“You know you wanted it.” His voice blasted through the phone as memories of those nights flashed in my mind. My silence enraged him. “You begged me for it! Make sure you tell them that.”
So I did.
I was afraid of what might happen to me if I told the truth. It was easier in my fifteen-year old mind to do as he said so it could be over, and I could move on with my life. I hadn’t meant to tell anyone in the first place. My intention was to end my life…so I really and truly could be done with it.
I sat at my mom’s word processor in her living room as I typed my obituary. I wanted the world to know who I was when I was gone. I knew no one knew me well enough to write it, and the thought of what they might have written made me want the end to come even faster. I imagined it to go something like this:
Jessica Aiken-Hall, 15 of Lyndonville, VT was a failure. She failed at everything. And now she is dead.
I was pleased with the words I was to leave behind. I didn’t want to make anyone feel guilty about my death. I didn’t really think any further than the pain would end. I would not be able to fail at life any longer. But I failed at that as well.
My obituary fell out of my notebook onto my mom’s floor. I was taken out of class and brought directly to my counselor’s office. The burn of humiliation flushed my body as my social worker drove me to her office. I even failed at killing myself. You can’t get any lower than that.
In my counselor’s office she asked me “why?” Her genuine concern for my wellbeing might have been what saved my life. I tried to lie my way out of it, but she wouldn’t allow it. She pressed until she got to the truth.
“I had sex…I didn’t want to. I said no, but I wasn’t strong enough to make him stop.” The tears blinded me as I looked down at my feet. I didn’t really know then, that this was the reason behind my suicide plan. I just knew I was done with feeling worthless, and the shame from the “sex” lowered me to an all new level of self loathing.
“Honey, he raped you.”
She went on to tell me that I had to tell the police, and there would be a trial. Panic rushed over me. I couldn’t go through another trial. I was still in the midst of the one with my step-father. I didn’t have another one in me. She begged me to tell the truth, but I couldn’t.
I was brought to the police station, where I was interviewed. “So, tell us what happened, Jessica.”
He came over to my room, after Gram was asleep, and we talked for a few hours. Then, he kissed me. He pulled off my pants and underwear and pushed me onto my bed. He turned off the lights and then he unbuckled his belt and pushed his pants to his ankles and got on top of me. I told him “no,” but he didn’t listen. He put his hand over my mouth and told me to “Shush.” I was scared, but the pain helped keep the fear away. I felt the warmth of my tears fall down my cheeks as he thrust inside me. When he kissed me, all I could taste was his Wintermint gum. The smell of his leather jacket filled my room. I wanted to vomit. All of my senses were on high alert, and took over everything. When he was done he left. Left me in my bed, wet from tears and his ejaculation. Left me empty.
He came back the next night, and did it again. This time I did not fight him. I let him do what he wanted. He told me I was worthless, and that I was lucky that he was “fucking” me. “All the girls want me, you know.” He left me again. Numb and alone.
“He came over to my house and we had sex…I wanted it.”
“So it was consensual?”
“Yes.” I shook my head as I tried to knock the images from those nights out of my mind.
Because he was twenty-one and I was fifteen, he was charged with statutory rape and placed on the sex offender registry.
My mom called me a whore, and my male social worker made me go on birth control, since I was promiscuous.
He was not held accountable for what he did to me, just like all of the others.
For years after the RAPE when I smelled leather, or Wintermint gum I would be back in my bed, under him. My life flashed back to that scared, fifteen-year old girl and I was paralyzed in the moment. When I saw him at a store, the fear from that night made me feel helpless, and alone. Uncontrollable tears would fall and my heart raced.
I paid for what he did to me for years and years.
He stole my virginity. He stole my self worth. He stole my power. He stole my control.
But he did not steal my hope.
I saw him recently, for the first time in many years. I stood in the distance and watched him with his wife. A middle aged man, with demons he will have to live with. I was not the only one he did this to, but like me, the others did not turn him in. Because of his actions those cold, February nights, he will forever be a registered sex offender. He no longer holds any kind of power over me. I understand now that he RAPED me, and that what happened was his fault. He did steal moments from me, but he no longer is entitled to any more control over my life.
For years I was ashamed because of what happened. When I told of past sexual partners, I always included him. The sting of his actions haunted me. But no more. I will never forget what he took from me, or the pain he caused me, but I have released him.
I have forgiven him.
I am stronger because of it.