This post comes from a lot of thought about whether or not I want to share this part of my life with those who choose to read what I write. I’ve seen some incredible examples in Dr. Ford, and the movement with #MeToo. So I’ll detail my story to you because I think it’s important. And it might even bring some accountability to myself in some way or another. I probably should’ve just named this whole blog “The Journey of Amanda’s Mental Health as it Applies to her Desire to Blog.” But, it’s still true, I am a new mom, and a new nurse, on an endless journey to keep it all together, but I digress.
I’ll warn you that I’m going to be honest about this, and it may be uncomfortable to read, as it’s very uncomfortable to type. I was sexually assaulted while I was in the Marine Corps. It was a friend, and it was someone I trusted. I worked in a prison with a large population of sex offenders. I worked in the Victim/ Witness office dealing with the victims and witnesses to these crimes that incarcerated the prisoners. I had been to endless briefs about the dangers of alcohol and sexual assault. And yet.
I’m going to recap the evening as I remember it. We were hanging out in a barracks room on a night off like we usually did, we were all drinking. We would typically hang out in a room and drink for awhile and then all wander back to our own rooms that were in the same building. That evening, when I was definitely drunk, a friend offered to walk me back to my room. Nobody thought twice, because we had been hanging out with him for so long. He was a friend, we all trusted him. I trusted him to walk me back to my room. I remember laying down, and I remember waking up and realizing that things were very wrong. The worst part of the whole thing is that I remember exactly that: waking up and realizing things were very wrong, but nothing after. I woke up the next morning with no recollection other than that. And to this day, that’s all I can remember, I don’t remember specifics, and I don’t remember him leaving, so I don’t know how far things went, and I’ve tried, believe me.
I told my parents about this 3 years after it happened, and my husband a few months after that. I didn’t tell anyone around me in California. I felt sick to my stomach as I told my mom what happened, and could barely look my dad in the eyes. I told my husband while we were driving together in the car so I didn’t have to look him in the eyes. Such intense shame, an incredible sense of responsibility for someone else’s actions because I was terrified that someone would tell me it was my fault. To this day it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Let me add to this that the outpouring of love from those that I told was so overwhelming, not once did I face any judgement.
Some things you should know:
- He was on trial for sexually assaulting another woman
- He asked me to testify at his trial as a character witness
- He was put in the barracks that I lived in while he awaited trial
- I was one of the guards on duty the day he was received into the prison after being sentenced.
- He’s married.
It’s been more than 5 years now, and I still think about this, and I’ve come lightyears since being ashamed in front of my parents and husband.
Some things I now know:
- The only thing I did wrong was drink too much (but I was 19… so.. let’s be real, all 19 year olds drink to excess sometimes)
- I am not responsible for his disgusting actions
- My actions, in no way, condoned what he did
This has taken 5 years. And I’m sure there will be more to come as I process what happened. I have moments where I am so unbelievably angry, it’s hard to contain. I’m furious that he was placed in the barracks I lived in while on trial for sexual assault. I hate that he was part of our friend group with this secret. And I wish so desperately that I could go back and tell 19 year old me to go home before all of this had a chance to play out. And let me tell you how much I wish I could call his wife and let her know how much of a scumbag her husband is. But sitting in that anger does nothing but make me uncomfortable. So I use it to empower me as I move forward as a mom, a woman, a nurse, and a listening ear for anyone who has experienced any form of assault. When someone decides that you are worth less than their desires, it’s something that leaves you not quite the same. Like always, my point is not to get into politics, but I imagine Dr. Ford felt similarly, and I cannot imagine her strength to stand in front of the nation and detail her story. I usually get about 60 views on my blog posts, and the idea of posting this is terrifying, but I think it’s valuable so I’ll put it out there.
If this has happened to you and you need to reach out, do it. You did nothing wrong. Your assault is not your fault. The piece I struggled with for the longest is that I was drinking, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my decision to drink with friends in no way condones him disregarding everything but his desires and my body. I’m working on letting this become part of who I am in a way that empowers me. This post is part of that, so thank you for letting me share my story with you. I appreciate so much that people actually read what I put out there, especially when it hits this close to home. I have no idea what this guy is up to, somewhere in Oregon with his wife I think? No clue. And it bothered me for a long time, but I’ve stopped thinking about it. I’m living surrounded by love, in a career that I adore, separately from what he did. He has to live with his actions forever, and it’s not my business if it bothers him. It’s my business that I use every day to surround others in the love that I feel from those around me every day. My life is so beautiful. Truly, I wake up almost every day so incredibly grateful for the experiences that I have, good and bad, that have allowed me to become who I am today. Thanks for being part of this journey with me.