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Not About My Hair: Healing after assault & betrayal

Jan07

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I had sent you an email thanking you for your blog. You got me through a rough period. Unfortunately, my rough period got worse. I don’t know where to start looking for help but I have seen you post stuff on your advice smackdown and maybe some readers would be able to give advice and maybe you could as well.
I was dating a man for almost one year. We met online and talked. Three months after the initial contact, we met in person. He is an airline pilot. I was able to see him about once a month and it was usually for about a week at a time. Things seemed to be good from May until mid-August. In August, my life fell apart. I found out I needed surgery and it was done in September. I was a basket case and very upset. He came to take care of me after the surgery for two days but then had to leave.
In October, my daughter’s father raped me. I refused him for so long and he knew that I had surgery but did it anyway. I reported what happened to the police but long story short, they didn’t prosecute. I leaned on the guy I had been dating for support and flew to a different city so he could take care of me but something seemed off, and I stayed there for 8 days. In November, I just completely melted. I found out that he was married, but he told me that he married to help her get a green card. I believed him because that is something that has actually been done in my family so I believed him. I started noticing weird things and my gut instinct was saying something isn’t right, but I kept making excuses for him and thinking that I was seeing things that weren’t there.
This past week, I flew a long distance to see him. It was very strained. I did something I shouldn’t have done and I looked at his work email account. There I saw emails between him and his wife. The emails were very affectionate, had pet names and I love you’s in spanish. I felt physically ill. I couldn’t look at him most of the day. The next day I left. He knew something wasn’t right and was trying to be very affectionate. When I left, I told him that it was goodbye. I cried so hard at the airport and on the flight home. My friends talked to me during flight changes and kept me fairly calm. I was home by midweek and just felt so stupid.
By week’s end, I found his wife on the internet and had a phone number to call. I called her and told her that I knew her husband and that I had been seeing him. She said she had an idea that he had been cheating on her and she wanted proof so she could get a divorce. I gave her my number. She called me later that night and asked for proof. I gave her chat logs, pictures and links to his ads on various websites. She asked me to never contact her again. I will abide by that. I apologized to her and told her that I never meant to hurt her. I believed what he said and when I found out the truth, I ended everything. She told me that she doesn’t know me and she can’t accept my apology.
He is pissed at me and is threatening to ruin a new career that I am supposed to start. He blames me for hurting her and now says his mission in life is to make me miserable.
I feel so stupid for believing his “green card” story. He also said that she was just a roommate. I DO NOT want this man in my life. I didn’t tell her about the affair so I could have him when they split. He lied about so much and I want nothing to do with him.
Did I do the right thing by telling his wife that he was having an affair with me?
I hurt so bad and I don’t understand how he could have done this, not just to me, but to her as well.
Thank you for reading,
Anonymous

Okay. Dude. Whoa.
I would tell you to take a deep breath but I think that’s a better tip of advice for myself. There is…a lot going on here. Forgive me if I appear to cover it all somewhat randomly.
From this side of the computer, you did the right thing to tell his wife. For your own conscience, at least, although honestly, HE LIED TO YOU TOO. You believed him. You need to stop beating yourself up for believing him. And you need to stop beating yourself up for his wife not accepting your apology, because you are not responsible for her decisions from this point on. It’s true, she doesn’t know you. She may choose to believe him and whatever story he’s come up with about you. It’s a common tale post-infidelity. If she chooses to stay with him, she must choose to cast you as the villain. If she chooses to divorce him, she will probably still cast you as a co-villain. But again. You are not responsible for her decisions from this point on. Getting involved with other people’s marriages is always messy, so please, remove yourself from this mess — physically, emotionally, spiritually. It is done and over and it is time to go stand against a gorgeous sunset backdrop and swear, radish in hand, that AS GOD IS YOUR WITNESS, YOU WILL NEVER BE MESSED WITH AGAIN. BRING IT ON, UNIVERSE.
(Feel free to switch my Scarlett O’Hara fantasy with your own inspirational movie scene of choice. Jog up some museum steps, or something.)
If this jackhole continues to threaten you in any way — unwanted calls, emails, anything that makes you feel unsafe or unable to fully walk away from this mess — consider legal action. I am not a lawyer, of course, but in my book this sounds like a restraining order waiting to happen. Get one. You’re done with him and her and this entire chapter of your life and you should not have to endure it intruding back in via your answering machine.
Of course, I imagine since the police have let you down so terribly once before, you’re feeling a little gun shy about contacting them again, even with a really good lawyer on your side. Which leads me to the next (and most important) bit of advice.
Pretty lady, you were raped. And yet I see no mention of counseling. Therapy. A support group. I don’t care that he was your daughter’s father and I don’t care that the cops didn’t prosecute him, you were raped.
Rape has tremendous consequences. Long-lasting consequences. Problems with trust (including trusting your own instincts), clouded judgment, guilt, depression, anxiety, a feeling like YOU were somehow to blame (just like you are now taking on a tremendous amount of responsibility for being an unwitting participant in someone else’s adultery).
So. I want you to forget about the guy and his wife and that whole bucket of betrayal. I want you to get some counseling. I want you to find a sexual assault survivors’ support group. I want you to find someone — a fellow victim, a therapist, a kind voice on the other end of a rape hotline — who will listen to you and help you navigate the sticky path of acquaintance rape and your daughter’s future relationship with her father and the fact that you are clearly one major life event away from a complete meltdown. (Which no one would blame you for, because DAYUM, but let’s still not let it come to that, no?)
Contact RAINN.org or plug your state into Google and find your local sexual assault hotline and support network. Trust me, they can help. Advocacy, legal assistance, professional counseling or just someone to listen to you, so you never again feel like an online advice column about pores and lip gloss is the only place you can turn to.
You’ve reached out this far, so please see this through and reach out just a little bit further.
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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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6 Responses to “Not About My Hair: Healing after assault & betrayal”

