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Readers Beware: This is a look into my life that few have ever seen or even know about. If you are shocked by what you will learn, just know that I have come far since then, but the reasons I am writing about it now are all personal. It’s not for attention or pity, I am not accepting any of that. I am who I am today because of the things that have happened in my life.

Continued from: The Day the Sun Refused to Shine

I woke up the next morning in my car in the parking lot of my dorm. Thankfully it was a Saturday and I hadn’t missed formation. There was no excusing that. Trying to get my bearings, I nervously looked around as the night began to come back to me in waves of fearful stress. My eyes filled with tears as I collected myself and got out of the passenger seat of my car. This nightmare had really happened. I threw up in the bushes outside of our dorm entrance and hobbled up the stairs tugging on my shirt sleeves as I went.

Inside our room I found Mandy passed out on the floor with the remainder of the vodka on its side in a puddle on the rug. There wasn’t much of the fifth left. Oh my God, we had drank much more than I realized. My head pounded. The tears poured. I felt filthy. I grabbed my shower stuff and spent nearly an hour standing under insanely hot water scrubbing my body while I cried. I stayed in bed the rest of the day.

Mandy was too hung-over to notice my solemn mood, which I was quite thankful for, but that luck would run out.

Sunday morning she bounced over on my bed and asked if I was ready for breakfast. Not ready to show my cards, I obliged her and got dressed for the day. My normally cute attire was changed to several layers of clothing that covered me up and made me feel more comfortable. At breakfast I picked at my food, the urge to throw up still plaguing my mind and body. Several of our friends joined us for breakfast, a few questioned my mood, but I brushed them all off.

After we ate we meandered across the base to a place called the Fish Bowl where we all studied and hung out before the next week started.  One of the guys that liked to pick on me a lot in our class pulled me off to the side. He was convinced something was very wrong with me, and not accepting the brush off that my other friends had accepted.  He asked me to come play a game of chess with him and talk. Once we were alone on the other side of the Fish Bowl I started to cry. I just sat there crying. He just sat there with a box of Kleenex and waited. This was odd behavior for him, because our relationship had always been one solely of banter. We were always bickering back and forth, never nice to each other.

After an eternity my story began to unfold in choked sobs. But I wouldn’t reveal a name. He tried to convince me to go and talk to our actual leadership and turn him in, but all I could think about was him telling me I had signed up for this when I came into the military. I knew I had been seriously drunk underage and that alone could get me kicked out of the military. I knew he was a red rope and in a position of power. I knew I was the only witness to me becoming a victim and I had willingly given that creep the keys to my car. As I told my friend all this, I felt more ashamed and naïve than I ever had before.  He was ready to kill him. Anger spread over him as he held my hand and rubbed my shoulder. He asked me to please give him that name, and he promised he would not report it. I trusted him, and gave him the name.

Later that night I heard that the red rope had been pinned against the wall by my friend and threatened with never coming near me again. The rope laughed and said that I had begged him for what I had gotten and that I was just a drunk bitch that felt bad about myself the next day because I was nothing but a little whore. My friend kept him pinned to the wall until several of his friends pulled them apart.

From that day forward, my friend was no longer someone I bantered and fought back and forth with in class. He was my protector. I felt safe after several days of feeling lonely, scared, and nauseous. The desire to run off to strange lands and travel on my own seemed like a stupid dream that would only cause me more physical and emotional damage. I had hardly begun my journey when I had fallen into this mess. My self esteem was shot except when I was with him. He slowly rebuilt my trust in others and I fell in love. Only two months after my attack, we got married.

Our marriage shocked our family and friends. No one had even known we were really dating. But I was more sure than I had ever been. After all, he had saved me and although he knew what had happened to me, it didn’t affect what he thought of me. Most guys would run from that right? I wasn’t sure anymore. But I knew that if I was going to travel the world, I wanted my defender with me. An ally in my corner.