The Weird Thing About PTSD

I was raped, sodomized, and beaten for six hours back in January 1987.  Twenty-eight years ago.  Initially, I knew what I “should” feel like, but didn’t really register much.  But that wasn’t really anything new- I’d been pretty good about not registering specific feelings for a long time.  As I’ve gotten older, and had more life experiences, the specific emotions have become much more identifiable.  And unpleasant.  I’ve been through enough therapy to recognize specific feelings, as well as have a greater understanding of what others go through who have been in similar situations.  And sometimes, not so similar situations.  Those can be triggers as well.

I had never been much of a crier.  I’d boo hoo once in a while, but for the most part, I could suck things up and move on.  That has changed.  Some of that is from a good thing: I’ve been able to understand how other people feel with both good and bad events.   That has been a huge ‘plus’ in so many ways, but it also makes my own memories and reactions that much more intense.  I’m a regular faucet now whenever there’s anything that remotely sets off my own memories.  Doesn’t even have to be all that similar.  Just has to trigger a feeling of some sort.

With another parole protest going on, I’m even more on edge.  For the most part, my daily functioning is ‘normal’.  Movies and TV shows can be really tough.  The news stories can be absolutely grueling.  I feel SO badly for those who are violated and/or lose a significant part of their life.   I have to ‘pace’ my exposure to the news.  With TV and movies, I generally have seen most of the episodes before from several series, so know to ‘brace’ myself during specific scenes… but sometimes even that doesn’t work so well.   In one episode of “Law & Order: SVU”, ‘Olivia’ walks out into the squad room after having been held hostage by a serial rapist/stalker who takes her out of the city to a seasonal house (that doesn’t belong to him).  She beats the snot out of him, and has to make a statement.  When she walks out into the squad room, it brings up all sorts of feelings of when I had to walk out of the apartment of my neighbor, after being raped.  There were news stations/cameras and people lining the sidewalk, and looking at me.  One of them lowered her camera, and looked down- giving me the first bit of dignity after that life-changing event.  When ‘Olivia’ walks through that group of people, it stirs up so much.

Some would argue that watching such shows as “Law & Order: SVU” and “Criminal Minds” are poor choices given my background, but I disagree.   In those shows, they show as much as they can about the impact that crime has on the survivors (I hate the term ‘victim’) and, they get the bad guy in 48 minutes.  The good guys win.  There are characters that include the ‘collateral damage’ of crimes against individuals.  And sometimes, the shows are hard to watch.  But it was much harder to live through an event that would be a plausible story line for those shows.

I’ve been much more ‘tender’ this time around with the parole protest.  I’m getting so tired of them, but at the same time, I feel responsible to keep fighting to keep him locked up.   He doesn’t deserve to be out. He agreed to a 60 year sentence in a plea bargain.    He offends EVERY time he’s on parole. Since he was 18 years old, parole is just another opportunity to rack up more ‘victims’.  I’m angry that the woman he attacked prior to attacking me just blew off sentencing.  Had she made sure he got as much time as possible, I wouldn’t have been raped.   I don’t want that same burden on my shoulders.  I may not be able to control the decisions of the parole board, but I am involved.  If they let him out, it’s on them.

In the meantime, I have to talk myself down now and then.  And sometimes, I have to just let myself cry and feel whatever is going on.  On good days, I write.  And every day, I have to remember how much I have to be thankful for.   PTSD isn’t something that gradually resolves in a predictable manner.  It comes and goes when the triggers set something off that is associated with some memory or feeling.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  It just is.

 

Numbnuts’ Revocation Information

I recently sent for and received the packet of information surrounding the parole revocation of the man who raped me in 1987.  I knew it had to involve some sort of assault/battery, or at least some sort of ‘physical’ crime.  I ended up getting more information than I thought I would.  It’s taken a couple of days to be able to write about it.  Even 25 years after the rape, I still have physical reactions to most things that involve him, and at the same time, I need to be informed of what is going on so I can do the best I can to protest any and all future parole eligibility reviews.  No matter where he happens to be (in or out of prison), he will be serving the sentence for raping me until the year 2047.  Thirty-five more years.

