Coercion, Consent & Control: The Time Before I Realized I Didn’t Have to Share The Shame He Wanted Me to Wear

This is part five of my rock bottom number three series. In case you missed it, you may want to check out: Rock Bottom, Rape Culture & Recovery, Blurred Lines & Hard TimesCoastlines, Crack, & Rehab FraudFalse Freedom, Captivity, & A Lot of Deception as well as The Last Few Days of Captivity (in that order) before reading the below.

And for a poetic account of what took place, feel free to read: Chains, Reins, & Brains. Thank you!

Telling me it’s OK to rape a junkie is like saying, it’s OK to rape a girl who dresses like a slut.

That’s what I was told. Bruce literally said it was my fault. I believe his exact words were because you’re a worthless whore. Why do we do that though? Why do we think it’s OK to not listen to someone merely because they do drugs? Why do we call a girl a slut simply because she chooses to wear a crop top or a mini-skirt? And why does the word “slut” carry such a negative connotation?

I have a lot of questions that I intend to cover starting now. For one, none of that is OK. Besides, there are women who dress to feel comfortable. Some, to feel attractive, and others, to bestow self-confidence. I dress to express myself. I always have, even back then. Except, society is indirectly taking away our freedom of expression by limiting what we’re allowed to wear by blaming sexual violence on the victim.

Did you know that chicks who dress modestly and don’t do drugs still get sexually assaulted?

According to the Girl’s Empowerment Network, “This victim-blaming idea is demonstrated perfectly in a study called ‘Wake Up to Rape‘ by the New Haven Sexual Assault Referral Center who points out that 56 percent of women surveyed believe rape victims should take responsibility for what happened to them.”

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Their research adds that 28 percent (more than 1/4) of all survey respondents insist that culpability lies with the victim —if she dressed provocatively. And if she’s on drugs, well her thoughts don’t mean a damn thing. I think it’s because of these beliefs that more than 50 percent of women are too embarrassed or ashamed to tell anyone their actual story. I can attest to that.

All this stuff happened to me over five years ago but I just started talking about it a few months ago. Maybe that’s why each year, less than half of approximately 200,000 sexual assault victims (12 years or older) end up reporting their trauma to the police. I can attest to that too, which is probably why 9 out of 10 rapists never see the inside of a jail cell. Mine is still out there. And from these numbers, it makes sense.

It’s fucked up but it does add up.

We need to start taking care of survivors, instead of making them feel worse. They didn’t ask for this. No means no period, but you don’t even have to say “no” for it to be rape. You have to say yes. You have to give your consent regardless if you’re a junkie or a slut. For me, I was chemically chained to a friend turn foe. I was a junkie and a “slut” so my feelings didn’t matter, right? Wrong.

Days five through seven.

I never said yes. I never gave my consent. In fact, I said no as I yelled for him to get off of me. But he’d put his hands around my neck to muffle my cries as he pushed harder. From that, it was pretty clear, my feelings didn’t matter. They weren’t even considered. I was just along for the ride. Only, it wasn’t the ride I wanted. I’d tell him no. “I don’t want too. Please stop.” —yet, he’d proceed with it anyway. He just kept saying if I went along with his plan, I’d be high and happy.

Spoiler alert, I wasn’t. I may have been drugged up but I was far from alright.

Thinking back, I don’t know how shit got so fucked up. It’s just his manipulation was so calculating that I didn’t even notice the abuse at first. I can’t believe I thought him telling me what to wear and how to do my hair (among other shit) was something a good friend would do. If you couldn’t have guessed, it was about control. And he had it all. He controlled the number of pills I got, what I had to do to get them, and now how I looked.

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I needed a cigarette and fast.

This particular evening, we had plans at this nightclub in Miami called Mynt. Bruce would sometimes sell cocaine to the general manager and tonight was one of those nights. They had a deal set up, which meant we were about to party on the house and I was excited to get out of this one. But before I officially started getting ready, I was going to smoke that freaking cig. I grab my pack of Marlboro menthol lights, tell Bruce what I’m doing and head for the door.

I couldn’t do anything without him knowing. At the time, I was a smoker. Consequently, this was an everyday thing. Bruce was a smoker too so most of the time, he’d join me. At that moment though, he was watching T.V. in his bedroom but he gives me the OK as I walk out. Quick question: are you wondering if I was going outside by myself, couldn’t I just as easily run away?

Yes. Absolutely. Except, that’s what being chemically chained to a friend turn foe looks like (quite literally).

