Angelica’s Story: I Almost Settled Down With My Rapist

Angelica’s Story: I Almost Settled Down With My Rapist

It’s been a rough year to say the least. I’ve been experiencing some major life changes, and although I’ve rekindled and began many great, fulfilling friendships and prayed as hard as I could to the Heavenly Father to alleviate this burden, a nagging pain in my heart has been unmanageable like a poison eating away at my core.

I’ve struggled with whether or not to share this with the world. It feels like I’m withholding a dirty secret, a burden on my soul I wish to release. If you look into my eyes, you can still see the light within me that I’ve fought to keep ablaze. The smile wrapped around my face masks the pain I’ve managed to disguise with the self-deprecating humor I usually practice to distract. For the past seven months, the insidious secret I’ve been pressured to suppress has risen to the surface revealing itself to be a black tar plaguing my soul. No matter how much I try to chase the light, the shadows ensnare me and the battle to keep my head above water ensues. I drown again and again in the dark misery that haunts me. Paralyzed, I drift into a dreamlike state into a place where I recognize the warm faces that always cared for me all these years. One of which that is most familiar is my own reflection looking back at me. “There you are,” the faces say, “We’ve been wondering where you have been all this time.”

Eight years ago, in my freshman dorm room, a dangerous chapter in my life began. From the beginning, my ex-boyfriend, my first boyfriend, my first “love,” was jealous, possessive, and needy, wanting all my time and demanding that I open up only to him. And that day in my college bedroom, he raped me, and my life changed forever.

He forced his way into my first kiss weeks prior while on one of our first few dates, and now, we were here on my bed passionately kissing one month later. Within minutes, he was fondling me. I removed my underwear, but I managed to have him very clearly verbally agree to what I did and did not want to happen. “This is as far as it goes,” I said. Like a rabid dog foaming at the mouth, he exceeded his threshold for “self-control” and began to unzip and unbuckle his belt. I anticipated what was going to happen. My whole body tensed up and with all my might I tried to push him off of me as his limbs and shoulders pinned my extremities. I tried to scream, but his tongue gagged my cries. I tried so hard to scream and fight; I truly did. That still wasn’t enough. From then on, I felt that he claimed me. With my virginity stolen, I believed I was his officially. So then I stayed. I stayed because I didn’t want to be damaged. I wanted to be whole, so I attached myself to him out of desperation for him to fix me so that I knew that moment of brokenness wasn’t futile.

For seven years, we created memories, both good and bad. We laughed together. I cried. We grew up together. I cried. I lived a pattern of intense highs and lows with him from age 18 to age 25. Seven years of my whole life in an emotionally abusive, oppressive relationship. He humiliated me in public on times I can count with more than one hand. I was prohibited from wearing certain clothing, accused of gazing at men, flirting with strangers, inviting their stares. The post-crying feeling of soreness in my eyes was a feeling all too familiar. The look of shock on peoples faces when they’d see the puffiness of my soul-less pupils as I entered a room was almost a weekly occurrence. My rapist became my emotional abuser, my healer, my confidante, my best friend. He broke my heart and put it back together again with every disapproving look of control and jealousy and subsequent empty apology.

I trusted him with all my life, literally. Exactly one year ago, I believed we’d be engaged. October 24th would have been our 8 year anniversary. I looked at him as my future husband, the future father of my children. Little did I know at the time that the rape was a broken foundation for all those soon-to-be shattered dreams.

For seven years, he denied the rape ever happened. He denied my feelings of abuse when I confronted him. That is, until I finally gained enough courage to breakaway, a decision solidified after the heartbreaking murder of my close high school friend. “Life is too short to be in a relationship that holds you back,” I said to myself. And so I left, never looking back.

However, seven months later, recently, a surprising circumstance outside of our relationship caused me to contact him again. We met for drinks, and as he looked me in the eyes, I believed he wanted the best for me. Like the master manipulator I already knew him to be, he briefly convinced me that he still cared about my wellbeing as he encouraged me to date other men. We discussed the possibility of us being friends considering that we had been through so many milestones together. I genuinely thought we could salvage the connection we had and turn it into a happy friendship. He made me believe I could call upon him when I was in despair, and so a few nights ago, I did. That would be the last conversation we ever had and ever will have.

I made him aware of all the emotional scars he’s left me with, especially the one that writes “I was never good enough for you to change” across my heart. I said: “It’s only been months, and you’re already over the loss of me. It’s so easy for you to move on because I was good to you; I never hurt you. But for me, I will be suffering for the rest of my life.” He knew I was implying the rape, as he said, “You know, I disagree about the rape, right?” I replied, “I know how I felt. I know what I experienced.” The tension grew, and his voice grew cold: “Then don’t bring it up,” he threatened. I snapped, “But—“ “Then don’t bring it up.” He cut me off like he towered over me. The intimidation in his voice, the authority that he thought he still had over me, ignited me like the water in a tea kettle reaching it’s boiling point. “Excuse me, I am NOT your girlfriend anymore. Do not fucking talk to me like that!” I exclaimed. He was silenced for a second, until admitting that he didn’t know what I wanted him to say to fix it. But I was not to be fixed or broken by him anymore. I was no longer his property. There was no more “promise” ring on my left ring finger. I told him we’d never be friends, said goodbye, and deleted him forever from my heart and mind entirely.

In retrospect, I don’t know how I got here. I’ve been around strong women my whole life. My grandmother raised eleven children as a widowed mother providing them with excellent education in a third world country. My mother, the eldest, was the breadwinner of their household and continued to be in the household she created with my father. I attended an all female high school that shaped its students into vocal, headstrong trailblazers. I joined a profession ruled by compassionate women and work at a women’s hospital promoting the maternal strength and patience so inborn to my sex. I know what a strong woman is, and before he broke me, I was on that path to claiming my individuality.

Until this day, my ex denies the existence of what happened at that fateful moment. For years, at his insistence, I denied the truth all the while knowing inside my irreparable mind the statement that summarized our relationship: I stayed with an emotional abuser because he raped me. He caused me an immeasurable amount of pain whilst in the relationship, and even afterwards, the aftermath of his selfishness still haunts me.

Now that he’s out of my life, I smile and laugh harder. I dance like no one’s watching. I seize every opportunity to experience the fun that life has to offer. I see every moment with truth and gratitude. I love my friends and family without bounds, and I look in the mirror and see an intelligent and beautiful young woman standing there with many bright days ahead. I am finally free of the chains he once laid on me. I don’t mention all this now to gain sympathy or cry out for attention. I do it to face the world bravely unashamed and without guilt for what happened to me. From this day onwards, I am not a victim. I am a survivor. It is now my identity, although this tragedy does not solely define me. For several years, he denied me my truth, but now I’m here to reclaim it. No walls to hide behind, no cryptic comments, no longer a secret. This is the bittersweet truth I accept as my past, so I can gracefully move into my future. This is my first step to true healing.

I look upon my reflection with pride now. My heart is so strong and alive, this I have proven to myself, but what else I’ve discovered is that my spirit is even stronger. And to the man that one day will have my heart, he will love like I love. I refuse to settle for anything less. Until then, I’m going to soar.

Author

WYR

WYR

When You're Ready.org is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.

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