My story continues....
After being raped, I became very secretive. I didn't want to talk about it, as I was scared. There were times when my secret was almost exposed. There was the Midwife at the OBGYN office that attempted to expose my secret, though she was not 100% sure that she knew my secret. Actually, she had her own opinion that I had become sexually active with a boyfriend and was just afraid to tell my mom. Back then, teen-aged girls did not have the same privacy within the doctor-patient relationship that they have now. It was my first time seeing her, and I had only scheduled an appointment with her because it was an acute appointment and my doctor was unavailable. She called my mom in to the room after I was seen for pelvic pain. She went on to tell my mother that she did not believe that I was a virgin, and that she thought I was lying. She then told my mother that I should be started on birth control pills. My mother allowed me to start on the pills, but because my actual gynecologist, who had seen me months prior, had stated that I had large cysts on my ovaries and he though it would help. Not because a grumpy midwife told her that I was sexually active behind her back.I had no plans to ever experience anything related to sex ever again... at least not until I was married.
There was a suspicious rope burn on my wrist, yet it looked nothing like a rope burn. I had a bulls-eye shaped mark left on my wrist from where the ropes had rubbed. It was where the square knot that had been tied was pressing in and rubbing. Once it began to heal, you could not tell it was a rope burn of any sort. It had sat against my wrist, tightly pressed in because there was duct tape on top of it. I originally though the guy were just being complete jerks, but once I realized they were serious, my fight took on a whole new level of intensity, and their knot tying was placed to the test. By wrapping duct tape over the rope, that issue was quickly solved for them. We lived in the country,and my mom saw the bulls-eye mark on my wrist. Off to the doctors we went. I was tested for Lyme Disease. My mom was pretty sure I was bitten by a tick. The blood work came back negative. Once it began to fade, it was no longer that alarming to my parents, and I was known for getting rashes, scrapes, cuts, and scratches, as I was a tom-boy.
Abdominal pain would soon become a part of life. We found out I had endometriosis at a young age, but I also was dealing with a lot of stress.
I am now going to go in to parts of my story that my husband doesn't know all of the details to yet. He will in the next few hours when he reads this. I haven't kept the details from him, but he said that unless it was really important for me to do so, I need not bring up every memory from the past. That he loves me, and what had happened to me does not change his love for me. I had already told him the gory details and per him he didn't need more unless I felt it would help me in some way. The rest is part of my journey in to healing.
What really was hard for my husband to hear was the fact that long ago I had forgiven the male "friend" who was one of the 3 guys. He was just caused pain by hearing my story to the full extent. This woman, whom he knew as a teen, and whom he now loved, just told him a story of how she was raped, and it had happened at a time when he was an influential young adult in her life, and he felt that he had done nothing to help her. It wasn't his fault because I had not let him in. I had to explain to my husband that I didn't reach out for help. I swore our mutual friends to secrecy, and I didn't let him in. I would go to Youth to Youth conferences, plaster on my smile, and only would share with those that I thought I could truly help. His opinion of me mattered too much... so he only heard rumblings after I told bits of my story in small groups, he never knew the full truth.
When I began to tell Joe of the forgiveness I had for this individual he just couldn't wrap his head around it. I didn't know the other 2 males, and I forgave them too. I only knew their first names and nothing else. Joe couldn't handle any more information after I explained that I had already forgiven and moved on. I had prayed and I forgave. He told me that it was a fresh wound to him, and he couldn't forgive. He said that he couldn't understand how someone could hurt me in the was that I had described. He felt guilt because he knew I was struggling for a while at Youth to Youth, but didn't know why, and if he had known why, he would have struggled with how to help. So what I write now, will be new information to my wonderful, caring, and supportive husband.
As for my male "friend", I have to see him after the rape. While I didn't want to see him at first, I accepted the fact that if I wanted to sail, I would see him. The first time I saw him he avoided me. He did his best not to run in to me at the small sailing camp. He had been younger than the other 2 males. He had been heavily influenced, and the last to participate. I am offering him NO EXCUSES, but I honestly feel, had the other 2 males not been who they were, this would have never happened. He made the choice, however, and he hurt me. He took something that I could never get back, and left me with scars. He was the hardest to forgive. He may not have had the power to save me, but he could have tried. Instead he joined in.
