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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I Guess I Might As Well Tell THIS Story!

This is not a picture of me. But I think it is a pretty good
depiction of me at the time. 
 Sometimes I feel like I probably shouldn't talk too much about my life. I've had kind of an odd life, and I've had a lot of experiences. I can probably tell you a story to go along with any conversation anyone might have ever. This leads people to sometimes look at me like I must be lying, like "Oh, of course Angel knows something about that too!" 
Plus, some of the stories from my life just don't make for very pleasant conversation. 
But today I was reading this blog post over at I Wore Yoga Pants To Work. She's participating in a promotion for a new series called Surviving Evil, and people are supposed to share stories of something they've survived. There's a sweepstakes to go along with it, where you can win a $500 Spa Finder gift card. One of the ways to enter the sweepstakes is to write your own blog post and lead people over to her blog post. 
I was thinking about which of my survival stories I could write about, and I decided to write about something I haven't really talked about at all in the past 15 years. I may regret this later.
Okay. So some of you may or may not know that I had a really hard time growing up. I had a lot of family problems, the least not of which was my mother, who hated my guts. (Well really she hated my dad's guts... I mean not hated, but she had a lot of anger towards him at the time... and since I remind her a lot of my dad and I do all the same things that my dad does that drives her crazy, she turned a lot of her anger and abuse towards me.)
I never wanted to be at home, but I didn't really have many friends, so I would just go out and wander around. I would make friends with a lot of random people I met around town. I became particularly good friends with this guy I'll call "DJ" and his on again, off again girlfriend I'll call "Snow." They were homeless, although eventually while I knew them they got a car. They were in their late thirties. I started hanging out with them just about every day. They were really nice to me and did everything I felt like my parents didn't do. They understood about my problems at school and they gave me advice, they'd always act happy to see me, they wanted to hear all about me and my life, and they spent a lot of time with me. 
I was super especially close to DJ. He was 38 but in some ways he acted younger... like the fact that he would let me sit on the handlebars of his bike and we would ride around the town like crazy people.
I met them when I was almost 15. 
As time went on DJ started acting somewhat inappropriate around me. He didn't do anything, but he'd say inappropriate things, especially when he was drinking... just little comments about sex and stuff. I just laughed it off and told him he was being gross. I thought of him and Snow as parental figures, and I didn't think of DJ in any sort of "boyfriend" way. I just enjoyed that he gave me a lot of attention and made me laugh, and that I had fun with him and Snow. 
When I was nearly 17 I was still having a lot of problems at home, and it was getting worse and worse. One thing you have to realize was that I was emotionally very young for my age. I once heard that people with Aspergers are emotionally 2/3 their chronological age, and that makes a lot of sense to me. I was probably thinking on the level of a 12 year old, but being expected to do things that an average 17 year old would be capable of. I had failed Driver's Ed, mostly because I was too afraid to practice driving... I just didn't feel ready. My parents had pushed me to get a job, and I'd worked at a fast food restaurant for a while, but I'd gotten fired for unspecified reasons. Mostly it was probably because I couldn't handle all the chaos around me. It was a busy fast food restaurant and, although I did my best to learn to run the cash register and pull people's orders, I learned slowly and made a lot of mistakes. I still didn't have any friends, I was getting poor grades in school, and my mom was screaming at me all the time about how I was never going to get into college or amount to anything. My heart felt broken all the time. The only time I ever felt happy was when I was with DJ and Snow. 
I turned 17 just before school ended. After the last day of school, I was talking to DJ and Snow about how I wished I could run away from home. I talked about going on a road trip to California and seeing Disney Land, and I asked them if the three of us could do that. We could be a real family.. they could be my parents and I could be their kid. DJ and Snow never got angry with me when I acted younger than my age... they actually seemed charmed by it. In a way, I thought I could rewind my life a little and repeat the last few years of my childhood, only with a different, happier and more accepting, family. 
Instead of talking sense into me like a responsible adult would have done, DJ encouraged the idea, and got Snow to go along with it. 
So one morning, I packed my bags, got into their car, and left for good. 

Almost as soon as we got out of the state, DJ started acting a little strange towards me. We got a hotel room the first night. DJ told me that the sleeping arrangements would be for him and Snow to sleep in one bed, and me to sleep in the other. He sounded really disappointed.
"Of course that's how we'll sleep, because you guys are the parents and I am the kid," I reminded him. 
We were driving out towards California, when the car broke down in Colorado. We stopped at a truck stop. DJ and Snow made arrangements with the manager of the truck stop that we could park there overnight for as long as we needed to, while we tried to get money to fix the car. DJ and I decided to explore the truck stop and the surrounding area. We walked around the truck stop and then we started walking down the sidewalk. We found a park. Walking through the park, we came to a river!
I was really excited. I had always loved nature. I wanted to stay by the river forever. We were sitting at a picnic table and I just kept smiling. I said, "I love this place! This is so cool!"
DJ kept watching me, and all of the sudden he got a weird look on this face that made my sensors go up. He said, "I don't really want to be your dad. I want to be the only guy to be with you!"
For some reason my immediate reaction was to run! I jumped off the picnic table and started running back out of the park. DJ caught me by my jean jacket, but I wriggled out of the jacket and kept running. I ran until I was almost out of the park, but then DJ caught me again. He knelt in front of me and held my arms and told me he was so sorry, he didn't mean to scare me, he wouldn't do anything to hurt me, blah blah blah. 
I really, really, really wanted this whole family thing with DJ and Snow to work out. So I chose to give DJ another chance. 

