The Survivors Project: R.C.
In its Nov. 14, 2012, print edition, Philadelphia Weekly ran an excerpt of its first book, The Survivors Project: Telling the Truth About Life After Sexual Abuse. The issue featured just eight of the 57 first-person stories we published. Here is another.
Editor’s note: Please take great care in reading this story, as it may contain graphic descriptions and other passages that may trigger strong emotional responses.
Age abuse occurred: 4-7, 24, 27
My history of sexual abuse began when I was about 4. I had a brother who was four years older than me, which means he also had friends four years older who were around the neighborhood. I was raised in the South with six other siblings, four boys and two girls. My sister was 14 years older than me, so she was more of a mother to me than my own mother, who was always leaving my dad because of abuse and arguing. I can’t blame my mom because she never really had a life, marrying my father at 16 and having my oldest brother shortly after.
We were all raised Catholic. My father was very strict, and when I was younger, he was an alcoholic doing odd jobs even though he had a pharmacy license. He didn’t practice until I was about 12. He is very old-fashioned and didn’t believe in friends, talking on the phone or any other “normal” activities children would do except for doing well in school, which was very important to him, and to me as well. He was very racist even though we lived in a primarily black community. I thought that he loved his dogs more than he loved me, and he used to beat me and more my brother. I was terrified if I broke a plate and there were restrictions on what food to eat and the refrigerator. I still have a scar on my left thigh from being whipped by a switch. He told me once that he thought of leaving the family at one point, but stayed and always took care of us when my mom would leave. We had a huge yard and in the back was where my brother and his friends watched me take my clothes off. One time, my brother’s friend felt me up and made me sit on his lap. I don’t remember (or I blocked it out) how we first had sex, but I remember there was a garden lounge chair seat cover that he laid in the bushes and stuck his uncircumcised dick inside of me. I remember that it hurt so I told him to put it in my ass instead. I didn’t know anything. I thought I would get pregnant, but my brother told me I couldn’t because I didn’t have my period yet. I didn’t even know what that was until the summer before I went into the sixth grade.
I felt bad for my brother because of the way my dad treated him, so when he was begging me to have sex with him I would. I never wrote anything like this or acknowledged it really until now, and I feel disgusted am about to cry. The abuse definitely lowered my self-esteem. One of my older brothers almost caught us and stopped my brother by just saying, “What are ya’ll doing? Get out of here,” when we shared a room. My brother was later moved up to the attic. He was treated differently. He was older but seemed to be treated like he was younger than me and I believe he had some type of mental illness that was never treated. He had friends that would stay the night and they would come to my bedroom and try and sleep with me or touch me and when I told my brother he would take their side. He didn’t protect me like a brother should. He got into drugs, and then I got into drugs. I was in rehab by the time I was 15. I always said that as soon as I was 17, I was moving out, and that’s exactly what happened. When I was 16, I started dating a guy that was seven years older than me, and moved in with a girlfriend when I turned 17. I remember my dad crying and asking me not to leave him. He was alone. Just like my sisters, who moved as soon as they could, it was my turn.
The guy I was dating was a DJ in the rave scene and also sold drugs. Which meant traveling, staying in all kinds of places, all kinds of people on drugs like ecstasy, ketamine, meth, benzodiazepines, coke, heroin and marijuana. By the time I was 18, I was addicted to intravenously using coke and heroin. When my boyfriend started using heroin more than selling it was when there became trouble. I worked at a gas station ripping off customers acting like I was ringing them up, but keeping the money instead. I supported us. It took me seven years to find a way out, which was with a married man who was an addict, too, but had money and we traveled and did drugs until we got arrested for staying at a beach house we broke into. After I had a couple weeks to think in jail, I met a girl who I stayed with for five years. Still getting high. I waitressed mostly, but I would also steal anything to pawn and purses. I swore that I would rather steal than trick, but I would get sick, so sick, and did end up fucking drug dealers to get well. I saw no way out. I didn’t trust my family, even though they grew and tried to help me—including my mother and sister kidnapping me at 22, taking me to multiple rehabs. They wouldn’t take me because I was now an adult. I told them that I was on methadone, which is seen as rehabilitation, but is really just a substitute.