I explain to my children that their choices are their own. It doesn't matter who committed the "crime" first, that if they participate than they are just as guilty. Any one who knew the friend that had hurt me would describe him much differently than he was that day. He was outgoing. He was friendly. He wasn't a follower. He was a follower on the afternoon, however. He was weak. I would have never described his as weak prior.
We spent the first few days back at sailing camp avoiding each other. Eventually, late one afternoon, after a full day of activities, I ran in to this individual while no one else was near. I literally ran in to him. I was rushing inside to grab something requested by my sailing instructor, I turned the kitchen corner in a quick jog to get back out to the landing, when I ran right in to him. He put a hand on my shoulder and said, "I am so sorry." and I knew he wasn't talking about stepping on my toe just then. From there we nodded at each other when we saw each other. I would tell other's that I felt he had an "ego" if they would say he was cute. Young girls swooning over older guys, and here I was making excuses why he wasn't that great. You would think I grew an extra head with the way they would stare at me.
I had planned on telling someone I had trusted. There was a sailing instructor, Dan, who had become my "rock" at sailing lessons. When I started there as a very young girl, I couldn't swim. He helped another instructor teach me to swim in private sim lessons that summer. By the time I was 10 years old, I had a full-blown little girl crush on him, only to have a crush on someone different by the time I was 12 years old. He was the one instructor that remained important to me though. I still wonder at times if he remembers the fool I made of myself when I was 10 yrs old, with that crush. I am the type of person that usually has to let her feeling known. So, I was shy and embarrassed, but I told him that I liked him. I think he was slightly confused as to what I meant and brushed it off. What does an older teen boy say to a little girl that just professed her love for him? I smile just thinking about it. When the kids threw the instructors off of the dock on the last day of sailing, I was there to participate. The instructors would usually try to grab a kid or two to take down with them. Dan grabbed me, and quickly realized the mistake he had made when we had hit the water. I was still scared of water over my head and could barely swim! He held me above the water as he went under, and then he surfaced to swim me to the side, apologizing as he did. For me, as a 10 yr old girl with a crush, it was a hero move.
Anyway, as I grew older and learned more about Dan, he became some one I really looked up to. We had many of the same Christian values. I trusted him and respected him, and as he went off to college he would write me. He would also call me, and allowed me to call him. I would get his advice. He would ask me questions, as he was planning to work as a youth pastor, and valued my input. He became a very important friend. He never realized that I often used him as a shield. I felt safe near him, so I avoided the person that had hurt me by sticking close to Dan. While I felt like an outcast, in most situations, when Dan was around he put my anxiety at ease.
After the rape I avoided the Racing program at sailing camp. There were just too many teen-aged boy trying to show off, and it left me uncomfortable. I became uncomfortable with all competition. Even today, competition, or any sort, gives me anxiety. The day I was raped it was a competition among two very aggressive college-aged males. They goaded some one that originally was not OK with their actions to join them. They bullied and threatened him in to submission, and used his younger age as a strong-hold over him. I didn't want to be around a group of young males with huge egos, and only on to two females who also had larger than life egos, and felt the need to prove themselves among the guys. The sailing camp too notice that once I graduated the last program before racing, I chose to repeat that program again instead of race. I made it known that I never planned on racing in the small boat racing program, and they then created a big boat racing for me, and others like me. A program that focused on sailing as a team. Dan became the instructor. He had been my instructor a couple different times, and this was very comfortable for me.
