I feel like talking. Sharing. I don't know what's gotten into me; this is one topic I told myself I would never post about on this blog. But it's been on my mind since the other day, and anyway, I'm killing time whilst I'm waiting for Rob's pay to post to our bank account so I can pay the damn bills.
I'm going to jump right in. If you're going to leave some kind of nasty, judgmental comment, please delete it before you press "submit," m'kay? I don't want to hear it, and you don't want to start with me.
I was raped, twice.
The first time, it was by the guy who was painting my dad's house, while I was there for my summer break from college. I'll call him K. He lived around the corner with his wife and two adorable kids whom I had been called upon to babysit once or twice.
The last time I babysat, K walked me home and planted a kiss firmly on my mouth. I don't even remember whether I kissed back at first. Admittedly, I'm an outrageous flirt, and it has gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion. And also, he was cute. But he was married, and I was all of 18. So eventually, I pushed him away and told him to go home and finish the drinking he had started there.
A few days later, I was baking cookies. I have baked a lot of cookies in my day, and it continued that summer. My skinny dad probably gained an ounce or two from all the sweets I was making him. The first batch of cookies came out of the oven, and my father had gone out to run errands. I needed a tester, and my own opinion of my cooking and baking is never reliable, I think. So I poured a glass of lemonade, put a couple of cookies on a plate, and brought them outside to K, who was painting in the heat of the day.
I turned to go back inside and started to shut the door, but he pushed it open and followed me inside. He was forceful, and he hurt me. I can't remember now, 16 years later, whether I said, "NO" or just thought it, but I didn't want it. I did not want it.
My long-distance boyfriend called me up later and knew immediately that something was wrong. I told him what had happened. He was black, and I was keeping him a secret from my racist father, so when he told me that either I could tell my father or he would, I believed him. My dad came home. I started crying. I couldn't get the words out at first, but I finally blurted them out. He became visibly enraged and stormed out the door. I know exactly what violence of which my father is capable, and I was actually worried for K.
He came home 20 or 30 minutes later, much softer in mood. He told me that K had said I came onto him, and that I was feeling remorseful about it because he was a married man. My father believed him. I think I was in shock. A part of me still is. I never, ever, ever talk about this incident. Not even with my various therapists.
The next day, I woke up in my dad's guest bedroom where I was staying, and rolled over. Staring through the window at me, as he painted the trim, was K. I could NOT believe it. My father was still employing him?! I almost threw up.
It confirmed some feelings I had been developing about my father for a while but didn't want to fully admit to myself.
Anyway, the following summer, I didn't go to my dad's. I didn't want to live with him ever again, so I found a house to sublet in South Miami, near the University and thus, my job.
I had an odd friendship with a guy I worked with. He was from Nicaragua and had a heavy accent, so we spoke to each other in Spanish half the time. The other half was because either I was translating for him or couldn't think fast enough in Spanish to express what I wanted to say clearly.
Well, this guy was in love with me, which was readily apparent to him, me, and everyone who knew both of us. I still had that same long-distance relationship going on, so I did not return his feelings. But we hung out together regularly, him showing me his favorite places to go around Greater Miami, and me showing my favorite places around campus. It was fun.
For a while.
Then one day, he professed his love for me, and I was sorry, but I was not in love with him back. He became angry. Very angry. He shouted all kinds of obscenities at me and about my boyfriend, in both English and Spanish. It was ugly.
Other things had happened with this guy in the past, including him sending me a package on the exact day I returned from my dad's for Christmas break, and also breaking into my dorm and shoving his way into my room - while, conveniently, I was on the phone with our mutual boss. So we had a history.
Over time, it was clear that he was following me around, and I had a couple of police reports filed on him. I was scared. He carried a gun or two. I didn't know what he might do. I called him traumatizado. He didn't like that.
That summer, I was chilling with my Trinidadian best friend, KR, in my house in South Miami. My roommates weren't home, so when she mentioned a car was pulling up, I got weird prickles on my skin. I looked up, and it was the Nica, C. I forgot to lock the doors. She knew what was up with him, so we bolted to my bedroom and locked the door, not knowing what else to do.
