When I was 14 years old, my mother’s “Friend” called our house one night just as my friend had finished my doing my hair and said he wanted to come over and talk to me. I told him that my mom was not home and that there was no reason for him to come over. He insisted that he just wanted to talk to me about how I could make money to help with our household bills. So I finally said okay and hung up the phone. I then begged my friend not to leave me because something just didn’t feel right. She said she had to go because it was 9:30pm and she was already in trouble for being late, so she left.
He arrived, rang the doorbell and I opened the door. He wanted to stay in the living room to talk which was always dark because we rarely spent time there. I thought that was strange, but I said ok. He proceeded to talk about how I could make a lot of money by proposing that I become a phone sex operator, and all I had to do was talk to men that called and I’d get paid lots of money, at least $500 per night. He knew that we didn’t have much money and used that to persuade me. He kept saying, “Don’t you want to help your mom? You know she works really hard to provide for you and your brother? Don’t you want to buy yourself some Jordache jeans like the rest of your little girl friends wear?” I kept telling him no, and asked him to leave but he wouldn’t stop trying to persuade to accept his offer by making me feel guilty about helping my mom with bills and other expenses.
So, I finally gave in and said ok. He then said he needed a sample. I said, “A sample??? What do you mean?” He said he needed a sample of me to take to his boss so he could decide if I was a good fit for the job. Then he said, “Let’s go downstairs to your room.” I said, no and told him to leave, but he started pressuring me and making me feel guilty again, so I said ok. We went downstairs to my room which was in our basement and he immediately took his pants and underwear off and get into my bed. At this point, I’m extremely nervous and scared now but I get in with all of my clothes still on. He rolls over on top of me and I start to fight him off of me. I fought him as he ripped the buttons off my pants and destroyed the zipper trying to get them off. I kept saying no, stop and he did not!!! He proceeded to violate me. I screamed, “If you don’t stop I’ll scream rape!” He jumped up and said how you ‘gon call this rape when you let me in? You let me down here to you room, how you ‘gon say I raped you???
Then the doorbell rang! I grabbed my pants off the floor and put them on, then ran upstairs to answer the door–it was my boyfriend!!! By the time I got upstairs to the door, that person got dressed and was right behind me, then walked out as I let my boyfriend in. He said, “Whassup” to him and see you later to me and left. My boyfriend asked me what was wrong and I just said, “I’m tired.” He said, “NO, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU???” And I said again, “I’m just tired.” I went upstairs and he followed me. I got a safety pin, pinned my pants together and got into my mom’s bed with my little brother who was already sleeping for the night. I fell asleep and to this day, I don’t remember what happened after that.
So now we fast forward 10 years. I’m 24 years old and was faced with the harsh reality of sexual assault again. Only this time, I was raped.
On Friday, November 22, 1996, I returned home from getting my hair done earlier than I had expected. As I walked with my head down, contemplating what I was going to do for the rest of the evening, I noticed that it seemed darker than usual along that pathway. I lifted my head to reach for the door knob and that’s when I saw him. The person who would soon violate me was standing there pulling a mask over his head while holding a handgun pointed straight at me. He then says, “Give me your purse and turn around and walk that way.” We walked to the back of the apartment building, and I began to recite the 23rd Psalm as panic had overtaken me. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…
We continued to walk through the woods while he blurted out all kinds of obscenities as I continued to pray to God to help me. Just then we finally got to clearing of grass, then he walked from behind me, stood in front of me, and pointed the gun right at my forehead. I cringed as the touch of the cold steel sent chills throughout my body–I can still feel the cold steel circles on my forehead even now from time to time. I begin to frantically plead for my life, “Sir, please don’t kill me, I go to school, I have a good job, I go to church—please don’t kill me, it would kill my Mom!!” He told me to shut up and to get down on my knees. I was forced to perform on him as he pointed the handgun at my left temple. After a brief moment of that, he forced me to lie down on the cold wet grass.
I thought to myself as I layed there, “My, look at all the stars out in the sky tonight–how beautiful they are…but where’s the moon?” It was all I could do to take my mind off of what was happening to me. I could feel the cold steel of the handgun pressing into the left side of my stomach as he proceeded to violently take what belonged to me, the most private part of me…
For a moment I felt nothing; I felt numb as he continued to push. It was like I was in limbo; neither here nor there. I remember silently praying, “God, please help me.” And then something happened! It was as if God had taken my spirit out of my body and up with Him. I was having an out-of-body experience–out of my body and into God’s Presence! I knew my body was lying there being brutally assaulted at gunpoint by this crazed person, but I had an aerial view of this horrible event taking place. I could see everything as if God had taken me up to sit at His feet, hallelujah! God wanted to be sure that my spirit was not harmed in any way, shape, or form. And although my body was harmed, my spirit was not.
During my recovery phase, I spent countless hours praying, studying scripture and seeking God for answers. Since I was able to make it out alive, I knew that God had a plan for me—there was something that I had to do with this experience. During my nightly prayer, God revealed the vision of Phynyx Ministries to me from start to finish. God said you are the Phoenix rising from the ashes and so are those you will help heal. He said you will be the Founder of Phynyx Ministries. I am going to heal you from sexual violence and then you will go forth and help heal those who are suffering in silence.
You will be a light to those who are living in darkness as a result of rape, molestation, sexual abuse, sexual assault. You will help those who are living with the pain of their past, that is manifested in their present.
In June 2011, I answered the call to birth Phynyx Ministries. We are a Christian-based non-profit organization that provides a pathway to healing for women sexual assault survivors with love, support, advocacy and education. We provide a safe space for women sexual assault survivors to break their silence and move toward healing.
“She believed she could heal…and she did.” –Angela D. Wharton