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Pushing Back The Dark

September 18th, 2016

I was… 17? I don’t know. I was at home, in the downstairs, and no one else was home. We were fighting. Probably about a supposed infraction — lying, or cheating, or being within 100 feet of a boy. Who knows? Maybe it was about his odd jobs, the private security, the bouncing.

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I had hung up on him. I remember that. He was lecturing me, or yelling at me, or telling me that somehow I had to be more perfect for him. And I had enough. I was so young, with so much left of this abusive relationship, but in that moment, I couldn’t take it. So I hung up.

And I stared down at my darkened flip phone screen. It was done. It was silent. But not in my head. In my head, my voice was going over, and over. “No no no no no no no no.”And the phone lit up and it started vibrating and I hit the button to silence it. No. I couldn’t face it, couldn’t handle it, couldn’t deal. With. Him.

It rang again. I stared at it a long while. Silence. “No no no no no.” I paced. It rang again.

I picked it up and held it away from my ear, as if somehow that would stop the abuse. It didn’t.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” He probably shouted. “I’m standing here in the fucking rain and having to call you over and over? What is this bullshit?”

I probably squeaked out an apology, digging my fingernails into my flesh. Looking up and outward at the gray sky where freedom lay. He would launch right back into his tirade. How he did what he had to do; or how he loved me so much and he didn’t understand why I would keep lying to him. Did I even want to be with him?

Maybe it was too hard, with the distance, and the age difference. Maybe I would rather have a boy my own age. No no no no no, my brain was silently screaming. I would beg. Do anything. He was my world.

“No, I’m sorry. I love you.” Or something along those lines. Silence from him, stretching on from seconds into maybe a minute. “Are you still there?”

“Yes.” Is all he would say. Refusing to acknowledge my devotion, my apology.

“I love you.” I would emphasize. My heart was in my throat.

“I have to go.” And he would be gone.

Leaving me wringing my hands, sweating, crying, alone in my house and wondering when — if — I would ever hear from him again.

These moments defined the worst of my relationship with my abuser. They are the reason that when I feel stressed, when I feel like my world is crashing down, my brain is screaming no. It’s why, when I hear the first bit of tension within someone’s voice, I tense up. Because I had eight years of these incidents to know exactly what was coming.

Withholding love. Cutting the conversation short. Questioning obedience. All of these techniques served to draw me in closer. And then, after I was at my lowest low, he would reward me with some small nugget of comfort. A stray, “I love you” or “I promise we’ll talk later” or “babe, let me get back with you in a few.” Something conversational, using our private love language. And I knew that all was better.

Except that it wasn’t, of course. Because he was my abuser, and he was using our relationship power dynamic to exert control over a child who lived 3000 miles away.

The significance of this moment is that I was trying. Even in the smallest amount, I tried. Even though I went back, even though I picked up that phone, for just a few seconds, I was free. Even when my conscious brain hated it, screamed no to the heavens, my body made that choice for me.

And he knew I was trying. That’s why he would call back, again and again, if he thought my resolve to be with him was weakening. That’s why, if I had the strength to turn off my phone, he would turn dirty. He would ring my house phone. He would use email. He would call any line he could. Anything, because he knew that if he had me on the line, he had me by the balls.

But I was pushing back. And for a 17 year old that had nearly been raped at 13, then taken under the wing of a lonely, sociopathic man, and groomed to be his plaything, I’d say that my “no no no no no no”‘s were pretty fucking amazing.

Danny is Back From The Dead

June 21st, 2016

I got my chance to say what I needed to say to my abuser. It took four years before he reached out to re-establish contact, but when he did, I realized that I was ready to let go.

There were a lot of things that I could have said to him. Many angry thoughts and threats raced through my mind.

The aching pounding fear of him flooded through my partner and I. My partner asked, “Do you think he’ll show up at our door?” He shouldn’t know where I live. But I will Google the hell out of myself to make sure he doesn’t.

My close friends asked, “What did you say?” and unable to speak, hands shaking, I showed them my phone. I was scared to admit that I nearly bit my husband during a PTSD attack to them. That my PTSD affected me so much that it comprised 80% of my reply to him. But they didn’t say a thing about that. Just, “Awesome, great job, I’m so proud of you” like good friends should.

