Forgiveness


Earlier I told the story of how I was raped by two of my fellow classmen in AIT in Ft Gordon while I was passed out on a bed in my rented apartment. One of them was African-American, while the other was Caucasian.  I didn’t say that when I woke up, the African-American was in my vagina, while the Caucasian was in my mouth and I was gagging.  But I was basically forced to drop all charges against the 2 men, in order to save my four friends who broke down the door from facing 10 years in a military prison for witnessing an unnatural act.

What I didn’t mention then was that one of my two attackers confessed and even apologized to me over and over. He tried to do the right thing after the horrible thing he did, but the male investigators refused to take his confession. They didn’t want a scandal, but everywhere you went on Ft Gordon for the next few weeks, people were talking about the trainee who had been raped. My father had even talked to the post commander (and recorded all conversations-which I still have), but all that got me was an emergency leave for a week, because I had gone on a hunger strike until justice was served. Justice was never served, however.

The African American’s name was Jose, while the other was Larry. Larry said over and over to me and anyone who would listen that he had done nothing wrong, and that I wanted it. How could I want that? I was asleep, and it wasn’t like I could speak with his penis in my mouth. But Jose really felt terrible about it all, he said he was drunk out of his mind and didn’t realize what he was doing. He was willing to take whatever consequences by manning up and taking responsiblity, but he wasn’t allowed. Because of his behavior after the rape, I was able to forgive him, but never forget the horror I suffered at his hands.

Larry, on the other hand, found some justice he wasn’t counting on. He took a couple of  ‘accidental’ tumbles down the cement stairs from the 3rd floor, and wound up walking into a few doors. I was happy that some of my fellow male soldiers were trying to teach him that it was not OK to rape, but they were the ones who got into trouble, not Larry. He got off scott free, and I have had to live with what he did to me since. I will never forgive Larry. EVER! Years of therapy still can’t take the image of waking up and gagging with his penis in my mouth, and him yelling at me not to bite. I wish I would have bitten it off!

The only consolation I had, was that both Larry and Jose were Regular Army, while I was National Guard, and I would never have to see them ever again after we graduated. I went back home, and they went on to their respective posts. Then I had my first Annual Training, and went to Germany. It was my second day in Germany, and I was in a truck on the way to my post for the next couple of weeks. The driver had to pull over and help change a tire on another vehicle. I was told to stay in the truck, which was fine with me.

And then I saw him. Walking on the road, 1o feet in front of me was Jose. Panic struck, I couldn’t breath. I was terrified, and all alone, and there was one of my rapists. He saw me too, and he also had a look of terror on his face. He nodded and practically ran past the truck. I could never understand why I became so panicked just by seeing him, especially after forgiving him, but I did. I still see that look on his face when he recognized me, and it still sends chills down my spine. I knew that he wasn’t going to rape me again, but I couldn’t stop myself from reacting as though he might. Thankfully I never saw him again after that.

All of that happened over 20 years ago, and it still feels like yesterday. I have been in therapy, but I still suffer from severe anxiety and depression, and 2 types of PTSD. And because my body reacts very badly to medications, I can’t take anything to help me. I try to remind myself that I forgave Jose, but I don’t think I have ever been able to forgive myself for trusting my fellow soldiers. Or for ever enlisting for that matter.

Brigid

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