Why me? It’s the most common question that crosses your mind when you’ve been physically invaded without consent. Abuse. I’ve heard it happens a lot, mostly when you are young and impressionable, and it’s an experience you choose to lock away and never talk about. It’s a flashback you struggle with. I didn’t talk about it for the longest time. Guilt, self-hatred, anger, sorrow … there wasn’t a negative emotion that skipped my reclusive self. It was easier to pretend it never happened.
I was eleven. She was a religious nun who had left the church and later her husband to fend for herself. She cooked, cleaned and knew how to look after kids. At least that’s what she told my parents. Her pious demeanor and delicate strand of rosary beads bearing a cross had found its way into our household and into my bedroom. Yes, I had my own room growing up and it was a safe place until that very forgettable night. She usually said a prayer with me every night, for the lord to bestow his grace, and then would tap me to sleep. That was the routine. She stroked my head and told me how wonderful a child I was and how much she cared for me. But this time, she stayed longer. Her words were a little more captivating that usual. Kisses were planted in places sacred to me, places she had no authority over. I was uncomfortable but was too polite to fend her off. Before I could comprehend what was happening, her tongue was inside me. Shock set in and a nervous fear plagued my body. Thoughts and feelings were running wild. As the snake bore its ugly head, pleasure came knocking. I was aroused but hated that I was. I wanted to cry but my body didn’t allow it. Guilt had consumed every nerve and I just shut down. Numbness took over after that point until she withdrew and slipped back into her mattress. I didn’t speak to anyone the next morning. My bag was packed and I went to school. A sickness had begun to set in. I was filled with hate but my body refused to react. It didn’t stand up for itself. It silently bore the burden of the cross. She wanted me again after that. Mustering a few ounces of courage I pushed her away. But she always knew what to say, how to break me and I gave in… again. It was shorter this time because my feet found grit and rushed out of the room. I ran upstairs and sneaked into my bothers lair and stayed there till morning. She stopped soon after and a few months later as luck would have it, was asked to leave. Relief was the only feeling that lingered after that point.
I had assumed the worst was over. I was shackled but transformed. For the longest time I stayed away from women in general. I hung out with the boys and was the little girl who enjoyed cuddling up to her father. The smile had returned to my face as I was turning thirteen. A rushed enrollment in Karate school was to help me find my strength. Weakness didn’t have a place in my world or so I thought. I was good at beating people up and graduated to the orange belt in no time. On the field with my fists up, I could channel courage and punch till it hurt. I was scary. So scary that my teacher awarded me a brown belt, earlier than most students. He said he was proud of my effort and wanted to teach me advanced techniques. A private lesson he said because nobody else was ready. A very forgettable lesson.
There are some things in life that you are just never prepared for, but wish to God you were.
The snake had reared its ugly head again and the helpless Eve succumbed. Violence didn’t figure in the moments after. A quite control ensued and I was submitting again. All that learning, all the training all those punches on the field had been in vain. How do you fight a fighter? I cursed inside… STAND UP Goddammit! FIGHT! Punch him in the face and run for God sakes! But instead, I choked on semen. My hands were shaking; they still do when I flash back. The invasion had begun and this time I was too frozen to feel anything. I closed my eyes and let myself fall.
To this day, I can’t seem to find a logical explanation as to why he bled. I’d like to call it a miracle but something had cut his foreskin and blotches of blood had fallen to the ground. I saw him rush to the men’s room in pain. It’s still a blur and I don’t recollect saying any special prayers for such a blessed interruption, but I do remember running. I was on my feet, tears rolling down my face, running as fast as I could.
I believe I was lucky. I still shudder every time the memory returns but I tell myself it could have been worse. Many have probably had similar experiences, some far more horrible and painful to the bone. But, in the end I‘d like to believe you emerge stronger. Why me? Isn’t an easy question to answer but you eventually learn not to beat yourself up about it. The ache of an old wound will return ever so often but you learn never to trap yourself in a window. Sometimes faith and the ability to look on the bright side of things is a path to self-retrieval. Abuse is programmed to cause self-destruction and I know that battle all too well. But, the light is never far away. The uneasy territory of this coming out story wasn’t meant to evoke sympathy. But hopefully, someday, it will help you tell yours.