This one has been the hardest to write. I’ve talked about my rape in the past in posts like I am Spartacus and Reflection. I wanted this post to be personal in a way I hadn’t gotten before but the words haven’t come together as I’d hoped. This topic is so personal and raw I’ve had a hard time putting it in words so I hope my message is delivered with the passion and power I hope it would be.
In Part 1 we covered cutting and my need for control. In Part 2 we covered suicide and the control I thought mine to exercise. In Part 3 we covered my years as a stripper. In Part 4 I covered the pressure to abort and the struggle within about the value of life and how much I’m glad I choose life.
No matter your opinion the fact is no woman will ever ask to be raped and no woman deserves to be raped. No matter what they wear or don’t wear they aren’t asking for it and don’t deserve it. The very definition of rape is nonconsensual sex for one or more participants. By this definition if a woman wants sex then it’s not rape is it?
There are cultures in this world that will disagree and we know them by their treatment of women. I’m not even discussing those cultures or religions at this moment though we might touch on them as this proceeds.
Either way rape is a serious topic. With 215,000 rapes reported every year in the US alone. White women are 12 times more likely to be a victim of rape with only 17,500 reported non-white women being the victims of rape. One in four college aged women has been the victim of rape. The numbers are frightening and to me personal.
Rape steals away the innocence of the victim, shatters her mentally and challenges her faith to the core. So lets talk of my journey and experience. After all this is inside me deeply and you’re here to know and read more about me.
So to bring you into my rape I want you to picture it as in my eyes. Your exercise is to imagine this as yourself.
Warning NOT for the faint of heart. Proceed but this will not be kept PG!
You are 14 years old girl on your way home from school when you are grabbed from the street by some men. They pull you into a van and begin hitting you while one drives away. You count five and all the while you now fight for your life. Believing they’re going to kill you and you’ve no idea why.
They remove your clothing tearing it from your body while they take turns still punching you. From all directions the men strike you. After what seems like hours (though it was minutes at best) the van stops, you are now bleeding and naked. They grab you dragging you from the van and for a moment you are thankful it’s over.
Even with the blood in your face and half dazed you can tell they’re taking you into a building. Once inside your real horror awaits and yet you’ve no idea yet that killing you would have been merciful. That soon you will pray for death and welcome it like a lover.
The older one grabs you by the neck and drags you to a large table before slamming you face down on a table with such force as to break your nose and shatter your cheek bone. Stars fill your vision with the force and you can feel your face cave in. You pray for death only to have your prayers ignored. At this moment you would sell your soul to have it end.
Moments later pain fills your body as you realize one has forced his cock inside you and has entered you from behind, you cry and struggle so they beat you more. They laugh and watch as you bleed and suffer. As punishment after the first plants his ilk inside you the next takes his turn as he enters you tearing your anus with his own forced entry. A scene that will continue until all have entered you and all have planted their seed.
After all have had their turn and you now have broken ribs, a broken nose and cheek bone that is shattered. You’re bleeding from where bone has punctured flesh in your chest, from your shattered face and from you anus and vagina. You pray it’s over, you beg for death and yet it laughs at you in your torment.
They turn you over and tie you down to the table and what seems like days (mere hours) they continue taking turns entering you over and over again. The rape so violent it dislocates your leg with the force and breaks the pubis bone. Even this injury doesn’t stop them them; not even slows them down. You cry and beg god to take you now. You wish they had killed you or would just kill you and granted me some mercy.
They continue to rape and beat you until in gods mercy you pass out from the pain, your heart slows (The medic and medical reports claim 9 beats a minute) and your breathing becomes shallow (again medical reports made claim of 2 per minute and faint.). The men believing they’ve killed you now throw (yes literally throw) you back in their van and when they reach a remote spot throw you into a ditch like a sack of trash and drive off.
I can’t tell you how long I was unconscious nor how long I lay in that cold ditch. What I can tell is that would break you too as it did me. By a miracle I was found by a policeman who was alert enough to notice a naked body in a ditch.
