A Survivor of Date Rape

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Guest blog from Megan Hutchinson shared with permission from Secret Survivors: Real-Life Stories to Give You Hope for Healing.  Listen to an interview with Megan here.

Impressions of this Secret Survivor

Let me begin by telling you what a strong woman Kat is. I have always been drawn to her.  But beyond her energetic spirit, there is a compassionate woman who understands pain, shame, and healing. She is committed to helping others who are in pain because of the journey she has made, and you’ll find through her story that she has come through hurt to a place where she shines and brings joy to everyone around her. So, here is the story of Kat—a survivor of date rape.

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Born just a few days after the fourth of July, Kat has always fit the description of her mother’s nickname for her, “fire cracker baby.” When she walks into a room the energy surges as her playful and friendly persona makes its entrance. She is a strong, confident woman who grew up the youngest of four girls. It didn’t take long for Kat to figure out that she loved people and any attention she could get from them.

Kat loved to play. She remembers a childhood full of fun times. She often played in the old wooden tree house her dad built with her sister, Allison. They’d spend hours there playing, singing, dancing, and laughing. She also discovered a talent for roller-skating, and would invite neighbors to her “shows” for only ten cents. As she rolled into aerials and cartwheels the audience cheered. From that point on, Kat worked hard to gain the applause and praise of those around her.

Her family never missed church on Sunday. Mom would make sure everyone was dressed perfectly, and then dad would pile all the girls—Karen, Ann, Allison, and Kat—into the family station wagon. Kat hated church, mostly because it was boring, but also because her school was part of the church-it was like she could never escape. But church is the place Kat remembers the importance of good behavior. When the girls misbehaved they were spanked. However, when they were well behaved, they were rewarded with a piece of candy from the local 7-11 store. The girls loved candy, so they were usually on their best behavior.

When Kat was nine, the family went to New York City and saw the Broadway musical, “Little Orphan Annie.” It inspired Kat like nothing else, and it became her goal to sound just like Annie. It was the birth of a big dream for Kat.

Soon, Kat was singing all the time. Her parents enrolled her in private singing lessons for ten years, and she began to sing professionally during that time. Whenever her parents had guests over to the house, Kat was the entertainment. She performed everywhere she could-musicals, churches, and even her tree house (so all the neighbors could hear!). She looked for any opportunity to perform for an audience, and when people clapped and cheered for her she felt like she was special, like she was loved and valued by people and worth something. It was during these experiences that Kat started to determine how loved she was by how well she performed—in every area of her life.

When Kat was thirteen she was a typical teenage girl—concerned about her body and consumed by boys. Shortly after her fourteenth birthday, it didn’t take long for her to find a boy she liked. She had just started attending a new youth group in a local church when she first locked eyes with Dave. That night he offered to drive her home and she accepted. When they got to her house, he asked her out to the movies and she accepted. But then she remembered that she was barely fourteen, and Dave was almost seventeen. Her parents had a rule about dating—not until you’re sixteen. But Kat was so thrilled to have the attention of a boy she liked that she decided to lie to her parents. She told them the whole youth group was going to the drive-in, and they believed her since she had never given them a reason not to trust her.

It was a balmy August night when they first went out, and from that moment they were hooked. They started seeing each other nearly every day, and Kat parents were thrilled that she was spending so much time with the “youth group.” Weeks went by and Kat began to feel things for Dave that she never felt before; she trusted him and believed she loved him.

One September night Kat and Dave went to a friend’s house to hang out in the hot tub, since the friend’s parents were out of town. They splashed and laughed, and Dave gently kissed Kat and told her how much he loved being near her. Then he started to touch her breasts and she began to cry. She had never been in a physical relationship before and she was not comfortable doing that. But Dave’s response put her at ease. “I’m sorry, I love you. Let’s pray.” She believed him, especially since he told her that he loved her. So far in life, Kat’s experiences had taught her that people who love you don’t intentionally hurt you. But the next night they went back to the hot tub and he started again. Except this time he tried to go even further. Again, Kat cried, and Dave was quick to respond, “I’m sorry, I love you. Let’s pray.” Kat believed him again. In her mind he was her first love, and she believed that he loved her and he loved God.

