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Survivor Stories

Is that why they call me a sullen girl? They don't know i used to sail the deep and tranquil sea. But he washed me ashore, took my pearl, and left an empty shell of me. - Fiona Apple, Sullen Girl

I'm writing this now because i have to, because the feelings swelling within me are in danger of bursting forth and destroying my life and the lives of those i love. I've never written a single poem or story about what happened to me, i've never cried at night over the sins commited against me. only one person in the world knows- REALLY knows- what happened to me, though it's been almost two years since the assault. i always fear people won't believe my story- it's almost too horrible to be true and besides, looking at me you don't see a victim. i laugh, i smile, i make jokes, i go out with my friends, i live, i love, and i never make a single allusion to the hell i went through that night, November 18, 1998.

it's a common theory that childhood sexual abuse sets a person up for a rape- that the rapist is able to sniff out the insecurities of their prey. if this is true (and it certainly makes sense to me) then the months of forced sexual contact i suffered at the hands of a family friend as a small child set me up for the attack i suffered at fourteen. at fourteen i was a punk. no other way to put it. i smoked pot and cigarattes, did cocaine and methamphetimines, drank nearly daily, fought at school and at home, my grades were a travesty, and i regularly injured myself with knives, glass, scissors- any sharp object i could get my hands on. sex was nothing new to me- i'd already been introduced to intercourse in october of that year and everything else that went along with it had been experiemented with months before. sex was a way for me to have control over the molestation memories, but the night i was raped i was shown that sex wasn't something i had control over at all. the control was violently ripped from me and i've only recently started to regain it.

i had been a dancer for years. performing arts were my life, the only right course in my world. but it was a testament to my love for any high i could get when four older guys approached me after a class, told me i could get some weed from them cheap, and i followed eagerly. they said they would take me to go a house a few blocks away and all i had to do was follow.

we took a shortcut through a soccer field across from my studio. it was nighttime and the grass was wet from the rain that had fallen earlier. i walked ahead of them, jumping at the chance to get my hands on whatever they had for me. they were talking rapidly in spanish behind me and i strained to understand what they were saying.

we reached a tree in the middle of the field and suddenly i was tackled from behind and shoved to the ground, face first in the mud. at first i thought they were trying to steal money but when one yanked at my shorts and the others laughed and egged him on, i realized that wasn't their intention at all.

he ripped away my shorts and underwear and pulled off my top and bra, grabbing greedily at my breasts as i fought with a strength i didn't even know existed within me. it was futile. when i was naked he turned me over and got on top of me. he had his hand over my mouth and whispered in my ear that he had a gun and if i screamed, he would kill me. he pulled my hair and slapped me across the face, pushed himself inside me, and before i knew it he was done. he got up and joined his friends a few feet away and they all regarded me in amusement.

i lay in the grass, stunned. my entire body ached beyond belief. i told myself that what had just happened wasn't going to bother me- it was nothing and i felt nothing. i reached for my clothes and started to stand up, but they weren't done.

as i got to my feet another one came forward and grabbed my arm. he laughed and turned me around, shoving me against the tree. i felt the bark pressed into my cheek, imbedding itself in my skin. bend over! he yelled in my ear. i wouldn't. he turned me around again and punched me, hard, across the face. i felt the blood run from my nose into my mouth. bend over, he said again. so i did.

i'd never been fucked from behind, and it was a disturbing sensation. as he raped me he pounded my head repeatedly into the tree with tremendous force until i felt myself starting to lose consciousness. the blood trickled down my forehead and mingled with the blood coming from my nose. just kill me, i thought. just slit my throat and get it over with. i hadn't even realized it, but i had started to scream out great, choking sobs. no! no! no! i begged them with a strangled gasp, but they didn't listen. shut the fuck up, my rapist said to me, or i'll really give you something to cry about. then he ejaculated in me, struck me again across the face, and left me cowering next to the tree. i now understood that they each planned to have a turn with me. i thought of running, but if the one really did have a gun like he said he did, i would be shot.

