Tag Archives: B

Part 2 of 2: The Worst Year of My Life

11 Aug

This is a continuation of my nightmare with N. Click the link to read about the second time I was raped if you need a refresher.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Morning After

I woke up the next morning with my cell phone tucked in my hand, displaying two new text messages. Both were from N, offering another apology. Reading them made me sick in an instant.

I began to text back in a tearful fury, reminding him of what he had done to me and that I never wanted to hear from or see him again. Still, N kept replying, kept apologizing. He admitted that he had raped me and I was justified in hating him. It was too much to handle for me, so I went back to sleep and didn’t get up again until 3 in the afternoon.

A phone call from my hometown friend – nicknamed “B” – woke me up. He was reassuring, a complete godsend, and he never asked for details but believed me from the start, which I really appreciated and needed. I had no trouble accusing N to his face, but saying and thinking the word “rape” to myself actually made my vision shake, and on some level I wanted to believe I was wrong about what had happened. After talking to B, I got the idea to call the head pastor of the church where I had met N and became a member, hoping for further guidance. That was probably the biggest and most naive mistake of my life.

“B” Warned Me Not to Go There

I had a nagging feeling that I was treading down the wrong path, but I had so much faith in my leadership at the time. The pastor – I’ll call him “D” – had grown to be a trusted mentor of mine and I’d worked closely with him volunteering for the church for 2 years alongside N. I called him not knowing what I was expecting, but believing that he would be willing to help. The first time I told Pastor D over the phone that N had raped me, he ended the call quickly to tend to an “emergency” at home – a red flag I ignored. Pastor D called me back an hour later sounding skeptical about my accusation, but grudgingly took my word for it. He also let me know plainly that I could get him into trouble for having that discussion, but that he would “find a way to deal with it” and “give N a talk”. A far cry from the comfort I got from B.

I called B back immediately to vent about the lecture I’d gotten from my pastor. B set me straight – well, at least, he tried to. He thought my intentions were nice enough, but that it wasn’t worth it to think of preserving anyone’s public “good guy” image, and that was ultimately what I was doing. “Go to the police, forget the church,” B told me, “what N did was a crime and he should pay for it with a criminal charge, not a pastor’s scolding. And what if the church doesn’t want to help?” But I was scared of scandalizing my new community. I worried about my uncle finding out and telling my family back home, and really I was scared of dealing with N again and going through criminal charges. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone knowing I was a rape magnet. I listened to B, nodded my head at his logic, but continued on my path.

The Tribe Has Spoken

I waited for Pastor D to call me with an update for 3 weeks. In that time I went from a snotty, crying mess to an enraged zombie. I wasn’t eating, and even though classes for a new college degree program I had been dying to start ran at the beginning of fall, I never went. I rarely left my house, and I checked my phone every minute. I contemplated suicide and sent a lot of miserable texts to N venting my anger, which he rarely replied, and if at all, only to say things like “I’m sorry”, “what can I say?”, “maybe you need counseling” – as if I had been the one to invite my situation. I finally broke down and told my uncle what had happened, and his angry call to the pastor got us a private meeting with himself and N. There, I showed the pastor all the text message correspondence I had saved as proof of what N did, and Pastor D assured my uncle and I that the church would decide on a suitable punishment for N’s behavior. I thought all would be well at last, and I could put the rape behind me knowing that I stood up for myself this time – not like with J.

A week or so after that, somebody let out my secret. Everyone in our church – parents, young adults, children – heard that I was raped by N. But N was a church darling, loved and respected by everyone, his mother was a prominent member of the choir, and nobody wanted to believe it. They made it easy for N to spread vicious lies about me. He and his mother told people that I had conjured up my story to “get back at him for dumping me”, as a plot to “extort him for money”, and that I “had a history with drugs and depression” that was twisting my sense of reality. Up until that point, I had stopped attending the church – I didn’t want to see anyone after the rape. But my uncle convinced me to return, to “put on a bold face”, and I came back to whispers and sidelong glances. I felt like an ex-convict.

Nearly four months after the rape, the issue was formally made public to the church by the pastors and leadership as the topic of a business meeting. It wasn’t church protocol for me to sit in and listen, but I snuck into the church and listened to the discussion from a viewing room above the sanctuary. I heard Pastor D tell the congregation that the membership of two youth was subject to suspension for indulging in fornication. I heard him say that N had approached him with feelings of guilt for fornicating with me, and because of that N wanted to accept punishment and be absolved of his sin. I heard Pastor D say that there was no truth in the rumor circulating that I had complained of being raped. I watched my uncle and his family sitting in the front of the congregation, quiet and looking ashamed. The church was allowed to vote on our punishment, and my membership was suspended. Even now when I think about it, I can’t believe it all really did happen.

Bitch. Ho. Liar.

I went to my hometown for Christmas to get away from it all, and returned with a purpose: to see N behind bars. I also went back to the church, thinking that I couldn’t and wouldn’t let anyone there get the best of me. I tried to hold my head up while I heard people that used to call me a daughter and sister in the faith whisper about me, shoot dirty looks at me during the sermon, refuse to shake my hand when it came to greeting time, leave a wide space in the pews for me to sit in isolation. No one asked for my side of the story, and really no one cared. What hurt the most was watching my uncle and his wife bow to the proud peacock that was N’s mother, never thinking twice about conversing with her and N like friends in front of me. My uncle’s wife even once said to me, “I can’t stop being friends with them just because of you. That’s not Christian behavior.”

So I stopped dealing with my relatives, moved to another place, and went to the police – all without telling anyone. The police took my statement twice before deciding that I “didn’t have a case” even with the preserved text messages on my phone, so I went ahead to a Justice of the Peace. That got me some attention from a district prosecutor, and N was charged in the spring, about 7 months after the rape. It also got me a lot of hatred in the church when the news spread. Pastor D put his voice in the mix, supporting the lie that I was a drug abuser. Another adult member, one whose daughter I used to help tutor on the weekends, said to anyone who would listen that “even a three-year-old could tell that I was lying” just before the preliminary hearing. I struggled with fits of rage and hating everyone, all the time, but I focused on making it through to a court trial and having the truth exposed.

Sucker

It didn’t happen that way. Last month, in July, I got a call from the prosecutor’s office letting me know that the charges against N had been dismissed because of “insufficient evidence”. I had the text messages saved in original format on my cell phone, but the police never bothered to investigate or forward that evidence to the prosecutor who asked for it. I never even heard from the police all through the proceedings, which began in March. I became furious. I moved back to my hometown without notice. I took pictures of the messages on my phone and posted them on the Internet for everyone in my church to see on Facebook. One person out of the 200+ church friends I used to have contacted me and apologized for not believing me, and making me feel like garbage. One.

Now it’s August, and the anniversary of my 2nd rape is fast approaching. I’m battered, bruised, and disillusioned, but I’m not finished. Something in my heart tells me I can’t afford to let go, not after everything I’ve been through and lost. I don’t think there’s anything worse that I can go through. I have nothing more to lose.

By the way … I still have the text messages.