My story

April is/was sexual assault awareness month.  I haven't told my story in a while and decided this would be a good time.

He looked tenderly into my eyes, coconut rum courage surging through his veins. “Kim, remember when I said I used to have feelings for you?” My heart suddenly threatened to leap through mI wasn't exactly being truthful. Really I think I love and always have. I want us to be much more than friends.” There is was. The guy I had loved for three years. The guy who I always believed loved me but was afraid of how much he cared. I had been waiting for this moment. I felt his love surround me. He was finally admitting to me something he had only admitted to himself earlier that evening at the symphony. Or was that the night of the German film I didn't want to see? Whatever cam before no longer mattered. All that mattered was that moment and what next, his gentle touch on my thigh and my mad dash for the bathroom.

I don't remember anymore if I even excused myself first. I just remember the terror. A terror that permeated that apartment. A terror so great and so out of context I would spend the next four years driving this man out of my life in an attempt to hide from it.

We didn't make love that night. We never would. That night was pre-secret. I couldn't save us or what was my first real taste of another human showing real love for me. I didn't understand what was wrong with me. I worried I never would.

Two years later when I finally when what had happened that night, I thought I would be relieved. I figured knowing about my abuse would make the terror go away. I had mastered the art of emotional intimacy and craved the physical. Healing took longer than I expected or desired, and the terror wouldn't l lesson. So I hid.

Instead of facing that part of myself I just suppressed the entirety of my sexuality. I surrounded myself with a plethora of gay male friends who were safe from these desires. I ate to make myself less appealing, and I succeeded. It was easier to deny the urges than face the terror.

As my healing progressed, I hit a wall. I had faced many of my demons. I could tell my secret to other with courage and faith in it's truth. I was beginning to remember bits at a time. I had stopped the most destructive of self-harm behaviors. But the terror still lurked behind waiting to emerge at the slightest hint of physical intimacy.

Defective is the best word I can use to describe how I felt. I was almost thirty and had yet to find a way to comfortably express my sexuality. When approached even in the most innocent ways, my four year old self would show up and freak out. I read books and listened to others and knew it was all about communication. Yes, it was, as always, about telling my secret. This time though to make for a safe place. Not everyone was my father, not everyone would hurt me. These are the things I repeated over and over to myself. What I naively didn't realize was how well my secret could be used against me.

It was exactly one week before my 30th birthday. We had met online about three months before and that night we were to meet for the first time. He was a cop from a town several hours away and after countless hours of talking on the phone we had decided we would meet. He traveled to me and we started the evening with a movie. After the movie we went out for a bite to eat and to talk. I was surprised when he had his gun with him. I didn't understand why an off duty cop needed his gun on a date, but what did I know about cops. Because he had traveled so far, he had decided to spend the night in town. And after what seemed like hours of intense connection and communication, we went back to his room to continue talking.

I know that's where I made my first mistake. But I wanted to finally trust someone. He knew my history. He knew I didn't want to rush anything physical. He was a cop. I thought I would be safe with a cop. My little girl inside thought she was safe. We let our guard down.

He knew if he pushed hard enough I would freeze. He knew if he ignored the first couple of times I said “No” I would stop. He knew I couldn't keep track of his gun. I couldn't keep track of his gun. I wasn't brutal. Sometimes I wish it had been. He didn't stop until I was crying so hard I think he was afraid someone would hear me. I got out of bed, went into the bathroom, took a shower and sat on the floor crying. Why was I always hiding in bathrooms? I could have left. I didn't realized that at the time, but I could have. I went back to bed, blamed myself, woke up the next morning and went home.

The next day a friend mentioned the word rape. I refused to acknowledge the truth behind that word. It couldn't possibly have been that. I could have left, right? I could have tried to fight him off more, right? I stopped saying no, right? How could I explain the terror that had come back, or the complete immersion into the mind of a four year old. I couldn't keep track of the gun, if only I had known where the gun was I could have gotten away, right? Didn't they realize I hadn't done a good enough job keeping track of that damn gun.