And then he blocked me. I never realized how satisfying being blocked could be. But I won this round. And retroactively, I won the war. He read my words and fled. Because the submissive child that hung onto every one of his words is gone.

And now I have my whole life in front of me. I have closure. That lingering, dark chapter of my life is closed. I stood up to the bully that rules my nightmares. And even if the cost of that interaction has left me with nightmares for the last week, I don’t care. It was worth regaining my identity.

Yes, I will keep my eyes on him, to protect myself, my family, and other unsuspecting children. I hope he knows that my threat five years ago, to out him to federal law enforcement as a child rapist stands. As long as he lives, or until I forget. And I don’t think I’m likely to forget.

 

Screenshot 2016-06-21 11.11.18

Dear Danny

April 16th, 2016

There are so many things that I yearn to say to you. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and unfortunately, there’s still a lot of unresolved anger.

 

The Fights

If there is one thing I hate the most about how you treated me, it is that you yelled so frequently. You would get so angry, and possessive, and controlling. Those scars have faded, some, but they’re far from gone. I still find myself unable to speak when I hear loud, angry noises. And it doesn’t even matter if they’re directed at me. I had an anxiety attack when my neighbors yelled at each other. Those anxiety attacks last for minutes, hours, even days. And they rest squarely on your shoulders.

 

The Dreams

When I’m having an anxious day, it bleeds into the night. I fall asleep and land squarely in a world where you’re in charge again. I’m that little princess that you couldn’t get enough of, and you are the disappointingly absent “man of my dreams.” Or, worse — I dream that you’re breaking into my house to find me. That you’re raping me. Like you did in Mt. Morris.

 

The Happily-Ever-After

Worst of all, I hate that your 8-year long campaign of abuse is held secret from your brand new family. I hate that you bought a house together, started a life together, and your new wife has no idea that underneath the jokes and the sweet talk, you are, at heart, an abuser. And I hope to god that she doesn’t know what you did. And I hope that she doesn’t know — from experience — about your dark side. No one should ever need to go through that again. I was more than enough.

 

The Radio Silence

If I’m being honest, I hate the silence. Your life was such a train wreck that I miss the occasional crazy story. My life is rather boring without “crazy exes” and “late shifts.” I don’t know that the damage you’ve done can be fixed, but I wanted you to try.

 

The Lack of Closure

I want the closure that comes with sincere apology. And that is one thing that I never received. I never heard you say, even after all of the post-abuse discussions,

I know what I did was wrong. I manipulated you when you were just a child, and that was wrong. If I could go back, I would’ve never walked down that path. I’m sorry.

 

Until I hear those words — if I EVER hear those words — you will remain in memory, in print, and on the internet, as my abuser.

PTSD and Religion

April 11th, 2016

I grew up in a non-religious household, and found paganism/Wicca when I was about 10 or so, through a book in my local library. A few years later, I met Danny Cheraz in a Yahoo Chat Room about religions. Together, we decided to make a website about religions together. A member website, where people could share what they learned about a particular religion. A dictionary of religions, if you will.

I’m telling you this for a reason. When I met Danny, he billed himself as a high priest of Wicca. Which is accurate — he was, in fact, a high priest. The bad part, of course, is that he immediately placed himself in a position of power over me. He became my teacher, my high priest, my leader.

Well, I guess that part could’ve been ok. But it should’ve never led to a romantic-esque relationship. Much like bosses can’t get involved with their employees; you can’t have a fair relationship between a teacher and their student, even informally. Though you can’t have a fair relationship between a 27 year old man and a 15 year old girl, either.

Fast forward a few years, I lost my aunt, a non-blood uncle, and then my “relationship” — I was not a happy person. That, combined with graduate school, led me down the path to reason. Much like Jesus’ cry of “father, father, why have you forsaken me?”, I found myself screaming to the universe. Questioning my worldview. And I questioned my way right out of supernatural belief.

Richard Dawkins led me there. Yes, the man who was more concerned about a middle schooler plagiarizing a clock than that same middle schooler getting arrested for a “bomb” — his book, called “The God Delusion” — led me there. His arguments were compelling to me and the grip I had on religion loosened.

