Trigger warning: Sexual abuse
June 8, 2017
I received mail earlier today, and have yet to open it. In the past I’d get hate mail from people who admired Aaron. Everything from people saying I should be executed, to death threats. There were even people who assumed I came on to Aaron and when he turned me down, I tried to kill him then pled rape to save my ass. Eventually, I stopped reading them and as they came, threw them away. It had been a few years since I’d received mail though, so I was tempted to open it. After what I assume was a few hours, I decided to rip open the envelope. Taking a deep breath, I unfolded the two-paged note and began to read.
First and foremost, let me assure you that I’m not a journalist nor am I a reporter. My name is Coretta Jenkins and I work at a law firm specializing in sexual assault cases. It’s taken me awhile to muster the courage to visit you because I knew exactly what you’d think the moment you saw my face. I know what happened to you. Not just that, I understand what happened to you. Everyone else may choose to believe that Aaron is a saint, but I know the truth. I know the truth because he did the same to me. Aaron met my older sister in the early 1990’s. Months prior to them meeting our mother was gunned down and robbed while walking to her car. Needless to say, my sister was vulnerable and submitted to the first man who gave her what she believed to be unconditional love. My sister and I were on our own after our mom passed. Fortunately for us, she was leaving a good paying job that night she was heading home. The suspect only got away with what she had on her, not what was in the house. So my sister and I maintained financially from her savings.
Once she became comfortable with Aaron he started spending the night. The abuse started shortly after that. I was only nine. 9-years-old when he started touching me. So Sunitha, again when I say I understand, I mean it.
Anyway, my purpose for coming to visit you, is because you deserve justice. You deserve to have your story not only told but heard. If you’ll let me, I want to help you. I’d like us to meet in order for me to go more in depth with how I plan to help you. I’ll close this letter by giving you my contact information. 202-555-5151. I hope to hear from you soon.
I was frozen with my mouth wide opened. I reread the letter numerous times just to make sure my eyes were not deceiving me. My palms were so sweaty that the paper began to soil. My heart started pumping so fast I was certain I was about to pass out. As the walls moved in on me, I felt death knocking on my cell. I struggled to the bars of my cell to call for help but it was useless, my voice was gone. Gasping for air, my eyes fluttered. This is what death feels like. All the years I spent being abused certainly felt like death, but this took the trophy.
I opened my eyes, blinking five times as they adjusted to the bright lights. At first, I thought I had died and gone to heaven but as I looked around I realized that I was in what I assumed was a prison hospital. I was shackled to the bed.
“What happened?” I asked the guard standing by the door.
“You had a panic attack and passed out.” When I didn’t respond he continued. “One of the guards was making her rounds and saw you laying on your cell’s floor. Once the help got to you, you were coming and going so we determined it was best for you to get looked at. Everything is fine but they’d like you to stay here overnight. You can go back to your cell in the morning.”
“Thanks.” I muttered.
I didn’t like hospitals or anything remotely similar to a hospital but the bed I was laying in was much more comfortable than the one in my cell. All I could think about was Coretta Jenkins and the letter I’d read right before passing out.
Should I call her? What if everything she wrote is a lie and she’s just looking for a story.
These were the thoughts swirling in my mind and I must confess I felt disgusted with myself for questioning if this woman had actually been one of Aaron’s victims. Another thought crossed my mind, how many girls did he take advantage of?
I began to feel sick at the thought but couldn’t get rid of it. After 20 minutes of losing touch with reality I brought myself back to Earth.
“I’ll call her.” I said out loud.
“What was that?” the guard questioned.
“Nothing. Thinking out loud.”
The next morning I was sent back down to my cell. As they escorted me, I prayed the letter was still there. It was. I decided to read it one more time before putting it in a safe place. My head was pounding from the myriad of thoughts coming and going. I needed to write or I was going to lose it.
June 9, 2017
Someone believes me. Someone believes my truth and I have no idea how to handle it. Part of me wants to cry because of all the suffering I’ve endured. I want to yell at every person who victim shamed, at every person who chose to turn away. I want to show them the letter that Coretta sent me. The other part of me is terrified; this woman may work for a law firm, but she’s powerless. She’s nothing more than another nigga to them, so how she’d be any true help, was a mystery to me. However, I’m still going to give her a call. It’ll be nice to speak with someone who’s not confined to a box or beating me just because they can. My first night locked up, I was slammed against the wall and punched in the stomach by a female guard. I still don’t know if it’s because she knew Aaron or because she felt she had the authority to do so. They still come around to fuck with me here and there but not as much as in the beginning. The other inmates here are ruthless. I’ve been jumped, stabbed, spit on, stolen from, and just about everything else you hear of in a women’s prison.
After everything Aaron did to me over the years, I had no power or faith in myself. I never stood up for myself so I was constantly being bullied in school. While I learned to tune it out, it had a severe impact on how I viewed myself. The women in here remind me a lot of the girls in school. They know they can hurt me because I don’t stick up for myself. At times I wonder how I’m still alive. I wonder why none of the guards have come into my cell at night and hanged me or why the two times I’ve been stabbed didn’t they poke deeply enough to where I’d bleed out.
Maybe these thoughts cross my mind because I’ve wanted to die on several occasions. Most days I feel like death would be better than the life I’ve lived.
Back to Coretta… when should I call her? After lunch would be perfect. I’ll write more later.
Closing my notebook, I waited the 30 minutes I knew I still had before lunch.
30 minutes later:
Heading towards the cafeteria, I walk past a chick we call Dia. She was one of the girls that actually seemed to like me. I’m not saying we were friends, but she hadn’t stabbed or beat me up yet.
She glared at me. “Wassup.”
I nodded and we went our separate ways. After getting my food and finding an empty table, I heard ruckus. I turned my head just in time to see Dia in another girls face. Oh shit. I knew she was about to beat some ass.
“You two, knock it off now!”, a guard named Leo ran over, throwing Dia to the ground.
I did just that. Forget about eating, I wasn’t about to risk getting my phone privileges taken away. I didn’t care for drama anyway so I was never one of those girls who crowded around when some shit was about to go down.
“I guess I’ll be calling sooner than intended.” I said aloud. Being in prison you learn to find comfort in solitude. I talked to myself so frequently I felt like one of the crackheads I used to see whenever Mama and I would go out for food.
This was it. I saw the guard that took me to visitation the other day.
“Excuse me!” I shouted.
She came over. “Yes inmate.”
“Can I make a call?”
She looked around before opening my cell and placing me in cuffs.
Once we reached the phone station she informed me I had 5 minutes because we were on lockdown due to the WWE match that almost took place earlier. With a confused expression on my face, I thanked her. I wasn’t sure why she was being kind, but I wasn’t about to complain.
I paused for a moment then dialed the number Coretta wrote down. My hands were shaking due to being nervous so I had a hard time holding the phone.
“Hello.” Her voice sounded angelic.
“Um… hi. Is this Coretta Jenkins?” I questioned.
“Sunitha? I’ve been praying you’d call.”
“I received your letter.” I didn’t know what else to say so we sat in silence, wasting one of the five minutes I had.
“I’m glad you called Sunitha. I really want to help you.”
I knew it’d be a bad idea to discuss this over the phone. “Can you come to the next visitation?”
We said our goodbyes and I hung up the phone.
“Thank you again.” I said to the guard.
She turned to look at me and I noticed a sadness in her eyes. A sadness that only people who have been through traumatic experiences could understand.
It was Thursday and we didn’t have visitation again until Tuesday. I’m a very impatient person so I knew I’d have to fight like hell to keep the waiting from killing me.
To be continued…