Can I take a moment of your time and tell you what it is like to be a rape survivor nine years later?

  It is January 2019 and nine years ago this month my ex husband started to rape me. I have written about these assaults before , but as I am reaching the nine year anniversary of a most terrible time in my life, I found myself to be reflective and asking myself, how am I doing now?

  Perhaps I should start by saying that my ex husband was very abusive. We were together for 15 years and over that time he subjected me to verbal, emotional, financial, physical and sexual abuse. Not only to me, but also to our three children. The abuse was slow and insidious at first, which is what most abusive relationships are like. The abuse happens so gradually that you, the victim, barely understand what is going on until you are in the thick of it.  I know for myself, in the beginning, I would sometimes notice things that made me uncomfortable, like a comment or a look he made, but I made excuses for him. I told myself that it was just because he had a bad day and then I swept the incident away. The thing is, is that over time he had many “bad days” and they started to leave me with knots in my stomach and “walking on eggshells” trying not to make him angry. What I didn’t understand is that I wasn’t “making” him anything. He chose to be the way he was and he was being that way because he wanted to have power and control over me  and he did that through fear and intimidation. As time went on he didn’t even have to physically touch me to cause me upset he only had to give me that “look” from across the room and I was shaking on the inside knowing what was coming later. For 15 years this is how we lived, day in and day out. My decisions were based around his moods and his actions. My needs became nonexistent to me and his were all important and this is exactly what an abuser wants; to be all powerful in the relationship.  Why do they do it? Well Lundy Bancroft’s book; “Why Does He Do That?” will give you many reasons why, but basically they do it because they are broken inside. Somewhere at sometime someone hurt them too and they never want to be in that weak position again. They want to be the one in power so they achieve that through hurting others and creating fear in them so that they do not stand up to them. Over time they continue to push the limits with their victim, seeing that they can get away with, they keep increasing the level of abuse to intimidate their victim and feel that powerful feeling. It is extremely sick. 

  At some point the victim does come up for air and they do see through the fog of the abusive relationship.  It was an eye-opening time for me, a period that I often call “my waking up period”.I was learning to make my own boundaries, telling my ex that I would not let him treat me this way, or our children. He did not like that. At first, he would just yell back at me, in fact screaming at me that he would “Never, never stop abusing me!” Then he started to escalate the abuse.  I was at this point when my ex first raped me. I had secretly been talking to friends who validated that yes what he was doing to me was abuse and I had also secretly been seeing a counsellor learning about the dynamics of an abusive relationship.  You see abusive people do not like it when their victim starts learning that what has been going on is in fact abuse. This could be their own realization or perhaps a friend or family member said something or maybe they saw some info on the web. However it happens the victim is validated to take their own power back. They feel extremely threatened so they are known to increase the level of abuse to intimidate the victim again and hopefully get them back under their control. This can be a very dangerous time for the victim so it is important that they reach out to supports; friends, family, hotlines or shelters. It is important for them to know that they are not alone in this battle. For myself as the abuse escalated I pushed back by kicking my ex out of our bedroom. I told him that he was no longer welcome there, that I did not want him touching me ever again. In fact I wanted him to move out, but he refused and instead moved downstairs to our family room. For mine and my children’s safety I did not push it further. That basement is where  he was, 9 years ago this month, when he ran up the stairs one early morning, and he raped me in our marriage bed.

  To say that I was changed by that assault is an understatement. At first I was dazed and stunned that this had happened. Yes he was abusive, but this was my husband and the father of my children so how could he possibly hurt me this way? I did not understand and walked around for days in complete shock. Himself, well he acted like nothing had happened and then it happened again. In fact he raped me on a continual basis over a nine month period. It was the last nine months of our marriage. On Sept 27th 2010 I ended our marriage and he moved out. The following year I filed for divorce, which was finally granted in 2017 after a lengthy battle.

It is now nine years later and to the average person they might expect me to be healed from all of this, but can I tell you something? I am not. I recently remarried; in fact we have just passed our one year wedding anniversary. I adore my new husband. We were high school sweethearts and were actually supposed it marry in our early twenties, but instead we ended up parting ways. It was during my “waking up period” that we reconnected on line. His first marriage had fallen apart and as we started talking I started confiding in him about what was happening in my marriage. At first he tried encouraging me to work on my marriage, but as I revealed more and more the level of abuse that was happening he became one of my support people.

