He Raped Me Now He Wants To Be My Friend
I am a rape victim. I’ve never written or spoken publicly about this ordeal. But almost half of my life later, the traumatic experience stills haunts me. I always cringe during rape scenes in movies or TV shows. I look away, sometimes close my eyes till I think the horrific action has passed, or on occasions challenge myself to watch the scene, only to break down in tears. I have had nightmares of the tragedy, visions so real; they disturbed my slumber – for years. Frightful flashbacks of not just about being taken against my will by someone I trusted, looked up to and called friend, but of the real life nightmare of the consequences of my speaking out against my rapist.
In the “world” where we both existed at the time, I was a “nobody” with no influence, he, a powerful man known and respected by many within and around of our spheres. As with many rape victims, my personal and professional reputation suffered. I was the one under the microscope, doubted, accused of making up stories, of trying to destroy a beacon in society, of looking to cash in on big dollars, I was threatened, mocked, bad talked, blacklisted, scared out of my wits.Through it all, I held firm to the truth and I trusted that in time it’d truly come to light.
Unbeknownst to many, one of the key reasons I decided to leave my beloved Barbados, my home, my dear family, my closest friends and the only life I’d ever really known was to escape the pain of living in the same land as this man. I needed to get a fresh start on life, to pursue new dreams and hopefully one day to have forgotten that lowest point of my life. The man who raped me left me nursing physical, emotional and mental wounds. Alas, to this day, I still bear scars of the latter. How does one forgive a man who has caused such damage?
It’s been at least a decade since I last laid eyes on my rapist and almost as long since I’ve made New York my home. From time to time, since Barbados is so small and I still have a solid network there, I hear about him. In particular, just a few short years ago, I heard that he had raped again and was far more severely penalized than in my case. Still, like back in my time, he was again spared the wrath of imprisonment.
One would think I’d be delighted in what many called my vindication, but my emotions were saved for empathy for the victim and her family. I have some idea of what she went through and what she was up against. I’ve never wished “bad” for my rapist, although at times I’ve hated him. I’ve just always felt sorry for his wife, family and for the other victims I subsequently heard of, who unlike me, didn’t have the guts and voice to speak out.
My life in New York, amidst some hurdles, has been happy, prosperous and progressive. God has placed many angels here in my path and on the academic, professional and domestic/personal front, I couldn’t have made a better choice than to emigrate. I’m now Ivy League-educated, a graduate of Columbia University; I’m a more talented writer and journalist – from WCBS Radio 880, to The Root at the Washington Post, to Black Enterprise and WNYC Radio, I’ve worked at some of the best media organizations in the U.S. and further honed my craft. The temper tantrums of my early 20s including my then tendency to curse are no more; I’m a more loyal daughter, sister, auntie, niece, cousin, friend and girlfriend; I’ve made friends from several states and almost 50 different countries. I’m a more faithful follower of Christ.
My tough times here have taught me how to do without the frills, to survive with the bare essentials; I’ve become a more rounded cook and baker; I’m more disciplined about my fitness and training. This island girl who loves sunshine, tank tops and flip flops has learnt how to embrace Old Man Winter. I feel accepted, admired, respected, and cherished by my New York “family.” I have a greater sense of appreciation and love for my homeland Barbados and by extension the Caribbean. Overall, New York has made a damn fine woman of me, or better put in the words of the late iconic Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal woman, that’s me!”
So in part, to my rapist, I say thank you. Thank you for stripping me of my dignity, for robbing me of all I had as a young woman, a young reporter, a young Barbadian. For in taking all this from me, I can recite Maya Angelou again:
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise …”
In taking everything from me, you drove me out of my country to another, to reinvent myself, to become a better person. Oh no, am I saying thank you for raping me, that you were right to take me against my will, but like so many of life’s ills, sometimes there is a silver lining. I heard that your past indiscretions are now behind you, that you’ve been forgiven by many among the powers that be and you now hold a most prestigious position on that beautiful island where I teethed, bruised my knees as an infant from learning to ride a bike, had my first date as a teenager and for many a day with my 20-something friends basked on unspoilt white sand beaches and swam in crystal clear waters. Congratulations to you.
