This is my story of surviving, dealing, living with, and almost destroying myself and my life.
It will be frank. It will name parts of the female body.
It may not always flow the way good prose does, but it's mine and I make no apology for it. It took me 10 years to own it, to open the box I had put it in from which it leaked it's poisons into my being, and to finally rid myself of it and come back to me.
I was finally spurred and motivated to post it on Dailykos due to this story on TDS; Stewart blasts GOPers who opposed Franken’s anti-rape legislation
This is my story, beyond the flip.
To tell my story I need to give you some background.
Some of you have read my comments and a diary about my first marriage. My first husband was (he died 3 years ago) a disabled Vietnam Veteran.
Our marriage was not a happy one, it was filled with abuse.
I have posted here (although I can no longer find that diary) about the night he had me on the floor, his full weight pinning me down, his hands around my throat. As I struggled for to gain a breath that his hands kept refusing I mouthed the words "you're going to kill me." The coldest eyes I had ever seen looked back at me and said, "that's right."
I don't know how know how I survived that night.
Several months into our 3rd year of marriage I filed for divorce. Two months before our 5th anniversary our divorce was final. My new life as a single mother and divorcee began.
I went back to school, and in 1988 married again. (We are still together)
Those first years were tough. My ex refused to pay child support, which, even though the award was small ($125/month per child) it would have helped. Despite my new husband's degree in Electrical Engineering, thanks to that recession, he could not find a job in the field and finally took a job at 7-11. The funny thing was, at that time, all his co-workers were highly educated too.
We couldn't afford a car and relied heavily on public transportation (this was before light rail). We also moved from the apartment I had been living in with my ex to an apartment near Denver University to an area I fondly call the "graduate student ghetto."
My new husband championed my education. For teh maths he was even my tutor. We'd often discuss our dreams, he had essentially his father's deathbed wish to fulfill (that he's get a graduate degree) and he wanted me to pursue my dream of being a doctor. We were poor, relying on assistance, food stamps and my parents to some extent for help, but we were happy.
I was 26 and this was the happiest I had been in 7 years. I had nightmares and baggage to take care from my first marriage to be sure, but now everything was possible.
Since we had moved farther from my parents, there was an understanding that even though I had 2 kids we were still newly weds, my parents took the kids for 24 hours most weekends.
This weekend was just like the others in many ways. My husband left at mid morning for work for double shift, I tidied things up and waited for my parents to bring home the kids. To bide the time I sat in front of the TV with a bag of my favorite chips (Red Hot Blues) and salsa.
Sometime during the munching, TV watching and waiting I began to feel a pain in my right side. I didn't think much about it, I was done with homework, apartment was passable and quiet so I just vegged.
Mom called to ask if the kids could stay for dinner, they were having fun at the neighbors. I gave the okay and got more veg time! I continued watching the tv and eating my chips.
The pain grew more intense, but not so bad as to cause me alarm. Just a stomach ache. I thought a walk would some how take care of the pain so walk over to 7-11 see my husband and to get something to drink.
While there my husband asked me if I felt okay, saying I looked a little pale. "Oh I'm fine," I said trying to shake off the pain which was now even greater than it was an hour before. An hour or so after that walk the pain was so intense that I could no longer ignore it. I called my parents and ask them to take me to the hospital.
Abdominal distress was nothing new for me. I had already had surgery to remove a endrometioma the size of a cantaloupe. My right ovary and falopian tube were also lost to the tumor. I was in pain often and hypervigilant because I was told I would have to watch the left ovary since an endrometioma there was highly possible.
The only hospital we could afford was Denver General (now called Denver Health). It was then and is still the primary "safety net" institution. Like many hospitals DG/DH is a teaching hospital and has a large number of newly minted MDs doing their residencies. Nurses, faculty and staff at hospitals and medical schools call these Residents, "baby docs."
My mother, sure this was another instance of abdominal distress, dropped me off knowing she'd be picking me up 6 hours later.
After jumping through all the hoops, registering, being seen in triage, and finally getting into the ER, it became apparent that this was more than the normal complaint. I was having rebound pain (when you push into the right side of the belly and there is pain when you let go). I was atypical since I didn't present with a fever, but my rebound pain was 11 on a 10 point scale.
This pointed to an appendicitis.
They put me into one of the private exam rooms, used during the weekdays for the clinics. This was so I could get a more thorough exam (read pelvic exam). My case and my care was given to the next baby doc on the list.
