A Forever Face of Rape

I was raped three years ago today.

36 months.

156 weeks.

1,096 days.

1,576,800 minutes.

94,608,000 seconds.

I used to be an unfuckwithable badass. Then, I was brought to my proverbial knees.

Please consider this a trigger warning, as well as an uncomfortable but important story I will forever continue to share.

Mine.

During the wee hours of January 29, 2016 in an affluent neighborhood of Nashville, I woke up to my best friend’s boyfriend of five weeks raping me while I slept on her couch. Sleeping on this bestie’s sofa is something I’d done 4,209 times without a second thought before. I’d arrived around 9pm in mismatched pajamas, distraught with eyes so puffy from bawling over a friend’s death a few days prior that I looked as if I’d been fighting Rocky Balboa. I went to her for company, solace and what friends do best for each other – support.

Why can’t my lips get puffy when I cry instead of my eye lids?! WHY?

Her young son was asleep, her large, lovable pit bull mix jumped on my lap and her boyfriend of 35 days poured us generous glasses of wine while we watched Pretty in Pink. After more tears, lots of laughs and three glasses of vino later, I watched the two of them go to her bedroom, as I snuggled in after taking a sleeping pill, putting my glasses across the room on the coffee table, along with my phone.

A few hours later, in darkness so deep it rivaled a haunted house, I groggily awoke on my back to something very heavy on my chest, with my arms down by my sides, my pajama pants at my knees. There was hot breath and a human head in the right crease of my neck. There was an unwanted, unwelcomed and disgusting rape taking place. The rape of me.

Upon gaining my bearings and piecing together what the hell was happening to me, I silently freaked out, put my hands up on his chest and hissed, “what the fuck are you doing?” Without uttering one word, he retreated from my body, stood up and walked back into the bedroom where his girlfriend was sleeping. Through the fucking door that had been wide open the entire time – if my friend had woken up, she would have seen the rape occurring, due to the closeness of her quarters.

Scared shitless at what could happen during a confrontation with a man I barely knew, my first thought was of the sleeping four-year old in the next room. I was frozen. I didn’t know if Shane the Rapist was awake, passed out or going to come back out to finish what he started…or worse. My glasses and phone were across the room. I barely was able to muster the courage to pull my pajama pants up for fear of making noise. I remained a statue on that couch for at least two hours – until the sun came up.

Looking back as I hustled out of that apartment, I now know that I was in shock. Deep shock. And, I didn’t know what the fuck to do. Did that really just happen? What do I do? Did that just really happen? Where do I go? Did that just really happen? Who should I call? Did that really just happen? I was desperate to tell my girlfriend but wanted to do it while she was away from her boyfriend out of fear of what he may do to her.

When she was at work a few hours later, I called and told her to sit down as I had something life changing to tell her that would have a great impact on the both of us. Then I went on to say that I awoke in the night with her boyfriend of five weeks, having sex with me. Her initial response was, “did you finish?” Did we finish?

HOLY FUCK.

She immediately went home to him and called me back saying that she believed him when he told her it was consensual.

This was my first encounter with victim blaming. From my best friend.

My second encounter with victim blaming came from Shane the Rapist himself via a text to me after that phone call.

WISH I WOULD HAVE TOLD HIM NO?

I WAS FUCKING DEAD ASLEEP.

After taking a sleeping pill with three glasses of wine and being unbearably sad the entire day with endless tears coming from my eye holes, I was out cold. He had sex with what was basically a corpse instead of turning to his girlfriend he was next to in bed and tapping her on the shoulder for a piece of ass. He got up out of the bed and came to the couch. He knew exactly what he was doing. Oh and a side note, as soon as I was conscious enough I did say no. I said fuck no as I pushed him off.

My third encounter of victim blaming came from, once again, someone I held close to my heart. I couldn’t believe my best friend’s stance.

I ruined her life because her boyfriend raped me.