Suddenly, I realized that just because someone was a Wiccan high priest didn’t mean that they were right, all the time.

Just because someone was my teacher, didn’t mean that they weren’t a manipulative liar.

Just because he had made promises to me didn’t mean he was going to keep them.

Unfortunately, the other side of realizations took hold.

If there are no gods, there is no karma.

If there is no karma, he doesn’t suffer any consequences.

Unfortunately, these are the reality of my situation. And as much as I desperately want to believe in some form of a higher power, every time I even try to talk to one, I realize the stupidity of my actions.

In this reality, there is no god.

I was that 14 year old girl, who got in the car with the 28 year old man.

April 10th, 2016

I wrote this a few months ago on a different blog, and am sharing here to keep it all together. Removing the references to that girl (who was found safe!) would completely reframe this blog post, so I’ve decided to leave them in.

 

No, not the girl who’s endangered in Tennessee right now, Jasmine Nicole Johnson. I hope with all of my heart that she’s okay. I was a different teen girl, getting into a car with a much older man. One that I had met on the internet.

I didn’t make headlines, because unlike her, I didn’t get caught. It was almost a decade ago, for me. It started innocently enough, but months down the road, we were having sexual conversations, I was sending sexy pictures well before it was legal for me to do so. He trained me from 14 on that he was my soulmate.

My brain feels like it’s hammering the same nail over and over again when I think about this. Because even a decade out, I’m not saying to myself, “He was a terrible man, and I’m glad I got away.” Because these predators train us from our young, impressionable ages, to love them unconditionally. Think of me as a puppy that’s been kicked one too many times, but comes crawling back for more. You don’t walk away from that relationship unscarred. A part of me, even four years out, still wonders what he’s doing, how he’s doing. If he’s okay.

Mine hailed from Arcadia, Florida, born and raised. I lived several states to the north. He flew in one summer — I was old enough to drive, at this point — and I picked him up. He teased me all the way to the hotel room. He touched my thigh and I jumped. I was literally tingling with the innocent excitement of someone so palpably in love, knowing what was coming.

Part of me knew it wasn’t right. When he asked if I was ready for sex, I told him that I wanted to save my virginity. So we had oral and anal instead. I waited until his next visit, a few months later, to “give up my virginity.”

I wish I could tell that girl who’s missing in Tennessee what happened to me. That my “one true love” groomed me until I was just legal enough to fuck, then spent his vacation time away from his “real” girlfriend and job fucking me. Not just my body, but my brain. My sensitive, pre-conditioned little teenage brain.

He whispered sweet nothings in my ear (via phone) late at night, under my parent’s roof, while they slept oblivious. He told me that he would take care of me, that we would get married, though no ring appeared, and no efforts to move closer to each other were approved.

I wish I could tell that sweet, young, innocent girl, that, long after it should’ve ended, in my early twenties, he opted to “disappear” — which he was so very, very good at — and marry a nice, completely oblivious Christian woman in his hometown. Because even though fucking a teenager had been fun, that teenager couldn’t support him, and that teenager was beginning to grow up enough to realize that their “relationship” wasn’t exactly healthy. That teenager was learning to stand up for herself.

And he told broken pedophilia victim in her early twenties that she wasn’t good enough for him, that she “wasn’t mother material” for his daughter, who was closer in age to her than him; that she was broken because she had done kinky things with him. That she had given her first and only love, her virginity, a piece of her goddamned soul to him, and he gave zero shits.

And so she sits scarred at 27. Happily married, sure, but sensitive to loud noises. If I could tell that little 14 year old girl out there in that 2007 Ford Taurus right now with that guy in Tennessee anything, it would be to run the fuck away and get some counseling right now. That man is a predator. Yes, he might understand you. Yes, you might’ve told that you got raped a few years ago, and he’s promised that he’ll never let anything happen to you again. But he is a predator. And he will tear you to shreds.

