When Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues and V-Day, found out a statistic that one in three women would be the victim of physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, she decided to start this movement called One Billion Rising to raise awareness about global violence against women on Valentine's Day of this year.
So this is my contribution.
I don't speak about this much when I go to tell my story in public. It's not because I'm embarrassed, but because it's personal and I don't need to be stared at and have strangers know these details of my life. But I did tell some of it to the police when I was speaking to Crisis Intervention Team training classes before. They fell silent. Someone cried. I felt weird. I was shaking a lot. I didn't want to talk about it in front of a group again. But I did. I told a group of mental health workers from the community mental health center I go to about it, back in 2010. SoI guess I have told the story a little bit, here and there. "Lying is done with words and also with silence," wrote Adrienne Rich. "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open", wrote Muriel Rukeyser.
The first time it happened I was about 26. I don't remember for sure what year it was. It might have been 2002 or 2003. I was floridly psychotic, which is why this story pertains to this blog. I was unmedicated and misdiagnosed with a dissociative disorder as I believed (as has been explained in other posts here) that I had been abused as a child. I had no memories of that abuse, but it was basically my mind's way of explaining what was wrong with my mind, to think that it was all based on abuse. I was paranoid. But I was not entirely crazy. I knew the difference between consensual sex and rape.
I met this guy on a dating website, and I'm not even sure I told him my real name because I remember that he had not told me his real name. I found that out later. He lived in the suburbs outside Washington DC. I lived in a rented room in Alexandria, Virginia. I was very isolated. I had two housemates in the condo but they were male and not very helpful when this incident occurred.
I went on a date with him and I was thinking in my delusional way that I was supposed to do certain things that people wanted from me because of the New World Order, and the way that things secretly were supposed to be in the code that everybody really knew but never divulged. So when he wanted to take me to a motel, I thought, I had to go. I told him, I didn't want to do anything. I had just met him. I wasn't interested in that. He said he just wanted to sit somewhere with me and watch TV with me, and this place was closer than where he lived, and for some reason we couldn't go to where he lived. I thought I had to go. I went to the room.
I don't remember how it started, but it was repeated, and it went on seemingly for hours. I remember clearly saying,, "NO", and "Stop", and that he clearly did not listen to me and did not stop.
A day or two later I went to an emergency room. Maybe it was the next day, I don't know. The nature of traumatic memory is that it's fragmented. I don't even know how old I was. I had my friend Barbara, who lived in Maryland, meet me at the ER. She said she wanted to. I had been friends with her since we met in the psych unit for people with trauma histories. She was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I didn't know what I was diagnosed with but I basically lived under the assumption that it was the same. Nobody had yet talked to me about psychosis.
I remember the nurse who said that if I didn't report it, then he would just do it again, and that would be somehow my fault. I remember that I didn't understand how that would be my fault. I didn't even know his real name. I didn't know his address. I didn't anything about him. There were no witnesses. I talked to a police officer. He tried to calm me, but I was in a dissociative state, and I was also out of it, just not there, as in totally spaced out. I had disconnected from the world. It was too painful to be in this reality. I remember that he said he thought I was too traumatized to handle an investigation and a trial even if they could catch this guy, which they probably couldn't, and I remember being relieved that he was nice to me, and he never told me it was my fault for going into the motel room with the guy, like I knew some people would.
I cried. I took the Morning After Pill. I had to make phone calls to find a hospitall that would actually give me that because the MAP was not given out to rape victims at Catholic hospitals in the ER, so I had no choice but to go further, on a bus or in a cab, probably in a cab, I don't really remember, to get the MAP. Barbara held my hand in the ER waiting room. I could barely speak.
He called me later. Maybe it was like a week later, I don't remember. He acted as if he was sorry. I said "send me a fucking Hallmark greeting card". I told him he had raped me. He seemed to already be aware, or else, why would he call to apologize?
