Some thing happened to me. It changed who I see – I no longer see me. I hate who I see when I look at myself… It has literally been years since I felt the unwavering faith I used to have in myself. I would give anything to feel that way again.
I miss the person I used to be in so many ways. I miss being confident and sure of my chances in survival, success and happiness. I long for the days I felt useful, powerful, and capable. Now I am drained. The fog has lifted – and now I am forced to face the truth and it’s painful to see. Now I find it a challenge some days to even convince myself I’m worth sticking around, that its going to be OK. I feel like the very last monkey in the barrel – all the other monkeys escaped to bigger better lives – and I am left at the bottom too fucking weighed down by guilt and self hatred. No one can get out of the barrel thinking that way. And yes by the way, yes I know how pathetic and dramatic I sound. Doesn’t change it though.
Since a young child I believed that I was damaged goods – to gross and dirty for those pearly gates. If I am too truly believe in God’s expectations from us – then I have already failed a million times over again and again… I believe this even more strongly since I have gone through the Catholic classes and got baptized in a catholic church. On the day of my baptism the priest felt so afraid I would show up with my breast exposed – and in his words – he was afraid I would cause weak men to lust after me. The feeling of filth and dirt that I have carried throughout my life from very young was triggered that moment. I have been trying to rid myself of that feeling since the first time someone touched me sexually. I want to literally scrub my body raw of the filth.
What is it about myself that makes even a priest feel that way about me. I can promise you that I NEVER showed up to a catholic classes with my breast exposed in any manner. The conversation with the church representative that day managed to taint my whole experience once again. Just when I was starting to believe that it really wasn’t me that caused those awful things to happen I was reminded once again what people ultimately think when they see me. I used to be better at fighting off that filthy feeling. However in the past few years this has been an impossible battle to conquer.
Something happened to me nearly five years ago, and it’s changed almost every thing in my world. Mostly, it’s changed the way I feel about myself. I guess we could say it was the straw that broke the camels back. Everyone always talks about how strong I am, how I can survive anything. I agree, it’s been a true blessing how resilient I have been. I have survived – and up until this horrible incident I was thriving. Now I am stuck. It’s gone on too long, I’ve lost so many friends and “family”… Most of my tight circle of loved ones and supporters ceased to want to be around me anymore. Not because they were bad friends – but because I let them down. They were used to the Carrie that would jump back up and keep going in the RIGHT direction. Not the Carrie that just seemed to give up – act out – and constantly be numbing herself. In the past 5 years I have been in the business of numbing out myself.
Five years ago I was sexually assaulted in my home. I feel overwhelmed even just writing that down. It’s not the first time I have been sexually abused in my life – but it was the first time as an adult. To describe it would be to say that when it was happening too me I was transformed into my child self. I felt utterly powerless. Mostly though my brain thoughts and the ability to cope through the entire experience just stopped cold. I was terrified and felt responsible.
I kept feeling angry with myself that I must have somehow brought this on myself. Then I tried to handle it myself. Worst mistake ever. I acted like it wasn’t a big deal to myself when it started. I would have conversations with myself about how this is not something new, I have dealt with this before – I can handle it just like I did many many times during my childhood. After all, if I was able to handle violent rapes as a young child – surely I could handle AND move on from what was happening now. I’m the girl that can survive anything, I’ve proved it time and time again. I felt ashamed. I felt afraid. I was embarrassed that I handled it poorly too…
His name was Pedro. He moved into our basement suite with his wife and child two months prior to this incident. As far as we knew – Pedro spoke very little English. At the time of the incident his wife and child had gone to Chili a week prior for vacation – leaving Pedro at home alone. It was January 1, morning time. I was home alone when I received a call from Pedro on my cell – he said in very broken English that he needed me to come fix the Fuse Box – as his power went out. We had a history of having to do this for our renters because our house was older and had a pretty shitty wiring. So I didn’t sense any danger or concern. However, almost seconds after entering the suite I knew something was not right. The fuse box was located in a tiny slim nook at the back wall in the kitchen. I was already half in the area when I could hear the door shut and lock. Before I could fully get out of the nook I felt Pedro on my back.
As I allow my thoughts to return to that moment – I can recall being stunned. So many thoughts were racing through my mind in so little time. I was confused, scared .. EVEN at this moment I though it must be a joke. He can’t be serious I thought. With my back to him his had his hands on my face and waist. He was grabbing, groping with what felt like heavy, hard hands. He was so strong I thought. I quickly realized when I could turn that he was completely naked. I tried to push away from him, but I was frozen in fear. I could feel myself shaking. He forced me up against his kitchen table, all the while groping at my body all over – he kept saying how much he knew I liked what he was doing. In his broken English he said “I like your body, come on let me do it… oh your so beautiful…” I kept saying No, please NO… I don’t want this..” He wasn’t listening. He was getting more excited I think just by me fighting him. He was laughing at me struggle. It was not long after this that something in my mind just hit me.. This man is going to rape me. I can remember saying to myself, your going to be raped – and your a grown woman. Snap out of it Carrie. I was so afraid. As a child I learned that fighting it was the worst most scary choice – because I was little, and no one was ever going to save me then. I had to survive the only way I could – to live through the experience, to take it. But this time was different.
