When I'm really down and out and feeling like I have had the very breath knocked out of me, I have to ask myself, "Self, how the hell did you get here and just what part did you play in it all? What do you take ownership of?" Well, seeing as how I can't take back anything that has happened in the past almost 39 years, the best I can do to rectify the situation, is to lay it all out there and hope that someone else might find a grain of wisdom in it all.
I try not to hold myself responsible for anything that happened before I was maybe 14 or 15 years old. Before then, I pretty much kept thinking someone, anyone, was coming along to save me. To save us. By 14 or 15, I should have pretty much figured out that there is no such thing as a fairy tale ending. Not for me anyway.
So, I'll start at 14 and admit that I should never have been dating a 23 year old man. Never. The first red flag should have been that he was best friends with the 17 year old guy that adored me. Pretty shitty of him to jump in line ahead of him and ask for my number. Besides, why the heck was he hanging around a bunch of teenagers? The second red flag would be that he still used the name Tommy. Most men of his age would have started going by Tom at that point. Maybe he knew it made him seem more harmless. I see now that something had to be seriously lacking mentally with that guy. At the time, I fell for him hard. He was just so damned good looking, and sweet, had huge freaking muscles, and seemed very protective of me. I needed to feel protected and safe. I know now that he was a psycho, jealous, pervert. Eventually, he got over using me and got some other gal pregnant. Thank goodness it was some other gal and not me.
Also at age 14, I was attacked by a man who had to be in his mid 40's. I was living with my older sister at the time and thus spent my summer days babysitting her son while she worked. The man was a flooring installer and the apartment managers had given him and his coworker a master key to all the apartments. A phone call or note or something that would have let us know this ahead of time would have been nice. Instead, I awoke one morning to find two strange men installing flooring near the back door. My gut instinct told me to just remain in my room with my nephew until they were gone. But, he was hungry and so I had to take him to the kitchen for breakfast. I might add that this boy was a holy terror, who fell into screaming fits within seconds of not getting what he wanted. BTW always listen to your gut instinct.
While my nephew was eating and I was busying myself with stuff in the kitchen, the guy with the porn star mustache and the biggest freaking wedding band I ever saw, kept making idle conversation with me. How old was I. Did I have a boyfriend? Blah Blah Blah... I mumbled my answers and kept about my business. This guy was beginning to scare me as he had completely stopped working and was focusing solely on me. I kept catching a glimpse of that freaking wedding band. Maybe because his hands were so huge, I don't know. Really, the other guy seemed so harmless. I tried to focus on that. Surely, he wouldn't let anything crazy happen. I was wrong. In what seemed like a flash, the nice one had asked my nephew if he would like to see their work van and said something about a lunch break, before I could object, they were out the door. It was all part of their plan. I know that now.
The porn star/gorilla grabbed me and slammed against the wall so hard that my head banged against it and everything went black. I probably weighed all of 80 pounds at the time. Maybe it was five minutes, maybe it was fifteen, I'm not sure. His hands were everywhere, his lips were everywhere. He was holding me to the wall with one arm and tearing at my clothes with his other hand. He kept telling me to just relax, to calm down, that I better not scream. Suddenly, I heard the van start outside. What the hell?! Was the other guy taking off with my nephew? To this day, I have absolutely no clue at all how I got away. Maybe being so tiny helped me squirm from his grip. But somehow, with my clothes torn, my lip bleeding, my throat feeling crushed to the point that I could barely get air, I made it out the door, ran to the van and grabbed my nephew from inside and ran to the apartment of a friend. I heard the van take off just as I made it to her door.
I told her what happened. She told her mother. Her mother then walked with me to the manager's office and I told the lady there. She first called the flooring place and told them not send those guys back. Then she called my sister at work told her what happened. Not one person called the police. Not one. My sister did not even bother coming home early to check on me. So there I was the rest of the day, terrified to go back inside. Afraid of being trapped again by a man that had the key to my home. When my sister did arrive home, she informed me that she and her boss had been discussing what I might have done to lead this guy on. I guess I pour cereal in a "come hither" kind of way. NOT. Fact is, I didn't do a thing to lead that guy on. I was just unlucky enough to be in his path on that particular day.
Without the benefit of knowing my first 14 years, you have no idea of how many times just this sort of thing had happened to me. Mostly by folks that my sister and mama had brought around. Was it my fault? Hell no. Did I feel like it might be? Maybe. Maybe, if I didn't speak to anyone. Maybe, if I kept my head down. Maybe, if I walked faster, or never wore eyeshadow. Maybe, Maybe, Maybe. I'll tell you, I tried all that and there are men out there that pick their victims carefully. It doesn't have one single thing to do with what you are wearing nor how you look, or if you happened to smile at them. It is the fact that they have been victimizing so long, they can see clear into your soul. They can see all the pain and abuse and fear. You are the helpless fawn and they are the bear. They can honestly sense that that this has happened before. They smell your fear. I may have put out signals that resulted in my getting attacked but they definitely were not the ones that people always assume they were. They were the signals that only the sickest and the most depraved monsters can pick up on. Ones that I never even realized I was sending. God help that SOB with the big gold wedding band if he should cross my path now. He might be in his 60's by now, but I don't think I could ever forget his eyes.