Yours, Always

This is a short story that deals with Andrea who is living a post-assault life and she wonders how to battle it.

‘’So Andrea, how are you feeling today?’’. Andrea Walsh looked up to the curly-blonde-haired middle-aged ample woman, Geraldine Grey, and gave a warm smile. She then glanced away from the psychologist to the celling of the office. It had been a while since she came down here. She noticed the bright exquisite woman had changed her sofa pillows to pastel-colored ones. She also had gotten a huge sea painting at the center of the dark wall, right next to the oil painting of her daughter, Lela, and granddaughter, Cheryl. She noticed that the air conditioning was working better than the last time she was here. The management must have finally heeded her constant demands. Her credentials were perfectly framed and displayed across the wall_ the Ph.D., PsyD, and EdD program completion. Studying was always Geraldine Grey’s addiction. Andrea always wondered how Geraldine could help people like her despite her extremely busy schedule. The survivors.

Months ago, Andrea had spent most of her time in Doctor Geraldine’s office, receiving treatment for PTSD. It was a tiring time for both Grey and Andrea. Andrea was skeptical about the effectiveness of therapy at first but had grown to see the advantages of speaking up about her troubles. Grey had to deal with Andrea’s moments of realization. The 24-year-old was either feeling happy and thankful on some days or other days; she was passive-aggressive and wanted to crawl up into a hole and die. In the history of Grey’s career, she had known Andrea’s case to be completely normal; Women who had been assaulted often had high and low moments. ‘’How do you feel, Andrea?’’. Geraldine asked and waggled her pen in her hand’’. Or rather, how have you been feeling?’’. She crossed her legs and inquired,’’. How has everything been?’’. Geraldine was more than surprised when Andrea called to schedule a meeting last week. Grey had the opinion that Andrea was done with therapy, at least that’s what it seemed like. Andrea tucked her chocolate-brown wavy hair behind her ears and took a deep breath. Where could she start from? The nightmares? The numbness? The antsy loony thoughts? The panic attacks? Flashbacks? Hyperventilation….? She had gone through so much over the last few months. She took a deep breath and answered,’’. I’ve been good’’. 

Geraldine exhaled and removed her thick-rimmed glasses, and adjusted her chiffon light blue shirt’’. Andrea, I don’t have to remind you that you can talk freely here. We’ve been over this….’’.

She asserted,’’. I am here to help you, not judge you’’. After a few seconds of silence, Andrea released a deep sigh and reanswered’’. I feel horrible’’. Grey nodded; they were off to a good start’’. Okay, why is that? What has been going on in your life? I saw you four months ago, and when I called, you said you were done with therapy’’. Dumb-ass, why did you say that? Andrea chuckled nervously’’. Is anyone really done with therapy?’’. Grey shrugged at her question’’. But you said that you were’’. Andrea nodded and agreed with her’’. Yes, that’s because I thought I was better. I wasn’t having nightmares or flashbacks then. I was okay, comfortable, I guess’’. She explained. Grey nodded’’. Okay, a lot must have happened after then. Go on, tell me all about it’’. She urged her with a nod. Andrea glanced away from her therapist to the arm of her sweater. She began to pick on loose thread strands on her black sweater’’. In a week, it will be a year since….’’.  Her throat tightened, but she struggled to say,’’. Since I got raped’’. 

Sometimes, she couldn’t say the word without getting scared, anxious, or furious. Now, she had accepted her fate, her past. Andrea understood her story and swore that she would never be ashamed of it. After all, she had learned her lesson. Don’t trust easily. Nearly a year ago, in March 2016, Andrea was raped by her boyfriend, Fredrick Lowe, at the back of a Nightclub. She wondered why the world was so cruel towards her. She thought constantly’’. How was I raped by someone whom I had given my entire heart to?’’. A man she had been dating for over three months? A man who had sworn to protect her no matter what? Fredrick Lowe, an asshole, a dipshit entitled little boy, whom she mistook as a normal human being, had lost his mind that fateful night. He held her down to the floor. She had dissociated from her body, feeling powerless and unable to fight the act anymore. Fredrick had the strength of a thousand men that night. It was impossible to break free.  A bartender had found her unconscious at the back of the club and called an ambulance when she appeared irresponsive. 