the next one came at me, forcing my legs apart farther than my dance training had ever demanded. he thrust in me hard, biting my breasts with enough fury to draw blood, mashing his mouth against mine with alcohol stained lips. suddenly he pulled out and stood up, yanking me by my hair to my knees. he waved his penis in my face and grinned. i tried to scamper away. his foot connected with my back and a hot flash of pain exploded within me before i tumbled to the ground. do it, he shrieked. no..... please....i whispered. blood was running from my nose into the back of my throat and i started to choke. he kicked me again in the stomach. do it, he hissed. i doubled up, trembling. let me go, i pleaded. finally, furious, he knelt over me and forced himself into my mouth, all the way down my clogged throat until i gagged. vomit stirred in my stomach as he frantically thrust himself in and out of my mouth. he groaned and gasped while his friends laughed maniacally. after a few minutes he climaxed, and i felt the hot, salty liquid running down my throat as i choked and tried to spit it out. swallow it, he hissed.

the last one was uneventful, a simple act of sexual assault. by then i was too weak to fight. i just laid prone, felt the blood and cum drying on my face, smelled sweat and grass and the leather of my dance shoes. when he was finished they were silent, watching me for a long time. i knew it was over but i dared not move, lest i be beaten again. i must have lain there for twenty minutes or more, terrified that they were contemplating whether or not to kill me. i closed my eyes and tried to will my own death. what would become of me now? how could i ever survive in the normal world after this night?

when i opened my eyes again they were gone. nothing remained, only my clothes in little piles around me. i tentatively dressed and waited for them to return. when they didn't i got to my feet and limped home. i didn't see or talk to a soul. my entire body was alternately numb and burning with pain.

when i walked through my front door my mother was alone in the living room with the lights out, watching a video. she didn't ask why i was late. i went straight into the bathroom and showered for forty five agonizing minutes.

makeup covered the facial cuts and bruises and clothing covered the rest. i acted as if nothing had happened and no one seemed to notice. two days later i was arrested for stealing a six pack of beer. the next day i took forty tablets of acetomeophin and spent two days in the ICU. none of the nurses who saw the patchwork of bruises all over my body, the black eyes, the split lip, said a word. neither did i.

by december first my period, normally like clockwork, hadn't arrived. my body and mind denied what my heart knew was true and i kept on with my usual patterns of drinking and drugs. christmas eve i went to the bathroom at my cousin's house amid horrible cramps and flushed my baby down the toilet.

sex after the rape was as it always had been- uninteresting, unpleasurable, uncomfortable. it could only be done drunk and even then it was a difficult task to carry out. everytime i looked up into the angry, twisted face of my partner all i could see was the angry, twisted faces of my attackers.

a few months later i quit living a reckless lifestyle- i quit sleeping with anyone who would take note, sniffing speed and coke, getting drunk during school lunch periods, fistfighting with my mother. i started homeschooling. but no matter how many external changes i made, the internal anguish was still there. no one knew the secret i was carrying. i didn't know who to tell or how to tell them. my therapist, my family, my very best friend- none of them knew. finally my secret spilled out to a guy in london i had talked to online twice. but i asked him to tell me his most deep and disturbing secret first, just so i wouldn't feel cheated. we became close friends, then boyfriend and girlfriend. i traveled to london and met him, and he was my first real lover- the only one who'd ever made me feel special, loved, beautiful, and showed me i could enjoy sex and not be afraid of it. then he dumped me, and all those wonderful feelings vanished. i've started having nightmares again. i've started cutting myself again. all the progress i have made is ultimately meaningless if it doesn't persist. i still have so far to go in my recovery and now my biggest fear isn't who's lurking around every corner, in every crevice of my dreams- it's that i might have to weather the remaining emotional consequences of what happened to me all alone.


