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Cover 05/22/2013

The Survivors Project

Excerpts from ebook that gives sexual-abuse survivors a chance to tell their stories

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I waited for the elevator, making the subconscious choice to stand closer to my door than his. At the same moment it arrived, he exited the apartment. Moving to the elevator he held the door open and said, “Going down?”

I always thought that I had fairly good instincts, but I didn’t really know what instincts were until that moment. I remember two thoughts very clearly. Get out of this hallway. Do not get into that cage with him. I looked down at my phone – 3:46 – and said, “Crap, I forgot something in my apartment.”

I had to turn my back to him to unlock my door. My mind continued to tell me to get inside, while another voice said I’d feel silly later. But even trying to convince myself I was overreacting, I knew that I wasn’t going in to work on time that day. Even as I write this years later, my heart pounds and I feel a case of the shakes coming on. Get out of the hallway. I was back in my dark apartment and closing the door when he charged.

He slammed into the door, knocking me back. Given the bruise on my right temple, the door must have hit me, but it’s hazy. I immediately started screaming. I’ve never screamed like that before. He didn’t approve of the noise and began punching me in the head. When the first blow landed everything went bright white, and I finally understood what “seeing stars” meant. The beating was unrelenting as he wrestled me to the floor. He whispered continuously for me to “shut the fuck up.” I wouldn’t. People later told me I was so brave to have kept screaming. I can tell you that it wasn’t a conscious choice.

When he burst through that door, my mind shattered. It’s the only way to explain it. So, as I was beaten, one piece thought, What’s happening? Is this real? Another piece knew without doubt. He was going to rape me. He got me to the floor, placed his hand over my mouth, and jamming a finger into my eye – by accident or design, I don’t know – tried to smother the sound. I wouldn’t be silenced. “If you don’t stop screaming, I’m going to make you stop breathing.” He wrapped his fingers around my neck and squeezed. I stopped screaming, but he didn’t immediately let go.

At this point, my fractured mind came together for one cohesive thought. You have to breathe. I didn’t realize this until later, but I think I blacked out for a second because I still can’t remember how he dragged me into my bedroom. My next memory is lying on the floor at the foot of my bed while he searched for the light switch. I guess he wanted to see what he was doing.

At this point, my face was swelling and everything looked distorted. He told me to take off my clothes. I barely had the strength to move. He began to remove them. I was crying, begging him to leave me alone. I told him to take anything he wanted, just please leave me alone. He told me to shut up and ordered me to take off my shirt. With a great deal of effort, I managed this. He removed my bra and then my pants, pulling them right over my shoes. Then he left for a moment and I heard him dead-bolting the front door. For less than a second I thought of running, but there was nowhere to go, and I knew he’d hit me again.

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