The first thing that hit me when I read the information about why he is back in custody is that a woman actually married this guy while he was in prison for a rape conviction. I knew about that when he was first released on parole, but it still blows my mind. Granted, he can lie very well; it’s how he got to me.  But what makes a woman even consider marrying someone who has a criminal history, is STILL in prison, and will be in prison or on parole until 2047?  That’s not a  good background check.  How can someone trust a man who has only known her from the other side of bars?

Numbnuts is 53 years old now, and his first adult conviction in December 1976 was when he was 18 years old, for forgery. He was given a 5 year sentence, and at some point was put on parole- which was revoked when he was convicted of burglary (while on parole).  He then got a 12 year sentence for kidnapping, and was released on parole in 1985. In April of 1986, he was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was released on parole in December of 1986; on January 10, 1987, he raped, sodomized, and beat me for six hours- and changed his plea to guilty part way through the trial. He got a 60 year sentence (in a plea bargain) for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon. During the arrest for my rape, he was also shot by police, and had assaulted one of the officers who was first on the scene.  Then, he gets out in January 2010, on parole again. In the summer of 2011 he assaulted a man (a misdemeanor in Texas; a felony if against a woman), but was able to stay out of prison. In January of 2012, he was being considered for a lesser degree of supervision…within days of being notified about this (and protesting the idea), he had a warrant issued for what I now know was a domestic violence charge against his wife (I was initially told it was a ‘parole violation’).  He plead no contest.  He didn’t try to stay out of prison.  At least three times, he’s committed crimes while ON parole.  Twice, he did not fight the charges.

I had originally been introduced to Numbnuts by his sister, whose baby I took care of 5-6 days a week while she worked.  The introduction was brief, and very generic. I’d gone to see her about cleaning my apartment as I’d just been released from the hospital where I’d been for 10 days for a back injury.  I’d been moved to a new apartment by coworkers while I was in the hospital  ( the move had been planned before the hospitalization, and I was ‘stuck’ with needing to move out), and needed help getting the ‘old’ place cleaned.  She agreed, and Numbnuts first got a look at me. During the time right after the rape, and during the trial, his sister helped the prosecution.  In the packet of information, it says that he was again living with her, and was actually arrested in her home in January 2012.  While she hasn’t been a part of my life since 1987, it still stung that she’d house this monster.  She knew what he’d done to me. She was a part of the trial, testifying against her brother. I nearly lost my life going to get her son (part of the lie he told me needed me to go get the baby because of an emergency). Blood is thick, blah, blah, blah… Career criminal is a deal breaker in my book, even with family.

He also has step-grandsons. As a registered sex offender, I’m not sure how he’s able to have contact with those kids, unless the restrictions depend on the age of the victim he’s convicted of assaulting.  Maybe he’s not a risk to kids; I wouldn’t let my kids near a convicted sex offender, regardless of the age of the victim.  Would. Not. Happen.  But his brilliant wife, with her outstanding judgement and decision making, allowed the relationship with the kids. The two grandsons wrote notes to the Pardons and Paroles Board asking for their ‘grandpa’ to be allowed to come home because he was a ‘good man’…(where they could witness more domestic violence against their grandmother; no word on how often they’re with her- or where their parents are). The notes were very ‘scripted’, and I’d doubt the kids came up with the content…even if the notes were in their writing.

Mrs. Numbnuts also has a letter in the packet of information, saying that the neighbors must have called and they’ve got it out for Numbnuts.  It’s all someone else’s fault.  I wonder about her police record.  I have no information that she even has any record whatsoever, but the lack of personal responsibility sounds pretty sociopathic to me. Just sayin’.

The next time Numbnuts is eligible for a parole review is in three years.  There is no ‘mandatory’ release date for about 18 more years. He’d be 71 years old. He won’t be off of parole (or out of prison – whichever happens) until he’s 88 years old.  And I still don’t think he could make it. If he’s too gimpy to hurt someone else, he’d be a suicide candidate.  He gets ‘good time’ shaved off of his sentences- he is successful as a prisoner. He craps out in society. He’s a danger, and I would be horribly saddened, but not shocked, to hear that he murdered someone. That was the ‘end’  planned the day I was raped, but I got away after 6 hours when he passed out in my bed.  I’ve blogged more about the details, so will leave it at that for now.  But it was life-altering hell.