Our car ended up being broken down for a much longer time than we expected. We ended up staying in a town outside of Denver. DJ and Snow and I would all sleep in the car, which we parked behind a church, every night. During the day, DJ and Snow did day labor, while I just roamed around the neighborhood. 
DJ and Snow were fighting a lot, and Snow seemed to be inching her way away from DJ. Snow was really the one who owned the car, not DJ, so when she got off of work she would take the car and not necessarily get DJ and I. So we would end up walking around the town until really late. We could actually walk to downtown Denver from where we were staying. When we weren't with Snow, we would sleep outside. I preferred to sleep right in the downtown area, where a lot of street kids slept, just out on benches and stuff. But DJ liked to find secluded places to sleep, where he said it was safer. 
You can probably guess what happened next.
Whenever we'd get ready to go to sleep, DJ would start touching me. At first it was always just in my shirt area. (I don't have a really blog-friendly way to explain it.) 
The first couple of times he did it, I tried to stop him. I would tell him to stop, and try to sit up, and he would hold me down, and I would try to wriggle away but he would catch me. Eventually I Just sort of gave up... it was always late at night, and I would be so tired from walking around all day, and at the time he was doing nothing to physically hurt me, so it was easier to just go to sleep and pretend it wasn't happening. 
In the morning, I always tried to explain, very clearly to him, that I didn't like what he was doing. I would tell him, "I don't want a boyfriend. I want a parent figure. That is what I need right now. I wanted us to be a family." I was very stubborn about pretending that DJ would somehow change and go back to being the kind, safe DJ I had known when I was younger,

Here comes the most awkward part. 

This had gone on for many months. By this time I felt very uncomfortable being around DJ a lot of the time... but other times, he was a lot of fun to be with, and just as nice to me as always. It was like there were two different personalities inside of his brain. 
One night we went to sleep in this field behind the Amtrak station. In Denver there is a river walk that kind of goes down below, so we were laying in the field and behind us there was a wall, sort of like a cliff, and you could look down and see the river below. I am not good with measurements, so just imagine, the wall by the river was about as high as the roof of a two story house, and we were above it. 
So we lay down and started to go to sleep as usual, and DJ started touching me as usual, and I started ignoring him as usual. And then I heard him say, "I'm doing you!" 
I tried to get up fast but DJ caught me and pushed me back on the ground. He yanked off my clothes as easily as if I were wearing a potato sack. So there I was, butt naked, outside in the middle of the city, with two things on my mind. 1. I didn't want to get raped by DJ. And 2. I didn't want to have to get up and run and get help while I was naked! 
I started hollering for help anyway, screaming as loud as I could, while I kept trying to get up and DJ kept shoving me back down. At first he seemed to be actually enjoying the struggle because he had a weird smile on his face. 
But then he got angry. He yelled, "Shut up!" and punched me, hard, in the head. So hard I saw a flash of white light. My mind went sort of blank for a minute. He punched me again, and I saw the white light again, and I realized for the first time that DJ was capable of killing me. I imagined him throwing me into the river below. I knew I had to stop trying to get away, and start focusing on surviving. 
So I put my hands up and said, "Okay, okay, I won't yell no more! Just stop hitting me!"
DJ glared at me and said, "I deserve you!" 
I said, "Okay, okay, I know. But I'm just scared!"
Then DJ calmed down and for a minute he actually looked like he felt sorry for me or something, like he just then remembered who I was. 
He asked me if I was cold, and I said I was (which was true, I was shivering, because Denver is chilly at night even in the summer, especially if you happen to be naked!) So he put my clothes back on me. I knew that was probably my first success.
DJ still said he was going to "do" me, but I kept telling him that I was afraid. I wasn't saying that I wanted him to do it or anything, but I just tried to portray that I wanted to make him happy and that I would do what he wanted but that I was afraid. 
So then he just continued to touch me, this time not just in my shirt area though. I don't know how to explain this without being too graphic and TMI.
This gave me some time to plan my next move. I just started talking about random, stream-of-thought things, partly to calm myself, and partly to make him think I wasn't quite in my right mind. I knew he was still going to want to have sex, and I had to figure out a way to evade it. 
After a while DJ said he was going to "try."
I said, "Wait! I'm really cold! I'm gonna go get a Seven-Up!" I don't know what Seven-Up would have to do with being cold. I think I was thinking about the 7-Eleven store, which I knew stayed open all night and that I could get there quickly once I got out of the stupid field.  
DJ argued with me and asked me if I had to go right now, and I kept saying, yes, right now, but I'll come back, I promise I'll come back. 
And he let me go! 
I walked calmly away from him until I got to the edge of the field. And then I ran like crazy towards the 7-Eleven.

