The other day, I got into a rousing debate with a Facebook friend over rape. It stemmed from the multitude of accusations against Bill Cosby. My friend posted on his wall that the women who were said they were raped were “groupies” who now, years later, were having second thoughts about their encounters.
My friend went on, stopping JUST sort of blaming them, insisting that all parties knew what was about to go down; in other words, that they got what they deserved, a conclusion I found highly offensive. Just after that posting, my friend unfriended and blocked me. Shortly after that I got an email from someone thanking me for speaking up and asking if she could share her story.
What follows is that story. The story of her rape.
I had just returned home and got a call from a friend who wanted to just ride/cruise through the lake. We lived in a small town and that was something we would do, just sit out there, drink and talk so I agreed to meet him.
After a while I finally heard a knock on my window. I thought it was my friend, but it was not; it was my perpetrator/rapist. He forced his way into my car and had me drive to a more secluded spot. He spoke as if he knew me; I know I should have known who he was because he was familiar with my family and me. I had a candle apple red Mustang and he talked about how fast the car was and how many times he saw me speed by him. I was so terrified I couldn’t speak. I kept seeing headlights shine out in the distance, hoping and praying my friend would spot my car and get me out of there.
He never did.
The thing I remembered most was his breath. It smelled like alcohol masked with peppermint. It was dark but I kept trying to see his mouth. He reached over, opened my door and pushed me out of the driver’s side. Then he climbed over from the passenger’s side, holding my arm the entire time. My rapist raised my dress and performed oral sex on me and all the while trying to force me to the ground. He was on his knees and was twisting my body down.
“Oh, I forgot, you’re too good to get on the ground,” he hissed.
He then raised the seat up and forced me into my small back seat. My dress is still on but lifted all the way up. He then tried several times to get me to grab his penis; I have always had very long nails and as I was fighting him I scratched him, which made him very angry. He kept telling me that this is going to happen and I needed to just be still and enjoy it. He penetrated me vaginally then attempted to sodomize me but started to ejaculate. As he rose up, it got it all over the right side of my dress. He backed out of the car and began to run, pulling up his pants mid-stride.
But he had one more message before he left.
He threatened to kill my father, who was in law enforcement in my small town.
I finally got back in the driver’s seat and drove home. It was late and my mom was asleep. I went in, got a trash bag and threw away my dress and shoes. I got in the bathtub and stayed in there for hours. I then took a shower before getting out. I could not go to sleep, so I went to the dance studio and just danced. Dance was the way I processed, worked out, and dealt with everything. I went home about 6:00AM.
I was starting a new class in my hometown. Ironically it was a modeling/self-improvement class. I had to pretend to be self-confident, one of the hardest things to pull-off after going through what I had.
I continued my 6-week course, which ended with a fashion show. I was due to leave for California to start my new life and career, which included marrying a man ten years my senior. My mom and grandmother knew something was wrong, knew nothing of the man I was going to run off and marry, nothing about the job I had accepted, and the people I would be living with. They intervened and blocked that venture.
After two missed periods, I knew.
I was pregnant.
I was not showing and not really having issues with the pregnancy until about my fourth month. My blood pressure was high and I couldn’t keep anything down. I could feel the baby moving and would burst into tears. I couldn’t tell anyone I was pregnant without them knowing I was raped. I didn’t want the man I was in love with, to think I was cheating on him. If I told them I was raped, the monster would kill my daddy. I was not sleeping at all. My mom, who was a nurse made an appointment for me which freaked me out. They were going to do an x-Ray; how could they NOT know I was pregnant?
Of course, they asked and that’s when I broke down. My mom was on her way home from work, 30 minutes away. I made my way back to the house and waited for her to arrive.
My mom came in and seeing me sitting there in that state, demanded I tell her what was happening. It was like a pressure valve finally being released; I told her everything.. about the rape, the pregnancy, how I was feeling and that I had no idea what would come next.
Then she cried. She held me tight and explained the only thing she was angry about was that I didn’t tell her sooner. She wanted to get this monster, as well as make sure the baby and I would be okay.
That was not going to be the case. I was late into my fourth month and, with blood pressure at stroke level, the doctor stated I needed a therapeutic abortion. I had a couple of sonograms but could never look at the screen, even after my mom yelled out, “It’s a boy.” My mom contacted my older siblings and my daddy and we made the decision as a family. I consented to the abortion.
Because so much time had gone by since the rape, it was so difficult to find and make the monster pay for his crime. My rape became just another cold case.
I suffered from depression, something awful. I had so much loss in a short span of time. The year before I was assaulted and lost the baby, I lost my best childhood friend, who was shot and killed and the love of my life died in a car accident, coming to get me.
Needless to say, reinventing myself started after all of that. I have had to do that more times than I care to admit but I’ve become a pro at it.
I’m still standing.
Rene, you are a special person and for some reason, I trust you and feel safe talking to you. I have said it many times, you inspire me. Even more, now since you were so transparent about identity issues you had as a child. I couldn’t verbalize what I was feeling then or now and that’s why I just replied, “I so love you!” To be that brave and open on social media made me respect and admire you more.
I love you Rene Syler…thank you for caring.