Strong but Battered, Never Broken. TW.

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This post might be kind of intense. I am about to share with you some of my very personal parts of my history. Consider this a content/trigger warning for abuse, rape, suicide attempts, and miscarriage. Ironically, in this history of trauma, the moment I decided to start a life of becoming a sex educator is hiding. There was a moment I realized I was so terrified of sex that I stubbornly decided to learn ALL THE THINGS about it and, well, here we are.

To give you some insight about how shy I am about sharing this stuff, I'm writing it on March 13th, 2017. Who knows when/if I'll post it.

Age 6: my childhood friend suggests a game where she gets on top of me and rubs her vulva against mine. As a child I felt vaguely uncomfortable with it and like I might get in trouble if I told an adult, as an adult I wonder who was hurting her, because a game emulating sex is not age-appropriate.

Age 14: My first boyfriend, also 14, informed by media concepts of how a seduction works, penetrates me even when I asked him not to. I assume this just must be what sex is like and let it happen on a regular basis for weeks. He thinks that song "your body is a wonderland" is the height of romance and plays it every time he rapes me. I can't listen to that song anymore.

Age 14: I become pregnant with my rapist's baby. Three months later, I miscarry alone in a bathroom. I tell nobody. I can't use pads until I'm 28 because menstrual blood reminds me of what my miscarriage looked like.

Age 15: Already well into a habit of self harm, I attempt suicide and end up hospitalized.

Age 16: I meet my first abuser, Aaron. At the time, it's a pretty classic teenage romance. It seems romantic that he's possessive and jealous, and when he says, "I can't live without you," or "I would die if you left me," I think that's love.

Age 17: The violence starts. It goes like this: I bring up some behavior that is hurting me, he attempts suicide, I literally pry the weapon out of his hand (possibly getting cut or hit in the process), he insists on penetrating me, if I refuse we go back to the part of the cycle where he starts cutting himself. He refuses to use lube and is large. "If you really love me we don't need that."

Age 18: Aaron asks me to marry him. I'm too afraid to say no. He commands me to stop taking birth control because he wants to get me pregnant. I agree, but secretly get an IUD.

Age 18: The suicide attempt/physical altercation/rape cycle is happening at least twice a week now. I try to end it and he ends up hospitalized. Being late coming home from work or school runs the risk of it starting again. I'm supporting him and his drug habit, but if I say no to anything, I am raped.

Age 20: I finally become cold enough to leave. He begs me to come over because he's just cut himself too deep. I tell him I'm on my way, hang up, and dial 911 instead.

Age 21: I realize I'm terrified of sex because I've literally never had it consensually. This is the moment when I started down the path I'm on now, because I made it my goal to understand this thing I was so afraid of. I get the tattoo on my back, the mermaid, to symbolize rebirth, and dancing my way out of darkness.

Age 23: An old trusted friend I have a crush on comes to visit me for a few days. The first night, he sneak refills my drink, getting me drunker than I planned on, and rapes me. My roommates are in the next room over. I am so shocked this is even happening I don't think to cry out to them. He stays in my home for 2 days. I wake up often to him penetrating me. I don't know what to do, but on day 3 I realize I can tell him to leave, and do.

Age 23: I try to tell my old friend he raped me. He calls me an "Ice Princess," and says I am, "like a beautiful gift that when you open it, find it's full of poison."

Age 26: I think I found the one, a man I've referred to as Trevor. My parents love him, he promises me marriage and a family, and speaks all the right feminist speak. A month and a half into dating he threatens to dump me for having an orgasm without his permission. I convince myself this is normal, somehow, because we did have a kink agreement about it... For the record, in healthy kink that may mean a kinky punishment, not a threat to end a relationship.  

Age 27: He doesn't like how stressed I am from my job so I quit. When I have panic attacks, he screams at me and hits walls. He tells me he has to date other women because I don't lubricate enough and I sometimes have pelvic pain. He refuses to do foreplay to help me with these issues. For the record, in consensual polyamory you don't make your partner feel like their bodily 'inadequacies' are why you need to 'punish' them by having other partners. Also, men, fucking do foreplay for christs sakes. 

Age 27: One of the women Trevor is dating invites me over, drugs me, and rapes me. He gets angry at me for going over to her house and trying to "sabotage his healthy relationships." He tells me I need to not infect his life with my craziness, that I am trying to alienate people from him by talking to them, and that I am too psychotic to trust myself and I should listen to him to understand how to socialize appropriately.

Age 27: My best friend, the Hulk, sees me through a 2 day complete nervous breakdown. As in, I did not feel safe being alone. She sleeps next to me, we sit in the bathroom together when one of us is showering or using the toilet, she does not take her eyes off of me for 48 hours. She suggests my relationship is abusive, but on the 3rd day he insists on seeing me and I fall back into it because he's pulled the hooks he installed.

The years after that I'm figuring out how to talk about still.

There's no one moment I can point at and be like, "wow that was fucked up" but instead what developed was this really pervasive pattern of gaslighting, constantly pushing the boundaries of what I felt safe and comfortable with, breaking me down then pushing me away until I came crawling back, and years of mental torture until I was a husk of the person I normally am.

Something in me told me to flee after the final time he broke up with me, while balls deep in another woman (that's a long story for another post when I'm ready), which is what sparked MagsQuest in the first place, and it took me almost 6 months to stop blaming myself and start to recognize the toxic and abusive dynamics my friends all were deeply concerned about.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, and you need to talk to someone about it, please call the RAINN hotline at 1.800.656.4673.