Don’t Make Any Noise And You Won’t Get Hurt

My policy on this blog is not to post trigger warnings; in this case, I make an exception.

If you are a survivor of sexual violence, think carefully about reading this post.  It contains graphic images of sexual predation, and could be triggering to anyone who has suffered sexual violence.  Please be careful.

Some of the following is included in my upcoming memoir, A Runaway Life, and in my novel-in-progress, The Beanbag Chair.  I’m sharing it with you here because I know that for every survivor of sexual violence who seeks treatment, there are untold numbers who don’t, and who live with the horror, shame, and destruction of the integrity of the self and the soul that sexual violence begets.

My first personal encounter with a Male-factor–as we used to call them during my tenure as expert examiner on child sexual abuse cases for a State District Attorney’s Office in a Northeastern state in America–was at age sixteen.

Earth Day, April 22, 1970.

I knew nothing about sex beyond veiled inferences gleaned from “Lady Chatterly’s Lover,” swiped from my parents’ library and read over and over, to try to figure out what all that language was referring to.  I had seen the heifers in heat mounting each other in the pasture next door, but had no idea what they were trying to accomplish.  I had no frame of reference.

I was sixteen.  My interests were Latin, natural science, poetry, music, and art.  At sixteen I was permitted to date, but the boys in the country backwater school I attended were either brutish dolts or eggheads like myself who tended to stay at home trying to teach themselves Greek.

My mother continued her perennial assault on my self-image via an uninterrupted stream of verbal, psychological, and sometimes physical abuse.  My depressions grew blacker, my desire for relief by any means more intense, until finally I despaired of ever finding truth in living, and debated within myself whether this life was actual reality, or perhaps was a construct by some demonic mind for whom I was a toy.

An older man I met in the burger joint where I worked on the weekends admired my legs and asked me for a date.  I was flattered.  Someone thought I was attractive.  I got my mother’s permission–she was thrilled–and I went with him.

The details of that date have been published elsewhere.

“Don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt.”

I woke up to those words, still muzzy from the drug he had slipped me.  In the dark basement, his hand clamped over my mouth, my back squashed painfully into the cold concrete floor covered with moldy carpeting…..and the searing pain jolting through my body until at last he tore through, not through my hymen, but to the side of it, so that for many years I had not one but two openings there.  (At last in my 40’s I had the courage to take at least some of my body back, and had that part surgically removed.  Later I had a second surgery to try to repair the damage to the muscle between my vagina and my rectum, but that has mostly failed.)

After he finished with me, he bundled me back into his car and let me out in the dirt circle that stood in for my parents’ driveway, my blood soaking through my new spring coat.

That was my initiation into the cold, dark terrorism that is rape.  My virgin sex, shredded beyond repair.

I ran away from “home,” hoping to find relief, but ended up homeless, being raped when I asked for bread, for shelter, for medical care.

I look at the few pictures of myself from that time.  I was so young.  I looked thirteen at the most.  I had no figure, even though my mother’s pet name for me was “fat-ass.”  The eyes looking out of the delicate triangular face were hollow and haunted.

Fast forward two years, and I was living with a kind and honest couple who had taken an interest in helping me pull myself out of the life on the street.

The Viet Nam war was still raging, and I was a dedicated anti-war activist, a still-passionate Peacenik who believed that Good could triumph over Evil if only The People would shout it out loud enough.

Young Mr. Doctor-To-Be frequently managed to take time out from his medical studies at Boston University to help organize rallies.  We were Peace Rally Comrades, nothing more.

That time, I had incapacitating menstrual cramps in the midst of a rally on Boston Common.  The rally had such a huge turn-out that the riot cops were exercising their batons.  I was fainting and nauseous.  Mr. Not Yet Doctor fanned my sweaty face with his poster and proposed that we go to his apartment, where he had some medicine that would relieve my cramps.  Even though I had recently come off the streets, I did not doubt his intentions.  Have I told you that I’m Autistic?  I’m Autistic.  I can’t read intentions.

He half-carried me to his apartment.  I remember a dark stairwell, and being “helped” up the stairs.  I remember the small white bedroom with its unremarkable furnishings.  I remember being told to take off my panties and lie down.  I remember wondering why that was necessary, but he must certainly know because he was the Almost-Doctor.

I remember his voice as he hissed in my ear:

“Don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt.”

He took something out of his shirt pocket: a penlight, such as all doctors have in their pockets.  I thought he was going to look at me with it, and froze.

