This post is a departure from my regular posts. I have decided to use this platform to allow rape and domestic violence survivors to tell their stories. These posts are not censored or edited, but come straight from the survivor. Some survivors need to tell their story in a safe place, and many others need to know that they are not alone, nor are they to blame. It’s important to me to provide that connection. I chose #itsourstory to spread the word for two reasons: no matter how isolated you feel, you are never alone and this is part of our culture, our society, and it belongs to all of us. If you would like to contribute, you can find more information here.
I was 14 when it happened. My mom had kicked me out of the house (again). I decided to go to the beach because I had nowhere else to go. I didn’t have enough money for the bus so I thought hitchhiking sounded like a good idea. I had never hitchhiked before, but my cousin did it all the time and nothing bad had happened to her, so it must be okay. Right?
I stuck my thumb out and pretty soon a car with two guys in it stopped. I told them I wanted to go to the beach and they told me it was no problem. I hopped in.
We started off, but soon I noticed that we weren’t going toward the beach. The driver told me we were going to the Oceanside beach, not the San Diego beach. I didn’t really have any plans so I wasn’t concerned.
We arrived at a store selling beds. I looked around for the beach, but there wasn’t one. The driver said he and the other guy had to work at their store, and we would go to the beach later. I was now in Oceanside with no way to get anywhere else so I went inside.
I was escorted back to the back of the store. The one guy offered me some pot, but I declined. I smoked, but I was feeling uneasy and wanted to be fully aware of what was going on. I was offered water and accepted that. I spent the next several hours listening to music and hoping I was going to be able to talk these guys into taking me back to San Diego.
At the end of the day one of the guys left, leaving me alone with the driver. He indicated that he expected sex at that point. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I told him that I couldn’t have sex in the store because there were glass windows in the front of the store and people could see us. He said he would take us to a motel.
I nervously followed him to the car. Some people are probably wondering why I didn’t run at this point. I don’t know. I felt vulnerable and afraid, but did not know how to deal with the situation. I kept thinking I could talk him out of sex.
We arrived at the motel and he asked me if I wanted to take a shower. I said no, I had showered that morning. He looked disgusted with me, as if I wasn’t playing the game correctly, but said he was going to take a shower. It was while he was in the shower that my brain kicked into gear. I started to get my shoes on but he came out of the bathroom. He realized what I was doing and got very angry. He pulled a knife out of his pants pocket and told me to take my clothes off and get into bed. Scared, I did as I was told. He raped me.
Afterward, I silently cried as he slept beside me. I wanted that shower now, but I was afraid of waking him and enduring a repeat performance.
The next morning I quietly asked him for bus fare as I had no way of getting back to San Diego. He sneered at me and threw some money on the table. I took the money and left.
When I arrived in San Diego I wasn’t sure what to do. I went to the beach and sat on a bench and sobbed. Two nicely dressed ladies came up to me and asked me what I thought would make the world a better place. I looked at them and choked out one word: drugs. They looked at each other and asked me if I really meant that. I said yes, I did, because if I had some drugs I wouldn’t have to feel the pain I was enduring. They left a pamphlet and walked off. I was alone.
I called my friend and begged her to let me come stay with her. I didn’t tell her why I was upset, only that my mom had kicked me out again and I had nowhere to stay. I don’t know what she told her step-dad, but he agreed to let me stay temporarily.
I kept silent about the attack, feeling dirty and ashamed. I lost all self-respect. Obviously I wasn’t worth anything. I was just a whore, someone to be used and thrown away.
It never occurred to me to report the rape to the police because I was used to being told I was a liar. I didn’t think they would believe me, or they would say it was my fault because I was hitchhiking to begin with.
I ended up going back home at some point, but I never told my mom what had happened. She would have just told me it was my fault, so why bother. My mom kicked me out several more times, and each time I found some place to stay. I experienced all the resources San Diego had to offer for homeless teens. Finally I was 18 and I didn’t have to go back anymore.
By this time I had met my future husband. I knew I needed to tell him about my rape, but I didn’t want to. I really didn’t want to. I told him though. I was damaged goods, and I needed him to know what he was getting. His reaction was typical, but he didn’t throw me away, and I felt hope for the first time in a long time.
It took a long time for me to really trust him. I had a part of me that had been deeply injured, and I was scared that some day he was going to just walk out. He stuck it out and I slowly, slowly learned to trust.
It’s been almost 33 years since I was raped, but I’m crying as I type this. The emotional scar will always be with me. It’s part of who I am, but I refuse to allow it to define me. I do not refer to myself as a rape victim, rather as a rape survivor. Because that is who I am: a survivor.
THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
THE NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE
THE NATIONAL TEEN DATING ABUSE HOTLINE