  You might wonder what our sex life is like. Or maybe you don’t. I will tell you that sex in general is an issue for any rape survivor so yes we have had our trials. To be frank and I think honesty is best for you to fully get what happens to a rape survivor, is that we had the best sex life when we first started dating. Like “break the bed” good sex. Yes I am being blunt and I apologize if that is too much for some of my readers, but I want you to be able to see the contrast.  We had fabulous sex. Plain and simple. Then something changed. It was nothing he did or anything specific that I did, it was simply that the effects of all the trauma I had gone through had finally sunk into my whole being.  Say what? Ok, I will explain. When anything traumatic happens to a person it shakes your whole being right down to your cellular level. That is pretty intense when you think about it. That is why often you will hear, long after a traumatic event has happened, the victim saying that they have trouble sleeping, or they are extra jumpy at the smallest noise or they have no appetite. This is because when trauma happens the person becomes disconnected from themselves, they often go into autopilot and your whole being is on alert, waiting for the next traumatic event. Sometimes these symptoms show up right away other times it can be weeks, months or even years later. The effects of trauma do not follow a straight linear line. That is where I ended up; dealing with the traumatic aftermath well over a year later. I struggled to sleep, I fought terrible night terrors and when I went to bed I piled on clothes and blankets, as if that extra covering would somehow keep me safe from ever being raped again. I was not well and was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

How am I now?  Well bloody H….I still struggle!! I no longer have night terrors and I rarely have a flashback, but I still pile on the blankets and somewhere along the way, without consciously making this decision I started sleeping on my side, always facing the outside of the bed, in case I have to escape and I often find my arms crossed across my chest in defense. There are also times when my husband and I go to make love and  I have a panic attack. He is always respectful and will just hold me through those moments. He respects my boundaries and if I say no he never pushes it.  He loves me deeply and I love him so we have learned that sometimes before anything can happen between us I just need him to hold me while I positively talk to myself in my head, reassuring my whole being that I am safe. Then there are times where sex can be totally spontaneous and I am completely fine. Again, like I said, trauma is not linear. Sometimes life will go smoothly and other times your trauma will resurface and knock you completely out of the park. We do our best to take it all moment by moment and with tons of patience. I absolutely adore him for standing with me on this crazy journey of recovery.

  In another nine years I pray that those assaults will just be a distant memory.  Perhaps they will be, perhaps they won’t. I have learned that you cannot control how trauma will affect you. You can work on dealing with the effects; talking with your loved ones and seeking therapy are always good options, but honestly I think that trauma just takes the time it needs to take to heal and then one day it doesn’t feel like a heavy weight on your shoulder. One day you feel lighter and freer and you know that you will never forget what happened to you, but it no longer controls your life. I know that one day I will get there.

Peace,

Janet

If you are thinking of leaving your abusive relationship I encourage you to create a Safety Plan.  A Safety Plan helps you safely leave an abusive relationship.  Please check out this link; https://relationshipabuse-recovery.com/resources/safety-plan-workbook-ver3.pdf

Are you an abusive relationship? Do you need extra support? I supervise a Mentoring Program at verbalabusejournals.com. Here you can receive free support via email from one of our Mentors. You can sign up at https://relationshipabuse-recovery.com/abusive-relationship-support/

I love writing for free, but with three kids it can get tight.  So if you like what I write feel free to make a donation towards my work.  Please click on this Paypal link; PayPal.Me/JanetBrownlee to make your donation. Thanks!

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The Day I went on Trial

Just over two years ago I went on trial for my ex sexually assaulting me continually in the last 9 months of our marriage.  Yes I was on trial, or at least that is how it played out in Court.  My words and my actions were scrutinized under a microscope for all to see while my ex sat there.

The last nine months of my marriage were the worst.  I had stood up to my abusive ex and told him he was no longer welcome in our marriage bed, that our marriage was over. He said he had no place to go so he moved into our family room in the basement. It was then that I kept catching in him, in his underwear, in my youngest daughters bed.  My gut told me that this was beyond wrong so with everything in me I stood up to him and told him again, No More! No more sleeping in our daughters bed. He exploded and started yelling at me. I shook like a leaf inside, but held my ground on the outside.  I looked him firmly in the eyes and said, “No More.”

The next day he came up to my room in the early morning hours and raped me. This continued weekly over the next nine months. I lived in terror and was barely coping on the inside, but on the outside I did my best to still be a mom, go to work and quietly figure out how I was going to get out of this marriage safely.  I led a double life. In front of my ex I was complacent, unless I saw him hurt one of our children, then something would break in me and I would become so protective, telling him to go away, to leave us alone, but he wouldn’t leave. So I continued to play the good wife on the outside, making supper, getting kids to daycare and going to my job. I could no longer sleep and I could no longer eat. I lost so much weight. Soon there was nothing left of me.

Then one night it was over.  He admitted to the rapes.  He stood at the sink doing the dishes before his aunt and uncle came over.  He admitted that he knew exactly what he was doing to me, that he knew he was hurting me.  Up until that point, I believe to protect my own sanity, I had somehow believed that he did not know what he was doing, that he was “out of control” with his actions and that he really did not mean to hurt me this way.  That night though, that night that bubble burst and I started to scream blood curdling screams that it was over. All over. The next day he moved out.

