Angela’s Story, in her own words: Part 2

Editor’s note: these are Angela’s words. She’s requested I edit (so I have done minor changes) and that I act as an intermediary. Please direct all questions, comments, questions or concerns to me. I will triage them to her. Do not contact her, her husband, her parents, or any other family member.

Trigger warning: graphic depiction of rape and continued sexual violence

Saturday morning, we drove to “Levi’s” great aunt’s house. We start laundry and college football is on. After some conversation with his family, he offers to show me his video game down in the basement. We go downstairs where there is an old Galaxa arcade game plugged in. He starts playing excitedly and says he thinks I’ll be great at this game! I try to play but don’t find it fun or easy. Levi says I need to loosen up and stop analyzing the screen.

He offers to go get us some snacks and beverages – there’s a tv downstairs where he turns on sports. Levi brings down food and margarita mix – he tells me his grandma lets him drink nonalcoholic mixers so he can pretend to let the alcohol relax him. Levi is 19, almost exactly a year older than I am. Margarita mix tastes nasty and I say so.

Levi tells me to chug what’s in my cup and he’ll go get some water. He doesn’t return with water; he brings more margarita. (It’s my estimate that I consumed 30-40 ounces of premixed, alcoholic margarita in a 15 minute timeframe) I quickly began to feel nauseated, dizzy, tired and disoriented. Levi indicated that the basement had a pull-out bed in the couch and he’d be happy to let me take a nap while he watched tv and finished laundry. I remember lying down. And then I remember being in so much pain I couldn’t breathe. Levi was on top of me, his face toward my face, with my legs spread open. He was staring at his hand, covered in blood, his face white as a sheet. I was crying and confused; I sat up and saw that I was naked from the waist down. Levi started babbling, trying to explain, “I just wanted to rub it [his penis] around… but then it felt really good, and I just thought it wouldn’t make any different to stick it [his penis] in a little bit.” There was blood all over the bed and my legs and his body.

I stood up, walked gingerly into the bathroom, and locked the door behind me. After 10-15 minutes by myself, Levi knocked on the door and wanted to get me out of the house, now. The toilet wouldn’t flush because the water in the downstairs bathroom had been shut off.

I jerry-rigged a hose from the utility sink into the bathroom to fill the toilet tank to flush the blood and vomit out. Levi had stripped the sheet off the pull-out couch and shoved it under a table in the corner.

I pulled out the sheet, stuck it in the washing machine with some white vinegar and started to scrub the couch/bed to remove as much blood as possible. I don’t remember getting dressed. Or finishing laundry. Or even leaving the house.

I remember Levi talking to me in a parked car, telling me that he was about to start a shift at work (he worked as a retail employee at a store in north Florissant) and I was still too drunk to drive home. He didn’t trust me by myself, so he walked me into his store, sat me in an unobtrusive location, and clocked into work. I don’t remember getting back to the dorm, or the next day.

Monday morning, I woke up, took a shower, and started trying to figure out what had happened to me. I was still bleeding vaginally and was concerned as it wasn’t the right timing for my menstruation cycle. After a bit of Googling, and awkwardly taking a mirror to see between my legs, it dawned on me that I had experienced sex, and I was no longer a virgin. I don’t think I spoke to anyone until Thursday.

As I was leaving my work shift at the library, Levi approached me and walked with me toward my dorm, rerouting us into the Nature Preserve. He explains to me that he’s sorry Saturday ended the way it did, but he felt like we were closer together because I’d shared such a wonderful experience with him. He continued to talk, telling me that he hadn’t been sure I was a virgin, but now he was glad to find that it was true. Since I had no purity left to be concerned with, he suggested that we meet several times a week to explore my newfound sexuality – but he wanted to give me until the following Monday to heal and “take a break” because that seemed reasonable. In the meantime, though, he wanted to give me a lesson regarding oral stimulation. He said that if I stayed with him and offered whatever sexual interaction he wanted, he wouldn’t tell the whole school that I was a slut.

Levi mentioned that he had almost approached Dean of Students that week to inform her that I wasn’t feeling well, but he was concerned that he would “accidentally” inform her of my choice to break the Student Code of Conduct and I’d receive demerits or be suspended/expelled. Levi reminded me that all RAs and faculty/staff would report any misconduct to the Disciplinary Committee and I’d be in danger of losing my scholarship.

