I was paralyzed with shock. Lying on my living room floor, I could no longer hide my emotions in the tips of my toes and fingers. Daily I had wished that it did not happen and maybe I had imagined it all. The faint sound of my computer and the wet spot where my tears had drenched the carpet, alerted me that this was not fiction but reality. How did I get here? How would I survive this? Was “it” really all my fault?
This story begins on an unseasonably warm winter evening in Kansas City.
I was visiting a childhood friend during the holidays. The atmosphere was very festive with good music and great food-then he walked into the room. We caught eyes as soon as he walked in the door. He approached me without hesitation. The thinly veiled wall that I’d concocted for male strangers slowly made its way up. He wanted my number, to ‘talk later’. He was persistent. I was stubborn. I asked my friend her advice to assess his character. I then asked around the room. Maybe to stave him off, maybe to buy time. Either way, when I felt satisfied with the responses, the wall was infiltrated. We began to talk.
We visited a lot. He began to grow on me. Feelings were not a thing for me, I cared for him. The most expensive thing in my arsenal, trust, I gave away cheaply and in heaps. Our ‘closeness’ turned into intimacy. He would always say to me as trying to comfort, “You can always feel safe around me.” How those words would soon, burn into my ears and evaporate without meaning.
It was late at night. He called me expressing his feelings, not long ago he’d suffered 2 tremendous losses only 7 days apart and the sting was more like a gaping hole. He asked me to keep him company. I felt like keeping him company. I never wanted to have a ‘what if’ feeling if something were to happen tragically with a friend calling for me. That night my conviction meter was on a 7.
I preferred a friendly visit and not an intimate one. Upon my arrival, I let him know just that. He conceded to my insistence and welcomed me inside. This night was like any other we had shared. We talked and listened to music. He expressed his feelings of grief and frustration. I listened. He then mentioned, “ You know what would make me feel better.” with a wink. My conviction meter started on 7-after all, I was there to ‘comfort’ him.
Through more persistence on his part, that number slowly began to drop. What happened next would change my life and our ‘relationship’-forever.
My yes, thru his persistence, lying on his bed soon became no. NO screamed loudly. NO grunted while being overpowered. 5 minutes’ worth of NO that seemed like an eternity. NO that echoed from my throat to the walls and on deaf ears. A firm NO, that could not compete against the force that invaded my body and betrayed my perception of that reality.
“What just happened?” I thought. When he returned to planet Earth and ceased from the assault, that’s when my brain and body felt like it took flight. I gathered my things and my keys and left. I rode home numb. “Who was this person that I had spent so much time with, did I really know this person?” So many thoughts, both rational and peculiar engulfed my mind.
When I arrived home, I felt the strange notion to text him, ‘I forgive you.’ Although, that was a million miles from the truth-I wanted to put myself-presently in the place to eventually do so. In that moment I wanted to believe that, I would not allow this event to ‘hold me hostage’ for the rest of my life. So my statement was not an excusal of the violation, but a protest, a surety even that I would make it thru this. The numbness continued for the next 4 weeks. Each day chipping away at me, each detail replaying in my head. In silence, I continued my daily routine.
Then, one day, it happened. I could no longer hold it in another minute. I started to peel open the wound that was in my soul. I called my job to make them aware that I would need time away. My intention was to only mention that I would immediately need time away and be careful to avoid details. My supervisor at the time could sense in my voice that something was very wrong and inquired if I was okay. I only mentioned the word assault, and she thought the kind that occurs with a robbery of some sort. My intention was gone-I relented, “it was sexual assault.” I said ashamed in almost a whisper. The phone went silent.
She asked if the authorities were involved and I said, “No.” Again the phone went silent. She took a breath and gave me the process I’d need to follow for requesting further time off with awkwardness filling the rest of the call.
She was the first person I told. Only because the chipping away of those 4 weeks had led me to my living room floor. Exhausted, ashamed, confused, and conflicted. I’d thrown myself to the floor in agony and tears, the flashes of that night intensifying and aggravating. I prayed for strength, and with that 1st bit of strength, I gathered myself up from the floor and made that call.
“Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.” Romans 12:19
I began to speak up and out. Still, in a lot of pain, I received interrogating like questions from friends and family members alike, from“So, why would you go to a man’s house that late at night.” to “What did you expect to happen, there’s nothing good happening at that time of night anyway.” The victim-blaming stirred the anger that was already there. Then I went to speak to the police. That was the worst. I had to recount every single detail to a stranger-on videotape.
I will say, that detective definitely put me at ease by apologizing for my having to repeat such ‘hurtful’ intimate details to him. I re-imagined the detective as my male best friend and we were just having a conversation. I made it thru that.
Weeks later I received a phone call from the assistant prosecuting attorney’s office requesting to speak to me. I went in with my mother. We sat down. There was a pregnant pause of silence, and then I heard words come out of her mouth….slowly. “I watched the video, and I believe what you said happened, as you said. I do believe it was rape, I don’t believe I could try the case and get a conviction. Since the you have the burden of proof, I have to know 100% that I would get a conviction and that’s just not the case here. He has prior convictions, but nothing of this nature.”
Her words became garbled in my ears. All I could make out was, ‘yes-rape/no-conviction’. In my mind, I could imagine all the ways I would enact my own type of ‘justice’. Then a whispered voice said to me, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ All I had from that day to this one-are questions. When would it be repaid? Why do I have to wait for you? Why is he going to get away with this?!!
How very hard it is to be violated-then questioned and ridiculed on every side. The perpetrator it would seem is getting away scot-free. But that whispered voice, that I understand as God’s Spirit speaking to me as a reminder, was right. It has been a little over 3 years since that night. I have lived out the statement in the text I sent that night. I forgive him. Not for him, but for me.
It has not been easy. But as I mentioned, I am stubborn. I am too stubborn to allow that event and person to rule the rest of my life. I had many options for revenge. But I have decided to hold God to his word-and let Him enact the revenge. I trust that his repayment will complete the debt that attempted to leave me bankrupt with bitterness, pain, and guilt.
If you or someone you know have had this experience, there is help and hope beyond the hurt.