My inner struggle fought against the wisdom of those around me for almost a week, before I was able to admit that indeed, rape was the correct term for what had happened. Shame poured through me as I found courage to report the crime. How would the police see me as I reported one of their own? Would they even believe me? I had to try.

As the clock struck midnight on my 30th birthday, I sat in a room at the Watsonville police station finding my words. There were stuffed animals all around me, I looked to them for courage. I chose a wonderful gargoyle to hold and protect me. I heard myself describe again what had happened the week before. The details tumbled out of my mouth as the tears flowed out of my eyes. At the end of the interview the gargoyle insisted on coming home with me. Luckily the detective understood how I needed protection there also.

Every time I told my story I had to explain my past. What happened to me a week ago may as well have happened close to three decades ago. I tried to explain how I had little experience because of the terror. I tried to explain how I didn't know leaving when it was first over was an option. How could I make them understand the point I stopped being there. The moment it was no longer a 29 year old woman, but a four year old child no longer able to say no.

For hours I went over it again and again, then for weeks and months. First came the SART nurse who needed the words and then needed the physical evidence. Pictures and notes taken of parts of my body mostly foreign even to me. A week after the “incident”, as I was now calling it, my body still wept red tears of blood from my most private parts. “That shouldn't be happening” the nurse commented. “Vaginal tissue should heal much faster than that”. Blood taken to check for pregnancy came back positive, only to be discovered a short time later that a mix up had occurred in the lab. No big deal they said, happens all the time. Except they hadn't just spent the worst 30 minutes of their life thinking they were pregnant from a rape. She never did call me back to re-check the bleeding issue or to give me the second dose of preventative anti-biotics.

I learned a lot about our injustice system that summer. I learned that when a women is raped, it ceases to be a crime against the person, but a crime against the state. This means the victim has little or no say in what action if any is ever taken. First the police scrutinize the victim, who has suddenly come nothing more than a witness to their case, and decide if there is enough to even bother the DA with. Then it all starts over again. The DA then decides if there is enough evidence to win the case, hence deciding if it is worth their time or not.

For me the next step was meeting with the official detective assigned to the case. He wanted permission to tape a conversation between me and the “accused” having me try to trap him into admitting what he did. The detective didn't understand the terror at the idea of talking to him. He didn't understand my fear when I was told my rapist would be in town for questioning. He didn't get it that the little girl was still wondering where the gun was.

I felt this man's words laugh at me when he told the police it was consensual. “What about when I said stop or no?” I wondered. He was careful to stay close to the truth. He could. He knew I had froze and had stopped fighting. He knew I couldn't prove I wasn't saying yes, by not continuing to say no. His only denials to my story came around the parts where I did resist and when I did say no. They were the only inconsistencies in our stories.

To my surprise the police found adequate reasons to pass the case along to the DA. For the first time in two months I felt hopeful. Maybe, just maybe I would finally be heard. The ADA assigned was supposedly a great supporter of victim's rights. If anyone was going to be able to help my younger self find her voice it was her.

Instead, the waiting continued. When I finally met up with my substitute advocate, my hope was dwindling. There in an office in the government building in Santa Cruz, I finally met the woman who was supposed to have my best interests at heart. With her, was an investicator armed with a tape recorded and an arsenal of “What do you mean you were still a virgin to consensual sex?” “How old were you when you were molested?” “Don't you think not really having had sex before might have made it more ambiguous as to whether you really said no or not?”

Soon into the retelling of my story I began to actually wonder who had committed the crime. Was it the man who tortured me or was it my history of sexual abuse that was to be on trial. How did my being virginal make his ignoring me say no ok? How did being raped by my father translate into not being able to recognize rape by someone else? I left even more traumatized, feeling I would never be listened to. I felt confused as to whether it was the rape or the molest they were more interested in. Again my secret was used against me. I saw them as no different from my rapist. Would adults ever believe me? Like my mother's response to my accusations against my father, there was an air of disbelief. A lack of understanding that I had no reason to make these things up. Why would I put myself through three months of hell because of one night of regret as they suggested. Funny thing is I have never believed in regret in general and wasn't sure why I would start now.

The final call came three weeks later. I was sitting at my desk at work listening to her voice tell me her decision. “It's his word against yours.” “There isn't enough evidence.” “We couldn't win the case”. These phrases flew around in my head. Suddenly I felt myself shut off. I heard a stranger's oice say “than you” and decline any questions at this time. That same voice told other about the DA office's decision. Broken and defeated I stopped believing in the process I had just been through.

For almost nine months I stayed in that hidden place. As the first anniversary approached my what was left of my sanity dissolved. One night I found myself with a blade in my had for the first time in six years. I saw the skin break and the blood escape as I finally found release from the pain. That jolt brought me back. This wouldn't do. I wouldn't not hurt myself again because of someone else's crimes.

June 11, 2000 I wrote my rapist a letter. I found my voice. I wrote the words I wasn't allowed to say in court. I would not be ignored. The healing began.

June 11, 2002 I went on my first date since the rape. I learned again that all men are not the same. I could show my little girl her secret was not her fault.

June 11, 2003 I stood in front of a room full of strangers and read this story. Freed by letting go of the silence.

June 11 year after year I grow stronger. Each year I recognize the date for what I survived. I will never forget.

As I look around my life as the 14th anniversary approaches next month I am thrilled by what I see. I am in a long term committed relationship with someone who loves me greatly. I have found family and friends I thought I would never have. I am happy. The gargoyle still sits perched above me in a corner of my room watching over me.  The healing continues.

  • Current Mood
    calm calm
usual suspects

The penguin goes to the movies

I have decided to start a movie blog.  It lives here on livejournal at the_movie_madam .  

I've recently reconnected with a friend who shares a love of old movies with me.  These recent interactions have helped rekindle a true LOVE of movies.  I love all sorts of movies.  This new blog is going to be a mixture of my take on both new and old movies.  I'll be giving movie suggestions and breaking down what I love and hate about different movies.  I don't pretend to be a movie critic perse, instead I'm sort of like Ellen this season on American idol.  I'm a fan.  I know what I like and what I don't and want to share that.  Hope to see some of you all over there.
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    cheerful cheerful
Easter Penguin is here

It's the Easter Penguin, Charlie Brown

 So last weekend I was hanging out with yohannon and the topic of Charlie Brown special came up.  For me it was all about being excited about watching the Easter Beagle.  Now I know some people think the original Christmas special is what it's all about, but it never endeared to me the way Easter Beagle did.  Just thinking about Peppermint Patty teaching Marcie how to color eggs and her putting them in the toaster and the waffler maker, not to mention when they go to the store for more eggs and the Christmas decorations are already up, makes me quite warm and fuzzy.  

Something not everyone might know about me is that if I were to list my top three holidays to celebrate the list would be something like this:  My birthday, Easter, and then Christmas.  What is it about what is considered the holiest of the holy holidays that could possibly make it #2 on this recovering Catholic turned Pagan's list of favorite holidays, well to answer that we need to look at how Easter was celebrated for me growing up.  

