I was told it was my fault, and I believed them. I didn’t think I had a right to think otherwise.
My name is Amy and I am a rape survivor.
See, on a warm summer night about two years ago, during my first attempt to get sober, after having three months clean, I relapsed on pills and alcohol. The horrors of this night will forever be a reminder to me of how valuable my recovery is to me today. Out of desperation to create chaos and succumbing the cravings of my mind and body, I stepped into dangerous territory. My incoherence and intoxication led me to wander the streets of downtown Nashville. All logic had left me, and I was left with a dark night, a dead phone, and no grasp of reality. A group of men crossed paths with me and decided to “take me under their wing.” There was one man in particular who told me he was going to help me make money by pimping me out. So he made a deal with his friend and next thing I knew, I was led to the side of a building.
The night was just getting started though. I was forced to go into different liquor stores throughout the night and purchase these men alcohol. The leader of the pack made me be sexual in front of the other men. He introduced me to drug dealers and prostitutes and told me that they would all take care of me. I didn’t say no. I didn’t think I could say no. I didn’t know where I was and I had no phone. After a couple of hours, the men decided that we all needed to get a motel, and they had me go book a room for them with one of the prostitutes. I was then led up to the bedroom and they asked me some questions. I can’t remember all of the words exchanged, but I do remember thinking that the only way to get out of this horror was to appease them. The events to follow were a blur, as I continued to drink through the night-at this point just trying to consume as much alcohol as possible so that I wouldn’t think about the events transpiring.
I was put in the bathroom, and three men crowed in with me, all sexually assaulting me. They then formed a line outside of the bathroom and took their turns with me. I don’t know how much time had passed, but finally I found my voice and told them I had to leave. The leader didn’t want me to go. He stood between me and the bathroom door until I started screaming. The woman that was in the motel room with me came in and intervened, telling him to just let me go. So he finally did. And I bolted. I didn’t know what direction to go, but I started running.
I wound up sitting in a Waffle House borrowing a waitress’s phone, trying to figure out how to get back to my friend’s house where my car was parked. I made some phone calls, made the hike back to my car, still high and drunk, and drove myself to my therapist’s office, having no clue where else I could go. And so I collapsed in a chair in front of her and told her what happened. I blamed myself. Other people in my life also told me that if I hadn’t been drinking or if I wasn’t such a “promiscuous person” then it wouldn’t have happened. So I carried that close to my heart for over the next year, believing that since I was intoxicated, those men had every right to sexually abuse me. I truly believed that once I had alcohol in my system, I couldn’t say no. It was an open invitation that would last until I sobered up. With that belief system, I was taken advantage of many other times over the course of the next year by multiple men.
It wasn’t until moving to Mississippi and intensive therapy that I slowly began realizing that I have been sexually assaulted more times than I can count. I just hadn’t known what to call it. I simply believed that if a man wanted it, and I didn’t stop it (despite being drunk and sometimes even passed out) then it was okay. I guess it started even younger than that though. When I was just in elementary and junior high school I was molested by two separate people. This was normal. I remember when I was molested on a bus in Honduras when I was 13 years old. The bus was packed full of people, and the man next to me was armed, so I just sat still. When I got off the bus and told my mission trip leader what happened, her exact words were, “Welcome to Honduras.” Then she changed the subject.
These are the messages I received. This shaped my thinking in such an intense way. It taught me that I was an object at men’s disposal- a substitute simply there to gratify the desires of man. So that’s where I started finding my worth. I didn’t believe I was valuable unless there was a man in my life who I could sexually satisfy.
Several months ago, for the first real time, I was able to call that horrible night in June what it was: rape. And I now know that despite being high and drunk, despite even going along with what they wanted- THAT DID NOT MAKE IT OKAY. I was not coherent. If I had been sober, I never would have said yes. I never would have put myself in that position.
I think that so often people will use alcohol as an excuse to act out sexually, but we need to be so careful. For me, alcohol led me to life threatening situations, and I know I am lucky to be alive. I also know that talking about sexual assault is a topic that isn’t spoken up about nearly enough. Some are terrified to speak up about it-for fear of not being believed. For fear of being blamed. And sometimes they believe they are to blame, so they don’t think they have any right to even utter a word about it- like myself. But today something stirred within me to share this part of my story. I’m not a victim. Not even close. I am a warrior. I am a survivor. Thanks to a beautiful and victorious God, I’m not bound by these chains anymore. Thanks to the wisdom of an incredible therapist, I’ve been able to work through these events. Thanks to the friends who have held me while I cried, listened to me, sat with me in silence, and not abandoned me despite all this chaos and pain–I am able to tell my story.
I tell my story so that others feel like maybe they have permission to tell their own. I speak up because I know the life I lived can either break me, or be used as a testimony of God’s grace, and the places He will carry us when we surrender in our brokenness. Through Christ I have found healing, I have rediscovered my worth, and I have come to gain such a beautiful appreciation for a sober mind and body. There are a million reasons I choose to live a life of recovery today, but if I ever start to waiver and need a serious reminder of how bad it can get, I allow myself to remember that summer night in June.
I forgive my perpetrators. I am stronger now. I have found my passion- to fight for those who feel they have no voice. To fight for those who are invalidated and brushed aside. I know what it’s like to be told it’s my fault. I know how it feels to carry all of the blame, month after month after month. I also know the beauty of broken chains and being enveloped in the love and protection of my God and Savior.
My name is Amy and I’m a rape survivor.
I am a fighter, and oh my dear, I am a beloved warrior. Hear me roar.