For Victoria, My Queenie

by Andrea

October 9, 2020

Content Warning: sexual assault

It has been almost 14 years since, but the opportunities to properly process the following series of events have been few and far between.

I have wondered whether I really deserved to talk about my experience, since other people with uteruses have had more traumatic experiences. I have felt afraid that my narrative would be invalidated because, after all, I am a woman of color and society tends to invalidate and denigrate my feelings, thoughts and experiences. But I do not want to keep this within me anymore, because the fact that this is part of my history does not take away from my growth as a woman, as a human.

Had our lives moved in a different direction, you would have been born on or a little after July 27, 2007. This means that, in another universe, I would be the recent mother of a Leo teenager. Having denied myself the opportunity to raise you, I have no idea what I’d be thinking of this moment in our lives. But I do want to tell you a few things that I hope to send out to the universe to serve their purpose and perhaps help others in similar situations.

You would have been the result of a sexual assault – he forced me to use my money to illegally purchase alcohol and proceeded to get me drunk by a lifeguard tower in Miami Beach, then had unprotected non-consensual sex with me. You see, at age 19 I entered a very emotionally and psychologically vulnerable state. And right after my twentieth birthday, I ended up trapped in a desperate, intense, yet short lived liaison with a volatile man 12 years my senior, with much more life experience than me, a estranged spouse, children, and complex emotional and psychological issues I will never truly understand.

This was my first ‘relationship’ ever. Devoid of anything related to genuine love.

What was a man in his 30s doing in chat rooms where adolescents shared jokes, feelings, and idle talk? I can only fathom. But for nine months we chatted and I was told what I wanted to hear. I felt seen, so I opened up.

To show some compassion to my younger self, I am grateful that with the severely limited knowledge I had about how to manage romantic/sexual situations, I knew I needed to extricate myself from this ‘relationship’ as soon as I met him in person in spite of not knowing how and with little to no boundaries to speak of. Not to mention the immeasurable fear he produced in me as a young, abysmally naïve, impressionable girl who couldn’t tell that his online ‘love bombing’ was part of a cycle of abuse. It truly was a bit of a miracle that I managed to stay involved for only two months. However short this time, the intermittent drama that followed for a year and the traumatic damage that still faintly lingers, shows that consequences can be dire in situations like these. And so my eternal gratefulness goes to Ari (RIP), my eagle-eyed police neighbor, who spotted dangerous trouble and was compelled to initiate and mediate the permanent separation within days of seeing the way that man behaved around me and my family.

After November 6, 2006 I would not see that man ever again in my life and it is one of the most benevolent gifts life has given me.

But things didn’t go away with his departure. My lack of self-understanding, discipline, support network, and proper guidance, led me to make more mistakes in regards to this man and, by the end of a year, I eventually learned and gathered the strength to completely walk away from him.

But back in November 2006 there was the suspicion of my pregnancy shortly after he physically left my life: super late period, tender breasts, nausea. I asked a friend of my mom’s for advice on abortion — she said she would help me but first I needed to be sure that this is what I wanted. My mom, so passive during this entire ordeal, only asked me to really consider it because the emotional scars would be there forever. My little brother, angrily said there was no way I would be having a child of that man. So I sat with this and more for a little while, waiting for a friendly nurse to give my mom a set of pregnancy tests for me, and thought about the decision I had to make should the results prove positive…

Entonces mi pequeñita, this is what I thought in that massively minuscule moment of my life:

  • If you were ever born I wanted to name you Victoria. Loved that name at the time and its grandiose etymology… to have a little Nike sleeping, laughing, nourishing, and playing in my protective arms. A warm bundle of tenderness.
  • I imagined you with soft curly dark chestnut hair, almond-shaped eyes with semi-epicanthic eyelids, dimples, a round face, trigueña complexion, a contemplative nature, and a drive for exploration and adventure. Understanding, of course, that at the end you would be your singular self.
  • Though neglected before, now I truly cared about proper nutrition for my body – just because of the idea of you depending on me. Now I worried about working out in unhealthy ways, eating poorly or restricting calories unnecessarily.
  • I truly hoped it would be easy for me to breastfeed you, so we could bond even more strongly.
  • I thought about you growing up in a healthy, stable environment where you could find support from several adults with plenty of children to play with. So moving back with family in Colombia seemed like a plan that needed to happen right after graduating Uni.
  • When it came to dancing you could have my alpargatas (espadrilles) from when I was a child, and I could teach you cumbia, mapalé, joropo, salsa, tango and more.
  • Spanish was definitely going to be your mother tongue. You had your choice of languages to pick from any branch of the family, in case you wanted to add any. I definitely wanted to take you with me on my travels to visit family and show you off around the globe.
  • I also hoped you would not favor the color purple, as a lot of little children do, because I am mildly porphyrophobic.
  • Most importantly, I wanted to encourage your humanities, math and science skills for a robust education, so you could attend a prestigious university. I decided right then and there that enrolling you in Le Lycée Français of my mom’s city back in Colombia would give you the best foundation or you could be an Augustinian like your mami.

But mi retoñito, these fantasies had to come to a halt. With colossal clarity I realized I was a child myself, studying for midterms and finals and writing research papers in the middle of fall semester, a sophomore in college who had a long way to go on her higher education journey to be an engaged global citizen. Having you would have precariously postponed a lot of things in my life that would have guaranteed your financial, emotional, and intellectual stability. With more than 7 billion people on earth, I saw that any narcissistic desire to add to the gene pool was completely unnecessary and irresponsible. I knew, even back then, how limited natural resources were straining the very fabric of societies — why would I put you through that? And if you were going to benefit from privileges I grew up with in South America, why would I add to the problem and prop up unfair elitist systems, from which I know to have unwittingly benefited from? And, in the middle of all this, not knowing your paternal genetic history but having an inkling based on my harrowing days with him, I was probably facing raising you with mental health issues I was simply too ill prepared to deal with.

Mi vida you deserved better, much better.

A young and constantly-unsure-of-herself mother would have been a disaster for your infancy even if I stabilized later. What psychological damage would I have caused for you later in life? would you be anxious and/or avoidant as an adult because of me? would you be depressed because of me? would you hate me because of my recklessness with a man I barely knew? How would we navigate the fact that I didn’t want his involvement in our lives at all? More terrifying still, what if you wanted to connect with him in the future, against my cooperation, warnings and desires?

So I let go of you my milk and honey child, my Calima ray of sunshine, my Caribbean sea breeze, my most genuine love… to be free, to not suffer anything at all, and to peacefully live in the depths of my soul and my silence.

P.S: Many years later he found me on Facebook. To this day, I do not know how he managed to do so after all the work I did to make my profile private and preemptively block him.

His message read, “Just thought I’d say hello :-)”. It was dated April 24, 2011. But I would not discover it in the ”other” inbox until two years later, almost to the date.

I was in disbelief that someone could have so little insight and exist so depleted of compassion to try to engage a former ex they detested and almost destroyed. But, in my panic and terror, my wonderful partner at the time helped me re-center and realize that I was safe and that this message had been inconsequential, after all.

My Queenie, you had been protectively set free by me…but now I was also finally on my way to freedom.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!