Anyway, like the good little “slut” I was, I decided I wasn’t going to make any waves. I smoke that cig and return to business as usual. Once I return, I let Bruce know. Then, I go into the bathroom (door open, of course), and start my routine. Bruce said I had to look my best. I didn’t feel my best but I was up for some pretending —if it meant I could get high.

Nevertheless, I channel my inner unicorn and carry on. I end up finishing my make-up quicker than I thought. I figure I better go rest. I remember laying on Bruce’s bed watching the soap net like I frequently did. It was one of the only things I could pull off without getting into trouble that I actually enjoyed. I recall watching reruns of 90210 and One Tree Hill quite a lot.

Both programs pretty much played every hour. I’m sure you know what I mean.

For some reason, Bruce loved that network. As a result, it stayed on as background noise all day. Even at night, he’d keep it on to drown out the silence as we’d both fall asleep. Later —like when I wasn’t allowed to leave, I’d stare at the screen imagining a better time. Like what I was doing when both shows originally aired? Most nights, I found myself (since it was hard falling asleep knowing I was laying next to a fucking rapist), dreaming about being one of those characters —safe, among peers, having fun.

That used to be me but it wasn’t anymore. I wasn’t safe. I had no friends and I certainly wasn’t having a good time. I remember those shows bringing me comfort just like Bruce was about to bring me an outfit to try on from my things in the other room. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that a lot of my clothes are midriff bearing and some would say revealing. I understand where to draw the line and I always know my audience. But Bruce didn’t. I say that because this particular outfit was more than revealing.

I didn’t want to try it on nor did I want to wear it but I comply anyway.
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I knew he’d make a big deal about it —just as I knew I’d eventually give in. I think he knew that too. Plus, I figured I could score some points and maybe a few extra pills for being so cooperative? Spoiler alert: I did.

Of course, he watched as I undressed but it was his reaction that pissed me off the most. “I take it back. You can’t wear that.” Um, why not? I ask. “Because you look like a slut, Macey. You literally look like someone who wants to get raped. I’m pretty sure security would take one look at you and assume you wanted it because you chose to dress like a slut.” Really?

I thought he was the one who insisted I put it on? I wanted to wear my favorite high-waisted jeans with this pink crop top and matching wedges. The truth was, I didn’t need a revealing dress to be raped. He was raping me whether I was wearing sweatpants or this GOD damn outfit. I honestly don’t know how many times he raped me. It’s hard to know where to draw the line. For the record though, it hurts merely saying the word rape.

I despise that expression but I can’t deny the fact that it still happened. Yes. I was raped.

Days seven through ten.

By the time Bruce approves my ensemble, it was a little before midnight. Most clubs don’t start popping off till then anyway. We’re talking about South Beach, after all, and we were officially on the way. About 45 minutes later, Bruce pays the taxi driver as we pull up next to Mynt. There was a line down the block, but we get right in just as he said we would —at least he could do something right.

From there, we were taken to the VIP lounge where we get drunk for free and dance with a bunch of randoms. Honestly, that night was fun. I got to ignore my fucked up reality for a couple hours as I lost myself in the music. Eventually, though, the night ends just like anything else. I was sad to go home. Happily, Bruce was tired enough that he passes out basically as soon as we get in, which was around 5:00 a.m.

I was off the hook. Thank GOD.

I’m pretty sure I stole a few pills from his stash after that and eventually I pass out too. Around 8:00, I wake up because I have to pee. I look over and find that Bruce is still asleep. I decide to grab two more pills from his stash and quietly walk out. I knew I earned it. Plus, he just got a bunch of refills. He had so many, I knew he wouldn’t realize four were gone. I make my way into the bathroom, which was down the hall from where Bruce was (in the master).

I softly shut and lock the door. Normally, I wasn’t allowed to do either of those things. I mean, he had to know what I was doing at all times. But he was sound asleep so I take advantage of some alone time and get high in the tub. Except, it wasn’t as fun as I thought. Yeah, I just snorted a bunch of pills but as soon as the drugs hit my bloodstream, I remembered something. I remembered a dream I just had, a dream I kept having.

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And that memory brought back everything (and everyone) I was trying to forget —Aiden. So yeah, on top of this shit, it didn’t help that I was heartbroken. I cried every night for him.

He was my ex-boyfriend and pill-popping partner-in-crime who I didn’t even get to say goodbye too. I think that made it hurt worse. We were together for a year and then one day, I just left. My mom hated him since prior to her sending me here and kind of the reason why, she found out that he stole a bunch of HER jewelry to pawn for drugs. Except, for a while, she thought it was me. And at the time, she still did.

