The importance of being heard

Kara Lozier
Posted December 6, 2019 from United States
My younger sister and I
My younger sister and I

I started therapy one month ago - probably 44 years late. Today was my third session. When a friend asked before my appointment if I was feeling better, I said no. I compared it to surgery. I said, "It's like before I can be fixed, they have to cut me open and look inside. And what's inside hurts a lot.... more than it hurt before they cut me open." The pain that is inside of me started with the trauma of being sexually assaulted 44 years ago when I was only 13. But more painful than the pain of that event was (and still is) the pain of not being heard. #IStandWithHer because nobody stood with me.

The predator was my mother's friend. It was 1975, when child safety instruction emphasized looking both ways before crossing the street and the threat of “stranger danger.” Do not trust strangers. Do not talk to strangers. Do not go anywhere with strangers. Do not accept anything from strangers. There was all this emphasis on strangers when we now know that the perpetrators of sex offenses against children are most likely to involve people the children know.

Although my mother was not a witness to or aware of any of the offenses, she was there. Blinded and deafened by the comfort and complacency of being with her friends, people she trusted. In one incident, my mother was sitting right next to me in the backseat of the car with her friend, the predator, on my other side, groping and grabbing. But it was dark. And she had been drinking. And he was her friend. And his wife was driving. So there was no perception of danger. No suspicion about why he wanted to sit next to me in the backseat when the front seat was empty.

There was no suspicion again the next morning when he wanted to take me alone to his cabin many miles away, deep in the woods. I begged my mother not to make me go, I begged her to bring us home, but she chastised me. I was embarrassing her. I was ungrateful. These were her friends.

I couldn’t say the words I needed to say. Nobody taught us those words. And the words for our body parts were considered dirty. We weren’t supposed to say them. But she was my mother. She loved me. I was certain that she could see my terror, feel my fear, hear my silent cries for help. She didn’t. She fed me to the lion, her friend.

Weeks later, back at home, I broke into tears while visiting a friend. When she asked what was wrong, I told her I was raped. She was also 13 and had no idea what to say. So she said nothing. But she told her mother, and her mother called my mother, and my mother called me into the kitchen. She looked at me with cold and accusing eyes and asked in a hostile tone if there was anything I wanted to tell her. I braced myself against the pink countertop in my grandparents’ old kitchen, holding on so that I would not collapse.

I said ‘no’. She asked again and again and I said ‘no’. It was an inquisition. She was treating me with contempt. Then she asked if anything happened during our weekend in the Poconos. She knew. She knew. Why is she acting like I did something wrong?

I said ‘no’ again. Then she asked pointedly, as if I was the criminal, “Did Kenny rape you?” Finally, I said “yes.”

But she asked again, incredulously. “He raped you?!”

“Yes.”

“Do you even know what rape means?”

I hesitated. I thought I knew. I thought it was the right word. “Yes.”

“Did he put his penis inside of you?” My body tensed and my stomach lurched at the sound of that word. 

I gripped the counter harder. I felt myself slipping. I wanted someone to hug me and hold me and wipe away my tears. I had been assaulted. I felt like I was being assaulted again. I was a child. Why is she angry at me? He did not put his penis inside of me. He did other things, used other things, tried to get me in the bed with him. He wanted to put his penis in me. But I finally found my voice, grabbed the two sides of the doorframe leading to his big canopy bed, and made him stop.

What is the word for what he did to me? I can’t describe it, it’s too much... too painful.

Again… “Did he put his penis inside of you?”

“No.”

In her mind, there was nothing left to say. In her mind, I was a liar. In my mind, now my mother had betrayed me too. She failed to protect me and keep me safe. She failed to give me the comfort and assurances to tell my story. She robbed me of my safe place… my safe person. She didn’t listen. She didn’t believe me. And 44 years later, I have started therapy to try to heal because... she did not stand with me.

That is why #IStandWithHer and #IStandWithHim and #IStandWithEveryone. Look. Listen. Love. Empathize. The severity of trauma experienced by a person can be mitigated when #YouStandWithThem. If you can’t be that person for someone else, help them to find someone who can. Do not leave them alone.

This story was submitted in response to #IStandWithHer.

Comments 15

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Jensine Larsen
Dec 06, 2019
Dec 06, 2019

#WeStandWithYouKara

Kara Lozier
Dec 08, 2019
Dec 08, 2019

Thanks <3

Maya Iwata
Dec 06, 2019
Dec 06, 2019

Kara, Thank you for sharing your story and for the start of your recovery and support. No time is too late, you are chosing the time that is right for you. I'm so sorry that your mother betrayed you twice, once for not keeping you safe and the other time for not believing you. #IStandWithHer because I stand with you and thank you for standing and listening to others. Unfortunately people stil beleive in "stranger danger" when the danger is so often closer to home. Thank you for sharing something so painful to help educate others and also let people know they are not alone. Fortunately there are many supportive and loving communities like World Pulse and ones that are specifically for survivors. Please know that many will stand with you and let me know if you'd like more resources.

Kara Lozier
Dec 08, 2019
Dec 08, 2019

Thanks, Maya.

Corine Milano
Dec 06, 2019
Dec 06, 2019

#IStandWithYou, Kara!

Kara Lozier
Dec 08, 2019
Dec 08, 2019

Thanks, Corine.

Anita Shrestha
Dec 06, 2019
Dec 06, 2019

Thank you for sharing

Kara Lozier
Dec 08, 2019
Dec 08, 2019

Thanks for reading, Anita.

Lisbeth
Dec 07, 2019
Dec 07, 2019

Hi Kara,
#istandwithyouKara and with any other person who is abuse one way or the other.

Yes 99.9% of sexually abused perpetrators we all know are family and family friends s.

People you most trust! Sorry you have to deal with it.
Regards

Kara Lozier
Dec 08, 2019
Dec 08, 2019

Thanks, Lisbeth.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 08, 2019
Dec 08, 2019

Hello, dear Kara,

How painful that must be for a child to be considered a liar when all you wanted was comfort, love, and justice. Please hug dear 13-year-old Kara for me, please tell her we believe her, and we stand with her. Hugs to you, too, for being so brave to speak up. Thank you for mustering the courage to share your story with us.

Kara Lozier
Dec 08, 2019
Dec 08, 2019

Thanks, Karen.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

You're welcome, Kara.

Lea
Dec 25, 2019
Dec 25, 2019

My dear Kara,
Thank you so much for your courage in sharing your story with us. I am so sorry that you were not believed and were not protected by the very person who was supposed to protect you and to comfort and reassure you. I am so sorry that you had to keep all the trauma from the assaults for so long and were unable to find a safe space to process everything that happened. I am so glad that you now have a space to heal and to find comfort. You are such an amazing and courageous person, dear Kara. I truly admire your strength and your resilience. #IStandWithHer and with you, and am here to listen whenever you need it.

Kara Lozier
Jan 01
Jan 01

You're one of the sweetest, most thoughtful people I know. Lea. Thank you as always for your love and kind words.