So it may appear that I should forgive my rapist, right? That life has since then more than rewarded me, that I’ve been blessed and I ought to finally let go and move on? Truth be told, I long forgave him. And even though I still shudder at the thought of rape and rape scenes on the small or big screen, I’ve thought less and less of my rapist these past few years. That is until today.
This morning, I logged on to my Facebook and of all people from whom I should get a friend request? My rapist! Admittedly, a few years back, he’d sent not one, but two friend requests, both of which I rejected. I figured after the second time, that he’d got the point. His audacity at a third request leaves me shocked, more than slightly annoyed and unfortunately took me back to that devastating experience – he just never seems to understand “NO.”
I may have forgiven him and I may have had a great life despite what he took from me, but I am NOT and will never be ready to again let him into my personal space or to call him “friend.” I just can’t do that.
~ I Keep it Irie ~
What do y’all think, should I block him this time? Do you think forgiveness in this regard means letting him into my social networking circle? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks.
As usual another brilliant piece though this time an emotional and heart-wrenching one. For some strange reason, I can’t say I’m shocked but I’ll leave that there. It seems as if every few months I discover that another friend or acquaintance was raped some time ago and always from someone whom they trusted and held in high regard.
I won’t tell you if to block him but forgiveness does NOT mean letting him into your social networking circle.
You continue to amaze me with your strength, tenacity and resolve. Press on! God bless!
Thanks on all counts, Rog. As always, I appreciate your thoughful feedback. And it’s just sad hearing similar stories. So often, it takes years to speak out. One love.
I am happy that you took the time to share your stories with others so it can help young victims out there in Barbados and across the world who are suffering in the same way you did I think God will continue to bless and open doors for you. FORGIVENESS is the word a healing with in
Every time i read something you write, I feel as though I am right there with you. I can’t even begin to imagine feeling like your body, your soul, your mind have been stripped. At the end of the day I’m glad you forgave the person since forgiveness is for you, not him- but there is no need to let him into ANY of your circles- to do what- pretend like it never happened????? NO!!! Even though those scars remain, that chapter is over, so there is no need to pick back up that book and read it over is there? You forgave him, that’s enough. My prayer for you is that you remain the Christ-filled woman that you are, and that your light will continue to shine sop that others may see…and like a friend of mine says “He cuh kick rocks!!” From one St.George baby to another, love always.
Awwww, thank you Nat. You brought a tear to my eye. Thanks for the encouragement and unwavering support. Much love sis.
Fantastic and liberating, Maquita. You continue to rise, and I know why. You have a circle of friends who continue to discuss you with the right Person, Jesus; and so in His strength you will soar.
You mentioned that you have forgiven your rapist, but I wonder if he has forgiven himself or apologized to you. If he has done both, then the healing process will be complete. So any opening that you can provide for him to do both, would be the greatest contribution to bringing closure.
I continue to be very proud of you, and salute you for your true Maya Angelou spirit.
May God richly bless you.
Thank you so much Fr. Armstrong! I can’t tell you how much your advice and continued love and support mean to me. I appreciate you reading and commenting, thank you. Much love and God bless.
Very bold and emotional piece. You are a perfect example of God making lemonade from the lemons life serves us. You never know how many others will be helped by your transparency. And no, forgiving the lion which bit you does not mean putting your hand in its mouth again.
Thank you Oral – on all counts! Much appreciated, my friend!:-)
Right now I am reading a book ” why Forgive” and there are numerous examples of notorious acts done to individuals.
My thoughts on this matter is not the issue of forgiveness, but the need to seek advice on the actions that must be taken. I therefore wonder about vulnerability or the possibility of revenge.
