Cassidy’s story as told by Anna McAtee and Erin Davenport
Life seemed like an endless joke with me. Events would spiral out of control, and I had no intention for any of it to happen. It’s almost ridiculous what happens in my life. Now I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes I take a drink, get a little tipsy, and have flashbacks. I relive what’s happened to me.
My story begins when I was only 14 years old. I met a guy named Kyle. He used his bad fortune as an advantage. It was really odd to see. He would do things out of anger, and then he would somehow make you feel guilty for it. He did this really well. He became pushy and possessive. One night, we got in an argument, and he ripped out a part of my hair. Of course, it was my fault. When this happened, it freaked me out, so I stopped talking to him. Every now and then, I would receive text messages concerning suicide. I cared less and less about what he threatened.
Kyle left me alone for a while. When I was closer to the age of 15, I was getting more common sense. I thought it was over. I was becoming tired. One school morning, there was a group of five people who now have been ingrained into my memory. I was talking with my friends. Hundreds of students and faculty were walking through the hallway. All of a sudden I hear, “You’re coming with me,” and I felt someone grab me from behind and around my ribs. In a panic, I pulled forward and the left part of my ribcage snapped out of place. This remains a scar that I will carry for the rest of my life. I couldn’t see whoever had a hold of me, but I had a pretty good guess on who it was. I reached down and grabbed this person’s leg and twisted their kneecap to the side. I could hear the tear of the kneecap, and I could see the pain in his face. It was a surreal moment, and in a panic, I got to class. I just wanted this to not be real.
Also, in my mind, I’m kinda afraid. I hurt him too. I was thinking of the ramifications of my part. I didn’t want to be expelled or suspended. With over 200 witnesses, the assistant principal discovered what had happened and pulled me into the nurse’s office. I told them everything that had happened while still feeling terrified. They actually found him in one of his classes. They handcuffed and intensely scared him. Since I was only 15, they called my legal custodial parent, which was my mother. After telling her about the assault with over 200 witnesses, they asked my mother what she would like to do with such a cut and dry case. My mother said to do nothing.
No charges were pressed. No expulsion. Maybe a small suspension or a few rumors. I actually asked my mother later on why she decided to let the boy who assaulted her own daughter go, and she said, “I know his mother from homecoming and school events. I knew she would have a hard time dealing with this, and I felt bad for him.” That response will always strain our relationship.
One day last year, events spiraled out of control once more. I had some alcohol and the next thing I knew, I was standing over my current boyfriend. I couldn’t recognize him. All I could think about was being seventeen, about an event that changed me forever.
My junior year of high school, I went to my boyfriend’s house to hang out. He asked, “Do you want some Poweraid?” And I exclaimed, “Sure!” It all started innocently enough and then suddenly, I felt like I might die. He raped me and all I could do was pray to God that I made it out of the situation alive.
Looking back, I replayed the situation and realized the Poweraid had been salty, a sign of Rohypnol. This person who was supposed to take me to prom—this guy I should’ve been able to trust—had drugged me, had taken advantage of my body, had taken advantage of me against my will. I made it out, but all I could do was grab Plan B and hope that I didn’t have to have my rapist’s child. I couldn’t really tell anyone. How do you tell your family that has spent your entire life trying to keep you safe and happy that this horrible thing occurred and nothing they did was enough to protect you? I felt like I would just mess up their lives if I told them. It would break them, and there was absolutely nothing they could do to repair me. This person had stolen my happiness, my sense of security, and so much more. Internally, I was freaking out, but I couldn’t communicate. I didn’t know who to reach out to so I had to keep it to myself and figure out how to survive with it on my own.
I feel like I have to be isolated because I used to be less inhibited, and I was raped and could have been murdered. Trusting people is risky and it leads to impossible situations. Smoking is my outlet from that. I smoke a lot so I’m obviously around a lot of other smokers. It’s funny. So many of them have been through similar situations to what I have. We end up in these spaces together talking and we connect. If someone would’ve said something or stepped away, none of it would have happened. It’s painful to reflect on everything and to always wonder if one event caused everything else to be set into motion. I can’t help but be flooded with questions. What if the guy who abused me when I was 14 had gotten help? What if everything wasn’t dismissed as “boys will be boys?” Those actions could never be considered okay, but nothing happened to him. I always wonder if I hadn’t met him if I would’ve been forced into this cycle, if I would’ve been in a chain of abusive relationships, if I would’ve been raped. Is it all the result of that one occurrence? It feels like it set me on a crash course.
I just wanted to find a relationship that made me feel wanted and needed, but it led me into terrible places. My brain kept saying that nothing was wrong until it suddenly became life-or-death situations. I was striving to feel wanted, but my entire life became these relationships. They took everything from me and surrounded my life with themselves. And I’d always heard that it would be some dude in a trench coat in the bushes that would hurt me, or a creepy bus driver or weird neighbor. It can happen like that, but it’s more often the boyfriend, the boyfriend’s friend, a guy friend, a buddy that you party with, someone you have a crush on. Someone you wouldn’t expect to harm you.
That’s the most awful part. My whole reality shifted because people that I trusted infringed on my boundaries, my sense of wrong and right. It’s hard to overcome.
This story originally appeared in Facing Teen Dating Violence, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by A Better Way in Muncie, Indiana.