Brittney’s Story: forgiving the unforgivable

Brittney’s Story: forgiving the unforgivable

I’ll never forgive you. I always felt like an outcast. A young girl with social anxiety, afraid to speak. Any time I tried to break the cycle, I was quickly shut down, so it became natural to just not speak. I went through countless classes where teachers wouldn’t remember me, where if I spoke even one sentence kids would gasp and exclaim, “Oh my gosh, she can talk!” Now in Elementary School, looking back, I had experienced bullying, but I had not developed depression yet, so even though some of those times seem severe looking back, I did not actually feel the grief and pain I would feel in later events. For example, in third grade I lived in little Sun City. I played with the neighborhood children and remember very fond times, completely innocence, ignorant bliss. My next door neighbor [S] invited me over to her house to play, and this was a completely normal event.
“Yes, let’s play!” I exclaimed, memories of playing in her pool and dress-up came to mind. When I got inside, there was her older sister, [D], 16 years old, a troubled teenager. It came all of a sudden, they started throwing things at me, slapping me, punching me, screaming obscenities.
“YOU FAT ASS!” “UGLY COW!” I was in the third grade at this time, maybe 7 or 8 years old. Remember what we learn about animals in school? Fight or Flight. Survival instincts kicked in and I ran out of their house as fast as possible, smashing my finger in the immediate frenzy to get out of the house. I slammed their door and ran crying to my mother. My mother was in shock and examined my body, full of bruises and welts from the beating. Maybe I was too young to understand what had happened. After this, we weren’t friends anymore, not allowed to play anymore. I understood she did something bad to me, but I didn’t realize the weight until looking back on it now.
Eventually with my parents struggling and fighting all the time, along with my dad’s drinking habits, we moved back to Kansas. We moved around a lot, something I hope to change with my own family, as I saw the consequences of being a nomad. There was never enough time to get situated, never enough time to make friends (or keep them). In 5th grade is when I started to realize I was somehow different from other people. To this day, I don’t quite understand what that is, but I know there is something about me people don’t like. The first incident I can remember was at the beginning of the year on school picture day. In California, school pictures were full body photos, so I often wore beautiful dresses and I loved my femininity and dressing up on picture day. I arrived at my new school in a beautiful pink dress with sheer fabric lining all around it, beautiful miniature roses caressing the waist. It was a lovely dress and I was excited to wear it. Upon arriving at school, I realized what a mistake it was. Everyone was dressed casually, shorts and t-shirts, with some sneakers. I was immediately embarrassed and instantly wished I had worn something else. When I showed up to class, I was laughed at by the other kids and questioned:
“Why are you wearing a dress?” a boy named [M] asked.
‘Because it’s picture day,’ I thought. However, my social anxiety would not allow myself to stand up for myself. My meek nature just let me shrug my shoulders. Another time there was a girl named [A] in the class who was more of a tomboy, and I remember telling a joke. She raised her eyebrow at me and stated matter of factly, “You’re weird.” No reply. I couldn’t speak. I shrugged it off, but in the back of my mind, it was probably affecting me. There were a lot of boys who were mean to me during this year, and I shake my head at myself looking back on what a doormat I was. I remember winning something for doing well in class, a full-size candy bar, which is the holy grail in 5th grade. The boy [M] came up to me and put a sweet face on, and said, “Hey, you should give that to me.” I could have said no, I wasn’t afraid to say no, but regardless how mean kids were to me, I wanted them to like me, so I said yes and gave him the candy bar. That was fine. But looking back, I should have stood up to those kids. I shouldn’t have rewarded them for being mean to me.
Even though I felt sad in these moments, even though I felt scared, even though I felt like an outcast, I always smiled. That’s what people said about me. Always happy, always smiling. They called me the nicest girl in class. It was true, I hadn’t experienced depression yet, although I was aware of the sad reality that I was an outcast. I think the difference is I had a very hopeful nature. I was hopeful to make friends. I did make a friend in fact this year. There was a girl by the name of [S] in my class who was quiet like me. I saw her in the bathroom and a surge of bravery came over me. I walked up to her in the bathroom oddly and asked, “Hey, want to be best friends?” “Okay,” she replied. “Okay, see you at recess!” I exclaimed happily. We met at the swings and it was so much fun. I finally had a friend.
My brother was bullied also at this school, so my parents took action and decided to move us to a different school. The bullying was less bad at this new school, kids were much kinder to me, and I did find some nice friends to hangout with at recess. Around 6th grade I started going through puberty, but it wouldn’t be fully visible until 7th grade, which is when my own personal hell started.
