MONDAY MELTDOWN: Healing From Sexual Assault: Zac Gandara

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Fellow Loser and listener Brittany writes in to share her meltdown about the sexual assault she was a victim of and how it showed her that she had no voice. How she's healing and making her voice heard now!


Listener Meltdown Brittany

Hi Zac!

I just started a longer commute, and instead of listening to all the crap on the radio I've been binge-listening to episodes of your show. I've always listened as episodes have caught my eye but seriously I've been so invested lately. Especially the Monday Meltdowns!

I'm having a bit of a Monday meltdown myself and felt this was a safe place to share. My therapist is on hiatus so I'm having a bit of rough time. 6 years ago I was the victim of sexual assault. It was graphic,  horrific, painful both physically and emotionally and has had lasting effects.

PTSD is one of the worst. I didn’t know why at the time but through the last year of therapy I've discovered why I handled it so strangely. You see, I was so afraid of "image" that I didn't even want to call my dad to pick me up. Instead, I took a 25 min shameful ride home with my attacker. Shared with my dad that the "date " was just ok but we didn't have much chemistry and then took an hour-long shower and went to work 5 hours later...I suffered horrible nightmares and panic attacks.

When my now Husband and I became intimate, I would have violent flashbacks that really crippled us for a while. I wondered what had crippled me so much?

Why did I never turn him in? Why couldn't I share my story? Even with those I love, my friends, my family, my parents? Why was I so ashamed of something that was done TO me?!

It went back to an issue I had at church. I was in the high school youth program. I was part of student leadership and very active in my mega church. I was well known, well liked and of course, had to keep up an image. There was a guy who was like ten years + my senior and was on the alter ministry team of all places. He started by being friendly, wanting to pray with me, talk a bit after service, we were all in a similar group and seemed innocent.

Until one day he caught me by surprise. He kissed me in a busy hallway, and a lot of people saw. Rumors started going around that we were having sex and dating. (I was a virgin at the time and wore a purity ring) He started going to the service I went to, staring at me, waving at me, winking at me and catching me after service. I was so uncomfortable.  People kept talking, and I started having panic attacks at church.

I told my parents, and they said he was an alter minister and I was just taking it the wrong way. I told his overseeing pastor, and he insinuated the same thing but said he'd look into it. Nothing happened. I finally told my youth pastor.

I was extremely fortunate that the amazing --- was my pastor and actually took some action. I broke down to him for many days and finally he and a few other pastors I imagine discussed next steps. I didn't agree with the next steps as they included me having to confront him with Taylor there. I was so timid. So scared. And he, of course, denied it and said I was a girl with a crush and he was trying to let me down easy. He never came back but when I asked different pastors what was going to happen and what to expect they all said they couldn't discuss it with me and not to worry. My first taste of megachurch politics...

It was never the same for me there. That's when I learned I didn't have a voice and if I was getting unwanted Male attention, I must have done something to cause it. This really carried on with me as I was dealing with my assault.  I felt so dirty and so shameful.  It took everything in me to keep going.  I buried it and kept moving on with my life. And then a few weeks ago my attacker came into my place of work. Not knowing I worked there, not seeing me, making no contact whatsoever he opened pandora's box. Now everything is a trigger. The nightmares are back and my anxieties through the roof most days.

The good news is I'm finally dealing with it. No more metaphoric rug to sweep this under. Just daily self-healing and reflections. Self-care and zero tolerance for bullshit is my new frame of mind and honestly while I am still a praying, God fearing woman, I am no longer shackled by the shame and blame game of mega-church organized religion.

Thank you for what you do. Listening to your show encourages my self-care, makes me feel less crazy and honestly makes me laugh when I just want to cry. It gives me hope for a more inclusive humanity to raise my boys in and honestly I thought I liked you back when you were a guest speaker at my summer camp but you are way more legit and genuine now and I appreciate your journey!

Thanks for listening!

- Brittany



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