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Thread: Just Need Someone To Listen

  1. #1
    Still Coping Guest

    Just Need Someone To Listen

    Iíve been carrying around a secret for almost 20 years. It haunts me, and I just really have to tell this story.

    Many of you may have heard about Iowaís recent law which essentially bans all abortion after 6 weeks. Iowa is extremely oppressive for women and I would know. I used to live there. I no longer live there but I have had some truly horrible experiences in that place, and reading about their new abortion law, it has triggered a flood of awful memories.
    In Iowa, it is legal for a rapist to sue his victim for paternity rights. I know one woman who tried to fight the system and lost due to Iowaís oppressive laws against women. I have never told this story in public until now.

    Itís a rather long story so bear with me. But itís important to know the circumstances. In rural Iowa, there are absolutely no resources for women. There are no advocate groups, there are no womenís shelters. There ARE some advocacy groups and shelters for women in more populated areas of Iowa, but if you arenít near (or in) a larger town or city, there are no resources for women. At least thatís how it was when I lived there.

    There was a woman I know, who literally suffered for nearly two decades. She was married, but she and her husband had separated due to the fact that the husband started using meth. She had two small children and she didnít want them around a drug addict, so she left her husband. She and her husband had been separated for several months and were going through a divorce, when she went out on a date with this man. She dated the man for a few weeks but decided she did not want to see him anymore. She felt there was something not quite right with the man, so she broke off the relationship. Not long after that, her husband decided to try to quit using drugs, so she and her husband got back together.

    She knew the husband had been in trouble with the law and wasnít completely off the drugs, but he was going to counseling and was really trying, and she still loved him so they tried to give their marriage another chance. One night, after she and her husband put their children to bed, someone broke into their home. It was the man she had dated while she and the husband were separated. He had kicked in the door. Then he beat her husband and physically forced her into his car. He took her to his home, forced her to undress, forced her to shower, and then he raped her.

    He held her at his house for two days, raping her on and off, and would not let her leave.
    Finally, after two days, he agreed to let her go. However, he threatened her. He told her that if she told anyone he would hurt her husband and children. He said that if she told, he would also turn her husband in for drugs, which meant he would go to prison. Even though he had a drug problem, her husband was a kind man and the father of her babies. So she went back home and only talked about it with her husband.
    She lived in one of those areas where there were no resources for women. There was no one she could go to and no where she could turn. Plus she felt a tremendous amount of fear and shame. So, humiliated and cowering, she stayed silent. A few weeks later she learned she was pregnant. She knew it was her rapists child because even though she and her husband got back together, they were not having sex. When she found out, the husband offered to put his name on the babyís birth certificate and raise it as his own..because he knew what happened. He was a victim too. However, she felt she could not do that to her husband, so separated again, and this time for good.

    She struggled with keeping the baby, but eventually decided in favor of keeping it. She had intended to raise the baby on her own, but she lived in a very small town, and soon she began to look pregnant. She could not tell people the baby was her husbandís because she didnít feel that was fair to him, so her rapist soon found out she was pregnant.

    Her rapist then forced her to let him into hers and the babyís life, again threatening the safety of her and her family. She relented out of fear and shame, but only until she could find a way out of the tiny town. Eventually she did escape, but not without the help of police (who were forced to help the woman due to legalities) even though they dragged their heels about it, and also with the help of some kind strangers...but not before she went through a lot of abuse first. When the baby was born, she did not list a father on the birth certificate, but the rapist knew it was his child. The baby had certain genetic traits and everyone knew whose baby it was. And thus began years of fear, torture, and abuse for the woman and her children. Had she anywhere to go, any place at all, and any resources, she would have taken them. But she just didnít. And the fear that this man would kill her or her children loomed large. The authorities in the tiny town were of no help. They knew what was going on, everyone knew. No one would help her, not even the cops.

    Fast forward two years and the woman finally was able to get away from her rapist. She had met a wonderful man and was getting remarried. On the day of her wedding, her rapist had her served with paternity papers. The day of her wedding. By this time she was moving to another state with her new husband, but since it was filed in Iowa, thatís where all the court proceedings had to take place.

    She had already told her new husband what happened to her so together they hired a lawyer. At that time she had enough and with encouragement from her new husband, she told the lawyer everything that happened to her. Her ex-husband (they were still friends) also offered to come forward as a witness and tell the court what happened that night, even if it meant he would go to jail because he was still using drugs. She was ready for a fight now. She did not want the rapist to have parental rights and she would do everything in her power to prevent that from happening because this was her child, her baby.

