I know, I know, I typically blog about running but I think that this is important. Today we had a training in Domestic Violence/ Domestic Abuse. Surprisingly, I got through this fine until the end. Well, I shouldn't say surprisingly. Nothing in the training was something I hadn't heard a million times before. However, when someone said something to the effect that only a perpetrator's attorney would treat a victim of abuse like crap. I had to walk out, shut my mouth, and not make a scene. You see, I know better. I've lived it. And, frankly, I'm not done processing it. I function at some level as a mature, responsible, ambitious adult woman. But, one word, one phrase, can still bring back a rush of intrusive memories. Of blood, of bruises, of pain, cell walls, asshole judges, dead babies, incompetent social workers, and smug faces...
You see, my childhood was complete hell on earth. I was emotionally and physically abused by all of my parents. I say all because I had four major players. When CPS stepped in eventually, I was 14. I was more than capable of understanding what was happening and SHOULD have been a player in the process of placement. I SHOULD have been receiving counseling for what had happened. My concerns about being placed with my father SHOULD have been taken seriously. And, my Guardian Ad Litem (AKA my attorney) SHOULD have actually met with me... say once or twice... before making a recommendation to the courts. Yeah, none of that ever happened. So, here I am already knowing that whatever I do won't be heard or taken seriously. That no one in this mess of people who were deemed to be taking care of me would give a flying fuck. Every time I told of abuse in my father's home it was ignored. Medical neglect? Ignored. Being spit on? Ignored. Beaten with a switch? Ignored. Having my door taken off so I couldn't change my clothing in privacy? Ignored. Educational neglect? Ignored. Requests to be placed with my pastor (who was more of a father to me than mine EVER was) and his wife? Ignored So... why would I trust the people who put us there? Oh right... I wouldn't.
So let's fast forward a year. My mom had jumped through all her hoops and, honestly, was a lot more emotionally stable than I had ever seen her. We were placed back with her. Meanwhile I was a mess. I sought solace online, in a faceless friend who promised to always be my friend. See where I'm going with this? I was victimized again. Long ass story short, I was kept as a sex slave for several weeks three hours from my home. I... have never spoken publically about this before. Some of my nearest and dearest know. It still brings up feelings of shame, guilt, and anger. I was a weak, naïve 15 year old. I was looking for comfort, a friend, a parental figure of stability. This man lured me from my home and forcibly kept me in his apartment with another woman. I was raped daily. I was made to color my hair. I was tied up, hidden, and threatened.
When the police finally found me, I was scared and broken. Guess what the police did? Put me in handcuffs! Charged ME with being an unruly child for leaving my mom's home. BLAMED ME FOR BEING AN ACCOMPLICE IN MY OWN RAPE! After the handcuffs, I didn't want to talk to them. I didn't want to give a statement. So I lied. I lied and lied and lied. And I kept lying because I couldn't change my story, you know. They took me to a juvenile detention facility. I then faced the same judge who was the judge in my mom's CPS case. Um.. HELLO! This asshole had just dealt with my mom, knew all of our family dirt and basically called me little more than a slut in court. Ordered me to a detention facility until I could have a psychological eval. Oh, and ordered that I was kept in isolation during that time. 4 cell walls, only allowed out to shower, go to "groups", and the occasional visit from my mom. The staff somewhat took pity on me. It wasn't over with the police. One day, I was interrogated in handcuffs and leg shackles for several hours. Threatened with total isolation if I did not comply, threatened to have my mattress taken out of my cell so that I would have to sit on cold concrete with my thoughts instead of be able to sleep. Threatened with no visits. Threatened with having meals taken away, and being kept indefinitely in juvenile hall.
When I finally got out, guess what? More blame. By social workers, my parents, my foster mother. I started to believe the things they said. I was a bad girl. So what does my stupid ass do? Try to contact my rapist. I didn't know how to cope. Talking to him was how I had coped before. Even though he hurt me. Even though I was scared of him. I called him anyway. My mom found out and beat the living shit out of me. I was then taken back to juvenile hall, faced the same judge AGAIN, and then... placed on probation and taken to a foster home. A few days later I found out that I was pregnant. I started hemorrhaging badly and my foster mom took me to the hospital. She had the sense enough to tell them I had been raped. Because, honestly, even if it was totally consensual, this man was over 40 years old. I was 15. It was rape. She knew that and was really the only one who had any sense in this whole situation.
The counseling they sent me to was completely ineffective. I didn't want to talk, I didn't want to tell anyone what had happened. It was my fault, I truly believed that. I brought it on myself. The irony of it all is that the book was thrown at my rapist by the judge in his criminal trial. In the juvenile court system, I was told I was old enough to know better. I was held accountable and LEGALLY LIABLE for my actions. Meanwhile, the criminal system (in an opinion from the judge) I had been classified as someone who was too naïve to know what I was doing. How is that possible?! How confusing to a child to be told on one hand it was her fault and the other that she was a victim! Who the hell was in charge here? Who decided that this is how you treat a child who was a victim of domestic and sexual abuse. Seriously... who? Why? How?
It's taken me years to not blame myself. It's taken me years to come to terms with the loss I suffered as a result of the miscarriage. Years to be able to trust anyone and form meaningful friendships and relationships. The internal rage I have felt since then hasn't subsided yet. And now, after 14 years.. that is my story. No, I'm not "over it". I may never be. It doesn't run my life anymore but that period of time is connected to me in a way that is indescribable. A phrase, a thought, a misconception about our justice system. Our justice system is broken. Our misconceptions about victims is detrimental. How can we change this so another child doesn't go through the same things? What stereotypes are YOU willing to give up?