In 7th grade, children from all the elementary schools around the area went to the same middle school. A lot of my friends moved away, but [S] was still there. Around this time, [S] and I started to drift apart. We liked the same boy, and my solution was to move on and like a different boy instead. Well, then she liked that boy. Okay, I’ll just find another boy to like. Well, then she liked that boy. I realized a pattern and it became apparent she could get any boy I liked to like her instead. I stopped talking to her about those things then. I stopped trusting her.
I had a friend named [A] that rode the bus with me, but she soon became a bully of mine. Someone started a rumor that I called her a bitch, which in my family I was not allowed to curse, I never did. It wasn’t part of my vocabulary. I smiled and waved to her one day and she snapped, “If you got something to say about me, why don’t you say it to my face bitch?” Again, I couldn’t speak, couldn’t stand up for myself. I was in shock, I had no idea why she said this to me, and I never will. Throughout the year she would push me, call me names, and laugh at me. I filed a bully report on her at the school and learned to just ignore her, which mostly made her presence go away, thankfully.
I got a new friend this year named [J], who had a friend named [L] whose locker was right next to mine. I liked a boy named [C] and [C] liked me, at first, or so I thought. After he got close to me, he started dating my friend [J] and I was really confused. I felt betrayed by both of them and hurt. I got a phone call that night from an anonymous number. It was someone claiming to be [J]’s cousin, and she asked me if I knew [J]. Yes. If I knew [C]. Yes.
“Well stay away from [C], he is [J]’s. I swear to God bitch, I will hurt you. You better stay away,” she threatened to me. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t stick up for myself. My mom came in the room and overheard the conversation. She started listening in. The phone call ended with, “You are a stupid ass hoe!” Click. My mom quickly grabbed the phone and screamed, “This is her mother and I don’t-“
“Mom, she is gone,” I stated. Going to school the next day, I felt whispers around me, I felt uneasy, something was wrong. [J] ignored me. I got to my locker and saw [L]. She glared at me and walked away, slamming her locker door. It was bizarre, I hardly spoke to [L]. I have no idea what she thought she knew about me, but it was confusing to say the least. Throughout the year, these girls made my life a living hell. I heard through the grapevine a rumor about me, set by [J] and [L], that I would defecate on the phone and tell me, “Listen, you have to listen!” What a strange rumor. Anyone who knows me knows I wouldn’t do something like that, but that’s specifically the problem. No one knew me. No one bothered to get to know me. I was an outcast. Countless times [J] would suddenly pretend to be my friend and tell me that [L] had asked some random guy out for me and the he stated I was too ugly, too fat, too disgusting to date. I began to question my body – am I ugly? am I fat? am I disgusting?
Boys at the lunch table, [O] and [A], would confirm these questions for me, often making lunch unbearable. The strange thing was, many girls hadn’t gone through puberty at this time, and I had. I had large, uncomfortable breasts and large hips. Yet people would say I wasn’t curvy enough, but then I was fat also. It didn’t make any sense to me then and still doesn’t now. I realize now they were just kids being mean, but I’m not quite sure why I was targeted.
This is around the time I began hating myself. I distanced from my family, I had no friends at school to count on, and there was nowhere else for me to go other than the internet. The internet had its perks. I was able to meet lots of people going through similar things as me. I played a game called Runescape and met some good friends on there, or so I thought. One day, people slowly began hating me. I still have no idea why. Slowly my friends list dropped and I found they had joined an entire hate group dedicated to hating me. I had a nickname on there, “Nore”, and the hate club was called “Nore is a whore”.
“Why am I a whore? I haven’t ever slept with anyone,” I explained.
“Shut up whore! You’re disgusting. Why don’t you go kill yourself and make us all happy?” several members of the hate group typed to me. I started to just ignore them, but eventually the loneliness and sadness really set in when my closest friend had gone to join them too suddenly. Eventually in life I was able to confront the “leader” of my lynch mob, but I did not gain any new answers from her. I gained the answers from myself. I asked her why she did that and that I would like to apologize if I did anything to hurt her or anyone else from that group. She simply stated that I was a whore. I realized then that there was no reason for my lynch mob. I was probably an easy target. At this point, I had no friends at school, no friends online, no where to turn. Someone suggested to me to self-harm and there was a day I grabbed a knife. I desperately wanted to sink the blade into my delicate skin and let the blood flow, thinking it would carry the sorrow with it. However, I was scared. I still had hope. Hope that one day this pain would go away and people would like me for who I am.
Once again due to the bullying and the fact my father got a new job elsewhere, we moved to Nebraska. Although I hated the idea of starting over again, I was also hopeful that I would meet friends. I had nothing to lose, I had no one, nothing.
