When I received this submission to the Women’s Vulnerability Series, I shook after reading. I couldn’t believe a husband would be so cruel to put his wife through rape. I am proud of this woman’s resilience and bravery for telling her story. It’s for women such as this that feed my passion to advocate for women who are Invisible to society. Women who face terrible situations such as this behind white picket fenced homes. We don’t know what pain and suffering goes on behind closed doors. She writes:
February 3, 2011. “Reflections of a Former Victim”
Pitt Meadows…Rape….Hazing…You tube. The class was intent on discussing current events, but the words were a blur. They buzzed in my head like a swarm of bees. I tried to put it out of my mind and focus on the assignment instead, but it continually came back like a boomerang. By the time I reached my third class that week, I wanted to cover my ears and run screaming from the room at the mention of it. During one class it became particularly difficult to concentrate; I was experiencing flashbacks. The nightmares had started, made worse by the realization that it really happened. My days and nights were haunted by the memories of the day I decided to divorce my husband.
The evening began like any other. The boys were wrestling with each other and ignoring me when I asked them to brush their teeth and get into bed. My husband yelled from his seat on the couch, “Go and do it before I paddle your ass!” They scattered. Some ran to their rooms while squealing and giggling, the other playfully made their way to the bathroom to brush their teeth and make silly faces in the mirror. After several minutes, I made my way up the stairs to pray over them and tuck in my grinning children. Part of the bedtime routine has always been for them to echo my words: “Goodnight, I love you. See you in the morning.” My youngest- who was 6 at the time- added his own expressions: “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you, too.”
“I love you so much.”
“I love YOU so much.”
“I love you forever.”
“I love you forever, too.”
I went into each of their rooms with hugs and kisses, and to wish them pleasant dreams. As I made my way downstairs, I wondered at the way my stress level went up with each step.
As I entered the living room, my husband informed me that a particular friend was coming over. For a moment, I considered going to bed immediately, or sleeping in one of the boys’ rooms for the night. My uneasiness rose as I remembered the friend’s admitted obsession with me, and my husband’s willingness to let him do things to me several years before. They were things I wish I could forget. I fought to regain my composure, and reminded myself that my husband promised me it would never happen again. To my dismay, they began discussing sexual fantasies after a few drinks. I knew then that I was in trouble, but I was so terrified I felt frozen. I thought of my sleeping children upstairs, and prayed they would not wake up until morning. I wanted to cast off the lead weights that were keeping my body sitting on the couch like a posed Barbie doll. I saw no way out. The implied and verbalized pressure was overwhelming, and I felt the 2:1 odds keenly. I desperately wanted the friend to leave, and looked at my husband repeatedly, quietly begging him for help….imploring him to not do this to me again, to no avail. Instead, he told the friend I had a fantasy of two guys at once. I was horrified! He used that as his excuse before! Here I was, once again facing a situation he promised me would never happen again. I told my husband to send his friend home and stated, “I don’t want to do this.” What was his response? “Well, WE both want to do it…”
“I don’t want to do it. Please back me up on this. Please tell him to go home.”
“He bought the condoms already. We want to do this.”
Why was he not listening to me? He brought me into the bedroom, where I could feel the nausea cramping my stomach to match my sense of helpless panic. The friend’s hands were cold and rough, and the bile rose in my throat as I briefly wondered if I would have bruises in the morning. My husband watched as he was eager and rough with me. I was already uncomfortable physically because of an allergic reaction to the latex, but the violence of the friend’s actions left me crying out in pain. Heedless of my cries, my husband took a turn. He was not as rough, but he was nearly wild with his perverse excitement. By that time, my body and mind were shutting down. I was mildly catatonic. When it was over, the friend left and I cried myself to sleep while my husband watched TV.
The next morning, I tried to talk to my husband about what happened, but he brushed me off. He blamed me, saying I “allowed it to happen”, so I “must have wanted it”. That is when I knew it would happen again. I tried a few other times to talk to him, with similar results. He moved out for the last time within a month. Even then, I did not feel safe in my own home, let alone in my own bed. I slept on the couch for two months, and only entered my bedroom to gather clothes so I could get dressed somewhere else. Despite my broken and battered sense of self-worth, something rose up in me after that night. I looked in the mirror the next day and firmly declared: “I do not deserve to be treated this way. No one does.” I was amazed to discover that for the first time in over 10 years, I believed it.
In the 17 months since then, I have started to feel safe again. My children and I are now in a different home, and I am pursuing a once-shelved dream of going back to school. The flashbacks triggered by the Pitt Meadows incident encouraged me to face and deal with this part of my past. I am now able to leave the past behind me and move forward in my education and my life with my children. “Victim of Abuse” is no longer a label I wear; instead, I am a FORMER victim. I am a survivor. Emotional healing is never quick or easy, but the freedom and benefits far outweigh the pain. My children are worth the effort, and so am I.
We are telling the stories of women who have overcome or escaped vulnerable issues such as this for our show Invisible, showing in at Theatre Grand Junction in Calgary June 14-15, 2013. You can learn more about the show by clicking here. If you would like to submit your story, please email Connie at firstname.lastname@example.org