Can You Hear Me Now?

It has been a while since I have posted publicly to my blog. At times I feel it is best my thoughts remain private, but right now, I only feel I need my voice to be heard.

I don’t know how many tines I have written about the invisible terrors mental illness causes. I have probably spoken on this topic far more than I could count. One thing I often don’t talk about though sexual assault. Now for those who may be triggered or have a hard time reading about these types of things, I do encourage you stop now. I would never want anyone else to relive trauma.

Now, every form of abuse I have suffered still causes me problems in my life. This very specific form of abuse however hurts me in ways I can’t even comprehend.

I want to tell a brief story. There was a young man who came to my work place looking for a home. Now, to everyone else, he probably seemed normal. If anything, maybe he seemed to be a tad bit conceited. To me, he was different. This man’s personality, his actions, & his mannerisms flipped a switch in my head. In my mind, I have seen him before. Even though I probably had never actually met him, my mind knew him. My mind recognized his mannerisms and set off a warning alarm. My body’s fight or flight defenses turned on because all of a sudden, It wasn’t a stranger. This man wanted to hurt me, degrade me, rape me.

I don’t know him and he probably is an okay guy, but from past experiences, my mind and body thought this man was threatening. It pulled to mind gruesome memories and details that I never wanted to think. Now, do you want to know the worst part? It was noon and I still had to work six more hours before I could go home and cry.

One of the worst feelings a sexual assault victim can feel is degraded and unheard. My mind screams internally and my body feels numb. Those same describing words could be used to describe several of the sexual assaults I have survived. I’m fighting this deadly feeling and I can’t say a word.

Why don’t I say something? Well, times like these happen more often than I care to admit and if I said something every time, I would surely turn into the boy who cried wolf. That is why I stay silent. I keep quiet until I get to a time that my body produces a physical reaction: sobbing, yelling, convulsions, hair pulling, etc. I wait until this happens because I know people will see something is actually wrong. They will be able to hear me. They will be able to understand. It’s like my mind is screaming “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!?”

I hate living life like this. I’m in constant fear. I wonder if anyone can relate. My therapist suggested I get a doctors note so if I feel unheard, people will believe me. My everyday life consists of trying to stay calm and trying to remain normal. I practice many coping skills throughout the day just to function.

Sometimes it’s even worse after I go to therapy because it brings things up that I would rather ignore. I have been hurt too much and I’m mad that it’s able to control me. I’m mad it can hold me hostage. I’m mad it can take me away from my work. I’m mad that it effects my intimacy with my husband. My mind is mad and now it’s screaming at all the men who hurt me “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”

That is why I wanted to make this public. I want people that know me, to hear me. I want them hear the silent screams for help. I want others who read it to relate or to hear others. Think of the four closest women to you. Now pick one. Statistically one in every four women are sexually assaulted in their lives. Let our voices be heard. Because sexual assault isn’t just a “me too” Facebook post and then let’s all forget. Sexual assault is a monster that devours its victims daily.

So this goes out to those who feel like they can’t be heard. And I ask those around me, can you hear me now?


How Porn Helped Destroy my Life

This is a huge thing to talk about, shameful even.  Last night I read an article about porn destroying relationships.  I have read I lot of articles similar to that.  The Fight the New Drug campaign is raising awareness about how harmful Porn is.  I have a story that I think should be told, regardless of how ashamed I am of it.

I grew up pretty innocent to the world.  I knew a little about sex from some videos we watched, but I hated ever trying to talk about my curiosity with my parents out of embarrassment.  So when I was twelve or thirteen, with the internet now at my disposal, I wandered into a world that changed my life forever.

At first, it was pure curiosity.  I have to admit that figuring things out is probably fairly normal.  Things went wrong when reading story’s and seeing pictures turned to video. Knowing very little about what sex was, these videos were truth.  They showed me not only sex, but what a relationship between a man and a woman was like in private.  This is why several years down the road, when I was in an abusive relationship, I perceived it as normal.

I became obsessed with this idea that my worth came from what men thought of me.  It started out with just wanting to be liked.  When I perceived a man liked me, I became open to him.  Then if he ever did something that I now realize no man should do to a woman, I would accept it and move on.

The result of this was abuse and eventually the first time I was raped. You would imagine the after all that, I would see reality, but unfortunately, as Porn still continued to be I my life; I would constantly see unhealthy relationships.  I would crave the attention of a man, but I was unaware of how to actually obtain it.

Fast Forward a few years.  Now I am in the pit of an aweful bout with depression.  My faith in God (the only thing I held onto during my college years) was failing.  My life was deprived of its meaning.  I needed a way to feel better. I was completely and utterly desperate.

That is when I turned to men.  When I talk about my years of fighting mental illness, many are surprised when I say that my ‘rock bottom’ wasn’t even when I attempted suicide. That is because, it was in this period of my life that I actually felt dead.  Death would have been a lesser evil than the things I experienced.

