Sharing Her Story

SportsMap's Seymour opens up about dealing with the aftermath of rape

Holly Seymour does a lot of media work for SportsMap, GowMedia and her own web site, Courtesy photo

Editor's note: Holly Seymour is the talented host of Sports on The Rocks and a frequent contributor to Gow Media and SportsMap.  In this piece, she shares a story of being raped by an athlete and dealing with the aftermath.

That day was supposed to be perfect. V picked me up, we had the windows down and our music blaring. We were taking selfies and making snap videos on our way over the causeway. My fake boyfriend FaceTimed me when we got to the island to remind me to have a good time. I still remember him smiling and laughing at us joking on our way into the bar. We sat at our usual table outside to tan. We ordered our usual vodka waters and bitched about how annoyed we were that we forgot to bring the Adderal. The rest of our friends showed up a few hours later. We were having the best time just enjoying the sun, good music and lots of booze. 

I checked my social media and I had a random message from you. We never talk, players don’t associate with media outside of the facilities. You asked where I was and if you could join. I half drunk replied. I was so in the moment that I told you sure, not even realizing you were supposed to be on a flight to your game. I didn’t think you would really drive down from the city and come, nor did I care.

I kept partying and enjoying my friends. When you showed up, we had already been drinking for hours. I remember asking if you wanted a beer. You ordered a bucket. On my tab. How rude, right? I didn’t care though because I was countless vodkas in. I probably would have ordered the entire bar for anyone who asked. You didn’t stay long. You and your two friends asked what was next on our agenda. Drunk me suggested we all go back to my place and order pizza… and drink more, of course. I rode with you while V followed us. That was my first mistake, but who counts mistakes when you’re drunk living life? The rest of my friends wanted to finish their drinks and close tabs before they came back to my place. The pizza came. We all ate. 

Then you went into my room and called me from the living room. When I came in, you closed the door. I remember still being dazed and confused as to why you called me away from my company. You pushed me against the door and tried to kiss me. I turned my cheek and attempted to go back into the living room. V was alone with your friends and I didn’t care to be alone with YOU. But you didn’t let me. You sat me on my bed and tried to mess with me. I kept trying to leave. You forced yourself onto me. I told you to stop. I told you so many times. You kept telling me to be quiet. I kept trying to push you off of me and begged you AGAIN to stop. For the second time in my life i was scared of a man. But this was a different scared. This was forced. I wanted to fight back, all I had to do was scream but it’s like my body shut down. You continued to have your way with me. I remember tears coming down my cheeks and you just saying “shh, it’s OK.” But it wasn’t OK.

Those few minutes felt like a lifetime to me. I froze and everything else went blank. When you finished you had the audacity to use my restroom to clean up. I grabbed the closest piece of clothing on my floor that I could find. When we came out of my room your friends knew what happened, they could tell by my face. V was gone. You and your friends left. 

I sat on my floor alone crying and in shock. My other friends finally walked into my apartment thinking we were still all partying. I was now just naked on my bedroom floor curled up like a little girl scared and unable to talk. I managed to call my sister, I still don’t know how. B came to me first and she didn’t even have to ask me what was wrong. N called the police and R wrapped me in my robe. The officer that arrived was someone I knew from school. I was so embarrassed and so ashamed. I refused to tell her who did it. She gave me a case number and insisted I go to the hospital for testing and to file. I didn’t want to go. I still didn’t want to move. My friends made me. 

I thought the actual rape was the worst part. It wasn’t. The hospital gave me a handful of pills that immediately made me sick. I had to go into a private room where a social worker asked me questions and tried to take pictures of my body. I couldn’t do it. The whole time she was asking me questions I was staring at the hideous ceiling tiles covered with construction paper butterflies that kids had made. I suppose it was to help children who’d been molested feel like they were in a more happy place, that they were safe. But they weren’t. And neither was I. Nothing felt safe anymore. I walked out and refused to let the social worker perform the stupid rape kit or take her stupid pictures of my naked body. My body that had already been exposed a few hours earlier. My stomach was hurting, my head was pounding. I was dizzy and shaky from the stupid pills I had to eat to kill whatever may have been inside of me from you. 

I sat in the passenger seat while B drove us home that night. R held my hand from the back seat while I tried to cry as quietly as possible. I insisted I stay home alone. I’m a big girl, I can handle it. Besides, the humiliation was unbearable. I wanted to be alone. And for the next two days, I was. I didn’t move from my couch except to throw up or use the bathroom. A good friend of mine had been calling my phone since the day at the bar. He finally showed up at my apartment. When I let him in and went back to my couch without saying a word, he sat me up and made me talk. I said the bare minimum. He wanted to kill you. He told me if I ever told him your name he would make sure you never touch a woman again. 

