Over the last few years, I’ve read a lot of stories in reference to the “me too” movement. Most of the stories I read are from celebrities and their stories are dark and revolting. I will be the first to admit that it’s hard to take the story of someone so seriously when I feel as though their worries are trivial compared to that of everyday people with “normal” incomes and “normal” woes. Too often, I feel, we disregard their stories of abuse because we feel they are privileged and, to me, they have so much more than I could ever begin to imagine to have and their sad stories are a way of garnering more attention for themselves.
I read an article this morning that hit home for me. This starlet was groomed and abused to her boyfriend’s fantastical whims. She was tied up and, often times, hit or threatened while she laid there. I calculated her age based on when the abuse began and her current age and, to my disgust, found she was a mere 19 years old when the abuse started….her partner 34.
If I peel back the fame, fortune, and wealth from this woman, I find myself looking at me. I, too, was groomed from a very early age. At 16, I just knew I loved a man 16 years older than me and I knew my future was going to be with him and it was going to be every single girl’s fantasy. Therein lies the issue…girl’s fantasy. A reasonable 32 year old man would brush girl crushes off and not play into them. Not this guy. He took my growing infatuation and built it and my confidence in “us” so far up that, in no time, I was sneaking out of my house in the middle of the night to meet him. My first time at sex was awful. Here I was, 16, inexperienced, naïve, and vulnerable. The pain of all of it was the first horror but, then, the condom broke and I spent the next three hours (when I should have been at home asleep) slumped down in a backseat of his company car at a Wal-Mart while he went inside and got spermicide. You’d think this would have provoked a wakeup call in him because, as an adult, what he had just done was, not only illegal, but abhorrent.
I spent the next three weeks with him checking in, not to tell me he was sorry or to make things right but to make sure I got my period. Once he (I say he because he was the adult and I had not a clue what I was supposed to do at this point) was in the clear that charm light switch turned back on.
Over the next FOUR years, I snuck out and he bathed me when I had menstrual cramps. He hid me in the closet while he had friends (sometimes cop friends) drop by. He bought me clothes far too old for a teenager. He threatened suicide because I went to my senior prom. He bought me sex toys so that he could watch me use them. He yelled at me because the clothes I wore out in public with him (I was in college now) were immature and made him look like a pedophile. He stole my adolescence. And then, he cheated on me, threw me out of his house, and left me with nothing. He used me and, when he found something better, he threw me in the trash.
To this day, the best thing to happen to me was his betrayal. My brother and friends scraped what was left of my soul together and brought me, essentially, back to life. For once in the last few years, I got to by my own age and it was a breath of fresh air.
Circle back and I am her. I am the 19 year old starlet just without the fame and fortune. And she is me. I will no longer look at these stories and roll my eyes and just wish to have one of her problems because we share the same story. We share the same pain.
I could write for HOURS about what I would like to say to my abuser and could write even more about what pain all of his abuse has caused me. But, for now, I’ll leave you with this.
Take these stories and keep your eyes peeled for things you see around you. Sometimes abuse is right next to you. Speak up. Protect. If you are being abused, speak up. Hell, find me. I will help.
You are never alone because it happened to me too.