I had a rough childhood. I was molested at age 5 by a stranger and grew up in an emotionally and physically abusive home. As a teenager I rebelled and sought freedom and love from outside sources. As a result, I ended up making bad choices. One night I snuck out with a group of friends and acquaintances and headed up the canyon to drink and party. To make a long and awful story short, I ended up being brutally raped by one of my best friends. He also grabbed another kid from the party to add to the fun. The two of them walked me up the road on that chilly October night, away from the larger group, stripped me down, and took advantage of me in every way possible. I was found quite awhile later by the only other female at the party, naked, freezing, sobbing, and still being victimized. This girl carried me back to the truck we had come in and tried to warm me up as I screamed hysterically. I wailed for the whole hour drive home. I was found by my mother the next morning, in bed and shattered beyond belief.
In the days and months that followed I endured invasive physical exams, video taped police interviews, and calls from my “friend” begging for me to drop the charges. He had a baby on the way with someone else and was at risk of being labeled a sex offender. How could he pick his son up from school? Go to performances and parent-teacher conferences? I was also pressured by the probation officer of the two boys to ask the prosecutor to back off on the idea of charging the boys as adults. The worst insult, however, came in the court room.
My “friend’s” father, a member of the leadership/bishopric in his ward, stood up and read a lengthy statement. He brought up other times his son and I had gotten into mischief. He dragged my reputation through the mud, implying that because there had been some consensual contact between his son and I in the past, that I wasn’t credible in my story, even though both boys had admitted to everything that happened. He also found time to complain that his son was expected by the prosecutor to pay for my glasses that were broken as a result of the assault. “I don’t see how that’s our responsibility,” he angrily stated to the court.
I knew this man personally. I had been in his home and spent many hours with his family. And he was supposed to be a leader and an example of the priesthood. I was 17, broken, and a victim of betrayal and rape by his son. Yet, he had no problem making me feel 2 inches tall and like an unforgivable whore. Later on, he found out that many of our mutual friends had stopped talking to his son because of what had happened. So he took it upon himself to get into the ward records and get the private cellphone number of one of those friends who was in the congregation. He then gave that number to his son so he could contact her and try to harass her into speaking to him again. Just for contrast: after the court hearing was over, the mother of the other boy, the one who I had never met before and who had never been my friend, walked up to me, crying uncontrollably. She grabbed me and hugged me like no one had ever hugged me before, asked if I was ok, and apologized over and over for the behavior of her son. As far as I know, she was not even a member. She, out of all people, made me feel heard and loved.
I found out a year ago that because my “friend” hadn’t been tried as an adult, he had his record expunged at 21. He lived with this for less than 5 years. Now it’s like it no longer happened. I thought about moving closer to my home town, but he now has no obligation to keep his distance or avoid contact with me. He could walk up and pat me on the back if he wanted to. He goes about his life as normal. I however, have dealt with the aftermath for years, through two marriages and more emotional trauma and dysfunction than anyone should ever have to endure. And still, that court room humiliation, the shredding of my character and worth in front of dozens of adults and my two rapists, remains one of the hardest things to recover from.
There is more than one type of traumatic abuse. This man wasn’t the one who sexually violated me. But he compounded the damage by justifying my sexual torture and degradation, filleted me open to what felt like the masses and offering me additional pain for a lifetime.