Precious Things by Tori Amos

My mind often tells me I am overreacting. That what happened to me wasn't all that bad. That I am fake and wrong in thinking I belong with other survivors. It's important to realize though that no matter what others have been through, what happened to us has obviously affected us or we would not be here seeking comfort. I am not overreacting. I am not wrong. Unfortunately, I am not alone.

(Physical/emotional abuse)

I always loved church. There was something safe about it. It was also a fun way to hang out with kids my age. At age ten I developed a crush on a guy who was two years older. Three years later, he realized it and acted on it.

It was summer. June 8th,1999. I was at church with my mom as she went to a weight loss group they were holding. Kids weren't allowed inside. So, I walked around the church. Eventually I ran into my crush. He took my hand and led me back to a room. He grabbed me and held me near him and tried to kiss me, and unbutton my jumper. I pushed him back and ran from the room. I had never been kissed before and the way he had just tried to do it was just too much.

He followed me outside and asked what was wrong. I told him I had never been kissed and was nervous. He said that was okay and took my hand again and we walked to the pastor's house that was right next to the church. We went behind the house and sat down on a picnic bench that was there. The sun was setting, it was a lazy summer day just ending; the man of my young dreams was next to me and he leaned over and gave me a perfect kiss. Then kissed me again, this time with tongue. I pulled away, excited. The most perfect moment of my life, I thought.

He then asked me if he could eat me out. I had no clue what that meant but it didn't sound to appetizing, so I said no. He begged a little more, with me continuing to say no. He finally gave up and we walked to the front of the house. Sitting on the front porch was our youth pastor. He was also the pastor's son. He somehow had known we were there, I guess he had saw us.

Let me stop here and describe some things. I don't want any of you getting the wrong picture. I was 13. I was wearing a white button up jumper with flowers on it. I also had huge thick glasses cause I have awful vision. I was very skinny as a child. Stick thin. My crush was 15 and a very good looking young man. He was also much more experienced than I. He was cocky and arrogant and very sure of himself. The youth pastor was pretty arrogant as well. 19 or 20 years old at the time at least. He could get away with anything, being the pastor's son. He was tall, but huge. Very fat. With glasses and blond hair. Honestly, probably
one of the ugliest men I have ever seen in my life.


After a few minutes of the guys chitchatting, things got bad. They decided to play truth or dare. This wasn't the truth or dare I was used to. It was all sexual. I remember feeling very uneasy as they tried their best to make me do things. Like have us all get naked and let them lay on top of sex they promised! I might have been naive, but I wasn't completely stupid. I said no
way! I was a pure little Christian girl and I took my faith seriously. I was a little girl, wasn't I? But the pressure was so hard on me. They just wouldn't let up. Eventually, I agreed to strip for them...providing there was absolutely no touching. Little did I know how much that scene would play in my mind, even 9 years later.

We went inside the house. My crush sat down on a chair and the youth pastor stood beside him. They had me stand in the middle of the living room. I just stood there, frozen. Everything in my body screaming at me to not do it. I said I couldn't, they said yes I can and asked if I wanted any music to dance to. I said no and tried my best to unfreeze and get it over with. I unbuttoned my jumper very slowly, I still remember how it felt as it slid to the floor. Along with my training bra and undies. How it felt to have their eyes all over my body. They might as well have been touching me.

At that moment, I felt my innocence slip away.

I got dressed after a few seconds of standing there and ran from the room and to the parking lot where my mom had just come outside. I didn't say anything. I didn't say stupid. I went home and ran upstairs to the bathroom, where I cut myself for the first time. Something I have yet to stop doing.

Time went by and I still liked my crush so we would sneak around.

During bus trips he would hold my hand and put his hand on my leg. I didn't necessarily want him touching me like he did, but I allowed it. Before too long we were sneaking around church, making out with him. Never anything more.

We also eventually got a look out, our youth pastor. He would watch to make sure no one was coming when we were kissing. But things changed.

