My daughter was raped during the summer of her freshman year. It took place not only in our home, but in her bedroom. She was attacked by a miserable piece of human scum who was a high school senior at the time. An act of pure senseless, hateful violence stripped my daughter of any innocence she had. It was also the beginning of the end for my marriage. But I don’t want to draw focus on myself. What I do want to do is send a message to anyone else who’s been through this. I want to send a message to anyone who has read about this, or knows someone to whom this has happened. As God is my witness, unless it has happened to you, or someone that you love, you will never, truly understand how horrible this is.
Rape isn’t about sex. Rape is about taking power away from someone else. Rape is about leaving a woman emotionally and intellectually scarred for life.
It also scars permanently and deeply those who love the victim.
I’d like to hope that this is a cautionary tale. Perhaps some good will come out of it, other than the opportunity for me to put into words the rage that I’ve held deep inside for the past six years. It is the story of two parents who weren’t on the same page when it came to raising their children. It is the story of two parents who both wanted the best for their children. It is a story of how things can go horribly, horribly wrong in the blink of an eye, even when you think that you are in control, that you know what’s going on in your child’s life.
We live in a rural area, far from other children the same ages as ours. It is tough making and keeping friends, especially when your children are young, when everything has to be pre-arranged. Unlike my childhood, and that of my husband, there was no running across the street, or next door, to play with friends. We had to drive to pick up playmates for our children, and bring them here, or hope that parents would drive them here. There was no spontaneity. My kids never knew the joy of just casually ‘hanging out’ with other kids because there were none within a mile’s radius.
We wanted our kids to have friends, and we thrilled, as they got older, when other kids would hang around our house. We were stupid. During my daughter’s freshman year in high school, I remember vividly coming downstairs at 11 PM at night in my bathrobe to chase away the high school football team, armed with six packs of beer, who decided to hang at our house because it was a) away from theirs, and b) kids sense when there’s a little too much willingness, too much eagerness, to have your kids have friends – even when your kids are being used.
The night my daughter was raped, I came downstairs again in my damned robe at 11:30 PM. She and another girl were sitting around the table in our family room as four boys were playing poker. I recognized all of the boys, although I didn’t know two of them well. The boys were drinking beer; I think my daughter was drinking beer as well. She wasn’t going to be driving anywhere; she was one floor removed away from her own room. And in the past my husband had encouraged and allowed both boys and girls to ‘sleep over’ in our family room if the hour was too late, or, unspokenly, if they had been drinking. I was never happy with this idea, but he felt badly that he had chosen the house in which we were living, the one that was so far away from civilization. He was willing to be too lenient when it came to the chance that our kids had friends over – and kids sense this, like sharks circling in a pool of blood.
The boy who raped my daughter hid in her bedroom until the following morning. I found him myself, hiding behind a large, stuffed chair in the corner of her room. She had drunk too much, someone had mixed her drinks, all I know for certain is that she had thrown up all over the side of her bed and much of her blankets. She was out like a light; he crouched like the garbage that he is behind that chair. I remember screaming at him, but he was small, and quick: he grabbed his shoes and ran down the stairs, past my husband, drinking his coffee at the kitchen table.
My husband never pursued this boy. We knew who he was, we knew why he did it, we also knew that his family was ‘wealthy’ in that they owned Italian restaurants at the New Jersey shore. He was a nobody, a nothing in school: he did not excel academically, athletically or socially. He was dirt, and he took out that knowledge that he was dirt by getting my daughter drunk and raping her.
I took my daughter to the hospital to get her examined and make sure she got the ‘morning after’ pill. It was just the two of us. My husband did not want to speak about it. The only comment that he made, then and to this day, was that “she shouldn’t have been drinking”. I could have driven a stake in his heart then. I still could. He never came down to check on what the kids were doing. He never, ever did. He was happy when kids – some that we knew, some that no one knew – came to our house because at least our kids had ‘friends’ over.
I wish that I could say this story had a happy ending. As in much of life, this had no happy endings. It was the death of the innocence of my daughter, who trusted people, who thought that they liked her for herself, who couldn’t believe someone would so vastly take advantage of her. It was the beginning of the death of a marriage, where two people were on polar opposite sides of what should – and shouldn’t – be done. So deep was the wound that my husband has never initiated a conversation about it. So deep was my heart wounded that he wouldn’t, didn’t, couldn’t take a knife and drive it in that boy’s heart, just as he had emotionally done to my daughter. I used to sit outside of his house, waiting to see him. I was afraid to confront him alone. His parents have, allegedly, ties to organized crime here in New Jersey. I was afraid. I was too afraid to do what should have been done for my daughter. We never pressed charges. My husband insisted that she continue her sophomore year at the same high school. It was a disaster. At least, he relented enough to allow her to attend a private school for the last two years of high school. I will never forgive that boy. I will never forgive my husband.
This shouldn’t be all about me. But for so many years, I have pent up these emotions for so long. Unless you’ve walked in my shoes, you don’t know how horrible the pain will always be.