After he left I pushed all he had done way down deep inside of me.  I had to focus on my kids. I had to help them heal. So I took them to counselling appointments, I met with teachers and I just kept going.  My pain, to me, was irrelevant.  I would deal with it someday but today was not the day.

I lived that way for two years.  I even did my own one on one counselling and went to group therapy but I could not get the words out of my mouth that he had raped me over and over.  Then one day I did, near the end of a group therapy session, I looked at the ceiling, then at the floor, but not at anyone’s face and I shared that my ex had raped me many times.  I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.  The pain was just too much. The group listened and was supportive and they encouraged me to go forward to the Police.  I let that idea sit with me.  I had been through the Court system before when he physically assaulted myself and our toddler son. Could I handle going through that again? This would be so much more personal? Could I do it? Then one day a calm came over me and I knew that I had to come forward.  So I did and my ex was arrested.

The next few years involved Court delays, done by my ex, but eventually we did have a hearing.  I testified for six hours.  I was so exhausted, but overall it went ok.  The Defense tried to trip me up, but I stayed on course. I was prepared for the fact that they would play games and I held my head high.  The Defence even had my ex sit in a seat where I had to walk past him to get to the stand.  I actually had to step over his feet and I knew this was done just to try and intimidate me.  I did not let this falter me and I told the truth of what happened.  Per the Judge there was enough evidence to go to Trial. A date was set and a year later the Trial began.

I arrived at the Court House with my now husband.  We went through security and then saw on the notice boards that our Court room was upstairs.  The Defense had decided to go with a Jury Trial. I was warned ahead of time that the Court House would be busy with many people being called to possibly be on the Jury.  We came up the stairs and across the room I saw him; my ex, his mother and another woman whom I assumed (and was later confirmed) was his girlfriend.  There were at least 30-40 people waiting to go through Jury selection.  I found my Victims Services Worker and was shown into a room. The room had windows to the hallway. As everyone was called into the Court room his girlfriend walked by and glared at me. I held her gaze, I had no intention to be intimidated when I knew I was telling the truth.  I waited in the small room, as a witness to the crime I was not allowed to be in the room when Jury selection was going on, but he being the one on trial had the right to be there for every process.

It did not take long and soon a Jury was chosen.  I was told that I would be called in soon. I took a deep breath and when I was called I walked into the Court room with my head held high.  Again I had to walk right past him, this time he was in a separate box so there was no stepping over feet, but he was right there as I walked past.  I also walked right past his mother and his girlfriend. My support was seated on the other side of the Court room.  The Defense Lawyer and the Prosecutor both stood at their respective tables. Soon we all rose and the Judge came in.  He then had the Jury stand.  I looked at all of them. Soon the Jury was dismissed and I was too.

Soon I was called back into the Court room and again I had to walk past my ex.  As I got up on the stand I noticed he was not wearing his false teeth and he was slouching as he sat, looking very meek and sad.  Very different from who he really is. He is really over 6ft and broad shoulders.  I assumed this meek posture was a tactic suggested by the Defense to make him look weaker to the Jury rather than the predator I knew he could be.  I wanted to scream that his appearance was a lie, that this was all just part of the game to get him off on the charges! Could I say that? I was really only there to answer questions, correct?

I was on the stand for two days. First the Prosecutor questioned me.  He had slightly prepared me for his questions.  I calmly relayed what had happened the first time he raped me.  That he had come running up the stairs in early morning, that I thought he was going out on a call as a First Responder because he sounded to be in such a rush.  Instead though he came running into our room, locked the door, lay on top of me and forced himself on me.  I told how I couldn’t scream because I was in so much shock that this was actually happening.  My own husband, the one who was to protect me was hurting me in the one of the worst ways possible. I went numb. When it was over he sat on the end of the bed and called me horrible names, like Whore, Bitch and Slut.  Again I was in too much shock to move or speak.  Then I heard our toddler son get up across the hall and that seemed to snap me back to reality.  I did not want my children to know what had happened, I wanted everything to be as normal as possible.  I think there was a huge amount of disbelief from me that this had actually happened.  Instead, like so many who go into shock I did something random and normal, I got up and made breakfast for my children.  Doing any different would have shattered me at that moment.