To make the matter worse I was impregnated by the encounter. Nine months at age 15 I became a mother to a child conceived in a most cruel fashion. I gave the child up and my parents took him and have raised him. They’ve done well by him but for a very long time I couldn’t look at my own son without seeing them. Only in recent years have I come to see the true blessing this child is to me But that was covered in part 4.
Now you’ve lived in my shoes even if only by your own imagination. You’ve lived the fourteen year old girl who’s innocence was shattered, her body destroyed and her faith left challenged. I can’t describe all of what followed we’ve no time for that here. What I can tell you is the victim is often re-victimized by everything from that moment forward.
I was further victimized at school by kids who called me names like whore or slut because I had a child. They didn’t take the time to learn how or why nor the desire to care. Parents wouldn’t let their kids associate with “that kind of girl”. You’re looked at differently at church, school and more. No one took the time to learn why I had a child the fact alone was enough to condemn me.
By the court systems who keep trying to release these men early. They force me to relive my worst day and to see these men’s faces over and over. All to ensure they remain caged like the animals they proved they are.
By the church for driving me from the place I should have been safe. The stigma of rape follows you in everything. I wasn’t welcome in many ways. When I needed safety and answers I found none in those who were supposed to be those things. Those who were supposed to be strong with god and protectors of his children.
So when I sought answers from church members, pastors, trusted people the answers served no purpose but to divide me from god further. When I questioned why god did this to me my answer was he has a plan, give it to god, trust him. For me this was no answer. I needed to know my loving heavenly father had no part in this. That this was the evil of man, the evil side of free will. I needed to know god could show me the way to being whole not that he did this.
Some of this message is found in my post.
The advice offered is often thought to be encouraging words. Words of wisdom like “Give it time” or “Time heals all wounds”. These seem on the surface like a platitude. But I believe they are in a way a defense mechanism. We as humans fear pain, even that of another. I believe the platitudes offered maybe a defensive means to keep a “safe” distance from that pain that stands before you.
It’s natural to want to avoid pain. That is what our nervous system is built for after all. Our brains are wired to avoid pain as well. But the platitude at the time the victim is coming to you may seem (did for me) as a denial that the pain exists. An invalidation of the victims feelings.
I’ve learned both as the victim and as someone trying to help other victims that we must listen with our hearts. We have to open up and feel some of what the victim feels. For them the pain is deep and internal and you will have it much easier. By allowing yourself to open and hear with your heart you will validate to the victim “it’s ok”, it’s ok to hurt.
When a victim is talking it’s good they are letting it out. Just listen, be the shoulder for the tears, don’t be afraid to cry yourself. If it hurts and they know that you hurt they also know they aren’t alone in the pain. Remember the most important thing is they let it out.
The full context can be found here: https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/valley-of-the-shadow-part-2-the-victims-take/
In avoiding your exposure to pain and keeping the victim at arms length they aren’t safe and they know it. They can’t heal in this environment. The platitudes both normal and Christian serve no purpose to aid the victim. Instead they serve the purpose that allows us to remain just outside the pain.
I know I’ve trusted friends who believe god controls all and nothing happens without him. To those I ask please stay your words on this because for me god couldn’t be love and just and plan this to happen. The two ideals are none linear and can’t exist logically. So what was gods part in all this?
Well first and foremost I live, his mercy allows me to see another day and to know now the love I was blinded to for a time. His love has remained even when I hurt to much to feel it. He never ever quit trying to reach me to bring me back from where evil had placed me.
Secondly god gave me a strong and supportive family who protected me and stood by me. Who supported the right choice not to abort this child. Who stood tall against those who criticized me or labeled me. A family that took in a child born of violence and evil and raised him with love and kindness. He is quite a young man now and those who have read my writing of him know my feelings today of the child i call son. He is a son indeed the center of my solar system.
Thirdly he kept watch over me all these years. He sent angels and messages and love to me. He sent people with whom I connected and have guided me back to his care. I know he’s incapable of the hatred placed upon me on this day but only his love can shatter the same hatred.
