I sit here tonight, less than one month until the man that raped me (Zane Pederson) is sentenced to 250 months in prison, transcribing the sexual assault of my friend Ms. S. What a world of difference there is between rape in 1989 and now days. Ms. S tells me how things were different back then - rape wasn't talked about like it is now. Stories were kept quiet. Survivors were kept quiet. Rape culture was, "Let it go," and full of victim blaming. I can't imagine the amount of rapists that got away with sexual violence then compared to now. While I'm glad that my rapist is going to be serving time in prison, it saddens me that so many survivors aren't getting this kind of justice. I'm thankful Ms. S is willing and wanting to share her story now as I can see that it will relate to so many other survivors whether their stories are from the 1980's or present day. I'm honored to be able to share her story in my next book and truthfully, it is so powerful that I wanted to share some of it with you today. While a majority of details will be saved for my book, I'm honored to share this sneak peek:
Ms. S shares...
It was January of 1989 and I remember my dad dropping me off at his house. He was a jock, while I was the average girl - friends with everyone, but not popular by any means. I couldn't believe a jock was interested in me!
...I remember him hitting me. He pinned me down on his bed and proceeded to have sex with me. I kept saying, "No, no!" and when it was over, he was disgusted. It had been my first time, and I had made a mess. He demanded, "Hurry up and get dressed," while he tore the sheets off his bed.
I told my parents I tripped going up the stairs - it was the excuse I used for why I had a swollen and bloody lip. I remember in school the next Monday, he was walking down the hallway with his friend and he looked at me with a smirk on his face.
It wasn't until years later that I broke down to a friend who told my parents what had happened. We had already moved to a different state because my dad was in the military and by that time the response was, "Let it go."
Tell me about your healing journey. What steps did you take to heal? I was in my early 20’s when I finally went to counseling and really started to talk about what had happened. They suggested that I start writing, which was very hard for me. It was hard for me to put things down on paper because that was more permanent, and people could potentially see it and read it. My counselor would have me write it then burn it or destroy it somehow. So that’s what I did: I would write it down, then I would come to terms with it, then I would burn it. I burned it because that was more final to me. I remember thinking, Okay, I am done with this. This is done and over with. I think, too, it brought a sense of peace in a way.
What is one thing you would say to other survivors? I would say… Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and say what happened. I think that that is probably the biggest regret that I have, that I held it for so long. It was not healthy for me. It was not healthy for my relationships throughout high school. And even in my early 20's, I just couldn’t trust. I felt like people didn’t value me because I didn’t value myself. I think it takes a lot of courage to speak out and as hard as it is, you need to. You need to for yourself, for your family, for your own self-worth.
You are a warrior. You are a survivor. You are a woman of strength, courage, and a heart of gold. Thank you for sharing your story.