The first time a boy got a little rough with me I was 14. I had been swimming at our community pool and Mike the 17 year old life guard let me wear his diving watch in the water, which I thought was so cool. My boyfriend Rob showed up and called me over to the gate and I forgot to take the watch off when I went to meet him. I could tell he was angry.
I grabbed my towel and as we were walking away from the pool I had a sinking feeling in my gut. Looking back it was a familiar feeling, one that I had had often in my lifetime; it was the feeling of impending doom.
My internal dialogue went like this; “I have a bad feeling. Something bad is going to happen. Something bad… my tummy hurts, I don’t feel good; I don’t like this feeling.”
I remember my boyfriend started questioning me.
Rob: Who is that guy?
Me: He’s just the life Guard
Rob: Why are you wearing that watch?
Me: Because he let me wear it to dive in the deep end. It’s so cool!
Rob: Give me that watch.
Me: NO, I have to give it back to Mike.
By now the feeling of impending doom is almost making me throw up. I am scared; I feel like I have done something really bad but I am not sure what. I want to hide and there is nowhere to hide. I want to disappear. I want Rob to stop breathing in that angry way. I want him to calm down and listen to me.
I can see that Rob is getting more agitated. He grabs my wrist with one hand (OW, stop it, you are hurting me!) and he rips the watch off my wrist with the other hand. Then he goes back to the fence surrounding the pool and he throws the watch over the fence and into the pool. I am just standing there dripping wet, feeling scared and stupid and starting to give myself shit for being so dumb. Earlier in the year Rob had beat up a boy at school because he said something flirty to me and it took three teachers to break the fight up and now I am really scared he is going to beat up the life guard. But he doesn’t go into the pool area.
Waiting for him to come back from throwing the watch in the pool I am really nervous. His nostrils are flaring, he is visibly angry and it doesn’t occur to me that maybe he is out of line. All I can think of is how stupid I am for wearing another guy’s watch. All I can think about is what he is going to do ‘to me’ because I was so stupid. He hasn’t even touched me yet and I think that I deserve his anger which is focused and directed at me although I tell myself he is angry at Mike and that if I can explain to Rob that he has misunderstood, then maybe all will be well.
On the walk home the silence is deafening. I feel sick. Once we get to my door he starts firing questions at me again. He starts off asking if “that guy” the life guard, is hitting on me. And I am defending as fast as I can; “NO, we are just friends, he is just the life guard, he is really nice, it was just a watch….” Then Rob starts calling the guy really nasty names including “fag” and “wimp” and starts threatening to go back and beat the shit out of him. All the while I am defending making excuses, apologizing and begging Rob to just let it go.
And then, Rob turns on me.
The wall outside our front door is made of those rough bricks. With regular bricks, the front surface is smooth, but our bricks were rough and pointy on the surface like rocks or broken bricks. Rob grabs me by the wrist again and I realize that his anger is now directed at me. He starts yelling at me and accusing me of cheating on him. And his anger is intensifying. He is right in my face saying “admit it, you like that guy” and “How dare you fool around with another guy; I am going to kill him”.
And I am begging him ~ “Rob, please don’t hurt him…. Please don’t hurt me. You are hurting me. Let go of my wrist. I didn’t do anything, we are just friends, I would never… he is too old…please please please….”
As his anger grows, Rob throws me up against the wall into the jutting out bricks. My back screams out in pain but I don’t scream. I don’t cry. I don’t say anything. I am concentrating on not letting my head smash into the sharp bricks. I lower my eyes. I have learned to disconnect when I am scared from having been hit by my mother. I can take this punishment. I have learned to take the blame for someone else’s emotions as well. I figure that I have been bad and that is my fault that Rob is so angry so I must deserve his wrath. With one final push up against the bricks and one final crushing squeeze on my wrist, Rob warns me that if he ever catches me talking to “that guy” again I will be sorry. And then he gets on his bike and rides off.
I didn’t tell anyone what happened that day. My back was bruised and in some places bleeding but I didn’t tell. My left wrist was black and blue but nobody noticed.
Rob never apologized and I never asked him to. I stopped seeing him and I stopped taking his phone calls. When he showed up in person I just didn’t talk. I lowered my eyes, looked away and I put up a wall. I shut down. I never told him why I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. He didn’t seem to know why either.
When I look back on this event in my life I realize that Rob thought I belonged to him. In my messed up world, I wanted to belong to someone. I was crazy about that kid. I thought he loved me; he thought he owned me and I didn’t know how to disagree. My mother hit me all the while I was growing up. She told me that it was my own fault, that it was for my own good, that if I hadn’t done (fill in the blank with whatever made her angry that day) that she would not have had to hit me and I had no choice but to believe her. I had to survive and surviving meant going along with her. She was the adult, the mother, the authority. I was taught to believe that I was “a bad kid”. I learned to try harder and harder to earn her love.
When Rob turned on me that day something broke inside of me. From the time I was about 6 years old I had so many hopes that one day a boy would love me and that he would be the answer. I thought I would be rescued. I thought that love would rescue me. It was heartbreaking to realize that “love” was not going to be the answer.
Today I realize that I didn’t know what love was. I had been “owned” and objectified by my mother, and I had never been taught mutual respect. I was never empowered to think for myself. No one ever taught me my own value. I was not empowered to have healthy boundaries and I didn’t know that I didn’t deserve to be treated like a possession. I didn’t know that I WASN’T a possession.
When Rob threatened me, I didn’t know that his behaviour was wrong. All I knew was that I had done something to make him really angry at me and from what I had been conditioned to believe as a child that I got what I deserved.
I was only 14 when I realized that I was tired.
Four or five weeks before the day that Rob assaulted me because I was wearing the life guard’s watch, my mother’s boyfriend came into my bedroom in the middle of the night and sexually assaulted me. When my mother didn’t believe me, I drew similar conclusions as to why that happened too. Maybe I did something wrong? Maybe I asked for it? I didn’t know that I had any rights because no one taught me that I did.
I grew up a lot that summer. I shut down a lot that summer too. That was the summer that I realized that the world outside my family was not any safer than the world inside my family.
Please share your thoughts or your feelings about this article. Even if domestic violence or physical abuse was never a part of your life, can you relate to the way that I learned my value or lack of value?
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time.
Emerging from Broken is about how I healed from childhood trauma and abuse and took my life and my value back by seeing where it had been lost or never put in place from the start. There are over 450 articles in this website all with discussions. The comments total almost 40,000. In addition The Emerging from Broken book “The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing. Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing