My name Desi, I am a survivor of Child Sexual Abuse, Adult Sexual Abuse, and Domestic Violence. This is my story...
As a young child my cousin molested me, he told me that "this is how you learn to be a lover." I am not sure how long the abuse went on, I believe I was 9 when it ended. Towards the end of his games, I spent the night with him. Why I was allowed -- I still don't know.
An older man was at my aunt’s and he wanted to hold my hand as we watched a movie. I remember the fear that washed over me, and then just doing what he told me to do. I forced myself to fall asleep. To this day, I do not like holding hands. I don't know what happened to me, or if anything happened to me. I woke up to them at the table and the older man was giving my cousin pointers on how to rape, how to fondle, and how to not get caught. I walked to the back bedroom and locked the door. I went home early the next morning, but I did not say a word.
Fast forward a bit… I am now 13, and a boy is interested in me. My older cousins were having sex, after all weren't we taught how to be an excellent lover? I left with him, not knowing how horrific it would be to lose my virginity in such a horrible way. There was so much pain, so much reassurance, then there was so much blood. Like lots and lots of blood. Then he beamed with pride that he popped my cherry and made me bleed. Again, I went back home, told my cousin, but not an adult... this is where shame began to set in.
Now we go further; I am now 18, living in Nome, and I thought that I was happily married. Until one drunken night my now ex-husband’s friend pretended to be him, and raped me. I came to, and I was lying on the bathroom floor, my pants were around my ankles and I was on the cold floor. I remember asking "my husband" why we were in the bathroom and he then spoke and it wasn't my husband. I then started fighting - he pinned me down and continued to rape me. I jumped up as soon as he let me, and I asked him why he did that to me, and he told me that I asked for it all night long. He threw the condom in the trash, and left.
I walked to the police department, filed a report and was brought to the hospital. Afterwards, the cop went to take pictures of my bathroom, and took the condom out of the trash. He then brought me to the ER and that's where my very first SART [Sexual Assault Response Team] exam was completed. I don't remember much of the exam but that it was horrible, degrading, and humiliating. I felt dirty. I felt alone. I was so afraid.
But one thing that I do remember is my encounter with the women's shelter afterwards. The advocate told me: "I have known him my whole life, he would never do such a thing, you are making all of this up." I got up and walked out.
I was miles away from family or friends who loved me or would help me through this; I was so very alone! My rapist told the cops that I asked for it, that I gave consent, and that it was not rape. My now ex-husband told me "you cried rape because you knew I would leave you, he didn't rape you, you are a whore." Nothing happened with this, nothing.
Years later I happened to run into this rapist and he thanked me! He says "thank you for not reporting what happened, I now have a wife and kids, and wouldn't have that if you reported what happened." I remember standing there dumbfounded, then I felt my sleeve was grabbed and my friend pulled me away from him. That night, I drank to numb the pain. Every time after that I always had a good excuse to drink or why I drank so much.
Maybe a year passed, I am not sure, but I got raped, again… This time in Anchorage... I went to my aunt’s to drink with her and my cousin. We were drinking beers, taking shots, and having fun. Their neighbor came over, who soon had an interest in me. He was handsome, he was older, and I felt smitten. I didn't notice this as it was happening but he kept bringing me an open beer, then he had a green drink that was in an alcohol type bottle without a label. I blacked out.
I came to on a bed, pants down to my ankles, and him on top of me. I asked him to stop, I told him to stop, I told him so many times to stop but he would not stop. He pinned me down with his forearm, then covered my mouth... Somehow I got away from him, I ran down the hall while pulling up my pants. Slamming into things. Scared. I didn't know where I was.
Once I made it outside I knew I was just next door to my aunt’s apartment. I went to tell her, she told me, "he wouldn't rape you, you're making it up, you were all over him, he didn't rape you just go to bed." I stood up and walked out, got my cousin, and we left. I pocket dialed my mom, she heard me crying, then she heard me say "you're on the wrong side of the road" and then my phone died.
The next day I went to the ER because I wanted to get Plan B. I told the doctor why I needed it, he contacted APD. I stood up to leave, I didn't want to report a rape (I felt like nothing would be done, no one cared, why report?!), but I felt something poke my leg -- I reached into my jean pocket to find his debit card! I had a name, I had “proof”, so I decided to report.
An officer came to get me from the hospital and brought me to Alaska Regional. I believe an employee from STAR was there, there were a lot of people there. The interview process was gruesome, the investigating officer or I am not sure who he was, to me, treated me like another dumb Native girl who was asking for it. I remember he kept asking me about drugs, I was so confused, and kept answering his question: “no I have not tried hard drugs, only weed.” The interview was done, I never felt so much shame in my life, but I knew I was doing the right thing….
During the SART exam the nurse asked me if I wanted to know why he kept asking about my drug use. It was because I turned up positive for cocaine. I cried so hard! I never touched that stuff in my life, and I had no way of defending myself because to me, he made up his mind about me already. Months passed. I remember the day or two before I decided to move back home, an advocate called me. I was so angry, I refused to work with them, because I gave up. No one cared, so I didn't care.
My desire to numb the pain grew stronger.
Years passed, I started working for the domestic violence shelter in Dillingham, and I am working there again today. I drank so much, I was a functioning alcoholic -- I was hiding from everything.
I am not quite sure which year it was, maybe 2009 - I got raped again. I don't remember walking on the sidewalk, or leaving my cousin’s house, I just came to from a blackout in a vehicle. Instant blackout again. I don't know what happened. I came to, naked in a bathroom. Crying. Cold. Afraid. I had no idea whose house I was in. I worked up the courage to go look for my clothes. He had them hidden, and told me I couldn't get them back until I had sex with him. It was a payment, that's what he made it sound like.
