I Believe You.

January 10th. It was 9 years ago today. It was a day that’s unerasable. Unforgettable. I waited a year. A long, dark year before I told my parents for the first time what happened. The cop sat across the table from me. He recorded everything that I said. I wouldn't tell him anything. I remember him telling me I was safe. No one was going to hurt me and that I could tell him what happened. So I told him.

January 10th; the day my boyfriend asked me to come to his house instead of going out to eat like planned. So I took off my dress clothes and put on sweatpants and a sweatshirt. When a traumatic situation happens it’s easy to remember specific details that never leave the mind. Writing this I feel like I’m back in that room. I can smell it, feel it, I can hear the sounds of the tv and can remember even now nine years later what was sitting on the dresser across the room. I remember feeling like I wanted to scream. I wanted to bang on the walls but somehow I was numb. Somehow I couldn't even move and couldn't breathe. His mom was across the house. I prayed so hard that she would come upstairs or that his little sister would wake up and come in. He told me he did this because he loves me. I made him drive me home after he did it. My parents didn't allow me to ride with him by myself but I made him anyway.

When I got home, my parents asked why he drove me home instead of his mom and I told them I needed to come home right away. They were very upset with me and grounded me for riding with him. I texted my cousin that night to tell her everything. I knew she wouldn't judge me. I felt like no one would believe me and that they would judge me for what happened. I felt like everyone would be so upset with me even if they knew the truth of what happened.

On my 14th birthday, October 28, which was four months before this, my parents got me a purity ring. I made a promise that day and I held myself to a very high standard of keeping it. On January 10th, 2010 he took off my purity ring before he did it. I left without it and I never got it back.

Flashforward to a year later; February of 2011. I could hear my parents in the room next to me, talking about how he told the police that it was true and that his mom texted my mom begging her to not follow through with charges. At fourteen years old, I started having nightmares. Nightmares that he was going to kill me. At fourteen years old, I was sleeping on the floor of my parents bedroom, hyperventilating, crying. I was so scared he was going to hurt me because I told. I started acting out towards my parents because I was hurting so badly inside. It got so bad, I willingly went to a mental health facility to get help. The therapists there were amazing. I didn't want to leave. I felt safe there.

After I got back, I told my parents I needed to go see him to have closure. If you know anything about me, I have to have personal closure with the person that hurt me. I’m not good at having an unresolved situation. My parents said no, of course. There was no way in hell they were going to allow me to be around him again.

In October three years later. He contacted me, I didn't tell anyone. I arranged to meet him in a park. I brought my best friend at the time and a guy friend of ours. I parked the car and saw him sitting on the benches. My friends asked me if I wanted them to come with. I said no and that I needed to go alone but I told them I was bringing my phone and if I texted them they needed to come right away. I wasn’t scared. I felt strong, but I didn’t feel strong because I was fearless. It was because God literally spoke every word for me.

I remember praying in my head that God would give me the courage to say the things I needed to say. I got out of the car and walked over to the table to sit across from him. I was wearing a white shirt with a tan sweater over it, jeans, and my Ugg boots. I always remember what I’m wearing in traumatic situations. He looked the same. He thanked me for meeting him and asked if he could go first. So he did. He told me he was sorry. He told me he hated himself for what he did and he didn't know what he was thinking. He kept apologizing over and over and over again. I felt he was sincere.

Once he was done talking, I remember telling him that he hurt me. That he completely destroyed me, but I told him I forgive him.. That’s it. That’s all I said and I didnt understand why that was what God wanted me to say until later; but I realized that God gave me the courage to say “I forgive you” and that alone was the strongest thing I could have ever said. He followed me back to my car and opened my door for me to get in. That was the last time I ever saw him. It was a moment I will never forget because the closure I had been longing for was granted to me by God.

For years I couldn’t even say the word rape. Rape? Really? He was my boyfriend. What boyfriend rapes his girlfriend? Actually, I've found that it happens a lot but most people never come out and talk about it. Some of us hide it so long because we're so afraid that people won't believe us, or that person might come find us and hurt us because we told. Some of us try to find every excuse to justify what that person did to us. It took me nine whole years to finally share my story with the world. Today is that day. Maybe today can be your day too. The first time I ever shared pieces of it was at a small church in Greenbush, MN. I was 16 at the time. I shared my story to a group of young girls. I remember looking around the room and seeing tearful eyes. Eyes that I knew had felt a similar pain. Whether it was sexual assault or not, when you lose this to someone, someone that you’re no longer with, a piece of yourself gets lost too. A piece of yourself somehow feels like it left with that person if they leave. It took me nine years, a group of young girls, and a lot of stories just like mine to be brave enough to share my story. But today I share it for those of you with tearful eyes.

