Rape: Forging Ahead
This article is prompted by someone who judged me on paper without knowing anything at all about who I am or what I’ve been through in this journey through Life. I’m about to bare my soul. Judge me if you feel the need, or take some strength from which this expose is written.
Here we go. Let me tell you about rape. There are three kinds of rape: date rape, gang rape and felonious or diminished capacity rape. I have been the victim of them all.
Really? You? Bravewarrior? Yes, me, Bravewarrior. Do you find this hard to believe, given the persona you see in me? I am Bravewarrior because I must survive. I have always survived. And still I smile. I smile in spite of and because of what I have endured in my lifetime. And most of all, I don’t live in fear!
Let’s get back to the theme of this article. Let’s see. I guess we need to break down the various types of personal assault encompassed under the umbrella of ‘rape’.
Shall We Begin?
It’s 1975 and I’ve graduated high school in the top 10% of my class of 300. I was never popular because I was smart, didn’t go out for the cheerleading team and wasn’t a slut. The boys in school weren’t interested in me because I didn’t fall into any of the slutty categories. What they didn’t realize, is when I was assured a spot on the girls’ varsity basketball team (all 5’2” of me), I got a phone call during the try-outs. Apparently, my folks had been made aware of the beer parties I’d throw on their Friday nights out to play Bridge. But nobody knew I was ‘cool’ in addition to being smart. That is, until I left home the day before I graduated high school.
Oh my goodness! Talk about celebrity!
Well, let me tell you something. Imagine yourself in a car full of football players (that previously ignored you until you left home) going out to the corn fields to get high. Or so I thought. Do you have any idea what it’s like to be forced to do things you don’t want to do? Do you have any idea what it’s like to be driven to an unknown location, thrown in a dark room and have the boys you thought you knew take their turns with you one at a time? Thank God for one boy who graduated a couple of years ahead of us. When it came his ‘turn’, he bundled me up and took me safely away from where I’d been delivered.
Ok, I got over that. Fast forward a couple of years. I was working in a boutique when an attractive man came in. We got to talking and he eventually asked me out. I was the only one with a car, so we used mine and I let him drive. Guess what? We never made it to the restaurant. He drove my car into the corn fields (I swear, I will never again eat Jersey corn!) and proceeded to rape me repeatedly. He must have been bi-polar because he’d go from being violent to sobbing apologies. At one point, a cop car came through the fields and asked if we were ok. I was told beforehand that if I told what was going on, I’d be killed. I was young, naive and believed him. Hindsight tells me that had I told, my date wouldn’t have had the chance to threaten me with death. Anyway, somehow, I managed to take command of the steering wheel when he was in one of his crying jags and made it out of there. I don’t even remember where I got rid of him, but obviously, I did.
Shortly after that incident, I moved to South Florida. After several years of being the vagabond, I rented a quaint little cottage in Ft. Lauderdale. I was so proud because after sharing homes with other girls, I finally had my own place. It only cost $250 per month and I felt like a big girl. Not too long after I’d moved in and gotten settled, I was awakened with a cloth over my face and a body on top of mine. A knife was held at my throat and an unknown voice kept whispering “Don’t move or I’ll kill you”. (Later I learned he was holding my own butcher knife at my throat). I had no idea how to react. Do I fight? Do I give in? Which response will get me killed? What do I do?
When and how the perpetrator decided he was finished and why he didn’t kill me I’ll never know. When he was tired of violating me he forced me into a tiny closet (still with the cloth over my face), shoved me in and put a chair up against the doorknob to allow him time to escape. I’m highly claustrophobic and I guess I took strength from my fear and busted the door down when I sensed he was gone.
I debated whether or not to take a shower. I didn’t. I pulled a pair of jeans out of my closet; a pair I hadn’t worn in forever. Lo and behold a quarter fell out of the pocket! You see, sometime during the break in/rape he stole all the money I had and a Seiko watch. That quarter was sent to me from up above! I got in my car and drove miles away to a phone booth and called my boyfriend. I was never again able to step foot in that house. My boyfriend and several other friends had to move my stuff out because I would freeze at the doorstep. I just couldn’t cross the threshold.
I’d made a police report and had a rape kit done, but because I didn’t see the rapist’s face, the cops said I didn’t have a case. The fact of the matter is, to this day I would be able to identify him just by the voice! I don’t know if I’ll ever quit hearing that voice.
All of these rapes happened between 1975 and 1985. I have since been married (and divorced) and raised a beautiful son of whom I’m very proud.
I overcame the worst situation every woman hopes they will never encounter – 3 times! I have never let personal atrocity get in the way of my life or my dreams. I always forged ahead. I am living my dream. I do so in spite of adversity and because of the strength I gained as the result.
So, judge me if you feel the need, but I say to those who want to judge: Walk in my shoes. Would you be where I am today?
Embrace me or shun me, but do not judge me!
Shauna L. Bowling
Copyright © March 2013
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