Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The One That Got Away - A Company Member's Story

The One That Got Away
A Company Member's Story 


For a long while I have been contemplating: Should I share my story with others? What would people think of me if they knew? Am I ready to face that part of my life?

Lynda Radley said it well when she wrote, "Some survivors never speak." Because, for about five years now, I never have. I have buried my story so deep, and it was not until I started working on Lynda’s new play The Interference that I too was "forced to face some really uncomfortable truths." 

It was the summer before I entered my senior year of high school. The final remnants of spring were finally melting away, sun block began to replace lotion on the grocery store shelves, and I was just about to start working at the local dessert shop. I felt light- ready to take on summer. Although, even amidst the warmth I felt in my heart, something still felt broken inside. Right around that same time, I had found out that the boy I had been seeing for almost eight months had been keeping something from me. For, not only had he been seeing me that year, but he had also been seeing another girl at the same time, one of my friends. I was crushed. I blamed myself. I did not understand why I was not good enough. I went into summer feeling not only abandoned, but also embarrassed, used, and unworthy of love.

The unworthiness I felt in my heart made me easily impressionable and frankly, hyper-vulnerable. So it comes as no surprise, that when this same boy asked me out on a date later that summer, I said yes.

I am willing to admit that evening was avoidable. I will admit that I could have been more aware:

Going into that evening, I did ignore the fact that he had already taken advantage of me once before. That there were warning signs.

I did consent to “watching a film in his basement” that night.

But, I did not invite him to take things too far.

He did that.

He broke the boundaries.

He is the one that took advantage of me even after I said I was uncomfortable.

That was all him.

No one thinks they will be a victim of sexual assault. We look at people who have been sexually assaulted, and think: “man, they must not have been very careful.” We automatically question the victim instead of the perpetrator. We automatically wonder why the victim “let themselves get into a situation like that?” But, the second it happens to us, the second sexual assault becomes our own reality, we reevaluate everything. Everything suddenly begins to make sense. Everything suddenly becomes more real.

The Interference is all about a survivor’s struggle for justice. “When a university sports star rapes a fellow student it is the survivor who seems to be on trial – struggling with the very forces that are supposed to protect her.”

Never once, have I questioned the purpose of my involvement in this company. This story may not have been written about me, but it certainly reminds me of that summer night when I was only 17. I was emotionally abused by my friend for eight months prior. That emotional abuse eventually led to sexual assault. Like Karen, I was violated by my friend who was not only the star athlete of my high school’s sports team, but he also was the lead in almost every school theatre production. Like Radley’s character Smith, he was “bad ass.”

I will not go into detail about what happened that evening. I will not tell you his name or where he goes to school. I’m laughing right now because I just realized I would not be able to tell you most of those things, even if I wanted to; I have no idea what he is doing, who he is dating, or even where he lives. He is a stranger to me now. In fact, we have not spoken since that night.

I won’t disclose what my name is because what happened to me that night is not my whole story. I am not a victim. I won’t let what he did define who I am as a person.
I am only writing this blog because I want people to hear me when I say:

Sexual violence does not have just one victim.

Sexual violence does not always have to involve alcohol. Neither of us were drunk that evening. Even if there was alcohol involved, there is still no excuse for what he did. There never is an excuse for sexual harm.

Just because survivors aren’t speaking up does not mean they are not out there.

Sexual violence is a crime. It is a common one. And, it is happening now.

A survivor may have buried their experience deep in the depths of their soul, but sexual assault should certainly never be ignored by the public.

Without even knowing it, Cathy Thomas-Grant, Alex Fthenakis, and Michael John McCarthy are responsible for helping me close a wound in my heart. Without even knowing it, my wonderful company has helped me cope, has helped me come to terms with what happened. Lynda helped me move on.

I know I will never see my “once” friend again. I will never be able to tell him how he destroyed my self confidence, how disgusted I am that he used my emotional brokenness at the time as his vantage point, and I will never be able to tell him how hurt I was that he never said sorry. He will never have to face what he did.

I am okay now. I am about to enter my senior year of college. I have a wonderful boyfriend who always treats me with undying love and genuine respect. I am a part of a wonderful company who is about to perform a moving piece written by Lynda Radley at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, August 3 -16th. I am okay, but thousands of women and men are not.

Overall, it is my only hope that this play will inspire change, will maybe even change the life of anyone who comes to see it.

The Interference has certainly changed mine.

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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