After I couldn’t take the life I was living with my girlfriend, another girl came along just like me, but with a much more criminal mind, and we went to Florida. I started stripping to support our habit. I felt valueless, empty, only this time I would get paid to do things I had done before. (Nobody wants to grow up and be a stripper. It’s done out of necessity.) I remember a man stole my money from dancing one night, and he told me he’d pay me $300 to go to his hotel. Not having any money and knowing I’d be sick the next day (I always had to be inebriated to dance), I went, stupidly. This is where he fucked me and would slap me to keep my eyes open. I discovered my money in his pants, because he was trying to act like his wallet was missing and my rubber-band of money was sticking out. We were arguing, and somehow the cops got called, and I still to this day have no idea why I don’t have a prostitution charge, but I thank God that I don’t. Thank God they came because he very well could’ve raped me, or worse, because that was the kind of man he was, and I got the feeling he would have. He was from another country and could’ve easily gotten rid of me and been back in his country before I was even found.
The girl and I found this psycho guy that let us rent a room out of his apartment. This is where we were introduced to a guy who made his living suing people, selling drugs, and just happened to inherit a good chunk of money from his family. He was also a drunk. He kept a safe on a boat that was beached at a marina, and as soon as we got the chance, we stole the safe, which contained $90,000 cash and a half-pound of weed. The girl’s mother drove us, got a hotel room, and tools to crack the safe, and we split it three ways. It was quickly spent on getting out of Florida, two cars, a motorcycle, hotels in Center City Philadelphia, and drugs. We bought ounces of PCP and would drive down South. The cops stopped us because the new car had dealer tags, and they took us and four ounces of wet to the train station, but impounded the car.
Back down south in Myrtle Beach. Buying probably 2 grams of black tar heroin a day, which was $200-$400 a day depending on who we were partying with. Bought another car to get the one out of impound in Philly and picked up the girl I was with, and my ex-girlfriend, which became a bizarre triangle, and this continued until getting arrested by the Avondale, Pa., police. We all gave a different name. My girlfriend didn’t have a license so she used mine even though she’s like a foot taller than me and Italian. We almost got away when the last thing the cop said was, “Do you mind if I search your car?” Multiple times before we had said, “No,” but for some reason she agreed this time, despite knowing there was all kinds of paraphernalia and drugs in the car. I believe this was my wake-up call. I spent almost five months in Chester County prison. The cops wouldn’t pick us up for court dates because I later found out that the girl’s father was responsible for another cop getting shot. My time there was HELL. I was coming off about a three-bundles-a-day habit (about 30 bags) to nothing except some jailhouse cocktail that didn’t do much. I was shitting myself, delusional, trying to take stuff out of the wall and talking to people that weren’t there. I was a mess. Tracks up and down my arms, neck and feet. I was 5’3” and weighed maybe 90 pounds. I wouldn’t call my family because I was so ashamed of who I was and what I did. I later found out my father hired an investigator to find out if I was alive or not and Avondale being the small town it is had our story in their paper. In jail, I took any kind of program just to get out of my cell. This led me to a parenting class even though I have no children. (Thank God.) I happened to say that I had been molested and raped, and a woman told me that I was abused, and that abuse isn’t love. That finally seemed to click and give me a little relief. At least, enough to acknowledge that it happened and I needed to get over it and start my life.