Needlesstosay, once she pieced my double life together, she kicked me out of New Jersey and there I was —laying beside Satan himself (Bruce). I don’t blame her. I mean, to my mom, I needed to get as far away from Aiden as possible. She thought he was the bad influence and maybe that was true. Except, I was enough of that for everyone. And now that he was gone and I was lost, I kept having the same dream over and over again.

It was about him, if you couldn’t have guessed.

The one where he gets on a plane, tracks me down and saves me. But not before punching Bruce in the face. Oh, I wanted that to happen. I wanted nothing more than for that to happen. Spoiler alert, it never did because, the reality was, he never showed. In fact, I never saw Aiden again. It hurt. I missed him. I missed him a lot. I couldn’t help but wonder, did he miss me too? You’re probably thinking, yeah I’m sure he did but she’ll never know, either way, right?

The truth is, there were a few times I snuck in a couple phone calls. There were a few times I called Aiden. And a few times, he actually answered —this moment being one of them. Once the idea popped into my head, I knew I couldn’t go to bed without at least trying to call him. But I had to be smart about it. For one, I knew his digits by heart, which meant that part was done. Next, I needed the actual phone. But first, I needed to check on Bruce. Was he still sleeping? I peak in. Somehow yes. He was out cold.

After that, I walk from the master and make my way to the back of the kitchen.

Earlier, he chugged water from the kitchen sink but not before setting his phone down on a nearby table. I think he was so tired that he forgot to pick it back up before he went to bed. Was it still there? Heck yes. My plan was about to work. It was almost time. Lastly, I move as far away from Bruce to ensure he wouldn’t hear me, which happened to be inside the laundry room. At this point, I think it was Sunday morning around 9:00 a.m.

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I dial. My heart was racing. My hands were shaking. Then I hear a voice on the other end.

It was him. At that moment, everything comes flooding back as I almost fall to the ground. Simply hearing his voice made my heart flutter. I couldn’t believe it was really him. He says hello with a question mark. I was calling from an unknown number (at least from his end) so it could have been anyone. But because Bruce’s number started with “561” —which happens to be the area code for West Palm Beach, Aiden figures it had to be me. I was the only person he knew living in South Florida at the time.

Days ten through twelve.

“Macey?” He asks. “Is that really you?” Oh, it was. It certainly was. For a moment though, I couldn’t speak. I tried but nothing came out. “Say something. Anything,” he presses. “I know it’s you, Macey.” I wanted to say everything. I wanted to jump through the phone. A second later, I finally get it together. “Aiden, it is me. OMG. Is it really you? It’s so nice to hear your voice. Holy shit.” We go back and forth for a few. I think we were both in shock and apparently, heartbroken too. He said that he did, in fact, miss me.

He told me that I was the love of his life and he couldn’t believe I was gone.

He literally said he never knew he could miss someone as much as he missed me. I said the same. He asks if I’m ever coming back. I tell him I want too. I say if I had it my way, I’d already be back. He wonders where I am. He asks how I was. I lie. I was far too embarrassed to tell him the truth. The last he heard, my mom was shipping me off to another treatment center. Unfortunately, this is where I tell you guys that Aiden too had his moments.

He wasn’t always nice and I didn’t always like him. I mean, back then, there were multiple times when he’d hold my drug dealing past against me. We’d fight and he’d say some below the belt shit. There were other times when he too called me a whore or mocked my outfit. Still, I manage to find the right words and confess a few half-truths. I tell him I didn’t want to be here. I say that the whole rehab thing was a lie. I ask him if he could buy a plane ticket and pick me up. He said he was broke but he’d try.

Gee, thanks. I knew he wanted too, but I also knew he wouldn’t.

In a perfect world, he would. But we don’t live in a perfect world, now do we? Obviously not. I guess some things never change. Nevertheless, I find out that he moved back in with his mom, which I was happy about. When I left, he was living with his pill-popping aunt since right before that, his immediate family kicked him out —pretty much for the same reasons my mom kicked me out.

He also said that me leaving was the reality check he needed and it probably saved his life. He thanked me. For that reason alone, I smiled and my heart ached a little less. Maybe this mess had some meaning after all? This conversation was everything I needed. But I couldn’t let myself get too caught up in the moment. So, I quietly peak out to make sure the house was still quiet. Thankfully, it was.

Bruce later tells me, he took an Ambien so that he would sleep through his hangover, which in a strange way benefited me.

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Aiden and I continue our conversation as we start to reminisce.

The phone call ends up lasting longer than I thought.

