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After Being Raped in 2007 and Assaulted in 2014, I Finally Put Down the Bottle


I think a lot of people who recover from drugs and alcohol do so because they get tired of being a victim.

In rehab circles, “being a victim” usually refers to alcoholics and drug addicts who don’t take personal responsibility for their actions. Instead, it’s always someone else’s fault – what happened to them while they were drinking was bad luck, a curse, a conspiracy.

That victim mentality perpetuates drug and/or alcohol addiction because the person doesn’t take responsibility for their actions. So the vicious cycle of drinking/using and having bad things happen to you, and then feeling bad about it so you drink/use some more, just goes on and on and on.

And I know that for me, that certainly was true. I played the victim for years and years and years. It wasn’t my fault I was a drunk. By God, life was tough. I was entitled to my booze, then my meth, then my cocaine, then my marijuana, then my booze. Pick your drug, pick your poison. The first drink came at age 14, the last at age 44. So for 30 years, I had some excuse to medicate because “life was just so bad” and I was “entitled’ to feel better.

But there were two times that I really was a victim, in legally defined terms, of crime while under the influence. They were violent crimes, with one occurring the night that I took my last drink. That night was the Saturday before Memorial Day, 2014.

So drunk I could have been killed?

This crime happened in the presence of someone I had known most all of my life, who I certainly had every reason to trust. Even today, the motive isn’t completely clear (although certainly much clearer than it was when it happened). And with the crime (presumably) still an open investigation, I can’t say any more than that. I will say that I now believe the intention was for me to never wake up the next morning.

Chilling? Oh yes. Chilling enough that, as I said, it was the very last time I ever took a drink.

That crime was reported to police, even though it took me almost a year to do so. The violence was so bizarre, and so scary, I suppressed it for a very long time (although I did mention it to my AA sponsor the very next day…he responded that I had had the crap kicked out of me and asked whether I had had enough).

I was so jacked up that even now I cannot recall exactly how the chain of events went down. I only remember crying and pleading for it all to stop, then asking one of the perpetrators a question, and his four-word response. His face in my face and what he said echoes through my head over, and over, and over again. It was an event that causes me nightmares to this day. In the spring of this year, I had a positive PTSD screen after finally recalling many of the details.

Ten beers plus five shots equaled blood running down my leg

Someday I might be able to talk about what happened to me that night. But for now, I want to talk about the first time I was the victim of a violent crime under the influence.

It was my birthday, about seven or eight years ago, and I was extremely drunk. I took a guy home and he raped me.

Who was this guy? Well, by all means, he fit the definition of a hustler, or “street trash,” as the mean and judgmental negative nellies around here would call him. You know the type. Proud, tough old birds who often act holier than thou while at the same time wearing their battle scars like jewelry. I acted that way for years myself.

I took this guy home, thinking we were going to fool around and have a good time. You know what’s worse? I had taken this guy home exactly a year prior too, on my birthday. That time, we got back to my apartment, and he decided he didn’t want to fool around after all. Instead, he wanted to get some drugs. So I gave him some money to get some drugs, and drove him to the place where he was going to get them.

He went into the house with the money and never came out. I drove off and never saw him again.

Until a year later. And I was so jacked up yet again, I actually took him home a second time.

The second time, we did fool around. But at some point along the way, I passed out.

I think I only woke up because I felt warm blood trickling down my leg. I had been split open and there was blood all over my couch. This guy, meanwhile, was running down the steps of my apartment. Instinctively, I hobbled over to my blue jeans, checked my pants pocket, and what do you know -- my wallet was gone.

‘Suck it up you crying whore’

I have got to say it was one of the lowest points in my life. How could I be such a fool. Of course, a big part of me felt like I got exactly what I deserved.

When I got up the courage a couple of days later to tell someone what happened, you know what my bar “friends” said? “Suck it up, you deserved it, quit crying, whore.”

Now, I bet you know guys just like them. Picture Marge Simpson’s hateful sisters, all lined up, sucking down their cigarettes and being mean at the bar. I think every gay community has them. They’re lonely, hateful, usually drunk and/or addicts, and thrive off other’s people’s misery. I know. Because I used to be just like that too.

Finally, someone at the bar who saw me wailing over the incident after being called a whore, suggested I go to a place in my community called Family Resources, Inc. and tell them what happened. I did.

A social worker met me at the Family Resources office. She then took me to the hospital, where I was offered counseling, a physical exam, and most importantly, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV. I was shocked that, even in 2007, we had PEP in the Quad-Cities. But I also was relieved. Had I not worked for The Advocate magazine back in the 1990s, I would not even had known what PEP was.

To this day, I test negative for HIV. I had no idea whether the guy was positive or not and it doesn’t matter. The real point of the story was that if I had accepted that I “deserved” what I got, I never would have sought help. Not the counseling or the PEP.

And then I kept drinking for almost seven more years. And could have been killed before finally choosing sobriety.

I can’t help but think my story is one that others can relate to. In the end, I never did report the rape, as I was working as a reporter for one of the local newspapers and was scared to death that other reporters may see the police report.

Snakeskin wallet out, stainless steel wallet in

In recent weeks, a few things have occurred that brought this all back to mind. First, the perpetrator – after several months of having a warrant for his arrest on a variety of crimes – was hauled in to the county jail recently. His offenses are many: Burglary, theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, unpaid child support.

Second, there was a sort of “hero” after my rape who I recently was reminded of. He offered a kind gesture amidst the blur of hateful people at the bar. This kind man replaced my stolen wallet with a lovely, snakeskin wallet that he actually bought at a fundraiser for our local AIDS service organization. He did this quietly and without fanfare, but it always has meant more to me than he ever possibly could know.

Now, eight years later, that wallet is kind of beat up. So I replaced it last week with a new wallet. After having a wallet as cool as snakeskin, I needed something equally awesome. My new wallet is stainless steel, and even RFID protected (meaning nobody can steal my credit card information through my pants pocket, which is an emerging tech crime that is resulting in thousands of ripped off people).

Unfortunately, when you become sober, that doesn’t protect you from being a victim of a crime again by the likes of people you wish you never had met during your “party” days. Sometimes getting sober is reason enough to rile their criminal instincts.

But I do hope that if this article rings true with any of you who do still drink, that you will seek help and stop being a victim insomuch as you can.