Domestic Violence Survivor's Story
My journey was not quick or easy. I went down many paths before finding the right one. My relationship was just like any other in the beginning, loving, caring, wanting to spend all our time together. But things started to change.
He didn't want me to be around certain friends because they didn't like him. He told me that he was only concerned about me and that he didn't want me to see them because he loved me. I found myself giving in to make him happy. As things went along, I had to give up more and more of myself to make him happy.
The first time I went to SASA they listened to me, talked to me like a real person and let me know that what I was experiencing was not my fault. They helped me figure out that I wasn't going crazy, and helped me to see the signs of abuse. I got a better understanding of what I was going through. I just wanted information, and they respected that. I went home with a lot to think about.A few months later, the police were called to my home by a neighbor. My husband was hitting me and the window was open. They were afraid for me and did the right thing by calling. I didn't think so at the time, but it really was the right thing. I was so angry because I thought I could handle this myself, and afraid that everyone would find out. To my surprise, many already knew or suspected, but just didn't know how to talk to me about it.
An Advocate from SASA came to my house after the police took my husband to jail. They helped me figure out what just happened and what was to come. I didn't even realize that I had a knot on my head until they asked me about it. I ended up going to the hospital to get checked out. They went with me and stood by me while I was being checked out. I since have received additional help from SASA, and have found the to be a great support system. I attended womens group and gained new friends that understood what I was going through, and now have more self-esteem and confidence thanks to them.
My life was good. I had a job and friends, I was close with my family, my boss had just given me a promotion. Everything was going along as planned.
One night I went out with some friends to the bar.
We were having a good time, everyone was drinking. I decided to catch a ride home with Bill, one of my friends. I'd known Bill for a long time. He was very nice, and never had he been a threat to me or anyone else before.
We were driving to my apartment and he offered to walk me to the door. I said sure. I trusted him. He'd been in my apartment before. We'd even been alone together before with no problems. But when I got up to the apartment, he insisted on coming in. Eventually I let him, even though I just wanted to go to sleep. I didn't want to be rude. After all, he was my friend.
Bill started making passes at me. I told him I didn't want to have a relationship with him. I had a boyfriend and I didn't want to be involved with him. He started saying things like, "I know you want me" and "You'll like it." He wouldn't take no for an answer. I tried to push him off, but every time I tried, he would push harder. It was like I wasn't even saying anything or struggling. He didn't care. When he was finished, he got up like nothing had happened and went home.
I freaked! This huge surge of emotions came over me. Numbness. Fear. Rage. All at the same time. What just happened? I was trying to figure out where I went wrong. Had I caused this? It hits me like a ton of bricks. I felt the sting and pain, but I was also in shock.
I called my sister who told me to call the police. What? Call the police? I didn't even know what had happened. She took me to the hospital so I could be checked out. There is where I met a SASA Advocate. The hospital called the police when I arrived. It's part of their policy. And the police called SASA.
The advocate was very helpful. She explained to me about the special exam that was going to take place and informed me about my options. She said I didn't have to make a police report at the time if I didn't want to. But also explained the pros and cons of that decision. She told me it wasn't my fault and I did nothing to bring on the assault. She held my hand and allowed me to cry. She believed me!
I made the decision to talk to the police. The advocate helped me understand why they ask so many questions and ask the same questions over and over. She told me about what would happen with the investigation and in court. The advocate made sure I had a safe place to go and made arrangements to contact me in a few days.
After the rape, things changed. I told my friends what had happened, and they couldn't believe it. Some believed me and some didn't. It split our entire group.
My family was shocked. How could this have happened? They taught me to be cautious and watch over my shoulder. But this wasn't a stranger. And I was cautious. I didn't get in the car with someone I just met. I KNEW HIM.
After that, my life went out of control. I was afraid to go home or be alone and I coudln't stop thinking about it. Everything in my life was affected by it. I just wanted my life back!
As much as I hated it, talking about it helped put things in perspective. The advocate helped prepare me for some of the reactions that sexual assault victims sometimes go through: flashbacks, fears, trouble sleeping, changes in relationships, just to name a few. And when I did experience them, she helped me through it.
One of the things I found myself doing was asking the same questions over and over. It was like I couldn't hold on to the information. SASA would tell me the answers each time I asked. They told me this was a common reaction for people who went through trauma and it was okay to feel bad for asking. They also helped me find a counselor to work on the more in-depth stuff.
The SASA advocates worked the Victim/Witness unit Coordinator at the County Attorney's office to make sure I knew what was going to happen. They both helped explain all the terms used, the way a court works and what I had to do. Most importantly, they supported me and went with me to court.
This experience is something I wouldn't wish on anyone. It's been extremely difficult. It has been nine months since the rape and it is getting easier to deal with everyday. My life isn't what it was before, but the rape doesn't control me anymore.
You don't have to go through it alone! Even if you never decide to report it, there is help! - SASA can provide that help. Please call them.
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