I was 26 when I got locked up in June 2010. I still have a problem with drugs, although now I am trying to quit with methadone, again. I also use Xanax and eventually this is the only prescribed drug that I want to be on and I am fine with that, because after you have lived the life I’ve lived, my brain is so screwed up I wouldn’t even leave the house. I still have dreams of being trapped, running and raped. There was an incident in South Philly where I was out late copping drugs. I was always worried about North Philly and all the stories I was told, but never thought it would happen in my newer, nicer neighborhood. A Spanish guy from the house where I was getting my drugs from was going to drive me home because it was like 3 a.m. and I was so paranoid from the coke that I thought a cop was coming down the street. The guy had to go inside his house to get his keys anyway, so I went inside and he forced me upstairs on his bed and tried to fuck me but settled for a hand job when I told him I had AIDS. My fucked-up head didn’t even report the crime. I guess I didn’t think anything would happen because I went home and just tried to forget it ever happened. You don’t forget though; you just have to stuff it away and go on with life even though you have something that others haven’t experienced—and I wish they never do.
My doctor even accepted blow jobs, talked shit about how he wants to fuck me in my ass in exchange for payment. Sex is not the same. It never will. The only way to fix it is to talk about it and spread the word and maybe it will help others who have been molested and abused. Self-esteem is a big issue, and I believe if I had a chance when I was younger, if my brother didn’t take my innocence at 5, I might have had a chance and not have wasted so much time, money and energy living life the wrong way. I don’t speak to him really. He has apologized, but in a condescending way, like, “What are you going to do about it now.” I just think he’s sick and I don’t go home except on holidays, if that. I just recently told my sister and she doesn’t really talk to me like she used to. She and my mom just don’t know what to do or how to help.
I have done some therapy. I have a pair of shoes with red around them and I was told every time I wear them to imagine to take all the pain, suffering and anxiety like it’s in a glass and I squeeze the glass and break it and the red ring around the shoes represents the blood and tears I’ve lost, and now I’m walking away and stepping on all the hurt. Little things like that do help. I’m sure I could do more to help myself, but I guess I’m not there yet. I know they have support meetings, but I’m not much of a talker. I’m learning, I’m just not there. All my innocence was taken and I wasted so much time and energy keeping my secret, which kept me sick. It has caused so much anxiety and I think I’m crazy often, as well as getting stuck not wanting to even leave the house. It’s sad that after all these years it’s still there, and it will always be in my mind. I just have to find a better way to cope. Even though my brother abused me, I still took up for him. I have always felt the need to protect and make sure everyone else is OK—even at my own expense.
The abuse led me to my relationship with females because of my disgust in men. It’s still hard for me to even talk to people due to trust issues. If this never happened, I believe I would’ve had a shot at life. I have always made good grades getting scholarships and honors—even last semester at CCP, and I expect to continue. My friends from school that I grew up with are mostly professionals already, and I am 10 years behind due to my drug addiction. I have faked a lot of days as I’m sure most people do, putting on that mask to get through the day, like everything is OK.
Now, however, I have grown. I have a new love for life, and myself. I am going to school to become either a radiologist technician or, if I can get in because of my background, an addiction specialist. After 10 years wasted, I believe I am more and want more out of life. Writing this now I feel stronger. I think the clean time I had during jail gave me a new appreciation, even though I would carve myself with razor blades to get some type of relief. All I had was time to think about everything I did wrong and everything that was done to me. There was a girl who was in the cell next to me that I would talk to through the vent, whose story is far worse than mine. She would tell me stories of tricking in Camden, where she was tied up and beaten and somehow escaped. She was released about two weeks before me at 22 and had a son that she wanted to get back to but was found dead in Virginia. I don’t know what was different between us that she didn’t change her way of thinking and I have. She wasn’t ready, and nobody can stop you until you are so tired of how you’re living. I now feel after all of this there is a reason for me because there have been many times where I should have overdosed and situations I was in and escaped. If everything happens for a reason, the only reason for experiencing sexual abuse is to reach out and help others in the same situation. I am grateful for the strength that I found and know there’s more to life. I have H.O.P.E.—hold on, the pain ends.
The Survivors Project: Telling the Truth About Life After Sexual Abuse is available for purchase on Amazon.