**This is Part 2 of my story and my fight to live again. As I stated in the first post, please be aware that while this story does not include any specific details of my assault, there are aspects that may be difficult to read if you have walked this path. Please be kind to your heart and read only as you are able.**
I didn’t sleep that night. I remember so little from the days that followed. My heart kept beating, but my spirit had given up. I had fought so hard for so long.
I had nothing left.
I don’t remember the children waking up the next morning. I don’t remember getting them breakfast, but I did. I vaguely remember the police coming to my house. I remember telling them what had happened. I remember them suggesting I pursue charges through military channels. I remember waiting until my parents arrived the next day so I didn’t have to take the kids. I didn’t want them to know what had happened.
I remember going to Ft. Bragg to meet with a CID agent. I remember telling her what had happened.
Every. Excruciating. Detail.
The humiliation and guilt from having allowed this monster near my children was overwhelming. I remember being embarrassed by my lapse in judgment. Hindsight is 20/20 and suddenly I didn’t know how I could have been so blind.
With every question I answered, every detail I shared, the voice in my head reminded me how stupid I was to have trusted him.
I remember hanging my head in shame while they took pictures of the marks on my back.
I would never again judge someone for not reporting this. In many ways the process of reporting was more painful than what had happened. And, little did I know at the time; the worst of that process was yet to come.
I remember the agent asking if I would be willing to do a pre-text phone call. I had no idea what that was. She explained I would call him and she would listen to the conversation. If he actually admitted having done it, when it went to court martial it wouldn’t be “he said/she said” anymore. I could prove my case, but I would have to talk to him. Would I do it?
The thought made me sick.
He had texted several times that night. I had asked him to please not contact me again. I never wanted to see his face or hear his voice again. How would I keep my composure? Could I even hold it together long enough to get anything of value?
It was then that it hit me. Something the agent had said when she was interviewing me. We were talking about all the things he had done leading up to that night. How it almost seemed like he knew exactly what he was doing. He had looked for and found a perfect opportunity- a girl who was isolated, afraid, exhausted…and exploited it. She had shaken her head sadly and said that if that was the case, it was unlikely that I was the first one he had done that to.
Oh, please God, no.
Don’t let him do this again. I can’t let some other broken woman live through this.
The only reason I was alive was the four little lives who desperately needed their mommy. What if the next woman didn’t have that reason to keep going?
I was suddenly infuriated. People called that man a hero because of his uniform. He had said he intended to get a badge. People trusted him because of his status. He was in a perfect position to play the protector to any number of women. A wolf disguised as a sheepdog. The thought was horrifying.
I knew I had to make the call.
I remember trying to dial the phone and hanging it up before it rang. My hands shook. The tears ran down my face. The agent told me to take some deep breaths. As if oxygen would somehow calm the terror in my heart.
I dialed again, secretly praying he wouldn’t answer. Then he picked up. The second I heard his voice, my stomach turned.
I could do this. I had to do this.
The conversation didn’t last long, but it felt like forever. I asked everything on the agent’s list. To my, and the agent’s surprise, he admitted to every last thing. He apologized for hurting me. Said he shouldn’t have done it. That he wanted to make it up to me. Did I want to see him again?
I was stunned. How can anyone be so calloused? Did he really just say that? Did he really think he could slap a band-aid on a mortal wound and it would just go away? No. That couldn’t be it. He just didn’t want to get caught. He just didn’t want me to make a big deal about it. After all, for him it was no big deal. Just some fun at someone else’s expense.
But for me…he’d taken everything from me. I had been barely hanging on before he ever came along. And now…
I hung up on him. I couldn’t take anymore. The agent was happy. She said she got everything she needed. Another agent who had taken the pictures, saw us as we were getting on the elevator to leave. The one who was working with me gave him a high five and said “Pre-text phone call. He admitted to everything.” The other agent smiled. It was a brief moment of relief. I had done it. It was awful, but if it meant I was able to protect some other woman, it was worth it.
He should never be allowed to wear a uniform again. He should never be allowed to wear a badge. Hopefully this would remove those options from him.
I don’t remember the drive back to the house. I don’t remember packing my belongings into boxes to move. I don’t remember anything else about that day until the phone call.
It was my ex-boyfriend. He had heard what had happened. He was so kind. So remorseful. He said he felt personally responsible for what had happened to me. My wounds were so raw, and his words were so sweet and soothing. He was angry at this horrible man who had hurt me. I’m sure it was nice to have someone else to blame for hurting me for a little while. I told him I had gone to CID and reported it. And everything changed.
You see, my ex-boyfriend was also a soldier. Suddenly, his only concern was whether or not CID knew what had led up to this incident. In other words, were they going to find out about HIM.
I assured him that they were only concerned with the assault, but his anger immediately flew out of control. How could I have reported what happened? How dare I jeopardize HIS career? I deserved to be assaulted. It was all my fault anyway. I had allowed the guy to come around. I was such a slut. I deserved it. How could I have even spoken to another guy? I was whore. I deserved it all.
I sat there, stunned by his tirade. The conversation had changed so quickly I didn’t have time to even react. It was as if someone had kicked all the air out of me. I hung up the phone, but once again, the damage was extensive. My world plunged into darkness too thick to function in.
I couldn’t dress myself. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even cry.
I have absolutely no recollection of moving. Of the hours in the car. Of the days that followed. The only thing I know is that any time I would start to doze off, the nightmares were relentless. The only thing worse than falling asleep was staying awake. My brain was a constant fog, with the heartless accusations floating around in it. “You deserved this. You’re worthless. This is your fault.”
Even worse, on the outside I looked fine. That’s always the danger with things like this, isn’t it? We don’t realize how badly someone is hurting because they wear their wounds on the inside. But as a quote I once read said,
“If the wounds on her heart and the bruises on her soul were translated on her skin, you wouldn’t recognize her at all.”
I was walking dead.
I couldn’t stay like this. I had to make a decision. I could give up and finally stop this pain…or I could fight.
Thankfully, my daddy taught me that you never quit. You never back down. My parents raised a fighter. But how do you fight when your most formidable enemy is you?