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It has taken me over a year to write this… I guess I just didn’t want to relive it. I want to have my experience help other people though, so I decided to push through. To write it so that someday someone will see my story and keep going, not give up.
I was 31. I was a secretary for a doctor in a small office. The people I worked with were like family… I was really happy. I had been through so much: I grew up in a household where molestation and domestic violence was present because of a stepfather. I lived in foster homes until finally I was reunited with my mom when I was around fourteen. We had a lot of happy years... Then I got married and my husband turned out to be abusive as well. That ended after a year and some time went by with me building up my life. Finally, I was happy and things were looking up.
Then one day I was in line at a restaurant for food for the office when a guy in line – let’s call him Tom – started talking to me. Just chit-chat... nothing major. He was attractive and nice to the employees. I mentioned where I worked, and he seemed to be familiar with it. He then ended up at my work days later. At first, I wasn’t upset. I thought it was OK. A little odd... But I figured he just liked me. He bought me a plant for my desk. He brought his two little kids with him to see me. I didn’t feel scared... I thought he was OK. He got my phone number from my co-workers, who didn’t see any danger. He had been hanging around a lot by then. The only person who thought it was odd was my boss, the doctor I worked for. My coworkers and I discounted my boss because he seemed to hate everyone. Now, I wish I would have listened.
After Tom got my phone number, he also somehow got my address. One day I was shopping late at night and my mom, who lived in a small apartment off of my house, called me in hysterics. She said a guy in a black jacket, black jeans and black stocking cap had banged on the door and angrily demanded to see me. She said he said he was my friend. She told him I wasn’t there and he asked where I was. She didn’t tell him. She was so afraid. He finally left after leaving me a CD or something on the step. I was concerned and very upset that he upset and scared my mom.
Tom got my email address and cell number (not from me), and he started keeping tabs on me. I shouldn’t have answered him but I did, mainly to keep him from acting nuts. He would sit outside of work in his car, calling my office repeatedly after I’d shut off my cell. I finally told the other people to say I couldn’t talk. My boss even asked him not to come around, but he would sit in his car and wait until he left and then come into the office. It was to the point where I couldn’t turn around without him there. It was getting to be too much. I was stressed out.
I found out I had to move in a hurry. The house I was living in was suddenly sold, and I was worried I wouldn’t find help to move my things. Tom overheard me talking about it, and jumped at the chance to help me, saying he’d been a professional mover before. I hesitated, but finally gave in. HUGE MISTAKE.
He came and got some of my boxes. He was going to keep them at his house until I could get them taken to my new apartment. I can’t even explain how it all went down, but one minute I was packing and getting things ready. The next, he was pinning me down and trying to kiss me. At first I was kind of embarrassed, and tried to make a joke out of it. I pushed him away playfully, but he didn’t take that for an answer. He put his elbow and hand and forearm across my chest once he had wrestled me down onto the bed. It was so hard to breathe that I thought I was going to die. There was so much pain – I remember that. He wasn’t gentle. I had some internal injuries… five months later. I remember watching the fan blades slicing through the air and hoping he would be done soon. There was so much pain, and everything was in slow motion. He was angry. He was proving a point.
Tom told me he had done that before, that a girl he took out on a date “owed him” and he was going to “get his” – and she was drunk and passed out. So he raped her. I was in disbelief. I think he told me that horror story so that I’d be afraid and comply. But I didn’t. I yelled, but it’s hard to yell when you can’t breathe. He was bigger than me, so my moving, fighting and squirming didn’t stop him. Once he was done, I slid onto the floor, and he just got up and went downstairs, possibly for a smoke. Finally, he said something like he’d call me, and he left, not seeming like he thought anything bad had happened.
I finally got up and stupidly flew into the shower, scrubbing it all off. I was hysterical, and not thinking straight. I couldn’t believe someone I knew could do that, and felt like I had to be wrong, like it didn’t really happen. It was so… unreal. I hurt so much. There were bruises and immense pain. I felt dirty, used up and battered. It was hard to go to the bathroom because I was so sore.
I told my old coworker from the dentist’s office what had happened, and she panicked. She wanted to call the police, but I was petrified. I had washed away all the evidence, and I knew he’d lie. I was afraid to tell my mom. I had a new job and I just started to pile more work on myself. I took extra shifts and avoided everyone.
Tom kept calling me, and when I didn’t answer, he’d write letters. I threw them out. My mom and everyone else in my life had no idea what had happened – and wanted to know what was going on with me – but I didn’t feel up to telling them.
Finally, Tom came to my apartment when I was at work. He got in because my mom had visited earlier and opened all the windows. While asleep, I heard a noise but wasn’t worried, thinking it was just the cat playing with the blinds.
I tried to go back to sleep, and heard a thump. I sat up. I sat very still and until my eyes adjusted and I saw the cat curled up on my bed. It was like a bucket of freezing, ice-cold water had been dumped on my head. I flew out of bed, threw my bedroom door open and ran smack into Tom, who was standing there in the pitch dark. I can’t believe I didn’t have a heart attack.
It was like a scene from a horror film. I turned on the light, and he started backing me into the bedroom. I noticed my cell phone across the room, but he was between it and me. So I gave up and went to sit on a chair in the corner of the room. Like a demon, he was screaming vile, horrible swear words at me, knocking over furniture, and lunging all over the room.
