My Institution Betrayed Me After My Boyfriend Attempted Suicide – Part 1

Trigger Warning: This post involves descriptions of emotional abuse, suicide attempts, and negative interactions with police and college administrators.

“In time, you will see that this was all some misunderstanding. The three of us will sit down and talk this out. We just need a mediation. You need to still do your job as you signed a contract and when he gets back to school, it will all work out.”

Friday Afternoon

It is the middle of May, a few weeks before the end of the spring term. I’m currently sitting in the Executive Director of Residence Life’s office. I asked her, moments before if I could leave my position as Resident Assistant (RA) early as I no longer felt safe at school.

I went to a small, private, liberal arts institution for my undergraduate work and was the typical student leader. Meaning: I was doing way too much and being tokenized way too often. Different story for another day.

Being an (RA) was one of my many positions I enjoyed my college experience. Looking back, there was also moments, like this one, where my body screamed from the inside and my mind did not have the language to express those feelings.

The Friday before this Monday morning conversation, I was working at one of my on-campus position as an Office Assistant. I received a call from my ex-boyfriend (let’s call him Frank); we ended things about three weeks prior. There is a longer version of this story, I will just begin at this point.

Please Come Over And Talk

Frank asked me to come to his apartment after work to talk with him about his future plans. Graduation was coming up for both of us and we were trying to figure out our next steps. Frank was prior military and was considering returning after graduation. He asked if I would come over and talk it through with him.

I asked him to meet me in a public place as I was somewhat uneasy about meeting him in his apartment. Frank made up some excuse as to why he couldn’t leave; something about waiting for the ‘cable guy’. I told him I would come but only for a few minutes.

I told two of my sorority sisters where I was going and if they did not see or hear from me in an hour, to come and get me from the apartment. We all did a nervous laugh (half joking/half serious) before parting ways. Five minutes later, I was knocking on Frank’s door.

The Talk

We had some small talk for the first ten minutes or so. We hadn’t spoken to each other in almost a month. Frank did vaguely talk about going back to the Army and what that would entail. He had a 2-year-old daughter and wanted to make sure he was doing the best thing for her.

About 45 minutes into the conversation, the energy shifted. Frank wanted to know why we broke up and why I no longer wanted to be with him. I tried to be direct and concise with my answers to avoid getting too emotional. I reminded him that I did not come to discuss our relationship and would have to leave if he continued.

Frank stated that I could leave after he showed me the gift that he got me. I told him he could show it to me another time and in a public place. I had this feeling in my stomach that this was no longer safe and that I had to get out immediately.

Shit Got Real

When I tried to leave, Frank blocked the door with his body while pushing me out of the way. It felt like a movie. Here I am in six-inch heels (it was undergrad/I was young) trying to run from the front door to the back door attempting to get out. I started to panic on the inside.

“Just let me show you what I got you and you can leave.”

“Okay.”

Frank goes into his bedroom. (Side note: The doors locked from the inside with a key and he took the key with him. So I could not leave. I know what you’re thinking.)

He comes back out with a small white plastic bag with a small white box.

“Okay, thank you. Let me leave now.” I did not open any of this.

“I got you an engagement ring, don’t you want to see it?”

“Nope.”

“I want to marry you! You don’t even care?”

“Nope, I just want to leave.” (If you know me, then you know it came out just like this.)

He then tore open the bag, grabbing a small rusty razor blade and violently thrusting towards his wrist.

“Is this what you want? I’m prepared to kill myself.”

For what seemed like an eternity, I struggled with him trying to get the razor from him. Frank kept insisting that he need to cut himself since I no longer cared about him.

Attempting Suicide

I eventually stopped trying to stop him. I managed to grab my phone (remember flip phones) and pressed the call button. The phone automatically dialed the last number on my list, which was a sorority sister. I left the phone open as long as possible so that she could hear what was going on.

I also noticed that every time Frank attempted to cut himself, it did not work. The blade was too dull. He tried pushing harder and harder. As he pressed the blade into his skin, he gave me this burning look. “Is this what you want? You not gon try and stop me?”

To which I replied simply, “Nope. You want to kill yourself, go ahead and do it.”

The Escape – Institutional Betrayal #1

Somehow I was able to get out of the back door. I ran down three flights of stairs (yep, still in my 6-inch heels). He followed me until he saw that other people were outside.

I called 9-1-1 and told them what happen.

