It was the Chi Cha Lounge in D.C. during the early 2000’s. I had just gotten over a horrible break up, I was not a Christian, I was openly bi-sexual, and I was out with my friend trying to self-medicate my pain by smoking and drinking. I met this guy. He was much older than me, owned his own business, and because I thought he was “mature,” I thought it would be ok to date him.
He lived about an hour out of the city, was about 15 years older than me so of course we had nothing in common. I allowed him to wine and dine me because when you don’t know Christ, that’s typically what you do to get over a break up…You go to the next person. You use people to fill a void that only God can fill.
The signs were there…
I remember when I didn’t answer his calls and he showed up to my parent’s house unannounced. I walked with him outside and a young man who was my neighbor said “hello” to me. This guy said, “Who the F&$@ is that? Are you f$#(@)@ this nigga?” I laughed nervously, letting him know to calm down and stop tripping because that was just my neighbor and we were cool. I then let him know how I had plans with my friends and I didn’t appreciate him showing up to my house unannounced. He left and I should have never saw him again….
But I was broken so I did.
I was working at Sibley Hospital in the pharmacy and taking a Medical Terminology class. My co-workers and I were in the courtyard studying for a test when I heard someone beeping a horn and yelling my name. I looked up and it was him. I don’t remember telling him where I worked, but maybe it slipped in conversation. Nonetheless, I was shocked and slightly mortified that this man decided to show up to my job unannounced. When I walked out to talk to him he said he wanted to surprise me and take me to lunch. Now to some this may have seemed sweet. But we had only met maybe a week or two prior and this was uncomfortable to me. I had not made a commitment to this man. We were not in a relationship, we were simply dating. I told him that I was “on call” and I was not able to leave for lunch but that we could see each other another time.
One day we were out on a date, and I remember he was constantly buying drinks. I knew that I should not have been drinking but in my mind I was grown and could handle it. I was also trying to numb the pain. The pain of being cheated on in a previous relationship, the pain of seeing my father on crack, the pain of not knowing my identity and worth…It was all just too much to bear. So I drank, smoked weed, and popped the occasional XTC pill. That night out with him, I can’t remember what I drank but all I know is that I passed out. I woke up, and saw the sign “Centerville” and knew that I was far from home.
We pulled up to what I believe was his home and he carried me into the house. By this time, I was starting to come to myself a little but was still very much out of it. He started to pull my clothes off, and I asked him to stop. He kept going, and I started crying. I felt super woozy and to this day I believe he put something in my drink. I started to push him off of me, and he held me down by force and raped me. I will spare the disgusting details of what and how he did it but it left me bleeding months later. He also gave me an STD that I thank God was curable. He drove me home as if it was a normal date and I went on with life as if I was normal. “It was my fault, how dumb could I be? I should have listened to my gut, I should not have drank, I guess I led him on, I refuse to be a victim” were all of the thoughts going through my mind. After that day, he continued to call me and I would ignore him. Every time I saw a black Jaguar car somewhere, I would get anxiety because I thought it was him. The final time he called me, I just happened to have a high school friend over the house. I told him this man was harassing me and asked could he pretend he was my boyfriend and tell him to stop calling me? He did, and it was the last time I heard from that monster.
Years later I dealt with shame around this moment in time that I wish I could erase. Writing about it today was hard… It even brought back what I smelled that day… I don’t know how memories can do that, but it’s weird. I came out with a book in 2011, “Dried Tears A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming,” which openly talks about everything that I have overcome with Christ except this….
I didn’t write it down because at the time I still felt a tremendous amount of shame for not knowing better, not reporting it, not seeing the signs, and for thinking it was all my fault.
This week we saw America’s TV dad, and comedian Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years of prison for the assault, drugging and raping of Andrea Constand 14 years ago. Multiple women have come forward over the years echoing similar things about Cosby. As I read the reaction from social media I cringed. It reminded me why I was scared to come forward and report the rape that happened to me.
Luvvie Ajayi shared perspective that sums up my heart on this, “The fact is rape culture rarely ever punishes rapists (even those who aren’t rich). Why? Because patriarchy often trumps class, and raging misogyny is at the bottom of it all. The world cares way more about the freedom of wayward penises and the pinheads they’re attached to, than the bodies and well-being of women and girls. 60 accusers. SIXTY. And some folks wanna play devil’s advocate on his trifling behalf, as if Satan said he needed a chaperone.”
Insecure HBO actress, Amanda Seals says, “Yes there are many white men who have not went to jail for similar crimes, and they SHOULD go to jail. It doesn’t make Cosby any less innocent it just makes the system and this world more racist.”
We must put an end to rape culture which is perpetuated through the misogynistic language, objectification of women’s bodies and glamorization of sexual violence. We must create safe spaces where women can be transparent and receive healing without being judged or told that its “their fault.”
I am grateful to have a relationship with God who has healed me from the pain over the years. He has restored my soul and healed the wounds of my past. However, if you are a woman who has experienced rape and never shared it with anyone please share it with someone you trust and also seek counseling. Women we are carriers and have the tendency to bury our pain and move on. We push our feelings aside, get on with life, get to the money and get to moving. Many of us experience abuse, pain and betrayal without ever caring for our mental health and getting therapy. Let’s erase the stigma. Its ok to get therapy sis. You aren’t crazy if you do, you are smart. As a matter of fact click this link here and find a therapist.
My Birthday Present
Taking my own advice, I decided to integrate therapy back into our budget as a form of self-care. I am an advocate for self care but I admit its time to take it a step further. I turn 37 next week and as much as I love the Lord, as much as I know Him and His power there are times life gets tough and you need to process it with someone who is a professional and not connected to you in any way….
So with that being said, its ok to get therapy years later especially if you are triggered. Its ok to report the person who raped you. Its ok, to even not be ok. Just don’t stay there sisters. Don’t dwell in that space. Draw near to Christ, draw near to the people who are a safe space, draw near to those who love and care for you.
Lastly, if you feel led pray this with me:
“Father, I need you. Help me to place my trust in you. I ask for your strength to overcome and for healing in areas that aren’t healed. John 8:36 says, who the son sets free is free indeed. Lord, I thank you for freedom from guilt, and shame. I thank you for making me whole in every area of my life. You are always good, and use everything for your glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.”