If I have one regret about my eight years with MY pedophile, it’s that I let him dictate a huge part of my life. I had few friends. I never drank at college parties. I wasn’t allowed to eat lunch with men. And if he thought for a second that I was straying, he would get so insanely jealous that he would yell, and yell, and yell. He would yell until I cried. And then he would go silent. And he would disappear for a few weeks or months or whatever. Then he’d show up out of nowhere and the cycle would repeat.

The virginity doesn’t matter in the long run, little girl. It’s the mind-fuck that leaves you scarred. I feel like I’ve walked the longest battlefield, and I’ve never stepped foot in a war zone. That shit changes you.

But it’s too late for her. The damage — the mind-fuck. I guarantee that’s already been inflicted. She’ll become another headline and she’ll be left picking up the broken pieces of her childhood well into her twenties and beyond.

Oh, one last thing. To the parents: it wasn’t your fault, either. Kids are sneaky. God knows I was. It is the predator’s fault, through and through.

My parents got lucky. That part of my life, the fucked up part, they’ve never seen. It happened right under their noses, but I did something right. I spared them the pain of knowing that their daughter was a victim of a pedophile. And if this post gets beyond the few views that I expect it to: please be kind. Look for my predator, don’t look for me.

These were the words in the beginning, when I was 15 years old (of note, we met in a chatroom where I played guitar):

It seems like just the other day I was Blessed to hear my lill Bard play for the first time and now here we are on our first yule together! Princess, you are the greatest thing that could and will have ever happened to me. I know I may not be the sweetest or most loveing Guy in the world at times but as I look back even though we have only been together a short few months it seems as though you have always been with me. I want you to know I love you and those are not just words, rather it is a real feeling I have for you. I do not know if I could ever get through a day without you around and I do not want to find out. lol, any way princess I just thought I would let you know just how special you are to me. and I love you very much. I look forward to us always and forever my princess newt. Thank you for putting up with what no one else ever could……Me.
Mat you not only Be blessed as you read this but, May you Bless all you touch with your Beauty and love.
Yours
And these were the words at the end (spelling errors left intact):
Now all the sudden your tone has changed to one of this lonley girl who was just looking for attention and gaining power over her life. Different tone all together. As for me violating your deepest darkest secrets? Ummm no. I have not ran and told anyone anything, so that was a bit of a stretch. As for the “interesting fantacy” remark? Don’t know if that was a jab or a slip… either way kinda sick. P. S. Not mother material either. Another deep fear I have always carried about you. My Daughter. She doesn’t need a friend but a positive role Modle and mother. None of your cominications have ever been about her. You have hardly ever even shown interstate in her. I keep her hidden safely away myself. I know I suck as a parent so my female counter needs to be strong enough for the both of us sometimes I guess. Maybe that’s to much to ask of an mortal…
See how the tone changes over the years? That’s what you get when your pedophile watches you grow up.
I can hardly bear to imagine how this current story, the one in Tennessee, will end.
And I hate how my pedophile dangled his daughter in front of me at the end, crying, begging me to just not go to the police; that he didn’t want to fuck up his daughter any more than she was already. I hate how I sacrificed my chance at justice to give his daughter a fighting chance, when my own teen years were taken. Not mother material my ass.

My name is Sam.

April 9th, 2016

I have PTSD. I think I realized that I had PTSD back in 2012 or so, though I’m not really sure. I’ve had an ongoing relationship with my disease for a while, but it sits right alongside some other mental conditions I have.

It’s getting better, slowly — at least, I think it is. You can never be sure though, when little things will set you off. It seems like the stupidest thing can ruin your day and send you into a fear-based spiral. I am certainly not incident free. But, I am trying to use self-awareness, reflection, and compassion to find my way through. I write in other outlets, but cannot share these things, these private things, with a semi-public audience. At least, not without my anonymity. I will tell you what I can — about me, about how I ended up with this condition, and hopefully about my struggles and successes.

Non Combat PTSD

I am not a veteran, and my PTSD is not related to military service. Many PTSD sufferers are military, and I feel for them. Sometimes, though, I feel like non-combat PTSD is marginalized. I love the awareness for PTSD. I wish there was some public knowledge that PTSD is not just because of gunshots and war zones.

