This story is true….
Scars never heal, they are reminders that we are human and make mistakes and when I think of the mistakes I have made in my life I try not to let them overwhelm me for I have made many. I come from a place of anger, I deal with low self esteem and insecurities on a daily basis but still I have managed to stay a good person. One of the many reasons I am the way I am is due to bullying and abuse. I was bullied throughout high school and was sexually abused when I was a boy. None of which I now know wasn’t my fault. I just chose friends poorly. Up until 3 years ago I had been dealing with bullies all my life, I’m now 45..so do the math.
When I say that I chose friends poorly I meant it, I have met some real ass holes in my life. People that I now look back on and say to myself what the hell was I thinking. Unfortunately when you are dealing with mental health issues it can make you a target for some people, one of those people was a man named John. That’s not really his name but I’m using it for anonymity’s sake. I met John back in school when I tried to be a college student, when I say try I mean I flunked out after two years. My first impression of John was that he was a confident, blunt speaking drama queen. John is gay, so lets get that out of the way first but what I didn’t know was that John was attracted to me pretty much the start. I’m bisexual, I came out in my early 20’s much to the surprise of many of my high school friends. Which also made me an interest to John.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Life after college wasn’t always easy for me, I made a lot of mistakes some due to my own laziness and others because of my own mental health issues. But John was always there, he gave me a hand, helped me but unbeknownst to me at the time and that he would later admit was manipulating me. I will admit one of my biggest mistakes was messing around with him because after that he began to sink his claws deeper into me. Our friendship changed after that, he became more clingy, more controlling. We never dated or anything like that but I always had a feeling in the back of my mind that that was what he wanted. The women I dated while we were friends always drew negative comments, it was during these times that his jealousy would show. He would refer to them as whores on a regular basis. When I think about it, I think he tried to get me to hate them like he did, trying to get me to view them in a negative light. He hated what they represented which was that they took my affection away from him. That was my first red flag.
The second one was his physical contact with me, he starting hitting me….a lot. They were never outright punches or anything but just slaps to the head, face, groin, and other parts of my body. I’d get hit if I teased him the wrong way or if I said something that he deemed to be stupid. After awhile the hits got harder and more painful and also humiliating for the slaps to the head were almost always done in public. Showing people the control he had over me. And then there was the unwanted sexual touching, I hated that but never said anything about it, my insecurities prevented me from really saying anything. The verbal abuse was another big problem, he knew words had an affect on me so he would use them a lot to “Keep me in line”. My parents used to fight a lot and in full view of me, so anger and I became intimately acquainted at an early age. Because of this it has always been my first impulse to run away or retreat when anger was directed at me which was something that John did often.
If can pinpoint where the beginning of the end of our friendship began it would be when offered me a room in his apartment. I had fallen on hard times and was doing really poorly and really had no choice. There were rules that I had to follow, wasn’t allowed to bring anyone by without his permission and I couldn’t walk around shirtless for if I did he a had a right to touch me. Which to be honest he would touch me regardless of whether I had a shirt on or not. Living with him meant that he had all the control and I did not. When I started dating Jen, John was not exactly helpful. For awhile it was good, I got myself believing that I was in love with her but in reality I just wanted to connect with someone who wouldn’t hurt me, it didn’t last and John didn’t really help matters with his attitude. I guess for me it was a mixture of my mental health issues, John’s constant sexist comments and the fact that I really didn’t know what I was doing or what I wanted. It wouldn’t be long before I would leave John’s and try to make it on my own again. Unfortunately I failed at that and was back living with him within a year. Things got progressively worse after that and so did my mental health issues……
Living with John is a lot like living in a minefield, you never knew what you were going to get from him. I learned very quickly to never approach him after he got back from work or I would get chewed out for it. The verbal abuse was almost becoming a daily occurrence with him and it had gotten worse and that’s when I finally confronted him about the hitting. I told him to stop for which he did but not before justifying why he had done it. That was on of John’s main weapons, Justification. He loved using it whenever I confronted him about one thing or another. I’ve also come to realize that it’s also a tool that abusers often use, whenever a man beats his wife he will often say “well she should stop making me mad”. How many times have people heard that excuse? And that is an abusers main weakness, the inability to accept responsibility for their actions and that is what John is at his core.