I’m still mulling all of this around in my head.  The level of dysfunction that results in a  Numbnuts ( or a  Mrs. Numbnuts, for that matter) is incomprehensible.  What horrible chain of events and circumstances makes someone like Numbnuts?  Nothing takes away his responsibility for his actions, but the reasons for why he’s like he is just don’t come together in my head.  I’ve worked with adolescent psych patients, and adults with trauma issues, and while they had dysfunctional coping skills,  they weren’t a risk to anybody.  I guess that’s good I don’t ‘get it’, and I really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about why he’s a violent sociopath, but when I get stuff regarding parole issues, I do think about it.  What makes a monster?   I remember his sister as being sweet and young (she was 19 when I babysat her son). I’d heard she had some minor drug busts with minimal amounts of pot, but nothing dangerous, and I never saw her wasted.  She was a hard worker as a department store housekeeper. She did the best she could for the baby.  She and Numbnuts were raised in the same house.  She did say that he’d always been the ‘black sheep’ of the family, and I got the idea that he had a sizable juvenile record before hitting the adult prison system. As an adult, his crimes got more ‘personal’ and more violent; I’m glad that his wife- bizarre as she is for marrying him- didn’t get visibly damaged (sounds like her psyche is already trashed). Or worse.  He was picked up before he left a body behind.

He may have gotten a 60-year sentence for raping and beating me…but I also got a life sentence that day he assaulted me.  It’s not over after the courts get done. It goes on and on, and every time something comes up about parole, or a violation of parole (arrest warrants issued), I am notified.  That’s how I want it for my own protection. But it does take a toll.  I’m reminded of everything he did to me during those six hours.  Speaking out helps me, and I hope in some way it helps others.  I survived that day for a reason.  I believe that things happen for a reason (Romans 8:28).  Maybe I can at least let someone else know they’re not alone.

Dear Parole Board Who Will Decide the Fate of The Man Who Raped Me…

Well, here we go again.  I think this is the third time he’s been up for parole, and my feelings are the same. It’s amazing how I can keep it together until I get ‘the call’ or ‘the letter’ telling me it’s time again.  Once again, I’m reminded even more deeply of what Carl Chambers did to me on January 10, 1987.   I was 23 years old, a virgin, and terribly naive. He stole a lot that day.  Let me tell you why he should stay in prison, once again.

Carl Edward Chambers
Mugshot- January 2012

On January 10, 1987,  Carl Chambers spent six hours doing non-stop violence to me. He raped me with his penis, a wine cooler bottle with ragged foil on its neck,  his fist, and he sodomized me repeatedly with ‘himself’ and the wine cooler bottle.  He beat me in the head; I’m reminded of  that whenever I open my jaw- it still clicks out of the joint briefly when I chew.  I can still feel the scar inside my mouth where my lower teeth went through my lower lip.  I had torn uterine ligaments, and when I was going through a routine pelvic exam and Pap test years ago, the nurse practitioner asked me how many times I’d been pregnant, as she saw the visible signs of that… I told her only the one time when I lost it, and flushed it down the toilet. That happened 10-12 weeks after the rape.  I’d never had sex before; it was his.

I knew I was pregnant, even though everyone passed off the morning sickness and fatigue as stress from the rape.  I was too scared to get a pregnancy test at the drugstore.  And then that morning I’ll never forget, the cramping started, and I felt it leaving my body and ending up in the toilet.  I saw it. It was the part of the placenta that is attached to the uterus, and kind of ‘jagged’.  I didn’t look any closer. I knew what it was.  I didn’t know what else to do, so I just flushed the toilet.  That image is permanently plastered in my memory.

Chambers raped me while on parole. He’d been let out 38 days earlier.  He was arrested when he was on parole after getting out on mandatory release for what he did to me, but since it was an assault on a man, it was only a misdemeanor. Then, when he was about to get a decreased level of supervision in January of this year, he got arrested for something that was bad enough to get him put back in prison; a ‘parole violation’ is what I was told. To me that screams “put me back in”. He doesn’t “do parole”.

