Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Interference - A Company Member's Story

Wow, what a process The Interference has already been. An incredible piece of art that provides voice to a voiceless population. A population that knows it’s sometimes easier to suffer in silence and let the world continue moving around you because that is “selfless”. That may be how some feel, but for those of us who have spent years suffering in silence to make everyone else’s day a little brighter, we know how wrong it is. When something so horrific happens to you that you feel the need to conceal your pain for the sake of others, the pain can take an even greater toll.

I am 21 years old and I have been assaulted twice.

One instance I handled through talking about it and the other I handled by moving on.

I was first assaulted at the age of 13 on my way home from church camp. I was sitting directly behind two adults and sharing a blanket with the cute 15 year old in our youth group. I remember touching each other’s knees and giggling, but then he continued to move his hands higher on my leg and with every inch he moved I sank deeper and deeper into the seat. I pushed his hand down, told him to stop, and maneuvered in such a way that would move his hand from me. I remember our friend saying, “Dude stop,” and then nothing stopping until finally one of the adults in the front told us to move the blanket and I was so relieved. I pushed this memory down and decided it meant he liked me because when boys like you they touch you and I should be grateful for the attention.

It wasn’t until I asked my brother what that situation meant that I realized I had been assaulted. I remember asking him if that was wrong and he told me that if I asked him to stop and he didn’t then something was very wrong. My brother was the one who ended up telling my mom who in turn told my father. My parents did everything right. They first spoke to the parents, then asked the Eldership at our church for help and each time we were laughed at. I was overreacting. I was upset because he didn’t like me back. I was in the wrong. I watched the Elders of the church that I grew up in not even listen to my family when we asked for help and guidance— I feel that it is important to point out that they had known this boy for two years and me for nine.

I lost a lot that summer, but a lot was also taken from me. I lost close friends, I lost the trust I had in men, I lost the trust I had in The Church, and I lost the trust I had in my own word. Now in the grand scheme of assault a “feel up” may not seem like much, but its lasting effects on me continued to make me feel a disregard for my own wants and boundaries because I felt they would probably be disrespected.

Fast forward to the summer before my first year at university. I’ve had a few beers and a different boy
from a new church comes over. We go to my pool and kiss, but the whole time he’s talking down to me. Saying I’m annoying, telling me what to do, and offering me the beer he brought. This story is a lot shorter than the previous because, unfortunately, all I remember is my friends running in my room pulling him off, hurling insults his way so he would be too embarrassed to stay, and holding me while I cried.

The next morning I woke up naked. I woke up and my best friend kept asking if I was ok and said that she’s pretty sure I had sex the night before. I had no recollection of this and told her she was crazy, but once she left I saw the condom on the ground. I remember just looking at it and wondering if I should just pretend I never saw it. If I didn’t know what happened than I would be ok, but I couldn’t forget it. I had been raped. Three years later and I still don’t quite believe it. I quickly felt like the 13 year old girl who was frozen in the church van, but I told myself that I was 18 now and I knew what to do. I called my sister, got a Plan B, and went to college 3 weeks later.

So you tell me, should I not have shared a blanket while the A/C was blasting? Should I never drink a beer before hanging out with someone? Or, maybe, do you think that when someone says no, or are incapable of doing such, you should leave them alone?

These stories worry me because I don’t think the boys who attacked me realize what they have done. I think they truly do believe that I either overreacted or wanted it. I know I was raped and assaulted and I know I am a survivor, but do you realize that you are a rapist? That you have sexually assaulted someone?

To the two boys who did this to me, I wish you a happy, healthy marriage and many children— especially boys. I wish for nothing like this to ever happen to someone you love. I hope you are honest with your wife and let her love you despite the horrid things you both have done. I hope, more than anything, that you realize you were wrong and teach your children to never commit your sins. I pray that your children are better than you.

To anyone who has been affected by sexual assault — let’s press on until we no longer have to live in fear of trusting the boy from church. Push yourself past the interference that is inevitably going to run past you. Let’s press on because God didn’t make rapists. God made people in HIS image. HIS perfect image.



Posted on behalf of a company member of Lynda Radley's The Interference, which premieres at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016.  For more information on the play and Pepperdine Scotland's partnership with Rape Crisis Centres please visit www.pepperdinedrama.com

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