Aiden didn’t want to get off and either did I. But I had too. I emphasize that under no circumstance can he contact this number. In fact, I urge him to erase it altogether. I tell him that I’d try to call him again as soon as I could. He said to stay safe and to remember that he loved me. “Not a day goes by that you’re not on my mind. I wake up and you’re there. I go to bed and you’re there but you’re not.”

As he began to mutter his last breathe on our call, I started to cry. If I can be honest, so did he. We both stayed on the line for a few more minutes but this time, we didn’t talk. We sat in silence because sometimes you don’t need words to understand someone—especially when you have a connection like we did. It was a beautiful moment but that moment had to end like now. I say I really have to go otherwise I’ll be in trouble.

I hear, “I love you so much, Macey.” before I ultimately hang up.

I remember standing there in disbelief like did that just happen? It fucking did. I couldn’t stop crying. But I had too. Get it together, Macey. I delete our conversation from Bruce’s recent calls and pretend none of that went down. I put his phone back exactly as it was and walk toward the master  —pretending I had just woken up. He bought it. I made it seem like I was returning from the bathroom just like I’d do every morning.

Days twelve through fifteen.

That and everything else, kept me going for a little while longer. Except, shit was not fun anymore. I was still getting high, but that freeness I originally felt had long since faded. I was stuck in this two-bedroom apartment with a fucking rapist. The condo itself wasn’t bad. It was your standard gated-community in east Del Ray. It was a relatively safe community but I wasn’t. The days after that fateful day were pretty much all the same. And not in a good way.

I say that because last night would be the last time we’d ever go back to South Beach. That was the last night we partied and had actual fun. The claws came off and Bruce was officially awake. He asks what I’ve been up too. I said I just woke up as well. He wonders if I needed my morning pills. Obviously, I did. He gets up, walks over to where his scripts were and hands me two. My heart was racing in the event he realized four were gone. He didn’t. He never did.

Luckily, he was hungry and way too drowsy to force me into anything sexual.
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So he makes himself some breakfast as I snort mine.

A few minutes later, he comes back in. Remember, he liked pills but Bruce’s thing was crack. And apparently, we were running low. Now, Bruce wasn’t officially employed. He’d make a decent amount snitching on people and doing odd jobs here and there, but lately, he was able to keep everything up because of my parents. Essentially, they were supporting his drug habit since both my mom and dad were sending him weekly checks.

They were intended to cover my “therapy fees” because I was in “rehab” —only none of that was true. Anyway, he tells me we’re going to meet up with his dealer later. We met this guy multiple times a week —sometimes even multiple times a day, at the same CVS down the street. Bruce didn’t have a car or a license but he had a motorcycle, which was our only means of transportation and even that was illegal. But that wouldn’t stop him and today was no different.

I recall one evening we were riding back from a local 24.7 Walmart.

We had just smoked a bunch of crack and for obvious reasons, we couldn’t sleep. There was no food in the house and even though we were far from hungry, he thought it would be a good idea to go grocery shopping. I thought that was stupid but who was I to say no? Needlesstosay, we ride over. Except, his bike could only hold one or two bags. You couldn’t tell him that though. And what do you know? We pick up more than two bags worth of stuff as we try to make our way home.

Oh, and the bike had this pocket attached to the side that held a change of clothes and a jacket in case it rained. He places a few items inside and we hold the rest for dear life. Unfortunately, we didn’t hold the sausage hard enough. All of a sudden, one of the plastic bags flings open and this really big piece of breakfast meat flies in the fucking air. Like one of those moments where you can’t look away. Eventually, it lands splat in the middle of the road. Luckily, it was early morning so no one was around.

I don’t know why but we thought it was the funniest thing ever as we laugh our way home.

Days fifteen through seventeen.

That right there is why the lines were more than blurred. I hated him but like I said, it wasn’t all bad. Anyway, we both get dressed. His dealer texted him back saying he was on his way from Boynton Beach, which was about 15 minutes away from our current location. Before we leave, Bruce looks at me and has the audacity to make me change. It was literally almost 100 degrees outside. So heck yes, I’m wearing shorts.

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Only, he didn’t want them to be longer like I thought —he wanted them to be shorter. He said I looked too modest. “Go put on those jean cutoff shorts you know I like.” I wasn’t about to argue with him over something so meaningless (I had to pick my battles). So I go change, and then we head out the door. Luckily, his guy was usually pretty prompt. Still, we make a quick stop at this one gas station since Bruce needed a new glass pipe.

He’d actually go there several times a week so the cashier knew him.

By the time we get to CVS, his dude was two minutes away. I’d always get such anxiety before a deal went down so I wait by the bike as Bruce gets into his guy’s car. A few minutes and couple hundred dollars later, we were good to go (quite literally). I was relieved. We arrive home a few minutes after that and he tells me to assume the position (not literally) but I knew what he meant.

