Some of you might have noticed that I took a huge pause last week as for posting entries. Besides the fact my depression was worse than usual, it was also because I was dodging to speak up about this topic. It has been about 15 years and I wanted to finally share my story. With what have been going on lately in the news of women facing sexual assault/rape, it have encourage me to step forward.
I wasn’t planning for this, but I am doing it, because it does have to do with mental health. Data shows that 80% sexual assault survivors ends up with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Victims of rape survivors with PTSD are 14 times more to suffer alcohol abuse and 26 times more to suffer drug abuse. Rape victims are three times more likely than non-victims of crime to have ever had a major depressive episode (30% Vs 10%). Also, they were 3.5 times more likely to be currently experiencing a major depressive episode (21% Vs 6%). 1 in every 3 women who are raped contemplate on suicide. So it’s very important to expose the truth into the light. Not only to unravel the truth about society, but to also show the damages it does to someone’s mental health.
I know for myself, it had added wounds to my mental health at the time. As I have discussed on my entry, Let’s Start From The Beginning, in my tween years I have dealt with being bullied, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. By the time I turned 14 years old, I became shyer than usual and more of a loner. Opening up to people was really hard for me. I felt awkward and misunderstood. So I kept to myself thinking no one would understand. My teen years was a struggle of keeping myself distant, but yet wanting to be the person I know I can be.
Being a loner wasn’t too hard when you have strict Haitian parents. I barely left the house. Going out during a school night was crazy talk. Even if it was for homework. If there was a school project, classmates had to come to my house. If it has to be the other way around, classmates’ parents had to talk to my parents for approval. The only time my parents did not worry so much is if I was hanging out with my brothers or hanging out with my Brooklyn friends.
I loved hanging out with my Brooklyn friends, because for the most part, I felt like they were the only friends that got me. Plus I had the freedom doing stuff I know I wasn’t supposed to do. Like going to a night club with a fake ID. I never did drugs or drink even though a couple of them have taken part of those activities. I just wanted to dance. I loved dancing! I wanted to be with a crowd of people I don’t know and feel connected with them just by dancing. Cause I was (still am) socially awkward. Dancing allowed me to meet new people without talking so much. It was liberating for me. Especially since I barely went out and we only went to Brooklyn 2 or 3 times a year at the time. So 2 or 3 times a year was the only chance I get to enjoy my teen life.
Unfortunately, I could never stay out too late, because my parents would pick me up from whoever Brooklyn friend’s house they drop me off. The friend and I always left early to sneak back into the house to shower and change clothes. So our parents haven’t suspect a thing. My Brooklyn friends were hella sneaky and masterminds when it came with getting away with stuff. I just usually go with the flow, because unfortunately, I was (still am) a bit of a square. Sneaking around my parents were not my forty. I know, a teenager who’s not sneaky? WHAT! Yea, yea, yea…
Well, one night after having a great time we were quickly heading back to my friend’s place. Around that time it was the West Indies parade. If you don’t know anything about West Indies parade, it’s usually jam packed. Even at night. We had to cut through the area in order to get back. However, it was so crowded that we had to make a chain of holding hands to not lose each other. The chain system didn’t work. Before you know it I was in a crowd and I didn’t know what to do.
Suddenly I felt a hand grabbed mine. Without turning around, I assumed it was one of my friends that found me and trying to pull me out the crowd. As soon as I was pulled away, the pulling was still speedy and forceful. I finally turned around and I saw a back of a man’s head, but he was wearing a hoodie with the Trinidad flag on the back. I said, “Hey, you grabbed the wrong girl” He pulled me towards a dark alley quicker and violently.
Before I can scream I was slammed against the wall. I looked up and it was too dark to make out his face. It was too dark to make out anything. I was scared and confused. Heard a movement like he was reaching his pocket for something. I felt a cold sharp metal pressured up my neck. I knew it was a knife. A deep Trinidadian accent emerged in the dark saying, “you make a sound and you will die”
Though I was scared, I was stubborn. It was too dark to know where my hands should go, but i tried to push my arms and shoulder, hoping to be released. But that didn’t help much. He just slammed me on the wall and slapped my jaw hard. I’m sure he tried to slap across my face, but again, it was really dark. He pressed the blade on my neck again and said, “you want to play rough. I can play rough too”
He turned me around and pinned me up the wall real tight. He groped my undeveloped body as he heavily breaths down my ears. He violently pulled my pants to my knee. Before any warning a sharp pain was jammed inside of me. I started to scream, but he place the knife on my cheek as a reminder of his threat. I silently cried as painful thrust barged into a doom that he was not welcome into. I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted it to stop. All I can do is weep in silence as my innocence was taken away.