To read about the rest of the day Rapegate began, please click here.

Shattered.

My life was shattered in a matter of mere minutes.

My joy was robbed without my consent in seconds.

My trust in almost everyone gone in a few fleeting moments.

A rape counselor at the hospital said, “there is going to be a before rape in your life and an after rape in your life.”

And she sure the fuck was right.

A lot of my post Rapegate life.

As the days, weeks, and life in general went on around me, I couldn’t help but feel like I was responsible for “letting” myself be raped (how fucked up is that?). I was ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed and disgusted with myself. Insecurities formed I’d never experienced along with adjustment disorder, PTSD, chronic fatigue and severe stress.

In an instant, Shane the Rapist turned me into a girl who could no longer withstand being in my own mind.

He stole my stone cold solid pride. My life long unwavering sense of confidence. My will. All in one act.

The weight of profound grief is and can be all consuming. I was a stranger to myself and struggled to fight the will to get up out of the bed on a daily basis. I never wanted to die per se but you bet your motherfucking ass I wished my eyes wouldn’t open most mornings because the pain seared into my soul was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I didn’t really care about much of what I once did – a clean Mini Manse, washed hair, painted nails, working out, decorating for holidays, celebrating anything, taking a shower and so fucking on. Thousands of hours of sleepless nights. Panic attacks out of nowhere. And luckily and not so luckily, I was unemployed and looking for a job when Rapegate began.

What my laundry pile has looked like the last three years.

My sink has resembled that of a restaurant for years.

The most mundane tasks feel like climbing Mt. Everest.

Trauma happens in various of forms in this life, as we are all too aware. Loved ones die but it’s inevitable that we all have expiration dates. People desperate to be parents sometimes cannot conceive. Illnesses and disease that have no cures plague us. Auto accidents occur resulting in life altering injuries and changes. Children are molested. The endless cycle of domestic violence. Life is cruel. Trauma is brutal.

I’ve been in therapy for most of the last three years. It is hard as fuck. It is hard as FUCK. It is hard as FUCK. If you find yourself in a state after any kind of trauma where you can feel comfortable reaching out to anyone that you can trust, it will be for your benefit. I promise.

This program saved my life.

I started therapy with my Rapegate hero, Sheila every Thursday afternoon. We began with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and then later, EMDR. I’ve done countless hours of reflecting and homework and revising my thinking that I wanted to give the fuck up and just pretend Rapegate never happened. But for me, that was not an option. Once I started, I had to keep trudging ahead because trauma isn’t truly stored in your brain. It’s stored in your body. It’s why I’m unconsciously bouncing my knee to the ceiling right now. It’s why I stuttered for a solid 15 seconds until my boss finally finished my sentence yesterday. It’s why I have been inexplicably tearing up every few hours the last week.

One thing for people to understand whether or not you or someone you love has been raped, recovery will be a long struggle. Being a survivor isn’t something you do once. Being a survivor is waking up every day and doing your best to carry on. It’s a journey, not a destination. I mean fuck, I’m sitting here awake three years to the day later because my body won’t let me sleep on my Rapeversary at 4:00 am. The body remembers. The body stores trauma.

I was raped before the #MeToo movement began and when I first shared my story, I could not believe the droves of people who reached out to say they, too, had been victims. And not just women. Some I’d never met in person, only virtually but they felt comfortable enough to reveal their truth and I was honored to listen. Speaking your truth is an unbelievable weight lifted. Speaking your truth also makes it very real and that is scary as fuck.

Then you live with triggers that fellow survivors and I deal with on now, a daily basis. I can’t know and don’t know when it will hit. Not sure if being woken up in a startling manner will make me punch someone in the face. Not sure if a news story will make ice run through my veins. Not sure how provoked of a poked bear I will become over injustices occurring on a daily basis in our judicial system. Not sure if my ears will start bleeding when I hear a person defending a sexual assaulter. Because believe you me, they do it once, they do it again. And why wouldn’t they if society doesn’t think the punishment should fit the fucking crime?