So rock bottom started with this. Turning to the online dating app Tinder, I searched for love.  Instead of love, I found desperate men.  Some were straight about wanting a one night stand.  Others were more subtle. Like the first guy I invited over while I was home alone. (I’ll mention that at this point I was living with my parents as a way to control my environment to keep me from suicide.) All he said he wanted was to dance, I guess I was to blind to realize he insinuated so much more from those words.  He started kissing me, pulling on the bed.  This progressed quickly and before I even had a chance to understand it all, he finished pulling off the condom and drove away.  I was so unsure in that moment how I felt. We had sex, that meant he liked me.  I was on top of the world.  That is until, I tried to message him on tinder later that day and I realized he had blocked me.

After that, I quickly turned back to the thing that made me happy to try again.  The next couple weeks are an unforgettable haunting blur of hooking up with someone, being happy, then getting crushed to a new low when he left.  I started giving my body in exchange for attention.  I was a prostitute.  One after another, different men drained me of any true happiness and destroyed me.  Nobody even knew the trouble I was in because on the outside I was happy.

It wasn’t until a vey scary night in a sketchy motel room that I realized I needed help.  I arrived and he looked nothing like his picture.  He had a thick accent to which I still can’t place.  He reaked of whisky.  The moment I walked in he locked the door.  He started undressing me without even a hello.  That’s when I realized what was happening.  He grabbed my arm so tightly I was bruised.  He held me so I couldn’t move. He spat on me and degraded me.  I was fearing my life.  After two rounds with me I was able to escape when someone knocked on his door.  I cried the whole way home.

I told my friends who were very concerned and I got help.  My parents had to find out at the hospital, I could hardly face them.  I was angry they knew. I was angry at myself. I was angry with God.

Once I got out of the hospital a week later, I knew two things: I was lucky I didn’t get pregnant or have any STDs and more importantly, I was lucky to be alive.

Now, a few years later and I still know I’m lucky to be alive. I think back to how I thought sex meant love and how that ultimately drove me to do extremely stupid things.  Now after lots of healing from Jesus, therapy, and friends.  I can now tell the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship.  I’m able to look at my boyfriend and not fear him because I know the root of his love is not surface level.  I’m able to praise God for freeing me from what could have been my death.

So there is my story.  I dislike Porn for many reasons, but the way it destroys lives is why I believe we as a society need to fight it.  My story as horrible as it is, could be considered tame in comparison to many others. I don’t want my future children  to live in a world where a ten year old can access it.  That’s why we need to fight it.

A work in progress…

It all started with a simple snap of the mind. One single phrase brought to my mind terrible visions and pictures of things I wish I could have long forgotten.  

That is how it started. This week has been a first.  It has been the first time since I have been stable that I truly have started to feel the weight of all that happened during the last 4 years.  It has hit hard by bringing me feelings, memories, visions, and pictures.  It has brought my mood into a place of depression.  It has me fear mania when I feel myself rise again, so I try not to let myself rise. 

I think a lot of it is medical and thankfully I will be seeing my doctor soon, but as it stands, I have to admit that I hate this.  The thing about depression or bipolar disorder is you constantly feel like you are under attack.  Literally, your mind wants you dead. Mine does anyway.

Part of it is that I don’t think I have even began properly dealing with any of the trauma, because we have been so fearful just for my everyday life until this point.  So now that I’m doing better, the harder stuff is starting to surface.  As much as I wish I could never think about the abuse, the rapes, the addiction, I know I have to in order to heal. I know I have to to move forward.

Honestly,  the hardest thing for me to face is the part a rarely speak of.  I have called myself a harlot or a prostitute in the past but nothing seems to fit what happend.  I was messed up.  I was numb to everything in the world.  This is what I always refer to as my rock bottom because in my life, I don’t think I could have groveled any lower than I did.  I’ve been told I was victim.  I have also been told I’m not what I did, but no matter, it is still something that makes me sick every time I think about it.  I’ve wished the word whore be tattooed on me so people know exactly who I am.

But is that really who I am? During my darkest days, I did some awful things that should define me… but they don’t.  Strangers would never guess that is what once was.  I’m free from it outwardly. I also know in Christ I have a new Identity. One that is in him.  

Freedom from the memories is what’s still holding me.  And it’s not that I want to forget because it’s all a part of my testimony. It drives me to be the best me I can be.  I just don’t want it to haunt me. I don’t want to fear.  

So, I guess I’m still human and still dealing with my demons. We all are. We all have to. 

Not sure what else to say.


She Cries in Her Dreams

I’ve heard it said, “If you die in your dreams, you die in real life.”  I have a hard time believing that for several reasons.  The most obvious reason being, how do we know?  It’s not like we can ask the person, “Now, did you die in your dream? You did? Great, you can return to your peaceful afterlife now..”  All joking aside, I do wonder about it.  I don’t really ever remember my dreams.  Do I remember dying in a dream? Well, no, but i don’t even remember what I dreamed last night.

