Disclaimer: The following contains some graphic content that may be considered disturbing or offensive. Please be advised.
I survived for months completely blocking out my rape. After my relationship with my rapist ended I truly saw myself as un-datable, unmarriable. I felt like I had nothing to ever offer anyone relationally. I felt like I had blown my one chance to get married. I thought no respectable guy would ever want to be with me if he knew. I had another male coworker who was a Christian and I had been looking for a church. He offered to give me a ride to his church one Sunday. I began attending his church and we became friends.
He was a pastor’s kid who also wanted to be a pastor. I could sense that he was becoming romantically interested in me. I decided I better admit what had happened so as not to lead him on. So he would know I was un-datable. I confided in him through tears that I was no longer a virgin. Much to my surprise he didn’t turn and run. He didn’t shun me or cut ties with me. He accepted me. I began to have hope that maybe I was wrong, maybe there was room for grace. Surely a pastor’s son and someone who wanted to be a pastor himself, understood the Bible. Even more so, much to my dismay, he told his parents and they were not judgmental of me. They were sincerely nice and accepting of me at that time.
As our relationship progressed he finally asked me how I had lost my virginity. After nine months of completely blocking out the entire rape as if it had never happened, I sat down and intentionally recalled all that had happened. I could remember everything, but not as a participant. I was watching it unfold from the uppermost corner of the room furthest from where it took place. I stared down at my hands as I shared and when I was done I looked up at him. He was looking back at me in total shock and he exclaimed: “He raped you?” I immediately denied it. “No. No. I knew him. He wasn’t a stranger.” “But it was against your will?” “Yes.” I am so grateful that he had the clarity to see it for what it was. That was the beginning. Seeing it for what it was, but still repressing it and not dealing with it.
As our relationship progressed, we flew to meet his family over Spring Break. We enjoyed a week of visiting with his family and sight-seeing as I had never been to where they lived. At one point during my visit, while his dad was taking us on a tour of his church and we were standing alone in his office. His dad recommended that I might want to read the book: A Door of Hope by Jan Frank. In the book, Ms. Frank recounts her journey of recovery after incest. He thought it might be encouraging to me. I made a mental note of the book, but honestly at that point I didn’t think I needed any help. I was maintaining just fine.
We had flown standby on our trip and since the airport was a couple hours from their home, the day we left required that we leave their house at 3am. Already well adjusted to college life and pulling “all-nighters” to get projects done, I thought getting up at 2am sounded a little ridiculous when I could just stay up all night and then sleep on the plane. I opted for the latter. By the time we boarded our flight I was ready to pass out. We had a four-hour flight, so once I boarded the plane I asked for a blanket and a pillow and I immediately fell asleep. I have always been a very heavy sleeper.
I woke up when we arrived home and disembarked the plane. As we made our way to the car he stopped me and said: “What we did on the plane was wrong.” I was stunned. Confused. What was he talking about? I had slept the entire flight. I told him I had no idea what he was referring to; I had slept the entire flight. He didn’t believe me. I felt sick. What happened on the flight? What did he do, that he was now attributing blame to me?
Later, he finally admitted to sexually assaulting me while I slept. So much for Prince Charming. He knew everything I had been through. Up until that point we had only kissed. Now, once again things had gone further than I was comfortable with. With the rape, I was fully aware of everything that had happened, but there was something deeply disturbing about not knowing exactly what happened. Why did he think it was ok to sexually assault me while I slept? It was a four-hour flight! How long did the sexual assault last? That worthless feeling came creeping back again.
Again, you would think I would break up with him at this point, but I didn’t. He was a decent guy. He was willing to date me when I felt un-dateable. Despite knowing about the rape and how I had tried to stick it out with my rapist, he stuck around. I desperately wanted to feel worthwhile, loved. I wanted someone to make me feel that way. I still wanted to be swept off my feet by Prince Charming. To be rescued from my brokenness and pain. I know, I should have learned my lesson the first time, but apparently, some lessons for me are hard learned.