For Female Survivors, Male Survivors
'Lily, Lily!' Natalie was shaking with excitement as she ran up to Lily grabbing her arm. Lily looked at her in alarm. She had come to know Nat over the past few months at play rehearsals. Natalie was in Year II, one year older than Lily. At 15, Lily had been cast as the leading lady in 'The King & I', the current school production.
'Oh. Hi Nat, what's wrong?'
'Nothings wrong, I just overheard John Sable talking the other day during rehearsal, about YOU!'
Lily raised her eyebrows,
John was the leading man in 'The king and I'.
'John said that he thought you were quite attractive!' Natalie looked really pleased with herself as if she were imparting information, which would be of extreme satisfaction to any girl. After all, John was tall, handsome and popular among the girls and boys alike.
'Lily, I think he wants to go out with you!' She almost shouted as Lily looked incredulously at her.
'He wants to go out with ME? Why?'
'Oh Lily, you are just unbelievable. Look I've got to go, see you next week.'
'Yeah sure Nat, thanks. Bye.' Lily waved as Natalie raced off across the quadrangle. It was Friday afternoon and Lily headed home after school.
That night as she lay in bed she thought about all the interactions she'd had thus far with John. Sure he was pleasant to her during rehearsal, but he'd not said anything extraordinary to her during the many months of rehearsals.
'Anyway, who cares, it's not like he said anything to me, just Natalie gossiping. He's not even that good looking!' Lily promised herself to waste no more time thinking about John Sable as anything other than her opposite in the play, rolled over and went to sleep.
After a busy weekend rehearsing her lines, Lily was ready for school. She really wanted the play to go well. Dress rehearsal was the coming Thursday, followed by opening night Friday, second night Saturday and a final third performance Friday week. Then there was the cast party on the following Saturday evening.
The performances went well and she felt really elated by the close of the final show. The cast party was a real treat Lily looked forward to after all the hard work by the whole cast. Lily had even bought herself a new outfit from money she had saved from her part time job. Her brother, Manny, drove her there and stayed, as he was a friend of one of the teachers involved in the production.
'Hey Lily, how about you come outside and play ping pong', Lily's friend Ruby sidled up to her and took her arm in hand.
'Sure,' said Lily, ever up for a game she ventured out willingly. But when they got out to the games area, Lily discovered ping pong was different from table tennis! Ruby started kissing John Sable passionately right in front of her.
'Hey you guys, you don't really want me here...' but as she turned to go, John disengaged himself from Ruby, grabbed Lily's arm then began kissing her just as passionately as he had Ruby. Lily couldn't disengage herself, and eventually succumbed. Then Manny came out and said,
'Hang on you guys, what's happening here?'
John was a little taken aback, but quickly regained his composure and asked Manny if it was O.K. to date his sister. Manny replied
'Why don't you ask her? I think Lily might have something to say about it?' He looked on bemusedly as Lily whispered
'O.K.' Lily was dumb struck by what had happened.
Manny hadn't seen John kissing Ruby just moments before.
'Clarke, I think I was raped when I was 15.' She blurted out. Lily had been working up the courage to tell her husband about this for months and finally it came out one evening as she lay in bed. It was something she had buried long ago, but memories had been triggered by an unexpected source. She now felt she had to confront those memories, and deal with them effectively, truthfully, once and for all. Part of that resolution started with telling her husband.
'What?' Clarke was stunned. 'What do you mean?' He sat bolt upright. He knew Lily was serious, she'd been tossing and turning for a good half hour before she'd sat up, leant over him and made her announcement, as quiet as it had been.
'Well, when I was 15, I think I was raped. I don't know for sure, as my memory has holes in it.'
'You'd better tell me about it then,' said Clarke, as calmly as he could. After all, he'd known Lily for over 20 years now, and he was wondering how she could have kept this secret for so long.
'My first boyfriend asked me over for dinner; he was the male lead in the play at school and I was the female lead. I thought his whole family would be there, at his home I mean, for dinner. As it turned out, he was the only one of his family home, but he had his mate there, I can't remember his name. My brother had driven me over, but left before I realised I was there alone with John and his friend. When I asked where his family were, he just said they'd all gone to Queensland for the holidays.
'So, what's for dinner then,' Lily asked John as she sat on a stool at the kitchen bench. This was all very untoward. She felt awkward, uncomfortable and didn't really know what she should do about it.
'Should I leave,' she thought, 'but how, Manny's gone home?'
John's friend Mark stood at one end of the kitchen bench.