Then it was the Defenses turn.  He reviewed the details with me and I stayed alert to the fact I knew he would try to trip me up. I was determined to not let that happen.  He asked me what I was wearing when my ex entered the bedroom.  I knew that what I was wearing had absolutely nothing to do with why he raped me so I responded that he was wearing only his underwear.  Since him raping me happened more than once in the early hours he questioned me over and over why I did not lock the bedroom door.  I explained that I was afraid of him and so were my children and I was not going to lock my children out of my room which was a safe place for them.  I took the risk of being hurt again, but I wanted to be able to protect my children if they needed me. That wasn’t enough though, over and over the Defense asked me why I did not lock the bedroom door.  It was clear victim blaming, that somehow I was at fault for him raping me because I did not lock the bedroom door.  I was grilled as to why it took me two years to report the rapes.  That I must be making it up because if it had really happened then I would have sought help right away.  Again victim blaming with no explanation on how trauma works, given to the Jury.  In fact the Prosecutor did not bring any other witnesses forward.  No Professionals to explain how a rape Survivor can react, no education and none of the Professionals that had been treating me. I did my best to explain trauma, that sometimes something is so painful that we push it away to cope and when our whole being believes we are strong enough to deal with it we will talk about it.  I explained how the first two years were just about getting my kids through each day. Somehow that was not enough.  The Defense twisted things and said I waited two years because I was in the middle of Family Law proceedings trying to gain sole custody of my kids.  That I went to the Police about these made up assaults to make it that my ex would have no access to the kids while these charges were sorted out.  In reality I came forward when I was ready having no idea ahead of time how that would affect his visitation. Again though I was spun to be a vindictive ex wife to the Jury.  Then the Defense brought forth their knowledge of my blogs and said I only wrote it to continue to be a victim. The Defense even tried finishing his questioning by saying “I am Janet, I am victim hear me Roar!” I responded, “No I am Janet, I am a Survivor!”

I was grilled about everything I had done or said since my ex and I separated.  My character was put on trial. Unfortunately I later learned that this is very common in Sexual Assault Trials, the victim is put on trial for what they did and the perpetrator is barely looked at. It was that case as well. When it was time for my ex to go on the stand he was on it for about 10 minutes. He was asked what our marriage was like.  He responded that our marriage was that “what Janet wanted Janet got”.  Up to that point I had had my head down so that I did not have to look at him, but when he said that my head shot up and we locked eyes for just a moment.  I looked at him with a look telling him that I knew he was lying.  That our marriage was anything but that.  That there had been so many times I wanted to socialize with friends, have people over or go out with him, but there was always an excuse, a reason why I had to stay home.   That I was not allowed to go out anywhere, that I was isolated. He knew he was lying too because when we locked eyes he quickly looked to the ground in defeat. He was maybe asked 5 questions, whereas I was on the stand for two days. Does that seem right? He was the one who committed the crimes yet he was barely examined.

There are so many short falls in our Court System.  I quickly learned that it is a Legal System to carry out laws, not a Justice System.  There was no Justice in what I went through. Sadly this is the case for so many in a Sexual Assault Trial. I felt completely unprepared for what was going to happen to me in that Court Room. The only warning that the Prosecutor gave me was that the Defence may not be nice, but it is not personal, they are just there to do a job. I was not prepared for the trauma the Defence would cause with their insinuations that I was the abusive one and that I was a liar. I wasn’t prepared for the Defence to laugh to themselves, almost patting themselves on the back for their latest dig to me, when their back was turned to the jury. I was prepared for the Judge to watch all of this and say nothing. I was prepared to feel abandoned by our Legal System.

In the end the verdict came back as “Not Guilty”. The Judge said, as I cried, that it was not a case where I was not believed, but that there was just not enough evidence. Being it was a sexual assault it was a “He said, She said” case given there were no witnesses.

That night I had a complete breakdown. My husband and I went to a lounge to debrief. I tried to relax, but could not. After we left my husband had to stop in at a Convenience Store. I sat in our car and waited listening to music. It was then that I cracked; I cranked the music and sobbed uncontrollably. All of the pain came out, the betrayal that I felt by the Courts and by his family for not standing by me when I told the truth. Truth about the long time abuse in our home. Things that they saw or heard. I was crushed.

The trial is still hard to think about, but it no longer weighs on me like it did. There are times where intimacy still frightens me, but I have a loving husband now who is patient and kind. And sometimes I still sleep at night with a pile of clothes on just to feel safe and I lay in the fetal position with my arms crossed across my chest just to “protect” myself. It is what I need to do to get through the tough moments.

I hope, that in time, our Justice system will change in regard to Sexual Assaults. The victim should never be the one on trial. Their actions pre and post a rape should not be used as evidence as to whether the assault took place. The perpetrators actions are the ones that need to be scrutinized. They need to be the ones being questioned for two days, not for five minutes. Only then, I think, will we start to see more appropriate verdicts in sexual assaults trials. Until then my heart goes out to every sexual assault victim.

Peace,

Janet

 

 

 

 

It’s been two years….

It’s been two years.  It’s been two years since I faced all of my fears and faced my ex in Criminal Court. He had been charged with continual sexual assault against me  in the last nine months of our marriage. I am going to admit to you that this is hard to write about and so very hard to think about, but I will do my best to share my thoughts.

It’s been two years.  It’s been two years since I faced all of my fears and faced my ex in Criminal Court. He had been charged with continual sexual assault against me  in the last nine months of our marriage. I am going to admit to you that this is hard to write about and so very hard to think about, but I will do my best to share my thoughts.

