SURVIVING THE MEMORIES SITE FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
NICOLE'S STORY

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When I was a child, had to be younger than 5 or 6 because my parents were still together, my pediatrician molested me. I never knew what to call it and in fact until recently I thought what he did was a normal part of a physical exam. I don't know why I was in the room with him alone, I remember my mom always being there with me otherwise, but this one time that I remember so vividly she was not. I had on some sort of hospital gown or sheet and the doctor had taken my pulse, listened to my heart etc... Then he put his hand between my legs and touched me, I remember how cold his hand was. He stayed down there for awhile, moving around and feeling me. He had said, "I just need to make sure everything is alright down here." When he was done he said that everything was okay indeed. I remember his touch so vividly, in fact I can still feel it sometimes. I only remember that one instance, but was there more? So often child sexual abuse is repressed, hidden in our memories, sometimes never to see the light of day.

When I began to remember this in recent years,  I asked my mother about it. She said that she, “thinks she remembers something like that”. At that time I shrugged it off. It must not have been a big deal if she didn't remember it, and maybe I was just dreaming it up. Not too long after, the memories became more frequent and I began remembering more and more of the instance. I don't remember if it happened more than once, but I kept remembering that one day more and more vividly. I asked my mom again, and her response was the same. She said that I did tell her and it wasn’t a big deal, we just never went back to that doctor again. I was angry this time, because it seemed to me that this was something serious and I don't remember that she ever talked to me about it being wrong, and telling me that what he had done to me was wrong because I didn't think it was. I went into every physical expecting to be touched, examined there by the doctors. I suppose I just thought they weren't as thorough as the pediatrician. I was relieved because I had been very uncomfortable being touched there, in that way. I began to realize after the memories surfaced that my mother couldn’t have known, because would she really have let me go on thinking what he did was okay? Or could she have known, and was she too much in denial even then to admit what had happened was wrong and to help me see that and deal with it. She never had “that talk” with me, I never knew what was wrong or right and what to do if I felt something was wrong. Maybe she too assumed that because he was a doctor, it was okay and his examination did have medical merit, I just truly don’t remember telling her, I didn’t think anything was wrong.

I have many jumbled memories of my childhood, they come to me in flashes and feelings, glimpses of a part of my life that could have been there, but they fade so quickly before my eyes, just beyond my reach or recognition and I don’t remember what happened or what this all means. There are men and young girls I was afraid to be near or be around, fear and an odd feeling about the day care I went to, places I didn’t want to be or go, things I dreaded and feared to strongly. From such an early age I lived my life in fear, I was consumed by so much fear and so much silence. I suppose I found my masks at that young age as well, frightened and lost at home, but I donned the “perfect girl” mask in school. I was hoping that being perfect would save me, if I did everything so perfectly, if I was praised in school, brought home good grades, fabulous comments on the work I brought home, I would be loved at home, and I wouldn’t have to be scared or live in fear of what may happen to me. If I was that perfect girl, nothing bad would happen. It didn’t seem to work, I tried to get attention, and the attention I ended up with from my mother was negative, at least most of what I can remember. I remember how often she would slap me, for just talking to her, wanting to be with her, she would backhand me clear across the face, tell me what a horrible daughter I was, what a bad child I was and things equally damaging that I have forgotten or blocked out. Hearing what good children did and what good children got was hard for me, was I really so terrible? All I wanted was to be listened to, to be heard, be loved but my voice was lost, and I felt like I was lost.

School was difficult, but eventually I made some friends, and in high school began going out with friends which was a relief. Being in high school, most of the fun and partying on the weekends revolved around alcohol and drugs. Immediately I wrapped myself up in these substances, found yet another escape from the reality of my life that I had come to resent. Now I too could live in a fog, numbing and dulling the pain and fear I felt and had felt for so long. At school I kept up appearances, switching masks seemingly with ease. It grew tiring, and I became severely depressed at the end of my freshman year of high school. I became obsessed with death, and knew I was dying, even going so far as to write out my will and plan my funeral. I wore all black and dyed my hair to match. I drank too much and smoked too much, and didn’t care about anyone or anything.