It became ugly, I blocked this part out, and to this day I don't remember the full details. I just wanted it to be over and done with. When he dropped me off at home, I never felt so dirty in my whole entire life. No amount of soap would get me clean. I didn't report. I didn't say a word. I let it go, but to this day not reporting haunts me. I felt like up to this point, that maybe it was my fault (I know now that it wasn’t, I was just so broken and lost), and who would care anyway.
For Rape to happen THAT MANY TIMES, who would believe me?! Who would care?!
Sigh. My heart is heavy.
After all of that, I became a drug addict on top of being a raging alcoholic. I didn’t care what it was, I wanted to be high, I didn’t want to feel a thing! It started with pills, coke, then it went to heroin. I was out of control. Through the midst of all of this, I became a victim of domestic violence, yet again.
My life almost got taken from me many times, one side of my face would heal up then the other side would be black and blue. One of my kids asked, “mommy when will your face look like your face again?” I remember laughing, because I minimized the abuse, it wasn’t that bad, I got what I deserved right? I was so low, I didn’t care about myself, I didn’t care about my kids, and I just honestly didn’t give a shit about anything.
I needed heroin, like I needed air, and I thought no one knew. This was in 2014, one day, one very fine day, was the last time that my life would be in jeopardy. I was being choked out, and I felt my body go numb, I felt my body give up… I got this euphoric feeling, my life flashed before my eyes, the last image I saw was my angelic daughters faces… who would take care of them, who would love them like me, where would they end up?!
Before I knew it broke free and I was running down the hall, telling my daughter “c’mon lets go, we need to go”. It was too late, I couldn’t take her with me. I ran out the door. I made it to the deck, and I held on for dear life. I was taking blows from a closed fist to my head, my back, and my face, everywhere. I screamed, I yelled, I held on. Every time my grip broke free I grasped onto something else. I yelled louder, I screamed louder, finally a neighbor came to my rescue.
My assailant just kept hitting me and had to be pulled off of me. My daughter was locked in and kept from me for 30 minutes, I was a mess, I got her back – my other daughter got dropped off just in time and a friend drove us away. Out of fear, after all of the emotional and verbal abuse I survived, I refused to report. The next day I walked into the police department, without a sweater on, not realizing that I was covered in bruises head to toe… an officer came to see me, I just needed assistance getting clothes for me and my girls.
He started to ask what happened, why I was so bruised up. See, I was so used to always being bruised up, but I covered up all the time. My abuser wasn’t around, so I didn’t need to cover up, and I didn’t think anyone would know. It took the cop talking to me about how I was safe, I wasn’t going to be found, they weren’t going to come and kill me, and no I wasn’t being followed – it was OK to report and I finally told them everything.
I remember the horror on the officer’s face, to me, it wasn’t that bad – there was plenty of other times where the beatings were worse. I had lumps on my head from being dragged by my hair, I had an old (now healed) fracture under my left eye, and I had bruises on my fingertips, down to the very tips of my toes. I was asked to be seen again at the hospital, which was good because I had suffered such a bad concussion.
I downsized the abuse, this was my normal everyday life of getting hit or choked out… being told “if I can’t have you no one will” or “I love watching the way you fight when I am choking you out, the look in your eyes is the best” … the fear in my eyes, the way I fought to live, so the next time I got choked out – I didn’t fight back, but that was the last time that I ever had to “fight back.”
Later that summer, for the second time in my adult life, I packed up and “ran away” – I thought it would be better elsewhere. I moved down states, and got a job, moved on with my life but every so often the district attorney’s office would call “are you prepared for trial.” I would be going about my business, get the phone call, and I would be re-victimized… the final call from them was a huge disappointment.
After all this time, they were getting away with a lesser charge not attempted murder but an assault IV. I remember saying, “so fuck my life then? That’s what you’re telling me, fuck my life and my life was not important enough.” I was angry, and I again was like what is wrong with our court system?! Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and moved back to Alaska. I was almost two years clean from heroin, it took me being home for about a month before I started up again – because who cared right?!
The time away from Alaska, I tried so hard to be sober, and I was sober for so long. Here I was at home, with many reminders, flashbacks, and a deep deep pain. So I started drinking again. I think I had been drinking for a few months and I woke up in jail one morning. I had hit and hurt my whole family, I couldn’t talk to my kids or their dad. My whole entire being, was ripped from me. I knew it was time, it had to be time, and I needed to get clean.
It was my second time in jail, the first was a DUI – and I vowed to not ever go back there – ugh, this was horrible! I was so terrified. I went to get an alcohol assessment done, waited, and went to treatment. I was almost completed with my treatment, and I walked out, I knew better no one was going to tell me what to do! Let me tell you, I went straight to the bottom of that bottle! I had a month or so of just drinking and not caring, using drugs, I was a bad mom, a horrible everything, look at all the bad things that happened to me—I quit caring.
My sister than called me one evening, and she said words that hit home, I got on the plane and flew up to a village to live with her and that is when I truly became sober. I am now two years clean from alcohol and heroin. I am free from those chains that confined me and kept me thinking that I was the worst person to walk the earth. I now take pride in myself, my recovery, and my beautiful family. I count my blessings extra now!
I was failed numerous times by the system, and my voice was not heard. I now work with Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors, I help them find their voice, and many times I am their voice. I am the mother of five daughters, I am in fear for their safety. I want them to live in a world where their voices are heard, they are validated. I want to make a difference. I want to be the change we need. My voice will be heard. I will heal.
Bad things happen, but it does not define you. There is so much ugly and cruelty in the world, but yet it is so marvelously beautiful! Stand up. Speak up. I am standing right there with you!