Thanks Rev. Abraham! Just to be clear, with regard to the last part of your comment about vulnerability and revenge, to whom are referring? If you meant me, I’m fine as far as being vulnerable and I have no desire to seek revenge or never did. If you were referring to the person about whom I wrote, I can’t see why he’d be the one seeking revenge. From my experience, intelligence and observations, unfortunately it appears that he gives little thought to his past deeds.:-(
God sets you free so you don’t have to be a prisoner. You forgive to live, not to step back into the trauma. Should the Lord ever decide to place him into your life, it would be that He wants you to be an instrument of His grace to this man who, though the source of offence to you and others, is evidently damaged and wounded in spirit. Until and unless that situation arises, you are under no obligation to cause yourself to relive that devastating incident. Ignore the friend request, block him if you must, but continue to look forward to Christ, not back at the darkness.
Thanks very much for the thoughtful words and advice, Graham. Truly appreciated. One love bro! Bless up.
After enduring such a terrible ordeal, it’s inspiring and phenomenal that you were able to forge a new life for yourself. You have accomplished so much and should be proud of yourself. You should not accept his friend request at all, he des not deserve the pleasure of being in your personal space and enjoying your post or having any insight as too what goes on in your life. The first thing he should have done is apologize and since he has not done so, it shows that he is 1 not acknowledging the pain and hurt he cause and thus, not taking responsibility for his actions and 2, he must think that he’s above the law and can do whatever he pleases. Tell him to take several backseats smh. Have a blessed day Hun. You will be in my prayers 🙂
Thanks so much for visiting, reading, your kind words and prayers, Malaika. I value the encouragement and support. One love sis!
Another beautifully written piece, quite emotional but also very powerful. It took a lot of boldness to write this and share it with the world. I must also say I am not totally surprised. Being involved in youth work opened my eyes to a number of brilliant young women from all walks of life in Barbados making positive strides for themselves and communities but who were impacted by this terrible trauma. Instead of Barbadian society being sympathetic and caring it usually turns a blind eye and urges the victims to be quiet. This piece is timely and very worthy of sharing. It says to other young women that they do not have to remain silent, that they have a voice and a right to speak out. It is truly an empowering piece. Keep up the great work !
Thank you Jason. Since this was posted, I’ve received a few messages from people both in Barbados and here in the US – female and male – telling me they too experienced similar situations. It’s amazing and oh so unfortunate how many of us have these tragic stories to tell. It’s sad how many are afraid to tell said stories or are forced to be mum on the issue. Thanks very much for your input. I appreciate it. One love.
You never told me of that incident, why? You have caused the tears to flow so rapid that I almost faint, but I thank God for the courage He gave to you to speak out. Forgiving him does not give you the right to allowed him to invade your space so you keep him at bay. Block him out.
Thank you Uncle Ciprian. That was a very tough, horrible time in my life. I’d shut a lot of people out and really didn’t speak to many folks about it. I thought my mother would have or had told you back then. She didn’t take the news very well at all. The experience broke me and it took all my faith, inner strength, support and prayers of those in my corner then to put me back together. Thanks for your advice. Love you.
As usual, another well written, thought provoking piece. One that requires the reader to reflect on self, relationships, forgiveness and critically, for me at least, what is my support structure is like and where do I fit in the support structures of my friends.
I can only imagine what it takes to bare your soul in this way. Thank you for sharing.
Peace and love my friend…
p.s. I think social networks should be reserved for friends and acquaintances that you are happy to share with, and in turn, have them share with you.
Sooooooo…negative on the friend request. Forgiveness is beautiful, wisdom is priceless!
Thanks my brother and friend! As always, I appreciate you following, reading, your ever so valuable insight and encouragement. Thanks so much Mark! One love.:-)
I do know of your Journey & am proud to call you my friend. You did a great thing forgiving that monster but that doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to his mental anguish any further, so I say block his azz mentally, figuratively, & literally because he can no longer be a bump in your path. Love Ya much my Friend Foe Life!