I did not experience a public trauma, like 9/11, or the Boston Marathon bombing, or the Newtown, CT shootings.

My First Near-Rape

My first inklings of PTSD came in 2003. Just over 12 years out now, and nearly half my life ago, the story comes easily enough to me. I was nearly raped on a cruise ship. I was thirteen, he was fourteen. He held a razor to my throat and told me to “Blow him.” I escaped relatively unscathed, thanks to my reflexes and a dead-bolt. I will avoid describing my Stockholm-like attachment to this abuser for now, though we are friends on Facebook. I believe somewhere, down the road, I will need to contact and confront.

I don’t know that I ever had full-on breaks with reality after that incident. I absolutely disassociated in situations involving physical touch. And unfortunately, I often still do. I can remember being disgusted by my “first kiss” — much after the near-rape. Disgusted by my first intimate skin-to-skin contact. Memories of, “is this over yet?” are seared into my brain around all sexual experiences. I can remember nearly biting someone who tried to tickle me, when I was 15. It was all tied up in that fear response, the one that saved me. So perhaps, the PTSD started then. But several more incidents have cemented its presence in my life.

Being Groomed

I waited months before confiding in anyone about the incident with this man-child.  The first person I confided in was 26 years old. We met in a Yahoo! Chat room. Now that I am 27, I can see what is starkly wrong with that situation. Were I confronted with a similar confession from a young teen, I would instantly encourage them to talk to a parent, or a therapist. I would not engage in an 8-year long distance relationship with them.

I would not shower them with love and affection at first, growing increasingly distant and controlling. I would not string them along as I dated and eventually married someone else, only “breaking it off” when suddenly, they were 23 and smart enough to catch me.

But that is what my ex did. We began “dating” when I was 15. It was very real to me. I shared pictures, videos of myself when I was 16 and 17; we met in person when I was 18. He stayed in a hotel a few minutes drive from my parents’ house. My parents had no clue then, or if they knew, they stayed far, far away from it.

I moved close to him, from New York to Florida, for a few months. I saw him twice, for a total of eight hours. I moved back home to finish college. I told my parents a modified story, and they went along with it, although they never met him. I bounced around the states for work and school, before finally settling in Ohio to start my Ph.D.

He was never angrier with me, never more scared, than when I told him that I felt raped. I was 20 or so, he was 32, and we were at a hotel in the middle of nowhere. We were spending a night away from camping with my friends. Our hotel phone had rung, and when he had hung up, he told me that they needed me to produce ID. I started freaking out. He started laughing. As I was still calming down, coming out of survival mode, we had sex. Then he turned over and went to sleep. It was bad sex. It was not rape, not in the legal form; nor did I ever say no. I was unable to. Disassociation had robbed me of my voice, and he was clueless.

It was rape, though, in the deepest emotional form. He had groomed me from the tender age of 15 to love him. To believe that he was my only one, my soul mate. When we had sex, it was fulfillment of that promise. But that promise was always a lie. He always went home — probably to other girlfriends, definitely to a life without me. Our communication would drop to every other day, or week. He once went three months without speaking with me. And I hung on, desperate, because he was my soul mate. I didn’t know anything else. No one had taught me that there were other people who could love me. Other people who would respect me. And other people that I could love. In that way, I was raped. I was raped every time he spoke sweet nothings to me, every time we had sex, and every time he left me for his “real” life.

I was raped because it was not me. It was my body, that night. But my words were gone. I was acutely aware. I made convincing moans. I “passed” — but I was not there. It was not me. It was a shell of me. It was a construct I made to protect myself from losing him, because the thought of losing my protector was unfathomable.

The relationship deteriorated, as it will when you date a teenager and turn around to find an adult, pursuing graduate education. My world view expanded, and I became more combative. More questioning. More demanding of respect.

We fought. We fought about my independence. About the fact that I needed to travel for my education. Arizona was out of the question, but I went anyway. He ignored me during my entire time there. And when we fought, he would yell. He would yell, and I would disassociate. I would cry, miserably, until he forgave me. Or he would disappear. He’d come back a few days, or weeks, or months later, and pretend it never happened.

