29 Apr April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month
My name is Laura Christian. I am a sexual assault survivor. I am a rape survivor. My story begins in 1987, when I was 9 years old. I was raped and assaulted by the boy who lived across the street from me. He was 6 years older than me. He and my brother were friends and I was friends with his sister. Her and I were best friends and were always together. It was not unusual for us to be at each other’s houses when our parents weren’t there. I saw her brother as a second brother. He saw me as something else.
The first time, yes first time, he assaulted me, we were playing Hide and Go Seek. We played this game a lot. Sometimes our parents played, other times the kids from the neighborhood also played. When it was her time to be the “Finder” he told her to sit in front of the T.V., which was on MTV(it was still new) and she couldn’t start to look for us until a Def Leppard video came on. It took me over 25 years to be able to listen to a whole song, by the way. I thought, great, more tome for me to find a good place to hide. I went to her closet and hid under some blankets on the floor. A few minutes later, He came in and said we should hide together and that I picked the perfect spot. He then grabbed me and forced me to lie down on my stomach. He then got on top of me and pulled down my pants. He then assaulted me. I told him to stop and tried to get up I told him that if he didn’t stop, I would tell on him. I knew He shouldn’t be touching me, but He was much stronger than and held me down. He told me that no one would believe me and that He would just say that I asked him to because I wanted to be grown up. He told me to clean myself because I was a mess. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up. I went home, cleaned up and hid my panties in the trash. I didn’t tell anyone.
The second time we were also playing hide and seek. He told my friend to find us after Def Leppard came on twice. I later asked her what took her so long to find us and she told me what he had said. I tried to hide by myself, but he found me again. I switched to another place when he grabbed me and pulled me into their parents’ bedroom. He pushed me on the bed. I again tried to fight him off, but he held me down. He told me that if I yelled, he would hurt me. I knew that he had gotten into fights and had hit his mom, so I didn’t dare make a sound. He raped me on his parents’ bed. I remember what the room looked like, what it smelled like, what time was on the alarm clock: 7:10. He told me that I couldn’t tell anyone. No one would believe me. He said that I asked for it. What 9-year-old would ask to be raped?
The third and final time, I tried to hide from both. I went to their parent’s bathroom and got in the tub. We weren’t allowed in there, ever, so I didn’t think he would find me since he didn’t see me go in there. I was wrong. He locked the door and pinned me down. This time I fought him. I scratched and kicked and clawed, while he had his hand over my mouth. He flipped me over and held me by my neck and pushed my face into the cold tub. I couldn’t breathe. He pulled my pants down and raped me. When he was done, he told me he would kill me if I ever told anyone. I ran and never went back without his parents being home. I never told anyone for 6 years. I pushed the events into a dark place in my mind. I guess it is very normal for a child to forget a traumatic event.
Fast forward to 1994. I was in high school. And it was like someone turned on a movie. Everything came back at once. I didn’t know if it had happened or if it was a figment of my imagination. Then the nightmares came. I didn’t know what to do or who to tell, so I wrote about it in English class. My teacher called my parents in because of how disturbing my story was. I told them what had happened. They didn’t believe me. They confronted Him and his parents and of course He denied it. No one believed me. I was alone. I didn’t understand what I had these thoughts and memories if it didn’t happen. Maybe something was wrong with me. I then tried to slit my wrists. I apparently didn’t know what I was doing, as it didn’t work. As the years went on, I started acting out and experimenting with drugs. I had no self-respect and started to surround myself with people who also didn’t respect me. I tried to tell people that I had been raped, but either no one believed me or they treated me like trash.
My parents tried to get me help once. I went to one session and never went back. They still didn’t believe me.
About 5 years ago I snapped. I got into a screaming match with my husband, over something as stupid as coffee creamer. Well, I was screaming. He didn’t even raise his voice. He then told me that I had to get some help because he couldn’t take my screaming, temper tantrums, and craziness anymore. I couldn’t even call doctors because all I did was cry. He called for me and found me a counselor. I knew that if I didn’t do something, I would lose him. My attacker already took so much from me. He was sure as hell not taking my husband. I was ready to deal with my assault. I remember sitting across from the counselor and just crying. I hadn’t even said one word to her yet. She then knelt in front of me, grabbed my hands and said “You did nothing wrong. You did not ask for this to happen. You are not a victim anymore. You are a survivor.”
For the first time, since 1987, I believed that I did nothing wrong. I believed I didn’t ask for this to happen. I was no longer a victim. I knew that I had a very long road ahead. The very first thing I did was get a semi colon tattoo over the scars on my wrist. Now when I look down, I see hope. I started keeping a journal. I started reading books about PTSD and realized that a lot of my behaviors growing up was the result of my assault. I have asked my self many times why I went back after the first time. I do not know. The only thing I can think of is that I believed it wouldn’t happen again if I didn’t talk to him, or wear certain things. I was 9, I didn’t really comprehend what I had done to ask for it.
My parents and I have talked, and they believe me. My mother carries a lot of regret. I forgave them a long time ago.
I have gotten asked why I let it happen more than once, that I must have liked it to not stop it. No one but me knew what I was thinking at that time. I truly believed he would hurt me and that no one would believe me if I spoke up. I let it happen to not make things worse. Remember, I was 9 and he was someone that I trusted. I wish that I would have told someone. I must live every day knowing that because I didn’t say anything, he did it to another woman. I know that I was not the only person he did this to, and I could have prevented it. Believe me, this is not a good feeling. I don’t think I will ever forgive myself for staying silent and that is why I am telling my story. If my story helps one woman, then it was all worth it.
Please, if you know someone who has been assaulted, or are a victim, SPEAK UP! Do not stay silent. Tell someone. Tell the police, tell a trusted friend or coworker. And if someone tells you, help her. Be supportive. Be the shoulder she cries on. Tell her, no matter what she did or didn’t do, that she made the right decision. Tell her that shew didn’t ask for it and she didn’t deserve it. Tell her that she is beautiful. Tell her that she is not alone. Tell her that she is a Survivor.