I don’t know what kind of thought processes go through an abusers mind but just when I thought that John couldn’t be more insidious he went and one upped himself. In the last few years of our “friendship” John went through a series of tragedies in his life that began with the deaths of people close to him and rather than deal with it like a normal human being he turned to me for me for comfort comfort I was really unwilling to give. Now when I say deal with it like a normal human being I mean just that. When the first tragedy happened to John he threatened to do something crazy, which meant that he would go downtown and fuck every guy he could find. In other words put himself at risk. Naturally I told him what a bad idea that was so he suggested that I drop my pants so that he wouldn’t go do “something crazy”. I agreed, to my ever loving shame, I let him touch me.
It would go on like that for awhile pretty much till the end of our friendship. By the end he would just say “You need to do what you’re supposed to do”. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As time went on there were less and less happy times more and more hurt. And then when I thought things could not get any worse they did. John came home early one day with a band aid on his head, he had slipped on some water at work and fell head first into a wall. Honestly it seemed fishy to me, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. The Dr’s told him he had a concussion and that he needed rest and relaxation. But the concussion took awhile to heal and things at home got worse. He would fly off the handle at the drop of a hat, start yelling at me but then halfheartedly apologize later blaming it on the concussion. And just like that John was back to his justifying of everything he did. Why take responsibility for something when he could blame it on me, the concussion or a bad day. I knew what he was doing was wrong but unfortunately I did not know what to do about it, see John was quite influential within our circle of friends and since I had made so many mistakes in the past I didn’t know who I could talk to.
When you have insecurities like the ones I do, you feel totally isolated all the time. Yes I had other friends and family I perhaps could go to but because of my past mistakes I felt that I had lost their trust and that they wouldn’t believe me. That they would just roll their eyes at me and say yea yea. So I started building walls around me to in part protect me and to keep people out. And this went on for awhile, I became lost and though I had my different hobbies and jobs I wasn’t happy at all. I internalized everything and thanks to the many walls I had built around myself people only saw what I wanted them to see. I would not let them see the pain I was in the struggle I was going through. They only saw the bravado, the toughness. The first time I really said anything to anyone was when John flipped out on me and nearly threw me down the stairs. It started when I was getting ready to head out to meet my sister but John was in front of the door putting his shoes on. So not wanting to upset him I waited behind him for him to finish. Next thing I knew I was flying through the front door and nearly toppled down the front staircase. He never apologized for doing that, and for the first time I said something.
I went over to my friend Ian’s that night and spoke to both him and our friend Marc, I needed to talk to someone about what John had done and needed advice. We chilled out smoking shisha and trying to figure what to do. Actually just talking about it helped immensely, I don’t remember if we came up with a solution but I felt better after holding it in for so long. I got home late that night and went straight to bed, I slept horribly, kept on having nightmares where John would come into my room and force himself on me. I was reliving the abuse I had suffered as child all over again. Months past and nothing really changed, John still suffering from concussion symptoms decided to go back to school and asked me to carry him financially while he did it. I said yes not knowing that my life was about to change drastically, and a few short months later I met Samantha and my life changed forever.
My life changed the day I accepted an invitation to a friends birthday party, I needed to get out and a party was just what I needed. Samantha had arrived not long after me, we hit off almost immediately and began dating shortly afterwards. I had never met anyone like Sam before, she was smart, beautiful and most importantly a genuinely kind soul. Everyone in my circle of friends saw an immediate change in me, it was like night and day. Family saw it and so did close friends and so did John…and he hated her for it. I admit that I deliberately kept them from getting to know each other and for good reason. John did not have a good track record when it came to treating my girlfriends with respect. In the weeks that followed I was rarely home, spending most of my time either at work or with her. I essentially abandoned him and the friction between us intensified. A few weeks after I started dating Sam I got a message from a mutual friend telling me that John had gotten worse and that he was considering killing himself. “John had gone to a very dark place” My response to that wasn’t one that I was proud of, I quite simply told him that John was a Catholic and that he would go to hell if he killed himself. It was cold I know but honestly I didn’t care. John had been verbally, physically and sexually abusing me for years and I believed that his plea was just another attempt to get into my pants.