The doctor had called the police station after she revealed tearfully that she had been raped. There were two male officers. She could still remember their names; Drake Griffin and Hameed Haiti. They swore that they were there to help her. She had thrown a fuss once they stepped into the hospital ward. She protested, saying that she needed to speak to a female officer instead. An hour later, officer Daphne Reeves arrived and convinced her to let the doctors perform a rape kit on her for the investigation. The whole process took about three hours. Three excruciating hours for Andrea. The doctor collected samples of saliva, semen, urine, and blood. Daphne had also made the interrogation less brutal for her. She delivered her questions gingerly and gently due to the fact that Andrea was extremely frantic. When the officer was told that the boyfriend was the culprit, she further asked if Andrea was sure that the sex was not consensual.

Due to the venue where the assault had occurred, the officers assumed that she was heavily intoxicated, and her memory might seem a bit hazy. She was incoherent and kept stammering while answering questions. They figured that it was nothing but a misunderstanding between the lovers. 

She held on to her truth, and with the help of her aunt, Ramona, she had filed a lawsuit against Fredrick. But she had lost. The jury was majorly filled with men. The moment she saw them, she realized that she would never win. Besides, Fredrick Lowe was the son of a rich socialite and had one of the best lawyers in the country, Lionel Sanders. Lionel had been able to convince the courtroom that Andrea did not comprehend what had truly happened. Fredrick was unable to know she was refusing the sex because of the loud club music in the background. 

Besides, both had traces of alcohol in their system, he had argued. They were both intoxicated and zonked. Andrea argued that she had physically and verbally indicated that she didn’t want to have sex.

Fredrick had been able to turn the situation around on her. He claimed that the lawsuit was Andrea’s way to get back at him for cheating on their best friend. Andrea had desperately tried to defend herself, stating that Fredrick was not drunk and had only one shot of tequila a minute before everything took place. She had only taken a beer but swore that she was aware of everything that happened. She was clear and stood her ground. The odds were against her. Lionel brought up more evidence that the rape was consensual. She remembered yelling in the courtroom, “I tried to push him off! I was screaming no and tried to hit him, for God’s sake! Are you going to tell me that the music was too loud for him to feel me hitting him and trying to push him away?! That’s bullshit’’.

She seemed like a bitter woman, trying to get back at him for his wrongdoings, but she couldn’t care less. She just wanted justice. Fredrick could do it to someone else, and worse, it would be fatal. Geraldine Grey and others had told her that it didn’t matter what others thought about her case. She knew her truth and should own it. After the assault had taken place, Andrea cried for nights. She had also tried to take her life. Her aunt had suggested the psychiatric unit for treatment after she almost overdosed on antidepressant pills.  

Occasionally, she got agitated and hysterical. She would go on multiple crying spells and have anxiety attacks. Some days, she felt emotionless and numb, zoned-out. Other days, she would lash out at anybody, especially anyone who tried to touch her. For weeks, she had trouble concentrating on work and simple tasks. There was a heightened obsession she had to clean herself regularly. She developed a fear of crowds and once didn’t step out of her house for an entire week because she had the idea that a man had been stalking her. Andrea was going through the stage of minimization, where everything was fine, or a stage of suppression where she didn’t want to talk about the event. She couldn’t function in Chapo, where everyone knew her story. After an assault, she was aware that most people move to a new city and change their appearance. To start over. 

She didn’t want to leave; besides, where could she go? And would it somehow heal her wounds and make her okay? The experience left Andrea traumatized and pushed her to the edge of depression. 

Later on, in the year 2016, she was introduced to Geraldine Grey in church. The woman had helped her get through the tough times, along with the help of God and her relatives, her Aunt Ramona and Uncle Isaac. She got through the tough times. At least, she was trying to. Recently, her flashbacks had returned and were reoccurring more than ever. She was sensitive to touch, just like when she got raped. She couldn’t get her mind settled while in public. She feared someone was out for her. Her issue of security was back. ‘’I don’t get it’’. Andrea said after gushing about it to Geraldine’’. It’s almost a year of the incident. I’m supposed to have moved on from this. Why am I getting all of this energy right now?’’. She hoped that Grey could sense her frustration and offer solutions or appropriate advice. She hated panicking or having a heavy heart or sweaty palms. She feared she would fall back to her previous state.‘’ There’s another thing’’. Andrea sighed and crossed her arms’’. I haven’t been able to get with a man…intimately’’. 

