Friday, March 17, 2006

The purpose of this blog is to explore the messy process of getting from point A (abyss) to point B (hope) without ignoring all of life's glorious messiness.

At the age of 15, my life took an abrupt turn when I was raped by my boyfriend (he would say he simply made a executive decision). Being raped was bad enough, but being told it happened because he loved me (he was powerless to resist me, hah!) really messed with my head. If I hadn't found out he was cheating on me, I might have felt I had no choice to marry him since I naively believed no other man would ever marry me.

At the time I thought I was alone in what I experienced and so like many others, I kept the facts of what happened to me to myself.

For 20 years.

This despite trips to Planned Parenthood, appointments with mental health counselors and one on one sessions with several pastors before I turned 18. All of them saw me as someone who had been sexually active. The advice was birth control, imagining my mother in an empty chair and repentance, respectively. My diagnosis after that was that I had gone crazy.

It was the Mike Tyson date rape trial and the ignorant comments I heard about that situation that finally made me determined to express what date rape really felt like. When I began writing my story, I gave the characters fictional names and used composite scenes mostly so I could tell the emotional truth of what happened to me while hiding my personal shame. Also I didn't want to write a memoir from an adult's perspective. I wanted to write a story from the perspective and knowledge I had at the time. I wanted readers to see the world from that limited perspective.

A key lesson I learned from writing my story is that hindsight is NOT 20/20, it is colored by what happens later. In the first draft, my boyfriend was an obvious rapist in every scene. Only he wasn't. He was consistently manipulative, but often in the nicest way.

When my novel CHERRY LOVE came out, I tried desperately to explain to a local reporter that I knew what I wrote, but the protagonist wasn't me.

Imagine my shock when I read the following headline:

NEW AUTHOR WRITES ABOUT DATE RAPE FROM EXPERIENCE

I seriously thought I'd have to relocate. Then something bizarre happened. Women started approaching me and telling me that my story was also theirs. The condemnation I expected for losing my virginity never materialized. One woman who read CHERRY LOVE told me that I had captured what had happened to her down to the words her rapist used to excuse his behavior.

Having my shame out in public for all to see was the start of my healing. I'm not completely free of the abyss yet, but the hope is winning.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:00 PM   15 comments links to this post

15 Comments:

At March 17, 2006 4:11 PM, Blogger Lucy Monroe said...

Marcella..wow! Okay, I could probably sound a lot more intelligent, but that's what I feel. I've never been raped, but I've counseled several women who have and their feelings and emotions are one of the reason I tend to write issues books in my romance. We need to expose pain to the light to deal with it and we need to see positive role models of others making *their* way to victory to believe we can have our own.

I'm putting you on my "visit daily" list because I want to see and be part of this wonderful thing you've started by being willing to write your book and then starting this blog.

Hugs,
Lucy

 
At March 17, 2006 4:21 PM, Blogger Michelle Buonfiglio said...

You go, girl. But remember, you're putting his shame out for the public to judge. And we're viewing and supporting your strength. :)

Your friend,

Michelle

 
At March 17, 2006 5:35 PM, Blogger Stacy~ said...

Marcella, I saw your comment at Michelle's blog, and since I'm a recent blog addict, I came over to investigate. Gosh I had no idea, but I want to commend you for your post and say that it is a very brave thing to do, and talking about it is part of the healing process. I don't have personal experience, but it is a fear all women face will happen to them. The fact that it happened at such a young age and by someone you trusted had to have been just devastating to you.

I have a hard time with you calling it "your shame", because you did nothing wrong. I know that it's easy for me to say that, because I don't know how I'd feel, and I'm not berating you or contradicting you, I just don't believe the shame is yours. It's the man (boy?) that did this to you, who felt he had the best intentions, and used your feelings and the relationship to get what he wanted.

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry it took so long for you to find a way to start healing. Hugs to you for your courage.

 
At March 18, 2006 12:27 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Thanks, Lucy, Michelle and Stacy for your comments.

I know the shame isn't mine, but it took me a long time to understand why I accepted responsibility for everything that happened to me.

This blog will be an interesting way to explore issues that I don't usually discuss in other venues.

 
At March 05, 2007 11:05 PM, Blogger ashalyn said...

