THE INITIAL TRAUMA(S)
When warning people of predators, we so often hear about the man lurking behind the bushes at night. We hear about the man who is waiting at the gas station to mug us. We hear about the big vans driving by slowly waiting to snatch someone up.
However for me and many others this isn’t the case at all. It’s the people who make us feel safe. The ones who bring our guards down and walk into our homes and our lives. These are the people who are most likely to strike.
In my case it was a friend- someone whom I considered to be like a brother. He protected me and made me feel safe. I never thought he would do anything to hurt me, but on that one fateful night, I let him into my Barracks room and he forced himself upon me. I screamed and I cried, begging him to stop. The only thing I heard besides my own screaming and crying was him saying how beautiful I was and how he couldn’t help it. It wasn’t until I screamed with all my might when he stopped.
Friends who are predators aren’t always male. As there are females who enable predators and disguise themselves as close friends as well. On that same trip I was at the Hard Rock Cafe. I was with a male and a female friend. I ordered my lunch with a drink and got up to use the bathroom. When I came back I remember talking to my friends and I don’t remember much else after that.
When I returned from that trip it was brought to my attention that a photo was taken up my skirt and was being sent around via text message. At this point I didn’t tell anybody except for my roommate about the assault and I didn’t know if it was somehow related to the picture that was taken. Hesitantly, I reported the picture and the assault to my chain of command. I was concerned about how many people received the picture and it scared me that I didn’t know who took it.
An investigation was done and they found that the person who took the picture was indeed the male friend who was at the Hard Rock Cafe. Before I found out who took the picture I sat in front of my assistant maintenance officer’s desk with my entire chain of command-all male- around me. They had the cell phone with the picture, and after they showed me the picture to verify that was the one to which I was referring, they passed the cell phone around the room. I reported the picture because I didn’t want any more people to see it, and at the end of that day, my entire chain of command had seen up my skirt.
When I went into my Chief’s office the so-called friend was in there standing at attention. I felt disgusted and I looked at him and said, “It was you?!” I wanted to rip his head off. I couldn’t recall anything after coming back from the bathroom that day, yet he gave full details and said that my female friend wanted to go shopping and she asked him to walk me back to the barracks. He walked me to my room and apparently turned on Memoirs of a Geisha and then he said I laid on my bed, passed out, and that was when he casually took the picture.
Going back to when I was in my assistant maintenance officer’s office, they had asked if I was dating anybody in the command. I was at the time. I had a boyfriend and I was honest about our relationship. I was sent to Captain’s mast for the relationship that I was in. The friend who took the picture was reduced in rank and was on 90 days restriction. The friend who sexually assaulted me received nothing but a remark in his service record. I was moved to the other side of the command which had a totally different aircraft of which I wasn’t qualified to work on. All of my qualifications and everything that I worked so hard for went down the drain. I was punished and re-victimized over and over again.
A few years later, I was diagnosed with chronic PTSD because I couldn’t let go of what happened to me. To this day I still struggle with flashbacks and trust issues. I get so angry when I find out about people who are victimized and don’t receive justice because I see myself in them.
Then one night we were sitting on the porch, and he asked me why I was diagnosed with PTSD. So I told him what happened to me and he told me that he could relate because he had a similar experience with his aunt when he was a child.
The VA had me on several different medications for both the PTSD and my chronic pain. These medications made me drowsy so I took them at night. They seemed to help, however, they would put me in a coma-like state. I didn’t hear my daughter crying and there were several nights where both my mother-in-law and my father-in-law would shake me and check to make sure I was breathing because they had such a hard time waking me up.
Well, the same night that I told my father-in-law about my trauma, I woke up to him doing the same thing that the person who assaulted me did. At this point I was wondering what to do. I yelled out,” What the f***?!”
My mother-in-law came in shortly after I said that and asked what was going on. I told him to tell her what he did. He denied doing anything and acted confused. He knew damn well that I wasn’t going to say anything to her because of the shitstorm that telling her would create.
The next morning he confronted me and asked what happened the night before. I told him what he did and he said that if he did that he would go blow his brains out. Looking back, I kind of wish I would have let him. At the time however, I had discovered Christ and my faith gave me strength to forgive him. At that point I decided to hand it over to God and I told him that if he was truly sorry then God would take care of him and if he wasn’t then God would also handle it.
I kept it to myself and put it away for about six years. We went there for Christmases and summers and I continued to call him dad like nothing ever happened. This was until recently when my doctor prescribed me one of the same medications that the VA had prescribed me initially. My husband couldn’t wake me up. He tried shaking me and tickling my feet and I didn’t wake up until he poured cold water on my face.
It was then that I realized that this medication was the culprit and everything that I had shoved away for 6 years came flooding out. I didn’t want to tell him because I was afraid that it would destroy everything. I was getting ready to take the trash out and as I was putting my shoes on, he asked if I was okay. That was when I collapsed to the floor in tears. I told him that I didn’t want to tell him. I told him that I was afraid, yet he reassured me that I could tell him anything and that it would be okay.
So I told him what his dad did to me. He called him to talk about it and of course his dad denied it. His dad has manipulated everyone in the family except for my husband to be on his side. My mother-in-law doesn’t believe me, and she got upset with my husband when he said that he did.
This has brought my husband and I closer, but I no longer have a close relationship with my mother-in-law. Everything just feels awkward and wrong because yet again someone hurt me and got away with it.