SURVIVOR TESTIMONY

I am still incarcerated in a state prison. I am choosing not to use my name or name the facility that I am currently in. I’m due to see the parole board at the end of this year – so hopefully it will not be too much longer until this nightmare comes to an end. I feel that by sharing my story it will not only help me, but also help someone else.

Last year I was raped twice in one year. The first incident happened when I was in the county jail. The man was my cell-mate. I suppose that I should back up just a little. I am 22 and I’m an openly gay man. It is not something that I choose to advertise, my family will tell me ‘why do you tell people that you are gay?…’ People can just tell – the way that I walk, the way that I talk. To be honest, being gay is not even in the top 10 list of things that I define myself as.

In this environment, men just assume that I want to have sex with everything and anyone. That is so not true. Well, in the county jail, my cell-mate kept on pushing sex on me. He started joking around with me to break the ice and snapping me with a towel. Then things just started to escalate very quickly. For days after he moved in, he raped me. I was out of my cell on Valentine’s Day morning – I arrived back in my cell at the wee hours of the morning. When I came in, he acted angry because he said that I had woke him up. He jumped out of his bunk and started to masturbate on a stool with some lotion. He started yelling obscenities at me. I later told myself that I should have yelled, should have fought back. In reality, all I did was ‘give in.’ I was so afraid – in my mind I thought that this man was going to kill me. He kept on telling me that he would snap my neck like a twig. After 45 minutes a deputy ended up doing a walk and saw what was going on. The other inmate almost immediately started shouting that it was consensual. Through all the events that followed I felt like I was the ‘bad guy.’ People came and looked in my window for weeks afterwards. It made me feel like I had done something wrong. All that I wanted to do was die. I felt like everything that I ever knew was wrong.

The man that did this to me took a piece of me away from me that night. No one in population could understand why I snitched in this environment, the worst thing that a person could do is to reach out to the guards for help. I ended up getting to go to a work-release program – which is basically like a halfway house. I would go to work in the day and then turn myself back in at night to the jail. This is when the real effects of the rape started to take a toll on me. What I needed was to be around my friends and family to start my healing process. Instead I was around a bunch of insensitive grown men who act like children. I started having these nightmares. Basically reliving what happened over and over again. I’d wake up screaming covered in sweat and people would start laughing at me like I was some joke – and that’s how I felt. Like someone was playing a sick joke on me.

I started getting high on crystal meth again. Which is why I was in jail in the first place. I also found out some bad news and just could not cope anymore. So I left. I always thought that I was ‘normal’ before the rape, things were more simple. I was literally living in fear for months. Using the meth as my escape. I was too ashamed to go and get help. After the rape I felt as if my life did not matter. I felt as if I had no value. After a few months I came to terms with [the fact that] the only way to get my life back on track was to turn myself in, so that is just what I did. You must think that I’m crazy, huh? I thought that by turning myself in I could avoid a prison sentence. Well, I was wrong. I had just barely started to sort things out. I tried to go to a program and then bootcamp, but just could not make it. I end up on a prison yard. I would tell myself ‘how can this be?’ I arrived on a Friday and by Sunday was already caught up with the wrong crowd. Coming in new to the system and not knowing anyone is and was such a scary feeling. All I wanted to do was to go and crawl in a hole and die. This cannot be my life, but yes, it is. Every single thing that I thought that I knew was wrong. Magically now, I was an adult – forced to fend for myself. Less than a month later I was gang raped for over a two hour period. These men told me that someone had bought me as if I was their object and they told me that I had to give it up. I literally froze. I felt like I was in a blizzard. My whole body went cold. I felt like I was in a dream. It just did not feel real. I was like a dear in headlights and then it was just over and done with. They told me that they were going to kill me if I did not go and take a shower…

I now have less than a year left in my time. Hopefully I will be going home on parole. Each day I continue to grow and I continue to surprise myself. After what happened I felt that I had two choices – to either lay down and die, or to keep on fighting. So I chose to fight one day at a time. Sometimes it’s one minute at a time. I am trying my best to stay positive. I still have recurring nightmares, reliving what happened over and over again. The healing process is a lifelong journey. I found out that it is not something that can be fixed overnight. A storm came into my life, as terrifying as storms can be. I say thank you because I found that I used this storm to open my eyes. I have grown – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Each and every day I grow a little more and surprise myself. I can be changed by what happened to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.

-Anonymous, Colorado

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