There was one boy online who was still my friend from Runescape. He was very sweet to me, but after a couple years he became more and more harsh towards me. We dated online in secret, as my parents would have never allowed something like this to take place, I wasn’t supposed to date until I was 18. I really thought he loved me and I thought I loved him. One day he told me I wasn’t allowed to speak to any other boys than him. I was confused, but I loved him so much and I thought maybe this is just how relationships are. My mom doesn’t have male friends outside of my dad, so maybe it’s normal. I deleted all of my male friends, except for one. My little rebellion. However, this rebellion came at a cost. One day, the guy, [J], found out about the guy I hadn’t deleted and started screaming at me over the phone.
“You owe me,” he stated. That night, my life went through the black abyss and I wouldn’t escape for a long, long time. That night, he called my phone, and I was already terrified after having anxious thoughts about what he meant by owing him. My worst fears were sure to come true.
“Are you a whore or something? You must be. I bet you’ve been showing your body to all the boys, haven’t you? You’ve been cheating on me, admit it. Well, if you’re going to whore yourself out to them, you’d better show me too,” he screamed at me through the phone.
“No, that’s not true. I love you and I’ve been faithful. I haven’t showed anyone anything. I haven’t cheated, I promise. Please don’t make me do that,” I cried.
“You are going to have to prove you love me, I think you were whoring yourself out. How about this? If you don’t show me, then I’ll tell your parents you’ve been sleeping around” he said roughly.
“That’s not true though. I haven’t. Please, please don’t do this. Don’t do that. Please,” I whispered through tears.
I was hopeful that the kind boy would come out at any moment, but he never did. After 3 hours of begging and crying, I broke down. I was weak. I turned on my webcam for him. Tears streaming down my face, snot dripping from my nose, eyes puffy and red, looking down ashamed, I stripped my shirt off my body.
“Mm…beautiful,” he said triumphantly.
I felt disgusting. Ashamed. Broken. Damaged. I was a disgusting whore.
“Now take the bra off,” he stated coldly.
“No, please, please don’t make me do that. Please, I’ll do anything else, anything, but that,” I begged.
“Look Brittney, I’m not the one who was unfaithful. You have to prove to me that you love me. You chose this, not me,” he said.
“Please, no, I can’t, please,” I begged.
“Mm, I love it when you beg. But you are going to have to do it, there is no other choice.”
“I can’t. I can’t. No.”
“If that’s how it’s going to be, then I’m just going to give your parents a quick call, give me a second,” he trailed off.
“No, please don’t. Please. I will do it,” I answered.
“Wonderful,” I could hear him smirk through the phone victoriously.
I took off my bra, all the while crying. This made him become angry.
“Oh look, my girlfriend is crying while she’s showing herself to me. Looks like she’s miserable. Why don’t you smile for me?” He asked.
“But I’m not happy. I don’t want to do this,” I cried.
“I don’t want to do this either, but it has to be done. Remember? You chose this. Now smile,” he commanded.
Feeling as if I had no other choice, I did as he asked. I wiped the tears from my face and smiled at the webcam, a shallow smile.
“Perfect. Thank you, babe. I love you so much. You’re so perfect and such a good girl. You did excellently,” he stated in a kind voice. It almost resembled how he was before. Confusion overtook me as we got off the webcam and the phone and I laid in my bed wondering what had just happened.
This was just the beginning. This became a routine. I thought if I just do it this once, then I won’t have to do it ever again. That is what he wanted. The second time, he held the first time over my head.
“You know what I’d love? To see your beautiful body again,” he said over the phone to me.
“I already did it, I don’t need to do it again. I haven’t done anything wrong,” I said.
“You have done something wrong. Just think of what your parents will think of you when I send them these pictures I took of your little cam show last night. What a whore. They won’t ever love you again,” he threatened.
I immediately started crying. He was right. He had to be. My parents would hate me. My parents would disown me, kick me out on the street. I would have no one. Maybe no one has to know. Maybe I can just suffer in this silence and everyone else will be okay. Thinking about what I had to do, I began having a panic attack. It began with hyperventilating until I just stopped breathing completely. In a voice both distant and near, I could hear over the phone [J] screaming:
“Brittney! Brittney! Calm down. Shhhh. Shhhhh. Listen to me. It is going to be okay. I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. Shhhh. I love you, okay? You know I love you,” he soothed in my ear until finally I started breathing again. I felt relief. I won’t have to do it. After a couple minutes of bliss and soothing from him, I felt like things were okay again. Maybe he won’t make me do it again.