'Pancakes,' chirruped John, displaying a packet of pancake mixture.
'Oh that's pathetic. You can't even make pancakes from scratch? Besides, you can't have pancakes for dinner.'
Lily was annoyed. She got off her stool.
'How about a drink?' John pulled out a bottle from the pantry and poured a glass for Lily.
'What is it?' It looked an awful green colour.
'Don't you know? Why it's creme de menthe, try it.' John had confidently told her.
Lily felt embarrassed that she didn't know the drink, so with the bravado of a 15 year old, she sat down again and sipped at the drink offered her.
'Oh come on, it's not that bad.' John soothed.
It was foul, but Lily drank it to prove to her older boyfriend, that she was mature enough to drink. She didn't notice it at the time, but neither John nor Mark drank any of the alcohol. John started to mix the pancake mixture and even got the frying pan out, when Lily started to feel dizzy. She got off the stool and sat down on the carpeted stairs near the kitchen. John came over to her and sat down beside her on the stairs. Mark said something to Jack, but Lily couldn't quite make out what it was. It was the first time she had heard John referred to as Jack. The words rolled around her head 'John Sable. Jack Black' Mark disappeared somewhere; she didn't care. She was aware that John was guiding her up the stairs and into a dark room. There was a pool table and they sat down near one end. He started to take her socks and shoes off, she giggled at the absurdity. Then he held her feet, and all Lily worried about was that they might be dirty. She wasn't fearful of him, after all, she thought she knew him after all those rehearsals. After a while they got up and went into the adjoining room; it was his parents' bedroom. He embraced her and they started kissing. It was as if all her inhibitions had been destroyed ...
Lily couldn't understand it; all of a sudden she was on the bed naked with John right there on top of her. It was like she had jumped in time, she couldn't remember getting onto the bed, let alone getting undressed. Then her mind swirled and she lost consciousness ...
'Oh sh*t Jack, is she O.K.?' Mark was really scared. Both Mark and John were supporting Lily as she vomited into the bath. She babbled out incoherently between each hurl.
'Of course she is, just hold her properly so she doesn't crack her head open on anything.' John was grim faced as they both lifted Lily out of the bathroom and carried her back to the bed.
'Help me get these things back on her and we'll get her home as soon as possible.' The two boys carried her fully dressed out to the garage.
'Keep the lights off and we'll push it down the driveway. That way, none if the neighbours will tell Dad we took the car out.' John spoke to Mark in a whisper.
'Whas happenin ... ' Lily spoke as she sat up in the back seat. She could just make out the two boys in the front seat of the car as they drove along dark deserted streets. The world was becoming clearer around her.
'It's O.K. We're just driving you home, almost there in fact.' John acted as if nothing wrong had happened. 'Here we are. Are you good to go? I can't come in; I have to get the car back soon, it's pretty late.'
'Ummm, sure, I'll just get out,' Lily felt far from good to go as he so blithely put it, but she didn't want to seem immature. She got out and made her way across the road as John and Mark drove off. Luckily for John, Lily's bedroom was in the rear bungalow, so no one saw the state she was in when she arrived home. Once inside her room, Lily crashed onto her bed fully clothed. 'And what do you think happened?' Clarke held Lily's hand.
'What do you think happens when an 18 year old boy is naked in bed with his 15 year old girlfriend? Do you think he stops mid way? I don't know what happened but I do have my suspicion. And what was his mate doing there? I feel like hitting him really hard in the face. Scarring him like he scarred me!' Lily was reliving the emotions.
'I see what you mean. Bastards. Two of them! Bastards!' Clarke was angered at the abuse.
'Why didn't you report it at the time?'
'As I said, I couldn't remember everything. I don't remember getting dressed or undressed. And well, I felt embarrassed and ashamed.' Lily's voice had dropped to a harsh whisper.
'Why didn't you tell me earlier?' Clarke implored.
'I thought I'd buried it. And then something happened last month that triggered all those horrible memories. Remember how the oven broke down, well, the guy who came had the same surname as a classmate of mine. He turned out to be his older brother. It dawned on me that he was in the same year as my first boyfriend. When I mentioned his name the guy said he was a friend of his. Even though I knew I was treading on thin ice, I said that I was in the school play with his friend. That's when he looked point blank at me and said
'Oh, you're that girl ...' Then he just changed the subject and got back to fixing the oven. I've been having sleepless nights ever since with the worry that I never really knew what went on that night and really angry that I never confronted him about what I did remember.'
'I feel angry! I could kill him for you.' Clarke looked menacingly at the imagined boyfriend.
