written nine years and four months later, as I remember it
I was prone on my back and moaning for show. We had been lying on my mother’s bed on a weekend, watching City of Angels as he pressured me for the last time. It was in the first half of December; we had sex a second time on the 21st , a last ditch effort to keep him in my firstlove life, and that was the last I heard of him for nearly a year.
He moved his body against and into mine. The ending credits rolled on the screen, flickering light over the curtain-drawn room. I was increasingly horrified, and turning stiff as if the trauma was already setting in. He had been at me, nagging, for the past six months daily. His name was Nathan, Nate. Dating since we were twelve, he had eventually had enough of the making out in the living room in front of my mom (the floor, the couch, wherever), and shoving his short fingers up my skirt. His pinky fingers bent outwards in opposite directions.
He stopped and my attention snapped back to our tiny bodies. He was holding himself up on his left hand, and jerking his dick harder with the right. There was no excitement for either of us, but he was determined to get as much out of this coming of age as possible. So, it continued: jerking it harder, pushing his semi erect penis into my frozen—cold and unmoving—body, thrusting, willing it to be good somehow, and jerking it again.
The spirits of young and growing women must have been watching, as they granted me what I now know to be a small miracle—my year-older virgin sister came home with her boyfriend. They were fourteen; she was a cheerleader and more like my mother, he was a small time drug dealer, and evidently someone to try and impress. Her arrival home was an excuse to get Nate off me and dressed. I didn’t anticipate the hallway conversation to consist of his babyswagger flaunting our v-cards.
I felt arid, dry, cracked, cold, stricken and scared. I don’t remember what my sister yelled at me, but the rage? disappointment? fear? love? hurt? on her face swept up the last of my innocence, and I hardened, tough around myself and hollered right back, shrouded in self-righteousness and autonomy. That night, my abusive mother only had one word for me, ‘disappointed,’ but it was her lack of care or love that still wakes me up with nightmares.
I went into the small room I shared with my sister and my brother, turned on my lamp (the one that spun and left dancing dolphins of light on my walls and ceiling) and sobbed and cried. It was the last time I prayed.
The next time I heard from him was two weeks later, December 21st, 2002. He was frank, and wanted me to come over and have sex. This isn’t usually a part of the story I tell, but I went to his grandparents house where he was living, and this time I was on top, and it was much better. I went with the intention of getting him back as a boyfriend, but he never called me again. That’s when my self injury started.
My cutting was never very deep. I only have a few scars left from those years, but I always had several new wounds. My average was between 20-40 cuts a day. All over my body, to dull the pain, but to feel alive, too. Every time I moved, there was feeling. Any feeling that wasn’t rage was good in those days.
Months pass. I let myself have crushes on new people. One day, my mother sits me down, and tells me we’re moving in with her newish boyfriend, John. She doesn’t ask. She tells. John is Nate’s father. John is also the best boyfriend my mom has had since the divorce. This is still true to this day.
So we pack our things, move into a bigger house, all together. Nate’s bedroom was next to mine and wood paneled. Mine was at the very end of the long narrow hallway, with a full closet, room for a queen size bed, desk, two tables, dresser and a TV. It was the biggest room. I also got the computer in my room because I was the best student. So, naturally, as any 13 to 14 year old, I survived on hot pockets and rarely left my room. I made collages of Victoria’s Secret models and covered my walls. For a long time, Nate and I would never be in the same room together, and the awkward dance through the house seemed to never end.
At this point, two important things happened nearly simultaneously. My rage became mostly uncontrollable, and Nate started sexually abusing me in my home: in the living room, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in my bedroom. I used my fights with my mom as a way to get out of the house; One day I packed a bag and a box and I never went back. I lived with my uncle, afterwards.
I worked hard the rest of high school, never letting up on my goal to get away and when I was 18, I moved away to the furthest college that would take me. When I graduated last year, I still wasn’t ready to go home, for many reasons.
This year, I finally told my mom the things that were happening under her nose. This year, I told my dad the beginnings of my sexual violence history. This year, I am returning home, to tell the truth behind my rage, and to tell my uncle what he saved me from.
It’s going to be hard work—talking about sexual violence to a family that doesn’t talk about sex—and it’s not just this one story. It’s a decade of stories. But 2500 miles doesn’t protect me any better than an honest and truthful life can, so it’s worth a shot.
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