I wrestled with the thought of telling Dan what had happened many, many times. I wanted to tell some one badly. Especially some one who I felt could pray with me, who could help me with forgiveness, and also guide me if things took a turn for the worse. I know that Dan took notice of the way I would often seem to be "dreaming". If I didn't have an assigned task I would often sit towards of the bow of the boat, toes dragging in the water, belly to the life line, and there I would stare off to the horizon, and I would think of how to tell him. A few times he came and sat beside me and tried to crack a joke, or ask me what I was thinking. The jokes would distract me, and I would smile and I would return to the real world. When he would ask what I was thinking, I would stay quiet and shrug my shoulders. He would sit beside me for a bit, then crack a joke (as this was his personality) and get back to the sailing task at hand.
Once I had finally decided that I was going to tell Dan the whole story. I made up my mind. That was the one and only time I had ever thrown up on a sailboat. It took every one by surprise. I was perfectly fine, until I made that decision. The boat was set to tack, I turned to duck under the boom and slide across the boat to the windward side after the tack, and I vomited. I vomited all over the lines, the down haul, everything that was in front of the hatch, but behind the mast... it was all stained with puke. It was a pretty wavy day, so Dan said that the waves and rough sailing had to be the reason. He grabbed a bailing bucket and splashed the deck, and allowed the waves help to carry it away. The other guys thought it was slightly gross,and then they recovered. I was teased the rest of the day. I never got around to telling Dan. At the end of sailing camp, he pulled me aside to let me know that he wouldn't be returning as an instructor the following year, and my heart broke. Dan continued to write and call. We lost touch when I turned 21 years old, but between his last day at camp, and when we lost touch, I still attempted to tell him. I was never successful.
Every time Dan and I spoke on the phone, he just seemed so happy. I wanted to tell him about the rape. I wanted to tell him about the boyfriend that I now had that was abusing me. I wanted some one to give me an opinion, but not some one who was too close to the situation. There was one time, when I was 17 years old, when I had finally decided to call him and talk to him. He was so happy I had called. He told me about baking brownies in the microwave, and about his sister, and about his BIG news. He asked his girlfriend to marry him, and she said "yes". I was so happy for him. My joy and excitement was overflowing for him. I listened as he told me stories of how he knew she was the one. I remember him telling me that she loved to lay her head on his chest as he told her about his day, because she loved the sound his voice made rolling in his chest, and how it made her feel so safe. I remember thinking how amazing that must be. Joe is now that to me... I waited a long time to find that feeling.
I continued with sailing camp after Dan was gone. Before he left, Dan had encouraged them to create a "cruising" program for those who just wanted to cruise and relax on big boats without racing them. He was so excited the last day of sailing, when this announcement was being made to me. He knew it is what I had wanted. Dan had also had the camp create a new award, one that had never been given out in the past, a leadership award, given to me that summer. Dan left, but he left me with more confidence.
I was left to face the man who had raped me without my "security blanket". I was nervous at first, but I had been staying strong for so long already. It came naturally. I ended up feeling pity for my attacker. I began interacting with him. I saw parts of him that were once that of "my friend" before the rape. I allowed myself to talk to him, laugh with him, and even share food with him. I forgave him. I don't know how I did it, but I did. I no longer saw him through the same eyes. I now saw his weak side.
One summer my cousin and I brought materials to put hair wraps in campers and instructors hair (they look like friendship bracelets only they are wrapped around the hair). We happily put these in any one's hair who asked. He asked. I wrapped his hair. I was sitting close and personal with someone who once caused me a great deal of pain. My hands were in his hair & along side his cheek. I could have slapped him, but I had a big heart, and had already determined that he was weak, that he needed forgiveness more than he needed to be publicly ridiculed. I had to sit close to wrap his short hair, so my leg was pressed against his, and I was facing him. He looked me straight in the eyes, and he said, "I am sorry" and I nodded. That was it. I spent the rest of the afternoon completely at peace, because I knew whether or not he was truly sorry, I had forgiven and healed. I had already spoken to a school counselor, and I had spoken to some of my friends, and I had healed. I started to speak about the rape more openly at Youth to Youth conferences in order to help others. I felt a weight lifted.
I don't expect any one else to forgive as I have. The fact that I have forgiven, does not mean that I will ever forget. It is just no longer a hurdle, a wall in my life. It is not a moment in my life that defines me. It happened to me, but it is not who I am.