I thought for sure that this was it. I kept thinking I’d rather he killed me than raped me again. So I prayed. The calmer I got, the angrier he did. I had no idea what to expect, but knew it wouldn’t be good. Until suddenly, like a light switch in his head had flipped off, he stopped and ran out of my apartment, jumping into his car and screeched down the street.
I couldn’t believe it, and I didn’t think the police would either. So I didn’t wait around. I drove about 40 minutes to my brother’s house and slept on his couch. My family had no idea any of this was happening, or that I was raped. I didn’t say anything about it, and they didn’t push me to. I don’t think I stopped shaking or thanking God that I was OK that night.
After that, I just kind of gave up. I was depressed, not eating, working too much and not talking to anyone. My upbringing in a strict religion, one that doesn’t believe in premarital sex, made the shame so much harder to deal with. I’d waited until I was married to have sex, and had a hard time coping with what Tom had taken from me.
One horrible night, I laid out all the sleeping pills I had from working at the doctor’s office. They were samples, and I’d never taken one in my life. I laid them all out in a circle around me. I thought maybe the best thing to do for everyone involved was to just take them, and go to sleep. It sounded so easy, like a solution. I couldn’t keep living like I was. I didn’t want to tell my mom. I was so afraid she’d have a heart attack and not know how to deal with it, since we were so close. I didn’t want to hurt her. Or my brother, or my friends.
But as I sat there, something in me kept wanting to live. I just didn’t want to live this way. So I prayed and threw the pills away. I realized I wanted to live – and thank goodness, because things were about to get a whole lot more complicated and wonderful at the same time.
Soon, my mom asked me what was going on over the phone. She asked if something horrible had happened to me. When I said yes, she asked if I’d been raped. It was strange how she know what to say. I broke down and we cried together. She told my brother and it was such a relief! They didn’t hate me. They were happy I was alive and that they finally knew what was killing me in front of their eyes (because by this time, I was extremely sick and thin). Finally, my mom asked if maybe we should go to the hospital because of how much pain I was in.
None of how this happened was arbitrary. I know God had a hand in helping me. The caseworker sat with me and my mom all night, through the internals and testing. They said I still had multiple healing injuries from the rape – five months later.
They didn’t tell me much at first. But they did a sonogram of my stomach, and found out I was five months along with a baby. It was wonderful. Nothing about it was awful. It turned around 100%. My mom was with me, and we picked out a name that we stuck with. Over the next few months, I started taking care of myself and preparing for the baby. I knew there was a reason I had decided to live. I shudder to think of how this could have ended differently.
All that was over eight years ago. Today I have a wonderful child who is brilliant, and reads at a 12 grade+ level. Life is amazing, and we are very happy. I never thought I’d be a single parent, and there are challenges, but overall we’re happy.
My child is so special. Everyone says it, and I believe it. Such a blessing! Things have turned around for me. Now I have friends, and my life is a lot different than before, in a good way. I was in counseling from before I was pregnant to when my child was about five. Sometimes I think I could use more, but my counselor is always available for me by email or phone and that is helpful, though I haven’t had to take her up on it in a long, long time.
I’ve come to the conclusion that some things just won’t be erased or fixed right now. I have come to accept that and I have grown a lot during these last nine years. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve also learned how to deal with what happened to me – and what I want to do now is help others. I realized early on that you need, you definitely need, a support system. And a lot of times, it isn’t going to be who you think it will be. Some people will walk straight out of your life. Some won’t believe you. And that’s OK... You have to learn to just let it go. Other people, though, will step up to the plate. Maybe it won’t be who you want at the time, or who you think it will be, but they will come.
I’m glad I’m finally telling my story. I think it’s time. I hope it helps someone at some point.
So, what happened to Tom? I almost decided not to include this, but I will. It’s somewhat discouraging, but it’s an unfair part of life and there’s no changing it. Tom, last I heard (and in this day of digital everything, it’s easy to find information) is married with four children: the two I’d met at the dentist’s office, and two new daughters younger than my child. He’s married to an EMT and working at a hospital in the city as an RN.
Before you ask, I’ll say that yes, I’m very worried about the people he works with. I do feel bad about not being able to take him to court, but I can’t sacrifice my family and my child for that: I was told that he’d probably end up with visitation with my child if I pursued anything legally. Tom doesn’t know there’s a child, and I have to keep it that way, according my most trusted legal advisers and confidants. That’s why I can’t do more than I’ve done. My hands are tied.
I did turn him into the police. I wanted his name in the database but I really don’t think it matters much. I do know that he was discharged from the military for sexual harassment. Why this didn’t preclude him from getting the job he has, I don’t know.
I’m hoping Tom will get caught someday. Until then, justice isn’t served but I’m waiting patiently. Funny how when we met, I had a nice job, was on my way to having a career, was happy and things were good. After that, things went into a blender and he landed on his feet – but I think I did, too. At first, I didn’t think so, but I just took the long way around.
This is where I’m supposed to be. I thank God for so many things. My faith is what kept me together and going. I’m thankful and blessed.
Some people still don’t know what happened to me. I don’t feel like I can go shouting the truth to everyone, so I just swallow it and live. There are others that I’ve told but don’t believe me – but I know that that’s on them, not me. And I want other victims to know that, too.
I hope other girls realize that things can work out so much better than you think they can. Maybe my story can be instrumental in helping to do that.