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A Survivor Story: Ellen

TRIGGER WARNING: The contents of this story are graphic in nature. They may be hard to read or may be triggering to sexual assault survivors. Please have support readily available.

Ellen is 27 and is attending graduate school for Clinical Mental Health to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has a passion for trauma work as well as helping people who are experiencing domestic abuse and PTSD. She is sharing her story to help herself move forward and to inspire others to share their story and get help.

“It happened my junior year of high school. I was only 17. My boyfriend Zach was a senior in high school. We dated for 3 years. I lost my virginity to him. My family never really liked him because they felt like he used me. Hindsight is 20/20 and I realize now that he probably did.

The night it happened Zach and I were in my parents’ basement. They were upstairs in the living room doing their own thing. I remember bits and pieces of it. I remember my mom and dad opened the door to the basement and said they were going to run errands and stop for ice cream. They asked if we wanted any and we said yes, we would love some. My parents left and Zach and I were in the house alone.

When you walk down the stairs to our basement, the living room is to the left. To the right, behind the stairs, is a pool table, fridge and washer and dryer. I went to the fridge because I wanted to get something to drink. I didn’t turn the lights on because I knew my way around the basement. The only light in the room was the light from the open fridge. Zach came up behind me and scared me. He was grabbing me like a boyfriend does when he wants to have sex. I thought he was joking around. I told him I didn’t want to. He kept saying come on. It started playful, but then he wouldn’t stop and I was getting angry. I shut the fridge door. It was black except for some light coming in through the living room. I could hear sounds coming from the TV.

I said, “Stop it. I said no. I don’t want to have sex.” I remember getting punched. My head hit the concrete. I was in and out of consciousness. I woke up to a warm feeling on my chest. My head was hurting. He must have turned the light on because I could see that the warmth on my chest was my own blood. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what yet.

I remember feeling pain in my vagina. He was fingering me. I was out of it. I asked, “What is going on?” He wouldn’t say anything. I was trying to sit up and he said, “Shut the fuck up. Lay back down. Do what I fucking tell you.”

I started calling for my mom and dad, forgetting that they weren’t home. Then I started screaming “Dad!” He punched me again and knocked me back out. I woke up to more excruciating pain. All of the garden tools were in the basement because my parents were redoing the garden shed outside. He was using some of the garden tools on me. He made a comment that my “hole was too tight” so he used a garden shears and cut me open more. I blacked out from the pain. I woke up screaming for my dad again. Zach told me to shut up and punched me again. I did not black out this time. He continued to cut me open. He used an old rusty hand rake and the fragments were cutting the inside of my vagina. I stopped yelling for my dad because I finally realized he was not home and I did not want him to come down and see what was happening to me. At some point Zach picked my head up and slammed it on the concrete.

Zach took the back end of a rake, the wooden handle part, and shoved it up my anus. Way too far. He kept it up there for a while before putting the tools down and using his hands. He said my anus was too small so he used the shears to cut it open. I remember asking, “Why are you doing this?” His whole face looked different. He said, “Do what I want you to do.” He played with the rake in my anus. He pushed it in and out so hard my entire body moved with it. I screamed again and he punched me. I quit fighting. He used weights to hold my hands down.

He shoved his penis in my mouth. I was gagging and I couldn’t breathe. I almost threw up. He told me, “You are such a disgusting bitch.” He took the rake and shoved it back up my anus. He said, “This is your punishment since you gagged.” I remember thinking to myself, just fucking rape me and get this over with. He used the same rake that he used on my anus, on my vagina.

He played with my nipples. He was biting them to the point of leaving bite marks and causing them to bleed. He pinched them too. My mom had those old clothes hangers with the hard metal wire wrapped around them. One of them must have been loose. He took the metal wire and used it to cut open my nipples. He pulled it from side to side to open up my nipples. He said, “You deserve to be treated like the bitch you are.” I thought, just do it already. I was in so much pain.

He smeared my own blood all over me. On my face. On my body. He would make me taste my own blood by sticking his fingers in my mouth. He took a garden hand shovel and scooped up my blood and dripped it on me.

He proceeded to rape me. That was the best part because it didn’t hurt as much. I blacked out. When I woke up, he was done. He was getting out of the shower (as there was one in our basement) and drying himself off. I picked myself up and was sitting on the floor. He threw the towel at me and said, “You better clean yourself up you dirty bitch.” I remember thinking I needed to get myself and everything cleaned up before my parents got home. I started cleaning myself up. I picked myself up, cleaned myself up, put my clothes back on, cleaned the garden tools that were used on me and cleaned up the floor. Thankfully all of the blood was on the cement and not on the carpet so I could clean it up. I drove him back to his house and dropped him off.

