Survivor Story #1 "There's Always Hope", by Laura
In writing this blog I was hoping to help other survivors to share their stories. I want to help all of those out there who are silent to have a safe place to share their stories. My sister Laura is a rape survivor as well and this is her story written by her.
Who was I?
In order to for you to fully understand how all this happened you must first understand who I was before it all started. Growing up I was always kind of an odd kid, not in a bad way I just always have had my own way of doing things and understanding things. I was always very mature for my age and very in touch with my own feelings as a result I didn’t have too many friends. I felt very different from the kids at school. Knowing this I was a very shy kid and I didn’t feel much like I fit in around my peers. I have two older sisters and a younger brother. My older sister, Lisa was very popular and my family labeled her as the pretty one and everyone loved her. My younger brother Kyle was also very popular. I was always known as Lisa’s sister or Kyle’s sister. I never really had my own identity. My oldest sister, Michelle was known in the family for being the smart one, and my brother was the boy. And who was I? I was the other one, the surplus of girls in the Techau family. I was pretty self sufficient and made pretty good decisions growing up. My house was busy there were always a million people coming and going. Still most of the time I felt invisible. This never really bothered me until I was a teenager. In my late teens is where my story begins.
When I was 17 I met a boy. A boy who liked me...not my sister... he was not friends with my brother. Someone who just liked me. I was so happy because for the first time I didn’t feel invisible. Everything started out so normally. We would hang out on weekends and talk on the phone as much as possible. After a month or two of that I became his girlfriend. I was 17 and I finally had my first boyfriend! That was amazing to me because I literally thought that would never happen. Things continued to go on relatively normal for a few weeks after we got together. Slowly he started to pressure me more and more to have sex with him. I didn’t want to because, being a Christian my whole life, I was raised not to have premarital sex but on the other hand...everyone had to have sex at some point right? It’s normal for a girlfriend to have sex with her boyfriend right? I also came to the conclusion that if I continued to say no to him it would happen anyway. So I decided on January 3, 2003 to go ahead and give in to his wishes. Little did I know that, that Friday would change my life forever. We were off school that day and he had taken the bus for an hour to get to my house. Both of my parents were at work and my brother was the only one home that morning. So we did very "normal" grown up things in my room with the door unlocked. To my surprise we were interrupted by my brother. We decided at that point to find other things to do that day. We took a walk to the park by my house and played basketball with my brother for a while. Later we returned to the house alone. We had maybe an hour or so before anyone would return to the house so he looks at me and says "lets finish" and I told him "no, I need some time to decide how I feel about this" however his mind was made up...he was going to finish what we started earlier that day. I said no several times didn’t put up much of a physical fight because what was happening was so confusing to me. And as this happened I remember lying on the floor thinking "this isn’t right" and in that exact moment a certain part of my brain shut off and my emotions went numb. When it’s all over the most painful words I have ever heard from someone came out of his mouth "I love you". What did I know about love? Maybe this was love? Over the next few months he became increasingly more abusive. Abusive in every way someone can be. We had sex whenever and where ever he wanted to. He was easily angered and every time I told him I didn’t want to he would get so mad he would turn red and start shaking. I was scared and out of options so I just stopped arguing and did what I was told. The more this went on the more I felt like I needed him. He used to tell me all of the time things like "no one else would ever love you" and” I love you so much, I need you". Over time I became numb I was a zombie with no feelings no self worth and no personality. That May, on Mother’s Day we planned a girls day, we went swimming in my Aunt’s pool. For the first time in a very long time I smiled...and I laughed. I thought to myself "when was the last time you did that?" I thought hard but couldn’t remember. That afternoon I broke up with him over the phone. The very second I hung up the phone panic started to hit me. How long did I have before he showed up at the house to bully me into changing my mind? I went to a movie with a friend that day. The whole time I was out I was watching my back, waiting for him to show up. He didn’t find me that night. There were many nights when I went out that he found me. I never once saw him but he would always call me and tell me where I had been the day before. He wanted to let me know he was always watching. He would send me letters from jail when he was locked up and he would show up at my work with half dead roses quite often. There were many phone calls from him and his friends. This went on for about 3 years until I changed my phone numbers. There was one time during those three years that I tried to meet up with him to get some closure and understand why he was so mean to me. It was very personal for me until that night we met up. I asked him all my questions like "why did you treat me so badly?" and "how can you say you love me?" seeing his blank stare and complete lack of comprehension of my questions I realized he had no idea he had done anything wrong at all. I don’t say this to make excuses for him at all but it definitely helped me to forgive him over time. It’s hard to hold on to the forgiveness because even up until a year and a half ago I hear from him through MySpace or Facebook. I can’t bring myself to respond to him and a part of me hates him for making me think about all that he had put me through.
