By Andrea, CCASA Guest Blogger
Being selected to be a part of CCASA’s Digital Story Telling Project was much more of an experience than I anticipated. Going through the process of focusing on a specific incident of the sexual abuse, abuse I had endured for over 10 years, was difficult. Many times I have spoken about the abuse but never so detailed. This was good and bad.
The process gave me a voice to write, speak, and read what I had been through, and that has helped me in my healing process. It has also made me realize that it is so important to not be silent or ashamed of what happened to me; it was never my fault or my shame. What do I need to be ashamed of? It is time for me to speak out, to hopefully help and educate others.
It made me face very difficult and scary memories. However, the best part of the process was realizing how bad the situation was, but that I survived it and have come a long way since that time. It also gave me the voice to tell my story because I know that it is extremely important to share with others, so they can realize they are not alone, like I thought I was, in experiencing rape in a marriage.
Being raped in a marriage is such a taboo subject. No one believes you can be raped in a marriage. But rape is rape no matter who, when, or where it occurs. Just because someone is your spouse does not give them the right to rape and abuse you, to forcibly make you have sex against your will with threats of violence (or any other type of threat), or to keep you hostage while they take advantage of you.
I personally never in my wildest dreams thought this was even conceivable. I was a woman who had grown up raising my younger brother and sister, while finishing high school, and working part-time. Then, I continued to raise and support them while I attended college at night and worked all day as an intern with the federal government. Despite all of this, I graduated with honors from Regis University in Computer Science and was one of the very few women in my agency that held a position as a System Administrator. I had just bought my own home and thought I was doing everything right in my life. I had escaped an abusive home and took my brother and sister with me, raising them as best I could.
Shortly thereafter, I met a man who was so loving and kind to me. At the moment, the relationship felt so good that we got married. About 6 months into our marriage, he started verbally and emotionally abusing me. Soon after that he started dealing drugs without my knowledge. Within a year, the physical abuse started and after that came the sexual abuse. After the first time he beat and raped me I thought it was my fault– after all he said that if I was better in bed and a better wife then this wouldn’t have happened. After years of this abuse I realized it wasn’t my fault and I had to escape, if not for myself then for my kids.
Looking back after educating myself, as well as through counseling, I see all the warning signs of an abusive man. I wish someone had told me the signs or that I had seen someone else’s story, so I would have known sooner that it was wrong and I was not alone.
And… because of all of this I am so grateful to be a part of the CCASA Digital Story Telling Project so hopefully my story will touch someone’s life and educate the masses that rape happens to many people and it does not discriminate. It happens to the person in the office next to you, it happens to the person sitting beside you in class, it happens to the person who makes a good living and lives in a nice neighborhood, it happens to the person working at the coffee shop, it happens to the wife who loves her husband, and to the daughter who loves her father.
Below is my poem of Survival:
Survivor – one who lives through affliction.
Survivor – survives in spite of adversity
To survives is to – remain alive or in existence. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; and to persevere; to live and persist; to cope with trauma and remain alive in existence; to continue to function and withstand.
I Andrea am a survivor. I had the ability to withstand the rape and abuse.
I withstood the reoccurring rape by you
I Conquered (to gain mastery over or win by overcoming obstacles or opposition, to overcome by mental or moral power) my fear – YOU.
I reached the top of the mountain and overcame the rough rocky journey. I prevailed through all the sexual, physical and mental pain.
I prevailed over years of continuous rape and other types of assault.
I have strength (the quality or state of being strong – capacity for exertion or endurance)
I have a strong attribute – the ability to withstand. I have the capacity to endure much. I resisted rape after rape, – I resisted the death!! I resisted the death of my soul and spirit. I resisted the death of myself – only to live again but now with much more faith and love and beauty and strength.
I have great physical strength – I have great physical power to endure you raping and beating me. I am still standing – all physically in one piece I had the physical power to endure all that and more.
I am tenacious – I have showed the power to resist and endure sexual, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical abuse.
I have a strong determination of spirit to make a better life for my kids then living in fear and being controlled by abuse. I have the strong determination of spirit for my kids to be happy and healthy. To be loved unconditionally and feel secure enough to speak their mind and have their own feelings and not live each minute in fear. I have the strong determination of spirit to stop the cycle of sexual abuse, domestic violence and addiction. I have set a higher standard of self-worth for my children and to strive for and know the best.
I am resilient to all the sexual assaults and attacks you aimed at me. I am strong, and have endured many nightmares, many blows to my head, heart, and spirit! But look at me – I am still standing strong and even stronger than before. My kids are beautiful, my life is beautiful and the joy radiates from their hearts because I Andrea AM A SURVIVOR. This is what I have given myself and my kids the tenacity to endure when the mountain gets to steep and to keep on climbing because after all the hard work, heartache and tears – I have overcome, I have reached the top of the mountain and the air is clean, the sun is shining ever so beautiful and I am FREE. I can breathe – I can feel and I can smile – I am FREE. I have endured! I have with stood and I have overcome….I am a strong survivor.
My name is Andrea and I am a wife and mother of two beautiful children. My desire is to speak out to whomever and wherever I can about sexual abuse and domestic violence– to tell my story to help others and educate people.
Image credit: http://ak5.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/1053556/preview/stock-footage-shhh-girl-puts-fingers-to-lips-shallow-depth-of-field.jpg