Don’t worry, I wouldn’t say your name because you’re not worth it. It’s been a little over a year and you’re still not worth it. You will never be worth sh--. After taking a few games off from covering the team, I finally decided you’re not going to stop me from what I love. Covering sports. At first it was hard being back because no one knew. No one but you and I. Honestly, I felt disgusted every time I walked into that stadium. I felt dirty because of what you did to me, what you took from me. I hoped and prayed to God that you didn’t brag to the other guys and make it seem like I wanted you. I work hard for my reputation. I never wanted you. I never even had your f------ phone number. 

You’re probably wondering why I never told the police your name. All of my friends are. I did that for me, not for you. Don’t ever think I didn’t want you locked up or known as a rapist. I didn’t want MY name being out there. I didn’t want to be the helpless victim associated with you. Here comes my shame again. But I’m getting better now. And every time I walk past you or see you in the locker room, I look directly at you. Because I’m not afraid of you. I want you to know that what you’ve done to me, I will never forget. But in reality, you only made me stronger. Yeah, I still have nights where I have trouble sleeping, or moments during my day when I stop and have to refocus because something triggered that night. But I’m learning more about myself than I’ve ever known. Each day I get stronger and more aware of my surroundings. I would thank you, but an f--- you is more appropriate. 

I’m finally sharing this because I can. And I’m proud that over a year later, I can finally admit that this happened to me. I still blame myself but I’ll get over that too. This isn’t my fault. I hope that women who’ve experienced this traumatic hell will be able to realize it too. No matter what, we didn’t deserve this.

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Can Hunter Brown replace an Astros legend like Peña did? Composite image by Brandon Strange.

It’s official. Justin Verlander’s time with the Houston Astros has come to an end after he agreed to a two-year, $86.7 million deal to be the newest pitcher for the New York Mets.

Now with the 39-year-old, soon to be 40-year-old, in a different shade of blue and orange, Houston’s starting pitching rotation has completely turned over a new leaf. What exactly is next for the group?

Verlander, who joined the Astros at the last hour in 2017, helped lead Houston to two World Series championships, and he was a key figure in the organization during his tenure. His latest season, coming off Tommy John Surgery, was nothing short of sensational.

He won his third AL Cy Young award by unanimous vote. He led Houston with a 1.75 ERA, a WHIP of 0.83, and an 18-4 record in his starts. In the postseason, Verlander’s run was filled with more ups and downs, but he also accomplished new accolades, including getting his first career win in the World Series in the pivotal Game Five. Replacing his production will be a tough task.

The Astros, overall, are in great position with their starting rotation. Framber Valdez presumably slides in as the new No. 1, although he is in arbitration with the team. The same goes with Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy, all of whom showed they can start, and who are also in arbitration or close to entering it.

Lance McCullers Jr. is the only starting pitcher with a long-term deal in place as of now, however, his health and ability to stay on the mound for Houston has been a long-time concern. The name that is interesting for the Astros is Hunter Brown.

The 24-year-old appeared in 10 games for the Astros in 2022, including three in the postseason. Coincidentally, Houston won every game in which he made an appearance. In the short sample size, Brown pitched in only 20.1 innings with a 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a 2-0 record in the regular season.

Most importantly, Brown showed flashes of brilliance in the postseason. The most noteworthy performance came in Game Three of the American League Divisional Series against the Seattle Mariners.

With no room for error, the young pitcher came into a scoreless game knowing that one swing of the bat could hand Houston a loss. He not only managed to control the nerves in front of a hostile crowd that hadn’t seen a postseason game in over 20 years, and he pitched two scoreless innings, only allowing one hit.

Again, only a short resumé, but impressive nonetheless. Brown should have a rotation spot secured. Ultimately, the Astros need to see if his flashes were previews of a young, bright career. Best-case scenario, Brown could become the 2023 version of Jeremy Peña, which would be incredible for the Astros.

Owner Jim Crane said a week ago during José Abreu’s introduction news conference, Houston can never have enough pitching. The Astros could kick the tires on available free agents.

With the Astros saving $43 million in 2023 had they matched the Mets’ offer for Verlander, and Crane also saying the biggest needs were an outfield player and a catcher, it would not make sense for Houston to spend big on another pitcher, especially one that would be fourth or fifth in the rotation.

However, it would make sense to bring one on a budget, with the promise of competing for another championship.

Some names worth taking a look at could be Nathan Eovaldi, who is from Houston, Noah Syndergaard, who the Astros saw in the World Series, and Corey Kluber. All three pitchers had an ERA of 4.34 or less in the 2022 season, and according to Sportico, are anticipated to have a market value less than $17 million, which also offers the Astros flexibility to improve other positions.

What the Astros do, only Crane, and probably Jeff Bagwell, know. One thing is for sure, regardless if a new face is brought in or not, Brown deserves a spot in Houston’s 2023 starting rotation.

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