Athena's Story



Dear Dr.Patti

My name is Athena and I'm 18 years old. I've told this story to three people so far, and every time I tell it I feel like a weight gets lifted off of me. Before I tell my story I'd like to say your book was one of the most inspiring books I've ever read. I thank you so, so much for that. Reading what you had to say helped me realize that what I'm feeling and what I'm going through isn't something I'm alone in, and thats helped me a lot.

Just about four months ago I was raped at a party by the same guy that was throwing it. It was a cold New England night in the beginning of March this past winter. I went there with a group of my friends. We spent hours getting ready, this party was supposed to be huge; everyone was invited. Not long before we got there the cops had showed up. They heard there was a party going on and they were trying to break it up before it even started - apparently a teacher overheard someone talking about the party in school and reported it. His mom was there and made an announcement that people could stay but they couldn't drink in case the cops came again. Naturally most of the people there left. My ride decided that it would be rude to leave him alone on his birthday and since they were good friends we ended up staying.

It was a small group that stayed, maybe 20-25 people. There was so much alcohol available in anticipation of how many people were supposed to show up, and because of that my friends and I were completely wasted. I took shot after shot, drank beer after beer, and played drinking games for who knows how long. I was the drunkest I've ever been. Everything was spinning and faces were blurs. For some reason I wanted to drink more - I beat myself up about this decision almost daily - so I went looking for more beers. All the ones upstairs were gone. I could make him out in the small crowd and decided to ask him where the extra beers were (it was his house after all). He took me by the hand and guided me downstairs to the basement. By the time I got there I didn't even remember what I was going down there for. He took my face in his hands and smashed my face into his. I couldn't pull away. I just stood there; shocked, passive, and afraid. His teeth were grinding against mine and all I wanted to do was leave. He looked at me and said "Lets go over to the corner." In my slurred voice I replied, "What for?" He didn't say anything. He guided me over to the corner, I was like a zombie with almost no control over my own body. Meanwhile I was starting to panic. I kept repeating "I'm too drunk, I'm too drunk...help me, please, please help me." He unzipped my jeans and shushed me as my pleas became more desperate. He went inside of me and I started to cry. I continued to ask for help and repeat over and over that I was too drunk. I never said no though. I was so out of it that I could only repeat those two things. Everything around me was spinning. I was fading in and out, everything so fuzzy. What happened next I'm not really sure. He didn't come as far as I know. I think he had trouble keeping it up. He left me in the basement standing against a wall with my pants at my knees, crying. I managed to get my pants on right and pulled myself up the stairs leaning on the railing. I was sobbing so hard I thought I would pass out. I tried to run outside but I had nowhere to go so I collapsed on the floor. My friends were all dancing and when they saw me they all ran over to me, a few others joined. I told them it was nothing, I said I lost a shoe and I was sad. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried until my ride was ready to go.

In the morning I took the longest shower of my life. I stood there until the water was icy and even then I didn't get out. I scrubbed every inch of my body vigorously attempting to rid myself of the sickly dirty feeling. After that I made myself a promise that I would go back to normal, pretend as though nothing happened. I didn't even know it was rape until way later. For a few months I numbed myself and coasted through school and life. I was so depressed and empty inside. I mourned the loss of my care-free old self. I used to think I was invincible, nothing horrible could happen to me, but that view was shattered. Eventually I was tired of carrying the burden around. I realized I wanted to want to do things again. I wanted to stop being numb. My parents weren't an option to talk to - my mom would be devastated and probably limit my rights. She would tell me all the things I shouldn't have done. There's a lot more to our relationship that is complicated, but basically when there's bad things going in our family she's never there for me when I need her the most. My dad on the other hand is so high all the time that he would probably just smoke a lot more weed and get angry. All I wanted was someone I could talk to without them getting angry or pushing me away. I needed to get rid of my secret. I needed someone to listen.

I ended up telling my lit. teacher which was one of the best decisions I've made. She listened and gave me amazing insight. I was so confused about what happened, I didn't think what happened was rape at all because I never said no flat out. She helped me see that it wasn't my fault and that it was rape. It was school policy for her to tell my guidance counselor which forced me to talk about it more. Thats what really helped me accept what happened. I made it through the rest of the school year smoothly with the help of my amazing teachers and counselors. I will be forever grateful for that.

I don't talk to him ever and I don't have any intention of doing so. One day maybe I'll confront him and make sure he knows what he did was wrong, but I'm not quite there yet. This whole time I've been so focused on getting better and trying to get back to my "normal" self. Only recently have I realized that isn't a realistic goal. First off, I can't get back to my old self. Whether I like it or not I'm a different person. My experience changed my life and I have to learn from it and encompass it into my new self. I also realized that healing isn't linear. Its not a smooth trip forward. One week I'll not drink at a party and be so proud of my self control, then the next week I'll get too drunk and sleep with someone I barely know. Sometimes I slip up and use drugs, guys, and drinking to deal with what goes on in my life. Its a hard process getting my confidence and trust back. I'm getting there, slowly but surely. I will one day be a more confident, assertive person. I can get better.

...........Athena.



Dr. Patti responds:

Dear Athena;

         Thanks for reaching out to your fourth person! It does sound like your teachers and counselors really were great in helping you. I think it is really important that you keep reading "Invisible Girls" and also come to our blog at www.girlthrive.com - You can be totally anonymous there if you choose.

         You sound like you are in the process of healing - But I admit I am a bit worried about you. The fact that you are still getting drunk at parties and that you do not seem to have a group of girlfriends that will look after each other is not good. It means that you are acting out in ways that you will also feel bad about. You are right healing is not linear. But if you can do things and behave in ways that later you will not blame yourself and feel bad about, that will help you a lot. I am also worried because it sounds like you are in High School and that if you don't work this destructive behavior out you will get to college and not have enough self regulated boundaries to guide you and you could be vulnerable to more situations where it would be easy to be raped. I agree with you that you do not have to speak with the asshole who did this to you, and yes of course it was rape, and by you saying "I'm too drunk..." In my opinion that is saying "No." I would like you to get very creative and figure out ways to get out some of your tension and pain - it won't be linear - you may have triggers - you may cry yourself to sleep sometimes, but all those things will be on your path to healing. And each time you are proud of yourself you will feel stronger. This is all about getting stronger and as one of my brilliant clients said "I was given a pile of shit and out of it I had to learn to grow a patch of daisies." I do believe you will get back to your "old self", only it will be a stronger self that you encompass into this new self. Thanks so much for reaching out.

................................xoxo, Dr. Patti.




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