In Canada only 6 out of every 100 sexual assault is reported to Police.  Many victims either don’t want Police involvement, have dealt with the assault in another way or feel it is a private matter and they do not want it in the Courts.  For myself it was two years after the assaults when I went to the RCMP.  Why did I wait two years? Well the Defence in my trial wanted the Jury to believe that the rapes never happened and that I only came forward two years later with a fabricated story and that I was seeking revenge. This of course was not the case.  The report was filed when it was because that was the  point where I was ready.  I was ready to talk about the worst nine months of my marriage. Sexual Assaults are extremely personal, hugely traumatic and full of shame.  After my ex assaulted me he would call me horrible names; whore, bitch, idiot, slut and so on. He would sit at the end of our marriage bed spewing this horribleness at me while I could hear our toddler son in the next room. I started to think that perhaps I was those things. Was I asking for this? Was I doing something during the day that let him think I did want these rapes to happen? No. No I was telling him not to touch me, not to sleep in our bed and to leave me alone, I knew that.  I was not asking for this yet he still somehow made it my fault, and so did the Defence.

I have never been involved in any other Criminal Court Cases, but I do know that the most used tactic, by Defence Lawyers, in Sexual Assault Trials is to put the victim on trial.  Every move you have made before and after the assault is scrutinized. You are blamed for not fighting hard enough, for not locking that bedroom door, for not doing enough to stop the assaults.  Victim blaming at it’s best and wow can that ever play with your head.  Defense Lawyers are just like abusers.  They implant ideas and motives as to why you did not fight the way they thought you should and make it all your fault.  You can  easily end up doubting yourself. Could I have done more? Was I wrong when I did this or that? and so on. It is abusive and it is horrible that the Judges let it happen.  It was explained to me post trial that the Crown is held to a level of decorum because, well it is representing the Crown, but Defence Lawyers are not held to this standard.  They can make cheap shots, they can laugh behind the Crowns back (yes that happened), they can throw temper tantrums (yes that happened too) and they can yell at victims (yup, it happened) and the Judge will not bat an eye.  It is sickly accepted and guess what? The Crown is not allowed to warn you ahead of time of this behaviour, so please let my testimony be enough to tell you that games are definitely played in Sexual Assault Trials.

The Defence  banks on an old text book idea of how a sexual assault victim will behave.  They will outline to the Jury that a female victim should be able to physically stop a sexual assault (lets just say that is nearly impossible, most males are physically bigger and stronger than their victim) and that when it is all over she should be in the mind frame to get herself to a hospital, be checked by a doctor and file a Police report right away.  After the assault they should behave in a certain way, not have future relationships, would never have contact with their rapist again and should not act out of character. The thing is, that’s not how trauma works. Majority of reported sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows and in most cases it is someone in their home.  So lets play this out.  Someone you love assaults you and probably threatens you to keep quiet.  They may threaten to hurt your children or take them away from you.  They may threaten to hurt  or kill you or a family pet. They will say whatever horrible thing it is that they have to say to keep quiet because they do not want to be exposed. That is traumatizing and most victims will believe what their rapist says will happen if they speak up. This person has just used great physical force and hurt them in unbelievable ways so what proof is there that they will not follow through with the other threats they make? There is none.  So most victims will stay quiet.  Many may talk about it later. It could be years later when they are strong enough or something else in their life triggers them and pushes them to talk about it. Hence why we have no statute of limitations on Sexual Assaults in Canada.  In fact the majority of reported Sexual Assaults are reported long after the fact.  So the fact that the Defence still leads the jury to believe the “text book” way a victim should react is completely false. It is also important to know that the victim will probably feel tons of shame around the assault.  They will worry that others will see them as tarnished, dirty or broken and they don’t want to be seen that way so they keep quiet.  There are also many who black out or are not completely present during the assault so details are fuzzy.  I know that as the assaults in my marriage continued the details became fuzzy.  In order to cope with the ongoing assaults I often separated myself from them and was not present.  It is an extremely common survival instinct in Survivors of sexual assault.  Our brain is amazing and it will do whatever it has to, to help you survive.

The Majority of Sexual Assaults do not result in a conviction.  That was the situation in my case.  Most sexual assaults happen in private and become a “He said, She said” case. Even though my ex verbally admitted to me that he knew what he was doing to me I did not have any physical proof of that.  Just my account of the incident. I had told his cousin about it shortly after the confession, but when questioned by the RCMP she lied and said she had no memory of me telling her that or about any of the many assaults. Without physical proof it is so hard to prove a sexual assault. As a result so many rapists, like my ex, get to walk away and probably hurt someone else in the future.