Geraldine understood; she knew relationships after an assault were often impossible to attain. Most people found it hard to be comfortable with the other gender and did not feel comfortable getting into a relationship, especially after an assault. They had felt hesitant about entering into new relationships. Some become hypersexual or promiscuous in their new relationships; some decide to play for the other team. Overall, there is a problem with intimacy. Geraldine knew Andrea would come to that point in her life.‘’I thought you were in a relationship’’. Geraldine mentioned as she scribbled down on her notepad. Andrea nodded and mentioned his name’’. Daniel….’’. Andrea had known Daniel practically her whole life. They had both attended the same elementary school. His uncle, Vansel Odom, had defended her in court for the rape lawsuit. She agreed there was an attraction from Daniel’s side; in fact, it was something deep. Andrea gave him a chance. Maybe he was the one for her, just like Rachel was the one for Ross. Andrea had never dated a childhood friend before; it was awkward, different from what she had imagined. She wanted to prove to her friend, Keisha, that the relationship could work out. Daniel was careful with her. She appreciated his efforts to make her comfortable, but she was the problem. She wasn’t comfortable with him; she didn’t reciprocate the same energy he did. 

The night they decided to go all the way, she freaked out and ended up hurting him while panicking. There were failed attempts. It was clear that it wasn’t meant to be. ‘’Yeah, we were’’. Andrea said to Grey’’. We broke up a month ago’’.‘’ I’m sorry about that’’. Geraldine said’’. And what was the reason?’’.Andrea answered with a shrug’’. We weren’t meant to be. There was the aspect of sex’’. She wrung her fingers as she explained’’. It was just... weird. We had sex, and it was weird, not because he was my friend, but because we weren’t connecting. I had a panic attack. It was more pain than pleasure. I kept having flashbacks of the assault. Fredrick was everywhere in my mind, kept tormenting me. I felt powerless and in severe pain. Daniel and I still tried again with hopes of connecting’’. ‘’But it just seemed hopeless’’. She concluded. ‘’Do you think he did anything wrong?’’. Grey asked. Andrea had asked herself that a million times, but she wasn’t sure’’. Em…. No… Maybe’’. She couldn’t make up her mind’’. Or maybe it was just me?’’. She sighed and then nodded’’. I feel it was more of a ‘me’ problem’’. Grey put her lips in a tight line and exhaled’’. Andrea, why do you feel it’s you?’’. She inquired.

Andrea often had the habit of blaming everything on herself. Geraldine remembered Andrea asserting that the rape was her fault. Self-blame. “I should have never given him my heart or a chance. I shouldn’t have gone out to the club that late; I should have stayed at home. I shouldn’t have been so rash. It’s my fault that I got raped. God, I’m so stupid’’. Grey recalled her saying months ago. She blamed herself for her mother’s death, the assault, everything. ‘’I just feel so’’. Andrea replied with a shrug’’. I wasn’t comfortable, and I feel I pushed him away. Plus, I had a low sex drive at the beginning of the year. It was my fault’’. ‘’Andrea, you need to stop blaming yourself for everything that happens’’. Grey softly told her’’. It’s not your fault. These things happen. This is your first relationship since the assault. Sex after an assault is something often hard for some people. You need time to heal’’. Andrea confessed’’. I feel bad that I jumped into a relationship with him. I mean, we were great friends before. Now, we barely talk like before. I feel guilty that I wrecked the relationship’’. Grey nodded’’. I understand, but you were only taking care of yourself. You’re your own priority. You need to take care of yourself first’’. She understood what Grey was saying but wanted to know’’. But why me? Don’t you think I should have settled down by now?’’. ‘’You’re trying to rush the process’’. Geraldine noticed’’. You are still in the process of healing, Andrea. You need to find someone that you can be comfortable with…. Someone you can connect with emotionally, spiritually, and physically. You cannot rush the process of healing’’.

