Friday, June 15, 2012

To Charolette and Many Others

This will be one of the hardest blogs I write. This subject holds close to my heart because so many are affected by this. Maybe no directly like some, but this subject changes how some people even approach people differently. The subject is very controversial, but I owe it to my sister and many other victims to share.

Charolette was 3 years younger than me. Our moms were sisters but we had the same dad.. We were sisters and we acted like sisters. We fought, cried, reminisced, laughed, and were punished together. We officially moved back to Alabama after Charolette's mom died and my dad had remarried. It was then that Charolette started gaining independence. She wanted attention. She didn't want to be book smart, she wanted to be famous for acting. Dad's rules still applied but she was more frequently trying to bend them as she started her first year of high school. He let a lot of them go. She was high spirited and loved crowds. Though one night things suddenly changed.

We shared a bedroom and we both hated it. She would stay up to 3 in morning on the phone while I was trying to sleep. One night, I think it was a Friday she came home and tried not to wake me but she did anyhow and I could tell she was crying. She told me it was just a fight with her boyfriend. The next morning was when I seen the bruises. I told her that it wasn't right and she snarled at me telling me I didn't even know what a boyfriend was much less what comes with it. Not even a month later she stumbled into our room crying harder than I have ever seen her cry before. She was tipsy and said she had gave into him. I told her to talk to dad but she got mad almost instantly.

That summer, I was making coffee at my job and trying not to get marshmallow in my hair from making rice krispy treats and Charolette bopped into the bookstore. She asked me if daddy still had his handgun in a box under his bed. I told her I had no idea and I doubt since Jonathan was little and James had just begun to crawl. She said she just wondered because she remember seeing. That should have been a red flag right there. Though being at work probably had something to do with it.

Two days later she went to the river her friends. She had called dad and said she was on her way home but it became 4 in the morning and she was home. Dad was furious and scared. He made us all get up and go look. He went for his gun and it wasn't there. My blood turned cold and my stomach knotted when he started ranting about his gun being gone. I just started silently praying she hadn't taken her own life. Now its a different story.
My stepmom called ever everyone of my sister's friends. They all more or less said the same thing. She went home after calling dad. Dad was furious because he was sure she had ran away from home and I finally told him about her asking about his gun. He was then furious at me and more scared than anything that she had taken her own life. But he found his gun in his truck the next day, but it made us that more concerned. I was told to stay at home and help my stepmom and take care of the farm.

Finally, my stepmom's sister came to stay with her and I took off after them one day. I knew where my sister was likely to go. I was going to go to both of them with my brothers spread out behind me going through the woods. I was on my way to her "Pooh Corner" as she called it when I saw her shoe. Those stupid, ugly Sperrys.
My brother Jared, says he remembers me screaming and just screaming. Jackson says all he remember was dad going "Oh Lord," and running. Jacques says he remembers me "No," until Jared grabbed me back and pulled me there. Job says that all he can remember is dad kneeling down to pray and how she looked.
I barely remember daddy praying I just remember the look of fury on his face when he got up. Though, like Joel. I will never forget how she looked. Her face was bruised. Her shirt covered in dirt and torn and pants not even pulled up covered in blood. Daddy didn't say much for the rest of the week. We had her funeral and he still didn't talk. He preached on Sunday after. Nobody said anything. We had people telling us they couldn't believe this happened and that she was such a sweet girl.

It was my dad, stepmom, Job, me, and my 3 baby brothers now. Dad wouldn't let me do anything by myself. Job had to take me everywhere. Job finally lost his patience when my stepmom cleaned out Charolette's room claiming she was giving one of her son's his own room. I was left alone with guilt, shame, and bitterness. There was accusations of it being one guy. But no one is really sure who did it and still are not sure of it.

I was very angry at my dad for how he was treating the situation. He came into my room and said that I was never to date anyone without him meeting them first. That I was to obey everything I said. He started making his wife do everything for me. It was crazy, she was so mad at him because she kept saying I wasn't a baby but I didn't say anything because for the first time in a long time it seemed like he cared. Two years and half years past with me living under my dad's watchful eye. I moved to Tuscaloosa after that.

I have made peace, for the most part, about feeling guilty for not picking up signals. Her friends said they knew she was being raped by her old boyfriend, but he wasn't the one that made her take her last breath. I've been back to that very spot where we found her. I buried those shoes she was wearing where we found her. It was hard to accept that she is gone, but I have good faith that she isn't hurting anymore. Every time I come to a challenge in my life I can almost hear her saying "Come on Odes you can do this."