My family did most big holidays in a very isolated manner.  No relatives to speak or or friends coming over for dinner.  Just my mom, dad, sister and myself the majority of the time.  But every year this changed for Easter.  Easter was HUGE in my house.  Preparations started usually on Holy Thursday when my sister and I would be off school.  The cleaning and the baking would begin.  We had limited time to deal with.  Good Friday was reserved mostly for my mom going into town to ger her hair done and everything had to be ready by about 1:30 PM on Saturday in order for the special basket of food to be delivered to the church to be blessed.  Eggs were usually colored on Friday night, always one of my favorite activities of the season, my mom reminding us to make sure we did at least 6 eggs as dark of red as we could for the basket going to church.  The special Hungarian Easter egg custard called Rutka, which my father would beg to be made other times during the year always with the same response from my mother of No, it's only made for Easter,  needed to be hung to drain before bed Friday night so it would be ready Saturday afternoon also.  Homemade white bread and nut breads along with gargantuan caramel rolls were baked and put away for the special day.  A giant whole ham would spend a night in the oven, meticulously scored and decorated with the whole cloves my mother had to search for in the stores every year, moist and basted with 7-up for just a little glaze.  A special trip made to Eveleth, MN for Parlanti's special italian sausage, always trying to remember not to go between noon-3 pm on good friday since of course they would be closed.  No "reputable" business would stay open while Jesus was dying on the cross.  For days we would cook and clean and argue and at least once my mother would swear she was never going to do this ever again.  But at 1:30 on Saturday, when the basket containing a little bit of everything my mother planned to serve Easter morning was  packed up to be brought to the church to be blessed, and the majority of chaos was over, and we all sighed a breath of relief, we all knew we would do this once again the next year, and the one after that.  This is what tradition looked like at the Fallon house, and we aren't even at Easter yet.  

Saturday night we would all make the obligatory trek to Easter Vigil Mass, knowing we would come home to ham sandwiches on homemade bread.  Then we'd go to bed so the Easter Bunny could come and bring us our baskets.  Never passing up an opportunity to scare little children, my father would make his traditional threat to shoot the Easter Bunny if he was spotted.  Never mind that we would always wake up to gigantic easter basket carefully filled with each of our favorites, including the white chocolate bunny which I looked forward to each year, and years where there was still snow, bunny tracks outside the living room window showing us that once again the Easter bunny had escaped unharmed.  

This Holiday, unlike the others though meant company.  Lots and Lots of company.  Some years there would be relatives spending the weekend, but even if there weren't the house would soon be filled to the brim with friends and neighbors and anyone else that got invited that year.  Easter brunch at the Fallon's house was a tradition not just for our family, but for just about every person I knew.  People would start arriving around 9 or so with breakfast being served around 10.  My mom would be in the kitchen barking orders to people to help prepare all the different things being served.  A variety of breads were sliced and caramel rolls warmed.  Sausage and bacon could be heard sizzling on the stove.  Eggs scrambled, sure hope you like scrambled eggs, cause that's all she made.  Pot after pot of coffee and pitchers of juice galore.   The table set with the good dish and glass ware.   Oh, did I mention this was all a sit down breakfast.  The table needed all the leaves put in it not just to seat the people, well, there were always extra tables set up also for everyone, but because it was the only way to put out all the food.  When everything was ready, everyone would sit down and we would begin.  Oh, and remember that basket of food that was taken to church the day before?  Well platters of that food was sliced and served cold.  Before any of the hot food was served, the blessed food was passed around, everyone taking a little bit of the things they liked, a blessing was said and that food was eaten first.  Then the rest of the food started flowing.  And when one group of people were done eating, it would often start again, with another group that would come in as the day progressed.  After the majority of folks had eaten, most of the food would be put away, easily accessible if a straggler arrived later.  The breakfast mess in the kitchen would be cleaned up and prep would begin on the lesser meal of the day, a full turkey dinner with all the sides to be served to a smaller group later that night.  The core group that came every single year and stayed from morning until late at night.

Throughout the day there would be so much activity.  Depending on what time of Easter fell, there would be a giant egg hunt, some years inside if the weather was bad, and sometime outside.  It wasn't usual for us to have an outside egg hunt in the snow.  All of the kids would be sent usually to the basement, often the one part of the house not included as a hiding appropriate space, while the adults hid the eggs.  The adults trying each year to out do themselves with the most unique hiding places.  There would be special eggs that would earn prizes, and often a prize for the most eggs found.  I was really good at egg hunts, and often won the most eggs found prize.  My mom would always make sure there was extra easter candy so ever kid who showed up that day would go home with something.  Often their own huge chocolate rabbit.  Years when Easter happened in April and the snow was gone and the weather beautiful, the kites would come out and the task of not getting them caught in the trees or the power lines would begin.  The day just got better and better as it went on.  

