I just came from two hours of a very emotionally intense sexual assault support group I’ve been attending for the last six weeks and I’ve learned two things:

1. Don’t get raped. Now I realize it’s not a choice, that assault and rape are about taking away the control of another person. But if you find yourself in a situation where you think “Huh, this isn’t what I want…” but either the voices in your head or the voice of your attacker says “You asked for this/this is your fault/you owe this to him/me.”




You imagine me right now, full of impassioned anger with my hands on your shoulders and you FIGHT LIKE HELL. I wish I would have fought.  The worst that would have happened is he would have gotten angry and hurt me. But hey, he did hurt me. And he did knock me unconscious — and I’ve been working through a thousand layers of guilt, shame, and blame ever since.

“Don’t get raped” may be the stupidest thing I’ve ever said in my almost 10 years of doing this, but if ONE person reads this and finds themselves in an assault situation I hope they know that fighting is an option. Yes, you may get hurt, but I would hope any physical wounds that may occur would heal faster that the emotional and mental pain of a consent violation crossing over into a sexual assault.

I’d take broken bones and a black eye over what I’ve been through the last couple years.

I may know you, I may not…but I do know this — I don’t want to see the magnificence of any more of you dimmed by the selfishness of another. You are so magnificent in a way that is unique to you, and I hope you believe that that magic only you possess is worth physically fighting for if it ever comes to that.

2. If you have already been hurt, or for whatever reason you aren’t able to fight back if something does happen to you: GET HELP. Cody left work today to drive me to therapy because there was no other way I was going to go. Therapy sucks. Individual, group, all of it. It sucks and I hate it. It hurts and it’s raw and it’s vulnerable and I freak out a little bit every time I have to go.

But I am getting better.

I am so. much. stronger.

I never could have imagined I’d be where I am now with everything in less than 4 months. When I first met with someone they told me there’s no possible way of knowing when things would get better, but if I did my work things would eventually improve.

I saw improvement as an impossibility.

I was convinced my only option was to learn how to cope with this entirely new and uncomfortable life.

If you’re here in Indianapolis the place I’ve been going to is called Prevail, it’s completely free for victims of domestic or sexual abuse and the advocates there have changed my life. I’ll never be able to repay them for the life they’ve helped me reclaim, but someday I will be able to do something. All I can do now is be an example that the work they are doing is working and that it is worth it. To the donors and foundations that keep Prevail free for everyone, thank you.

This post won’t mean much to many of you, but to one of you it may be everything. The thing that keeps you safe, or convinces you to get help.

You’re totally worth it. I promise.

Four years ago my sister had her first baby, Tayden.

Long story short, all 9 pounds of him made it out after 36+ hours of labor, 2.5 hours of pushing, and a dozen other complications that basically left my sister a wreck both physically and mentally.

I got to the hospital just after her early Tuesday where she was already 90% and a 5. (For those of you who don’t speak birth, her body had already done half the work of getting the baby out before she even changed into her gown.) Her epidural was set within a half hour and before an hour had even passed she mentioned to the nurse she was feeling a lot of pressure.

The nurse checked her and said “Oh. Well. That’s because there’s a baby down there trying to throw herself a birthday party.”

On came the lights, in came two nurses, a doctor and our mom and my sister was pushing within minutes.

Only this time instead of 150 minutes of pushing, she pushed for around 17.

And instead of her baby being rushed off with nurses to be attended to by a doctor, she was placed skin to skin and able to remain there for over an hour.

It was amazing.

It was everything she deserved.

I’m fairly certain she couldn’t believe that was all it took.

That’s really all there was to it.

Just like that I had a perfect little niece to call mine.

Her name is Jovie, her middle name is Kay after her grandpa that passed in December, and she shares a birthday with the best aunt that ever existed.

She also managed to come 21 hours before my flight departed SLC, so she’s already proven herself to be a punctual people pleaser.

Jovie? I love you. I love your mama, your poppa and that crazy brother of yours. My heart swallowed you whole this week and I can’t wait to see who you become.
Miss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss JovieMiss Jovie
Miss Jovie

Think of the most terrible thing that has ever happened to you.

Think of what changed after the terrible thing happened.

Are you able to see the good things that happened in the wake of (and as a result of) disaster as genuinely “good” things?

To the point you wouldn’t go back and undo the terrible thing that happened because what you have become since is so much more?

Or do you see them as rewards for surviving?

I would never undo my depression, my difficult pregnancies, or my battle with infertility — the lessons learned and benefits gained are too great.

But I would undo my assault in a heartbeat if I could. There is nothing I can point to that makes this much pain worth it.

Yet, at least.

It's my 30th Birthday. (April 28th)

Hi. I’m Casey, a recovering optimist.