He raped me with it, and as he did, he masturbated, and when he was finished he told me to go.

I climbed down from his bed, numb and bleeding, fumbled my way down the dark stairway and into the bright-white sunlight, dazed, blood running into my sandals, squish, squish.

I was in a part of Boston I had never seen before.  I managed to get home somehow, my long skirts hiding the blood.

Fast forward three years and many events less dramatic than those.

Irish flute master classes with a famous and now dead Irish flute master.  (NOT James Galway, thanks to G-d.  And NOT Cathal McConnell.)

One day he refused my payment for my lesson.  I thought that was odd, but did not understand the implications.  I Am Autistic.

He got his tween coat, and off we went to the Custom House Tap, where we played duets for Black-And-Tans until we were both solidly drunk.  He invited himself to my place for tea.  We had not even got off the sidewalk when it started.  This part I cannot write, for it is too triggering for me even to remember.  But I didn’t run away.  I was like a rabbit transfixed by the hard gaze of the wolf.  I went along.  I let him into my apartment.  It got worse.  Then it got horrible.  Then he left me, gagging and bleeding, and I never heard anything more from him.  Several years ago I went about trying to find his whereabouts.  No purpose in mind; I just wanted to know.

The obituary said he had drowned while taking a swim off his private dock in Martha’s Vineyard.  The pit of my stomach was cold: just as cold as that night that he rammed himself down my throat until I lost consciousness, waking choking on my own blood and his disgusting fluids.

Why do I wonder that it’s so hard to trust?  Why do I feel as if around every corner there is something huge waiting for me, a muddy black smudge beckoning, threatening to take me over and obliterate me again and again and again?

Why do I feel a terror of closed spaces, a dread of not being able to escape?  Why must I always have my back to a wall, facing the door, and know every escape route?

Why, when I think of being imprisoned, does the panic rise in my throat, and thoughts of suicide race through my head?

“Don’t make any noise and you won’t get hurt.”

 

 

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32 Comments

  1. im so sorry for all you have been through. i think it is amazing how you have come to own your own life today, despite all of the damage you absorbed. you are amazing. a beacon of hope, for others, that IT can be done, you can reclaim yourself and your life.

    there is so much else i want to say. but then this response would be pages long. so, for brevity sake, i will just say thanks. thanks for sharing this, painful as it was for both reader and author. it shows that victims can be survivors, that survivors can live a life rather than being debris floating in the current of life.

    Reply
    • Thank you, sweet lady, for your kind words. I wish that it were so. I did manage to dance with the devil for a number of years, to accomplish my dreams until it all crashed, ironically, in the year 2000. Since then I have been a disabled person struggling to live from moment to moment. I only stay in this world because I know it would destroy my only child if I left. I keep trying to pull the phoenix out of the ashes, but so far she has yet to reconstruct herself and although she has not given up the struggle, neither has she succeeded in relearning to fly. I hope that by my devotion to telling my story, maybe one person might be saved, somehow, and that would justify my efforts to stay on the planet a little longer. My life is really no life at all, save a few hen-scratchings. I keep my name and my titles in front of me, to remind me of what once was, even though there is no possibility of it being again. I think your description of “debris floating….” fits me exactly. I have no idea why I have been dealt this hand, and having been forced upon me, as any survivor of childhood rape knows, the results are carved into my nerve-network in the unconscious. I guess part of my reason for sharing the memories I do have is to try to drag them into the light and out of the depths of my physiology. Maybe then……

      Reply
  2. Terri

     /  January 18, 2015

    I’m right there with you….I’m 50, sick, exhausted. All my passion for life was drained away decades ago and repeated horrors. I’m right there with you……your words describe my life in a way that no others have. I wake to sleep, and I take my waking slow. Look forward to leaving this place…..just waiting. I’m so sorry for ‘us’ and all out there like us.

    Reply
  3. Terri

     /  January 18, 2015

    No, they have no concept. I’m strong…yes, but that whole saying, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ makes me ill. No, but it zaps your will to live, makes you physically and mentally ill, forces you to structure your life in pretty much total isolation mode just to get through the day, makes you trust absolutely no one, and No…I haven’t ‘conquered’ anything….damaged to the core, but alive, or at least I guess one could call it that.

    I always get responses when I tell people about what an inspiration I am and how I’ve succeeded in life…….they are certainly well meaning and good of heart, but really??? I don’t tell anyone anymore……cause I might just puke in front of them.