I always hated being a child and being young, so I forced myself to grow up very fast. I no longer wanted to be vulnerable and not listened to. I wanted to take control of my own life rather than letting my mother, ever becoming a more severe alcoholic, control me in a rum induced haze. I began to date a man who was 25 years old when I was 16. He was a bad boy, I guess that was attractive to me. Although, despite that exterior he really had a good heart and did seem to care about me deeply. After dating for about a year, we moved in together when I was 17 years old. He had a drinking problem, which always progressed into cocaine use. He would not do one without the other. He was a Jekyll and Hyde and his personality changed completely when he was high. He told me he wanted to quit, so I tried to help him. Often if he was already high and tried to leave the house I would try to stop him. He would do whatever it took to get me out of the way so he cold leave to get more drugs, including throwing me into walls, on the couch, bed. I sat in front of the door once determined not to let him leave and he dragged me across the floor until he could get out. He once slammed my arm in the door, luckily our door wasn’t heavy and it didn’t do more than some nasty bruising. After two years of on and off sobriety, lies, broken promises, violence and abuse I’d had enough. I left him just after I turned 18, at which time he became even more angry and violent towards me which progressed into stalking. The police had to accompany me to our apartment one night so I could get my things together. He eventually found out where I moved to and would follow me home, find me when I was out at bars/ clubs. He smashed my car windows, keyed my car doors, pushed me into living in fear, again, but this time the fear of knowing full well what I was running from. I was always looking over my shoulder, and always feeling the need to be perfectly aware of my surroundings.

While dealing with the stalking, though frightening, I was just beginning to feel free as an adult and felt like I had my whole life in front of me. I had great prospects, lots of options, lots of things I could do. On my horizon was college, a professional dancing career, a local job offer with potential for partnership in the company. I was just trying to have fun and decide what I wanted to do. I was in great physical shape after years of serious dance training and felt great about myself. I started going out and partying all the time and met lots of people. When I was drunk I felt invincible, like I was someone, my self-esteem issues never bothered me once I had alcohol in my system. I used alcohol to dull the feelings of inadequacy. I felt. I still had my staple 3 friends from school and we were all pretty close. One girlfriend introduced me to a guy who had seen me and was interested in me. Everyone thought he was just a great guy, super nice, super good looking etc... I started to hang out with him when we were out at bars and parties; he seemed a perfect gentleman, always paying for my drinks, always making sure I was okay and content. He would often break plans with his guy friends to be with me, he even came to watch my ballet performances, which most of the bad boys I dated were not interested in, even bringing flowers to the performances. We never went out on dinner dates, or anything one on one really. I would often hang out at the bar where he worked until his shift was over, he would feed me drinks and shots all night for free, he made me feel special, like a princess. One of the first nights we were hanging out outside of his job, we were both drunk and he asked me if I would walk him back to his hotel room, so I did - with no intentions of going in, certainly not having sex with him. Somehow I thought I would walk him home and I would head back to the bars, after all, he was pretty drunk as he often got and I thought he truly needed my help to get home. Well his hotel room was in a hotel that was being renovated and he was working construction on. The room he had was furnished and had running water, but no lights! I told him that I had to go once we got there, and he asked me to stay and have another drink. I think he used a lighter to see around the place and got a bottle of cinnamon schnapps. I sat with him on the bed and drank. He started making out with me and that was fine, but I had my period so I knew I couldn't have sex with him. He wanted to, and he kept trying to convinced me, but I told him I had to leave and I was sorry. I think I made some excuse about having to drive friends home. He didn't like that idea, he kept trying to make out with me, and I kept pushing him away, gently at first, then harder as he became more forceful. He was a lot bigger than me and very strong. I was wearing a skirt and he was able to get my underwear off. He was forcing himself on me and I kept telling him “no,” “no, I can't,” “no baby, please,” “I can’t do this!” I pushed against his chest with my hands, with what I felt was all my strength, but I was very small at that time, I was barely eating and had little if any strength. Most of my muscle was in my legs and those were pinned beneath him securely. He didn't stop until he got what he wanted. I remember once falling off the bed because he was so drunk, and he immediately pinned his weight on me again and continued. The next thing I remember is waking up in the morning. I woke up when his friend came into the room and pulled the covers off of us. He didn't expect to see two people in the bed, just his friend. He apologized and left. I got up and mumbled something about having to go, found my clothes and ran out of there. I remember being confused about where I was, I had never been to this hotel and I had a hard time getting back to my car. After this night, I felt severe cramps for a few days, and one day when I was on the toilet, something mangled and twisted came out of me. Immediately I knew what it was, the tampon I had been wearing that night. I was so scared and didn't know what to do, at first I didn’t even know what it was. When I finally went to my doctor, after waiting far too long, I found out I had an infection that I assume was from the tampon being inside me for so long and being so mangled. It took me so long to identify this as rape, I thought he was ignoring my no's because he was so drunk, he always got so drunk that he didn’t know what he was doing. Besides, we were dating, couples are supposed to have sex. I guess I always excused him because I don’t think he ever would have done this sober, but the truth was every time he got drunk and we were alone, he was violent and forceful and forced me to have sex. This continued to the point where I knew I could not stop him, I stopped fighting and let him do as he pleased, I felt there was no use. I went on to date this man for a few months until I started to feel really weird and broke it off. I never accepted this as rape fully until recently. He once threw me to the ground very violently when he was drunk and I was just trying to help him with his keys and get him home safely. I remembered recently who helped me get him home that night; it was the man who would rape me later that year. I wonder if he was preying on me from early on.