Yelling is my largest trigger. It is my biggest piece of baggage from that time period. If I hear yelling — and no, it doesn’t need to be directed at me — it sets me on edge. If there’s more, or if something else happens, that my wired brain perceives as a threat, it goes on lockdown.

I run away. I cry. I hide. I lose my words. I become combative. I hit. I bite. I do a LOT of things when my PTSD gets triggered, and I often can’t control any of them.

There’s one more. One incident that really, really brought the fact that I had PTSD into the spotlight. Led me to realize that this isn’t normal.

My Second Near-Rape

So after my falling out with the pedophile, I was 23 and completely new to dating. I had never dated before. On top of that, I had always enjoyed power-exchange pre-PTSD, and that manifested as a BDSM fetish at a young age. My BDSM fetish was prominent in the relationship with the pedophile, and the power dynamic drove me to stay in that toxic situation longer than I should have.

As a single person, I began seeking out the BDSM community. 99% of the people I met were wonderful. The 1% gained my trust, tied me up, and then tried to rape me.

I said no, and for some reason, he listened. This serial rapist, whom I would later find out had raped 2 of my friends and countless others, sensed his own danger when I told him to stop, and he listened.  I disassociated.

 

The next person that I got close enough to, is the one I married in March. The one that I’ll be celebrating my marriage with, in September. He is a perfectly normal, sweet, honorable, vanilla man.

I was able to hide the PTSD for a few months, but when you live with someone, it just comes out. Especially when that person has a habit of yelling at video games, when yelling is your trigger.

I look back and count my blessings every day. Many, most, people would be blindsided by PTSD in their partner. Undiagnosed, no less. But for every freak out I’ve had, he’s been there. Whether I’ve wanted him there or not. Whether it was his “fault” or not. He’s held me until I’ve calmed down. Even if I’m hitting him, or pushing him away. Even if I’m hiding.

He doesn’t let me. And my inner demons are finding fewer and fewer places to hide. They can’t “succeed” in pushing him away. He’s here for good. They’ve retreated to my dreams. And my dreams are what brought me to this blog.

The Order Of The Gecko?

August 16th, 2015

In 2002, I was nearly raped by an acquaintance at the tender age of 13. The first person I told was someone that I had met online.

Danny was 26 and lived in central Florida with his father. We met in a Yahoo chat room where I used to sing. These were the golden, awkward times of the internet — right after child protection became a priority, but before parents realized how to monitor their children.

He told me that he would be my high priest — we were both Wiccan — just a few short weeks before he told me that he loved me and wanted to be my boyfriend (August 23, 2003). I was 14, he was 26.

September 10, 2003, he asked me to marry him.

Do you want to know how I know the dates? Because I was a child, and they were burned into my memory. I lived for this man. I would just hang on until I was 18, and then we could be together.

15 came (he was 27). We had cyber sex. Lots of cyber sex.

16 came (he was 28). We had phone sex late at night, when my parents were asleep. I would sneak downstairs or outside to talk to him at 2am some nights.

17 came (he was 29). We exchanged dirty photos and videos.

18 came (he was 30). He took my virginity. All of my virginity.

I went through college with my phone attached to my hip. I was — in hindsight — far more invested in our future than he was. He struggled, switching from bouncing to personal training to funeral home services and any odd job he could get.

He yelled a lot. Danny had serious trust issues. Loud noises still affect me now.

At 20 (he was 32), we nearly broke up because I took an internship that sent me across the country. Never mind that he had visited me once during my semester in Florida, only an hour away from where he lived. He ignored me for three months.

At 21 (he was 33), we nearly broke up again. He visited my hotel room, had sex with me once, then left for some “work emergency” and never came back. I had traveled over a thousand miles just for that one weekend with him.

At 22, he stopped talking to me. He married a hometown girl named Kim, and tried his best to pretend I never existed.

At 22, I started to live my life.

This blog is stationed at “The Order Of The Gecko” because I bought this domain name when I was 14, and he was 26. It was a project we worked on together, to create a forum for people of all religious faiths to come together. This, of course, has found other platforms — like Patheos — that are not run by a pedophile and his child-bride.

This is my place to share my story. This is my way of moving on.