Early in the morning, 5 years ago, while at a friends getting ready to leave for the day, a call came that would forever change me as a mother.
It was my middle daughter who still lived in Minneapolis. Her voice cracked and crumbled as she spoke softly to me. “She was raped Mom.” I didn’t think I had heard her correctly. She repeated words that cut through my soul. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stand. In that moment, the horror of hearing that my youngest 18 year old daughter, who I moved to Minneapolis for college 2 months earlier has been raped,caused me to drop to the ground.
I did fall apart for a moment but living 2 hours from where my daughter was lying in a hospital bed, did not give me the luxury of staying in that place.
She put me on the phone with her. The only words I could make out through her sobs, were, “Please come Mom, please come…”
I immediately went back to my home so that I could head to Minneapolis and to wake up my youngest son to tell him what had happened to his sister. His rage tore open my broken heart. As he screamed, “I’m going to kill him!” over and over again, all I could do was cry.
My friend came immediately and drove me to her. These were 2 of the longest hours of my life.
The hospital had released her with my other daughter and they were now at their uncles, who was a police chief at that time. I am still thankful that she had such a safe place to go to.
I will never forget that moment of first seeing her and her pain. I wanted to hold her and never let her go. Ever. I have never in my life felt such rage. I have never wanted to kill someone as much as I did that day. Oh the horror this was to my mothers heart that had lived to protect her children from such horrors.
That night we lay in bed together in silence. Neither of us sleeping. Broken by her crying. My crying. Her broken voice asking me,” How long will it hurt like this?” “How long will I feel this dirty?” “How long before I can close my eyes without seeing him?”
How do you answer such questions that hit so close to home? Sadly, I know the answers but I don’t answer.
How can I tell her that it might be a really long time? How can I tell her to not let him steal her life away when it was so fresh and raw?
I did my best to chase away the demons that fought to steal her away but I know I fell short.
The young man that raped her was an acquaintance through college. He was stupid enough to call her phone and leave messages about the rape which the police were able to take as evidence. It took less then a day for them to arrest him. I thought it would make me feel better to hear this but it didn’t. Nothing made this better. Nothing made this go away.
I went with her to talk to someone at her college. They were supportive and told her to take the time she needed. She was determined to go back sooner then later and not let this stop her. I brought her home with me and we didn’t know what to do. No one talks about what you do after something like this happens. No one tells a mother what to say to her daughter. We went to see a counselor. She grew tired of talking about it and just wanted to go back to her old life. So back to college she went.
The calls started coming at night. “I’m scared Mom.” “I can’t close my eyes without seeing his face.” “How long before I stop crying?”
The thing is before this happened she was happy and doing very well at college. She had made the decision to start in June instead of starting in the fall so she already had a good 2 months of college behind her. All of that changed. She couldn’t concentrate. She was fearful. She was all these things plus more. And what do you do when your life is falling apart? What do you do when your daughters life is falling apart?
Allow her to quit school? Allow her to move back home? To only then allow her to move even further away so that she could put even more distance between her and him and where it had happened?
I could I make her understand that you can run but you can’t hide?
I could love her and hold her and try to chase the demons away but I knew deep down that there really was nothing I could say or do. I did not have the power to fix her booboo this time.
Facing my worst fears…of not being able to protect my children…”I was not able to protect my daughter”, screamed through my head over and over again.
When I was all alone in the privacy of my home, I allowed myself the luxury of wailing at the top of my lungs.
Fast forward to this young mans trial. Now mind you, this is the first time I see the young man that did this to her. He is from a country where raping women is common and nothing. His family fled that country to be free of that kind of violence. I wanted to come out of my skin. I wanted to scream obscenities at him. His family was also there. As soon as they started talking about the rape, his mother began to cry. You could see the shame written all over their faces.
Listening to the horrors of that awful night all over again made me feel like vomiting. It made me picture things I did not want to see.
When my daughter got her chance to speak to the court, I held my breathe. How gracefully she spoke and with such courage. His mother began to wail as she listened to my daughters painful words. I was so proud of my daughter and yet so sad for his mother and father and even for him, the one that had inflicted the crime.
His mothers wailing opened my eyes to the fact that I was not the only mother grieving and wailing over such an act. There are no winners in crime. Only losers. He stole a part of my daughter that can never be returned. He went to jail and now will have to register as a sex offender where ever he goes. His mother lost her son in many aspects. I lost a part of my daughter. Life will not ever be the same for him or my daughter.
Since then, grace and forgiveness have helped with the healing. My daughter is a woman of grace and courage. She refuses to hide in shame and will not allow it to silence her voice.
Still there are parts of her that are affected. I look at her and I can still see remnants of the harm this rape caused her. I know that in time she will deal with these things. In her time not mine.
There is a distinct different between the person she was before to the person she is now. Things like this change us.
I haven’t been as courageous as her. While she has been able to speak I have kept it locked inside. She has so wisely taught me that letting it out takes away it’s power.
The reality of not always being able to be there to protect one’s child is a nightmare for a mother. Facing that I wasn’t, has been a struggle. Now that it has happened to my child it is hard for me to put my guard down.
There are times when she is gone out and I lay in the dark of the night and all I can do is pray through my fears. I pray no such horror finds any of my children or their children…or any children ever again.
The bottom line is this…we can not control the actions of other people…there are evil people in this world…we can teach our children how to be safe when we are not there…we can pray and pray for their safety…we can do all the right things and still bad things can happen to our children…and all we can really hope for is that if and when it does, that we, their parents, are their soft place to fall.
I hope with all my heart that I’ve been a soft enough place for my daughter to fall.
I thank my beautiful courageous daughter for allowing me to write this today. I know that without her help I would not be at this place today of being able to share it with you. Dear daughter, here’s to taking the power away.
Thank you dear friends for listening to me talk about an unpleasant subject.
Until next time, hugs & love, Lori