    However, her lawyer then informed her it wouldnít matter because in Iowa, even if she could prove the rape, itís still legal for a rapist to sue for paternity. And she also had to decide, did she want to go through a rape trial and a paternity trial at the same time? Rape trials are notoriously hard on the victims, so did she want to put herself through that when it wouldnít have any impact on the paternity suit anyway? So she decided not to pursue the rape trial. However, she did bring it up in the paternity trial, and she had many witnesses to the abuse she suffered...her ex husband, police reports, friends, even the rapists own sister testified on her behalf. None of it mattered. None of it. Iowa does not care for women. He still got parental rights. And thatís how the woman learned that a rapist can sue his victim.
    After the trial, her rapist got visitation with the child several times a year. He constantly used this to harass the woman, her children, and her new husband. Several restraining orders were filed against him on the womanís behalf, to protect her and her family. Of course, they werenít issued in Iowa. They were issued in her new state and Iowa refused to recognize them, saying it was a ďcivilĒ matter and if she wanted them enforced she would have to go to court for each incidence of violation. The man ended up stalking her for almost two decades, repeatedly violating the restraining order. He had even gone so far as to kidnap the child from school and take him back to Iowa. Then he moved to another town with the child so the woman couldnít find her son. Iowa did nothing, stating that the man had a right to see his child. It took the woman months to locate her child. When she finally did find the child, she watched the house and waited, then essentially had to kidnap the child back when the rapist left him with a babysitter one day.
    She took the rapist back to court and eventually the restraining orders were made permanent for a period of 10 years. Still, it had no impact on the rapistsís parental rights whatsoever, and he still stalked her because Iowa simply would not help her. The state she moved to, however, would enforce it so when he could no longer follow her to the grocery store, show up at her house in the middle of the night, or sit in her driveway for hours on end, he began to use the child to bring her back to court, over and over again. He would just make things up and file them with the court, simply to force her to come back to Iowa so he could harass her, which was completely legal because if he had a complaint, he ďdeserved his day in court.Ē It went on like that until the child was an adult, and the man still shows up at her house or in her town, because now the 10 years are up and because he hasnít threatened bodily harm, a new restraining order canít be issued.

    You cannot imagine how traumatic this has been for the woman. Not only was she raped, she was further victimized by the courts and the legal system for decades. I know this to be true because SHE is ME.

    I just finally had to talk about it, so thank you to anyone who reads my story. Iím still coping. Iím stronger every day, but some days I still break down.

    Much love & peace to you all.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    First of all I want acknowledge the courage it has taken to share your story -was hard for me to read - and while I was doing this all I kept thinking about how much worse it must have been (probably still is) for you to live through.

    I have never understood why a rapist would have the legal right to maintain his parental rights. Sometimes the law sucks...just does not seem to be fair. Can add a lot of additional pain to an already traumatized victim - someone who was the innocent target of a cruel and criminal act. In this case one carried out by a predatory person.

    Words sound very inadequate - but I hope it helps for you to know I an listening and feel for you. So, so sorry that this is how the legal system treated you. That when you deserved to be made to feel supported and safe it failed to deliver - instead added to your distress
    Rest in my arms precious child; cradled and warm. You are safe. The war is over.

  3. #3
    Still Coping Guest
    Thank you for reading my story. I just needed someone to listen. I am strong. I am a fighter. But some days, like today, itís just so difficult to carry around with me. My current husband is my hero. He knew everything from the very beginning and, until now, he is the only other person who knows everything. Even during the trial, the court would not allow me to tell my entire story because his lawyers claimed it was unproven and therefore not relevant to the case. They tried to say much of my witnesses testimony, such as my ex-husbandís was heresay. So much of my story was stricken from the record. No one knew everything except my current husband. He has been my rock and fought with me every step of the way. He raised my son since he was two years old and he is the man my son calls Dad. I never told my son how he was conceived and never spoke with him about what happened, but one day, when he was a teenager he went snooping, discovered a box of legal papers and found out. However, even before that he cut off his relationship with his biological father. He was abused when he would be forced to have visitation, and no matter how hard I tried or how many times I went to court, the judge would not take away this manís paternity rights. It didnít stop until my son was deemed legally old enough to decide for himself whether or not he wanted to see his biological father. According to Iowa law, that age is 14 and that was when my son decided he no longer wanted to see the man. It wasnít long after that that he found the box of legal papers. He knew something was very wrong with the entire situation and he just wanted answers. It was a rough road for a while, but my son has since grown into a happy, healthy young man, in large part due to my current husband, who has lived him unconditionally and shown him what a real father is. And really, even though it was a shock, finding the legal papers described much better than I ever could, how much I tried to protect him and everything I went through to try to keep him safe. He knows he is so very loved.

  4. #4
    Still Coping Guest
    Thank you for reading my story. I just needed someone to listen. I am strong. I am a fighter. But some days, like today, itís just so difficult to carry around with me. My current husband is my hero. He knew everything from the very beginning and, until now, he is the only other person who knows everything. Even during the trial, the court would not allow me to tell my entire story because his lawyers claimed it was unproven and therefore not relevant to the case. They tried to say much of my witnesses testimony, such as my ex-husbandís was heresay. So much of my story was stricken from the record. No one knew everything except my current husband. He has been my rock and fought with me every step of the way. He raised my son since he was two years old and he is the man my son calls Dad. I never told my son how he was conceived and never spoke with him about what happened, but one day, when he was a teenager he went snooping, discovered a box of legal papers and found out. However, even before that he cut off his relationship with his biological father. He was abused when he would be forced to have visitation, and no matter how hard I tried or how many times I went to court, the judge would not take away this manís paternity rights. It didnít stop until my son was deemed legally old enough to decide for himself whether or not he wanted to see his biological father. According to Iowa law, that age is 14 and that was when my son decided he no longer wanted to see the man. It wasnít long after that that he found the box of legal papers. He knew something was very wrong with the entire situation and he just wanted answers. It was a rough road for a while, but my son has since grown into a happy, healthy young man, in large part due to my current husband, who has loved him unconditionally and shown him what a real father is. And really, even though it was a shock, finding the legal papers described much better than I ever could, how much I tried to protect him and everything I went through to try to keep him safe. He knows he is so very loved.

  5. #5
    Still Coping Guest
    Also, I just want to say, to all the other victims out there struggling..,you can do this! You are worthy! You are loved! And people do care. If you feel alone, I will listen. ❤️

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    1,322
    Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry you have been through so much.

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