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Kogee Clark

I would like to thank you all for the opportunity to share my story….My name is Kogee Clark, I am a 37 year old Muscogee Creek citizen from Oklahoma, I am the mother of 4 beautiful girls. I have been married for four years and to my husband Bryan, and we live in McAlester Oklahoma with our two daughters Seneca and Imaiya.

I grew up in a very dysfunctional home where domestic violence, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse were present. I was raised primarily by my mother and my step-father. He was my half-sisters father. He came into my life when I was about 4 or 5 years of age, passed away when I was 21 years old. I choose not to disclose his name, for the fact that I’m not here to point blame.

My parents both worked Monday thru Friday, on the weekends that was another story. Try to imagine, being a little girl that woke up on Saturdays to two drunk parents. Generally, I woke to the sound of physical fighting, the sound of scuffling, the sound of someone being slapped, sometimes it would be the screaming and crying coming from my Mom. I would have to make sure my little sister was safe. There were times, I would wake up to one of their drunk friends trying to have their way with me, but those were their friends, and we learned to keep our mouths shut, about what happened while they were drunk. If they both weren’t drunk and arguing, then they were just arguing.

The tension in my home was so unbearable. Often times my mom, sister, and I would rarely speak to each other, we did not want to upset my step father. We all walked on eggshells. They continued to drink and argue for years, throughout me and my sister’s childhood. On a few occasions leaving us home unattended, or with a sitter while they went to the bar. We never knew when, or who they would be bringing back to our house with them.

I remember one Christmas Eve night, they told us they would be back in an hour or two, they had to go Christmas Shopping. Well, several hours came and went, and they never came home. It got later and later, and our parents never called or showed. I must have only been 11 or 12 years old, my sister maybe 5years old. We waited up for them to come home all night, panicked, worried, and scared. When we woke the next morning, it was Christmas Day. I panicked, I began to call relatives, and the hospitals. I was so afraid they were dead, or something bad had happened, it was Christmas! Where were they?..I didn’t know what to do, I began to call people in their address book, and had finally located them. They weren’t dead, or hurt, or in a hospital, they were just drunk. They had left my sister and I on Christmas day all alone. While all the other kids I knew, were opening their new gifts, waking up Christmas day with a houseful of family, we were home with no Christmas, and parentless. The sense of abandonment was so profound from that point on, I think that is when I realized I was on my own. I called my running coach, we spent Christmas day with his family. They were so generous. He picked us both up and took us home for the day. They threw together a few gifts, to make us feel welcome, giving us to a safe place for that day. When my parents finally came home, they acted like it was no big deal. It was never spoke about, or addressed, it was brushed under the rug, but still had lasting effects, that would impact me throughout my life.

At about the age of 14, I began to rebel and act out. I was crying out for help, I did not know how to communicate what was going on with me emotionally. I was misbehaving at school, being disrespectful to teachers for no reason, and acting out in class.

I was sent to live with my grandmother, where I began to rebel against her rules as well. I was going to be sent back to my mother house when I came forward with the truth about what had been happening to me. I had been being sexually abused, by my stepfather.

I was taken to DHS, I was placed in tribal custody/foster care. I was placed in an adolescent behavioral facility, after coming forward, with the truth of what was happening in my home. I was labeled a defiant teen. After leaving the facility, I went to live with family, who couldn’t handle me, and they had me leave their home. I was then placed in a boarding school, which I was kicked out of for going AWOL. I was then placed in a group home for Indian children, then I was moved back in with relatives.

I attended 6 schools between 8th and 11th grade. My life had been so unstable. My mom stayed married to her husband, while I was shipped from placement to placement. I was never anywhere longer than 12 months. I never knew, when my caseworker would show up out of the blue, and I was leaving again. Although I missed my family, mostly my Mom and little sister, who stayed in the home, I met some pretty amazing people. I met other children that were in the foster care system, like me.

I eventually aged out of foster care system at 18, and was on my own. I began to party, and live the same way my parents had lived for years and years. I became what I hated. Thinking back about how normal, I thought my lifestyle was. Everything I was doing was ok to me, when it really wasn’t. I had my first child at the age of 21. From the age of 18-27, I was back and forth from Oklahoma to Houston with my daughter.