The next time Dave touched her, he proved that he did not really love her and was not worthy of her trust. On a warm evening in October they were together at his grandparents’ house, alone in the backyard. They looked up at the full moon as Dave began touching her with tender kisses and gentle strokes of her hair, saying over and over, “I love you…I love you.” But in an instant the tender gentleness turned into a forceful, methodical touch. His sweet voice changed to a harsh tone. He forced her onto the ground, as she cried, “No…No.” She struggled, confused by what was happening. But she could not stop him. Within seconds, he lifted her skirt and forced himself inside of her. And within seconds it was over. It all happened so quickly, but Kat recalls every vivid detail. Her boyfriend had sex with her against her will.

She lay on the ground as Dave quickly got up, adjusted himself, and looked at her tear-stained face. “What the hell is the matter with you?” he asked harshly. “I love you. Get up.” Disillusioned, she thought to herself, “He’s right. What is the matter with me?” So she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and acted like it never happened.

 

She walked away from that experience a different girl. In a matter of seconds her world was turned upside-down and nothing would ever be the same—not her family, her friends, her school, God, and especially the way she viewed herself. She thought it was her fault, and in the days, months and years that followed, she felt like a thick, dark fog surrounded her, as she felt the beating of a constant pain inside her.

Two weeks later she was getting ready to sing a solo at church when Dave walked up to her and said, “I never loved you. It’s over,” and walked away. She stood there in disbelief. She wondered, “How could he do that? How could he give himself to her and then dump her like nothing ever happened? As if sex never happened!” She wanted to scream at him, but she couldn’t find any words. She loved him and hated him at the same time and it left her confused, sad, and devastated. She fell deeper into the fog and contemplated suicide. She wrote a suicide letter to her family and then tore it into pieces. Deep inside she knew that wasn’t the answer.

One thing was certain—she became a different person. Suddenly she was doing things she had never done before—ditching school, sneaking out in the middle of the night, drinking, doing drugs, and hooking up with random guys. She knew she was at her worst when she woke up next to a guy she barely knew and asked him what they had done together. She was too drunk to remember. She eventually fell into a cycle of countless bad relationships that continued to break her heart.

It was like she was trying to drown out her pain with anything that might distract her from it, but she couldn’t escape her pain and people started to notice. It wasn’t long before her parents were catching her in her own lies. She was grounded for days, weeks, and even months on end. But it didn’t make her change. In fact, it made her rebel even more.

 

She spent her teenage years confused and in pain. Yet, she knew very well how to put on a happy face. She did this so well, she was even crowned Homecoming Queen her senior year of high school!  But only she knew deep inside, the pain she desperately was trying to hide.  She was so confused. At one point she had been an innocent nine-year old who dreamed of being Annie, then she became an infatuated 14-year-old who lost her virginity against her will. Suddenly she was 18-an adult-and her life was spinning out of control.

Throughout high school she never told anyone what had happened with Dave. She tried to cover her pain and brokenness by performing even more, trying to appear like she had it all together. She sang her heart out to get applause and dated every willing guy-anything to make her feel accepted and loved.

 

When she was 19, Kat started attending a Christian college. When she was a freshman she wore skimpy clothing to get attention from guys. She remembers very vividly one day when another girl gently confronted her about the way she dressed. It shocked Kat. She didn’t realize that she was so obvious in her search for attention and approval. She also began to realize that the feeling she got when a guy gave her a look or a smile didn’t satisfy her deep longing for love and acceptance.

Kat experienced a lot of change when she started college. But during her first semester there, something unexplainable happened. Overnight, she lost her singing voice. Doctors couldn’t explain the loss. She saw the top vocal specialist in Los Angeles, and what he told her shocked her. “Kat, you will never sing again.” With that news, she lost her vocal scholarship, her dream, and her focus in life. She was lost. For years she had dreamed that she’d make it as a singer. She was told that she was good enough to make it in New York. Kat cried and asked herself a million questions, “What will I do now? Who am I without my singing voice? Why would God allow this to happen to me?” It wasn’t until years later that she would find answers to her questions.