I was in the nursery and was having a hard time with the little kids. The youth pastor walked by and saw I was having problems and asked if I needed help. I really didn't want his help, but said okay since he was an adult and could do better than me probably. We went into the room where we had youth group and let the kids walk around. They were toddlers. He immediately began talking about what a great body I had and wanted to know if I wanted to play truth or dare. I said no thanks. He insisted, and dared me to let him touch me. I said no. He got up to come do it anyway. I stood up and moved as fast as I could across the
room. He held me against the wall, and touched me anyway and made me touch him. At that moment, church service let out and he let me go.

I still said nothing.

One day both my crush and youth pastor got me during a dinner at church and took me into the sanctuary part. They sat me behind a curtain as my crush slid his hand up my dress. I froze. I didn't like it, nor dislike it. But I sat there and let him do it, cause I wanted him to like me. After a few minutes, the youth pastor came over and tried sliding his hand there too. I pushed him away but he wouldn't stop. Oh God, his hand on my leg. And...there. And body responded to them. I didn't want it, I swear I didn't want it.

I cut things off with my crush, telling him I didn't like him anymore. Things stopped for awhile. But not completely. Off and on the youth pastor would find ways to have me touch him or vice versa. For two years. I did my best to avoid him at all costs, so he never got the chance to do more than touching and such. By age 15 I was an emotional wreck, yet no one seemed to notice. Then, the worst of it all happened.

It was a youth group activity, playing basketball at a local high school. I had no way home. I had thought someone besides the youth pastor would take me home. But he offered before anyone else, and I was afraid of being rude or people asking why I said no. Plus, my boyfriend was there with me. A good kid from school. So, I was safe right?

Wrong. They dropped him off first. It was the youth pastor and another guy from church who was 18. As soon as my boyfriend was out of the car, they asked me if I would get up front and let them touch me etc. I said no about 20 times before
we even got out of the driveway. Then, youth pastor told me if I didn't let them they would not take me home. I had no choice.

I got up front and the 18 yr old got in the back where I had been. The youth pastor grabbed my hand and made me...touch him. He groped my chest with one hand. The other guy was touching all over too. Then, he pulled my shirt up and put his mouth on me. On my chest and stuck his tongue down my throat. I was completely numb. And so frightened. I have no idea how long it went on. I just kept waiting for things to get worse or for it to be over. After a awhile the youth pastor finally turned down my street. I pulled my shirt back down and sat there, trying to find the ability to move again. Before I got out of the car, he
grabbed me and handed me ten dollars. I was being paid for my services, and for keeping quiet.

I couldn't take anymore. I tried to kill myself. It didn't work. My mom found out but all she did was hide all the pills in the house and told me to get over whatever was bothering me. I begged for therapy, for help. She refused. Even after the school got involved when they found out I was cutting. It didn't matter. Holding in my secrets was taking its toll. I knew if I didn't act soon I
would be killed somehow. He would hurt me and take my virginity, or I would kill myself. I promised I would die before he did that.

The next week, I took the ten dollars and put them in the offering plate at church. Youth pastor was the usher and I looked him right in eye when I did it.

I finally told. I told my mom on the way home from church one night soon after. I don't remember what I said, it just all came flowing out, but it wasn't enough.

We went in a few days later to speak with the pastor. Me, my mom, and my sister. He started saying a lot of things about me. About what a liar I was, a sl*t, and lies about how I always gave guys at school sexual favors for money. My mom
investigated all of this. And of course found it wasn't true.

We left the church, with everyone there thinking I was a liar. All the guys involved denied it all. Of course. Even the other girls who had confided in me that it had also happened to them, they never said a word. Nothing.

I got lectured for a long time by my family. About how I was at fault and how could I have let that happen! I never said a word. Anytime I tried to explain or talk about it I was shut down. It became a topic I was not allowed to speak of anymore.

A few years later I met another girl it happened to after me. I also saved a few friends of mine who had started going there and had had the youth pastor make moves on them. They stopped going to church after I told them what happened to me. My family spent 5 years thinking it had all been consensual. And that it had only happened once. At age 20, I finally set them straight. My one sister apologized so much for it, but the rest of my family still says I was at fault just as much as he was.

He is still there I guess. He married my best friend. She married him even though he had r*ped her and abused her as well. It makes me sick. I think he's a full blown pastor I guess now. With his own church. I pray none of you ever meet
him. I feel like its my fault for not having stopped him. I wasn't the first nor the last. I feel so guilty for all of those after me.