Naturally my friendship with John never really healed after that and I moved in with Sam a few months later. Best decision I ever made. Out of respect to Sam I will not go into further details about our relationship but I will say this, she taught me that I could love and be loved and though things ended after three years together I will always be grateful to have known such a special person. Her smile could brighten even the darkest room and I wish her the best in her life. John and I remained distant after the breakup, I remember calling him the night we broke up and his first response was “Can we hate her now?” I was literally disgusted with him and told him no I wasn’t 15 and that I was an adult. I found an excuse to hang up called up my friend Ally who like a real friend quickly rushed over to me and made sure I was okay. It was a tough time but I managed to find a new place to live with a lovely couple who had a spare room and needed roommates.
The next two years were a financial mess for me and there were times when I wasn’t eating. John naturally tried to help out but I was always suspicious of his motives. Things were not going well between us and then about a year after my breakup he broke his shoulder slipping on some ice. My visit with him in the hospital was uncomfortable as fuck. He blamed me for not letting him get close to Sam and that everything that had happened between us was my fault because of course it was. Once again not taking responsibility for anything he had done. I wanted to punch him in the face for what he said. We ended the visit with a smoke break in the parking lot and that’s when he asked if there was a chance that there could be more between us. I said no, I wasn’t comfortable with that and he said okay which I would later realize meant not okay. During the next year or so the sexual harassment got worse, he would make bets with me where if I lost he would get to have me sexually. He even made up this bullshit story about how the govt had changed the laws on STD admission and that I was a clean source, that I should allow him to have me so that he didn’t worry about catching something. I still said no.
Then came the day that I dreaded most, John’s beloved grandmother past away. When I heard the news I naturally texted him and shared my condolences and asked was there anything I could do? He said “You need to do what you need to do”. My heart sank because I knew if I had said no he would have used my not “Helping him” to destroy my reputation in our circle of friends which for some reason I cared about. So I agreed, I should have told him to fuck off and die and just walk away but I was too insecure and he knew that, he also knew that I wasn’t comfortable with it but didn’t care. He wanted what he wanted regardless of how I felt. He raped me that night. After it was done I left his place and went home and cried myself to sleep, in the following weeks I became more and more depressed. Nothing was going right, I was falling apart. I didn’t see much of John after that, I started spending more of my time with my friends Ally and Drew. One night after Ally had finished work I told her everything that John had done and as I spoke Ally’s eyes just got wider and wider. After I was done she said to me “you know you’re describing rape right? He raped you.” It was at that moment where my awakening began.
The next few weeks were a blur, I had shared the same story with Drew and a few others that I knew I could trust. Eventually John had heard about me accusing him of rape and that’s when everything came to a head. Image is everything to John and being accused of rape can definitely damage someones image. When I finally picked up the phone after the 12th missed call. He asked me why I had said that he had raped me? “Because you did!”. At this point I went into full melt down and I started screaming at him telling that he knew that I did not want that and that he had forced me to let him. His response led to the end of our friendship. He said “But I was on morphine, you can’t expect me to remember that? Besides I fed you I deserved something.” But the thing was I knew he remembered, he even said that he remembered a few months after our conversation in the hospital parking lot. But at that point I had given up, in my mind the friendship was dead and nothing he could say could change that. We didn’t officially part ways that day, I knew if I did he would use it as a way to create tension between the group and I because that is how he used tragedies in his life, to get things he wanted and in my case even if it meant breaking the law.
I began to distance myself from him in the following months, I tried to figure the best way to sever the friendship without him using it to fuck with me. I also began to realize that John was never any threat to me, that he used threats because he himself was even more insecure than I was but instead of dealing with it in a good way he chose to be an ass hole. I began to hear stories about him, about the time he tried to get a mutual friend drunk in order to sleep with him. I admit I found it hard to believe but one night John talked about how he was prepared to do that to another mutual friend so naturally it got my attention and I began to distance myself even more.
Unfortunately the stress I was under culminated in a panic attack, I had internalized too much. I was at a friends place playing a game when my brain just went side ways and I nearly collapsed. Even though I hadn’t seen John in several weeks the pain he caused was starting to assert itself. I made it outside for some fresh air, when my friend Mark came up to me and asked if I was okay. Mark had always been a pretty straight forward guy so when he told me that I needed to start talking to someone I agreed. Just when I thought the night couldn’t get any worse John showed up, I told him to leave me be and to walk away which he did. I walked away as well and sat in a nearby park and had a smoke with Jaime who I had literally met just a few weeks prior. She helped talk me down from my panic attack by helping me get to the root of the issue. I could hear John nearby speaking quite loudly about how he didn’t know why I had abandoned him and how he had done so much for me. John playing the victim, a role he had played so well throughout our friendship. And I hated him for that. I ended the friendship a week later.
