As a teenager, it is fun to be liked and have lots of friends. It’s fun to always have somewhere to be and something to do. It was especially fun for me when I found attention. It didn’t really matter where it came from – I just loved being noticed. I found that exhilarating! Looking back, I’m pretty sure that stemmed from my need for others’ approval and fear of what others thought of me. If they liked me, then I must have been doing something right.
I was a sophomore in high school and it was a new, exciting world to me. Where I grew up freshmen had their own school, so when you became a sophomore, you were at the same high school as the juniors and seniors in your district. Despite being so excited, I was really nervous going to a school with so many people who I didn’t know and who were older (and much cooler) than I was. My brother was a senior and I already knew a lot of his friends, so I felt like I already had an “in”! BUT – I was still this shy, timid little girl who was looking for approval.
So here’s where I’m going to get a little vulnerable with you and tell you some things I haven’t told many people in my life.
I really liked the attention I received from guys. I never had a lot of girl-friends, so I paid more attention to the people who were noticing me – boys. I had boyfriends before my sophomore year, but you might say they were more like “committed crushes”. Up until that point anytime I had a boyfriend, we would say we were “going out”; however we didn’t ever actually go anywhere or do anything, except maybe steal a kiss behind a school building or hold hands on a bus ride. But there sure would be drama anytime there was a “break up”: the break-up-ee would always be upset with the break-up-er. That would typically last until the next crush came along.
So here I am in my sophomore year in high school. I have a crush on a popular guy who is a senior on one of the school sports teams. I’m pretty sure I have no a chance with this guy – after all he doesn’t even know who I am. Until… He notices me. Somehow I caught his eye in the hallway – surely I had made a mistake and he wasn’t really looking at me. The next day, the same thing – I caught his eye in the hallway. Interesting…
This went on for a few weeks until one day he spoke to me. We had seen each other at school events and said hello in passing, but on this day, he stopped me and spoke to me. Before long, he invited me to his house to hang out. It actually worked out pretty nicely because I had a school project with a friend (a boy, but just a friend) who lived right across the street from him. Convenient, right!?
The day came for me to go to his house after school and I was pretty nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect and wasn’t really sure how I should act. His parents were still at work and I had some time to kill before I had to be at my friend’s house across the street (both of our parents had a rule that we could not have friends of the opposite sex over if they were not home).
I don’t remember much about our hanging out before “it” happened. I just remember being very nervous and trying to act older than I was and just be cool. At some point during the afternoon, he kissed me – which I thought was nice. Then before I knew it, “it” started to happen.
(I’ll try not to be too graphic, but please forgive me if I share more than you have a taste to read.)
His hands started to wander onto places that they shouldn’t have. Then they started to be a little more forceful and I couldn’t shift away. Regardless of how I tried I couldn’t push him off of me. He was too big and too strong for a 4’11” & 90 lb. 16 year old girl. My mouth was pretty much covered up, so I couldn’t tell him “no” or scream – I didn’t know what to do. I tried to wiggle away and still I couldn’t move.
I’m not going to go into all of the detail, but I will tell you that I was violated that afternoon. He did things to me that I hadn’t even fathomed at 16 years old. Remember, my boyfriends up until that time consisted of holding hands and a few kisses here and there – nothing like this.
Then came God’s rescue – I can only attribute this timing to the Almighty Father. I don’t even remember who it was, but while this guy was on top of me, one of his friends burst through the front door, and he quickly jumped up. His friend looked at him pinning me down and then looked at me and I think his friend yelled something like, “What the bleepity-bleep-bleep is going on here?”. I stared at him, then as soon as I realized I was free, I ran straight out the front door. I got into my car and drove.
I don’t remember where I drove, but I drove. Then I remembered I had to do a school project across the street, so I had to go back to that neighborhood to my friend’s house just feet away from where I was so helpless earlier that afternoon. I don’t remember much about doing the school project. (I’m usually the person who would do the whole group project on her own and then let everyone take credit.) I’m pretty sure that I didn’t contribute much that night.
I never spoke to that guy again. And I never told anyone about it – until now.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of things from my past in the last year and a half and this memory crept in. As I talked with my husband about it, he helped me to understand the need to go back and really confront this experience to be able to move forward. I hadn’t ever really considered this as being a significant event in my life, but now I know that it truly was. Something happened that day that I didn’t plan, expect or want. Not until very recently did I even consider this experience date-rape.
There have been some consequences of that situation that have followed me into adulthood. If I had acknowledged this as a significant event in my life and confronted it sooner, I’m sure that I could have saved some heartache in my adult years. I can clearly see now that this event had affected my future relationships including my marriage – specifically the ability for me to fully connect with and enjoy my husband. It makes me mad that something like this that happened TO me had affected my marriage – especially because if I hadn’t been there in the first place, it never would have happened. After all, my parents had the “you don’t go to anyone’s house without their parents there” rule for a reason. (Please understand that I am not condoning his actions – I just now realize that if I had followed the rules my parents set for me, I would not have found myself in this situation.)
It has been necessary for me to revisit this experience in order to process it and deal with it. I had to understand that what happened that day was NOT OK and it wasn’t OK for me to ignore it either. I had to face what happened in order to truly understand “the history of me” and move past it. And I’m thankful that through Christ I have been able to do that.
While I don’t know that I am finished processing all of it (and I may never be), I have been able to be vulnerable with my husband in ways that I haven’t been able to before. He’s a pretty great guy – that husband of mine – and as God restores this part of me, I intend to unlock every hidden connection and pleasure that God designed for our marriage.
What I’ve learned:
- I have to accept responsibility for my actions in this situation. I can’t blame anyone else for me deliberately going somewhere that I knew was not acceptable (his house with no parents around).
- Despite disobeying my parents and being somewhere that I shouldn’t have been, his actions were not my fault. I did not want this and what he did was wrong, so it is considered date-rape.
- I should have dealt with this sooner, and I should have told my parents what happened and trusted them to be compassionate and helpful, not worry about their punishment for breaking a rule. Parents know their kids make mistakes, and want to help.
- Consequences can happen to the offender, the offended, and others who are close to them whether intended or not.
- Sometimes, revisiting the past is the only way to move forward.
- God can restore me to who he created me to be, regardless of what has happened in my life.
- Are there experiences in your life that you haven’t given much credence to, but may be critical for you to move forward in your life?
- Have you been offended or violated at some point in your life? Have you dealt with that situation?
- Are you currently putting yourself in a situation that you know can be a dangerous and/or vulnerable situation?
- Have you offended someone else in your life and need to deal with it?
- Is God prompting you to revisit your past in order to move forward?
- How will you respond to God’s prompt? Will you answer?