“Is this a joke? You seem really calm so I have to ask if this is for real?”

“What?! Yes, it is for real.”

“Someone will be there shortly. Oh, I think I hear the sirens. You should be okay now.”

Click.

A few minutes later, the police, fire trucks, and ambulance arrived. A police officer (appeared to be a young white man) came to me to ask me what happened.

Laughing, “He tried to cut himself with a razor but it was too dull?”

Other police officers went to get him and brought him out in cuffs.

My sorority sisters finally showed up.

The Aftermath – Institutional Betrayal #2

Frank was placed on a 5150, a 72-hour hold at the local hospital.

That was Friday.

On Monday, I asked to speak with the Executive Director of Residence Life.

She was well aware of the situation as she was briefed during the emergency meeting held over the weekend.

I explained to her that I no longer felt safe. That I was still in shock about the whole incident.

I did not think I would be able to focus on my classes or my Housing responsibilities.

I was scared and just wanted to go home.

I wasn’t crying.

I wasn’t yelling.

I probably appeared emotionless.

I didn’t show typical reactions to trauma.

She told me that I was fine.

“In time, you will see that this was all some misunderstanding. The three of us will sit down and talk this out. We just need a mediation. You need to still do your job as you signed a contract and when he gets back to school, it will all work out.”

That conversation did more damage to me than being trapped in the apartment.

I realized that there was nowhere safe to go.

No one I could trust.

I realized that no one believed me. That no one wanted to see what was happening. Two of their students needed help. It was not going to just blow over. Things were not going to be normal again.

There is a second part of this story. It involves a plan for a mass shooting, a police interrogation, and me having an additional year of classes. I will work on it for next time as this is already longer than I anticipated.

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading.

Black Women and Sexual Violence in America: Slavery

 

img_0360I want this blog to be an information source for Black women to learn and understand more about sexual and relationship violence. Over the next few posts, I will be giving a brief history of Black women and sexual violence in America.

There is the impression that sexual violence is a new trend. It seems like every social media and news outlet is constantly reporting on rape, especially on college campuses and military bases.

This is not new at all!

For years, women have been victims of sexual violence and fighting to end it.

This can seem impossible when the country’s decision makers are mostly clueless White men.

Black women make up 8% of the US population.

Every 2 minutes, a sexual assault occurs.

Every 6 minutes, a child is a victim of a sexual abuse.

22% of homicides are a result of domestic violence.

Over 60% of Black women will be a victim of sexual abuse before they are 18 years old.

For every Black woman who reports her assault, 15 Black women will not.

These are only a few of the staggering statistics about sexual violence.

Slavery: Black Women As Property

White people arrived to the Americas and were ready to take over this newly discovered land. The problem was that there were already people living in the Americas.

Shout out to the Natives!

However, for the White people, the Natives were considered savages; not fit enough to use or own the land appropriately.

In an attempt to take over the lands, the Whites needed to establish control and dominance over the Natives.

Among all other heinous tools, rape was also used.

In the tragic end, the natives were not going to make good slaves.

The White people needed a group that they could more easily control.

The Whites began to bring the enslaved Africans over to the Americas.

It was easier to control the Africans as they were in an unfamiliar land and spoke different languages.

Africans were also defined as savages and were seen only as property, not human.

The Whites’ wealth, prosperity, and businesses were dependent on the labor of the slaves.

img_0361In order to increase capital, the White owners needed to increase their labor. Therefore, White and Black men raped women slaves in order to get pregnant.

After childbirth, the children were more likely sold to another White slave owner where they would groomed to be an even bigger, better slave.

The African women took their own measures for birth control

This resistance included taking camphor tree bark or performing their own abortions.

This resistance continued even after slavery.

Looking Towards The Future

Black women clubs in the early 1800s began to formally organize and advocate for sexual violence (raise money and awareness).

The most difficult part was that Black women were not seen as human and not capable of being raped. It would not make for a great news story (much still has not changed today).

There was a lot of unknown and unrecognized work done by countless Black women fighting back against White slave owners, northern White men, and Black men.

Even after the abolishment of slavery, Black people were still seen (and federally defined) as being less-than human.

Rape continued.

The fight continued.

In the next post, I will be discussing sexual violence during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras.

Want to learn more?

Join us TODAY, Wednesday, October 26th at 9pm, on Twitter for the #CiteASista Talk where we will be discussing more about Black women and sexual violence.