  1. lizneust Jan 07 at 3:06 pm Reply Reply

    Dear Anonymous – I have never been anywhere close to where you have been and my prayers are with you.
    Amy – You rock.
    Nuff said.
    Liz Neust

  2. Muirnait Jan 07 at 3:11 pm Reply Reply

    Dear Anonymous – I too am praying for you now. I’m so sorry you were hurt this way, and I encourage you to do some of the things listed in Amy’s very valuable advice. There are so many women, sadly, who have been hurt much like you, and they are proof that you can get through this and come out the other side even stronger. You can do this. Allow them, and others, to help – not only will it aid your healing but maybe even further facilitate theirs as well. Courage, friend. You are not alone.

  3. appelsauce Jan 07 at 5:14 pm Reply Reply

    Dear Anonymous,
    I was also a victim of acquaintance rape, and believe me when I tell you that its aftermath has spilled over into pretty much every relationship – romantic and otherwise – I have had with a man. It’s a tough road ahead, but with help and support, it’s one you CAN travel. I am now happily married, have a child, and with the help of antidepressants, have been able to avoid sinking into major depressive episodes for a couple years now. I absolutely agree with everything Amalah wrote, and I wish you courage and strength in overcoming this. You deserve better!
    Stephanie

  4. Suzy Q Jan 07 at 6:59 pm Reply Reply

    Dear Anonymous,
    First off, I want to give you a hug. It sounds like you need one, or even many.
    I’ve been through some of what you related. I echo Amy’s advice to get some professional help re: the rape, especially since this man is your father’s daughter and I imagine it would be difficult if not impossible to rid him from your life entirely.
    One thing that didn’t seem to have been addressed (unless I missed it)is your concern that Asshole Married Man could affect your new job. My advice would be, if they hire you, to be upfront with your boss (no, not confessing everything) by just telling him/her that you had a bad breakup with someone who is now slandering and harrassing you and that you’ve got legal assistance to deal with it (and a consult with a lawyer couldn’t hurt). Just say that you wanted to give a heads-up should some odd information turn up and then don’t discuss it any further. Say it with your head held high and very matter-of-factly, as if you’re entirely above it all (even if you don’t feel that way). If further probing questions are asked, try to defer them graciously and just keep repeating that it’s under control from your end. I wouldn’t offer up ANY of this until you’re actually hired and only if you’re really concerned he could interfere.
    Also, keep records of any threats by that asshole or his wife, as well as the documentation of your relationship and communications with his wife. This information could help legally if you ever need it. Hopefully, he and his wife will just fade out of your life and deal with their own shit. You certainly have enough of your own to deal with.
    Lastly, what you did or didn’t do re: that relationship is all water under the bridge now. It’s over. You weren’t stupid; you were human. Toss those regrets and second thoughts away, as tough as that may be. Now is the time to move forward, even if it’s jsut baby steps.
    Please, please reach out and get help. I’ll be thinking of you.
    ~Susan
    PS: Amy, thanks for posting this. You do more good than you know sometimes.

  5. Kimmy Jan 08 at 1:16 pm Reply Reply

    Dear Anon:
    My prayers are with you. I hope you follow Amy’s advice and that of some of the commenters here — all very sound, wise pieces of information.
    Good luck to you… and I hope that you (and then Amy, via the blog) keep us all posted on how things go. Like everyone here has said, things can get better for you… it will take a little bit of action on your part at a time when you would probably rather curl up in bed and stay there. But trust us all… gather whatever strength you can muster right now and take the steps you need to. It will help so very much in the next little while.
    Take care.

  6. Chunky Photojournalist Barbie Jan 08 at 4:58 pm Reply Reply

    Be patient with yourself. “Letting go” is a choice you must make, not just once in a liberating declaration of your own power (though I do wish that for you), but over and over again, every day.

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