Levi indicated what he wanted me to do sexually with my mouth, and seemed content that my urgency was a desire to please him rather than a desire to end the encounter. True to his suggested schedule, Levi didn’t approach me again until the next Monday night.

And for many weeks, on Monday and Thursday nights, Levi would find me, take me by the arm somewhere, and use my body for sex.

Sometimes, I’d try to hide on campus, or be in a group of people, to prevent him from singling me out and isolating me – he’d work himself into a frenzy and when we were finally alone, he’d use his hands/arms or a pocketknife to hold me still while he “punished” me (usually a more forceful or prolonged type of penetration) If I fought him during the encounter, he would restrain my arms/legs, then taunt me that I had a fetish: I liked being tied up or in pain. If I complied or acted interested in sex, Levi would praise me for my interest and agreeableness, and then hit or verbally abuse me until I cried and offered more resistance.

*It’s worth interjecting here that I was friends with several members of the Campus Security team and (prior to this semester’s problems with my aggressor) was known to use the Keystone Complex at night to find a quiet place to study in a classroom or such. Because of this, Levi would use my knowledge of the security team’s schedule and habits to hide us in the building after hours to have quiet, dark, and solitude for his trysts.

When I was unable to secure us an isolated spot, Levi would revert to using the Nature Preserve (sometimes even in 2-3 inches of snow). Once was in the men’s dorm, in the bathroom reserved for female visitors, located near the back entrance to the residence director’s unit. Once was behind the dumpster in the men’s dorm parking lot, within hearing distance of several friends of mine – Levi had his knife at my throat and told me that he’d slit my throat if I made noise or drew attention to us.

Between sexual encounters during the week, Levi would maintain his former pattern of being near me constantly and dictating my wardrobe. He would often skip his classes and wait in the hallway outside my classrooms to ensure that I didn’t slip out during class and evade him. Most of the students who interacted with Levi believed that he and I were dating. Most of my friends thought I had a “puppy dog” who followed me and questioned why I didn’t just “cut him loose” and tell him there’s no chance with me.

The only indication I made to anyone else was a conversation with another female student I trusted (who would have been required to report any illegal activity if I’d been explicit). I gently tested her thoughts by asking what to do if I was uncomfortable with the physical nature of a relationship, and if I felt like the man wasn’t respecting my boundaries. She responded that if a man wasn’t respecting my boundaries, either I wasn’t clearly communicating my desire for purity between us, or I needed to stop spending time with that man to send a message that I wasn’t a willing participant. I didn’t attempt to discuss the situation with anyone else for months.

Near Thanksgiving, the National Missionary Convention was being held in a city close enough to STL for SLCC to ask the student body to attend Friday sessions in place of having classes. I drove with family friends on Thursday night (not having informed Levi that I was leaving campus) and stayed in the convention town with another SLCC friend who lived nearby. Friday morning, as I arrived at the convention center, Levi was waiting in the lobby, spotted me and steered me immediately back outside, into a car, and re-introduced me to his grandmother, who lived in town. He took me to his grandmother’s house for the day and night, promising me that we would return to the convention the next day. Levi’s grandmother took us to the convention center on Saturday morning. But before we walked inside, Levi asked me to walk with him down the street for awhile. He led us several miles away from downtown, eventually to his mother’s house where his sister and brother also resided. We stayed in that house for the afternoon; Levi continued to introduce me to family and friends as his “girlfriend, but only until she gets pregnant and will accept a ring from me.”

Sunday morning, I somehow get back to the convention center in time for the end of the main session: the time I’d agreed to meet our family friends to drive back to STL. The friends knew I was uncharacteristically quiet and withdrawn. They mentioned to my parents that I seemed upset and distant. And my parents finalized plans to have me visit them during Christmas break. Having returned to campus mid-January, it was my resolution to refuse Levi completely. The first time he found me after my return, in the coffee shop in PH, Levi wanted to show me a series of pictures from his Christmas break.

He told me that he couldn’t bear to go home over break. He showed me how he’d written a message in the snow on the ground to tell me he loved me. He showed me a picture from inside my dorm room: he had climbed up to my window and written in the frost, then come inside the dorm, into my room to go through my clothes/things because of how much he missed me.

In that second week of school, I came out of my room late one night to walk to the bathroom, Levi was sitting with his back to my door, waiting for me to exit. He walked with me down the steps to the lower level, asked me to open an empty room, and told me to spend the night in a bed with him so he could “feel normal again.” I was angry. But felt unable to change Levi’s actions. Nor could I find a way to escape the situation until the end of the semester. The more I resisted Levi’s advances, the more he became violent and manipulative. He began to threaten to kill himself or me, or both, if I didn’t offer sex to him.