Six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster because the judge didn’t want to ruin his life. Fuck the victim.

Four counts of sex assault? No prison time? Eh, fuck the victim.

But then again, America also voted a self-described pussy grabber into the White House and that’s just the fucking norm these days. AND. IT. SHOULDN’T. BE. If you think that’s OK, you are part of the gigantic problem of rape culture that this country has, so fucking stop it. Your children are watching.

And yet, we question over and over and over and over why victims don’t come forward at the time of their sexual assaults.

I. FUCKING. DARE. YOU.

The thing is, it takes a fucking village to overcome any type of trauma – and my village is as strong as an army. In instances such as the one I survived, it’s an experience I can hopefully convey to others and create awareness. Over 70% of all rapes occur between acquaintances (it’s an even higher percentage if you add in rape by family members). I never once thought I was putting myself in danger by going to my ex-best friend’s house to grieve a loss of life, only to start the unraveling of my own grief of life as I once knew it.

Instead of gaining comfort by reporting, I became a statistic that is all too familiar. My treatment as a rape victim by the Metro Nashville Sex Crimes division is and was no less than abhorrent. I was re-victimized by the very people supposed to help, support and guide me. Hundreds of hours were spent by yours truly following up with my detective and some of her peers, chasing information and answers that should have simply been provided. It exhausted me to my core. My rapist walks free because it was a “classic” scenario as my detective brought to my attention –  a he said/she said. And still, we question why victims don’t report.

The cost of being a rape victim has a tremendous impact for those who do (and even those that don’t) report it to authorities. Missed work, therapy visits (if you can afford it), police follow-up, doctor visits (that are required every six months for two years, just to be sure you didn’t contract HIV) prescriptions (for mental problems or STD medications contracted during rape), etc… is at an estimated $122,461 per victim according to a 2017 National Sexual Violence Resource Center . Pocket change.

I’m currently in surthrival mode –  that space in between surviving and thriving and I owe it to my support systems of thousands. You guys rock my world. Truly. You are my lifesavers from one to a million. With your help the last three years, I’ve become one hell of a survivor through your letters, texts, phone calls, cards, gifts, flowers, financial assistance, sharing of your own stories – I know I’m not alone. This is a horribly isolating trauma that reduces you to a solo existence. You feel like an endless burden. But I know I’m not alone. I think of the many who haven’t had the ability, freedom or support to breakthrough to the other side of rape.

You are not alone. You are never, ever alone. My once again unfuckwithable badass has your back and mine.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You will never know what it means.

XOXO –

CBXB

CBXB!

 

 

 

 

 

Off to a Spark!

First full week of 2019 is almost in the books and friends, I don’t know about you, but I was beyond ready to feel like lighting 2018 on fire and forgetting it took place. As well as 2017, 2016 and 2015.

Get in on the shenanigans on Instagram…..
My handle is @cowboysandcrossbones.

All of 2018 wasn’t awful in the slightest but I’m more than thrilled to shed the layer another year added. Like an exfoliation of sorts. Looking back, it seemed like last year was equivalent to a decade with all of the political chaos, senseless gun violence, devastating hurricanes and wild fires, the staggering realization of where America truly stands on rape culture and victim blaming, learning that the environment is most certainly going to say “fuck you” to humans in about 50 years, shutting down the government, forcing peeps to work without pay, who most likely already live paycheck to paycheck over some fucking dumbass wall (get it the fuck together politicians) – and that’s just the non-personal junk.

We made it!  Art by the ever kick ass Hannah Daisy of @makedaisychains.

Yet, there was some sort of seismic shift that took place toward the end of the year after I twirled fell and gave myself a severe concussion (what I mindlessly refer to as a coma…I mean, they both start with the letter c). Resting my brain and body was not only what the doctor ordered, it was what my mind and spirit also needed.  Almost three years after Rapegate, I was back in the celebratory saddle and not.a.fucking.thing. was going to stand in my way.