(physical, emotional abuse/r*pe)

So yeah. I was a mess by high school. I got no enjoyment out of my friends anymore, or much of anything. I was cutting everyday. I developed a crush on the bad boy of our class. He always wore a leather jacket. He was smooth and dated older women. I was excited when he finally paid attention to me.

My first date. I was 16 and it was Feb 1st, 2002. I was going to a party where there was going to be lots of alcohol and drugs. I had fallen in with the wrong crowd, I just hadn't realized it yet. The party was right down the street from my house. I lived in a big drug area. My mom called the house where it was going to take place to make sure there would be adults supervising(of course she knew nothing about the drugs and booze). The guy's mom assured her she would be there. And she was. She was the one who supplied the stuff.

I showed up and M handed me a beer. It was his house and his mom of course was the one "chaperoning". J walked in. he was my date. We hung out for a bit and I had some to drink. I had never drank before. Everyone else drank and smoked pot. J was already high on OC and heroine when I got there and explained to me all of the reasons why he did so many drugs. Pretty soon everyone was pretty trashed. The guys went upstairs for a few minutes to snort some OCs. Then everyone came
back down except J. M came up to me and told me he was waiting for me upstairs. Stupidly, I went.

I lost my virginity to a drug addict who used me for little more than a life like blow up doll. I went numb during the event and barely moved. It wasn't r*pe. I was drunk, but I let him do it. I wanted him to like me.

A month later, J had barely even talked to me. I decided to hate men forever. I began making concrete plans of suicide. This time it would work.

A few days before the weekend I planned to die, M came over to my table where I sat alone everyday to the confusion of my old and new friends, and asked me if I wanted to come over this weekend to get drunk. I said fine. Whatever. I could die while drunk.

Instead I started dating M. I got drunk and we made out. Two weeks later I had sex again. I was both drunk and high this time.

Things were okay mostly at first. He was a jerk sure. He called me names and got me smoking pot everyday. But soon, he changed. He played mind games a lot. Getting me to brink of tears, pretending he was going to hit me, holding a gun to his or my head telling me was going to shoot, and then breaking into laughter telling me how dumb I was for believing him.

He strangled me, burnt me with lighters, and hit me sometimes. He was controlling and I wasn't allowed to see anyone but him. No friends, no family, just him. 

He r*ped me. I don't know if it was once or many times. The memory had escaped me until 2006, when I began having flashbacks. I can't remember it all.

I remember him being on top of me and smiling that smile he always had when he knew he was hurting me. I remember crying, I remember the lighting of the room, how it smelled of pot and cigarette smoke. I remember where his bed was so I
know I was about 17 when it happened.

I can't remember being 17. Nothing. I don't know if it was the pot or the abuse or my mental illnesses. I don't know. But I lost a year of my life, except for that moment.

I left him the end of senior year. I was terrified. He always told me he'd kill me, my family, and himself if I left him. I went on a trip and kissed a 15 yr old guy. He knew about it the day it happened. We went to a small school.

I broke it off and the harassing began. He wouldn't leave me alone. Swore he was going to die, and he was going to kill my family while I was at college.

I left for college, and pretended to be fine for a year. He still called me when he knew I was home. Last time I hung up on him though they finally stopped.

Sophomore year it was October, the month my r*pe had occurred. Though I didn't know that yet. I was breaking down though. I finally got myself the help I had wanted all those years ago.

I have been hospitalized several times and in and out of therapy, on and off of meds, for two years now. Been diagnosed bipolar, borderline, ptsd, anxiety, and severe depression.

I'm 22 now, and am finally safe. I had one more run in with a monster in 2007, but got away from him before he hurt me. He just liked to get drunk and grope me. And was emotionally abusive to me. He was just a roommate. The worst kind.

I now live with two of my good friends from high school, a few hours away from our hometown. One of which is the man of my dreams who has shown me what a real man is like. What love is. I am still struggling a lot. Dropped out of college and am working part time at an organization that helps those with disabilities have jobs. I can't handle life again yet. But someday. Someday I will be free.

I am a survivor.

"You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star"
~ Nietzsche

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