Lesson Fifteen: Fighting back

In November 2006 I filed a police report against Preston, whom I’d left a month prior. He raped me, and I left.

Preston and I got back together off and on for another year, I believe. He admitted it to me one night. I’d been asking why he’d raped me when I said yes so many other times.

He said, “I wanted a place to stick my penis.”

I moved back into the dorms. My grandparents were unhappy, and scolded me about money. I was down the hall from Katie Shay again, and making new friends. Katie had been to Greece and introduced me to her roomies from that semester, Lisa and Megan.

Katie found a deal on apartments in Central City. We moved into a small apartment, right next door to one another. There were four water meter symbols outside of my front door. I had a yellow house with green shutters, and a washer/dryer in the backyard shed. I could walk to the Quarter in twenty minutes.

I started to build my first home in that apartment on Carondelet.

I had been in therapy for a couple years, and was still doing therapy homework on top of sessions two-three times a week. I struggled to attend classes. I couldn’t always remember if I’d been there or not. I lost my job at Red Lobster due to lying and losing time. I was in and out of reality. I was starting to be able to recognize what a flashback looked like, but stopping them was not possible. The nightmares never ceased.

Megan and I got to be good friends. She had been through the wringer as a child, too. We related to each other in ways that started to exclude Katie.

Sex became a topic in normal life, and not just because I was self-advocating against my own rape. Since I was comfortable bringing up sex, other people felt comfortable sharing their own experiences. I found that the more I said those therapy secrets in public, the more other people would say, “Me too”. I wasn’t alone.

Going through rape as an adult was nothing like the incest. I was able to handle it in a whole new way. I spoke up immediately and people believed me. People tried to help me. People listened when I told them. I also got to see firsthand, how even with the support of people, others will victim blame. People will ask ignorant questions and cops will second guess my evidence. Even when I am an adult, completely coherent of what is happening around me, my abuse and my reality will be denied and downplayed, if at all possible. That was unacceptable.

How many other women had gone through this before me, I wondered. And how many more are enduring it now? I could do something. Even if all I did was make noise and draw attention, at least it would be talked about. The abuse thrived in secrecy, with my father, with Preston, and with countless others in countless relationships. I joined the RAINN Speakers Bureau.

Family tensions grew as Preston was liked by my grandparents, and disliked by the rest of my Louisiana family, due to skin color. My Ma-Ma tried to talk me into taking him back many times. I would make awkward comments about not being into rapists.

I upped my therapy sessions. I started on antidepressants along with sleep meds. I was almost twenty-one, and I was ready to try drinking. I got a new job by my new apartment, waiting tables at a fancy fondue place. I had an older boyfriend who dressed better than I did, and was one of the sexiest men I’d ever seen naked. I had a few close friends, and Megan was becoming a daily friend. I bought my first piece of art and had it framed. Life was evening out, except for the sporadic time losses. I was ready for 2007 to make more sense than previous years.

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