Being honest in a public forum such as this not only allows me to be vulnerable, but it also has freed my spirit in such a way that I feel like I am Fred Astaire and I am dancing on this luscious thin air. In the process, of documenting my pains, struggles, and personal triumphs, I’ve discovered this greater side to humanity and even when I think it disappoints me, it comes back to give me a soothing cradle to my soul and surprises me.
With that being said, what I am about to write is devastating for me to be honest and open with; I’ve dropped it in conversation before, but not with the brute force and the automatic connotations that go with these three powerful words:
I. Was. Raped.
Automatically there are opinions formed in the human brain, even though you will deny them. You will either think, “That poor girl.” or “Have you seen the way she holds herself? Maybe she deserved it.” or perhaps “Maybe she was drunk…”
You know what, it took me a long time to tell my husband I was raped. In fact, I just told him a few months ago that I was sexually and physically violated before I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Alicia who is nearly 10 years old.
As I just wrote that out, tears are rolling down my face as I clamp my mouth shut and an instinct is to drown the past hurt with alcohol or men or flirtations or my own sexual exploitation.
Or at least that’s what the old Tammy would have done, nevertheless it still aches remembering that night and it hurt in such a disgusting way when I told my husband. I didn’t deserve nor expect my husband’s kindness, but he gifted me with it anyways. It aided in my spiritual and personal development as he was instrumental with me being “healed” and forgiving my perpetrator.
It still seems like yesterday that it happened. I was a sweetly wild 23-year-old who also worked in a bar and seemed to attract men like a magnet. I wasn’t the thinnest female worker in there and I was far from the prettiest, but what I had been was a bubbly person with a sense of compassion that would be my undoing. I remember that night so well…the night had dragged on forever and I just wanted to kick back after work (which was anywhere from 1 to 2 in the morning) and have one stiff drink with the regulars before going home.
Occasionally, I would give in and go to an after bar party and, yes, there was an abundance of cocaine, weed, alcohol and sex in the very thick air in Nebraska. I have to say, I was extremely naive and trusted people….I hadn’t had these unnecessary life lessons that hardened me to people and especially people who I spent most of my week with. They knew I was taken and I honestly believed I would never be another statistic.
And that would be something my perpetrator used against me. Asking about my family….asking where I was from…asking all the right questions to give me an inclination he was just a person that wanted me to be his friend. The writing was on the wall…..a 40-year-old man tossing back Jack and Cokes like I did Smarties at one in the morning while waiting to talk to me was a clear inclination that no good was going to happen. Either I didn’t want to read it or refused to mitigate it, because that night my soul would be destroyed.
I always dressed the part: modest stark white skirt that complemented my beautiful summer tan, a flirty (and clingy) red top that highlighted my decolletage, my mid-length blonde hair with cherry tips, and my favorite summer sandals that showcased my latest pedicure. As I wrote that I cringed because there’s a part of me that is still ashamed that I – somehow – put myself in a circumstance that would allow to this.
I had a few drinks that night; A Tequila Sunrise followed by a shot of Jose, a lifesaver, and a strong Jack and Coke. It may sound like a lot, but that would be enough to unwind me, but that night I would be unwound in another cruel way.
He had said there would be a party at his place, but after 20 minutes of no one showing up, I became inquisitive. So, he did what any gentleman would do and put on a mash of Britney Spears, The Wall Flowers, Eminem, and Christina and offered me more drinks. Despite my gut telling me to “RUN” I didn’t.
I stayed and had another drink followed by another. Being just drunk enough, so that I couldn’t fight back.
Being drunk enough so that it would be easier for him to violate me sexually.
Being drunk enough where he could easily clamp my mouth shut. Being drunk enough, where I couldn’t throw a punch or kick him in a groin.
Being drunk enough, it took me to the next day until I realized what had happened.
Being drunk enough, where I hated myself.
Being drunk enough, I wasn’t even sure if he had used a condom or not when he raped me.
Being drunk enough, where I had to think where the bruises came from.
Being drunk enough, I didn’t go to the police.
Being drunk enough.
He said WHORES deserved this. He said I had been TEASING him for months. He said the police would LAUGH at me. He said Steven would LEAVE me.
I felt ashamed.
I felt disgusting.
I felt worthless.
I felt like I wasn’t worth anything. My value was taken that night when he haphazardly tore off my clothes. I wasn’t worth any love Steven nor my kids could give me.
That day, I tried to kill myself. This I never told Steven. I tried to drown out the pain, the shame I felt with some pills. Needless to say, it didn’t work.
He still came to my work. He still taunted me with his presence. And that’s when I became addicted to alcohol and flirtations because that hid the pain I felt. That hid what a lowly person I was or rather how he said I was because “a lady would never allow herself to get raped.”
I wasn’t a lady.
He was right. I was not a lady.
I was a fu**ing warrior.
For months….years…nearly a decade, this horrible, vile, monstrosity of a man owned my soul, spirit, and mind like no other creature. For too long, he fed my addictions, my insecurities, and I ALLOWED him to place a price on my head.
For too long, I ALLOWED some piece of shit – and yes, he was a piece of shit – to dictate who I was as a woman.
For too long, I ALLOWED myself to be a victim. And I can say, with a little curvature to my pink lips, I am not a victim.
I REFUSE and REBUKE that label.
That man took my dignity for too long. He took my sexual pride – and I am grateful that it only lasted a few minutes – for too long. He took my respect for too long. He took my soul and crushed it for too long. He took me being a woman for too long.
I have turned the tables on him and I reclaim all of me.
My imperfections. My heart. My soul. My dignity. My livelihood. The taunt that I still hear from people who don’t know me – WHORE – causes a momentary lapse of sadness, and then the realization of I’m one hell of a whore.
It seems self-deprecating, but I’ve spent too long being straddled with ill-placed labels that’s often more indicative of the person propelling said terms that it does of my moral or sexual compass.
Yes, I was raped. Yes, it’s such an unimaginable pain that attaches itself to every part of my being. Yes, I have forgiven that man, not for him, but for my own mental health.
And yes, it still hurts to think about and to ponder about all the years I wasted being shackled by this deviant. He was more than a rapist, he was a thief.
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. – Ephesians 4:28
He was a thief that stole my innermost parts – the parts that differentiate me from any other person; the parts that signify my feminine traits. He was a thief and stole my adult innocence, my vulnerability, my faith in humanity, as well as stealing who I was at the core of self.
I just would like to implore individuals that have hurdled the word “whore” or “slut” my way to cease using a morally destructive word just because a woman doesn’t fit YOUR standard of sexual or physical piety.
And women? You’re worth far more than any man or woman deems you to be. Please, learn from me and don’t allow anyone to place a price tag on you – your beauty is unmatched; your womanhood is rare; you are a treasure worth far more than any kings of this earth can ever deserve.
And men? Don’t ever think a woman “deserves” being raped. DON’T EVER THINK THAT! I have lived in destruction, discontent, maliciousness, and bitterness for nearly a decade because one believed I deserved it.
Even with the tears filling my eyes, and my hesitation to publish this, I know it’s the right thing because for this one story, there are hundreds if not thousands more…….
I was raped, but I’m not a victim. Anymore.