I fight not only for what happened to me, but because I feel it’s my responsibility to do all I can to help keep him in prison so nobody else has to know what he could do next.  He is completely capable of killing someone.  Had I not escaped from him, I’d be dead. No way could he leave me alive after I knew where he lived, his name, his sister, and the list of things he did to me. I fought to stay alive that morning. He told me if I made any noise, he’d kill me. While he had me lying on the living room floor,  I hung onto the coffee table leg and focused on the pain in the intensity of my grip.  I would see his arms with blood about 3-4 inches up each arm from his wrists, and go back to focusing on that coffee table leg- just to keep from screaming.

He took a lot that morning in 1987.  He took my innocence in believing that if I knew who someone was related to, I was safe. He took my virginity. He took my feeling of being safe at all times in my own home. He took my ability to see myself in any sort of relationship or marriage.  He took my dreams of a husband and kids.  He left me feeling damaged and torn. He damaged my body. He left me with a life sentence of having to deal with him, his parole hearings, and parole violation information.  He never goes away for long enough to feel like my life matters in the whole process. There is one person in the Victim Services Department who has been a huge source of encouragement, but I shouldn’t have to know him.

When I was raped, part of me stopped moving forward.  I can’t get that back. I’ve done the best I can to make my life count with the work I did as a nurse before becoming disabled.  But there is nothing that makes January 10, 1987 go away.  Before the mandatory release, I had periods of time when those memories weren’t as strong as they are during the period of parole review.  But it’s never really gone.  I’ve done what I can to be a survivor and not a victim, and then I feel like I become that scared 23 year old all over again when I hear he might get out of prison… he ignores parole, so that isn’t even something that gives me any comfort.  He’s still OUT.   I try to live the best way I can, considering the limitations I have.  While I know I’m strong emotionally, and have much more insight than I did in 1987, nothing makes the parole hearing easy.  It’s all about him.  His freedom.  Freeing up space in the prison system.  That decision to let him out could very easily end up with someone being murdered.  It’s the only thing (that anyone knows about) that he hasn’t been arrested for- and do any of these guys go back to lesser crimes when they start up again?   I hope I don’t find out that he murdered someone, though it will never be a surprise if I do.

Keep him in custody.  He violates parole like he breathes. It means nothing to him, and causes indescribable agony for those he attacks (not to mention what my parents and family/friends went through – it’s never just about the direct victim).  Please….please.

The Power of Decency

January 10, 1987…the date that altered my life forever. I was 23 years old,  had been raped, beaten, and had things done to me that I’d never heard of before.  I’d never had ‘normal’ sex before… After six hours of this torture (as it was termed by the newspaper writer at the trial) I finally was able to escape when the man who did those things to me passed out in my bed.  Before then, he was within inches of me along with one of my large kitchen knives.  I had to wait until it was safe to make the attempt to get away. Even when he had to use the bathroom, he had me get down on my hands and knees, and traced the knife along my spine with one hand until he was done.

I’d pounded on the downstairs neighbors’ door wearing a bath towel.  I had met them the day before (having moved to that complex 10 days earlier).  It was January in central Texas, and I was barefoot in a bath towel.  My face was swelling from being beaten in the head, my lip was bleeding where my teeth had gone through it, and I was bleeding from the force of the wine cooler bottle that he also used to repeatedly rape me (with it’s torn foil label on the neck of the bottle).  And unseen trauma from the force of ‘him’.  I was terrified he was going to catch me before the neighbor answered the door, and hadn’t even thought that they might not be home.  Fortunately, late on that particular Saturday morning,  Mrs. Neighbor was baking muffins. She answered the door with a muffin tin fresh out of the oven, an oven mitt on her hand.  She just sort of looked at me for a second, as if to try and make sense of why this 23-year old was standing in front of her in a towel.  I tried to be calm as I said “I was just raped. He’s still upstairs. Can I use your phone to call 911?”.