It may seem strange for women to get a pelvic exam when trying to confirm an appendicitis but that is because we have so much "other stuff" going on there, that additional confirmation needs to be made.
The first pelvic exam I received was with the baby doc working my case, the Attending MD, with a group of newly minted doctors all watching. This is a teaching hospital, I wanted to be a doctor, this was all fine with me.
The pelvic exam with accompanying rebound pain confirmed it, and I began to be processed for an emergency appendectomy. This had been cooking all day and they were concerned that they wouldn't get to it in time. Everything began to move rather fast.
I called my husband, he called my mom. As soon as my husband got a replacement they would be right down.
I was given tranqs and other meds for surgery and a little while later given all the release forms to fill out. This is a violation of state law, as I understood it, in theory I was supposed to get the paper work and sign all of it before being given sedatives for surgery. But given the nature of the emergency this could be waved or overlooked.
Another group of baby docs arrived with their attending. I guess I was the star of the hospital that hour, "Come one, come all, see a hot appendicitis in Exam Room 3!" They asked if they could do another pelvic exam, I consented.
State law says that a woman cannot be given a pelvic exam by a male doctor if no one else is in the room (preferably a female nurse).
After this last group of doctors left and I was alone, the baby doc in whose care my case resided came into the room. He announced that "they" needed another pelvic exam, just to "check and make sure" of something.
He was all alone, but I complied, my life was being threatened, he was the one in charge of saving it.
He started playing with my clitoris, then moved his fingers into my vagina and began playing inside me. After a bit, for justification he then did the same pelvic exam I had had before.
I had had exams before, even had two others within the last few hours, this was no exam. Pelvic exams, even when given by female doctors are usually very too the point, no hanging around, just do what you need to do and get done because it is a very invasive and a psychologically uncomfortable procedure. These exams are not supposed to make you feel dirty, this "exam" did.
I didn't scream because I was in shock. This was the esteemed group I hoped to join one day. The group for which many of my friends already belonged. This was a group and a place I trusted and all that was stripped away and made hostile and dangerous minutes before I would lose all control.
It's amazing how many calculations a brain can make before the sedatives hit. For instance I knew that if he perceived that I was any threat there could be an "accident" while I was on the table. I knew it would be his word against mine, and I had already been drugged. If I said anything would they stand with me or would those in the operating room side with him? I asked myself after all I had just been through, and survived why had this happened now.
My whole world had been yanked away from me in just a few minutes. As the sedatives took more effect panic ensued, I could no longer calm my mind. I was loosing more control, they began to wheel me down the hall to the elevator and then to the O.R.
I had hoped to see my husband before surgery. I needed to see him, to tell him, to have him calm me. Panic was turning into terror. I didn't see him, they were quite literally pulling into the hospital parking lot as I was wheeled through the OR doors.
Figure skaters say that every mistake made prior to going into a jump is magnified 10 times coming down. Having been a figure skater in my early teens I can attest to the truth of this. A possible corollary to that is that a troubled mind prior to going into surgery and sedation is 10 times more troubled coming out.
Once out of surgery and in my room no one could approach my bed as I slept without me jumping awake and pulling my covers tight around my neck. I scared a few people. But I stayed quiet as to why, as I said because of one person, this place had been made dangerous and hostile to me now.
The baby doc did come to my room once or twice, but now he was never without a group.
I came home and said nothing to anyone for two weeks. Finally telling my childhood friend Nina (not her real name), now a nurse in another state's correctional facility. She urged me to do two things, tell my husband and report the bastard (as I recall this was her exact wording).
It took me some additional weeks before I told my husband. Once he got over his anger and irritation that I didn't trust him enough to tell him right away, he too urged me to report the doctor and begin legal action.
I just wanted it to go away. I argued that it would be my word against his, and I had already been drugged, and, and, and. I had many reasons and convinced him that I was okay. He dropped it, believing the path that I had lead him, I was fine.
I never reported the doctor. Instead I busied myself helping to get my husband into graduate school. We chose the University of Massachusetts. Knowing that we didn't have enough money for all of us to go out all at once, he left for school. The kids and I stayed in Denver. We emailed almost every day spoke on weekends. But despite all our best intentions the demons began to nibble at the flesh.
I really wasn't okay and left alone began to follow the self destructive behavior and pattern many women who have been violated follow. I won't go into everything I did, but I one night I was close to killing myself. I did receive counseling for the self destructive behavior, but kept the sexual assault locked in it's box.
