They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. That was definitely true in my journey. I will share, without overwhelming detail, the darkest part of my story, not to give it power, but to show just how bright the dawn is.
The reality of the party life was harsh. I never intended it to become what it was. I started off with good intentions, though naive. One of my first wake up calls was just months after I hit the party scene. Hanging out with friends, a man, almost ten years my senior, offered me a ride home. Half way home, he pulled over on a back road, parked and reached over and tried to unbutton my shirt, fondling me as he did. I grabbed his wrist and stopped him.
“What are you doing? You’re getting married!” It had never occurred to me that he was not safe. His wedding was just weeks away, not to mention that I had a ‘unofficial’ boyfriend who had connections to him. Why would he risk it? His fiancée, being confined to a wheelchair, was never with us, but I assumed he loved her.
The attempt to use me–whatever his intentions were–was bad enough. What was worse, he spread rumours that I had made sexual advances on him on the way home.
The first problem with his story was that he was driving and therefore he had to be the one to pull over for the ‘attack’. Aside from that detail, from a common sense perspective, I can’t imagine what 16-year-old would make sexual advances on some random man so much older than her, at any time, let alone while driving.
I heard the rumours but didn’t defend myself. He was a typical perpetrator, using lies to cover for himself while further victimizing me. A harsh introduction to my new world. Because of his connections to my friend, instead of addressing it, I ended the relationship.
One bad relationship blended into the next, just like one cigarette blended into the next, and one drink blended into the next. No direction. The only boundaries were my own. There was a line I would not cross in drinking, because I wanted to maintain control. I tried drugs, but again the loss of control did not appeal to me.
In relationships I had boundaries as well. Any hint of unfaithfulness, any sign that a man only wanted ‘one thing’, and he was out the door. No discussion, just an order: “Hit the road Jack, and don’t come back no more!”
Several assaults by ‘friends’ blind-sided me, and disarmed me. The first time a new a guy showed up, walked into my bedroom, stripped down and used me, I didn’t even try to stop him. He was older, bigger and male. No one had taught me to say ‘no’, to protect myself. I had no voice. Even when he physically hurt me, I said nothing, did nothing, and simply steeled myself against the pain. I just let it happen, and then immediately blocked it. It was many years before I allowed that memory into my conscious awareness again.
Days later, his best friend entered my room after a party, at 5:00 in the morning. I awakened to being stripped and raped. I don’t know why, but I found my voice. Maybe because I had already suffered through it once. I understood that he did not have the right to do to me what the other guy had done, and told him ‘no’. At well over six feet tall, and weighing over two hundred pounds, I was no match.
Only weeks later, I met a police officer at the old Lulu’s bar. When he pursued me, I told him I was not interested in a relationship, and told him why. He was very compassionate, relating stories of his own experience with rape scenes and victims, as an undercover officer, acknowledging how traumatizing it was to arrive on scene after the fact. After winning my trust, I went on one date with him. We went out to a local bar—he an officer, I an under-aged drinker—after which he, too, violated me.
Eventually I went to the police and filed a report so the rape would be on record, in the event that the guy ever victimized someone else. I never mentioned the incident with the police officer. He was one of ‘them’—I didn’t stand a chance going against the police force.
Shortly after filing the report, I started to receive strange, sometimes threatening, phone calls. At times it was only heavy breathing. No words. Other times a raspy male voice asking if I was alone, saying he was on his way over, and ordering me to get everyone out of my apartment within a certain time frame.
I was beside myself with fear and needed someone to talk to but didn’t know whom to turn to. I tried the ‘God thing’ a few times, but found no life in it. I wasn’t good enough, couldn’t measure up, so always I found myself again in the clutches of sin and bad habits.
In a final act of desperation, I called my sister-in-law and brother in California. I had to get away before I lost my mind.
My brother and his wife flew me to California to be with them. Over the next few months, away from the chaos of what life had become, I was able to hear God speak again. A desire to know Him was reawakened…
And just about the time I was ready to surrender, I met a man who set out to prove that he would provide, protect and care for me. We met on a bus—he en route to his home in Indiana, I on my way home to Ontario. For several days, as we travelled together, he watched over me, making sure I was ‘safe’. He told me about his red Camero and talked about what it was like to be in the army. He showed me his scars—in the chest and out the side—not far from his heart. He was retiring, at 42, and would be drawing a pension. I didn’t care about his age, though he didn’t look a day older than 25. He was a real hero. A real man…. someone who fought for his country, for freedom…
Little did I know….
We parted ways in Chicago, having exchanged contact information and with a plan in place. My pursuit of God was intercepted.
Less than two months later I was in Indiana, and almost immediately agreed to marry this man. Finally I would ‘belong’.
One by one the lies unravelled. He wasn’t a soldier, never had been. He was a twenty-five year old ex-con, drug dealer, and the scars were the result of a deal gone bad. The Camero belonged to his sister. He was a mooch living off his family, and had drawn me into it.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, was discovering that he divorced his wife after meeting me. Her name was tattooed on his arm, but he swore up and down that she had been a high school crush, nothing more. I believed that lie until I saw the divorce papers, dated around the time of our engagement. I knew better than to believe our marriage would last.
With no money, no green card, no connections, and having just turned 18, I was stuck. Or so I thought. But God had a better plan for my life.
The darkest hour had come and it felt as though it would last forever, but the dawn was about to burst into vivid colour. My life was about to change. Forever.
© Trudy Metzger 2012
Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/