I have often asked myself if I regret coming forward. Despite the trauma from the trial I am still glad I came forward.  Irregardless of the outcome I did hold my ex accountable for the horrible things he did.  I shined a light on the darkness and exposed him for who he is.  Something he used to scream at me to never do because we were married.  I spoke up for simply that reason, because he told me to keep quiet and I refuse to do that.  I refuse to enable his abusive behaviours. Should you come forward if you are assaulted? I cannot answer that.  I know society tells us to speak up when we are sexually assaulted so that the rapist can be punished. I agree with that.  We should not protect abusers. In saying that though our Legal System needs to change.  It needs to stop putting victims on trial.  It needs to start putting the perpetrator on trial.  Examine their actions before and after the incident.  Examine what they do and say. Put them under the micro scope.  Maybe then we would get somewhere with this unspeakable crime. If you have suffered this unspeakable crime my heart cries out to you.  My word of advice is to do what you feel is right.  Do what you need to do to  heal in a healthy way.    It is not an easy road, I know that, but I do believe you can get through this.  Reach out for support. Go to a Sexual Assault Centre or call a Hotline, tell a friend. You did nothing wrong and you most certainly did not deserve this.  You are loved and you are beautiful, please remember that.

 

Peace,

Janet

– On a side note I am proud to say that my blog has been featured in the Top 30 Domestic Violence Blogs on Feedspot! Please go to http://blog.feedspot.com/domestic_violence_blogs/ to check it out! My blog was also featured on Open Forest as one of five must read blogs about Domestic Abuse.  Check it out at https://openforest.net/domestic-abuse-5-must-read-blogs/

 

I remember the first time

***Trigger Warning-Explicit***

I remember the first time. My world stopped when it happened and when it started to turn again  I wasn’t the same person.  My skin felt different, my hair didn’t feel like it was my own. My insides were on fire. My finger nails felt detached.  Nothing was my own anymore. All of it was his.  He owned me and I was screaming inside. I remember the first time he raped me.

Life had been so crazy leading up to it. At first he had been arrested.   I could no longer take the abuse.  I was so tired of crying day after day, year after year. I was so tired of begging him to stop and he never did.  I was so tired of my children being afraid. I just….I just wanted him to be nice. I wanted it all to stop. So I told the RCMP. I thought then maybe he would see. Maybe then he would stop hurting us.  I thought then maybe then I would be safe.

I just wanted to be free.

He left for a while. The RCMP removed him from our home and for a moment I was free.  I could breath again.  The knots in my stomach went away and I felt peace. Soon the phone calls started.  He wasn’t supposed to call me.  We weren’t supposed to talk,  but he called and I answered.  I thought it was his mom calling, but instead I heard his deep voice. He talked and I talked. He needed a Lawyer and I was supposed to find him one.

‘But you hurt me! Why am I supposed to find you a Lawyer?’, were my thoughts. I just want to be free!

I felt caught.

Ok. I will find you money for a Lawyer, but no one can know.

‘I want to be free. I want to be free.’ 

That’s all I heard in my head.  Somehow though I was finding him money for a Lawyer. It was crazy.

Then before I realized it he was back in my home.  I wanted to be free, but he was back.  The father of my children, the man I married, he was there even though the Courts said no.  So I carried on like nothing had happened.  I wanted to scream “He is back in my home! Take him AWAY!”, but I couldn’t open my mouth.  So I played along.  I let him back into my bed.  I pretended he had never hurt me.  I pretended we were a happy family.  I pretended I wasn’t dying inside.

My hair started to fall out.

Suddenly he WAS nice. He was what I always wanted him to be.  Maybe it would be ok? Maybe he did learn? Maybe just maybe we will make it?  Maybe. Maybe I won’t cry. So we carried on.  He went to Court appearances and I went to work. Kids went to school and daycare.  They will be ok, I thought, they have to be.  We just have to keep on carrying on.

So we carried on and soon the Court orders were lifted. We were allowed to be together.  No more hiding. No more lying to the outside world that he wasn’t at home.  We could be a real family again.  We were going to be ok.  There had been no hitting and no yelling.  He had been carrying and loving.  It was all going to be ok now.  I could breathe.

Breathe.

WHAM!!!

“YOU WILL PUT ON YOUR MITS!! YOU STUPID PIECE OF SHIT YOU WILL PUT ON YOUR MITS!!!”

Why is he screaming? Why is he holding my little boy up in the air? Why is this happening? Why isn’t he being nice? Make it STOP!!!

MAKE IT STOP!!

Hold onto your sons legs he can’t throw him that way.  Beg him to stop. Do it.  Take it for your son.  BEG HIM!! Ok he has stopped screaming, he tossed your son.  Your son is  in the closet now bawling.  It will all be ok now.  He has put him down.  Breath. Comfort your son.