Holiday spirits were high and so very not dry.

Holla!day fun with the girls.

Christmas craziness with my Iowa twins.

Christmas cookies for Kris Kringle.

Christmas cocktails helped us jingle.

I have enough merriment to carry me and you through this entire new year.

Soon enough it was time to watch that famous ball drop, signifying whatever you want to call it. A fresh start, new chapter, another not going to follow any resolutions again, new year, new you bullshit. Aside from The Pussy Posse, a quiet night in with First Mate was the way to commence the out with the old, in with the new shenanigans.

First Mate with her fizz.

Nothing short of a klutz on my feet, I did my best to spoil our snacks before the evening even started. My leopard couch still smells like one big, raw shrimp – and the pussies love it.

Festive fail.

So we did what any gals would and filled up on champs instead (like we would have done anyhow).

Mind eraser.

The problem wasn’t with our selfie taking skills, of course. It was trying to get the fucking bottle of bubbly open (why can’t my cats get off their furry asses and help?!).

 

Once we popped the top, the champs flowed, my 2018 skin was shed and we did what all party animals do. We went to bed.

The first day of 2019 was also the very last game of my beloved Hawkeyes football season. My team was playing Mrs. America’s Mississippi State Bulldogs and Iowa was the underdog.

Last game of the season!

Dada CBXB and I were hoping to score a touchdown, hopeful our Hawks wouldn’t get blown out. Not only did they score multiple times, enabling our family tradition touchdown shots, they also WON THE GAME!  Final score was 27-22. The first day of 2019 was not a horrible one in the slightest.

W-I-N!

Cheers to a first week of freshness and hoping the spark stays alive in all of us this year.

Happy! Happy!

CBXB

CBXB!

Two Ghouls Are Better Than One

Oh Halloween, how I’ve always loved thee. The 31st day of October was – and still remains – the kick-off to a long-awaited holiday season for me.

I'll cut a bitch

Even at the tender age of three, I’d cut a bitch.

With an assist from my dad.

Letting Dada CBXB (you know, the guy who dresses up like Pam Anderson) do all of the carving work because even way back my nails were “jewels, not tools”.

In a small Iowa town where I was raised, we had costume parties at school and church (when you used to be able to call it a Halloween party complete with witches and bats, instead of a fucking bland Fall Festival with scarecrows and hay bales – why are there fun haters? Why?), parades to prance proudly down our eight block Main Street (where every single one of the 1,200 citizens showed up) and so much trick-or-treating mania, I’d have to come home halfway through the evening just to dump my candy (hiding it all from my dad in the dryer or it’d be gone by morning) because my pumpkin got so overloaded, it was too heavy for me to carry.

hall

Forget my adorableness for one second – what about the clown behind #165?

ped

The Halloween parade. A spectator sport for the entire town.

In my younger years, I carried the burden of celebrating Halloween by myself and being a lone Cookie Monster got frustrating.

Ho Hum

One is the loneliest number.

Begging my parents to procreate, I was presented with Sister CBXB (you know, the one who called my dad a goddamn son of a bitch at the age of four) who was immediately awarded with side kickin’ it as my lifetime partner-in-crime (lucky her). If I was going to be dressing up (oftentimes making an ass out of myself in later years) she was going to be doing it too, by god (town parades included).

In the beginning of our twosome, we were all about cutesy costumes.

Sugar'n' Spice

The rock star and Raggedy Ann. A little sugar for my spice.

The ‘cute’ theme seemed to carry on in our early years.  Except for the tilt in our heads…and the fog in the background…and the overall sinisterness of this photo.

Creepy Hollow

Cute masked crusaders in Creepy Hollow.

