As I lay in bed nursing my 5 month old son, I am confused.  What causes someone who starts out so sweet and innocent to grow up and rape people?

I met him when we were 3 or 4 years old, and we made fast friends.  Why would he later rape me?

I remember going to his birthday parties and having him at mine. We were born 10 days apart. I never forgot that.  He’s in old photo albums.  So why? Why would he do that?

At five, in kindergarten,  when we had to learn our home phone number,  he was the first person I gave it to and he gave me his. We were the best of friends. Why would he do that to me?

At six or seven,  when I stayed home from school with chicken pox, there was a knock on the door.  It was him. I remember my mom telling him I couldn’t see him because I was sick.  I waved a socked hand at him from behind my mom. What happened to him?

We did the dumbest things together,  like tearing up library books, burning drinking straws when we were older, and seeing who could blow the biggest spit bubble.  ((Sigh)) Why?

He was in tears when I,  at 13, dislocated my knee. I laughed at him inwardly for being such a wuss when I was the one hurt and I didn’t cry. I thought he cared and was my friend.

I remember leaving school one day, something happened and he misread the situation, thinking someone was bothering me. He told me to let him know if anyone bothered me because he’d handle it. Said he’d protect me. Why didn’t he protect me from himself?

Why did he prey on me and rape me the very next year?  Why didn’t he stop when I yelled, tried to fight him off, then froze? Why did his best friend open the door, smile,  and close it, making it clear that this *was* happening.  I *was* screaming,  trying to get away but my “friend” wasn’t listening.

Why did he tell me that my screaming cheered him on?  Why did he take pleasure in that? Why did he go on to taunt me anytime he saw me after that?
Why did he look frightened out of his wits the one time I saw him first and my mom was there?

He’s dead now, recently shot and killed.  There is a small sense of freedom.  No more do I need to worry about keeping quiet so that my family won’t go after him.  No more will he taunt me if I happen to see him while in DC. He won’t brag to another soul about how he “got me” as if it was consensual.

I can hear my mom warning me that everyone I consider a friend is not my friend. About a month before his death,  I was told that a too close “friend” had been dating him for the last few years.  I felt bad. I thought I’d betrayed her in keeping quiet and, because of my silence,  someone I loved ended up with a guy who not only raped me but others. I didn’t protect her. I mean, who wants to be with someone like that?

The truth has a way of showing up and blinding us with its beacon of light. She knew all along. I don’t remember telling her but she knew.  I wrote a status on Facebook quoting a Biblical passage and didn’t mention rape or him but she couldn’t keep it in. Said *I* was being cruel. That it didn’t matter what I *claimed* happened.  She and her uncle said I was seeking attention and somehow violated a code of the street we grew up on with my post. She told her uncle, “Don’t keep responding to her. We both know this is a bogus cry for attention.” Said my post was tacky and distasteful.

I was so hurt and angry. I felt betrayed,  misunderstood, and not believed by people I thought I knew and knew me. In my grief and anger, I ate nothing that day. I prayed. I actually prayed for all who grieved his loss. I was as gentle but firm as I could be in responding to them because at the heart of it all, people I cared about were hurting. I know it’s easier to be angry than to be sad and grieve. I didn’t want to be a source of added pain for them.

Then, I cried and became enraged,  thinking about how rape isn’t just one day. It lingers, haunts and seeks to still destroy a person even 23 years later.

I lay in bed in between my 5 month old son, and 15 year old daughter. He’s nursing, I’m trying not to cringe. Her body touches mine and I’m trying not to cringe or recoil or push them away because they are my *babies* and they mean me no harm.  I snapped awake this morning after dreaming that it happened to my daughter. I keep crying.  I hate this. I hate that he can be dead and gone and I can still suffer because of his decision to steal my virginity,  my innocence, and lie about it. It’s a constant battle to not recoil from my husband’s touch, or anyone really.  I remember speaking with an older cousin, she reached out to touch me and instinctively,  I recoiled.  I tried to stop myself.  I hoped so badly that she didn’t notice. One of my cousins noticed.  He came over to me and asked me why I didn’t want her to touch me.  I was so embarrassed. So embarrassed behind my behavior. It wasn’t the first or last time that happened.

See, he touched the side of my hip. He said my skin was so soft.  My body didn’t forget that and all too often, someone innocently reaches out to touch me and I flinch. This, and so much more, makes up the innumerable “souvenirs” of rape. I remember my mom being so incredibly tired,  picking me up from one thing or another.  A few times, she sent my stepfather or cousin.  I begged her to come for me herself.  She said she was tired and needed a break.  I understood but I was afraid and I didn’t know how to tell her why.

((Sigh)) How does this happen? I keep looking at my infant son. What went wrong?

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