He wanted our first time after my absence to be “loving and romantic.” The night of the Super Bowl, I was in the coffee shop, trying to catch up on homework. I had been chatting with a male friend of mine who was quizzIng me. Levi found us there, talking amicably, and lost his temper. I stood up and stated that I would be walking to the Brazle’s house to watch the rest of the football game, and that I wanted to go alone (Levi felt ostracized from the Brazle’s and from Refuge, though for no particular reason) Outside the Brazle’s house, Levi caught up with me, placed a knife at my back, and walked me back to campus, to one of the baseball dugouts. There, he stripped me of my clothes and positioned me as though to rape me, then stopped and began to inflict pain wherever he could. Once he’d cooled his anger, he walked away, and I dressed and went to my dorm. The bruises from that night were hard to hide. Rather, they were impossible to hide and people noticed.

Most notably, a female friend of mine “Barbara” (who had herself been in a previously abusive relationship) saw my bruises, recognized my demeanor, and came to my room to confront me. She told me that she “knew enough,” and that she wasn’t going to leave my side until I was truly safe again. She walked with me everywhere: to class, to chapel, to work, to meals (she sometimes went to pick up meals to-go, having explained to Derrick that I couldn’t leave my room). One night, I told her that I knew I wasn’t always safe in my own room, and she slept outside my door to make sure Levi didn’t approach me. It took almost a week for Levi to realize he hadn’t seen me alone or been able to isolate me. He started persistently trying to remove me from Barbara. He tried sending me private messages, or asking other friends to bring me to a different location. Barbara would tell him sternly to leave me alone, that she would always be next to me. After several weeks, Levi hadn’t attempted to contact me for several days. And I indicated to Barbara that I wanted to try moving about campus alone, setting up a new routine.

When I encountered Levi near the cafeteria, he seemed surprised to see me alone and unsure of what to do or say. I suggested that he come have a conversation with me that evening – I invited him to join me at the small playground/swingset on the north side of the Married Student Housing unit. Of course he came, likely out of curiosity to see what I would say. Or rather, if I would initiate any type of sexual activity.

I told him how much I hated what he had said and done, and how hurt I felt at the entire situation. Levi denied any feeling of guilt or responsibility, and refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing or manipulation on his part. He was upset that I didn’t love him, and still attempting to cling to a dream of the two of us marrying and starting a family. I got frustrated and started provoking him verbally, calling him names and telling him I thought he was worthless/pathetic. Instead of responding with anger or a physical/verbal assault, he started laughing and told me how “cute” I looked when I was mad.

I punched him in the face. And succeeded in getting his attention. And silence.

Then I put my hands around his neck and said I wanted him dead. Levi half-laughed but half-panicked. He told me he knew I wasn’t that kind of hateful person and even though I was confused about whether I loved him, I wouldn’t hurt him at all. I decided to prove to him how much I wanted him out of my life. And I started choking him, putting pressure on his windpipe. He stood there for awhile (I can’t remember a timeframe) as his emotions moved from concerned to alarmed to struggling for breath. His body went slack and he slumped to the ground. I couldn’t hold him up by the neck, so he crumpled.

Once he was down, I knelt beside him and resumed cutting off his air supply. I waited a full minute of no breath before releasing pressure and sitting back.

I suddenly found myself questioning why I would try to kill someone, whether I was willing to go to jail, whether anyone would believe that I had been abused and felt owed this retaliation. I questioned what kind of person I had to be in order to consider standing up and walking away, leaving Levi to either die or revive himself. It didn’t feel real. But he also still wasn’t breathing. I reached to check his pulse, which was still thready, and started positioning his torso for rescue breathing. It took several minutes of two-second breaths before he started sputtering and breathing shallowly.

I back away and waited for him to breathe deeply, regain consciousness, sit up and look around. I told him that I didn’t want to kill him, but I would hurt him if he touched me again. I told him that I didn’t want to see him near me, or I’d report him to the police. I said I wanted both of us to move on, and I wanted nothing to do with him. Then I said that if I found out he’d hurt another woman, whether at school or in the future, I’d hunt him down and make him regret it.

Levi never spoke directly to me again.

…. ….

Again, do not process this with Angela. Respect her wishes in this regard. My email is johnson.nataliegrace@gmail.com

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