“Speaking…slowly freed me from the shame I’d felt. The more I struggled to speak, the less power the rape and its aftermath seemed to have over me” – Nancy Venable Raine
On May 10, 1998, I walked into my best friend’s store, just like I did every other day. My friend Lawrence’s cousin, Ziyad, was there. I had never met him before. I was helping out at the store, it was no big deal- I did it every other day. My mom worked there too, but she wasn’t there that day. I was an innocent little 13 year old girl, I basically knew nothing about sex, and I never thought that I could be raped. I always said “It could never happen to me.” But it did. And to this day, I live with the regrets that I thought nothing like that could ever happen to me.
I was doing the cash register, it was a Sunday, so liquor sales didn’t start until noon. Lawrence and Ziyad sat in the office until noon when the liquor sales started, then Lawrence and I traded places. For the longest time Ziyad and I sat in the office talking and getting to know each other. We talked about people, sports, cars, just small talk. Then he began making perverted comments to me. Feeling very uncomfortable, I went up to the cash register with Lawrence. I didn’t tell him about his cousin. Now I know I should have.
At about 2:30, Lawrence sent me and Ziyad into that back room to do some work. I was back there, minding my own business and doing my thing. Ziyad grabbed me by my arms and drug me into the bathroom. I screamed. He put this hand over my mouth and started to undo his pants. Knowing what was about to happen I froze. My whole body went numb. I couldn’t move. After he was done, he got dressed and walked out of the bathroom like nothing happened. He left me there with my tears. When he walked out the door, he took with him my pride, my security and my virginity. I had so many thoughts going through my mind. What if I tell someone and they don’t believe me? Was it my fault? I thought Lawrence was my friend, if he was, how could his cousin do this to me? Not to mention the multiple feelings I had. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Fear. But most of all disbelief. How could this happen to me?
About 10 minutes later I walked out of the bathroom, past the office, and up to the cash register, where Lawrence, not knowing anything yet, was standing. As I walked past the office, I noticed that Ziyad’s cousin Firas was there to pick him up. As I walked by he said “You know what Lindsie, you’re a slut”. So, that means that Ziyad went in there and bragged that he “Got Some.”
After Ziyad left, I began to cry. Lawrence continually asked me “what’s wrong Lindsie, what’s wrong”? Finally I blurted out “Your cousin raped me.” He hugged me and gently kissed my head. At first he told me not to tell anyone, later on he told me to do what I felt was right. He also said he’d always be here for me. The funny thing is, I believed him…
Later that night my sister came to pick me up. As soon as I got in her car, I started crying. I told her what happened. She told me I had to tell my parents. I didn’t want to. She did. My whole family was crying…my parents…my 2 brothers.. and my sister. My mom called the police. After they got there and we made a police report, they took me to the hospital to have a rape kit done. We pressed charges. Later that night, they went to Ziyad’s house. He told them it was consensual. I didn’t want to do it. He forced me. It was RAPE!
Over the next few days it finally sank in that it happened and I became completely oblivious to the things that were going on around me. All I wanted to do was sit in my room and listen to the radio so loud I couldn’t even hear myself breathe. I had to go to the police station for more questioning. Through visits to the police station, and calls with the officer handling my case, I found out that Ziyad had told a different story quite a few times already. It was consensual. I gave him oral sex. I gave him oral sex and then had sex with him. I forced him. With those different stories, don’t you think that would make it obvious that he did it? I mean, he couldn’t even keep his story straight. It wasn’t. The police took my case to the state prosecutor before the rape kit results came back. They said there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute and dropped my case just like that. Too bad they didn’t have all the evidence yet! So, instead of just dropping the whole thing like nothing happened, we went about things in our own way….
Lawrence was calling my house everyday asking if we could settle outside of court for money, and asking if I would still help him out at the store. My mom worked there too, so he was asking if she would come back to work. We got so sick of it. Finally we called the police and told them, which turned this into a police report also. If Lawrence, his family, or his friends called my house again, they would be arrested. Then we started our civil case. We’re currently in the process of that. We’re suing the store and Ziyad. I had my deposition a couple of months ago, and since the defendant has the right to be in the room, Ziyad was there. As I had to describe in detail what was done to me, he sat there laughing. Since I’m a minor, my parents had to be in the room with me. Ziyad was staring at my dad, laughing, and the whole time we were in the room, Ziyad had a smile on his face. My dad couldn’t take it any more. He had his fists ready when Ziyad’s lawyer made us take a break. During the break, they realized that Ziyad wasn’t making things any easier for me, and they made him leave. Our court date is September 21.
I’m currently in counseling 2 times a week, and I’m on pills for depression. I can’t fall asleep at night without the TV on. And I’ve already given myself an ulcer from worrying so much. I know things will get better and eventually I will be able to live a normal life again, but right now it is hard. Very hard.