Monday, April 23, 2012

My Story: The last time I spoke with my perpetrator

Another piece of my story...This bit took place in December approximately a week and a half after my assault. I know I keep jumping around in sharing my story - I hope it's not too confusing! Anyway, thank you in advance for letting my voice be heard.

When I got out of the hospital, I had about a week before I was supposed to head down South for the holidays. If I remember correctly, I immediately started outpatient psychiatric treatment, which I think lasted five days. I don’t remember much about outpatient treatment except for eating bright orange squares of cheese and grapes (random, I know) and how difficult it was for me to wake up in the mornings in time to attend. During that time, I had trouble falling asleep, and I frequently woke up in the middle of the night ravenous from Zyprexa (anti-psychotic medication) and my other medications. I also remember trying to go for a run one afternoon and realizing I sounded like I had developed asthma. I literally had to break and walk after each block, which was very atypical for me since running has always been my go-to exercise regime. In a very short period of time, I had managed to pack on quite a bit of weight.

My memory of this time is of feeling like my body was weighted down with depression, but my head was buzzing around non-stop with anxiety. I was very lethargic but very wound up at the same time. I made an attempt to jump right back into my life, but things felt very different – particularly when I was around other people. Whenever I was in the presence of others, I found it nearly impossible to engage in whatever we were doing. I felt unbearably anxious in my own skin, and I found myself monitoring my social behavior from a distance. I interpreted these strange feelings as corroboration for my recently diagnosed mental disorder.

About 5 days after the rape occurred, A.T. left a message on my phone. I was in the hospital when he called and never returned the call. In the message, all he said was something mundane like wanting to know what I was up to. It was rather strange that he left a message there and not on my cell phone. Hearing his voice sent shivers down my spine.

Why did I feel so crazy? So scared of him? You wouldn’t call someone after you had severely violated them, casually asking “what’s up,” so why did I feel so freaking violated?

The contrast of my inner turmoil and his calm voice only added to my feelings of having gone crazy.

I couldn’t leave that night alone. Every free moment I had was spent ruminating over the events of the night. It was driving me nuts that I still couldn’t piece together parts of the night.  I went through the parts I could remember over and over and over again, mainly trying to convince myself that nothing had occurred that would constitute sexual violation.

Could it have been like my friend said, "Drunken mistakes happen all the time, and it just sucks," meaning if penetration did occur without my consent, it was just a drunken mistake? That I was off the hook and could start feeling normal again? Then again, do "drunken mistakes" feel like this though? I had made plenty of stupid, drunken mistakes that would have qualified as "sucking," but these feelings were a whole 'nother beast to be reckoned with.

Again…and again…and again…

It didn't matter how many times I ran the night through my mind - I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something had gone terribly wrong.

The time frame I needed to remember the most from that night was entirely nonexistent. I needed evidence that contradicted how violated I felt. A part of me felt like my sanity depended upon that little piece of missing information.

Looking back, I don’t really know why I felt like the missing pieces of the night determined whether or not I was allowed to feel violated. It’s not like the images that I did remember were of him respectfully interacting with me. There was very little acknowledgement that I was a part of what was going on. Except on the few occasions when my actions demanded that he acknowledge that I was attached to the body, but even then, he only begrudgingly acknowledged my presence. In the images I could remember, I was more like a nuisance attached to the body than a person.

I decided to attend a party before heading home for the holidays. I did not know what else to do besides try to get on with my life, and to me, getting on with my life meant pretending like I wasn’t falling to pieces.

A.T. was at the party. It was the first time I had seen him since that night, and honestly, I had been kind of avoiding him. Seeing him was just as bad as I anticipated, which is why I’m surprised that I immediately walked over to him and asked to speak with him.

To this day, I still feel the same inner shift whenever I see someone who resembles him physically. It feels like someone has knocked the breath out of me. Luckily now, it’s never him so my heart rate can begin to slow immediately. Still, I get a lingering feeling of being weak and very small.