I can't believe I'm actually telling my story where so many people can see what happened to me. It seems to me that if I just keep quiet about it, it didn't happen. The girl in that car wasn't me. It couldn't have been. How could something like that happen to me? Well, it did.

Two years ago, I was waiting tables at a microbrew/restaurant and living the life of a "normal" 22 year old young woman. At this point, I'm not sure I know what normal means, the doctors and therapists all tell me that I am normal, but I don't believe them. Anyways, on this particular night, I got off work a little early. I finished the work I needed to do to be able to leave, clocked out, took my apron off, untucked my shirt, and went to the bar for a drink. Two of the other employees (male) and their friend were also sitting at the bar, sharing a pitcher of beer. I sat down with them, and we started talking. They offered me some of their beer, but I smiled and told them that I didn't drink beer, but if they wanted to buy me a mixed drink, that would be fine. So they bought me a long island iced tea. I finished my drink, and started to leave, as I was supposed to meet a friend that night. My two male co-workers and their friend mentioned that they were going to go buy some marijuana, and then go smoke it. They told me I was welcome to go with them, that they'd share. And I agreed to go with them. So we got in the car (I don't know which one the car belonged to), and went to purchase the marijuana from one of their friends. JT, the one who was sitting with me in the back seat, went into get the marijuana, and quickly returned. We then went to find a place to smoke it, as I had told them that there was no way we were taking it back to my place. I lived alone, and had smoked weed in my apartment before. But something deep inside me told me not to take them to my place. For awhile, I'm not sure how long, we were just driving around, smoking the marijuana. Talking, laughing, JT was kissing me and had his hand in my shirt. I didn't mind that. I liked it, in fact. Sometime later, I'm not sure how long, as the marijuana had clouded my perception of time, we parked somewhere. Still smoking, talking, laughing. I don't know where we were. JT and I were still kissing, he was touching me. The two in the front were laughing, encouraging us.

Then I felt a hand on my thigh, sliding up the leg of my shorts, fondling me. It wasn't JT. It was the one in the driver's seat. I pushed his hand away. Then JT's hand was on the back of my head, forcing my face to his crotch. I told him that I didn't want to do this. They all laughed. JT's hand still on the back of my head, forcing and pushing me to do what I didn't want to do. Not knowing what else to do, I did it. I did it because I didn't know what would happen to me if I didn't. I did it because I didn't know if there was a knife or a gun or some kind of weapon in that car. So I did it to survive, but I cried while I did it. Once again, the one in the driver's seat was fondling me. I again pushed his hand away, but it didn't matter. They were going to get what they wanted, it didn't matter what I wanted.

Sometimes I wish there would have been a knife or a gun in that car and they would have killed me so I wouldn't have to deal with this. The rest is blurry. It felt like the car was spinning, no doubt from the alcohol and weed I'd had. I felt sick. I told them that I was sick and that I felt like I was going to throw up. They finally let me stop. I begged them to take me home. I just wanted to go home. If I could just go home everything would be okay. They wanted to smoke another joint. I insisted that they take me home. I think I muttered something about what they had done to me was rape. I'm not sure. They decided it was in their best interest to take me home, so they started the car and asked me how to get to my place. I told them, and on the way there, JT tried to make me look as if nothing had happened. He buttoned my shirt, he tried to straighten my mussed hair. He told me that what had happened was not rape, that I had wanted it. Finally, the car stopped in front of my apartment, JT leaned over me and opened the door and shoved me out onto the curb.

I half crawled, half walked to the door of my apartment, let myself in, and leaned against the wall, wondering what to do. I locked the door and chained it, then stumbled to my bedroom and dialed the number of a friend, hoping that he would answer his phone at that hour. He was the only one I knew to call. I couldn't call my very best friend, I didn't know why, but I just had this feeling that she wouldn't understand. I didn't want to call my dad and wake him up. So I called Glenn. He spent at least 2 hours on the phone with me, listening to me cry and try to tell him what happened. Finally, I was too exhausted to talk anymore, so I told him I was going to bed. He told me that I really needed to go to the hospital, talk to the police. I hung up the phone, and I think I fell right to sleep. I was so exhausted. I woke the next morning around 10, and at first, it seemed like a normal Sunday morning. Then I remembered. And I started to cry.