If you’ve never been where I’ve been, than you don't understand. People that haven't gone through it can try to understand but will never fully grasp what it's like unless they’ve been there. Unless you were in that room you have no idea what it feels like. So, you don’t get to tell her that what she’s saying is crazy or untrue. You don't get to tell her that she's making this up. You don't get to tell her that she deserves this because she dated a bad guy. You don't get to tell her that what happened is her fault. Because guess what? You weren't there. You don't get to tell her that what happened is no big deal. You weren’t there in that bedroom watching tears slide down her face. You weren’t there watching as she tried to scream out for help but she couldn't because she's so numb and in shock.

So what can you do to help? The one thing that always comes to mind is looking that person in the eye and telling her, “I believe you.” “I am here for you and I believe you.” The first time I heard those words, I felt like I had been heard and that meant so much to me.

What if? I know there are people thinking about it as they are reading this. There's some cases where people have lied and to those who have done that, this story isn't for you. Sexual assault. Rape. This isn't a joke. If that is you, you won't relate to any piece of this blog.Those of us that have been in this spot, we only hope that this is something that never actually happens to you because this kind of hurt cuts deep. This kind of hurt isn’t erasable.

But you, the one that's actually been there, the one with tearful eyes. I see your face, I know your pain, I know how it feels to carry this weight. I know what it feels like to wake up every morning and wonder if this is your fault. Did you do something to make him treat you like this? I know how it feels to not understand why, but for some reason, you want to go back and try to make things right and try to find some way to prove that what he did was because he loves you; because that's what he told you right before he did it. He told you that if you love him, you'll do this for him, and at fourteen you believe him. I know what it’s like to be guarded and not trust anyone because if someone you thought loved you, broke you, how can you ever trust someone again and what even is love? I know what it feels like to lose a piece of yourself so you start to not care about losing yourself at all and you start giving a piece of it to others easily. I know how it feels to think that you’re not good enough or worthy enough for another man, because that's what he told you or how he made you feel. So maybe you decide to make it your mission to try find yourself by getting a man to love you.You put your worth into a man.

I know what it’s like to get married and have flashbacks while you’re with your husband and relive every single moment. So much so, that he touches you and you cringe. So much so, that sometimes, he has to stop and hold you as you break down in his arms crying because you feel like you're there again. I know what it’s like to have triggers. Triggers that set you off and can make you spiral in two seconds flat because you smelled something similar to that night, or someone looks just like him even if you’re seventeen hours away. Your triggers get set off and that whole night plays in your head like a movie with no off button. I know what it's like to feel unworthy and unloved.

So how do you overcome? For seven years of my life I wondered the same exact thing. If you haven't noticed, I can't personally explain the things I’ve gone through without mentioning my secret weapon. I’ve tried to make my lifes’ journey not “faith based,” but that would be impossible because without God, my story wouldn't have a happy ending or a purpose.

My friend Miranda changed everything. She prayed over me right in the middle of the local bank. Blake and I had just gotten married eight months before, and what happened seven years ago at the time, was damaging our marriage. When you’re married sex is a huge part of the relationship. I was at work and I told Miranda that every time I was intimate with Blake I was having flashbacks.TMI? Imagine how I felt. They were terrible right after getting married. In the middle of the bank, Miranda prayed over me. It wasn't a special prayer. It was simple and short, but that simple and short prayer is something I will never forget, because at that moment it felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. It was like I could finally breathe again. There were many people that prayed over me for this same thing, I am blessed to have so many friends and family members that have supported me; but it was something about that specific prayer that made me feel released from all the pain I had gone through. She said as she was praying over me that she “wanted God to free me” and I’ve never felt more free than in that moment.

You will always have a scar from what happened, but one day I hope that you feel freed from your pain and your hurt because you are worthy. You are good enough.You are loved. How do I know? Because God tells us so. He tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He tells us that our beauty should not come from outward adornment but should come from our inner self. He tells us that we are the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in His sight. He tells us that we are His handy work. He tells us that we are beautiful and there are no flaws in us. He tells us we are worthy. And guess what? He’s right.

Girl, I believe you. I believe you, because I am you.

-Saphire

Men and women alike have shared a similar story to mine. I chose to speak to girls because I speak to a lot of young teen girls. If you need more information, need help, or need to talk to someone please reach out. Every story matters. Your story matters. You are worth more.

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© 2021 by Saphire Brown.