Patches of Absolution

The Rape of Tamar by LeSueur (2 Samuel 13)

The Rape of Tamar by LeSueur

Patches of Absolution

This is a highly personal response to the article in the current issue of More magazine entitled Attitude written by Deborah Copaken Kogan.  Basically Ms. Kogan discusses American media’s fascination with judging women who have experienced some form of sexual violence.

My first reaction in reading this article was visceral.  I’m not a photojournalist as is my fellow Deborah but over the years I’ve experienced almost as many sexual attacks as she.  I don’t attribute Ms. Kogan’s attacks or mine to our respective jobs, but to society’s acquiescence to male violence on women.  As she goes on to point out rather painfully in her article women are often co-conspirators with men after another woman is sexually harassed by a man.  I won’t recount Deborah Kogan’s year by year and play by play sexual assaults since you can read the article on your own but as I read subconsciously I relived the many horrors inflicted on me over the years.  Until Deborah I don’t remember the years in which these things happened but in my mind I can still see those guys’ faces and feel their filthy grimy hands all over my body.

My sexual assaults and rapes started after I joined the Army.  I recall after coming home on leave my recruiter fixed me up with a fellow who lived in my neighborhood and was also home on leave.  Suffice to say he sodomized me in his parent’s downstairs den on their sofa.  I suppose this is what is now called Date Rape.  Several years later I met the same guy at a local church event.  He remembered me and invited me out.  Thank God I had the good sense not to take him up on his offer.

I kept quiet.  I didn’t tell my father but I should have.  I was young and afraid.

This recruiter also had sex with me in his office.

Daddy didn’t know.

Once I returned home my Dad and I regularly did the laundry in a local Laundromat.  The owner also had a fish store and another neighborhood business.  Sometimes my Dad would leave me to watch the clothes while he went to get the paper and coffee.  Once my Dad was out of sight this guy forced me to kiss him.  I can still feel his slimy tongue going down my throat.  I was attacked at his other businesses when my parents sent me to do errands.  I blamed myself. I was young and afraid.

I kept quiet and did not tell Daddy.

After I got out of the service in 1981 I went to work for the Reader’s Digest.  One of the guys in the mailroom would call my house to engage in what people today call phone sex.

I kept quiet and didn’t tell my Father.  I was young and afraid.

The rest of the 80s pass in a blur.  More happened but it’s forced under the surface so I can survive.

By the 90s both my parents died. A screamer intervened. He turned my life upside down with his unreasonable demands. But somehow I managed to escape.

In 2000 I met my smooth talker abuser whom I lived with for seven years.  I was yelled and screamed at, threatened, had my car and money taken from me, and raped repeatedly especially in the last year of our relationship.

Suddenly a bright orange seeped from pores of my every vein and artery.  My life essence had bleed out all over the song, the song all over my life.

Behind The Wall
by Tracy Chapman
Last night I heard the screaming
Loud voices behind the wall
Another sleepless night for me
It won’t do no good to call
The police
Always come late
If they come at all

And when they arrive
They say they can’t interfere
With domestic affairs
Between a man and his wife
And as they walk out the door
The tears well up in her eyes

Last night I heard the screaming
Then a silence that chilled my soul
I prayed that I was dreaming
When I saw the ambulance in the road

And the policeman said
’I’m here to keep the peace
Will the crowd disperse
I think we all could use some sleep’

Fear ruled my life.  I prayed.  He left me Thanksgiving Day November 2007.  One of my closest girlfriends, (at least I thought she was my friend), blamed me when I told her what happened.  She said I brought it on myself.  In other words the abuse was my fault.  So much for sisterly support.  By the way, she is no longer my friend.  I did get up enough courage to tell her off.

Then there was the incident with a member of the Christian clergy.  I went to this man for pastoral counseling.  Things started off well.  He seemed in the spirit of forgiveness because I had to tell him I was living in sin with my abuser.  He seemed to be rather open minded to this concept.  During the course of the conversation somehow my good looks got into the mix.  He speculated on how much I weighed…..the rest of what he said is buried now, much like my faith in Christian Leadership.  The church which should be a safe haven, a safe harbor, sanctuary is not.

I couldn’t tell Daddy.  Daddy was gone.  Only my Heavenly Father knew the extent of the damage this man inflicted on me.  Since that person left I’ve never again been in a sexual relationship with a man.

Since then I’ve been sexually harassed, verbally threatened and stalked in and outside my workplace by both women and men.  Don’t be fooled women can be sexual perpetrators also.  My sexual orientation was brought into question several times.  Only by the grace of God did I survive the rumors and innuendo.  I’ve also had to endure some pretty horrible commentary about my breasts and behind.  I stopped counting the insults coming from female co-workers.

Those sexual harassment laws or regulations do not work.  They are not enforceable because the victim must show proof.  In other words you need a witness.  As many of you know sexually predators obviously trap you where there can be no witnesses.  They get you alone or call you on the phone.  That’s their M.O.  The only thing that saved me on this job was supervisors and other men of character and integrity who intervened so these guys would not maim or kill me.

One other thing I have in common with Ms. Kogan besides our first names is that we are both small framed short women.  I’m five foot one.  I weigh between 110 and 115 pounds.  Thus like Ms. Kogan I’m a convenient seemingly helpless target for men with twisted sexual psyches.

Domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape of girls and women are condoned by the courts, many cultures, religion and society in general.  Women have been reduced to sex objects via the media and especially through the Internet.

Pills are my next weapon. Pills to go to sleep.  Pills for pain.  Pills that can help me obliterate these horrible scenes replaying in mind on an endless loop.


6 Responses to “Patches of Absolution”

  1. She is Terri Linton September 22, 2015 at 2:04 am #

    I recall reading this before and re-read it again just now. What a powerful courageous piece. Your writing and the “other Deborah’s” remind of the harrowing reality of PTSD that sexual abuse survivors are forced to live with. Your strength is an inspiration.

  2. shunpwrites April 29, 2016 at 7:23 am #

    What a powerfully penned narrative, my heart and prayers go out to her.

    • dancingpalmtrees April 29, 2016 at 9:51 am #

      Thanks. That “her” is me.

      • shunpwrites April 29, 2016 at 11:51 am #

        You are powerful beyond measure… Please keep fighting the good fight!


  1. Mable Elizabeth Palmer (An Excerpt from the Memoir) | A Call to Witness - March 8, 2013

    […] Patches of Absolution […]

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