Easter Sunday, is the one day of the year, that I have consistant good memories of from growing up.  Unlike Thanksgiving or Christmas which are rifled with fights and people slamming doors and violence and isolation, Easter somehow remained untouched by all of that.  As a result it's the only holiday I've carried traditions into my adult life from.  Over the years I have hosted my own Fallon Easter brunch with my friends and chosen families.  One of my favorites is the year I was at college and couldn't be home for Easter because class was in session.  I was house/dog sitting for one of the secretaries, and hosted brunch at her house.  I recently came across some of the pictures from that day and all the good memories came flowing back.  I have every intention of restarting up said tradition next year in my home.  I even intend to make rutka from my mom's recipe she gave me for that Easter back in college.  Few people will probably eat it, but its tradition, and it wouldn't be Easter brunch without it.  

So if you have ever wondered why Easter is so important to me, or why it makes me giddy, now you know.  Next year in Alameda.
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    bouncy bouncy

Because it's just that kind of day...

by Staind

Your words to me just a whisper
Your face is so unclear
I try to pay attention
Your words just disappear

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said

So I speak to you in riddles
'Cause my words get in my way
I smoke the whole thing to my head
And feel it wash away
'Cause I can't take anymore of this
I want to come apart
Or dig myself a little hole
Inside your precious heart

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said

I am nothing more than
A little boy inside
That cries out for attention
Yet I always try to hide
'Cause I talk to you like children
Though I don't know how I feel
But I know I'll do the right thing
If the right thing is revealed

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said
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    gloomy gloomy

Playing over and over in my head

by Jackson Browne

All the words had all been spoken,
Somehow the feeling still wasn't right
And still we continued on through the night.
Tracing our steps from the beginning,
Until they vanished into the air
Trying to understand how our lives had led us there.
Looking hard into your eyes
There was nobody I'd ever known
Such an empty surprise
To feel so alone.

Now, for me, some words come easy
But I know that they don't mean that much
Compared with the things that are said when lovers touch.
You never knew what I loved in you
I don't know what you loved in me.
Maybe the picture of somebody you were hoping I might be.

Awake again, I can't pretend
That I know I'm alone,
And close to the end
Of the feeling we've known.
How long have I been sleeping?
How long have I been drifting along through the night?
How long have I been dreaming I could make it right,
If I closed my eyes and tried with all my might,
To be the one you need?

Awake again, I can't pretend
That I know I'm alone,
And close to the end
Of the feeling we've known.
How long have I been sleeping?
How long have I been drifting along through the night?
How long have I been running for that morning flight
Through the whispered promises, and the changing light
Of the bed where we both lie,
Late for the sky.
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    confused confused

Trying on thankful instead of angsty

So after being all angsty and such yesterday afternoon i decided to use a different approach to today.  Today I've decided to be thankful.  Thankful for what I have.  Thankful for the people in my lives.  Thankful for the amazing love I've been shown.  So often I forget how important this is.  Too often I get caught  up in wishes of what I don't have or fears of what might or might not happen.  Not that there is anything wrong with dreams and desires or of being aware of what perils (physically and emotionally) are in front of us, but letting that get in the way of Now often seem counter productive.

And while I'm looking how I fall short of what is best for me I was reminded last night that as good of a communicator as I seem to think I am, really I sort of suck.  More and more I keep seeing how I tell things out of context, often without even realizing it.  Maybe all those times I have felt misunderstood it was really caused by my own misrepresentation of what I thought or felt.  Just really going to work on paying much closer attention to what comes out of my mouth before I say it.
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    thoughtful thoughtful
Don't Poke The Penguin

A sad realization

I am really really beginning to wonder if one of the people I thought knew me best knows me at all.  And that is making me really sad.  Also realize though that I'm not sure who's fault that is, or if either of us are willing to fix that.
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    sad REALLY SAD