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Thank you for your courage. I know I am not alone.

I was raped at 15 by a Viet Nam vet who had been home for only a couple months before being made a “counselor” of a church youth group. At the time, I thought rape was something violent that happened in a back alley, so I blamed myself. It would be another 15 years before I would hear the term “acquaintance rape” and know it was what happened to me.

In 2009, my husband of 25 years began inviting me to kill myself for the good of our family. He said I was a horrible mother and the kids hated me. I would be doing everyone a favor by leaving the planet. Though he had always been verbally abusive, this was a new and very frightening tack. I began to wonder if he might just decide to do it himself. And we had shotguns in the house for hunting.

Your red shoes reference struck a chord with me. Here is a poem I wrote shortly after getting out:

Closing the Door

I am taking them off —

the hard hat of shame,

stiff straight jacket of responsibility,

and tight red shoes my mother gave me.

I am giving them back —

they no longer fit,

as I outgrew my taught taste for constriction,

and desire to be what I’m not.

I am walking away —

from surface roles played,

the good mother, fixer and counsel to all

who came to my table for comfort.

I am building a home —

for my deeper self,

the I which was lost in the battle,

to make the blind see past their armor.

I am going inside —

through doors of soft faith,

to find the dark seeker who held me with grace,

while I struggled to stand in harsh light.

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