I stood there with my eyes closed, breathing, listening. Glad the assault was over with. I struggled with shaking hands to pull my panties and pants up, and made my way to the bathroom, locked the door. That felt safe, but I hurt so much. Aching, sore between my legs, my nipples, my neck, my mouth, my head. I went immediately to the toilet, let my pants fall down, grabbed a huge wad of toilet paper and tried to clean myself off. I could smell the E7’s sweat on me and worse. Another wad of toilet paper, trying to dry off. The toilet was full of crumpled paper. I fixed my panties, pants, bra, tucked my tshirt back in. Went to the mirror at the sink. Looked at myself, pale, with big, scared eyes. Am I okay? I washed his saliva off my face. My mouth is swollen, my neck is red, the bridge of my nose puffy, my eyes bloodshot. My hair is messed up, long strands hanging down off my braid. I rinsed my mouth again and again with water, fixed my hair. Cool damp paper towels on my tear streaked face. I look better… am I okay?
I stayed in the bathroom a long time, trying to fix myself, hoping the E7 wouldnt come back, and trying to be okay. An hour? Finally I emerged. It is quiet. I cross the room and look out into the parking lot, nothing but my little car parked there. I kept telling myself that it was over and done with and I am okay… and I got back to work, finishing the field prep. It was late in the afternoon, and SFC C and PFC H returned, happy and cheerful and I try to act as if all is normal. Then it was 1700 and time to go home. I was all alone at home, my husband and kids in Indiana with family. I went straight to the bathroom, filled the tub with hot soapy water, and took all my clothes off, standing in front of the mirror. I am so mangled… so broken… there was swelling around my eyes and nose, my lips still puffy. The bite mark on my neck/shoulder is purple. There are horizontal bruises on the front of my neck, my nipples are red and raw, dark finger sized bruises all over my breasts and thighs. I am sticky on the inside of my thighs, and some bleeding. I get in the tub and scrub like mad. The water burns as it hits the bite mark, and between my legs, where I am torn where I havent hurt since my son was born, perineal tearing. The hot water feels so good on my sore and battered body. I wash off the smell of him, and just want to have my body and my self back. I got out of the bath, dressed, and called my husband. I asked him to come home… I needed him so much, to have the safety of him there… he asked why, as he had only been with his family a few days. I told him I was attacked on base, I didnt give details. He was home in a day or so. He briefly asked about the assault. He saw some bruising on the back of my neck. I just told him a man attacked me in the barracks. I did not elaborate.
I wanted to ignore what happened, heal up and move on, forget about it.
Not long after the assault, the unit was gathered together, innoculations. Physically I had begun to heal. But, on this day… the anxiety which would come to cripple me began. We were taking off our bdu jackets, prepping for the vaccination. I glanced over, some random soldier, but, a similar build to my attacker. Immediately, I popped back, back to the moment, when the E7 was taking off his BDU jacket, just before the actual rape act. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I was instantly severely ill, couldnt breathe, my heart racing. I ran from the room, to the bathroom, gasping for air. How, how was I back in that miserable moment of pain and terror? I kept telling myself I was safe. I calmed down, then I was angry at myself for flipping out over nothing. Essentially, this was my first panic attack. The first taste of a downward spiral of anxiety and mental issues to come.
I began to have problems driving. If someone was too close to the back or side of my car, I would get that instant sick and panicky feel. The anxiety would cause dizziness, vertigo, to the point I would often have to pull off the road until it passed. After a few episodes of this, I began to have anxiety in anticipation of having another panic episode, and avoided driving when I could. The kids would see me having these episodes, although I tried so hard to hide it. My mother wondered why I went to see her less and less, our weekly outings turning into monthly or longer.
I avoided my husband’s touch after the rape, telling him I was menstruating kept him at bay for 5 or 6 days. My body healing, but oh that first attempt at intimacy after the rape, excruciatingly bad. An eager husband, unknowing as to why I was not “in the mood”. His hands on my body making me shy away, I was unable to get aroused, and, that first sexual intercourse after the rape, horror, popping back, how? how can I do this when it just takes me back? Sobbing silently, enduring my husband’s lovemaking as my now twisted mind turns my marital bed into the memory of assault. Tearing, hurting, forcing, pinching, hitting, choking..
Anxiety was something I didnt know about before the rape. Oh how I remember the days of being happy and hopeful.
I was still going through my days as usual, or trying to. Lots of work, physical training. My morale was low, I was nervous, and why oh why, I started acting up, saying and doing inappropriate things. I was in trouble pretty much nonstop, I was a problem child of the unit, the Captain did not like me. I was having problems with keeping up my beauty and hygiene routines. My uniform was wrinkled and messy. I would blurt out awkward and inappropriate comments. My health was changing. I no longer had as much energy. I got headaches. My hair was falling out. I can’t sleep. Nightmares, and worse, night terrors, where I am partially awake but the monsters come out. I am so tired, and scared… sleeping with a full light on.
A few weeks went by. My period is late.