She got rid of the muffins, and grabbed me- pulling me into the apartment and closing the door. Mr. Neighbor then came out of the spare room, and saw me.  They both got me to the phone, and stood by as I called 911, and told the 911 operator the situation.  Mrs. Neighbor then went and got me a pair of underwear (she was about 5-foot nothin’, and much smaller than I was, but she wanted to give me some modesty), one of her robes that was quite small, and some slippers…she was also a mom, and treated me as a mom would.  The ensemble was complete; I was in a small robe that required the bath towel to fill in the gaping front, small undies, and slippers about two sizes smaller than I wore. I was so thankful to be covered.  Mrs. Neighbor told the police ,when they told her those items had just become evidence, that she wasn’t worried about her stuff. She wanted me to have something to help cover me up after what had happened.  That proper Jewish mama wasn’t sending anybody out naked.  *Thank you, Mrs. Neighbor, wherever you are*

The first police officer arrived fairly quickly and went up to my apartment. I’d left the door unlocked when I escaped, so he just walked inside.  What he hadn’t expected was to be beaten up by the rapist as he tried to handcuff him in my bed before he fully awakened.  The sound of his body being slammed around my apartment as I listened from downstairs was disturbing. One bookshelf was knocked over, and various items were crashing to the floor. Finally, the front door slammed, and he hollered down to Mr. Neighbor (who was listening from the doorway of his apartment- where I was) to call for backup.  Poor cop was a rookie, not expecting to get pummeled.  He ended up sitting on the pavement in front of the stairs leading to my apartment. He ended up with some minor injuries, and a major lesson.

Mrs. Neighbor called 911 again, and explained the situation. There were more officers en route, but they were having trouble finding the exact apartment on the large complex grounds.  Shortly, however, there were officers and police cars all over the parking lot.  Soon after that media trucks arrived, including all network TV stations. They made short work of setting up their cameras.

The backup officers went upstairs, and began the process of apprehending the man who violated me. There were more sounds of struggling, and officers in front of my apartment had their guns drawn, aimed at the balcony. Neighbors had started gathering to check out the commotion. At that time, I’d begun ‘shutting down’.  I had been in survival mode for so many hours, and hadn’t been able to let my guard down at all. When I finally could, shock set in fairly quickly, and while I was still aware of my surroundings and what was going on, I was more into my thoughts than what was going on around me. I was sitting in a rocking chair in the Neighbor’s living room, somewhat oblivious to anything but my thoughts, and the occasional glimpse out the window at the gathering crowd.  I never heard the gunshots upstairs, though Mr. Neighbor did.

By then, an ambulance had arrived for me, and the EMTs had started checking my vital signs, and assessing the busted lip and visible bruise that was blooming on my jaw. The other injuries would have to wait for a physician at the ER.  I had torn uterine ligaments, and various abrasions and lacerations from the foil on the wine cooler bottle.  A hospital helicopter was landing to take the rapist to the hospital. He had been shot in the groin, and was losing a fair amount of blood. From what I later heard, he was moving towards the officer, and not a ‘still target’; the officer that shot him later apologized profusely for not killing him.  I was kept inside the Neighbor’s apartment until ‘he’ was loaded into the helicopter,  and gone from the premises.

The EMTs were going to bring a stretcher in to take me to the ambulance, but I asked them to let me walk.  There had been enough drama, and the TV stations were still filming.  I was assured that they wouldn’t film me (rules about ‘victims’).  I still wanted to walk out, and not be buried under blankets on a stretcher. For some reason, I had to prove I wasn’t completely damaged, filming or not.  I didn’t want to look like I’d been destroyed.  I had to show I was stronger than what he had done to me. Those weren’t conscious thoughts at the time, but I knew I didn’t want to look ‘that bad’.

On the way out, cameras were still mounted on tripods, or in the hands of those filming, aimed in the general direction of the sidewalk. I walked past all of them, and looked at them. One relatively young female photographer made direct eye contact, and then did something that made a huge difference on that horrible day.  She aimed her camera at the ground, and bowed her head as I walked by that group of cameras.  She was offering me a sign of respect after I’d been completely dismantled in regards to dignity and simple human decency.   I wish I knew what TV station she was from so I could thank her (I’ve tried writing to all of them over the years), and let her know that that gesture was something I’ve never forgotten. That act of decency was, and is, greatly appreciated. It took her 2 seconds to do, but it’s lasted a lifetime for me.  That act of decency is one of the most healing things I’ve ever experienced.  It was the beginning of becoming a survivor, and not staying a victim.  While I had my ups and downs as I worked through what happened during the rape, that reporter/photographer was the beginning of shedding the ‘victim’ label. There aren’t enough thanks for something that powerful.