Something in me snapped. I was able to remember that I was an adult, this didn’t have to be the same. Adrenaline took over and I was able to get angry…I pushed my back up with all my strength and turned to push him as hard as I could. He fought me a bit, he was able to grab my arms again – he shook me screaming “NO”. I told him to get the fuck off of me, I screamed NO again ripping my arms from his grip and again pushing him as far back as I could, as hard as I could. I was able to get to the door and unlock the door and escape.
As I was running towards my back stairs so I can get into my home he yelled at me – but this time with excellent English. It stopped me in my tracks actually. I looked back at him as he said “Carrie, I know your secret…now you know mine! Keep your fucking mouth shut!” That statement changed the way I dealt with the entire situation.
Pedro was referring to him catching me a few days prior secretly smoking a joint on my back deck. He came home, and saw me before I could hide it. He smiled at me, but didn’t say anything as usual – I thought because of his supposed poor English. I just smiled back, and made a shh should while putting my finger on my mouth – trying to convey it was a secret. I said “husband doesn’t know…he would kill me.” He smiled back, nodding his head. “OK.” That was the most conversation Pedro and I had ever had with each other.
I can tell you that I was extremely afraid for my husband to find out that I was smoking marijuana. Not because I believe I was wrong for doing it – I used marijuana for my PTSD, anxiety, and fibromyalgia. I know there is great debate and opinions from many – that are see marijuana as a bad drug, this includes my husband. He is against it, and would not tolerate even talking about it – let alone allow me to use it for medicinal purposes. I feared ultimately that he would divorce me if he found out. He did after all say that to me when I did try to approach the topic. So I was doing it in secrecy, praying that I would never get caught.
I don’t want to dwell too much on the Mary Jane issue…but I need to explain why I would be so scared to tell my husband. I knew – well I should say I believed that he would be more mad at the smoking issue than he would be about the fact that I was attacked. I was more afraid that after all this – I could end up not only attacked but also single. For some reason I couldn’t trust that I could tell my husband the whole truth and he would still love and support me. I believe these fears along with my long history of sexual abuse is what kept me from speaking out immediately. Instead, I chose to try to manage it on my own. Honestly, I thought it was over. I never knew that he would torment me for the next two weeks until I was forced to report. I thought if I kept my mouth shut and stayed clear of him it would all just go away.
The only soul I told was a girl friend of mine that I was pretty close too at the time. We texted several times a day, visited several times a week even. Right after the first attack I texted her. I told her what happened. She called me and tried to convince me to tell someone – my husband especially. I was hysterical, shaking and convinced I had no other option but to try to just ignore it – I was afraid he would not believe me, that he would find out about my mj use and that he would or could really hurt Pedro – and ending up in jail himself. I was in shock.
I wanted so badly to tell – not telling was inevitably going to make this entire situation much more dangerous, and much worse for everyone involved. For the next two weeks there were several instances where Pedro was still harassing me. He wouldn’t take no for an answer…looking back at it now I can see how by my not telling right away he was able to gain a larger sense of power over me.
During the whole ordeal I continued to correspond with the friend I had originally shared with. In the end, this was the only proof I had with the Police, Crown Council and my husband to show that I was not lying. With each interaction I was forced to have with Pedro over the next two weeks I had told my friend about it via text. The police also had mine and Pedro’s text/call logs. It showed that I NEVER called Pedro, or responded to his texts other than to ask him to stop, please leave me alone – that I was not interested.
If Pedro knew I was home alone – he would often shut off my power using the breaker box that he previously acted as though he did not know how to use. He would text me that if I would just come down stairs he would turn it on, or stop the harassment all together. One time my son came to my room and said that Pedro was at the back door. I told him to go play in his room, while I went to talk to Pedro. By the time I got to the back door – Pedro was standing there completely naked, holding his red shorts and tank top in one hand while jerking off with his other. There were more instances where he would knock, call or text me.
I was afraid of what would come next with Pedro. It didn’t seem to be dissipating at all, in fact he seemed to becoming more aggressive and demanding each day. Towards the end of the two weeks of on-going harassment he had sent me a text saying that if I was willing to send him a tit pic – only then would he back off. It’s incredibly hard for me to even write out – but I was feeling desperate – I sent it. It didn’t stop anything, instead he continued the harassment – and now I was left feeling attacked again.