I began to gradually lose who I was. What happened then, including abandoning the Democratic Party and becoming such a GOP(p)er is a subject for another diary.
I didn't find myself again until 2002 (some 12 years later) when I finally dealt with the assault, when I finally took it from the box I had kept it in and received the counseling I had long denied myself. I finally owned it. I finally began to tell my story.
People ask me why I call it sexual assault and not rape. It's because I don't want the word to lose it's potency for those who endured greater than I did. Jamie Leigh Jones is one such person.
Like me she was in a situation where an artificial trust relationship was necessary. Artificial in the fact that it was not built over months and weeks of knowing a person or people, but a necessary part of the circumstances one finds themselves in. Whether it's patient to ER staff or colleagues working in a hostile environment, one gives trust to those around them. There is no time to wait for one to earn it.
While locked in that container Jamie Leigh Jones feared for her life. She knew, as I did, where we were "something" could happen to us and the truth could be buried with us.
That's where our similarities stop. Unlike me she suffered more, unlike me she's had to endure more to put her world right, and that may take years. And unlike me she has had the courage to find justice.
Haliburton/KBR tries to find cover in its "arbitration" process, calling what happened to Jamie (and many other women) a "complaint." A word, like so many before that seeks a pass to minimizes what happened. A word and a process that for the ages has kept women from reporting or receiving justice. It's not a "complaint." It's not a "dispute." It's a CRIME.
When she awoke the next morning still affected by the drug, she found her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn‚ which would later require reconstructive surgery. Upon walking to the rest room, she passed out again," the papers say.
The firm denies that Jones was held prisoner, but not that her injuries indicated serious sexual assault.
It's not a "complaint." It's not a "dispute." It's a CRIME.
Arbitration has its place in our justice system. For two companies haggling over the price of goods, arbitration is an efficient forum, and the arbitrator will undoubtedly have the appropriate expertise. The privacy that arbitration offers can protect their proprietary business information. But arbitration has its limits. Arbitration is conducted behind closed doors, and doesn’t bring persistent, recurring and egregious problems to the attention of the public. Arbitration doesn’t ever allow you a jury of your peers. Arbitration doesn’t establish important precedent that can be used in later causes. Many of our nation’s most cherished civil rights were established by individuals bringing claims in court, the court ruling in their favor, and then extending the protection of those rights to anyone in a similar situation. Arbitration does have its place in our system, but handling claims of sexual assault and egregious violations of civil rights is not its place. - Senator Al Franken
It's not a "complaint." It's not a "dispute." It's a CRIME.
We have known for a long time that US contractors working in Irag like Blackwater/Xe, Haliburton/KBR have sweet heart deals. For along time they could not be held to account under Iraqi or US laws. And since they are not our military they don't fall under their purview either.
Yes I know that the arguments against Franken's amendment is that it puts government involvement into writing contracts. Well, yes and no.
Sponsor: Sen Franken, Al [MN] (submitted 10/1/2009) (proposed 10/1/2009)
To prohibit the use of funds for any Federal contract with Halliburton Company, KBR, Inc., any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other contracting party if such contractor or a subcontractor at any tier under such contract requires that employees or independent contractors sign mandatory arbitration clauses regarding certain claims.
TEXT OF AMENDMENT AS SUBMITTED: CR S10069-10070
Contractors can still write their contracts any old way they want. They just can't hope to get a government contract in some instances. It is in the government's (and this nation's) interest to do so, otherwise our tax dollars could be going to support things like slavery, child labor, etc.
30 Republicans voted against this amendment which caused me to ask whose values do they represent. Did they offer more than nice sounding words to further the cause of justice? Or did they side with business.
I say again with ever as much conviction as before:
It's not a "complaint." It's not a "dispute." It's a CRIME.
Slowly, very slowly we are giving justice to atleast some those harmed by that "loop hole" that is big enough to swallow the sun. Thank you Senator Franken.
May Linda Lindsey, Mary Beth Kineston, and Jamie Leigh Jones get justice.
This diary was never a hit at Denver General/Denver Health at which my family and I received excellent care before and after this incident.
I never did become a doctor, this incident was one factor in that decision.
I neglected to give the message Nina asked me to give when I told her yesterday that I was posting this. From Nina:
The only way to stop these types of people is to report them make sure that you put this in your posting
update: added into to title ... man I hate titling I never seem to get it right
another update: after writing this I am finding myself exhausted. I am reading your comments, even if, right now, I don't feel I can respond.
Two great diaries by Brainwarp with more videos you should check out: