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I Was a Child

I am 53 years old. Almost exactly 40 years ago to the day, as a 13 year old girl, I was raped. I stayed silent for almost 15 years and have suffered far beyond that. This event so shaped my intimate relationships and therefore, my life.

My story……..I was “older” than my age, having skipped a year in school and having a late birthday. That shouldn’t have mattered. Like the rebellious 13 year old I was, myself and my 2 closest girlfriends skipped school to “hang out” with these 3 older guys because one of my friends had a crush on one of the guys, Nick. We went to one of their apartments (they were 26 and 27 years old) and smoked pot and listened to music. One of my friends seemed to disappear while Nick then told me he wanted to show me the apartment. As we entered a bathroom, Nick threw me against the wall and then violently restrained me with one hand while trying to pull my shirt off with the other hand. I guess I fought him so violently myself because he stopped, grabbed me by the hair and took me to the doorway of one of the bedrooms to show me that one of my friends was engaged in seemingly consensual sexual activity. Clearly this was somehow supposed to make it OK for m e, but I didn’t care, I didn’t want to. I was a virgin. He then forced me into another bedroom where he pushed me to the bed, ripped my pants down and pinned me with his body (he was well over 6′ tall and I was a 90 lb, 13 year old). I was kicking and trying to hit him and he became angrier, cursing, then pinning my hands over my head while he pulled his pants down and forced himself inside of me.

I only remember pain and my screams. He became angrier at my fighting and eventually stopped, pulled me by my hair onto my knees and forced me to take him in my mouth where he kept pushing deeper into my throat. I recall the sobs between the choking and gagging feeling. He finally reached orgasm and let go of me. I ran to clean up and told my friends we had to leave immediately. I did not tell them. I did not tell anyone. I felt ashamed, after all, I had put myself in that situation. I became severely anorexic and after one boyfriend a year later, I became very confused about my sexuality, feeling safer around women. As an older teen and into my twenties, my sexual encounters with men, which were only a few, we’re unfulfilling. I was always slightly afraid and was unable to experience any pleasure, although I could with women.

In my twenties I focused on education and went to medical school. I still had never spoken of my rape. While in my third year of school, I met an amazing, gentle, loving man. I was 26 and he taught me that I could be safe again with a man and that I could experience pleasure again with a man. Matthew was one of the most pivotal people in my life. That relationship was not to be. While in my residency in NY, he suddenly died. I finally began talking about my rape, first to the safety of Matthew’s gentle heart and then to a therapist. What fascinates me so, even after all of these years is that the lessons I learn, I learn over and over and over again. Each time, the same but deeper. My personal life has continued to be fragile and labile while my career has flourished. I grow emotionally and spiritually daily and I am thankful for my gifts, including the experiences that shape me and continue to drive me to help other people. Finally, two years ago, I reached my bottom emotionally and allowed myself to enter serious treatment for PTSD. It has been the greatest experience and growth as I finally face the demons that have haunted me for all of these years. I have looked deeply and know that it is a life long process. That one terrifying event so totally shaped me and ultimately gave me the strength, the courage, the downright fierceness of my passion to help others. It strengthened my intolerance of human suffering and that is my story.

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