“You know what you have to do right?” he asked.
With that question, understanding slapped me across the face. I haven’t escaped my fate. I am doomed to continue this ruthless cycle. And that’s what it was. A ruthless cycle. This same scenario would happen countless times in the future. Demands, panic attacks, soothing words, relief, more demands, until finally I gave in every time. Wash, rinse, repeat. I realized how excited he would become when he had me in his trap. One night, I asked him:
“Do you enjoy this?”
He laughed.
“Of course I do. The fact I can make you do what I want. The fact you beg. The fact you cry. It makes me feel powerful,” he laughed.
Thoughts of suicide entered my mind. Maybe I could end it all myself. I tried to be brave and threatened to kill myself. He became violent. I heard a crash on his end of the phone, a hole apparently in his wall inflicted by his fist.
“If that’s the way it has to be, fine. I will kill myself with you. I love you right? So I’ll do it too,” he said.
Even though he had put me through so much pain, I still felt love and compassion for him. I didn’t want him to die. I begged for him not to do that.
“No, you already said you want to. It’s fine. I’m grabbing my uncle’s pills now. Do you hear that? I’m opening the bottle. I took a bunch of pills. It’s only a matter of minutes now. Then we can die together, right? That’s what you want,” he taunted.
Believing him, I began crying hysterically.
“No, please. Please, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s my fault. Please. Don’t do this,” I cried, believing he had already taken the pills as he mimicked noises as if he were swallowing them.
Suddenly, a laugh came through the phone.
“Don’t ever try to threaten that again. I will do it,” he threatened.
There was no hope. There was no way to escape. I would be his forever and there’s nothing I could do about that. He would never return to the way he was. This was the beast’s true form. He once compared himself to Satan. I believed it now. I was terrified of him, but felt love for him at the same time, a twisted, cruel reality that no one could possibly understand, including myself.
One day, my mother overheard us on the phone and confronted me. I broke down to her, explaining everything I had been through and revealing how broken her little girl was. I begged her not to tell my dad, not to tell my brothers, not to tell anyone. I begged her not to make me go to the police. But as always, my begging was void. My father was angry at me. He screamed at me: How could you be so stupid? How could you do this to our family? Why don’t you listen to us?
This was what I was afraid of. [J] was right. I was stupid. I was disgusting. My parents would hate me. They marched me down to the police station, and although I was terrified and didn’t want to talk to them, I truly did think things would turn out okay. I told them my side of the story and cried, feeling disgusting and vulnerable in front of this male detective who I know had viewed the videos of me. I was being violated all over again. Men who I did not consent to were viewing my body. I felt disgusting. After the investigation, I was called into the police station. They told me I was very wrong for not listening to my parents and for talking to someone online. They were stern and unempathetic. [J] was right. It was my fault. Everything was my fault. I sat silently as they showed me a video on Elizabeth Smart, saying I could end up like her.
It was then that I got my biggest shock. The police told me that he had recorded all of the videos I had done for him and was distributing it to other people. He was selling child pornography. I felt so ashamed and disgusted. What kind of perverts saw me and were stroking themselves to my young body? I covered my face in shame. I wanted to die then and there. My parents asked what charges could be pressed against him.
The detective looked over at me judgmentally and stated, “Pressing charges would be pointless, as he is a minor and it looked consensual.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After everything I went through and everything I did to try to defend myself against Jason’s rage and possession. He was right all along. Everyone would hate me. Everyone would believe him. I was so confused how they could say it was consensual when I cried every time. The only explanation I could muster is the fact we considered ourselves boyfriend and girlfriend. Maybe that gave him the right?
I hated myself after that. I went to my new school in Nebraska and it took almost a year, but eventually I made a group of friends. It took me awhile to open up and speak, often in the beginning I just stood there and listened, not speaking much. But eventually I started to feel more like myself. This group of friends was short-lived. One of the girls in the group told an African-American girl in the group that I was racist, which came out of nowhere.
The African-American girl balled her fist and said, “So I heard you hate black people? You want to fight?”
I was so confused and hurt and my immediately reaction was to fall to the floor in a fetal position and scream. It got everyone’s attention and immediately they stopped and asked me if I was alright. For some reason, I didn’t want them to feel bad, so I lied about the reason. I told them I was having a hard time at home, but really the reason was that they hurt me with a cruel rumor. After that, I tried going back to that friend group and they turned their backs to me, literally. They told me in a very “Mean Girls” sort of way, ‘You can’t sit with us.’ Well, on to the next one I guess.