I found the number of a rape-crisis center in my area, and called them. They had one of their counselors call me back immediately. She talked to me, told me it wasn't my fault, that what had happened was indeed a crime, and that I needed to go to the hospital. She met me at the hospital, and was right there for me during the exam, being questioned by the cops, everything. I don't think I could ever do enough to repay that woman. I wanted to press charges. The cops questioned the 3 guys. They denied it. There was no physical evidence. There was no actual penetration, no physical evidence of me being in the car, nothing. There was nothing I could do. And the cops had the attitude that I had been in the car with them, I had drank with them, I had smoked weed with them, I had kissed JT, I must have wanted it. But I didn't. I didn't want it then, and I don't want to deal with it now.

Mostly I have lived since then trying to act as if it didn't happen. Trying to forget. But I'm scared to leave my house, I'm severely depressed, and I think of suicide a lot. I wonder every day when it will get better. I know I can't let them win by destroying my life like this, but I can't seem to do anything about it, either. This is my story, my hell, my life. I hope someone reads it and it helps them. Thank you for providing a place for me to tell this, finally, in its entirety where so many people can see.


Hi. My story begins on 6/14/84,when I was born,weighing in at a little over 4 pounds to a nineteen year old bulimic/alchoholic.She was not married,and did not tell anyone about her pregnancy.But once I was born,I was known to her family,as well as my father's.There was a brief struggle for custody of me,and my mother won.She then married my now ex-stepfather.We were moved to Alaska,and there my life with Hades began.I never liked Mitch,and despite my young age,I always knew he wasn't my father,even though I did not even know who he was.

First the yelling and throwing of things started ,then the use of me for physical labor.But even then came the nightmare of my life.At 3:14 in the morning,in the pitch of darkness,something woke me as I slept in my bed.He was there.I felt his finger move against my most sacred area (I had my undies on),I immediatly turned over on my side in hopes that he would think I was asleep.I guess that it did not work, because he then said "I love you" in a way that that made my hairs stand on end.I then said something that to me now sounds really 'ballsie'-"Why don't you go back to your bed and hug your wife.'He then left.

But the sexual abuse did not end there.He would strut around naked alot.He tried to touch my barely existent breasts one time,and I told him to stop.He also would make me massage him,one time he flipped himself over on his back,told me to sit on him and 'Rub his front''once again I escaped by saying no.One particularly horrendus incident sticks out in my mind from that period of time.He was strutting around naked again,told me that he'had a pretty big one for a guy his size',and (here's what really killz me)that someday a guy would go between my legs too.He then procceded to tell me what sex was (or at least his rendition of it):this was the way I first learned about sex, no 'birds and the bees' for me.All the while he was standing in my doorway naked.My mother knew about this, of course.She blamed me for it,and at one time,made me go to an office party with him in a dress that made me look like a whore. One time they had sex with the bedroom door open,while I stole out of my bedroom to eat some pieces of white bread (they both starved me) out in the kitchen.

There is far more to my story,but I figured that I would at least get my sexual abuse stuff out first, since that is the most painful to talk about.As before mentioned,I was also starved,and used as a slave for physical labor.But I was also hit and neglected.I thank everyone who has cared to listen and read.I am trying to get back with my biological father,so everyone cross their fingers(and whatever else you have available)for luck.Mitch is going to burn on Phoenix's prier soon.And I would love to talk to any of the rest of my fellow 'Dark Riders'(survivors) out there.You may visit my nest at

Phoenix Artemis

Tell your story.

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