Anyway, I walked over to him and asked if I could speak with him. He turned around with a big smile, saying “of course.” When I asked to speak with him “alone, outside,” his tone immediately began to shift.

“Of course, yeah, anything you want.” He laughed nervously.

When we got outside, he launched into, “I’ve been worried about you. Where’ve you been?” Still smiling. Still cheery. But awkward as hell.

“I need to know what happened the other night. I mean I remember a great deal, but I’m missing some important pieces, and I really need to know.” My voice was shaking. I was shaking. I don’t know how obvious it was to him, but I imagine that he knew I was nervous.

Anger flashed across his face. It seemed strange and out of place. It took me by surprise. I felt nervous. Weak. Worthless.

“I mean, what do you want me to tell you? We almost had sex but didn’t. I mean, I don’t know what else you want me to tell you.” The only time I’ve ever seen him falter.

BAM, there it was. I knew what I thought had happened had happened. The memory may not have been available yet, but the truth was written all over his angry, defensive face.

Did I get angry in return? Did I accuse him of what I knew to be true? Did I confront him with any strength?

No, I cowered into myself. I meekly asked, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Still annoyed. Almost condescending.

“Okay, because I was concerned that anal sex had occurred, and I didn’t want that either.” What? That’s absolutely ridiculous. Out of all the things I could have said and wanted to say, why this??

Relief flashed across his face. “No, of course not.” His mannerisms calmed immediately. His confidence and sense of security immediately restored. Mine? Not so much. I had a lot to absorb.

“Okay, good. Because I have been really worried about it.”

He responded by laughing condescendingly. “No, no. Can we go back inside now?” If I remember correctly, he even put his hand on my shoulder as we reentered the party. I have never felt so small in my life. Worthless. Embarrassed. How could I not stand up for myself? Was I afraid of the truth? Did I want to deny it as much as he did?

I left the party shortly afterward. That was the last time I ever spoke to him.

During my leave of absence as rumors spread about my absence, his perspective of the night changed from nothing having happened to “he didn’t know” that it wasn’t consensual.

I didn’t have the strength then, but I’m going to call bullshit on that one…better late than never, eh?


  1. You did something that many are never able to do and you did it after just a matter of days. You faced your fears so that you would know the TRUTH. Sure you may not have confronted him directly, but you did give him the opportunity to come clean. He chose not to and his facial expressions and tone of voice did more to confirm your suspicions than anything he would be willing to say. You did what you needed to do which was to confirm or dis-confirm your broken memory.

    I'm going to call BS right along side of you. Please be kind to you.

    I wish I knew what to say but my mind is blank. (((hug)))

    1. Hi Jaime, thanks so much for the validation and words of encouragement!
      "I'm going to call BS right along side of you." Awesome, it's comforting knowing that I have you by my side :-)

  2. You have a whole community of people by your side as you piece together the jigsaw puzzle of trauma that shattered your life and then you'll be able to leave it on the table of life and move on into a life of feeling whole, at peace, still, joyful and happy. I so applaud you for doing the work. It works and you do get free. As you described facing your perpetrator, I remember what I felt when I saw my brother at a gym "I belonged to first" - smile - here in Mass. He moved here despite my telling him that I wanted nothing to do with him. Over time, we get stronger. The wounds heal. My brother wasn't the main perpetrator of the abuse but was a bully and an unkind person to me and the spitting image of our father who did abuse me. Keep on keeping on and don't stop believing that you are worth waiting for....

    1. Thank you so much, Graceful Lady. Your words never fail to inspire me. You are living proof that reclaiming a sense of wholeness is possible. Thank you so much for your ongoing support. Your positive attitude truly is contagious! Now, if I could just get your dedication to yoga to rub off on me a little more :)

  3. Brave lady. Thanks for sharing

    1. You're welcome, but thank YOU so much for "listening" :) ((((iris))))

  4. Dear one you are slowly regaining your voice back. Strength is in your words. Safe hugs.

  5. Saturday hugs to you! So far so good with my Blogger account.