Thank you Supa! I appreciate the love and support. All the love back at you!:-)
This brought tears to my eyes. ..I think I held my breath the entire time but one theme is clear Queenie you HAVE risen! This story could have ended sooo differently. ..I admire your strength. ..Thank you for sharing. .so beautifully written. ..prose like! My one complaint…you always mekking me cry! Always in my prayers. ..soooooo proud of you!
Awwww, sorry for making you cry all the time Cipreen.;-) It’s inspiring to know my journey and my writing can evoke such sentimentality. Thank you for always reading, encouraging, offering feedback, complimenting and of course, for the “love.” Thanks again sis and much move to you. Bless up.:-)
Great piece! You should block. Although you’ve been able to forgive, his ability to still contact you even via a friend request will always bring back that memory. Though you will never forget it, you don’t need to be reminded by any action of his. I’d even go further to report the profile as spam when you block.
Thank you Shanna – on all counts! One love.:-)
You can leave him pending and that way he is unable to make another request. May God continue to bless and keep you. Don’t let him sully your bright future
Thank you for reading and commenting, Catherine. One love and bless up.:-)
I admire your candor, and ability to speak about it. Perhaps, one soul who reads this will find comfort from whatever ills them, be it a violation or some other wrong. God bless you! And keep keeping on!
And, as usual, it was well-written and kept me engaged.
Thank you Neil. Indeed, I trust that someone will gain something positive from this part of my journey. Thanks for reading, encouraging and as always, your kind words. One love.:-)
Great read as always. You didn’t need this clown for any apologies or closure. You are the only one to bring that. I feel horrible because unfortunately I know someone also from Barbados that shares a similar story from not one but several men. I hope your story inspires others to speak up. I would encourage you to share his name as to make sure that others are aware of it even if this is behind him. He too must bear the cross as you have been forced to bear yours.
Thank you Juan! I’m sorry to hear about that person you mentioned, that’s crazy and sad.:-( I didn’t deem it necessary to mention his name, he knows who he is as do others in our circle at the time. I always say God is the one true judge, so I’ll leave it all it his hands. Thanks as always for the insightful feedback and your support. One love.:-)
You can do something vile, repulsive and yes you can get away with it to a degree, but you can never really get away from your misdeeds…….They stick to you , somewhat like cigarette smoke. Maybe no one caught you smoking that cigarette, but don’t think for a moment that if they get close enough to you they won’t be able to smell it on your clothes……reject the friend request again, u don’t need that aggravation. Good read as always, gripping, you’ve come so far say Mashallah sis!
Thank you Jen! True that. I appreciate you taking the time to read and offer your kind feedback. One love sis.:-)
Very well written piece and can understand your reasons why you are not ready to forgive- that will be on your your terms. Your emotions in this particular piece is so raw and made me feel like I was right there with you. Love it!
Thanks Shawnie! It’s not that I’m not ready to forgive it’s that I’m not about letting him into my social circle or being friends with him. Thanks for your insight sis. One love and bless up.:-)
Very emotional and powerful piece… I fully stand beside you my sister and pledge to take my stand beside you.
Thanks J. I appreciate the love and support. One love bro!:-)
Girl, you already know the answer to your question. To forgive is not to act like it didn’t happen. No clouds in your sunshine. Not today, not ever.
Thanks Sonja! I like the way you put it!:-)
Audacious? No. Bold, brazen, thoughtless, shameless and utterly foolhardy…YES! Your space, physically or digitally, is not the place for him.
Thanks Carib, much appreciated. One love bro!:-)
I never knew. You are very strong to have kept a smile for all those years. Stay strong.
Just got up the courage to read this. So very painful. Proud of your strength.
Maquita, i am sooo proud of you. You have shocked me to the core! I never knew this…and your courage to speak out, to overcome and find that inner peace is absolutely amazing. God’s continued blessing on you! Luv always …Drax Hall Hope gal!
Thank you my dear sistren, Vicky. I appreciate the love, support and I receive those blessings. Much love and God blessings to you as well.:-) xo