On one of my trips back to Oklahoma for my niece’s birth, I decided, that I would go party with a so called friend. Someone that I had known for several years…someone I thought I could trust. After several hours of drinking, I realized that the person I had come with, was no longer at the party. He had left me there. I was then, taken into a room, it was there that I was raped. This lasted for hours. People were in the other room carrying on with the party. I knew, that if I would have screamed for help, it could only make things worse for me. I did as I was told. After hours of being in kept that bedroom, I had to do something drastic to get me out of there. I began to go into an asthma attack, and hyperventilate. I was let out of the room. I was crying, and asked one of the people at the party to get an ambulance, they had no idea I was being held in a room. The paramedics arrived, and then I was taken to the hospital. That is where I told the truth about being raped. It was early in the morning, a special rape nurse had come in to perform the examination. Due to the physical trauma (bruising and swelling began to set in) I had endured throughout the assault, the nurse was not able to perform the examination, she collected what physical evidence she could, and kept my clothing. I was released and was taken home by a family member after leaving the hospital, I went home to my mother’s house later that day, I was contacted by the rapist. He began to prank call my mother’s house antagonizing my family. I was afraid they would retaliate, and did not want to put my family in danger.

Since I was currently living in Houston, and was only in Tulsa for a visit, I caught the next flight out… I could hardly walk in the airport my oldest daughter had to brace my steps on and off the plane.

When I got back to Houston, the reality of what had happened, really began to affect me, “YOU WERE RAPED!, “……. This keep playing over in my head. All the hurt and emotion had set in like a ton of bricks. I felt like that little girl being traumatized all over again, a child without a voice or anyone to protect me. All the emotion I could feel for a while was; guilt, shame, panic, fear, confusion, shock, all jumbled together. I could not process what had just happened. I began to drink alone, during the day and get high, on pills, cocaine, whatever I could get my hands on, my addiction was so bad I began hiding it. I was using just to be able to make it through the day. I attempted suicide twice, that year. On one attempt my mother was notified, and I woke up in the hospital. I was on a downward spiral fast. I was so ashamed, how could I ever go back home, why did that happen to me? I was away from family, or anyone that I felt comfortable enough to talk about the assault to. I never talked about what happened to me, my situation just got worse and worse. I was scared and afraid of everything and everybody. I went into isolation, I locked myself in my house and began to sink into a deep dark depression.

On top of being sexually abused as a young girl, by multiple men, the fact that my mother chose my abuser over me, not feeling protected, all the years of traumatic events, had just sat piling up, and being added to.

I continued to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol for many years to come. I would eventually lose custody of my oldest two daughters.

I was placed in drug court, and sent to a rehab facility in McAlester Oklahoma. I completed the program, but soon relapsed after leaving the rehab, I began to use again, I lost my children, I lost my job, and I lost my home, and found out I was pregnant. I found my only option was a local homeless shelter for women. I could not get clean by myself, and Seneca’s father was not ready to be a parent. It was there that I learned to love myself. I made a decision to stop being angry and forgive my abusers, my mother, and what was profound in my spiritual awakening was the way that other women embraced me, women that prayed for me, and helped me…. I found that God, had never left me through it all. He had carried me all the way through these horrible events in my life, from my childhood sexual abuse, all the way until I was finally safe from myself and all my self-destructive behaviors. My soul was completely worn out, I was so tired, I slept like I had not slept in years. I was so tired of fighting the world by myself. There were so many times I should have been dead. Only now, do I understand this was all a part of my testimony, this was my message of survival.

Finally, I was able to bond with so many other victims of sexual abuse and rape. We were able to be brutally honest with ourselves, and find closure with the events that had taken place in our lives. It felt so good to be set free from the bondage I had carried with me for years and years. Finally, I was able to heal from being violated, and were able to look at the impact that it had on our lives.

It has been a been a long, hard journey , I am no longer ashamed of my circumstances, and now look at the hurt and pain as a part of my past, as a learning experience to educate others on the dangers of this world.

I am moving forward still making progress on myself, I am working to reach out to other victims that may be lost the same way I was. Sharing my story helps me heal, because that’s what healed me. Just knowing, there were other women out there like me, that there is nothing to be ashamed of.

My message informing other women of the dangers we need to be aware of, and that you are able to find closure after an assault. Looking back, I didn’t ever think I would be left at that house by my friend,or abandoned by my parents. I was so naïve about the reality and dangers I was putting myself in. It is my obligation to reach out to other women, so that young girls, will think twice about what kinds of situations they are putting themselves in, and maybe they will not have to experience the things I have had to. Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

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Hey Auntie! My non-Native friends don’t see why it’s such a big deal that the R-word name has been banned. How do I explain this?

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