I got an HIV test. I would go back, for years, when I would be sane enough for it to occur to me that I needed to do so, and get one again. I got the HPV virus, and then I later contracted pre-cancerous cells in my cervix which had to be removed - twice - by doctors. That came from the HPV virus, which causes cervical cancer. If I ever get cervical cancer, I will look back on this incident as the root cause of it.
But that wasn't the last time.
It happened again years later. It was 2004 or so. I was 29. I was at the mall, which I thought was a scene out of the book The Elegant Universe, which I had recently read, as the shapes reminded me of superstring theory and quantum physics, for reasons I cannot explain to you except to say, simply, I was psychotic. I thought that in the New World Order, women were not supposed to go out alone, so sometimes, I would get into cars with strange men, just so that I would not be sent to a concentration camp. I did this numerous times. It didn't always result in sexual violence. This time it did. The guy had a babyseat in his car, in the back. He asked me if I needed a ride. The mall had closed. Everyone was leaving, and I thought I was supposed to have someone to leave with. I didn't know when another bus was coming. I said, yes, I needed a ride. He took me to a parking lot that is within walking distance of the apartment building where I have now lived for the past six years. I pass that parking lot everyday. Every day I try not to think about it.
He made me perform a sexual act in the front seat of his car. Then I convinced him to drop me off at my brother's house. I banged on my brother's door and told him I had a fight with my boyfriend (I had no boyfriend, I just made up stories to cover up for how deranged my whole life was), and that I needed him to let me in his house. He got a baseball bat and told me to get the hell away from his house. His wife and his friend were inside. He called me a cab. I thought his friend's bike belonged to me, so I took it in the cab when I left. I went back to my shacklike efficiency. The next day my mom and my brother and my brother's friend were there yelling at me, "You fuck up!" my brother said, as I had supposedly stolen his friend's bike. The bike was sitting right outside. I said, "No, it's mine", and they didn't seem to understand or didn't seem to care to understand that I was psychotic. Nobody knew what happened the night before. They still don't know.
The next time was about a year later. I was living in an assisted living facility. The social worker at the hospital psychiatric unit had sent me there. It was a horrible place. I felt quite sure I was only being held there until I got sent to the concentration camp. I was still totally psychotic, and not taking my medication. The other women who lived in the home were elderly and were all afraid of me. The owner eventually kicked me out because Medicare wouldn't pay the thousands of dollars this place wanted for me to live there. One day I was walking. I thought I was supposed to go on missions; I was following clues. I would go wherever the clues would send me, when I was psychotic. I would do the things the clues told me to do. I walked from Palm Harbor down to Clearwater, and I walked down the side of U.S. 19. I went into stores, and an office building, where I thought I was supposed to go, but then I couldn't figure out what exactly I was supposed to do there, so I would leave. I was standing on the side of US when this fat man in a sports car pulled up and asked me if I wanted a ride. The voices told me I was supposed to get in the car and go to New York with him. He had a New York license plate. He was really weird, and talked fast, and I couldn't understand what he was saying. The next thing I knew we were in a parking lot. He was making me perform a sexual act in the car. I hated it. I wanted to get away but I had no one to turn to for help. I knew the people at the ALF would just be mad at me for having run away for the whole day if I went back there. He left me at the neighborhood pool. I started walking. A girl that worked at the ALF drove by and picked me up in her car. She asked me what I was doing and where I had been. I don't remember what I said. I never told anybody what happened that day, at the time.
It's time to end violence against women. I find violence against women with psychiatric disabilities to be rarely talked about and I suspect it's extremely common. I have met too many women to know that this is not a rare story that I have. This is not an anomaly. I wish it was, but it isn't.
Sometimes I get the urge to talk to my therapist about it (or I did, when I still had a therapist), and she would try to slow me down, and say, basically, let's not go there, because apparently people with Schizoaffective Disorder can't handle trauma, or at least that is the opinion of the therapists I've had. They have basically told me to never bring it up. To just forget. But I don't forget. How could you forget?