    Reply
    • Sigh. I am also strong, and I don’t know if that’s good or not. If I wasn’t so tough I would have died long ago, but my weakness is that I keep trying and trying…but I am so damaged that I don’t know what “good people” are like. And no, I am not exaggerating! I have not even begun to scratch the surface. So even though I have, yes, accomplished many things, it still gets back to living in isolation, as you have said. We are war veterans with PTSD, whether we have been in uniform or not. Our uniform is blood and fear. Shall we wear our colors proudly? I think not.

      Reply
  4. No words…I am just so sorry for all you’ve had to endure. “Life isn’t fair” is the understatement of the year here.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Janet. I’d like to think there’s some “higher reason” for all of our sufferings, but I just can’t buy it. Thanks for your kind words….I hope we all get some relief this year.

      Reply
  5. How terrifying. It’s soul murder.

    Reply
  6. Anything I write would be less, it would be insensitive. So I just read your experience, teary eyed.

    Why do kids suffer sexual violence? Why do people emotionally make someone trust them, have sex and then leave just like that, as if nothing has happened and they have done nothing wrong coz whatever had happened had actually ‘ happened mutually’. Most of the times these people are not rogues or criminal, they are those ‘so called good people’ who any girl will be happy to marry.

    Eventually everything boils down to ‘ Runanubandh’ a Sanskrit words for debts for last births. May be in some birth the victim had also……… I know its lame, its insensitive and it might be illogical but atleast give some answers to the ‘WHYs ‘ that run in the head. Atleast it gives some explanation to ‘ WHY Me’ .

    Love and light,
    Ashu

    Reply
    • Thank you Ashu, I feel your soul has been a little wounded by reading this. I’m sorry. On the other hand, no one will see it who didn’t need it. One day I was walking with my guru after rain and there was a worm in the path. You know how worms will come out after rain, and then sun comes out and dries them up? He found a tiny stick and picked up the worm and very carefully placed it in the grass. I said, you know, I’ve always wondered what the proper thing to do about these worms. Didn’t God put them in this situation, to escape drowning only to be dried up by the sun, so who are we to interfere with God’s plan? He said, true, but God showed me this one. So since God opened my eyes, then I have to do what’s possible to save this worm, because I’m a healer and that’s my job.

      Reply
  7. This breaks my heart. It makes me physically ill to know that there are monsters out there, in the guise of human beings, that did those terrible things to you, and others still that do such terrible things to their victims.
    I wish I could offer words of comfort, but anything I say would just be hollow, and useless. I admire your strength and courage for sharing your painful story. I hope that sharing brings at least a little relief and peace to your heart.

    Reply
  8. I couldn’t read all the way through- thank you for the trigger warning. I do, however, think you are incredibly brave to have posted this on your blog, and that it shows a sense of responsibility to those who have been unable to speak out, seek treatment, or even fully admit to themselves what they experienced. Thank you for writing this, your blog, as ever, remains an inspiration.

    Reply
    • Thanks for stopping, Becky. It’s not pretty, not pretty at all. I want people to know that this happens, and it happens all the time. It happens more to women and girls, but even to boys and men, especially if they are in places they can’t escape from like jails or other institutions. The worst is the tragedies that happen to kids in their own homes. I am so grateful that I was at least spared THAT, although what happened to me is a direct result of my mother’s destruction of my self esteem. I would have been far better off not having someone who called herself “mother.”

      Reply
  9. This is a very brave and necessary post, necessary because people do need to be aware this still does happen. I hope your writing brings you healing and peace

    Reply
    • Thanks, Cat. Unfortunately, every time I write about this I pay for it with several days of being so triggered I can’t do anything but brood and cry. Like you, I feel that it’s very important to speak up and let people know that unless we drag this demon into the light, it will keep preying on the innocent and trusting. The only way to stop date rape is to raise awareness and try to empower our girls. Unfortunately, abuse at home erodes self esteem, makes a girl starved for acceptance and praise, and opens the door to predation.