The story doesn't really end there... I didn't call the cops or anything, and I actually still stayed around DJ for another few weeks. But this time I was really careful never to be alone with him. For a while we got this apartment, it had one bedroom, and I insisted that he take the bedroom and I sleep on the couch in the front room. This was so I would always have an easy escape. I would sleep sitting up, with my shoes on, and my feet on the ground, so I could get away at a moment's notice. 
I was still a little bit hoping DJ would become normal again. But I was also starting to plot my escape. I definitely didn't want to go home... I knew for a fact that my parents would put me in a mental hospital if I did. And I didn't really want to leave Denver, because I felt safe there... well, except for with DJ. But if I just left and hung out with the street kids in Denver, DJ would always find me. So I was trying to find a way to get a job and get my own place. 
Then a whole bunch of things happened, and I ended up getting caught and sent back to my parents, but that is a story for another day. 

When I had gotten caught, I'd told the cops about the things DJ had been doing. The way I ended up telling the cops was because I had told my friend who lived in the apartment building, and she told her mother, and her mother made me tell the cops. I had sworn my friend to secrecy. I had just needed to tell someone. But the secret was too hard for her to keep when she thought I was in danger.

Everyone, like my parents and the people at the mental hospital that I did end up getting stuck in, vaguely knew what DJ had done. But they all thought more had happened. To this day my parents think I was raped... but I wasn't, not really, because I escaped in time. 
I remember when I had just come home from the hospital and I was supposed to be earning privileges for every little thing, and I wanted to go to my friend's house but my mom said I had to earn the privilege by telling her everything that had happened with DJ. So I told her the story again, but she still thought more had happened. I remember her saying angrily, "He didn't shake his dick in your face and tell you to suck it?" 
People also implied that everything that happened was my fault because I stayed around DJ for so long. 
People also think that DJ is the reason why I don't like people touching me. But I already didn't like people touching me, way, way before I met DJ. In fact, probably the reason why he never did anything to me while I was still living at home was because I would never let anyone touch me at all so he knew it had to be when he and I were really alone, when I was completely off guard. 

(I don't hate people touching me all the time. I don't mind little kids at all, like when they want to hold your hand or whatever. I don't really like hugging people though... but I never really have... that is less because of what DJ did, and more because of my sensory issues and anxiety issues.)

So... that is my survival story... the story of how I evaded getting raped and possibly getting killed. 
And now I can enter the sweepstakes.
You don't have to tell your survival story to enter the sweepstakes. Its not like I just told my worst story so I could get an entry to a sweepstakes. I just figured, since I tell a lot about myself in this blog, I should share this piece of my life. The sweepstakes just sort of inspired me. 
If you want to enter the sweepstakes, go here and enter by leaving a comment, or write your own blog post and link it to there. 

That's all for today! Oh yeah, and my Happiness Challenge... I am happy that I lived to tell this story! 

6 comments :

  1. Wow, Angel. Just wow. I am so happy that you survived to tell this, too. And I'm happy that you are so articulate and are able to share your experiences on this blog.

    When I was about 16, I was molested by our family patriarch. I didn't tell anyone at the time because my mother had just lost her mother and I didn't think she could handle it. That bastard taunted me and held it over my head for DECADES! Finally, as an adult woman, I bucked the family establishment, exposed him for what he is and refused to be in the same room with him. Believe it or not, I'M the one who is viewed as difficult! So your story touched a chord in me.

    You are not alone in this, Angel. Bad people take advantage of children (and you and I were children when we were victimized) and by talking bout it, you may just be helping others. Bravo!

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    1. Thanks! I've heard before that one out of four females in the USA (and males too, although I don't know the statistic) have been sexually abused or assaulted in some way. After I wrote this blog entry, I heard from several people who said something happened to them too, so I guess it is true! It is sad that a lot of people are children when it happens, and that we don't always get support from our families.

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  2. Girl, I hope you win this contest. How very brave of you for telling this story. Also, you showed such ingenuity in finding ways to keep yourself safe.

    I hope life is better for you now. :-)

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    1. Thanks! Life is better for me now in many ways. I am glad I've been getting so much support from people who have read this blog entry. I was afraid it would make people uncomfortable or that they'd think I was trying to get attention by sharing... but it hasn't been like that at all so far! So I'm glad I shared the story.

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  3. What a scary story! I'm so glad it had an okay ending!

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  4. Angel, thank you for telling your story. We are survivors, all of us. I have learned this year that the "telling" is part of the healing. I was sexually abused by my grandfather when I was 7. Nobody came when I cried; no one else knew. I was alone. I only had part of the memory afterward but the incident changed my whole life into one of fearfulness, feeling invisible and feeling different from everyone else. I began having flashbacks when my daughter turned 7 in 2009, and I've been working through the pain of the remembering ever since. In the Spring of this year I finally told my Mom what her dad did to me. We cried together, and she said she wished she had known. She believed me. I believe you.

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