It was a week after the doctor’s news when Kat was sitting in chapel listening to a woman share her own story. The speaker talked about being “date raped,” and how it led her to look for love and acceptance from men to ease her pain. But she changed her life when she realized and accepted how deeply God loved her.

Kat sat, with her heart pounding hard and stomach in knots, as she listened. She felt as though the speaker was telling her story. That was the first time she realized that what happened to her when she was barely 14 was not her fault. She had been date raped. The words rang through her ears, “It was not my fault. It was not my fault.” Kat ran to her dorm room and curled into a ball with her teddy bear. She cried until she had no tears left, and then she called her mom. Kat could barely get the words out, “Mom…I…was…date…raped.” It was the first time she had told anyone.

Her mom comforted her over the phone. She reminded Kat how much she and dad loved her, and that they’d do whatever it took to get her the help she needed. “You’re going to be okay, honey. It’s going to be alright.” Kat felt a strange sense of peace for the first time in many years.

The next day Kat met with a counselor, where week-by-week, month-by-month, and year-by-year her life began to change. She learned a lot in those years. She learned that she had been date raped, and that keeping it a secret only hurt her. She learned to trust herself and to have faith in God again. She eventually learned that she could actually forgive Dave. And she learned that her true identity was not as a singer, a girlfriend, a student, or a successful career woman. Her identity was as the woman that God created her to be—with gifts, talents, and abilities that she could use to make a difference in the world.

Kat is quick to point out that she didn’t learn any of those things overnight. She spent years believing that she was unlovable and unworthy (without offering something to someone else), and unacceptable (without performing). It took years for Kat to replace the lies she believed with the truth. She had to remind herself daily who she really was, and that she was deeply loved.

During her junior year of college, Kat clung to a few verses that she prayed for herself everyday. Before going to class, she’d get on her knees with her Bible and tell herself:

“Kat, you were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:8)

“Kat, you are a new creation…” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“Kat, you are chosen by God, holy, dearly loved.” (Colossians 3:12)

As she reminded herself of these truths everyday and learned to trust her own voice, the truth began to sink in. Today, Kat knows that she is loved and accepted just the way she is-even if she can’t sing, and even if she’s not the center of attention.

 

When Kat looks back on her journey, she sees that God never wastes a pain. She believes that while it’s not easy for us to seek help for our deepest hurts, those hurts can either make us or break us. She believes that no matter how tumultuous or tragic our experience was at the time, it can eventually be used to help us, and others, grow emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. But, she knows from experience, that in order for any good to come from our pain, we have to do our part. We have to choose how we will handle our pain, or else our pain will handle us. Kat buried her pain for years, and it had repercussions in every area of her life. But once she was able to face the reality of being a date rape victim, and once she dealt with the painful effects it had on her life, she found a way to reach out to other victims, to gently guide them through their pain. It’s because she’s been able to help others that she’s come to realize that her pain was not wasted.

 

Today, Kat shares her story without hesitation, in an effort to help break down the walls of secrets we all carry in our lives. Her biggest support is from her husband, who she’s been married to for more than ten years. Together, they know the truth that there is a way out of the secrets that control us, and that there is help for our hurt.

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Reflections:

After reading Kat’s story, take a minute to reflect.  Close your eyes and imagine what it must have felt like to be a 14-year-old girl who was so brutally betrayed by someone she thought she loved and loved her. Maybe you’ve felt that kind of betrayal.

 

Have you ever felt like Kat—used, abused, and discarded like a piece of trash? When? What happened? Who was there? How did you feel? What did you do after that?

 

Do you ever feel like you have to perform to be accepted? By who? What do feel like you have to do for them?

 

 

What do you think would happen if you stopped performing to gain acceptance or get people to notice you?

 

 

Use the phrases below to help you remember who you really are, and what your value truly is. Write your name on the blank, and remember to tell yourself these things everyday.

 

_____________, you were bought with a price.

 

_____________, you are a new creation.

 

_____________, you are chosen by God, holy, dearly loved.

 

_____________, you are not alone.