Soon after this, I met a new group of friends who had invited me to eat lunch with them. I loved this group of friends with all my heart. We had so many good times together and so many happy memories. But like all my groups of friends, this one too had to come to a harsh end. There were two events at play here. One was that my grandfather who I was close to was living his final days in hospice care, dying of a long battle with cancer. I was devastated, as I knew my grandfather would be gone soon. Another is that right before the funeral I had a fight, that I thought was a small fight, with my best friend, [C].
She told me before how my brother’s friend [J] was a weirdo and he tried to break into her house. Suddenly, she told me she was dating him, and I became a very concerned friend. I told her that I was extremely concerned that she was dating a guy who broke into her house. She became furious at me, stating I was a bad friend. I was tired of being taken for granted, so I just ended the conversation. I thought eventually we would make up and be friends again as usual, but that was not meant to be.
I left the morning of when my grandfather was expected to take his last breath so that I could say my final goodbyes to him. I called my other friend that morning and explained me and [C] had a fight and I wanted to make sure everything was still okay, as I hadn’t heard from any of my friends since. She assured me in a kind tone that everything was fine and we were still friends. I felt reassured.
Around 4 P.M. that day my grandfather took his last breaths and I was devastated. Everyone was crying and I felt I couldn’t let myself go in front of any of the faces there, so I decided to walk over to my aunt’s house to use her computer, so I could contact my friends via Facebook. I messaged my friend [T] and told her about my grandfather. I received a reply:
“CAN’T TALK NOW. MY CAT IS DYING.”
I gave her my condolences and told her I’m there for her. No reply. I messaged my friend [E]. I received a reply:
“CAN’T TALK NOW. MY CAT IS DYING.”
How weird and coincidental, I thought. I stupidly still believed it could be the case when I messaged my friend [A]. I received a reply:
“CAN’T TALK NOW. MY CAT IS DYING.”
I finally realized something was going on. I asked my friend [T] about it. I told her to come clean. I know the truth. I know they have orchestrated this thing. But how could they? When I was in such grief, in such a dark place. How?
She wrote back to me, “We hate you, we don’t want to be your friend anymore. Why don’t you go get “raped” again? Or better yet, just commit suicide already or slit your wrists.”
This was my breaking point. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I finally broke. My parents found me hysterically crying and shaking. They began screaming at me:
“How dare you do this to our family? How dare you come on the computer and start up a fight with your friends? How could you do this to everyone at the funeral?”
I cried and begged for understanding. I would not get understanding or compassion. I would have to deal with everything on my own, as per usual. This broke me inside. When we got home, I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping. I couldn’t sleep. I would try and would wake up at 2 AM just to listen to sad music to help me escape until morning. I would lay in bed and just stare at the wall. I would dream of ways I could end it all. I had tried to hang myself with coat hangers many times and it wouldn’t work. I tried to suffocate myself by putting a heavy rock on my pillow. It didn’t work. I took pills, it didn’t work. I didn’t really want to die, no. I wanted to live. I wanted to be loved. I wanted people to show me empathy, compassion, care. It was as if the more I wished for those things, the more they wouldn’t happen.
I had 2 weeks off from school during this dark time and it was finally time to go back to school. But I was scared to go back. Scared of being bullied all over again. My mom had no problem taking my brother out of school when he was bullied, so I felt she would do the same for me. I begged and pleaded:
“Don’t make me go to school, I’m scared to go, I don’t want to go.”
She assumed I was being a rebellious teenager and threatened to call the police on me.
“They will take you away and lock you up,” she threatened.
“Good. I don’t care anymore,” I said, remaining in my safe haven they call a bed.
She grabbed my arm and started trying to pull me by force. Instincts kicked in and I began kicked at her to stop. I screamed loudly at my parents:
“You are murderers! You don’t care about me, you hate me, you want me to die so badly! You are murderers!” I had a complete mental breakdown.
“I want this girl out of my house,” my mom screamed. She commanded me to put my shoes on and said I have to go with them willingly or they will call the police to take me by force. I went with them. They took me to a mental hospital. There were lots of people with major problems here, some schizophrenics, some with homicidal tendencies, and some who attempted suicide. I was there because no one would help me. No one wanted to help me. I had to deal with everything up until this point on my own. How was I even still alive at this point?
At the hospital, life wasn’t really all that bad. Everyone there was like me, a misfit in some fashion, someone who was abandoned by those around them. People understood without having to explain. I could socialize without fear. I could lay in silence and quiet. I did not feel judged. I gained coping skills and importantly, hope. Hope for the future. And now I’m finally happy. As for all of those who hurt me, I forgive you.

Author

WYR

WYR

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

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