Monday, September 26, 2016
15 years ago I laid on the cheap shag carpet floor of a shitty apartment in a drugged induced haze while a man whose name and face I can still recall in detail, stole what little self respect I had escaped puberty with. After he had done the same to my friend.
15 years ago my shot guzzling, drug addled teen self who was barely legal decided to down a handful of Ecstasy with a beer at a party only to wake 48 hours later with a slight recollection of that night and an acidic aftertaste of the GHB I was duped into consuming.
15 years ago my cold ass cheeks clung to a scratchy table following a long and spotty ER visit, a slew of blood tests, two disgusted and bored police officers' questions and 24 hours on a friend's couch sleeping away the ugliness and shame of that moment.
15 years later I can still recall this man's name, face and carpet in detail.
Before the age of 19 I had experienced sexual assault at the hands of no less than 3 people, but nothing stays with me today like that night. Perhaps it was the guilt and responsibility I take for putting myself in that kind of situation.
Or perhaps it's the fact that night pales in comparison to other brutal tales I have that didn't involve a drunken and stoned state of mind. And somehow that is what bothers me. The not remembering everything, the fear of the parts that are unknown.
Most of the time. Until it comes to the surface.
Because the trauma of that encounter and night were delayed for months to come...the heightened need to snort, fuck and drink my way to an early death might have been a residual side effect, but the resulting conclusion is still the same.
I never wanted to experience that again. And I was fortunate I haven't.
The only reason I am reminded of that night 15 years ago is the silence filling my home and the fact that it's cause is slowly eating its way into our lives causing irrevocable damage. The same way that man's face and name did.
Only the face and name that haunts me now is my daughter's father.
As today blurs into tomorrow amid the humid scorching heat of September, the lull in noise and humming in the normal whirlwind of my home has me frightened....because it means my daughter is slipping further and further away from me.
For the last 6 years we've trooped through a revolving door of doctors', psychiatrists, mental health professionals and specialists for a slew of behaviors that we attributed to everything from mercury in the water to a messy divorce and ensuing custody battle to bad genetics and latent bipolar disorder.
Rage that left our walls filled with holes and our hearts filled with despair. Raw and furious slits and fingernail picked holes crisscrossing their way down her arms, her restless nights spent tossing and turning, my questions met with resounding doors slamming in protest.
The endless pills and therapy sessions pushed her further and further into an soul sucking abyss and I floundered to find the cause of her anger, depression and self loathing.
Perhaps it was her lack of snorting, fucking or drinking her way into an early death, but the signs were there and somehow I missed them.
When she finally broke her silence all these years later, 17 months ago to be exact, the world as we knew it imploded, she imploded and the wreckage left behind isn't any closer to helping her heal.
Huddled on a couch, the truth spilled out of her to the only person she truly trusted at the time-her therapist. And that knowledge is a burden I will carry with me to the day I die. That we had reached such a point in our relationship that she couldn't trust me...didn't want to....that I allowed her to shut me out until we didn't have a relationship at all.
The aftermath included spontaneous CAC visits, countless interviews, exams and more and more space building between us.
While the stress of harboring this secret for so long was now gone, the relief I thought she would feel was short lived.
What followed was the CPS letter confirming their belief that the crime had occurred as well as the division and alienation of extended family, the whispers and stares and resentment and misunderstanding that she was forced to relive over and over.
He had the opportunity to violate her over and over through the legal process and I couldn't stop him.
Just like I failed to the first time.
And then the phone call informing us that there would be no end. No closure, no responsibility, no justice would be found.
To say it was and has been horrific is an understatement.
And while he sleeps comfortably in his bed, in his new home with his new wife, his new children, she lays in the dark, the wave of fear, anxiety and panic pulling her under, making it unbearable and impossible for her to breathe.
17 months ago I made her a promise that she would have closure, that the day would come when she no longer had trouble sleeping, that this one thing didn't define her and the day would come when she could reclaim herself, that the shame is his, not hers, that she would never have to think of him again.
I made a promise I broke the moment the words left my mouth because while she has no contact with him, she still sees his face over and over....and what's worse in when she screams at me in anguish because she can't escape it because it's staring back at her in the mirror.
I made a promise I haven't been able to keep because the judicial system feels that due to the lack of witnesses and cloud of doubt brought on by the tumultuous court history he and I have due to the numerous court filings I pursued to ensure her safety and well-being due to his failure as a parent and human being nothing can be done.
How do I tell her that the court failed her?
That I failed her?
How do I tell her that the scars may never heal and her heart and mind might be forever broken? Especially in a society when rapists receive 3 month jail sentences due to the color of their skin and the wad of bills lining their parents pockets. When there is an overwhelming burden of evidence you get a slap on the wrist and when time has passed and it isn't blatantly glaring back at them, no one deems it worth pursuing.
While the court and her father can act like it never happened, the reality that it did will continue to resonate in every aspect of her life.
That will haunt her for the rest of her life.
Always close to the surface. Always in detail. Always his face.
The thought that I have to go home and have this discussion with my daughter sickens me and leaves me hoping I don't fail her again.