boys outside of the man in Ohio. I became very scared and nervous as he began to touch and kiss me and within moments I tried to back away from his advances. By that time, however, he was already aroused and was determined to do what he brought me there to do. Eventually coming to a place where he was forcing me on the bed and into my body, I was helpless to fight his aggressive assault. I cried softly through my pleas for him to stop as he entered my body paying no mind to my pain. Afterward, I quietly dressed and waited for him to take me home while he seemed to show no indication that he had just raped me. Feeling guilty, confused, and like it was my fault for sneaking around, I never mentioned the incident to anyone.
The situation wasn’t quite over though. Within a month, I noticed that I hadn’t had a period and it became evident that I could be pregnant. That was truly the last straw to my sanity. Not being able to tell my grandparents about the incident because I felt it was my fault left me to figure out what to do on my own. It was complicated by my grandfather having gone on a month long alcoholic binge that left him incapable of helping me and my grandmother emotionally fried from his indulgences. I had never received any counseling for the molestation the year before so I coped the best way I knew how. It seemed to me that the only way to deal with everything was to take my life and end the pain. It had all become too much and I couldn’t see anyway that it was going to get better.
Gathering all of the pills in the house, I began to plan my exit. I decided I would take them that night after everyone went to sleep and no one would be able to stop me.
The Transmutation- Touched by an Angel
Tearfully, I filled a Ziploc bag with pills from every medicine cabinet in the house one morning. Exhausted from the sheer strain of the recent past and tired from the pregnancy I opted for a midday nap. I placed the bag of pills safely under my mattress for use later that night. I then softly cried as I prayed for relief and forgiveness. Then, I fell off to a deep sleep and the peace came. The angels descended upon me and offered grace that would remove my pain. Now it is important to realize that it wasn’t from the pills. They were still safely tucked away under the mattress. The grace that came happened upon awakening. In some strange way, my memory was erased. I literally had forgotten the desire to take my life and the incidents that led to it. I was still able to function school wise and all but I did not remember my plan. Soon after I started bleeding and had an extended period that month but that was it.
It wasn’t until 6 months later that I was cleaning my room and flipped my mattress to find the pills I had gathered to end my life. At that point it all came flooding back to me. Only then, I could deal with it. I noted though, that something very mystical had happened. While I didn’t know much, I knew that I was being divinely protected by a force beyond my current understanding. It was a mystical experience that would remind me for years to come of the magical power of the Spirit.