Calla’s Story: Emotional & Sexual Abuse.
Editor’s Note: I recorded a short video to intro this submission by Calla Montgomery. Please take a moment to watch. Also, I want to encourage you that if this is also your story, know that it can and will be your blessing. On my personal blog, I elaborated on this, and how your handicap is to be loved. While The Good Women Project is entirely non-partisan and non-religious, my personal blog is religious to some extent; please read appropriately. If you would like to speak with Calla, please email me at goodwomenproject[at]gmail.com. – Lauren
Looking people in the eyes was always very difficult for me. Even as a young child, people noticed this and ridiculed me, particularly in school. Later in life, I learned that the inability to maintain eye contact is a sign of low self esteem.
Verbal and emotional abuse was the norm in my home. Although I was consistently shamed during discipline by my father, I believed it was normal, even appropriate, and never felt any resentment toward him as a child. I was in my twenties before I finally understood what my father had been implying my whole life: “Sometimes I feel like such a failure because you and your brother have been such a disappointment to me.” Growing up under that, it was no wonder my choices in men were less than stellar.
I was bullied during almost every year in elementary, middle school, junior high, and high school. It was not always the same person, but I was a very easy target. I was often at a loss for words to stand up for myself, particularly when the aggressor had drawn an audience. I was a nice girl, I followed the rules, I did not dress or act funny, I was smart, I was a compassionate and loyal friend, but the “right people” always found a way to get to me.
My story really begins the summer after I graduated from high school. I had dated a few guys here and there for a few months at a time during my late teen years, and they were mostly nice guys, even if they did break my heart. The abuse began with my first “real” boyfriend, Cory, the guy I gave my virginity to. He was a master manipulator. He had me absolutely under his thumb, and I guess I had lost my ability to think for myself by the time sexual intimacy entered our relationship. Even being in a relationship with a guy like him was somehow a culmination of all my past experiences and total lack of self esteem.
Cory was deep, romantic, intense, brooding, exciting, and adventurous. He had a history with women that I did not find out about right away; but when I did, he told me the stories about them in such a way that I felt that he was sharing pain with me and looking for forgiveness for past mistakes. What I should have realized was that he was already a sexual predator, and that with his confiding in me, I could see that this pattern had begun in the 6th grade.
I was so very naive. I managed to hold on to my virginity for the first 8 months of our relationship, but finally gave in when he was “just trying to see how far we could go” and discovered that I had no hymen to break. There was no barrier. At the end of our first sexual encounter, “our song” started playing on the radio, and we both took it as if it were a sign.
Two days later, he invited his best friend to join us. That was my first experience of separating my emotions from my body. It was not the last. He found many different ways to demoralize me, to force me into acts that were perverse and unsanitary. Still, I was bound to him for reasons I cannot fully explain. There was no escape, there was simply the necessity to endure.
Soon after I started college, in my same small town, I was pushed to second place in his life. He found a new underage girl to manipulate, and I became his prostitute. He would call me to come over, pay my cab fare, and have me stay over at his apartment. I would leave before his girlfriend stopped by on her way to high school. This happened for the better part of a semester, and I later wondered if he even took a shower between us. Neither one of us had any idea about the other. During this semester, I also discovered that one of the videos he had taken of us being intimate had found its way to the electronics department of the store where he worked, that his coworkers had seen it, and that there were copies made from it, possibly even sold.
I was devastated in a brand new way. I had no one to tell. I couldn’t talk to my parents. I couldn’t talk to my friends. I couldn’t talk to the police. I just had to swallow it and move forward. Cory was barely even apologetic about it, and even that was not enough to make me walk away from him.
Once I discovered his new girlfriend’s existence, I went to her and told her what had been going on. I revealed that he and I had never stopped dating or sleeping together, and explained what I knew of the rotating schedule we had been on. It finally became clear to both of us that we were truly feeding his ego, that he was playing us like a couple of violins. She broke up with him, and he came to me for comfort. And of course, I was there. Where else would I be?
Things continued with me being on the down-low and him pursuing the girlfriend, even moving to where she was attending college. One would think that surely this would have put an end to our relationship. Not so. Women who are abused just don’t give up that easily. Cory would come home for two days each week, and I would skip classes to spend those days with him. My emotions had totally separated from what I was doing, and any shred of self worth I had was gone.
Soon after I reached this point, I had brief fling with another self-destructive guy. He also needed to be sleeping with me on the sly, because he was in an abusive relationship of his own. His on again, off again girlfriend continued to abuse him, and they were parents to a toddler son. In the midst of our fling, I conceived a child.
I misinterpreted a lot of signs from karma as signs from God, and when I did share my plight with my hall coordinator and resident assistants in my dorm, they encouraged me to have an abortion. I had no personal connection to the father of the child, I was in my sophomore year of college, and this was going to “ruin my life.” I took their advice before I had a chance to really consider what was happening. Karma lined up again, and I was on vacation with a relative who, out of nowhere, told me that “if I ever got into trouble” she would help me out. So my abortion was free.
I need to be gentle with myself and realize that I was really not in a position to fully understand what I was doing at this point, having been emotionally and sexually abused. I was not very morally coherent. I woke up during the final suction process of the abortion, and that set off the beginning of my post traumatic stress disorder. That was the very lowest point in my 19 years of life. It was also the end of me being willing to feel any emotion.
I willed myself into total numbness, and remained there for the next several years. I began attending a different college in another town, dating several good Christian guys, graduated from college… yet still not feeling or thinking about much of anything. I was fortunate to not have turned to alcohol, drugs, or worse while I was in this fragile place.
But eventually I began to crack. My body started to show signs of stress; first digestive issues, then unexplained hives. I was not dealing with my emotions, and it was literally starting to chip away at my body.
The Beginning Of Acceptance
I developed a relationship with a guy over the Internet right around this time. I was in a dead-end job, and other than my parents, I had distanced myself from just about all of my local friends. Jumping at the chance to relocate, I was able to get into a post-abortion support group where no one knew who I was. I was thankful for the anonymity, having been raised in a small town. I nearly lost my mind while I was processing the full spectrum of emotions that the support group brought out concerning the abortion, but in the end it provided wonderful healing and hope. The guy I was dating was wonderfully empathetic and strong, and I could not have done it without him.
I never did receive any particular counseling regarding the emotional and sexual abuse aspects of my past, and I can see looking back that I should have pursued that. The effects continue to impact my life, but I am actively working on healing from them as well. Part of that healing is telling my story. Thank you for listening. I have battle scars. I even have some wounds that still need to heal. But my story is part of what makes me who I am, and I am not ashamed..