Tears: I was raped

My story begins my senior year of high school in
1998. I grew up in Odenton, Maryland, a small town
right outside of Annapolis. I went to Arundel Senior
High, our school colors were kelly green and white
and our mascot was the Wildcat. During my time in
high school, I wasn’t involved in a lot of
extracurricular activities;

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I mainly socialized with my
group of friends and worked part-time at a local
retail store. I was fairly popular in school, most
people knew me to be the funny fat girl. That’s not
what they called me, but that is who I was. My main
crew was a mix of girls and guys, and we would hang
out at my house after school since my mom was not
home. My dad left the house when I was six, and my
parents divorced a few years later. My siblings and I
were raised by my mom.

My dad was present in my
life, but we spent the majority of our time with our
mother. My mom was a great mother, and worked
hard to support the family. She valued education, and
a strong work ethic and did the best she could with
what she had.
One spring Friday my sister and I discovered that my
mom was going to a night club and wouldn’t be back
until late that night or the next day. We decided to
have a little party at our house that night. It was the
usual crew.

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There was alcohol and marijuana at the
party. In high school, I did not smoke pot, but I did
drink alcohol. I had been experimenting with alcohol
since I was about 12-years-old, an outcry from
previous years of sexual abuse suffered at the hands
of relatives. Well, the night was filled with music and
partying, and things soon escalated beyond my
control. One minute, we were all hanging out in my
basement, having a good time, and the next minute it
seemed like I was surrounded by a group of guys that
have been taken over by some evil spirit.

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We had all been drinking, and I was drunk as well. I
remember being on my knees surrounded by the
group of my guy friends. They were cheering each
other on, asking me to perform oral sex on them. I
said, “No,” and tried to push them away. My efforts
were useless. One of the guys suggested
going upstairs to one of the bedrooms. Before I knew
it, I was on the bed and one of them had pulled my
pants and underwear off. I remember calling for my
sister, calling out her name, but no one came. After
the first guy raped me, another one got on. There my
body lay limp and without life. I just wanted it all to
be over. By the time the third guy was on top of me, I
heard my sister bust through the door. I remember
the lights coming on, and I heard everyone scatter. I
remember her saying,

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“What is going on in here?
Betsy, are you okay?” In a place that I have never
experienced, my body and mind felt inside out. I
remember feeling the tears come from my eyes, and
not understanding all that just happened.
The next morning, I asked her not to say anything to
anyone. I just wanted to forget all that happened the
night before. I didn’t report the incident, I didn’t say
anything to my mom or dad. I hated those guys, and I
was disgusted at myself. Why did I get so drunk? How
could this happen?

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How could they do this to me? We
were supposed to be friends. For more than 10 years,
I never spoke about that night, and never told anyone
about it. I felt ashamed and the one to blame.
When I turned 30, I decided that I needed to break
the silence. The horrors of what happened to me as a
child and during high school were killing me from the
inside out. My twenties were marked by heavy
alcohol abuse, prescription drugs and marijuana. I
was looking for anything to dull the pain, and it was
easy to mask it with alcohol. Since college was all
about partying and drinking, no one thought my
behavior was beyond the norm, aside from the times
I was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning and those
mornings I spent throwing up blood because I had
drank past what my body could handle.
I knew that if I wanted to live a healthy and vibrant
life, I had to let go of that which was killing me. I
needed to be free.

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Free from guilt and shame, from
heart ache and grief. I was smiling on the outside and
dying on the inside. I wanted to truly be happy, to
love myself. In October 2010, I took the first real step
towards healing, which was forgiveness. I first
forgave myself, and then I begin to forgive those who
had violated my body. I forgave those who hurt me
as child, and those who hurt me as a teenager. I let
go of the anger and pain, and I cried the last tears of
those pains. That year, I started to write my memoir.
It is a story of victory and inspiration. I needed to
share my story, because it is a story of healing and
triumph.

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I used the tragic events of my childhood to
fuel my strength as a brave, victorious young woman.
I have a voice, and it will be heard.
If I could rewind time and go back to that period of
my life, I would have broken the silence then. I wish I
had the courage and bravery to tell my mom or my
counselor about the rape. I allowed fear to steal my
voice and courage.
If you have experienced sexual assault in any way,
shape, or form, tell someone. Allow your family and
friends to support you through the process. Rapists
belong in jail, not free to violate and destroy lives. Be
brave. “No” means “No.”

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