The same year, later, I was at a party where I knew everyone. It was at a nice, big house where a few people I knew lived as roommates. We had all gone out to a bar and then returned to the house to continue our party. There was LSD there, we only got it on island once in awhile. I think only three of us didn't do it. The first time I had tried it I had a bad trip and that messed me up pretty badly. I was pretty drunk and I went outside to smoke a cigarette on the porch. The porch was accessible from a door from the living room, and on the other side of the porch there was a door that I later learned lead to one of the bedrooms. While I was smoking my cigarette on of the guys who lived in the house came out and started talking to me. We were all friends, I knew everyone there. After awhile he got closer and tried to kiss me, I pulled away. I had no desire to be with this man. He was older than me, not that it mattered, I had dated a man his age before (he was 39 I was 18). He stopped and I finished my cigarette. I planned to go back to the party, I don't remember how I got into his bedroom (his was the one on the opposite side of the porch) and in fact the rest of my memories of that night came in flashes. I am not sure if I was drugged or simply too drunk. No one at the party would miss me, or him, because they were all tripping and probably out of their minds. I tried to get away from him, we were standing up and I was trying to free myself from his grip but I couldn't. Then we were on the bed, and I tried to push him off, but I felt so weak, like I could barely move or use my body. I guess he took my clothes off. I remember telling him I had to get back to the party. I saw him on top of me, raping me and I was in and out of consciousness. I woke up one time when he was trying to rape me anally; he only penetrated me there once. I mumbled something and tried to push him off, surprisingly, he stopped. He then turned me back over and finished. I remember him talking to me in this eerie voice, telling me everything was okay, as if he was trying to soothe me. I woke up the next morning sleeping next to him. I ran to the bathroom and threw up. Then I gathered my clothes and left. I was so confused... I didn't know what to think. I blamed myself for not being more adamant, for getting so drunk. I knew I hadn't wanted to have sex with him, but I thought it was all my fault.

I went to my friends for help, I thought they would help me, but I never expected how they reacted when I told them (the man who raped me was, I thought, a friend to all of us). Most of my friends said nothing and had no reaction, I know now that they must have had no idea how to react to hearing something like that. However, at the time I felt like they didn't believe me. One friend asked me why I didn't confront him or say something to him about it. She made me feel like that was the thing to do, and I felt weak and stupid for not being able to. We live in a small town and everyone sees everyone, there was no avoiding him. I had just become used to ignoring him, or leaving if he showed up wherever I was. I was still so confused as to what really happened, and felt like I hadn't been adamant enough in saying no or trying to get away. I felt like I had been wrong. I was scared and stricken with panic every time I saw him. He had come up to me once at a bar and whispered behind me that he wanted to see my white thong panties on his floor again. I froze, I felt like I was being stabbed, I couldn't breathe, it was like he was mocking me. I could feel his breath on my neck, using that same eerie voice. I told the same friend about what he had just said to me, and she went and yelled at him. I don't know what she said, but he came over to me and asked if he could talk to me. We walked down the steps of the bar and sat at a table together, I remember being frightened and very nervous. I didn't know what to do, I was afraid of him and still so confused by what had happened. He told me that he was sorry for what he had done, and he didn't realize how drunk I was and that I "probably didn't know what I was doing." He never meant to do something against my will. I think I accepted his apology. I was in denial for almost 6 years and tried to break my silence so many times, but was so many times pushed back into silence. The silence consumed me for too long, and I will not let it control my life any longer.

 
"I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be "happy." I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."
 ~ Leo C. Rosten
 
 
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