SAAM Feature 13: Clara

Dec 1, 1979

by Clara


Dec 1, 1979, I was sleeping when suddenly my dog barked. I shushed him then he barked again. I looked up to see a man standing over me in the darkness. I let out a light scream. He pounced upon me, put a knife to my throat and said, “I’m going to kill you, bitch!” I said, “Who are you….what do you want.?” he kept fighting me, as I tried to scream louder, with no response from anyone. This was about 5 a.m. He kept after me, choking me with his hands, putting the knife to my throat. I would pull the knife away from my throat. He shoved my face into the pillow. I got down to the floor. He started hitting me in my stomach, the first pain I felt. I finally asked him, “Do you want to..(have sex)..? He said, “Yes”. I stopped struggling, and he stopped hurting me. I participated. Then as he left, he said he would be back. He had taken my TV, stereo, $18 from my wallet. It scared me that he went through my things and knew my name.  I actually convinced him to turn on the light. His face is forever embedded in my memory. I brushed my teeth, but did not use the bathroom, not wanting to lose any evidence.

I calmly called the police. I felt that i had caused it because I’m the one who had to ask. I knew that was the only way I could survive. The police pointed out that my hands were bleeding and that I did the only thing I could. I called a friend who accompanied me to the hospital. The rape kit did prove that I had indeed bee raped. I had surgery that afternoon to reapir some tendon damage. I assumed I would return to my apartment, but quickly realized I would never be able to go back in there.

While I was in the hospital a friend and my brother moved my friend and me into a shared apartment. I was terrified of the dark, and being alone. I finally left that apartment, and stayed in my car for about three months. I would go to someone’s door as it got dark, and ask if I could stay that night. I had two dogs. I knew I was in no condition for that responsibility. So my brother took them to stay with hi until I felt stronger.

My mother was in a nursing home. I knew she probably would not survive knowing I had been hurt so badly. My brothers said they would support whatever I chose to tell her. I lied to her and said I had fallen on some broken glass. I still live with that lie, 29 years after she passed on.
I was recommended a therapist who turned out to be miraculous. I saw him for several weeks. I then decided to stay with a friend in Florida for a few weeks. While i was there, the use of my paralyzed hand returned. I was joyous. I also got some reprieve from reliving the nightmare daily as I went about. I started keeping a journal, which I left with my therapist. I don’t want to read it again. I resumed therapy when I returned from Florida. I also found a job, working as a nurse in a small hospital. Then I found an opportunity to share a woman’s home, very close to the hospital.  I worked very hard to restore my trust and confidence. But I was determined I would not let some insignificant piece of dirt ruin my life.

I have no idea where this man is today. I would be willing to bet he is not alive. A lifestyle like that does not assure a lot of longevity. I have long since risen above the incident, but it never leaves. I am infuriated every tinme I hear of someone being raped, especially children. I was 35 at the time. I am thankful I wasn’t a child, nor an older person. I knew I would recover. With excellent loving support of family and friends, an excellent therapist, and my own will and determination, and the grace of God, I have grown from the experience, more every year. If my story can encourage others, I will have served a meaningful purpose. Thank you for reading my story.


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