People ask me how I can still have faith after something like that happens. Do I blame God? No. Was I angry that God let this happen? Oh yeah. You are allowed to be mad at God, just never doubt God. I did my own research into God's manual for Life. God did extraordinary things with my sister, and even in her death he taught our family something and possibly each one of us individually. I stand here today to say my faith doesn't waver because of this and I hope every victim of this that God justice for you.
"But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26"But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27"When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her,"  Deuteronomy 22: 25-27
Victims of rape have a different views on it. I have had four friends and family members raped, out of those two only 2 involved authorities. I asked two of these four to talk about what they thought needed to be heard.

Rape is never about sex. Never. It's about power and submission. ANY rape is the use of another's body without his/her permission.
I will be the first person to say that rape can happen to both genders. Imagine if you will that you are a slave. Not the sexy slaves in the movies...a real slave. No power over where you can go, what you can do, who you can see. Your body belongs to your master. If they wants to beat you, they can. They can make you do anything at all and there is nothing you can do about it. Your body is not your own. It is all about power over another human being. If this master is stronger than you, they can and will hurt you just to do what he wants. It isn't sex, it's rape. The forcing of your most private individual places for his mastery. Not for pleasure, for domination. If you fight back, you may die. Knives and guns are part of the equation. Even if you don't fight back you still may die because he doesn't want a witness to the brutality of what he did. If you are lucky, they beats you and terrorizes you, rips the most tender parts of your body and leaves. You are left with the realization that you have no control over your own person...someone else does, they just proved it. You feel dirty, shamed, soiled, and forever different. You will always look over your shoulder to make sure your attacker isn't coming again. 
If they attacked you in your home, you know that they knows where you live. They can come back and do the same thing again. If it was in a park or alley way, you blame yourself because you didn't have to be there. Sometimes it is a crime of opportunity, but most often the attacker is also a stalker. They planned it, picked you, and knows all about you. No, it's not fun. No it's not sex. It's the most brutal and terrorizing act a man can perform on a woman. A person who has been raped knows that forever they can never be the same. They aren't the confident person they were...they have become a terror victim. It will always be there. — Ridge 
It’s not easy to explain rape to someone who has never been through it. Imagine having every single part of you, your pride, your strength, your will, your very soul, torn away and ripped to shreds in front of your very eyes, now multiply that feeling times millions and it still will never be close to what is experienced. One of the simplest words, “no”, should also be the strongest as it is supposed to protect people from what isn’t wanted.
We all think we’re safe, that nothing and no one can or will ever hurt us. What happens when someone you think you can trust does the unthinkable? It’s almost impossible for most to imagine that, for others it’s impossible to imagine life without it. This is how my life is now; filled with memories and reminders of what was done to me. The worst one was being held down in a pool of my own tears, hearing him laugh as begged for him to kill me, a request that was cruelly unfulfilled. 
The backlash of speaking out about being raped can be almost as bad as the rape itself. Some are branded liars, others attention seekers. Even if you are believed, the person could deny it all and get away with it. Women are faced with a dilemma: speak up and possibly be made into a liar or stay silent and let them get away with it? I chose to stay quiet because I know I would only be branded a liar. Don’t choose what I did. Speak up. Be loud. Make your story heard. — Maria  
Maria summed what every victim should know. Somewhere someone wants to hear your opinion. If the authorities don't believe you keep telling someone of higher respects to make sure that you tell this isn't right. What happened to your body is violation of a human. Someone else controlled your body.

If you or someone you know is being raped, don't keep it a secret. Call 1.800.656.HOPE. When a caller dials 1.800.656.HOPE, a computer notes the area code and first three digits of the caller's phone number. The call is then instantaneously connected to the nearest RAINN member center. If all counselors at that center are busy, the call is sent to the next closest center. The caller's phone number is not retained, so the call is anonymous and confidential unless the caller chooses to share personally-identifying information.

RAINN does not have any record of a caller's phone number or name. Callers always have the choice of whether or not to share their real name or phone number with counselors; they are never obligated to reveal this information. In other words, we will know who you are only if you choose to tell us.

If a caller is under age 18 and chooses to share personally-identifying information with the counselor, most states require the counselor to notify authorities of the sexual assault of a minor. Only in this situation — when a minor calls and chooses to reveal identifying information — does the pledge of confidentiality not apply.

The Online Hotline provides live, secure, anonymous crisis support for victims of sexual violence, their friends, and families over RAINN's website. The Online Hotline is free of charge and is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week!

Using a secure and anonymous instant-messaging type format, the Online Hotline allows victims of sexual violence to communicate directly with trained crisis support volunteers.

All trained volunteers have successfully completed state-mandated training and have extensive training in providing online support. Online Hotline supervisors continually monitor sessions for quality control.

In addition, the Online Hotline website provides a library of information about recovery, medical issues, the criminal justice process, local resources, and support for family and friends of victims.

There is a reason why I wrote this, people don't realize how often this happens or what to do when it happens to them or someone they love. Please tell someone. That's all.

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