I then drove straight to the police station. It was late and there were not many officers there. A male cop in his 40s helped me. I remember he was bald. I told him, “I think my boyfriend raped me.” He looked at me and said, “You must be mistaken.” I said, “I want a rape kit done.” He said, with a scoff, “All it’s going to tell us is that you had sex with your boyfriend.” I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere with him, so I left.

I went home and left a note for my parents saying Zach got sick so I took him home and that I went to bed as I did not want them to see me. I got up early the next morning and left a note for my parents saying I was going to school early. Then, I went to the doctor’s office.

The doctor said my nipples would heal on their own. I needed 35 stitches between my vagina, anus and from my vagina to my anus. He inserted the rake so far into my anus that he damaged my large intestine. I had issues going to the bathroom for a long time. The doctor was silently crying as he was pulling the splinters out of my anus. I had a minor concussion. He said more stuff had to have happened to me. If it did, I couldn’t remember. I made sure I took the morning after pill. I told him I didn’t want my parents to know. He told me that we should go to the police. I told him no and that I had already tried. I just wanted to graduate high school. He kept everything confidential and I never got a bill. Some people probably think that’s wrong, but I think he respected my rights.

I went back to school the next day. I had a black eye from Zach punching me. My classmates and parents asked how I got the black eye. Luckily I was a part of the volleyball team, so I told them a volleyball was spiked in my face. One day I bled through my pants, but didn’t realize it. My dad said, “You’re bleeding honey.” I quickly told him that I must have gotten my period. I was also having a hard time walking and my mom noticed and asked about that. I rode my bike to school so I told her I hit a pole and ended up bruising my vagina.

It took me almost two years before I talked to anyone about what happened. That’s when I told my sister. The first thing out of her mouth was not to tell mom and dad. I remember thinking, you shouldn’t say that to someone who was just assaulted, and still, to this day I wonder why she never asked if I was ok.

Zach graduated and moved to New York for school a month later. It all happened too fast for me to realize what happened to me. It wasn’t until the end of my senior year in high school that I was able to admit that I was raped. Had that cop not have said what he said or did what he did, I would have followed through with more.

A year or so later I went to inquire about my bill from the clinic. They had no record of me, but asked if I wanted to meet with the doctor I saw. I waited in a room for him. When he first walked in we both broke down crying. I asked him why I never received a bill. He said, “You were never here.” I broke down again. I don’t know if he did my visit pro bono or if he paid for it himself. I hugged him for a really long time before I left.

I moved on with my life and kept my secret. Three to four years later I started to have issues with sex in general. I was having pain and there was a lump in my right pelvic region. My ovary was pushed out of place from the torture. I found out it could be harder for me to get pregnant. Pregnancy could be a risk to my health. I also have a higher chance of having an ectopic pregnancy. My uterine lining literally flipped through the torture. I ended up with endometriosis. Occasionally, a lump will appear on my anus, some sort of a blood clot from the trauma, that looks like a hemorrhoid because of what he did. It still ruptures and bleeds. There is also a small dent on the back of my head from him slamming it on the cement.

When I date someone new, the first thing I think of is whether they want kids. I always ask if they want kids because I might not be able to have any. I immediately start thinking about when I will have to tell them. I also struggle when they comment on my beauty. During the assault, Zach would say, “You’re so fucking ugly. Your ass is big. Your boobs are tiny.” He made such degrading remarks while torturing me. So when someone tells me I have a really nice body, I think, no I don’t – don’t go there.

We had three years of “I love you,” and shared experiences. Then one night he wanted to have sex. I keep thinking, did something in his mind slip? Was that the first time I said no? I don’t know what caused that to happen. It was as though my body remembered every year on the day of the incident what had happened to me, even if cognitively I did not think of it. I would wake up and my body would be sore.

He would message me on the day he assaulted me (May 15th) every year for almost 10 years. I would block him and he would create another account or message me from a friend’s account. In his messages he would ask if I was thinking about him. It’s like he didn’t want me to forget what happened. The first time he messaged me, I thought I was going to die when I saw his name and message pop up. I literally thought I was going to die – the fear and shock I felt from seeing his name was that intense. I spent years pleading with Facebook to tighten my security so he couldn’t reach me. Last year I was finally able to get someone at Facebook to listen. This is the first year I didn’t get a message from him in 10 years.

What bothers me the most is that he is going to be a fucking civil rights lawyer and might be defending women’s rights or defending women in domestic situations. Yet here I am, continually coming up with excuses as to why I cannot go in my parents’ garden shed or help them garden anymore – when I used to love helping them so much.”

Let me know what you think!