(Evoë’s note: Tamara very courageously shares her experiences of sexual abuse and violence here. While this account may be triggering for some people, I would ask that you honor her spirit by witnessing her words.)
“The main message: I do not look at myself as a victim or a survivor. Why? Because that, in my mind means that they still have some hold over me. And I have long forgiven them. That has to do with my faith. But I made myself fight my way back to sanity, and it was a difficult task. I am a warrior, because I killed my dragon, and it has no hold over me.
This is the story of Tammy:
It has taken me a long time to find a way to tell this story in full. Over the years I have told bits and pieces of it to those who needed to hear it, and for me to help me overcome it. I find now that it is hard to tell it. I think partly because there is still some part of me, however small, that thinks that when people hear the whole of it they will judge me. That said, I now take a leap of faith.
When I was 6, I was living with my grandparents. My parents were traveling across country in a school bus they remodeled, from one coast to the other. While I was with my grandparents I made friends with the kids in the neighborhood and went to school.
Two houses down there were these two kids and we played together when they were there. That was their grandparent’s house. One day the grandpa let me in and raped me. He told me it was my fault, and that if I told I would get into trouble. He told me that if I did not come back again he would tell on me. I cried and was terrified for weeks, months even. Finally my parents made it here, and we moved. I slowly let that go into a dark corner of my head and tried not to visit there.
Some years later, after some very wonderful things happening like traveling around the world and so much more, we finally settled in Florida. We first lived in a HUGE hotel on the beach in Miami. I was 12. There was this really cute lifeguard who was in his 20’s and he kept flirting with me. I of course was flirting back. We eventually had an affair. He was mad because I was not a virgin and tossed me aside. That hurt a lot. I know that was also a form of rape now, but then it was consensual to my frame of mind. I know at 12 you do not have any idea what that means either. That was the start of the horrors to come in the next 4 years.
My parents, Goddess bless their souls, were working with a very good spiritualist church. But it took up all their time. They were establishing a church there from the mother church in Seattle. So it really was a lot of work. I helped when I could but I had my own stuff to worry about.
Living in Miami as a white kid, I was in the minority of the minorities. If you were white you were either Italian, or Jewish. I was neither. The school I went to I was one of 4 white kids. And I had no one in my corner. I got beat up every day. There was this gang of Cuban girls who ran the school and they did not like me. So I spent a lot of days skipping school. I went to the Pier at Ocean Drive and 1st Street, where I swam the pain away. I watched all the cute Cuban surfer boys, and smoked a lot of pot. Always the boys called me names; the girls did too. Ghost. One of those hose boys sweet talked me into sex, and then told his friends what a whore I was. That hurt a lot.
One night I was sitting on the pier, by myself, and this guy who must have been 17 came up. He was tall, thin, and muscular, his curly black hair was long and unkempt. I thought he was cute. We smoked a joint and then, he kissed me. I went with it. Next thing I know we were in it. I looked up at him and saw he was wearing a cross upside down and it shocked me. I tried to fix it, and he hit me. He then said to shut up and turn over. He sodomized me and then beat me more while he raped me. He laughed when he was done and said he was Satan’s hand and I was the sacrifice. I retreated into myself for months.
Eventually I came back out to the sea. To cleanse my soul, I swam. Several months later I was skipping school again, and this beautiful car drives up to the pier. This handsome, well-dressed guy gets out, and walks up to me. He says, “I know this sounds weird and you can say no, but my girl Friday just walked out on me and I need a new assistant. Would you like to make some money?”
Me, naive as hell, says yes. I get into his car and go to this beautiful mansion with a gatehouse. He tells me that this is his home office. He runs a record company and does a lot of work from home. So for a week I worked for him, straightening out files, filing records, and getting coffee and lunches from the house. His wife was very pretty and looked at me like she wanted to eat me.
Friday came and he paid me in pot and ludes. I thought this was the greatest job ever. He also gave me a promo album from The Tubes. The next week I came to work and he got me totally drunk and stoned. I woke up in his house tied up and naked. He and his wife, and son, had me for a week and used me a lot. It was scary at first but I liked her, and him and it was twisted and wrong but I did not run. When they were done with me I still worked for him for a while. I got to work a couple parties where I met the Allman Brothers, and I met Van Halen. That was definitely not one of the more heinous things. Thank Gods it was not all horrific.