There is the version of what happened that I convinced myself of before I told anyone else about what happened. I did it in a desperate act of self preservation. If I convinced myself it wasn’t that bad, maybe it would just go away. I would forget about it. It wouldn’t affect me everyday.

You have either been to the Indy 500 or you have not. And until you’ve been you can’t fully comprehend the sights, and the smells, and how witnessing such an event changes every other sporting event or mention of car racing forever.

When I talk about my assault I talk about it in the same sense as calling the Indy 500 ‘just a car race.’ It’s safer that way. It keeps all the little things that happened, that hurt, in a safe little bubble where they can’t be reached.  Details like the door opening from the right or the sharp buzzing pain I felt when he cracked my head against the wall don’t come rushing back when I tell my version of the story. Basically I took all the awful parts, boxed them up and locked them away three levels deep where I could pretend they didn’t actually exist and hope they would just disappear.

spring @ the oldfields-lilly gardens. Indianapolis

I started listening to Tori Amos again for the first time in over 15 years. Tori was my life in high school, and if you would have told me that I would remember every single word from Under the Pink after not hearing the album for 15 years I would have thought you were crazy. But I do remember. I don’t know where I stored that information with everything that has gone on, but I remember. And in remembering the words I remember the life events that surrounded my obsession with Tori Amos. My favorite sweater, the boy who broke my heart, what it felt like driving my first car up Emigration Canyon with the windows down and nowhere to be.

I’m in therapy. And the person I’m working with is easily the reincarnation of every good and loving thing that has ever existed in my life, brought together to help work through everything that happened and everything I have tried to stuff down and ignore.

It hurts.

It’s scary.

It’s hard.

I’d rather not.

I was doing a really good job of ignoring it.

She said I had a magnificent gift of self preservation. That I was really good at putting up walls, defenses and coping mechanisms in place to protect myself. I said “Thank you.” she replied “It’s not a compliment.”

She explained my assault happened in a space and time where I had no defenses, no walls, no protection, no choice and that’s also where my recovery needs to happen as well. Not from the safe place I’ve created for myself since then.

Ugh. She’s right.

Just the thought of going back makes me nauseous. Blergh.

But it has to happen.

I like helping people. I like volunteering for stuff. Particularly when it comes to feeding people. Whenever sign-up sheets went around in church for a pitch-in, potluck, taking a meal to a family, or hosting the missionaries for dinner I always signed up. For me, feeding people is the easiest and best way to show someone you care about them.


If someone needs something, and I have a something that I don’t particularly need or use? I’m happy to hand over that something. It’s easy for me. I like doing it. It’s just a thing I do. It’s not a big deal. (It’s kind of how society should work, isn’t it?)

At my peak of helping others was also the peak of my mental health. I WAS SOOOO GOOD! Just sailing along with little trips here and there.

Well, surprise! After last year helping people became hard. I still tried to do it, but I never bothered to take care of myself first so helping others simply exhausted me. What’s worse is it took away from what I was able to give my family as well. You’ve probably heard the announcement on airplanes “Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others?” Same applies to life in general. It’s not selfish, it’s common sense.

I also began to pull away from emotionally difficult relationships. I certainly didn’t need anyone else making me feel worse, I’m perfectly capable of making myself feel like garbage, thanks! Slowly things started to improve and with therapy I can actually feel the old me begin to bubble up. Several people have already mentioned how much happier I seem, and that means an awful lot to me.

This is where things get tricky. Pieces of the old me are starting to show up. I am happier. But I am still not strong enough to wade in the emotional struggles of others.  I am an empath. Always have been. Addie is one as well. For the last year I have actually hated being an empath because it has made me such a delicious target to awful people throughout my life. Being an empath isn’t a bad thing, but right now I really need to take care of myself so I’ve learned if I can’t improve a situation with a sandwich? Sorry, I’m out.

Our first trip to Cleveland won't be our last. We may even wait over an hour for fried grilled cheese sandwiches again. Special thanks to @mryjhnsn and her family for showing us around and making sure we left in love with her city. Thanks to all of you wh

The good news is I can fix a lot of things for a lot of different people with a sandwich.  So can you. There’s thousands of different sandwiches for thousands of different situations, and I’m happy to provide whatever sandwich is needed when I’m available.

Pastrami sandwich from Shapiro's deli in Indianapolis. Even better than it looks. Promise.

So if you’re an empath, or a giver, or a helper, or a doer, but it is really in your best interest to take care of yourself right now? Ask yourself if a situation can be improved with a sandwich. Sandwiches mean a lot to people. (So do cheeseburgers, burritos, gyros, and falafel.) If it’s not a situation that can be improved in any way with any form of sandwich? Maybe step away.

what I had for lunch.

