The One Who Raped Me continued to manipulate me shortly after I came back home. He told me that he loved me and I believed him. I also believed that I somehow loved him too. He convinced me to sneak out my parent’s house after everyone feel asleep. I walked nearly 3 miles in the wee hours of the morning to get to him. Can you imagine a 13-year-old walking in the midnight hour to meet her 26-year-old rapist? If that doesn’t have Stockholm Syndrome written all over it, I don’t know what to call it.
The sex was unbearable but I allowed him to penetrate me. In the eyes of Texas, it was considered statutory rape. But in my eyes, I had to do it for him…for us…for the sake of love. After a couple of times of sneaking out, he was incarcerated for a drug charge. His sister also told me that he stayed in and out of jail and was a drug addict. He came to my parent’s house a month or so later in hopes of seeing me. My mother was not pleased and wanted to know why a grown man was visiting her 13-year-old daughter. He told her that I said that I was much older. I looked out the kitchen window as he swiftly walked away. I never saw him again. I recall being heartbroken at the time. The experience warped my way of thinking in regards to sex. Who was going to love me now?
I became promiscuous. I needed to feel love. I needed the boost in self-esteem. I needed attention that I craved so desperately. I needed to curb my depressive thoughts. I needed to feel less uncomfortable in my skin. And I would reap those rewards at any cost. The next time I had sex was several weeks later. He was my boyfriend or so I naively believed. We had sex behind a church on a bed of itchy wet grass. We never had sex again. I was used and tossed to the side like a piece trash. And there I was again, back at square one. The cycled continued in the back of houses, abandoned buildings, motels, restrooms, cars, etc. I had a few healthy relationships in between but I eventually sabotaged them with my promiscuity. The cycle seemed never-ending. The sex would give me a high but I crashed several minutes, hours, or days later. I dug myself into a deeper hole after they withdrew from mine.
The search for love eventually turned into a journey of self-hatred. I began to think that I was unworthy of love. I was too ugly, promiscuous, and had damaged my reputation. I know my mother resented me for my tarnished image. She never ceased to remind me of what a disgrace I was to the family as a teenager. My father appeared more forgiving but I could still feel the disappointment that brooded inside of him. How could I be a role model to my younger sisters if I didn’t know how to respect myself? The way I behaved dramatically impacted my family. I now wished that I was a better daughter and sister.
Could sex be exchanged for love and self-worth? Was love supposed to be this painful and unreciprocated? Was it supposed to tear me and everyone else around me apart? I was miserable but didn’t know how to stop. I had to have a taste of love, no matter how bitter, temporary, and counterfeit it felt.