Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from my manuscript detailing my own abuse. Please see “My Story of Abuse” under the category link.
Vic opened the waiting room door and looked at me and smiled his calm and reassuring smile at me. “Come on in Victoria.” I felt very anxious and a bit panic-stricken; this was to be the second session of EMDR therapy. I sat down in my usual chair, and he pulled his up beside of mine and the session began. It was like flipping a light switch off and on. In an instant, I was back to being six years old sitting in the yard all caught up in how warm the sun felt, the chickens cackling in the background.
What most would consider background noise, I was taking it all in with great pleasure.
It started out very pleasant and relaxing, but somehow I knew it wouldn’t end that way. He said, “Tell me about the pump house Victoria.” I could see it in my mind as clearly as I did when I was six years old. It was a little cement block building with green shingles on the roof. It wasn’t very tall at all. A huge black walnut tree stood behind it and its’ branches brushed the top of the pump house. It was the tree our roosters use to roost on waiting for the school bus to come; so they could come and flog us.
The door was wooden and painted white and was made out of small boards about an inch wide running vertically. It had a latch on it for a lock, but there was no lock.
Vic told me to get up and walk towards the pump house. I did and with each step, my breathing became very uneasy and fear started to overcome me. “Go up to the door and tell me what you see.” I was standing in front of the door, and the door began to open slowing and then stop. I heard someone hissing at me, “Hey…hey Dottie. Do you hear me?” He said it loud now and very mean. “Get in here now damn it! I don’t want anyone to see you.” He was trying to whisper it, but his tone was angry and he said it louder than I think he wanted to. There was no one around—just me. He was mad and I was afraid. He opened the door just wide enough for me to squeeze through it.
My breathing had become quite labored and I think I was hyperventilating, and Vic interrupted, “It’s okay Victoria, you’re really not back there—you’re here with me. Do you know who I am?” I nodded in affirmation. He said, “Breathe normal Victoria—it’s okay. You’re in the pump house. What is going on Victoria?”
I’m so afraid; my heart is pounding like it was coming out of my chest and I can’t breathe. “It’s okay, you can breathe—nothing is going to hurt you. Breathe Victoria. Tell me what’s happening?” He’s mad at me and I can smell whiskey and beer on his breath. I am so afraid; we were never supposed to go in the pump house because there were snakes in there. And I am so afraid of snakes. No one is supposed to know, but I’m really petrified of them.
It was dark and very cool in there and I can just barely make out his outline. I can hear him breathing rapidly and I smell the whiskey and beer. He’s yelling at me. I can’t believe what you have done! I am so disappointed in you, and do you know how that makes me feel? That you would lie to me! I hate a liar! Why did you do that?! If one of the other two had done this, it wouldn’t surprise me, but you?!” He was screaming at me and I was trembling. I was in big trouble and I knew it, but I didn’t know what I did wrong. He said I lied about something. I didn’t lie. I found myself saying frantically through my sobs…I didn’t lie. That made him even madder. “Don’t make it worse than it already is! Do you know how much that hurts me and how bad I hate to do this to you?” Oh no, what was he going to do to me now? I was going to get a whipping with the mining belt; I just knew it. He grabbed me and hot tears were running down my face…and I was shaking violently now and trying not to cry, but I couldn’t help it. It was so dark and I couldn’t see and I was so afraid….afraid of him….afraid of the snakes that were in the pump house.
I don’t know what’s happening Vic. “It’s okay Victoria, it’s okay—breathe in and out—breathe in and out; that’s it—you’re okay. Where are you Victoria and what is happening?” There is something cold and wet now at my back. I’m down on the pump house floor. I’m so afraid and he’s screaming at me. “Stop that damn squawlin’ before I slap the shit out of you. Do you know what I could do to you? I’m so ashamed of you and what you did. I should just let everyone know about it and go in and see Miss Hahn and tell her too, then, everyone will know what you are.” I could barely breathe and I was shaking really hard all over, I didn’t know what my Dad was talking about—I didn’t know what I lied about, but he was going to tell my teacher. I knew it had to be real bad because he was so mad at me. He was saying, “I’m going to give you one more chance. This time, I’m going to cover up for you and not let anyone know—it will be our little secret. Your Mother doesn’t even know. And by damn, you better not tell anyone—do you understand me?” Oh god, I was so grateful, he was not going to tell on me.
He said, “You just don’t understand how much I love you and how much this hurts me when you do this kinda’ shit; I have to punish you. I’m your Dad and that’s what Dad’s do. You have to learn somehow. This is going to hurt me a whole lot more than it is going to hurt you.” I braced myself for him to start hitting me with his mining belt. I was crying so hard and my hair was in my face and he was moving my hair back off my face and I could feel something warm and hard against my face. Oh god, what is that? My eyes were shut so tight and I was trying not to cry, but I couldn’t help it; I was so afraid and he said, “My snake wants you to open up your lyin’ mouth. Liars get their mouths washed out, don’t they? That’s what my snake’s going to do to you, and maybe the next time you’ll think before you lie. Open up your mouth Dot, and quit that damn squawlin’ before I beat your ass off.” I tried really hard, but I didn’t know why he wanted me to open my mouth. I tasted his salty fingers, flavored with the taste of nicotine prying my mouth open. He said, “Don’t you dare bite my snake either. Do you hear me, don’t you dare bite!” The snake was in my mouth!!! It was so big and I couldn’t breathe. I felt my Dad’s legs on either side of me and his weight was smashing me into the cold mud. My whole body was screaming in pain. It hurt so bad and I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t—I couldn’t breathe. Oh god, I can’t breathe!
Then I felt my insides pushing up really hard—I was going to puke. But I couldn’t; the snake was in the way. I couldn’t get any air! He kept saying, “Yeh…that’s it, now be nice to the snake.” He wasn’t yelling at me anymore, his voice sounded so strange and distant. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t move anything but my hands. He was holding my arms down with his legs. Frantically I was scratching and clutching the cold mud in my hands and I couldn’t breathe!! I could feel something really warm oozing out of the sides of my mouth and going up my nose; I was so sick and so dizzy and everything hurt so bad. I couldn’t breathe; my stomach kept heaving and heaving . . . then… there was total silence and darkness. Everything stopped. My Dad’s voice was gone, I had stopped trying to throw up; the snake was gone; the cold, wet mud was gone…all the pain was gone. He wasn’t on top of me anymore, and I wasn’t in the pump house anymore.
I felt myself floating upwards, and was lying down. There was a bright light I was moving into. I was still lying down, I was floating upwards. Everything was so calm now. I wasn’t breathing, but it didn’t seem to bother me anymore. I was surrounded by all this brightness; but there was no wind, no air, I wasn’t breathing—just floating upwards. It was so calm and so peaceful and so very quiet…I didn’t hear anything. I couldn’t feel anything at all.