After we broke up I felt so lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I just know I didn’t feel anything except for anger and hate. I wasn’t feeling these things about the boy who did this to me just mostly for myself. I started to make friends who liked to party. I was all about partying and drinking. I would hang out with anyone who could get a hold of alcohol for me. After some time I began to steal alcohol from my party friends and I usually kept a bottle of vodka in my dresser. I would drink every night with my new "friends". If my friends didn’t want to hang out I would stay home and drink by myself. Those were the worst times for me. I would drink until I could feel sad. I would channel all that anger and sadness into cutting myself until I could cry. It was the only way I could release any emotion. I hated myself. I hated myself so much so that I couldn’t stand to look in the mirror. I was always a smart person how could I have let this happen to me? I used to think a lot about killing myself. I would cry and cry and pray that God would give me one reason any reason not to kill myself. I tried one night to drink myself to death (it was ineffective) I blacked out for a good portion of the night and suddenly threw up all my alcohol and I had one friend who was decently responsible and took me home. Alcohol and self injury was how I survived day to day. One day when I was 19 I went to a pet store with my mom and grandma. We ended up at this one particular pet store by mistake. The man who owned the store breed parrotlets. He took one out so I could hold her and she climbed into my jacket pocket. It was love at first sight. My grandma bought her for me as a very early birthday present. This bird became very attached to me and seemed to hate everyone and everything else. She only ever wanted to be with me. During the times that I would ask God to give me a reason not to kill myself He would remind me of my little bird and how she only loved me and if I died she would too. I couldn’t stand the thought of her not having a long happy life. So she was the reason I needed to live. I continued on this self destructive path for a long time still having very little value of my own life.
The final turning point?
Over the years I had gotten a little better. It took me about 6 years to get out of this life style. I had stopped cutting after about 4 years. I was still drinking a lot but not every day like I used to. I noticed around the time I was 23 I couldn’t handle my liquor anymore it would make me sick every time I drank. I began to have severe stomach pain. Finally I went to a doctor who ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that I had a gallstone and something else on the other side of my abdomen area. The doctor ordered a CAT scan. The CAT scan showed a mass on my pancreas and suggested that I had cancer. After that I had a biopsy that confirmed that I did in fact have cancer. It was a rare type of slow growing cancer and I would have to have surgery to have this removed. This was a scary time for me. I thought for sure God was going to take me off this Earth.
Where was God?
Sometimes it’s hard to see where God is in your life. You know He exists and He loves you but you don’t always feel it. My story shows how God was always there for me. Especially at my lowest moments. He was there giving me reasons to live. He was in the pet store that day. He was there every time I was wasted in my room alone or behind the wheel of my car. He was there that night I tried to drink till the end. He was always protecting me even though I didn’t feel like it. He had a better plan for me. He was even there when I had cancer. Cancer was the only thing that taught me to value my life and I am grateful that I had it for that reason alone.
Who am I now?
Now at 26 I am a rape survivor, a cancer survivor, and a very strong self assured HAPPY individual. I have a lot of faith and a good relationship with God. I don’t regret a single thing that I have done or that has happened to me because I know God has a plan for me and " that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God "Romans 8:28
Laura I am so proud of you for being courageous and breaking your silence! Your story will touch many people's hearts. Readers and followers please comment and send my sister words of encouragement. If you would like to contact her privately please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.