Lastly he gave me his love. He never quit on me even when I had quit on him so long ago. He knows the evil of the human heart and he also knows the good in the same. We make choices how to use what he gave us and how to use our lives.
Free will and the evil it’s capable of and nothing more caused this event. Gods love can turn it from disaster to divine. I do believe whatever our trials my great god is capable of molding even the worst of evil into something that will help others. He is capable of healing the most broken. His gift of free will can’t be free at all if he or destiny control it. if that were true we are mere slaves or puppets to his will and lack the gift of true “free will”
My gods hand caused no harm and played no part in the evil of this day. His only part was in saving my life that day. But his heart and spirit can make me whole again. This is my firm belief and I couldn’t love a god capable of planning such evil for he couldn’t also be the pure good I know him to be. His part since has been taking the evil and transforming it to something beautiful and good.
His hands move in my life and I feel blessed they always have. He is taking my pain and showing me how to help others in pain. He is an incredible loving father indeed.
But next time you see someone so broken don’t ask yourself “how it is they are so broken” instead would I implore you to ask.
“By what grace do they find the will to still stand?” Remember to become so broken takes but a moment in time while to heal requires grace, love, strength and time. None of these have a limit of fixed number and for some it may take more of less than others. Your mercy and heart can demonstrate god on earth and your words can serve evil should they be chosen without care.
Instead of judging say a prayer to yourself for them because even if they have turned from god he has not turned from them. Your words are heard and during the critical time a victim suffers the challenge of faith they may be the difference of a brother or sister in faith walking away from god or walking back to god. Pastor Dan Ledwith wrote a great four part piece on speaking first with your heart and choosing your words with great care.
Here is part one of that. I had a few replies to add but in support and with examples to support his work. I believe he gets it, truly gets how quoting platitudes is or can be counter productive. We have to open our heart and not be afraid to get a little hurt to help.
So yes before judging another or asking how. Try putting yourself in their place. Try living your own life and moving on. My grandfather always said: “If you need to degrade another to lift yourself then there is something wrong with you not them.” I guess you could expand that to maybe: “If you need to criticize another and tell them what’s wrong with themselves maybe the problem is with yourself.”
Before asking how anyone could be so broken try some empathy. Close your eyes and imagine what your life would be like if you suffered as they have. As you’ve glimpsed into my pain. I will never be the same and I still cry when I touch my face or when my lover touches it. My cheek isn’t my own it’s more plastic now than bone. I see the scares of that day where no one else even notices.
The joys a woman is supposed to share with treasured husband forever robbed from me and I stand yet spoiled fruit because of it. My virginity no longer mine to give to my husband nor my innocence of life my own. I see the evil and have known it long before I should have known it existed. My image of myself and my faith altered and for a time nearly destroyed.
I stand broken in ways most will never see and I feel still I’m unworthy of the love in my life. I see myself as dirty beyond the ability to clean and punished by unforgivable events. I stand moved by many who speak to me and pray for me. I rarely feel worthy of your words and prayers. I am the broken girl.
The events of that day have left me altered mentally, physically and spiritually. I cry at times for no reason, I still have problems with strangers and more with strange men. I shake when must recall it. I wake still with nightmares and I flinch even at my fathers touch. A day you now get to forget and a day I will never. A day in my life I’ve shared the briefest of descriptors about with you.
If you take anything from the day I can never forget I would have it be this. When you come upon a victim listen and speak only with your heart. Let them cry and make them safe. Be the difference between the wedge that could drive them from healing and the one who can make them warm in a world so cold. Your choices will affect the victim. I would ask before judging find out why. A girl with a child unmarried may not be a slut, she may just be a righteous woman who saved a child from murder.
I will close with these words. By his grace I yet stand, by his mercy I try to heal and by his blessings I live. Perhaps in his goodness I will find my own way home, back to peace. My innocence forever shattered but with his strength my heart may once more be whole. In his love I will find my worth once more. I pray these words at night and I hope beyond hope my god sees them to truth.
~Michelle Styles – January 12, 2014