In 1996 I was the victim of a violent crime. Five years after it happened I decided I was done, it was dealt with, I was healed, and it was time for me to move on. That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my entire life. February 2012 he was released from prison, and I realized how angry I still am. I am not o.k. I didn’t deal with it back then and I’m still not sure how to deal with it now, but I am determined to figure out how to put it away for good.
Here’s what happened:
My bedroom was in the attic which was too hot to sleep in during the summer, so I was crashed out in my sleeping bag on the floor of our living room with the TV on when my father and The Ragman came home from the bar. I opened my eyes long enough to see The Ragman lay down on the couch and Dad walk out of the room, and I fell asleep again. The second time I woke up, my sleeping bag was partially unzipped. I could smell beer, and realized that someone was over top of me. I froze, unsure of whether I was really awake or just dreaming. I lay completely still and heard the sound of my sleeping bag unzipping further. I knew I had to get someone’s attention, and remembered that The Ragman had been sleeping on the couch a few feet away. Terrified of whoever it was that was touching me, I opened my eyes just a tiny bit, still feigning sleep, to see if The Ragman was still there. He was gone! My mind was spinning, who the hell was this? How could I make them stop? Did they have a weapon, would they kill me? Hoping that my attacker would stop and run off if he thought I was waking up, I pretended to move in my sleep. I turned onto my side and was crushed by his weight on me pushing my face into my pillow, my hipbones painfully digging into the hardwood floor, unable to move. He slid my pajama pants down and I started to cry, obviously awake, all hope lost. Consequences flooded my mind: I barely put up a fight, what if I’m blamed for this? Would anyone ever forgive me? What if I screamed now, right now, would me parents see this? Would my little sister and my baby brother walk in and see? Would they think it was my fault? My mind raced, torturing me for what seemed like hours. Then it was over. The weight lifted, and I rolled over and onto my knees to face my attacker. The Ragman. This couldn’t be real, there was no fucking way. “What the fuck?”I whispered. He leaned towards me; I stumbled back, horrified, got myself together and ran out of the room, out of the house and onto the beach.
After that, everything that happened when I was a child came rushing back. The dreams, the memories that didn’t make sense, it all hit me at once as I crumbled on the beach and cried until I couldn’t breathe.
I told someone, they called the police and he was arrested. The police came to the house and collected evidence, including my sleeping bag. I was forced to testify against him in court. It was humiliating, sitting in a room full of strangers explaining every detail, trying to justify why I froze. I was on the stand for over three hours. Honestly, if anything like that ever happened again, I’d never report it. The rape lasted minutes, but the court process, the doctor visits, the deposition, the trial…all that lasted for over half a year. The entire time he was innocent until proven guilty and his lawyer did his very best to make me look like a 13 year old slut. I was under age and there was enough physical evidence to convict him of statutory rape. The state, my parents, my lawyer, I don’t know who but someone decided to charge him with a violent crime. That meant it was up to me to prove to a room full of adults I had never met before that I didn’t really want a fat, balding, 30-year-old man to fuck me while I was sleeping. How ridiculous.
I tried to convince my parents to find a way to keep me from having to testify. They told me that The Ragman had a criminal past, that he had done this before to other girls my age. Everyone told me that when he was convicted, I would feel better. I looked up his criminal history online and found out that my parents had lied to me to make me want to testify. He had no prior charges.
The damage was done. I was lied to and manipulated by my parents and my lawyer. Everyone who claimed they were on my side. I was raped by a family friend. For some, trust is a gift they give to those who have earned it. For me, it is an act of sheer defiance against my own better judgment. After the trial the police asked if I wanted my sleeping bag back. “uh, no. Thanks. ” I glared at the officer for a second and walked away. I’ve never owned another sleeping bag. I’m too afraid of the sound of the zipper.
Thanks for reading,