You're awesome.

 
At August 31, 2007 11:09 PM, Blogger Patricia Singleton said...

Marcella, I commend your courage to tell others about your rape. Since I have started writing about my incest experiences and recovery process on my blog, Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker, I have gotten only encouragement and kind words from my readers. I haven't actively dealt with any new issues for several years. I have been surprised by the fears that have surfaced again since I started writing my incest series. It is encouraging for me to find other incest/rape survivors to talk with and learn from. Thanks for having the courage to do what you are doing. Great job.

 
At November 07, 2007 6:06 PM, Blogger M. said...

I, too, was raped at 15 by a boyfriend who told me he loved me. And again at 16 by another boyfriend. I didn't even know to call it rape until years later.

When I was 19 I started having flashbacks, anxiety attacks and screaming nightmares about the second rape in particular.

I am really open and will talk about rape with anyone anywhere, and I've had people try to use that open-ness against me by telling me what rape victims do or don't do. But honestly, as long as I can make one person not feel like I did for so many years, it's all worth it.

I'm really glad I found your blog.

 
At November 07, 2007 9:31 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

m, I'm glad you found my blog and shared a few details of your story. Those who don't want to accept that rape happens between those who know each other will find any excuse to stay in denial. What I've realized is that many of those who say nothing do find support in those of us who are able to speak about our rapes.

 
At April 15, 2008 4:12 PM, Blogger P'tit Boo said...

Marcella,

I just stumbled on your blog and wanted to applaud you for your courage, words and actions.
I am a survivor too and I don't know if you have heard of Angela Shelton but her book with her story just came out.
She is amazing and I've been on a grassroots campaign called the army of angels to help break the silence and encourage others to speak out.
Check angela out at http://www.angelashelton.com

I've added you to my feed.
:)

 
At February 14, 2010 3:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So your life now revolves around victimhood? Perpetual and eternal. That's sad. You should move on. Life's too short. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

Hope is not the antonym for abyss.
If you dont have the hope already of overcomming your abyss you will never have closure.

So i take it you aren't really after closure?
Well then perpetual and eternal victimhood is all you will have.
Thats sad. You should move on. Life's too short.

 
At February 14, 2010 11:36 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anonymous, from reading other comments which you wrote on other posts of mine in a cluster I can see why you want me to move on and ignore the crime of rape. I can also see why you want me to stop paying attention to those who commit this crime and those who make light of this crime and those who snear at survivors of sexual violence.

I want closure. The closure on the commission of sexual violence. The only closure you truly seem to be in favor of is the closure of accountability for those who are guilty of committing sex crimes.

 
At February 14, 2010 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commission of sexual violence? Who is giving out commissions for sexual viol.... What?

You say you want to get from point A to B. I don't get it.
How do you hope to get from Point A to point B if all you are "paying attention to" is point A and never ever leaving from point A to go to point B?

I bet you don't even know what point B is because you've been so acclimatized to point A that it had become perpetual and eternal, consuming now your whole entire world.
Thats sad ;_;
You should move on. Life's too short.

 
At February 14, 2010 6:14 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anonymous, Your question falls flat and you bet wrong. Your failures to understand -- most likely intentional failures rooted in your bigotry -- reflects on you not me. Since you don't understand, you are incompetent at giving advice to me or any other survivor. But, hey, you aren't going to let something like your incompetence stop you from proving you are repulsive.

 
At February 15, 2010 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I was mollested by a teacher at age 15, probably after very early childhood sexual abuse, and it sent me into a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol and eating disorders. For most of my adult life, I have felt ashamed and have attracted preditors. I am just coming to terms with the long-term effects of my early abuse with the help of websites like yours.

Do I think that you are living as a 'Victim'? NO! I was abused at a time when'date rape' was acceptable and not reported; when "You probably deserved it" and "What were you wearing?" were the comments.
So I commend your blog and look forward to reading it on a regular basis.

 
At February 15, 2010 8:34 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

To the latest anonymous,

You are welcome. Thank you for sharing your experience which unfortunately is far too common. I'm glad you are coming to terms with the effects of your abuse and I'm glad that I can help you with that.

Your progress and mine and that of many other survivors are what likely irks that anonymous man enough to cause him to go on the attack.

 

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