Waking Up At Last

Waking Up At Last

A #SurvivorStory by Paula

I feel like I’m emerging from a nightmare which I’ve been stuck in for 3 months. I’m emerging and find myself asking, “What happened to me? How did I get HERE?” I’m only beginning to understand. Words come out my mouth that make it appear that I understand, but it’s as if they’re not sinking in. I don’t trust my own thoughts anymore. Here’s what happened….

In January 2019, I lived in Indiana. I simply wanted to go to Walmart to get one ingredient to cook a recipe before this bad storm was expected to worsen. No big deal…I lived about 1/8 of a mile from Walmart. I go to Walmart and am on my way home. I see a man walking, whom I believed to be a guy I saw all the time at a convenience store I frequented right by my apartment. The wind was blowing, the temperature was dropping and the snow started. It was so cold – too cold to be walking in tennis shoes, a hoodie, and thin pants. I pulled over and asked this guy if he wanted a ride. He was super excited to take me up on my offer. I felt bad for him. The weather was brutal. Not many cars were on the roads because of the weather. The roads were getting icy. Not many people were out either. They were all hunkered down for the storm. This man guided me to an apartment complex that I had been to a few times in the past. The way this place was laid out is the parking area is surrounded by 6 foot privacy fences. No one can really see over them. It felt secluded. I felt a little uncomfortable at that point, but tried to act comfortable. I unlocked my doors and he locked them. I told him he can get out now. He said, “I’m not going anywhere. You know what I want”. I tried playing it cool, but he really started to freak me out. I didn’t know how to react. Then he pulled his pants down. He kept saying how I wanted it. I moved my phone out of his reach, but still couldn’t fumble for it to call 911. I was afraid to jump out my door, honk, or scream because I thought maybe that would provoke him to physically harm me. Maybe he had a gun or knife. I kept pushing him off me. He was so persistent. I had a scarf around my neck and he went to reach for it at one point. I cried and buried my head in my arms because I didn’t want him hurting me (remembering being choked in an abusive marriage). He scared me so badly. He kept singing in a creepy way, “I love you. I love you”. Then he said how we were gonna get married and get an apartment together and have a baby. He said he would pay all the bills. It was crazy because I didn’t even know his name! At this point I remember thinking how I don’t even know if this is the guy who I thought he was, from the convenience store. I just wanted him out of my car. I kept yelling at him to “Get the f*** out of my car”. He refused. I had my purse and everything of importance to me in my car. I was financially strapped, so I was thinking about that too. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to put anyone in danger due to my stupid mistake of picking this guy up. I convinced him after what felt like an eternity of pushing him off of me, to let me take him back to the store. He said the place where we were parked wasn’t where he lived. So, I drove away. He still tried to do things to me as I was driving. I had to let him know that if he kept doing that, I would wreck. He stopped, but still forced me to hold his penis the entire way. He had his hand over my hand and made me stroke him. It was so gross. He kissed me and I cringed. I didn’t kiss him back. He was so nasty.

I took him to Walmart. I remembered that when I was there earlier, that if people park directly in front of the store, that the police officer would flash his lights and sirens at them. I parked right in front of the door. This creep continued pulling his pants down and climbing on top of me…RIGHT in front of Walmart’s doors! I still was thinking of the safety of others. I prayed and prayed that God make the cop do his thing. After what felt like forever, the officer appeared. The guy said, “Oh, hell no. Don’t say anything. I’ll leave you alone” as he exited my vehicle.

I was stunned. I got out of my car, walked to the office and left my door open and told the officer to, “Get him”, as I pointed to the creep. The officer didn’t know what to do. He was shocked. I told him the guy just assaulted me. I was asked if he hurt me, and I said that I didn’t know at the moment. I told him and told him to go after that guy. The officer asked what I wanted done once he got him. He even questioned whether I had the correct guy. I knew without a doubt that I was pointing to the right guy. Finally, on the last time the officer asked me what I wanted from him, I broke down, pointed to the guy, cried, and said, “Do your cop thing and arrest him!” I don’t think the officer believed me until I broke down. It’s a shame, really. He arrested the man and 4 hours later, I was able to go home. I

felt so stupid. The sex crime detective said that I did nothing wrong. I was just doing a nice thing. He stated that 9 out of 10 times, nothing would have happened. He said I got that chance ONE time. He reassured to me that it wasn’t my fault. I told him how even the creep told me, “No one just does something for nothing”. I told the creep that, unfortunately I did give him a ride pit of the goodness of my heart, but he ruined that.

This incident spurred an avalanche of mental issues. I have been molested as a child, my mother was sexually and brutally assaulted during her pregnancy with me and 5 years later she died. All those things gave me PTSD. So, when this assault happened, even though he didn’t actually rape me, it triggered the PTSD. I didn’t understand it at the time. I would be at work and have a melt down after just laughing earlier. My coworkers would hug me and I literally shook when I cried. It was BAD.

I felt stupid and responsible for what happened. I was afraid to live in Indianapolis anymore. I made a very poor, hasty decision to move to Texas. I made all these rash decisions because I wasn’t in my right mind.

In March I took about 70 prescription pills, of 7 different kinds. These pills weren’t even all mine. I took what I found around the house. I texted my goodbyes to my best friend and my parents. My best friend lives in Kentucky. She called 911 and they took me to the hospital where I spent 3 weeks in psychiatric units. I have NEVER wanted to die so much. It was a very strong feeling. My vision literally blurred and I was in a trance to kill myself.

Now I’m waking up from this nightmare and am trying to get more support. I’ve never had to baby my mind like I do now. It’s a 24/7 job…worrying about not letting myself get too stressed…putting up boundaries…learning to function, fearing that anything at any time can make that happen again. I’m scared. I’m so scared and I just need to find support from ones who understand. I have to learn to not trust people so much, without it changing my sweet natured heart. I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve learned that I’m not as tough as I thought, but that I’m still tough in a different way. I’ve got this! I have to keep telling myself…I’ve got this!

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