After I got married I thought everything would be different. I had a wonderful husband. I had wonderful friends. I had a daughter. Everything seemed perfect.
What I forgot, or at the time did not yet realize, is the impact of abuse later in life. I was very naive in thinking I was over the worst and nothing was going to happen to me again.
I would be silenced again.
But I had been groomed. I was taught to be polite, not be powerful. I was taught to show manners, not show empowerment. “Sit in uncle Joe’s lap”, ” Give uncle Bob a hug”, It wasn’t just what I was taught but what I was not. I was not taught to listen to my intuition. I didn’t even know I had intuition because I was too busy being polite! “Be sweet.Always be sweet.”
I had also been groomed by the men who abused me. I was taught fear. I was taught silence. I was taught to be very very still and not fight. Conditioning or grooming to really be very unobservant of the red flags that someone can give.And conditioned to not listen to what my instinct was telling me.
So 15 years in to my perfect marriage I was caught off guard. My best friend of 8 years was married. I had been around her husband hundreds of times. And I let my guard down. I don’t know if women should ever completely let their guard down. My husband always says to keep someone in the yellow. Don’t give them the green. Don’t give them the red. Just keep them in the yellow and that way you are watchful and cautious. I too frequently just put someone right into the green.
I went to my friend’s house on a night that I was incredibly upset. I was crying. She was not home but her husband was. He was in his garage. I went in to ask when she would be home and I knew soon after there would not be an escape for me. He locked the door after I came in. Stood in front of the door and had his hand on a rifle leaning against the door frame. I asked him why he had the gun and he said to kill armadillo. I knew this wasn’t true. The reason I was friends with he and his wife is because we did wildlife rehab. I felt that fear creep over me. He instructed me to sit down. I did. He paced back and forth like a caged animal. He rambled about his marriage failing and how he was contemplating suicide. He told me that if he could just have sex with me then everything would be ok. I knew he was talking like a crazy person. Telling me that there was money in the attic and he would give it all to me. He let me go on certain conditions that I still can’t talk about.
I won’t go into all the events of that night. But I was not silent then. I begged. Over and over and over again to please let me go. He finally did.
Now in truth I could not have gotten past a locked door and a man with a gun. The part that upset me the most is that I was frozen. I felt like I could not move. I felt like he was going to kill me and kill himself based on what he was saying.It took me right back to being a child and being frozen. Even if I could have fought him I was to paralyzed from the past to even move.
I thought that this could never happen to me again. I drove home shaking thinking “WHY?” How could this happen again. Should I have not gone into the garage with a man I had known for years looking for his wife? Was it because I was groomed to be so nice, to be frozen in fear?
That night bothers me more than most because I came home and did not say a word. I did not sleep for 3 days. and I did not tell my husband. I was silenced. Once again I did not tell the truth. I eventually did. But it took me many days.
So these are the insights I want to share that I have come to learn about that night….
We cannot blame ourselves. I had no idea what I was walking in to. We cannot beat ourselves up for what we didn’t do after! When you are taught as a child by an abuser to keep your mouth shut that is a very very hard thing to overcome.
But we gain strength in telling the truth.
We have to tell the truth. Unfortunately we will not or may not always get the response we want or deserve or are entitled to but we have to speak! Speak! Do not be silent!
Upon finally hearing the truth my best friend blamed me. She said if I did not wear cute outfits, if I weren’t so pretty, it would not have happened. She told me that I had to forgive him or he would kill himself.
She defended him. She said he admitted to what he had done and she still defended him. Not only blame the victim but ask the victim to forgive the offender! That was a new one for me.
Women must NOT defend a sexual abuser! Stand up for what is right. Stand up for your friend, for your child, for anyone who is a victim of abuse! Now granted she was probably groomed herself and had her reasons for ignoring the significance of his attack against me. But the time for excusing a man is OVER! I am way past and way over women making excuses for why the men do the things they do to women.
If people only understood what a victim needs! Validation! I could have healed from that incident in a very short time had she said she would leave him. Had she validated what he had done. Had she apologized. Anything!
But here comes the end part of what I would like to convey to women who have been abused.
We just cannot count on others to give us what we need to heal. We may not ever get validated. We may not ever get justice. We may never get what we deserve so we MUST validate ourselves. We mustn’t blame ourselves. We absolutely HAVE to place the blame where it belongs. On the offender.
Even if no one wants to do anything. Even if you are the only one who knows the truth. Speak it.
I never thought as a 34 year old I would be locked in a room with my best friend’s husband. I had hoped the only man to ever touch me again would only be my husband. I was wrong.
It has taken a long time to get past thinking that somehow I could have done something different.
But there are bad people out there. As children and as adults. Being an adult didn’t mean no man would ever assault me again. Because as an adult I was assaulted again.
So now I know what it feels like to be assaulted as a child and as an adult woman.
I am sharing my experiences on my blog so that no woman feels alone in any thing that has been done to her. I am sharing this part of my life so that my truth is spoken, and so that you can also feel able to speak yours.
Abuse has no age or look. It can happen at any time. It has happened to me many times. And none of them were my fault.
It was not our fault that any of us have ever been abused. The clothes we wore, the sound of your voice, the way we walked, our kindness, did not get us assaulted.
There are simply very bad people who prey on others and all we can do is keep people in the yellow. Then let our voices be heard so other women do not feel alone in their suffering AND on their path to healing.