I have stopped and started in the sharing of the information that I am about to give. It has been on my mind for some time. I wrote a couple months ago about the MeToo movement and my experience. I explained my situations and why I didn’t say anything. It was because of my own insecurities and not wanting to be “the one” that I have failed to protect future victims. Now I want to share more. I want to discuss why it is so important to speak up even when you feel like it is too late.
It is critical that we tell people and the proper authorities when sick people do horrendous things. We should no longer remain in silence and speak up. I have feared for months that my inability to come forth with my secret may be the reason why a town hero, father, pastor, and community activist is no longer with his family. I have changed the name of the town, dates, and places visited because unfortunately I am still scared of the repercussions of discussing this story.
On New Year’s Eve I received a text from a long-time friend, NaTasha, asking me to call her. I did what I was asked because I knew it had to be something major. When I called NaTasha, she whispered that a local favorite was shot and killed by his cousin, Greg. I gasped and stuttered to catch my breath as I held my chest when she named the killer. We both became silent and the conversation ended.
Greg was someone we both had familiar experiences with and I am certain we aren’t the only ones. He had terrorized the community throughout his brief stints out of jail. No one ever had anything good to say about him. Everyone tolerated him because he was related to damn near the entire town. We all knew he ruined lives. NaTasha and I were witnesses to his brutal behavior. Greg raped both of us and I’m sure of others. I think more women in the community would have came forward if he wasn’t handsome, tall, strong, and charismatic. But because he was, we silently discussed how he had his way with us. Greg openly bragged to others about how he would overtake other women and men who defied him. His company usually laughed it off as if it were a joke. I think consciously everyone was aware that he wasn’t playing, he was speaking his truth.
It was Christmas weekend in 2009 when he violated me. That night I went out with Greg’s brother girlfriend, Vanessa, and had plenty of drinks. We were at Chuck’s Place. A small hole in the wall where locals could go for good drinks, recognizable people, and fun times. It was a small club but it did the job. I flirted the night a way as usual. I was a new mom for third time indulging in temporary freedom from my almost 2-year-old and 8-month-old baby. When Chuck’s Place had run its course, ending at a respectable 2am, I jetted across the tiresome town of Hazelwood and headed to the late-night weekend danger spot, Club Fire. I met up with another close friend, Carly. She was still interested in continuing the night. Vanessa decided to retreat back to my house. She was always a lightweight drinker.
At Club Fire, I continued to drown my spirits in alcohol in combination with marijuana. Not only was I escaping the freedom of being a new mother again, I was also getting over a heartbreak. Sinking all those feelings that anchored me down into a deep abyss. I don’t remember how I made it home that night. I suppose I was used to the routine drive. Hazelwood is a small town without many twist and turns and there are only three traffic lights between Club Fire and my house.
I walked through my side door into my den and noticed Vanessa laying on the couch in a fetal position. The desktop computer was on giving off a faint light that helped me navigate through the dark hallway to my bedroom. I don’t recall the time span between hitting the bed and waking up in total darkness with a heavy body on top of me. I smelled the warm stench of alcohol hit my nostrils as I went in and out of consciousness trying to come to grasp with what was happening. I recall trying to fight but I couldn’t. The drinks and the smoking had succumbed my body. I was weak. All I can remember saying is, “Stop, get off of me – you sleep with men.” After that everything went to black.
The next day I woke up and Vanessa was gone. I panicked feeling that something wasn’t right. I called her, I texted her, and finally around 2pm Vanessa texted back. I called her and told her what had happened. Vanessa apologized and said that she let Greg in because he was running from the police. She explained that she fell asleep and thought he had left. Apparently, he didn’t.
I called my mother crying and told her what happened. Mom worked with his Greg’s father and knew the family very well. Turns out we’re distant relatives. I told my kid’s father what happened and it made the situation more awkward since Greg grew up less than a mile from him. I was hurt and afraid. Afraid to be alone in my own house. I felt like I couldn’t go to the police because there wasn’t a forced entry, I was intoxicated, and I had smoked marijuana. There was no evidence of a struggle. So, I did like most girls and women do - I remained quiet and I cut Vanessa off.
I shared my story with NaTasha the following day. She told me her story about him violating her several years earlier. She shared how he came to her house and raped. Her experience was similar to mines, she was intoxicated and had left a club. I’ve reevaluated our stories repeatedly in my head thinking that this loving father would be alive if we had opened our mouths and told the authorities. Is it our fault that Greg was able to wreak havoc on so many people’s lives?
It’s been nearly 8 years since Greg raped me. I wish I would’ve said something back then, even 5 months ago when I was writing my MeToo story. I cannot help but to feel a bit responsible for his continuous actions. I don’t want another person who has been victimized to hold their tongue. If you have been victimized please speak up. It doesn’t matter how many years have passed. Your voice can prevent the next person from a horrible life altering experience. Your voice can be the very reason why someone doesn’t have to die. I do realize the hypocrisy in my telling you what you should do while I sit behind my laptop changing the names of people and places out fear. I want you to be better than me and help me gain the strength to do what you can do.