In the over three years since I woke up, my life has changed dramatically. Though the pain is still very much there, I am no longer afraid to talk about it. I made new friends and reacquainted myself with old ones. But most importantly I detoxified my life, I gave up on caring about empty toxic people. I put my life under the microscope, I needed to finally figure out who I was. I had an idea of what it was but my path was like an image that was still out of focus. So tore my life apart, shattered the mirror and rebuilt the foundation of my life. From there I began to rebuild starting with job opportunities which thanks to my friend Joe I was able to financially rebuild. There I rebuilt my reputation with friends and family. I finally told my sister what John had done, I told her everything. And like family supposed to she helped me heal, she was also incredibly pissed off. My sister has always protected me, since we were kids she has always had my back. I also told my folks who have also supported me as much as they could. But most importantly I used my new found tools to rebuild myself.
The scars still linger though, the pain still feels fresh and I am having a tough time letting go. I spoke to a cop (Off the record) about my history with John. I told about the verbal, physical and sexual abuse, I told him how angry I was. I also asked him if there was anything I could do legally, could I press charges if I wanted to and would they stick? First off he told me exactly what I needed to hear, and that was that it wasn’t my fault. He also told if I wanted to pursue criminal charges I could but it would be very hard to prove since It would be my word against his. So I decided not to press charges but on one condition, if it turns out that I am not the only victim I will come down on John like a ton of bricks. I can deal with it if it is just me but if I find out that he did this to others then I will have no choice but to expose him. The thing is there is never just one victim where sex offenders are involved and yes John is a sex offender.
My healing journey has produced a few revelations, one being that I no longer believe that John was ever my friend. I came to this conclusion after remembering a couple of things he had said. The first being was when he said that he had been manipulating and said it with a big grin on his face. The second was even more telling, it was part of a conversation we had had after Sam and I had broken up. He referred to her as the “Whore who stole me away from him” and added that he had put so much work into me and it pissed him off that she just swooped in and stole me away. John had just confessed that he wanted something more from me, something I was unwilling to give. I never wanted a relationship with John, he knew that but chose to pursue me anyways. That confession was a major piece of the puzzle for me and one of the reasons I am so mad at him. He took sexual harassment to a whole new level. Trying to get me to be his boyfriend. Seriously how fucked in the head do you have to be, to do that to someone. And please don’t tell me it’s love because it’s not……it’s control.
That’s the root right there, control. John had always had a lot of influence in my life so much so I often imagine what it would have been like had he not been part of my life at all? I like to believe that I would have picked myself up and gotten shit done. Unfortunately that did not happen and now I have to deal with the aftermath of what that prick did. What I am feeling right now is the main reason I am single, why drag this shit into a relationship, it’ll only hurt it.
My friends Joe and Noah and many more have told me that in order to move on I need to forgive John, not because he deserves it but for me. I just find it very difficult to do so, how do you forgive someone like him, you do it because your sanity depends on it. I also have to figure out how to forgive myself, I have way too many regrets in my life and I hang on to all of them. It’s time I learned to let things go because I am also so very tired, tired of being so angry so full of rage at the injustices I have faced. I guess that is what this healing journey has been all about, healing has never been easy it’s not supposed to be. My dad Jim once said to me after a particularly difficult time in my life “You have just come out of a chasm, you’re bleeding and sore but now you have reached this plateau. You can stay and rest but you know deep down that you must keep going, only by reaching the top can you finally rise above it all and see who you truly have become”.
And that is the case when dealing with abuse, the only way to get better is to let it go. Hanging on to it only gives your abuser more power. So if I can offer some advice to those struggling with abuse, talk about it, write about it, confront it only when I started doing that did I start to feel better. I confronted my pain too late in life and because of that my life has been filled too much sadness and not enough love. I know I will reach my peak someday but I do know that had I not confronted my demons they would have won. I know what love is, my family taught me that, Samantha taught me that, Joe, Noah, Jamie, Ella, Kenneth, Ian, Steve and so many more taught me that. For me family is not just blood for it also includes the people you meet on your life path. Those people that the creator puts in your way so that they can enrich you, teach you, help you. The most important thing I have learned in the last three years is to listen, listen to the creator, to your family, to the people who care for you. Once you are able to do that, you will understand what love truly is.
Irkar W Beljaars