“Shhhh baby. It’s ok,” you whisper.  You hold him and he cries.  Then you see your little girl.  She is in the corner crying and hiding her face.  How did this all start again? Why? What did we do? “Shhhh my boy, it’s ok.  Mommy is here.” Suddenly he grabs your daughter and tells you that he’s leaving and you are not coming.  You are shaking, trying so hard to hold it together, so you just nod your head ok.

They leave.

You breath and look at your little boy who is quietly sobbing now.  Then you hear his footsteps.  Dear God he is coming back! The door opens, he steps in and quietly crouches down next you and says steely, “Don’t even dream of going to the cops this time.  If you do you will never see me or anyone again!” “Ok”, I quietly answer,” I won’t say anything.”

Then he leaves.

You don’t really know what to do after that.  Your head is spinning and all you can hear is your heart pounding in your ears. You pick up your  son and you cry.  How could he do this again? He promised that he had changed!!! Why? How?

Suddenly there is a knock at the door and his mom, sister and brother-in-law are there, “Hi, how are you?”  You can’t tell them the truth. Swallow it.  They can’t know it happened again.  Smile.  Hug them and for bloody sake stop shaking!! So you smile, tell them you are fine and you stop shaking.  Soon he is home and he gives you  a kiss and hugs his sister.  Is everything ok now? Am I ok now? What just happened? My head is spinning.

No. NO! He lied.  He hasn’t changed.  He DID do it again.  I can’t do this.  I can’t breathe anymore.  Oh dear Lord please make this stop.

I just want to be free. I just want to be free.

“Yes, let’s go out for supper,” you hear. What, we are going out for supper? Ok,  pull it together, you’re all going out for supper.  So we go out and I pretend to be happy and we keep carrying on.

As the month passes we get closer and closer to Christmas.  Instead of calling our son his name he is calling him asshole.  I don’t want my husband near me. I feel disgusted when I looked at him. I  just wanted him to go away, but I can’t ask that now.  I can’t go to the RCMP again.  He warned me. He threatened me. I just need all of his family to go away.  I need the Holidays to be over.  I just need  it all to be over.

I just want to be free. I just want to be free.

“I can’t do this.”

“What?”, he asks.

I take a deep breath.  He is sitting on our bedroom floor, his back leaning up against the wall.  I feel the warmth of the blankets around me, but I am cold inside.  I can do this.  I can tell him.

“I can’t live with you anymore,” I say.

“What?” he asks again.

“I can’t live with you anymore,” I repeat. Don’t look at him. Just don’t look him in the eye.  You can do this.

“Why?” he asks.

“Why? You know why.  You PROMISED and you hurt us again!  ASSHOLE? Really? You are calling our toddler son asshole instead of his name!” I say strongly.

Just keep talking.  Don’t look at him.

Silence.

I shift my eyes and look at him.  His eyes are downcast and he looks so sad. Was I wrong?

“I know. Where am I supposed to go?” he asks quietly.

I look at him for a moment.  This is my husband, the father of my children, but he is hurting us and I need to protect us.

“To your moms,” I say.  “You stayed there last time.”

“No I can’t stay there.  She doesn’t want me there.  I guess….I guess I could live in the van…. but it’s winter”, he says softly and sadly looks down.

Don’t relent.  Don’t give in. The van? In the winter? Can I agree to that? He IS my kids father….

“Ok. You can stay BUT you are NOT allowed in our room.  This is MY room now.  I don’t want you touching me or kissing me.  You can move your things downstairs and sleep in the family room.”

He agrees.

Whew!!! I did it!!

So he moves his things downstairs and sets up the blow up bed.  Could it really be this easy?

I sit  in my room, in MY bed and for once in a long time I feel safe.

————-

“Ok girls, it’s time to get up.  I have to get to work soon!” I say as I make my way through the basement to the girls room. I open my younger daughters bedroom door and there he is, in her bed. “What are you doing here?” I ask.

“I just fell asleep here last night reading her a story,” he answers as he jumps up out of the bed.  He is only wearing his jockey underwear.

Hmmm ok, I think. Something inside of me says no this isn’t right, but I don’t have time to think about this right now.  I have to get ready for work. So I go to work and the kids go to daycare and school and we keep carrying on day in and day out.  He and I barely speak now, but he stays downstairs and I stay upstairs and we exist.  My oldest daughter starts to get upset at bedtime.  She starts to insist that she be allowed to sleep with her younger sister. “I have to keep her safe mum!” she tells me.  “What do you mean?” I ask.  She answers me with tears.  I tell her that enough is enough and to get to bed.  I tell her that her sister is fine.

She is, isn’t she? Yes. Yes she is, I tell myself.

I keep finding him there though. Morning after morning. He tells me now that he is there because his air mattress got a hole in it so we buy him a new one, but he is still in her bed and my oldest is still crying.

“This has to stop!” I insist one morning. “You can’t sleep in her bed anymore, it’s not right,” I tell him.