      Reply
      • But that “broodiness and crying” are all part of your healing. I’m in therapy now and they say it is important to allow ourselves to sit with those feelings.
        You’re so right, the only way to raise awareness is by speaking up. Sometimes that can be the most difficult thing to do and often at our own detriment, but necessary for change. Keep writing 😉

        Reply
        • Yes, it’s very important, but only up to a point…It’s been 44 years since that first rape. I can’t sit with those feelings forever! If I sat with the feelings of every time I’ve heard the words in this post hissed into my ear, I’d go right of the deep end. I want people to know that this happens, still happens, to girls who are trapped in abusive situations, to girls who are raped by family members and can’t get away, to WIVES of abusers who hold their children hostage…on and on, and that’s not including the institutionalized rape of child brides, rape that’s used as a weapon of war…I had a conversation with a woman in India, a very powerful land-owner, about women’s equality, and she said “women are intrinsically inferior to men.” I was shocked, especially in light of her position of power, so I asked her why so, and she said, “because we can be raped.” Unfortunately this is so common in India and other countries that women come to take it for granted, as part of woman’s condition in life. We need more Malalas! A generation of Malalas, who refuse to be silenced. Only then will men hesitate to use women and girls for their own disgusting purposes. But in order to have a Malala, we must have strong and caring and empowering MOTHERS, who give their daughters and sounds the inner foundation of strength that they need, so that they can grow up strong and healthy, and fight for their rights to their bodies and their health, physical and mental.

          Reply
  10. savemefrombpd

     /  January 20, 2015

    Awful, just totally awful.
    I’m sorry you went through this.
    Nobody should have to go through such a thing. And those that do it should rot in hell forever more.

    I never got the ‘keep quiet’ thing. I thought that if I stayed quiet and just saying ‘I don’t want’ ‘please stop’… And asides from those words that I said I didn’t want anything from him, I just froze up, Horrible experience.

    Reply
  11. Hello my friend
    You have carried a heavy load, I hope you have a therapist to talk to. You are very strong for sharing your deep pain with the community. You words will help many. I’m 51 and I have lever told anyone about the detail of my rapes. My therapist knows I’ve been raped multiple times but I still don’t want to dig up the memories. Your post and honesty will help others and that’s our greatest gift.
    Hugs
    M

    Reply
    • Whew. I know so well the burden of not telling. I’m so sorry you’re still bearing the pain of those soul-destroying foul acts, perpetrated by animals who don’t care whose essence they are destroying forever. Yes, I have a therapist. I was 58 when I first disclosed the first horrible rape that stole my virginity. After that one, I learned to dissociate. Trouble was, my battered brain didn’t know when to stop dissociating, so I became “the woman who dissociates when sex is even a possibility” which makes meaningful relationships hard. I hope that some day you’ll feel safe enough to disclose the details with a trusted “other.” Or write them, either on your blog, or in your journal…that’s how I stayed. It freaked me out so badly at first that I had flashbacks and had to stop…so what I did was to write it as a story, in third person, and even though it still triggered me, the more I wrote about it the more enraged I got, and I started going through these rage attacks and imagining what I would do with those monsters if I could ever catch up to them. Clearly, I will never fully get over a lifetime of being fucked over, but I can at least take back my soul and say out loud, look you bastards, I don’t belong to you. I belong to ME and ONLY to me. To quote somebody, I don’t remember, but it was recorded by The Nylons: “Begone, Prince of Darkness! You have no power here.”

      Reply
      • I had years of disassociation from my sexual abuse. It does seem odd I cam survive horrid abuse but keep rape looked away. I’m sure it’s hard for you to switch gears in a healthy relationship. You are very smart and have come so far in working thru the shit thrown your way.
        Hugs
        M

        Reply
        • Sometimes in order to keep alive we have to compartmentalize our traumas. IMO, childhood abuse and especially sexual abuse, just opens the door to rape because the integrity of our **self** is nonexistent, our boundaries have never really had a chance to develop, and predators can sniff that from miles away. It’s almost like we have a “fuck me” sign in flashing neon. Not only physically, either. I’m sure you know just what I mean. I have given up trying to fix this. I can fix something I never had! A solid sense of self, boundaries…..what would that be like? I’m hoping that a) I never have to come back after I die and b) if I have to reincarnate, that it’s to a really sweet and pleasant, fulfilling life, like the one I didn’t get this time around.

          Reply
          • God gave each of us a different journey. Many have shitty journeys, like us, I look at the journey is making me stronger for the next journey. My granny told me as a young girl, God doesn’t always tell you why at the time and some times he never does. I’ve been blessed, God has shown me how to deal with my trauma. The he gave me an outlet to share with others. Life is not all roses, I wouldn’t know what to do. I am a very happy person, happy with the personal steps I’m taking. What sucks is Lyme Disease. I look forward to see where that journey takes me. You got a good head on your shoulders and will continue to thrive.
            🙂

            Reply

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