Luckily a man open a door from the side of the building. “Hey”, he shouted. The rapist quickly let go of me and I hear him quickly pulling up his pants as he was running away. I stayed frozen up against the wall as if the rapist was still holding me down. The man ran to me. He called a woman’s name. Not sure if it was his wife, girlfriend, or friend, but she ran and saw me with my pants still down to my knee. The man had his back face towards me in embarrassment. The lady walked towards my way and touched my arm. I jumped.
I was in la-la land. I couldn’t believe what happened. I knew the lady helped me pull my pants up. They helped me out of the alley and started asking me questions. I don’t remember what they asked. I was in a daze. All I kept thinking, “This is not how I pictured losing my virginity” I felt like a liar, because I am a strong girl. I should have been able to defend myself. I pride myself on my strength. How come I couldn’t fight this guy off of me? Why didn’t I look immediately when I felt my hand was pulled? Why didn’t I scream out for help, even if he threatened me? I was playing everything that have happened in my head over and over again.
The lady can tell I wasn’t all there. She went back inside to get me a beverage; hoping it will calm me down. The man decided to look for police to me help out. As I stand there all alone, I saw my friends together in a distance. It looks like they were looking for me. A part of me said the smart thing to do is to stay, but if I stayed I would have been in huge trouble with my parents. If my parents didn’t show any kindness or understanding when I tried to kill myself years prior, I doubted they will treat this situation any different.
I speed walked to my friends. They were happy, but one of them did point out red drip stain running along my inner legs. I told them I will explain on the way, to one of their houses, but time was our enemy, and we had to make it back quickly. So I told them the story. They were shocked and angry. They wanted to find the guy and kill him. They felt bad for leaving me alone. They tried to convince me to tell my parents. I told them no. They beg and pleaded, but again… I’m stubborn.
Like usual, sneaked back in and had to expediently wash up and change before my parents arrive. As soon we were done, a doorbell rang, and my parents were there tp pick me up. Went back to Jersey and I lied on my bed. I cried. I think that was the hardest I ever cried in my teen years. For months I have cried every night. Nobody close to me knew what happened except the friends that were there and I made them sworn not to tell. To this day, they haven’t. I’m sure, it’s one of their biggest regrets in life. But I can’t blame them. I am very…. persuasive… when I want someone to keep their mouth shut.
I had to continue to put a smile on my face and act like nothing have happened. I thought it would be easy since I was disguising my depression already. However, it much harder than I thought. My suicidal thoughts increased and I kept blaming myself. After a few months the nightly tears stopped. But for about 6 years around the time frame I had gotten rape, I would have nightmares. The nightmare of that night.
Every year the nightmare had gotten less intense. I was burying the memory. That was my way of coping with the situation. Act like it never happened and move on. It was a terrible dream. That’s it. It never really happened. But every time I get into a relationship, or talk to somebody I’m interested in, or just a platonic casual conversation with someone, the fear and lack of trust kicks in. Sometimes, that night reminds me one of the reasons why I act that way.
I know you’re probably thinking, “You should have stayed and wait for the cops to report it”. Besides the fear of my parents who would most likely kill me for lying where I was at, I didn’t know how the man looked like. The only description I would be able to describe is a man with a Trinidadian hoodie. The same hoodie they were selling in the West Indies parade, that were purchase by a lot of men. The lady that assisted me didn’t see the guy. The man that rescued me couldn’t make him out either. I would have to talk to the police on something I don’t have a lot of information on which I know they wouldn’t follow through. I thought I would look crazy.
Like I have previously mentioned, my parents barely let me out and enjoy my life as a regular teen. That whole spiel would not help the case. However, I will admit, I haven’t gone back to Brooklyn for fun after that night. I stayed away from nightclubs and bars. Not even on my 21st birthday I went out and celebrated in a bar or nightclub. I didn’t start enjoying the nightlife until I was about 26. It took me almost a decade later to get back out there. Also, I lost communication with a lot of Brooklyn friends which terminated a few friendships. Needless to say, I have changed a lot since that event.
I am still trying to get over that night. A few years ago I had to admit to myself that it happened and I have to learn to deal with this in a healthy matter. It’s difficult, really difficult… but I am trying. So to all the people who have been sexually assaulted/rape, I want you to know you’re not alone. I stand by your side and we can get through this together by trying to adult one day at a time.
By the way, here is a hotline if you need more help…
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673