It started at 13 when I arrived at the park that I hung out at every year. A boy that I had been attracted to for years wanted to spend time with me by talking under one of the trees next to the picnic area. He asked different things about my life including questions about sex. When he asked me if I had ever had sex I told him yes because I did not what to seem inexperienced and childish. About 4 hours later, after hanging out with about 10 of our other friends, in the first 'park reunion' of the year, he asked if anyone wanted to go see the infamous house in the woods. I said that I would like to go (I had never seen it) but everyone else wanted to hang out at the park. I had known this boy for about 8 years (he was a friend of the family) and thought it might be a good chance for us to maybe start dating. When he kept leading me farther and farther into the woods I told him I was tired and asked how much farther it was going to be. He told me we could sit down and rest if I wanted to. We found a small clearing and began to sit down. He pulled out a knife and told me to take off my pants. He kept telling me that he would not rape me if I did so. I was so scared that this made sense to me. I did as he said. He knocked my legs out from under me and held the knife to my ear as he stabbed at me with his penis. In fact, he ripped me a new hole (to this day I still have my virginity loop that is on one side as a horrific reminder, especially when asked about by other partners).
As I mentioned this boy was a friend of the family and I knew exposing what had happened would only cause grief for me and my family (the police in the area were not know for their helpfulness). I did not tell anyone except for my best friend about what had happened. She helped me not to dwell on it by trying to distract me with other things and by confirming that she did not think my life would improve any with exposing him. I almost gave in anyway when I found out that my mother had invited him to dinner a few days later. She wanted to surprise me (since she knew I liked him) and did not tell me. I opened the door that evening to find him on the front porch as my mother yelled surprise. We ate an uneventful dinner together until he asked my mother if he could take me out for the evening. I immediately began kicking her under the table, but she said yes before I could stop her. After dinner I convinced her to tell him that I could not go because I was grounded (which was difficult to do without telling her why I had this sudden change of heart- but I called in a favor and told her I would explain later).
I have seen him a few times since. Once I was at the pool and announced loudly that I had been a virgin when he raped me. He told me that he was sorry and that I should have told me and he would not have done (how could he not know?). He also told me that it was part of some competition that him and some other guys had and that it was scored like football. He would have gotten more points for a virgin. At 15 I hinted to my mother that I was raped when she dropped me off at school one day. When I got home her eyes were red and bloodshot. She told me she had been crying all day. I knew that I still did not want to face the consequences of someone else's actions, so I told her I had been kidding.
I went thought a string of boyfriends from 13 to 17 that were either abusing drugs or physically abusive. I dated one of these boys for almost 3 years. Although we never had sex, he still had a hold on me. My parents knew that he hit me with a bat sometimes, bit chunks of my skin from my body often, and that he was diagnosed psychotic. I never called the cops on him either. By this time I had already seen that the cops were not very helpful when a friend of mine's adopted father repeatedly physically and sexually abused her. I also felt a devotion to him that I will never be able to explain. When I got to the point that I was ready to leave him I found that if I broke up with him he would stalk me and would strike me in public without anyone caring. I found that if I said that I was going with him I could avoid him for weeks at a time. After a while I began dating a friend of his, Josh, who did not approve of this behavior and who he was scared of.
When I was about to tell him about my relationship with Josh I went looking for him at his best friend's house. When I arrived the other boy was in the shower but told me he would be out in a moment. I had let Josh know where I was going to be and expected him to arrive at any minute, so I was not very concerned that the other boy's parents were not home. After he got out of the shower he began by trying to blackmail me by saying that he knew about me and Josh and that he would tell my boyfriend if I did not have sex with him. I told him that I did not care and that I intended to tell him today anyway. He grabbed me by the neck and slammed my head into the wall. He continued to slam my head into the wall while cutting off my air until I had to close my eyes because of all the plaster that was coming down into my face. After a few more hits I fell unconscious. I woke up a couple of times while he was raping me, but as soon as he saw my eyes open he slammed my head into the wall again. When I woke up the final time I found that he had ripped off my panties and hidden them and he was already dressed. I ran out of the house, setting off the alarm as I did and drove to a place where I could be alone for a little while.
When I told Josh what had happened, he told me that he had seen my car there and had banged on the doors and windows. I don't think that he completely believed me about what happened, even though I had knots and cuts on my head, plaster still in my hair and bruises all up and down my thighs. I don't guess he realized that you can't scream when you're unconscious. Needless to say, I could not handle the confrontation with my soon to be ex-boyfriend for a while. By then I had figured out a way to convince him that breaking up with me was his idea.
In February 1994, Josh moved into my parent's house. I felt like he was my protector, my white knight in shining armor. I have been married to him for 5 years (since I was 17). The first year was bliss, since then the emotional abuse (thank God it's not physical) has stressed me every day.
When will I stop going after these kinds of men? When will I get out of this relationship? When will I get help for my mental problems? I think its great to read these stories from other people that have similar situations. Thank you letting me go on and on.
Shadow (23 year-old woman) from Birmingham, Alabama
I am so sorry that you have been through so very much abuse. It can certainly take a toll on your health and I do hope that you seek help to begin the healing process. If you are not sure how to find help, please email me and I will see that you are directed to appropriate referrals.
You must feel let down by those around you. First by the police, who are supposed to be there to protect us from this kind of thing. Then by your Mother, who you kept the truth from to protect her. And also by many friends and/or boyfriends who you hoped would protect you. All of this you have kept to yourself for everyone's protection. You are incredible to have survived all of this alone for all of these years! I am glad that you finally reached out to help yourself, and, Shadow, there IS help out there.
Unfortunately, you are not alone in that many girls have had similar experiences. Like you, many did not tell anyone about it or did not receive supportive help (as you mentioned regarding law enforcement) when they did try to get help. My point is, there is help out there including professionals and peer support groups. I would suggest individual counseling initially and support groups after you have reached the appropriate stage of recovery via individual sessions. Women's Centers and United Way agencies are free and are easily located in most areas. Private insurance is another option for therapists in private practice.
Now to answer your questions:
"When will I stop going after these kinds of men? When will I get out of this relationship?" When you break the cycle in which you are currently entangled. This is the healing process I referred to earlier. After being made to feel like you must have deserved that treatment or had to learn to endure that treatment, you come to believe it yourself! You will stop "going after these kinds of men" when you heal and learn that you deserve better!
"When will I get help for my mental problems?" The fact that you are reaching out for help now tells me that you are ready to begin healing. Find help! This is not something that should be done alone. There is help and I will be glad to help you find it if you would like.