As we grew older, I wanted a little edge (well as much edge as an elementary kid and toddler could muster) to our giddy ups. I let my young inner badass out, as my sister scared the pants off no one.

very busy

That’s right. I was hardcore even in elementary school.

We slid slightly into the ghoulish department as my sister joined me in grade school.

Scardey Crow

Scaredy crow and premature mini old man. Almost spine-chilling. Almost.

Then I graduated to truly frightening and fearful territory as I crept toward junior high.  Pebbles was not impressed.

Pebs

I’m also starting to wonder if there was any other color of hair paint than green, since that tends to be a trend here.

When we thought we were oh so grown up, our costumes reflected our mature attitudes.

Lady and the Tramp.

Lady and the Tramp. Or Princess and Sock Hop Girl…however you want to look at it.

We were reminded in following years just how far from adults we were…especially yours truly. A recycled mask and costume from a previous Halloween hid my “I’m way too old for this shit” attitude toward trick-or-treating when I was forced to go with my younger sister.

Barley a Boo

I can’t tell who’s more excited – the monster or the witch.

And being older we’re not so much cute, cuddly or even scary creatures…we’re just mostly cocktailed.

bl

The odd couple. Pocahontas and Kid Rock.

Now that we’re miles apart during the costuming time of year, it’s fun to look back at our sisterly ghosts of Halloween’s past. But what’s even more fun is seeing her twin goblins growing to love the holidays as much as she and I did as kids.

Scary season #1.

As

Permanent partners-in-crime.

Scary season #2.

I know, I know. The cutest fucking dog and cat you've ever seen.

I know, I know.
The cutest fucking cat and dog you’ve ever seen.

Scary season #3.

Princess Leah and Yoda

Star Wars at its silliest.

Scary season #4.

A mermaid with her super hero.

Scary season #5.

Captain America and a Princess Peacock.

No matter how you choose to spend Halloween, here’s to having a side kickin’ ghoul for your spooky festivities.

Happy Haunting!

CBXB

CBXB!

Rapegate Therapy Fun

One of the perks of Rapegate is I’ve gained a superhero named Sheila that I see every Thursday. As a matter of fact, Thursdays are now just referred to as Sheila Day in my world. She’s been my therapist since the saga of this soap opera turned shit show of my life began January 29, 2016.

The non-perks of Rapegate have been the PTSD, severe stress, adjustment disorder, insomnia and borderline clinical depression. BUT this gal is keeping me in check weekly and slowly putting my broken ass back together.

Sheila Day begins with carefully crafted armor, to assess the correct attitude.

Yes, the sunglasses help.

Yes, I need hand lotion suggestions.

Watches from Gma and Aunt Crazy Pants keep me company every Sheila Day.

And I love that my friends take notice, in keeping up with my struggles.

Thanks DC. I heart you.

 

I always leave Sheila a little more than shredded emotionally, mentally and sometimes even physically (examples: throwing up in my car after a particularly brutal session, stomach aches that cause me to shit my pants and in the rare case, full on panic attacks). PTSD is a real fucking humdinger. Thank you Rapist.

Some times I need complete alone time to cry in my closet after Sheila Day. Other times, I need companionship that First Mate was happy to supply last night.

After therapy therapy.

One thing that always happens after therapy is the inability to get an appropriate night’s beauty sleep.

Well hello 3am.

Naturally, I wake up more beautiful and less aged than the night before.

Just kidding.

Due to the lack of seeing the inside of my eyelids for more than two hours requires copious amounts of coffee that I loathe all hours of the day. Then, my emotional hangover for the weekend kicks in.

Sometimes coffee turns into…

But it’s nothing the pink stuff can’t cure.

Shots straight from the bottle.

So, as my leg is bouncing to the ceiling here in Nashville today, you can bet your ass I’ll be doing a little relaxing later on.

Coping mechanisms.

Here’s hoping your FriYAYs are more fun than mine. Throw back an extra Skinny Pirate for me, pretty please.

Cheers!

CBXB