That was when things changed. That was when it all went so very bad. There were these two Cuban boys who lived across the street from me. They were in a gang. One day when I was coming home from school, they and three of the other gang members grabbed me up on the side of the street, dragged my into an abandoned building that was nearby, and they gang raped me, for hours. They told me that if I told anyone they would kill my parents. I believed them so I kept quiet.
Over the next 2 years these two boys would invite others to come with them and they would find and abduct me, and rape me. They did this 10 times. The tenth time I broke. I started screaming, I did not care if they killed me, I would not be used like this anymore. The cops came, I gave them the names of the boys and where they lived. My parents sent me to live with my aunt up the coast where my uncle was a sheriff, so I was safe.
Several months later we went to court. My uncle drove me and was there for me. The whole thing was horrible. They tore me apart. The judge in the end told me that because I stood in the sprinkler in my shorts and bikini top in the summer heat, (110 degrees) I was being enticing, and that I deserved what I got. He ruled in their favor.
I was devastated… I ran away. I spent several days in a drunken, drugged, haze. Sleeping in boiler rooms of hotels and under piers. One day a car pulled up and a man got out. He grabbed me up and drove off with me. He knocked me out with chloroform. I woke up tied up in a small dark space. I was gagged. I could hear a man’s voice outside. He was negotiating a fee for the use of my body with another man for money and drugs.
I was kept by this monster and used to pay for his drug habit. I was forced to have sex with men, and animals, and they did torturous things with cigarettes, hot wires and razors. One night he let two men have me for the night. I out drank them and ran. I took all their money and split. When I stopped running I was a mess.
I cleaned up and went to the bus station to try to get out of town. A young man took me in. He gave me a place to live for a while, and I kept his house clean for him. One day though, he got drunk and decided that I was to pay him back. I hit him and ran out. His roommate heard the commotion and grabbed me. He took me into his room and soothed me. He told me it would be okay, but that I needed to go home. He took me home.
I stayed there for a few months, but the boys who had raped me still lived across the street. I left again. This time I lived with a girl who helped me a lot, but one day she went out of town to see friends. Her apartment was robbed, and the guy who did it knew me and was a total thug. He pinned it on me. The girl, unfortunately, was the granddaughter of the biggest Godfather in Miami. OOPS! So then the guy who pinned it on me, to prove his point, beat the shit out of me and told me that if I did not give back the $ I stole in 4 hours he would kill me. I freaked out and called my mom. She got me on a plane back here to my grandmother.
I was 16 then.
My life here has been that of a different person, I thought that was all over for me. But in 2004 I was working as a tattoo artist. After a couple months the crew quit, because the boss was an ass. I stayed because I needed the experience and cash. So I became the piercer and artist. One day this guy came in and told me he was tattooing people, I told him how dangerous that was and told him to go to the school I went to, they would put him in a shop when he graduated. He did. A month later he showed up to show me his first tattoo, on his thigh. He asked if we could go in the back because it was on his thigh. I locked the front and we did. When we got in there he raped me.
It was so fast I did not know what to do. I was in shock. He held my mouth open and forced himself down my throat and came in seconds. I called the shop owner and the cops. The cops came but they told me that it would be difficult to prove if there is no DNA in my mouth. The swab came back negative for his DNA so they told me that even if they pumped my stomach it might not have proof.
It was his word against mine. I did not prosecute. I have little faith in the judicial system for solving this kind of stuff after what happened before. The shop owner who also owns the school did nothing either. In fact, he told me he needed the money so his answer was, not to kick the guy out, but to install fake cameras because they would stop people. I left his employ.
That is the last time.
I know it was not my fault, none of it was. I was never a bad person, and I did not deserve any of what happened to me. However I am a stronger person now. I am not sick, they are. I am a good person, and I am an instrument of love. I will never be a victim, or a survivor. I am a WARRIOR, born in blood and pain!!
I will never let anyone, ever have my soul. I will never let anyone harm me again. And I know that they will be dealt with for the crimes they committed when they pass from this life. It is my hope they learn, and their souls grow, and change and become something better, something good.
I pass unto you the power to become a warrior too. Be strong my sisters and brothers, for we are beautiful, we are strong, and we are warriors born out of blood and pain, we go forth and conquer. With love!”