Memories through a Photograph – Innocence Lost

Every once in a while I come across this picture. I have a few pictures from this night in 1986. I always had a camera handy to capture anything and everything. I’ve probably captured too many memories that most would like to forget. But, the more times that I have come across this image, I try to look for something deeper than just people posing to have their picture taken. I guess I try to look for the innocence or at least remember it or try to remember what it felt like. The innocence of that girl to the far right that was so stoked to be there because she had a crush on the guy next to her. The innocence of a night that a few acquaintances, that had only known each other for a few months, were getting together before she left to go back to her hometown in Texas. The innocence that would quickly disappear in a matter of hours because of the consumption of alcohol. The innocence taken from that girl that night. Did she have any inclination that a few hours later she’d be violated and her innocence would be taken from her?

The guy, Scott, that usually wore a tall blue mohawk and would skate up and down Sheffield Avenue, now had the same silly grin as she and was putting his arm somewhat around her to make her feel comfortable being in front of the camera. She was so happy. But, she was probably really uncomfortable on the inside because she didn’t know how to make sense of what was going on with the two people to the far left. The guy to the far left, she had been dating for the whole time that she was back in Chicago while staying with her two sisters. This was her second trip out there. She was only 16 and had dropped out of high school back in Klein, Texas. She’d come and stay with her sisters because it was hard to live with her alcoholic mother back in Texas. She and that guy had only recently, days before, broken it off. They had been dating for over a month. One night, heavily intoxicated, she came back to her sisters’ place after getting in a fight with him. She didn’t want to see him anymore because of his frustration with her not putting out. She had never had sex before. She liked him, but not in that way or maybe she just wasn’t ready. This was the first guy that she had ever dated and now, he was dating one of her sisters.

When I’ve seen this picture in the last few years, I can only imagine how many mixed emotions I was feeling that night. I still didn’t know how to make sense of much in my life, much less my emotions and new experiences. The only way I learned to cope was to either isolate myself in my bedroom, while diving into my depression, or drink too much. That night I drank too much. I remember just a short period of time after arriving at the cute guy with the mohawk and his roommate’s place.

I have a few pictures. I have a few minutes of memory after arriving, about a minute or two in the middle of the night, and the next morning when I got up to find myself naked next to a guy (Scott’s roommate) naked. I remember looking frantically, but quietly, for my clothes and my purse. I didn’t want to wake up this guy next to me that I remembered was on top of me in the middle of the night, naked, trying to put his penis somewhere down there, in me. At the time, I still hadn’t even known that a penis goes into a vagina. I was 16 going on 12. All I remembered was that what he was doing to me, hurt. The pain is probably what sobered me up briefly out of my blacked-out, passed-out self. I remember him grabbing for my hand to help him, and instead I was moaning in agony and was moving my hand up to his chest to try to push him off of me, before I just passed out again.

I had known hurt, sadness, and violence before. I had seen people that said they loved one another, but hurt each other like people that love each other shouldn’t. But, there was still a little bit of innocence when I look at myself in this picture before it was taken away from me. The world was still not yet completely cold,  dark and viciously mean.

All I can think of is how clueless I was. Clueless that someone would do something like that to another. Clueless of what had happened. Was that what sex was?

My 16 year old self, may have been clueless of what had happened (sex, rape) because not only had I never experienced sex, but it was also foggy from all the drinking I had done. It was like flashes of images of that night that has stayed with me for the rest of my life. I remember that morning feeling horrified as I finally put on what clothes of mine I could find and as I was trying to leave I ran into Scott in the living room. I was so embarrassment and shameful to see him. What he must had thought. Did he think that I had been a willing participant?

I said many times, over the following decades, of how it had happened and that thankfully I was passed out for most of it. That because of this, it really didn’t affect me as much as all the other things that had happened to me before that night and what would happen in the years that followed. But is that true?

Did the girl in that picture fully realized how colder, detached, and broken her heart had become after that night? Did she see the lingering consequences that night left in her to lead her into darker and more painful experiences in the following years to come?

She walked in as a little girl, saddened at times by what her life had given her so far, but was still hopeful that life might get better. And, in a matter of hours, she had walked out of those guys’ apartment into a world that was beyond her comprehension and her soul was too fragile to fully ever wanting to understand. At least through seeing this image over the years, I can now come to some acknowledgement of how much that night truly affected me and can connect some of the pieces of when and where it did encourage years and incidents of more abuse or disrespect. 

#rape #Daterape #rapesurvivor #teenrape

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I'm passionate about kindness and learning from past mistakes. I'm a photographer, writer, author, survivor, ACoA, and single mom.

One thought on “Memories through a Photograph – Innocence Lost

  1. Do not get me wrong Grace, I have liked this, yes, but only because that I think that you are very Brave, Honest, with what had happened to you.
    This should NEVER have happened, it was ALL HIM, all of it, regardless of how much you had had to drink, where you crashed, where you slept. NONE of it is your Fault, None of it, it was ALL HIM. He needs horse whipping and locking up FOR LIFE, How may more times has he done it, before you and since, even just the once, he needs Dealing with, Hard. No excuse, no Justification, NO Reason for him to act that way towards You or any other Female. He is not a man, he is not even Human, he is Scum, lower than scum. I have Never Once acted this way, and feel no need to start acting this way now, Gods but I would have really dealt with him had I known Anyone who acted this way towards the Female of the Species, back then, or now going forward.
    Gods Bless you, Damn him and his kind to the lower pits of Hell. I know other who have suffered like this, at your age then, at your age now, and so many get away with it, something Really needs to change in the whole world to stop Males thinking that this is acceptable in any way.
    I am so sorry it happened to you Grace, I really am.


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