Bruce had a particular way he liked to smoke crack. And it was always something sexual. For me, whenever I did uppers, I hated being touched. In fact, sex was the literally the last thing I wanted to do. Not him though. I think it turned him on for whatever reason. I will say, that’s not abnormal. I knew people who went either way. And even though, I hated crack, I usually did it with him anyway —as long as I had something for the comedown, which Bruce knew.

So like clockwork, he hands me my pills. I snort one and save two for after.

I knew what I was about to do and I couldn’t stomach it with merely crack. I needed a little Oxy first. Plus, it felt better to be on crack if I was also high on pills. For some reason, it made the crack high less crack-like, which is probably why people love speedballing (when you mix an upper like crack with a downer like painkillers or heroin), which for the record is never a good idea.

If you couldn’t have guessed, that’s the fasted way to go into cardiac arrest. Luckily, as many times as I did speedball that never happened. So, I snort my pill as Bruce sets everything up. It was the same thing every time. He’d put a blanket down so the crack residue wouldn’t get all over. He’d clean the pipes, load them up, and turn a random porn flick on to hype everything up.

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Once that was done, he’d take the first hit and then hand the pipe back to me.

This was around the same time he’d expect a few bad somethings. So yeah, this was my normal for the next three weeks (even though it was anything but). I don’t remember too many details after that. I just have flashes of being on that bed with him for hours. I do recall brillo pads though (or more specifically —chore boy, which is the brand name for) wads of copper wire used as a screen to stop crack rocks from falling into the pipe. I also remember crying.

I’d ask if we could just get high and chill? But he’d always reply, “No, Macey. I need a few more minutes.” And like the good little “slut” I was, I’d always end up complying. I didn’t want too but like I’ve said, I didn’t have a choice. I remember thinking, “This is where I’m going to die.” I’d go to bed each night praying to GOD, telling him that I’d never complain about being bored again —if he could just get me out of here alive. For a while, my prayers were left unanswered.

But a few weeks later, I had a reality check of my own and then I ran the fuck away.

Let me just say, Bruce did everything in his power to stop me. He made me look like the junkie slut he said I was. Bruce claimed that my “fake therapist” left him a message saying I was at it again. He proceeds to share that message with my mom, dad, and sister. Everything he said could have been true —so I think that’s why they didn’t come through. He had them all convinced I just ran away from rehab with another pill-popping boy (more on the great escape later).

So when I tried calling them for help, I was completely ignored. Well, not by my dad. He was the only one who dropped everything to save me —no questions asked. All he needed to hear was that I was telling him, “I’m not OK.” That was enough. I never liked Bruce anyway, he’d say. But to everyone else, Bruce was an angel —and me? Well, I was the boy who cried wolf. You know what though?

I did what I had to do to survive. Period.

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So if anyone is out there right now trying to do the same thing, please don’t let anyone make you feel like you shouldn’t. Don’t let anyone blame you for it either. And definitely, don’t let anyone tell you just because you’re an addict or you decided to wear something revealing that you deserve to be raped. Because I’ve been through more hell then you’ll ever know. It changed me. It changed who I was. It changed who I will be.

It changed who I could have been and the possibility of it making me bitter and resentful is enormous. But it doesn’t have too. It can pave the way to greatness. Because like me, if you’ve been to hell, and you’re here now on the other side, you’re not weak. You’re not a loser. You’re a fucking badass. So yeah, that’s what gives me an edge. You can’t touch a woman who can wear pain like the grandest of diamonds.

Because clothes don’t speak. But I do.

And I’m telling you, “I’m not asking for it.” No woman is —no matter what she chooses to wear. Period. Unfortunately, not everything will agree. But I dare you to make them. I dare you to love yourself even if this world is constantly telling you not too. I dare you to be proud of who you are regardless of how others look at you.

Who cares if they think you’re a slut. Who cares if they know you used to be an addict. Because your value doesn’t decrease based on someone else’s inability to see your worth. Period. So in honor of strong women everywhere —may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

xoxo,

macey bee

*names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.

This is part five of my rock bottom number three series. In case you missed it, you may want to check out: Rock Bottom, Rape Culture & Recovery, Blurred Lines & Hard TimesCoastlines, Crack, & Rehab FraudFalse Freedom, Captivity, & A Lot of Deception as well as The Last Few Days of Captivity (in that order) before reading the above.

And for a poetic account of what took place, feel free to read: Chains, Reins, & Brains. Thank you!

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