I was feeling stupid, hopeless, angry with myself…terrified at what this meant now. Even though there was a trail that showed all the conversation where I was begging him to leave me alone, and that I didn’t want to do any of what he wanted from me – I felt trapped. I realized when even after the pic – after he promised to leave me alone forever – that he had no plans to back off. He had threatened me that he would tell my husband about catching me smoking pot if I didn’t agree. He was in a way blackmailing me. I couldn’t see a way out, regardless of how simple it seemed to all others. I just wanted out of the mess. I wanted to have my life back. I was afraid to be home. I was afraid of what he was going to do next. I was afraid to tell my husband and loved ones how far I had let it get – knowing they would be so disappointed in me. To everyone it seems so fucking obvious that I was wrong to try to handle it on my own, that I do in fact know better than keep a secret let alone to try to placate or appease this predator. And, when it came out – a lot of people were very angry with me for how I handled it. But no matter how angry and disappointed you were – I was double that on myself, I can assure you that.
I ended up disclosing the incident to two dear friends of both me and my husband. They are RCMP officers – so once I disclosed I was immediately driven to the RCMP dispatch to file an official complaint. I was so afraid of coming clean about the marijuana, and how I had so stupidly tried to handle Pedro’s unwanted advances.
Fortunately, the RCMP were more than good with me. I could tell that they genuinely believed my statement. They immediately arrested Pedro. I asked my husbands friend (the RCMP officer) to tell my husband what had happened. He tried explaining to my husband that I had not done anything wrong, that I was the victim in this. My husband was angry with Pedro for sure, but he didn’t know what or how to feel about me and my actions in this whole thing.
All my friends and family kept asking – or drilling into me was why would I let it get so out of control? Why didn’t I tell? Why would I send that pic? Someone even told me how stupid I was to do so…like I didn’t know that. I knew it then even, but I also was reacting out of fear. I can say again that I feel as though I was handling the situation as though I were a child again. I just wanted to make it go away without making anyone angry with me.
Pedro’s wife came home the next day from Cuba. She came home to an empty home, and a message on her cell from Pedro stating that he was in jail. She was very angry with me. I had not gone home yet, I was staying with my mother in law at the time until Pedro would be completely removed from the home. My husband was at the home gathering some items for us at home when I guess the wife approached him. She was very angry, and telling him that I was having an affair with her husband – that I was just a scorned lover in this whole thing, not a victim of sexual assault and harassment. My husband was so confused and distraught – and angry already with how I chose to handle it that he called me from his cell phone crying and yelling at me – asking how could I do this too him? He questioned my story – stating that the wife was there and was telling her that I sent the picture during a love affair.
My husband then allowed Pedro’s wife to talk to me on his phone at that moment. She called me a fucking whore, a liar, a bitch. Over and over again she insulted me. All the while my husband just stood there and let her say all those things. He really didn’t believe me. He just could not understand why I had handled it the way I did – so it seemed for believable that I was having an affair on him and made the whole assault, blackmail, and harassment up.
My husband did not fully believe me until the crown council reported that everything I was saying was backed up by the text messages sent back and forth with myself and pedro and myself and my friend. I also had gone to see my family doctor after the assault and reported it there so they had that evidence as well. To be brutally honest, I still don’t know for sure if he believes me 100%, though he says he does. I took my husband to see my therapist after this whole incident took place. I needed for her to explain why an abuse victim might deal with it differently – how especially in my case why I would be more afraid to tell… We also went there to process the whole mj topic. I felt that he was in fact more upset about the usage of mj than the attack. He just said that he didn’t want his wife around drugs, that he didn’t want his children around drugs. He did not want to know why – just that I would never do it again.
So… that’s it. Those are the events that transpired nearly five years ago that have deeply impacted my life since. So much about that whole ordeal traumatized me – so much more than I ever expected it too. After all, I had already survived so much sexual trauma since a very young child – I felt as though I should be used to it. I thought I would be able to put it away, and move forward with my life. It has been the exact opposite though. I am drenched with that sickening dirty feeling now…it has not dissipated at all. I hate myself so much for how I handled it – how I made it seem like I deserved it in a way by not telling, by sending a pic that I did not want to… It also changed my marriage. I did not feel safe to disclose what happened when it happened for several reasons, and I don’t think how people reacted to it afterwards made it any different for me. I would still be afraid to tell. I don’t think I could handle another confrontation like the one I had with Pedro’s wife and my husband that day on the phone. I still play that over and over in my head to this day. It made me feel disgusting. It made it harder to forgive my self.
Even though it was nearly five years ago, I still think about it every day. I still cry to myself thinking how I wished I was braver then – that I had done things differently. I can’t seem to move on. I am so sad, and angry.. It makes it hard to not be able to talk about it with my partner. It is too hard for him to hear about it, if and when I bring it up it is quickly squashed and swept under rug. It has kept me in this lonely space… I’m not giving up though. I’ll keep looking for the silver lining in this whole thing, always trying to learn something even if it’s from an awful something. I’m trying to forgive, especially myself.