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Tracee Bracken - Utah

Rebecca Paxman

When I was 16 I fell in love with a boy. He meant everything to me. I gave him so much of me because he told me he felt this way about me too. I later found out that I meant very little to him.

Early in our relationship he told me he had issues with pornography in the past. He told me the past was in the past and that he had overcome that. I would later find out the hard way that that wasn't true.

I thought our relationship was so good. We went to dances, hung out with friends, went to football games, met each other's families. I really trusted him. He made me laugh and made me feel safe. Safe from everything but his touch.

It started with a make out session. Things started to escalate faster and further than I was ready for. His hand slipped down my shirt, I took it out. His hand went back, I took it out again. This happened many times until I just gave up. I wish I could go back and tell myself to keep telling him no because giving up led me down a slippery slope. From then on I would get anxious as the evenings with him would start to come to an end because I knew that meant parking. We would make out and he would touch me places I wasn't ready to be touched.

Roughly 9 months into our relationship he changed. He was quiet and very standoffish. He claimed it was because I was in high school and he wasn't, so it was hard for him to date me. I later found out it was because he had gotten really into porn again and I wasn't meeting his sexual needs, so he was finding other women online to get with and making out with exes. I ended up breaking up with him because I knew that's what he wanted. He started dating someone else a few days later (or so I thought. Turns out he was dating us for a few days at the same time).

We stayed friends (sort of) and I just couldn't get over him. Fast forward 4 months and he and that girl broke up and he and I were talking more. While he was with her he received his mission call and we started "officially" dating again an exact month before he left on his mission.

One day after taking me home, he parked in a spot in my apartment complex like he usually did so we could make out, but he seemed different. Things were going far, fast and the next thing I knew, my shirt was off and he was on top of me. I have a really hard time talking about this next bit because I was not raped so I feel like I shouldn't be as bothered by it as I am. But here it goes. I was laying in the backseat of his truck, he was on top of me and my shirt was off. I felt him tugging at my pants zipper. I freaked out and started pushing him off of me and telling him to stop. He wouldn't budge. I remember praying and saying, "I know I don't deserve this because I put myself in this situation but please don't let him rape me." Somehow my zipper got stuck and he was too into it to wait so he dry humped me until he was done. He threw my shirt and bra at me and drove me to my garage. I remember thinking, "holy shit, we went too far and it's MY fault he's not worthy for a mission anymore." I did my best to just forget about it.

A little while later time found us the weekend before he left on his mission. My parents were out of town so I spent as much time with him as I could. Friday night we went to the drive-in where he grabbed my hand put it down his pants and moved it around enough until he got off. Saturday he came to my house and late that night I was in a similar situation as that one afternoon in his truck. Once again I found myself with my shirt off and him on top of me tugging at my zipper. I tried pushing him off of me and telling to him to stop. I once again prayed and said, "I know this is my fault and I know I really don't deserve help now but please, please don't let him rape me." I was saved by Grace a second time. He couldn't get the zipper down so I laid there as he dry humped me until he was done. This night was particularly hard for me because it was the night before his mission farewell so I had a lot of feelings. On the one hand I was sad because he was leaving but I was also happy because I knew these parking/late night sessions were done, at least for the next 2 years. I felt immense guilt because I knew he wasn't worthy to go on a mission and at the time I was convinced it was my fault. He left on his mission April 25th, 2012. While he was gone he told me I needed to talk to my bishop to repent of the things we had done together. He claimed he talked to his mission president (who even knows if he actually did) and that he told him to have me talk to my bishop. My bishop was so good about it. I didn't go into details about it but he didn't put me through a tough repentance process and I feel that's because he somehow knew it wasn't my fault.

I blocked the two major times out of my memory while he was gone. I waited for him for a long time on his mission and that's its own long story. We ended things in August 2013. Within a couple weeks I started having flashbacks. I pushed them away and told myself I was just making things up because I was mad at him for breaking up with me. I told myself I was trying to cause drama because he said he wasn't attracted to me anymore. I pretended I was fine until I couldn't anymore. Some people I told stopped talking to me, some said, "it wasn't rape so what's the big deal?" I told one therapist who couldn't be bothered to help me. I told another therapist who said, "I don't understand why you were so bothered by it. I was really into dry humping when I was dating." It's been really hard for me to be open and try to get help so I've bottled it and tried to move on.

It's been 7 years and I still struggle. I tried to push things away for too long and now I'm finally paying the price. I have constant flashbacks, I feel sick a lot, my anxiety is at an all time high, I’m just miserable a lot of the time. I’m currently in EMDR which is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I finally feel like I'm really getting the help I need. My new therapist says encouraging things all the times. He tells me I'm brave for facing these things head on in our sessions and I'm trying to convince myself that's true.

I’ve been so afraid to be open about my story because I know if he finds out, it’ll come back at me. There’s no way he’d ever take blame because he doesn’t take blame for anything. I have a fear that it’ll cause more drama than it’s worth. However, my therapist and I have agreed that sharing my story is the only way I can really heal so I'm grateful to have found this safe place to do so. I once talked with a girl who said, "when you tell people his secret, he loses power over you," and I'm finally letting go of some of that power he's had over me for so long. I'm learning to let go of shame and guilt and reminding myself that what he did to me was not my fault. He took advantage of a girl with emotional trauma and that's his fault, not mine. I'm finding my voice and doing my best to use my strength to overcome. One day I'll get there.

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