If we’re friends on Facebook, you’re already aware of the kind of catastrophic storm my life has become in the last few days. If we aren’t friends on Facebook, I want to tell you a story. About heartache, abuse, mental illness, and coming clean.
I want to take you back seven years. I was a troubled teen, struggling with mental illness, and when I was fifteen, I found a local band that made me feel like family. The lead singer made me feel special and pretty and smart, all things that I didn’t feel at that time in my life. And a few weeks after I turned sixteen, he made a move on me. And I let it happen. And half way through sex, he says, “You really are a virgin.” Mind you, I told him I was. I told him that I hadn’t done anything like this before. And he was still amazed I wasn’t lying about it.
This was not the last time this kind of thing occurred. Over the next four years, I was brainwashed into thinking that he really did love me, that none of my friends wanted me to be happy, and that my mother didn’t love me at all. And as a result, I became almost completely isolated. I was sixteen. He was thirty-one. And he didn’t care that I was young and vulnerable. At this point you might be wondering why it was I didn’t leave him. Make no mistake, I tried. Several times over. And each time he threatened to kill himself. I was one of three women in his life. One was his long time girlfriend, and the other was a mutual friend, two years younger than me. And he was having sex with both of them, too.
In the past few days, myself and two other wonderful women have stepped forward to openly talk about his abuse. We had all been sixteen at the time. The one is three years older than me, and went to school with my husband. The other is a close friend, two years younger than me. That makes us, respectively, 23, 26, and 21. Are you uncomfortable? Because looking at those numbers makes me uncomfortable.
We’ve all decided to speak out, and he has contacted all of us to try and discredit what it is we have to say. I have heard him refer to every one of us a lying slut at some point in time or another, but he refuses to acknowledge anything about his part in the situations that damaged all of us.
Yesterday I tried to press charges. In the state of Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is 12 years for sexual assault, if the victim was born before 2002. I was told that I could file a report, but it wouldn’t make it across the DA’s desk, because no crime had been committed. The exact words told to me were, “You cannot corrupt an already corrupt minor.” The state of Pennsylvania does not, apparently, recognize coercion and emotional abuse to be sexual assault. Even though it occurred between a 31 year old man and a 16 year old mentally ill girl.
I still plan on filing the report, and the other two women will be filing one as well, last I knew. My heart hurts and I am angry.
But I am also healing. I started seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist this week, to treat crippling anxiety and PTSD. I was put on a new medication, while my current medication’s dosage was upped. I took a shower today, and I feel better than I have in years. I felt clean. Like an entirely new person had stepped out of that shower. For years I’ve been told coming clean will help me heal, and I never believed it. I hated myself, and I hated the things that had happened to me. And as a result, these things started to impact my marriage in a way that I was having difficulty controlling.
My husband and friends have been beyond supportive in this chapter of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them encouraging me to speak up about what happened to me.
Your abusers will tell you that nobody will listen to your story, but your abusers are lying. Recovery is always an option. People will believe you. And when you come out the other side, you will be stronger.