‘’Be patient with yourself. You didn’t choose to be wounded. You are obviously at that point where things seem hard. You don’t need to rush’’. Geraldine advised her’’. You’re still young’’. Andrea pursed her lips and contradicted’’. I’m 24’’. Geraldine chuckled and said,’’. And very much young. You’re still young. You have a lot ahead of you. Frankly, you will go through a lot of heartbreaks till your forever. Take it from me. I had a boyfriend at age 16 whom I thought would be my world. I thought we would end up together. I’m 59 now, and I’ve had ten boyfriends after him. You have a long way to go’’. ‘’I’m worried’’. Andrea let her know’’. Some days, I feel so good to go out, to meet new people, to mingle. Some days, I want to curl up and die’’. That was the best way to explain her life. ‘’That’s called being human’’. Geraldine understood’’. Everyone has those days. Even I have those days. It’s normal for you to feel that way after everything that has happened’’. ‘’You’re a strong woman, Andrea’’. Grey thought that she should know’’. You’re extremely strong. Stop trying to fix everything so quickly; embrace the journey of healing. It takes effort’’. 

Andrea voiced her main concern’’. I fear that no one might understand me, that they would think of me as damaged goods. I feel I might end up alone because of what happened to me.’’ Most people, after being informed of their partner’s assault, usually leave or think of them in a certain way. Andrea did not want that. She needed that epic love she had dreamt of as a kid’’. I’m worried that when I find someone good, perfect for me. He might not want to pursue things after hearing about the assault’’. ‘’You don’t have to tell him’’. Geraldine shrugged’’. It’s your story to tell. You don’t have to tell it immediately.’’.‘’How is he going to understand my panic attacks and anxiety if I don’t tell him?’’. Andrea shrugged’’. This assault is…. Like a huge part of me. What am I even thinking? I’m going to be single for life’’. She ended with a sigh. Geraldine Grey shook her head at Andrea’s statement’’. You’re overthinking again. Everyone will eventually find love. There is someone for everybody’’. ‘’Remind yourself that you’re safe, and nothing bad is happening. It’s just a trigger, and it is common’’. Geraldine said concerning her panic attacks’’. You have to remember to breathe, Andrea. Focus more on your breathing and ground, Andrea’’. ‘’I know it’s a lot to take in, especially after what happened to you, Andrea’’. Geraldine knew’’. Nothing comes good with rushing the process. Be patient with yourself. Take as long as you need to be by yourself, to heal. Take baby steps’’. Andrea repeated the last phrase’’. Baby steps, huh?’’. 

After speaking to Geraldine, she proceeded to her group therapy session. She had always felt comfortable with people like her; women who had been abused come together every month to talk about their lives post-assault and discuss the progress of their relationships. Somehow, she always felt inspired at every session, but today, she felt indifferent about it. Everyone had found love, or at least things were looking up for them. A 29-year-old Desiree Williams was raped by her husband ten months ago. She never thought she would get involved with another man after the betrayal and pain she went through. Today, she announced that she was engaged to her lawyer. She felt so good having someone so understanding with her. It was key for her to heal. Selena Johnson hated to be called “Sel .”She grew a dislike for the nickname given to her by her assaulter. The nickname was off-limits for everyone. Three years ago, she was beaten and roughly injured before being brutally raped. After she was found by the police, she was taken to the hospital. 

After waking up from the 5-week-coma, the 35-year-old suffered hypothermia and severe brain injury afterward. While going through therapy, she developed anorexia nervosa. She was almost certain that she would die. Selena, after attempting suicide four times last year, was finally admitted to a psychiatric hospital. And she had found love there. Now, she was pregnant with her first child. Andrea was happy for them. She really was. But she felt underachieved with all of them present. She had not been able to find love. That was what she really wanted. She needed a second chance to feel love, to be loved deeply. But like Geraldine said,’’. Baby steps’’. Maybe that’s all she needs to do. Take baby steps. 

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