“I Thought It Was Over!”: 5 Things No One Tells You About Being Raped

The assault has happened.

The initial shock has come and gone.
You are attempting to regain some sense of normalcy. But, it is difficult.
Even impossible.
Or maybe years have passed.
Like in my case, the violence happened in my childhood.
Family and friends may not understand.
They may have gone back to their normal lives.
Unaware of how difficult things are for you.


What do you mean by sexual violence?

Side note, I will mostly talk about childhood sexual abuse. However, I want to be clear that the things I will describe can apply to all victims of sexual violence.

The American Psychological Association defines sexual abuse as “unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.”

In The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, they provide the following examples of sexual violence:
• Fondled, kissed, or held for sexual gratification
• Forced to perform oral sex  courage
• Raped or otherwise penetrated
• Made to watch sexual acts
• Subjected to excessive talk about sex
• Fondled or hurt genitally while being bathed
• Subjected to unnecessary medical treatments that satisfied an adult’s sexual needs
• Shown sexual moves or other pornography
• Made to pose for seductive or sexual photographs
• Forced into child prostitution or pornography
• Forced to take part in ritualized abuse in which you were physically, psychologically, or sexually tortured

This can be difficult to wrap your mind around at first.
If the abuse is a new discovery for you, it may be even tougher.
It is an important first step in acknowledging what has happened.
Only after acknowledging can move on to healing.
I too thought I could skip this step.
After all, I had no problems saying out loud that was sexually abused as a child.
However, my problem was being able to allow myself to feel the emotions that came with the realization of being molested.
I did not know how it affected me until I begin to do more reading and counseling.


Consequences

There are many symptoms or consequences that stem from sexual abuse.
Even if you do not remember it happening or you do not think it has had an effect on you, like I did, there are still some common signs to watch out for.

shameShame

Simply put, shame is the belief that “I’m not good enough.” If people knew the real you, they would leave you. It’s being overly critical of everything and everyone, most of all being critical of you. You blame yourself for what happened to you. “If only I ______”, repeats in your mind constantly. You pick fights with people. You want to end it before they can leave you. You may believe that you don’t deserve anything good happening in your life. If a relationship or work is going well, it’s hard to believe it. You may even unconsciously sabotage it in order to avoid the pain in the future.

Perfectionism

Shame also includes perfectionism. Your ultimate fear is making a mistake and being called out for it. You can never screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-6-35-12-pmbe or do anything that is wrong or that would make others look at you negatively. There may be a constant obsession over projects, replaying conversations in your mind, wondering if you said the right thing? Did someone not like what you said or how you said it? You work really hard to look the right way or say the right things. You often feel that the people around you don’t know you or understand you. There are no real close relationships in your life.

Codependence

Shame also leads to codependent behavior and relationships. You will sacrifice your codependencyneeds in order to help someone else. It may be difficult to trust yourself. You have trouble knowing your personal strengths, interests, dreams, or emotions. However, it is easy to understand and identify those things in others. You often are unaware or ignore your body (hunger, tiredness, fear, pain). However, you do whatever it takes to meet those same needs in other people. For you, it’s more about being a good person who supports and cares for others. It doesn’t seem like a bad thing.


Anxiety/Depression/Guilt

There is a lot of time where you isolate yourself. You rather spend time alone and away from other people. You get a break from thinking and obsessing when you are alone. There is no one there to please but you. You often have a hard time feeling good, like everything is going to be okay. It is difficult to get motivated or stick to anything. You may even hurt yourself, like cutting, to feel alive. You feel disconnected, dead inside. Your only emotions are really sadness, anxiety, fear, and rage. There are panic attacks and nightmares that sneak up on you. Everyone just tells you to snap out of it and be more grateful.your-fault

Repeating Abuse

Your (subconscious) mind is constant reliving the trauma, trying to understand it and fix it. This may cause you to place yourself in dangerous situations, trying to accomplish accidental suicide. Your relationships are abusive in some way, subconsciously hoping you can fix it, change it, or that you deserve it. You may struggle with addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex, eating disorders, and accomplishments (perfectionism). You may never have any sexual desires or you may overly engage in sexual activity. You may even begin to abuse others in some way. It’s a way to feel less powerless.

design-1


These things and more consume your life on a daily basis.

Some people are able to hide it better than others.
It’s not your fault.
It doesn’t have to stay the same.
It can change.
What are your reactions? Let me know in the comments