Dreams are a strange phenomenon.  Psychologists say dreams are just our minds trying to makes sense of a bunch of pictures and images running through our minds as we transfer memories from short term to long term.  Though, I guess that could make sense, I sometimes feel my dreams are telling a story based off of real experience.  I also know that after the movie Inception hit the theaters, the amount of people claiming they have tried and experienced lucid dreaming increased.  I have never had a lucid dream, but sometimes, right as I’m nearing the time I wake up, I feel as if I’m in a state of half consciousness with my dream fading out into reality. In those moments, I can control my real thoughts as if I were alive in my dream.  Another thing I wonder about is visions.  In the Bible, we can read how God communicated to people through visions and dreams.  Maybe there is more to understanding dreams than meets the eye.

So if those are dreams, what is a nightmare.  Now, if dreams are just our brains trying to make sense of random thought, then most nightmares make sense.  I think a nightmare would be thoughts put together as our fears are being sorted -even fears we may not be aware of- however, sometimes, when I have nightmares, I relive a memory that happened in real life.  These are called flashbacks.  Though they are scary while awake, when dreaming, a flashback turns my reality back in time to a horrible event.  It feels so real.  It is not until I wake up screaming and crying that I realize that was just a dream.  Flashbacks do something to me, though.  They bring into the present- things I have so hard tried to leave in the past.  They bring to consciousness- memories I have worked so very hard to forget.  And while, it was just a dream, I had to relive my trauma and go on the next day as if nothing happened.  Why? Well, because in reality nothing did happen, I only dreamed it did.  In my head though, I sometimes walk around trying to forget the very trauma people think I have worked through.  It’s hard and it hurts, physically and mentally.

I’m the girl that cries in her dreams.  No, I don’t cry all the time.  Since I started medication to help stop the nightmares and flashbacks it happens so rarely, I don’t have to worry about it at all.  Yet, still, I’m the girl that cries in her dreams.  I’m the girl that has to relive past traumas over and over again and act as if I’m okay.

So if we could speak to the dead and asked if they died in their dreams, I’m not sure what they would say.  That is something we really have no control over.  Something we do have control over?  How we treat survivors, even long after trauma has taken place.  The internal pain trauma can cause stretches far past the incident, the year, the court cases, the medication, the therapy, etc.

This week, as I read another news article of a young man convicted of raping two girls walking away with only two year perol and no jail time, I have to ask myself, do people understand what traumas like rape does to it’s victims?  The judge in this case said something similar to the Stanford case judge in the fact that he’s a young man and jail time would affect his future.  How naive does one have to be to believe those rape victims future is not affected?  Sure, they can still attend college, but maybe drop because they are too depressed to function.  Maybe one even decides to take her own life because she can’t stand the flashbacks and nightmares any longer.  Yes, jail time will affect this rapists future, but I can almost guarantee it will affect him far less than the amount of what he did to his victim will affect them.  Only 35% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported.  The number of rapes and sexual assaults that make it to court or bring justice for the victims is significantly less.  On top of being told we are liars, rape victims also have to deal with judges who are bias towards the rapist.  We have to deal with the fear he’ll get off scoth free and will come after us for his revenge.  We even have to worry that even if he IS convicted of his crimes, he will walk a free man because his future matters so much more than mine.

I want justice.  I want people to be mad about this.  I want people that know me to remember why I was to afraid to pursue my attackers.  I want this world to be a place where people don’t have to be afraid to report a crime.

So yeah,  I cry in my sleep, and so do MANY others.. So don’t just sit there and keep dreaming your peaceful dreams, because we live in a nightmare.  Stand up and help me change it.

If you loved me, you would…

“If you loved me you would.” is a phrase often muttered when trying to force someone into an intimate encounter.  

An intimate encounter can’t occur if someone feels pressured into doing something.

Doing something doesn’t mean you have to yell rape and fight your way out.

Your way out may only seem to be in the moment giving into the pleas.

The please believe I was raped by my boyfriend is not so easy to fight.

To fight with no evidence means it’s not worth your time.

Your time has come to face him again because to the world, a lack of a no is a resounding yes.

Yes, I liked him, but that sure doesn’t mean, I wanted to be taken as a whore by this man I just met.

I just met some people, who told me today that my rape isn’t valid and I gave it away.

I gave it away to the man that I love because sex is more than just two bodies.

Two bodies becoming one means heart mind and spirt; not choking me and spitting in my hair.

My hair reminds me everyday, to cover up  for I am natures prey.

Prey on the weak is natures natural call, but don’t prey on me again for I am stronger than you all.

You all may beat me in running or lifting weights however my mind has beaten death.

Death is a fact we all face, but it is not my time yet, and neither is it yours for “If you loved me you would..” fight to stay alive one day more.