So… I wasn’t sure if I was going to post my own story. Nothing freaks me out more, no matter how many times I tell it. However, I know the importance in story telling… so why not?
Put bluntly, I don’t talk about grades 3-9. Not because any sort of trauma happened during that time, I just really wasn’t the cutest of children during this time. I was the fat kid, with eczema, braces, asthma, and hair that looked like a yield sign thanks to a really bad haircut. You know how every elementary school has the girl obsessed with horses? That was me (No. I hadn’t really ever ridden a horse either). Only I was allergic to horses along with everything else under the sun. I was made fun of frequently and looking back at those pictures makes me wonder why I had friends. I don’t say these things to be pathetic, it’s just the truth with a bit of a sarcastic edge :-).
So, with all of these things working against me, I was amazed when at my freshman year homecoming dance I was asked to dance by a junior. That being said, neither of us could dance. So it was a mixture of awkwardness, laughing, and getting to know this nerdy stranger that gave me a magical night.
That nerd and I dated for several years. However, on my fifteenth birthday a few months after that homecoming he suggested we start having sex. I told him I wanted to remain pure until marriage. He threw a punch, it hit a pillow. I was scared, and I ran up to my room. He left that night. But I forgave him. I just figured he would get over it and we would move on. He loved me and we would work this out.
Often times he would mess around with me in front of my friends, doing things to make himself look more superior than anyone, especially me. As I learned to drive, if I were ever backing up in a tight space he would scream “BAM” and slam the dashboard to scare me. He hated my male friends, and made sure to bring up as many reasons why they were awful people in front of them. Once, he held me down while his cousin held a taser inches from my feet and face. That was super great.
I forgave him. And for the next few years I forgave him every time he locked me in his bedroom and coerced me into anal sex. He had younger siblings, and they would often sit outside the door and call for me. He screamed at them until they ran away crying. It always broke my heart.
The sex hurt. It hurt like hell. Occasionally he would leave bruises or rub marks. I still have bruises that happened three years ago. It’s called permanent bruising and is rare, but happens. They hang out on my thigh, a constellation of a constant reminder of the pain that happened.
I’ve been trained in musical theatre for 8 years now. Singing is my passion and I love theatre. I had an opportunity to perform with a professional theatre for the summer and I was ecstatic. He wasn’t. To him this meant time away from his side and new male friends. He told me it was stupid that I hung out with them and not him. He then told me his thoughts on where I should go to college and what I should do with my life. I knew then it wasn’t going to ever work out. We decided mutually to break up while he was on the phone with me. He told me “You want someone to come home to that you can tell about your day and who else you spent it with. You want someone that you can talk to and actually watch movies with. You don’t want a boyfriend. You want a gay best friend.” It hurt. But I fell back on my cast members and my really good friend at the time, Jake, to get me through.
I did a lot of things my senior year of high school, and I did them single. Jake was in bible school in Tennessee and we talked constantly. We became super close, we were each other’s rocks. It was great to have someone to talk to.
Then I got my early acceptance letter to NKU. With a scholarship. Thanks to the essay I turned in about Jake and how our friendship became the anchor for my good decisions. We were thrilled. We started coffee chats as a regular thing, where I would meet him at his house at 9pm, we would drive to Tim Hortons, and talk until 2 am. Then I would drive him back to his house, and we would continue talking until 4 am. They were my favorite things. It was great to have someone so different than me that I could also share my struggles with. We just understood each other. We clicked.
In the summer after my graduation, Jake’s parents divorced. He took it hard and drove home with no warning to our other friends that were at the college with him. He disappeared. Wouldn’t talk to any of us. I was so scared. Eventually, he reached out to just me and told me that I was the only one he trusted. It was hard to see my rock break down at the talk of the divorce and the pain it caused him, but it was so satisfying to know that he was safe and okay.
Four days before I was supposed to move in early at NKU, Jake and I kissed. Honestly, there was always this awkward unspoken on sexual tension between us and he finally addressed it first. We spiraled, or I guess I did. We fooled around. And it was fun! It was safe. I felt safe and cared about. He knew all of the things my other boyfriend had done to me for three years and was so careful to make sure I was always okay and happy.
And then I left. I moved in to NKU and missed him terribly. But something was up. He stopped answering my texts. My calls. When I went home he wouldn’t look at me or talk to me. He had started smoking. I was scared, but I didn’t say anything.
Eventually, I was being completely ignored and I found it really… well annoying. I admit. I was a clingy girlfriend. But I didn’t like being ignored. Then one Saturday night at 3 AM I got a drunk text that said he didn’t want to speak to me ever again. Nope. That’s not how we do this. So the next morning I drove two hours to his house, woke him up from a hangover, and began to yell.
I didn’t get far in the yelling department.
I got distracted having him there and available to me. I missed his presence, his smoky smell, tracing the outline of his tattoos and laying in his arms. We had sex, and he promised me everything was going to be fine.
I didn’t hear from him for a month.
During that month there was a protest against abortion of a huge scale. There were pictures of dead fetuses everywhere. For the first time in my whole life, I threw up after seeing a picture. I had no idea why, but I felt so compelled to stop whatever this organization was. One of the older gentlemen followed me after I got sick and called me a sinner over and over. I was confused but I knew I had this gut feeling that something was wrong.
So after a glass and a half of rum I decided driving another two hours was a good idea. My freshman year of college taught me two things: rum makes me brave and I make terrible decisions after 10 PM. So I packed myself into the car and made the trek.
We had our coffee chat. And then he asked if I’d like to see the rest of the gang (I was good friends with his brother and their friends) so I came inside. And there I found a jar of moonshine. And I was already so exhausted from begging him to love me that I drank the rest of that jar and passed out in his bed.
The next day I had horrible cramps and stomach pains. I was constantly stopping to catch my breath all day, bent over and crying. I started bleeding heavily. After a week of bleeding and two days of cramps, I went to the doctor thinking I had ripped something, or something was triggered by the drinking.
What happened instead was that at 18 years old and deserted by my boyfriend, I was losing my first child due to stress, heart problems, and drinking. I didn’t know I had been pregnant, but now it was too late.
I had constant dreams of a little girl that I delivered but never cried. She always had the same face, name, everything. So I took it as my way of getting to say goodbye to my daughter. I don’t know if she was actually a she. But a mother’s intuition is hardly wrong.
After that, I threw myself at whoever. I didn’t care anymore, and was secretly just crying for someone to love me. This threw me into the hands of a man who stole my own exacto knife that I used to create art and tried to kill me with it. After that, I slept for four days and spoke to no one. I couldn’t help feeling like a terrible person. After working so hard to rebuild myself after the partner violence, I had lost my best friend, my boyfriend, my daughter, and control of my entire life. And it felt like my fault over and over and over. I couldn’t stop fighting for my own safety. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to fight anymore.
I am in a better place than I was my freshman year of college. I still suffer from some pretty intense anxiety, I don’t like getting close to people still. But working with the Norse Violence Prevention Center on campus and getting to advocate for other victims gives me the sense of purpose I needed to get my life back together. Some days I do it for them. Some days I do it for my daughter. Some days I do it for me. It’s a jumbled mess, but I’m really grateful for AFVTI for letting me volunteer with them and give me a safe place to tell the whole story. The entire story isn’t one I’ve ever told. So thanks for reading if you still are because Jesus that was a novel and you deserve some kind of sticker.
Willow October, that one was for you sweetheart. Thanks for looking out for me.