He banged on the front door, then the side door. We hushed and willed him to go away. To our amazement, he walked into the house, past all the rooms and back to my room. He started banging on my bedroom door. KR and I kept staring at each other, wide-eyed. It was tense. We didn't say anything. We just kept quiet, hoping he would leave, but he kept banging.
Finally, he retreated, and KR watched his feet through the crack under my bedroom door. She mouthed to me that he was in one roomie's bedroom, then the other's, doing heaven-knows-what. Eventually, he went back out to the front living room, and we thought he would leave. Instead, he picked up my phone and started to make a call.
I'd had ENOUGH. I slammed open my bedroom door and told him to give me my phone and GET OUT. He refused. Back and forth we went. I was out of my mind with anger, shock, fear, and all that. Finally, he handed me the phone, gave me a weird-crazy look I'll never forget, and left.
Not long after that, I was home alone at night, making myself a little dinner. I was sitting at the tiny bistro-style table we had set up there, when C pulled up. He walked in the house before I had a chance to stop him. He forced me down the hall to my bed, climbed on top of me, and raped me. The idea of it still makes my blood cold. It was terrifying.
A month or so later, I started getting sick. All the time. The '96 Summer Games were on in Atlanta, and I could do nothing but lie on the couch and feel nauseous. Finally, it dawned on me what was going on. KR - who I never told about what happened that night until years later - took me to the health clinic on campus, where they confirmed a 19-year-old college junior's worst fears: I was pregnant.
I had no idea what to do. Actually, I did. I couldn't tell my father what had happened, because he didn't believe me the first time, so I didn't expect him to believe me this time, either. I had always been pro-choice for the rest of the population, but pro-life for my own, personal self. It just wasn't an option for me. I decided I would have the baby and give it up for adoption.
Eventually, C was asking me if I was pregnant. He seemed to know right away that I was. It was then that I realized - and he had the audacity to confirm it - that he had purposely wanted to get me pregnant so that I would marry him. Maybe that would happen in his culture, but I am certainly not that girl. I hated him. I thought he was the devil incarnate. And that he had put the devil's spawn inside me. I hated that seed growing inside me, and I hated myself for carrying it.
I was so sick. I was missing a lot of work, which I could ill afford to do, because I budgeted every last penny and needed it all to live on. I couldn't keep anything down. I was miserable.
Soon enough, I realized I was going to need medical attention if this child was to be healthy. If I was going to bring a baby into the world, I was going to do the right thing by it, dammit. I didn't know what else to do - and I didn't want everyone to know - so I made C bring me to a clinic for pre-natal care.
When I walked in there, I was the only white person. I was the only clean person. I was the only one who looked like her life was going anywhere, like there was any hope for any kind of a decent future. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I walked back out of there before I was seen by any doctor. I can't say I'm proud of that moment, because I'm still not entirely sure how to interpret it, other than I was scared and depressed and afraid for my future. I wanted to finish college, I wanted to work in my field, and I wanted to be a major force in the field of science.
C told me that if I didn't have the baby, he was going to tell my father. Once again, this sort of threat held water with me, and I freaked out. I called up my father. I hemmed and hawed for an hour, unable to tell him what the hell I was blubbering about, until he finally guessed that I was pregnant. I did not tell him the circumstances. He told me he would send me the money to "take care of it," no questions asked.
And so, I "took care of it." I terminated the pregnancy.
And you know what? So many times over the years, I have been told - mostly by people who had no idea what I had done or been through myself - that every single person who does that regrets it, wishes they hadn't, and feels terrible about it.
Well, not me, sister. Never once. Never once. It was the right thing for me to do. I'm sorry if you don't agree with that, but it was the right thing for me to do at that time. I don't have one bit of regret or remorse or sadness. The only thing I used to think about, for the first five years or so, was, "I could have an x-year-old child right now..." but those thoughts have long stopped.
When Robby, Jack's identical twin brother, died in my arms seven years later, I had the fleeting thought that I was being punished for what I had done. My therapist did his magic on me, and I was able to stop those thoughts permanently.
That's all. Time to pay the bills.
P.S. I forgot this part: To this day, I still have that "I'm being followed" fear pop up on occasion, and I often imagine that C is going to show up and point a gun at me. I imagine him killing me while I'm diving to protect my children. I should probably discuss all this with my therapist. If I had one. Time to find a new one...