“WHAT?! NO!!,” he yells, “I NEED my children to be happy!!”

“You can still be with your kids, but you can no longer sleep in her bed!” I yell back, “This has to stop! No More!! It’s WRONG!!” and I turn and walk away. My heart is pounding.  My counsellor has been teaching me to trust my gut, to listen to my inner voice, to stand up. It is so scary to do, but I do it! I stood up!

I just want to be free. I just want to be free.

The next morning I woke early.  I hear him running up the stairs.  I think that he is going on a medical call with the Fire Department, but he comes into my room instead.

———————

I see him standing in my door way.  He is only wearing his underwear.  They are green, a semi light green.  He has had them forever. Why is he in my room? Why is he only wearing his underwear? What is going on? He  closes the door, locks it and walks over to my bed. What is going on? He says nothing. I don’t understand.  He is suddenly over me pulling back the blankets. I am in a t-shirt and panties. What is he doing? I told him not to touch me, why is he here? He reaches down and strokes my leg.  I freeze. He won’t look at me. He won’t talk to me. I try to speak, but nothing comes out.  I want him to go away!! He lies on top of me. NO!!!, my head screams.He is so heavy, I can’t move.  I try to pull free. I try to wriggle out from under him. He is like a dead weight.  He holds me down and pulls my panties down.  I feel him hard against my leg. NO!!! I scream inside my head. I try to roll away, I whisper no, he pulls me back, he is in me now and I am dying inside.  I don’t know where I went, but I wasn’t there.

I just want to be free. I just want to be free.

I hear him moan as he cums in me and rolls away. I lay there not moving, too terrified to speak. He pulls up his underwear and sits on the edge of the bed. I look at him in silence. Too scared to breathe.

What is that I hear?

My head is spinning, but I hear something. It’s my son, he is awake across the hall, I whisper my boy’s name. He looks at me then and tells me that I am a whore, a slut and a bitch. Then he stares straight ahead and walks out the door. I bite my lip.  I cannot cry. I will not cry.  The door is open. I could run. I could be free, but I can’t move.  I hear my boy coming into my room so I manage to pull up some blankets. He’s asking mommy to get up, he is hungry. Yes. Yes my boy I will get up. He hears daddy  in the kitchen and leaves my room. I pull up my panties and find some pants. I head out to make breakfast.

I remember. I remember the first time he raped me.

 

Epilogue

In the months following this assault my now ex raped me at least once a week.  I stopped eating, drastically lost weight, my hair fell out in clumps and I developed a rash all over my body.  I was so stressed. My right eye twitched constantly and I could not focus at work. My weight dropped to 108 lbs (I am 5’10”) and Icould no longer regulate my own body heat.  I was freezing in the middle of a hot summer.  I was slowly dying and he was the one slowly killing me.  One evening, as we were getting ready for his aunt and uncle to come over, I felt the strength to confront him.  I didn’t want to die, but if I was going to die I needed to understand why.  He was standing at our kitchen sink doing the dishes.  I walked up to him and asked him why was he forcing me to have sex? Part of me hoped that  he would tell me he had never raped me and that this had all been a terrible nightmare.  I looked at him and I waited. He stared straight ahead and looked out the kitchen window. He never said why he was raping me, but he did say, “I know. I know what I was doing. I know that I was hurting you.” He was so calm and detached. I stared at him and then something broke deep inside of me. I started to scream a blood curdeling scream, “It’s over!! It’s over!!” and I started walking around the house taking down all of our wedding photos, I was sobbing.  He was following me saying, “No!” as if he was shocked that I was ending it, but I just kept gathering everything up, saying that it was over.  Soon my arms were full of what I had thought were precious memories.  I took all those memories, all those pictures and I threw them into my bedroom closet. I was done. My heart was shattered. It was over.

Then. Then there was a knock at the door. It was his aunt and uncle and once again I had to push it all down, pretend it was all ok and I joined them to play cards.

The next day, while at work, I texted my husband.  I knew I was safe this way.  I told him that we were over.  I told him that I would stay out after work with the kids and that he had till 8:00pm to get his things out of the house and be gone.  I told him that if he wasn’t gone when I got home I WOULD call the RCMP.

He was gone when I went home.

I crashed after that.  My whole world fell apart. I was taken off of work and put on sick leave.  I could barely get out of bed. A friend had to come in to care for my kids.  I was really sick for two years and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It took medication and had tons of counselling to get me functioning again. In all of that, somewhere in me, I found the strength and clarity to come forward and report what he had done to the RCMP. He was arrested again and charged with Continual Sexual Assault. We were stuck in the Legal system for four years after that.  There was a Criminal Trial and a Divorce/Custody Trial. Both grueling in their own ways.  Things that I will write about at a separate time. They have their own trauma that I am not ready to share.

Finally, though, after all of that, I was free.

Peace,

Janet