Maybe have a sandwich yourself.

I’ve been processing what happened for over a year and half, I maybe haven’t been processing it in the most healthy and helpful way given I was doing it all by myself for the first year — but the fact is when I tell someone “I was sexually assaulted” the sting of those words has been numbed by time for me. I’ve come a long way in overcoming “the act” (referring to the actual physical assault) because it was physical, it was a thing that happened and it was a thing that ended. Much like a car accident, there’s the actual crash and in a matter of seconds the crash itself is over but in those few seconds your life can be changed forever.

You can even walk away from a car crash physically fine and those who love you will breathe a sigh of relief that you’re okay, but what isn’t taken into account (and sometimes not even realized by you until much later) is that you’re now scared to drive, you avoid certain scenarios, the sound of an accident can set off a whole set of anxious feelings and upset. They’re all triggers, and they all deserved to be recognized — the problem is unless someone else has also been in an accident most people won’t understand what you’re going through. “You’re fine! You lived! What do  you mean you don’t want to drive on snowy roads at night?” Obviously you can’t avoid snowy roads at night forever, but there will be a time when winter driving will be harder on you.

It’s all the emotional stuff that surrounds the act that is hard.

The shame, the embarrassment, the guilt. It’s gross and I hate it.

It’s why I didn’t tell Cody for over a year. I didn’t want him to think of me differently, or worse find out that he thought it was my fault and blame me for what happened.

Was it the right thing to do? Probably not, but you go ahead and watch any Shonda Rhimes show and point out a single time when her characters act in a completely logical way after something goes wrong. (I realize my life is not How To Get Away With Murder or Scandal, but it’s real easy to sit on a couch and holler “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST ACT NORMAL?” when it’s not your life.)

The specifics of what happened to me have their own category on hardcore or “dark” porn sites. The thing that broke me is titillating to many. What has been my nightmare for a long time is a fantasy of others. That’s a very strange dichotomy to work through in the sexually saturated world we currently live in.

I’ve learned over the last year that there are two ways people generally deal with traumatic events similar to what happened to me.

The first is managing to make yourself so busy with so many other things, people, activities, and distractions that you simply don’t have time to think about anything else but running away from what happened. Hoping the pain will just fade or go away the busier you stay. I’ve seen a lot of people go on to do great and creative things while running away from terrible pasts, the problem is when they are alone or still for too long everything comes crashing down a hundred times worse.

The second is quite the opposite, and it is the one I have been stuck in for over a year.

I went into hiding.

If I didn’t leave the house or interact with anyone I couldn’t get hurt again. No one would be able to get close to me. I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable or feel scared or ever wonder if it will happen again. I once trusted people, a lot. I was kind and outgoing and was always the one championing the benefit of the doubt.

I used to go out in bright colors with my face towards the sun.

Now I go out fully covered with my eyes down so I don’t have triggers, flashbacks or worse — see him. Or someone that looks like him. Or someone who knows him. Or something that reminds me of him.

I stay quiet so I don’t draw attention to myself.

People have told me that by staying quiet and locked away I’m letting him win. That the best thing I could possibly do is pick myself up and become even stronger than before as a proverbial middle finger to him and what he did to me.

You will either understand this or you won’t — the idea of building myself back up gives me the same sense of dread as threatening to drop me in the middle of the ocean without so much as a life preserver.

My insides have been nothing but a knot of anxiety, fear, and sadness for over a year. I don’t remember the last time I was truly happy for any extended period of time.

I don’t say this because I want sympathy, and the truth is I am trying to get better.

In fact, I am fighting like hell and I’m fucking exhausted.

I say this because I never thought I would be here. That I would be so damaged from the actions of another that I would consider myself completely broken. A pile of pieces slugging through a life I once knew and only participate in out of habit.

It’s hard to go forward without really knowing what happened.

Last year I was sexually assaulted.

What has been worse for me than the physical trauma of the act has been the deep psychological damage. The best way I have been able to describe it to anyone is that an electric mixer was put to my brain and instead of a smooth, solid brain with wiggles and curves I have what resembles a pile of burnt scrambled eggs.

I didn’t tell Cody  about what happened until a few months ago. Together we began telling those closest to us and responses ranged from “You need to go back to church and pray harder” to complete apathy, like I should be over it already. For anyone who has ever been through rape or sexual assault, you’ll know victim shaming and blaming is a very real thing and the reason so many people stay quiet.

So now those of you who have been around for awhile know why I broke, and why I didn’t talk about it.

I don’t want to be an uplifting voice for violence against women. I don’t want to be some hero survivor inspiration story.

I just want my fucking life back.