'Don't you dare. That would be too quick for him.' Lily laughed, lightening the mood.
'You know, I don't want you to get upset by this, but that really explains a lot about you that I've never understood until now.' Clarke dropped his gaze as he spoke.
'Do you want to report it now?'
'No. It's too long ago, besides, I don't think it would do me any good. I just feel the need to purge these memories. I going to see my doctor tomorrow, and I intend to tell her about it. I need counselling or just to talk about it so I can work it out of my system. I'm sick of the insomnia.'
'That's a great idea. I'll stay home from work tomorrow if you need to.'
'No. Thanks, but Mum's coming over to look after the kids. I'll be right. Thanks for understanding.'
'Hey, that's what I'm here for.' Clarke wrapped his arms around Lily. He wanted to stay there forever.
Lily spoke to her doctor about her ordeal the following morning.
'Look, I want to be as much help to you as possible. If you want to talk about it more with me I am more than happy to, but it is not my area of expertise. Or, I can give you the telephone number of a counsellor who specializes in this area.' Lily assented. The doctor wrote out the number on a piece of paper and gave it to Lily.
'Hello. I'm just ringing about something that happened to me 25 years ago when I was 15. Do you deal with that sort of thing?' Lily tentatively asked the voice on the other end of the line.
'All the time. My name's Mary. Why don't you come in and see me so we can work this through for you and hopefully get some sort of closure.'
'Thanks, that's what I really need.' Lily made the appointment but still felt unsure about just what she would tell this counsellor.
Of course, the ordeal didn't end for 15 year old Lily when she got home that night. After all, she was supposed to be dating John. He asked her over to his place again, this time she made sure his parents were at home. John waved cheerily as her mother dropped her off. Once she'd driven off, he quickly guided Lily out to a back shed, where he'd already laid a blanket down and proceeded to attempt sex with Lily. This time though, Lily was wide awake and even though she did not want to appear a prude and agreed to drop her pants, she was so shy and intimidated that penetration was impossible. They went inside the house where a totally freaked out Lily tried to converse with John's parents and siblings. She noticed how meek John's mother was, and how antagonistic John's father was to John. Lily still didn't get it; John just wanted sex, not Lily.
Lily invited John out to ride her horse, Charger. Lily felt in control when she rode Charger. John didn't. He made some stupid comment to her about getting married and moving into a house just like the one they rode past.
'But you're going to America on a tennis scholarship?' Lily knew this, he'd told her.
John didn't respond, just another lie.
John invited her back to his house again. This time though, it was a double date. Another girl, Kelly, would be there with Mark, and John with Lily. Lily knew why she was going this time. She played along, but once again, she was wide awake, no intoxication to blur her senses. Yet again, penetration was not possible; Lily started to think something was wrong with her. John and Mark got Lily into the bathroom while Kelly went to the toilet. It was here they asked her if she remembered vomiting into the bathtub the other night. And how she had told them that her Father had tried to make her Mother have a miscarriage when she was pregnant with Lily.
'No.' Lily was bewildered. She could not recall a single detail of what they had described to her. Lily knew she had never told anyone about her Father and his behaviour to her Mother during the pregnancy.
'It must be true,' she thought to herself, although she was mute to both John and Mark. Her life was becoming alarmingly surreal. She couldn't remember how she got home that night either.
Before John left for America, Lily visited him at his home. Her Mother drove and stayed during the visit. John's Mother was so nice to Lily and sweetly showed her where John's bedroom was, so they could make there farewell privately. Lily had never seen John's bedroom before; it was small, with a small single bed in the corner and a desk with a single chair. John was seated at his desk when she walked in. He seemed nervous which surprised Lily.
'I just came to say goodbye and good luck,' Lily smiled and passed him a present. It was a silver bracelet with the words 'To John With Love Lily' engraved on the back.
She liked him then, but that was before she found out what he was really like, once she'd had time to reflect 25 years later.
He stood up as he took it, but then sat down on his bed to open it. He didn't say much. She said goodbye and left the room.
John didn't follow. He was scared. He was scared Lily had told her Mother about what he had done to her. He was scared that he would have to tell his Mother about what he had done to this girl. He was scared of his Father. He heard Lily leave the house with her Mother. He blew out a sigh of relief and couldn't wait until he left for America.
Lily's life was far from trouble free even before John had interfered with her. Her parents had divorced several years prior after an abusive marriage. After John left for America, Lily's parents had their divorce settlement. Lily and her Mother moved out of the family home and into a flat close to Lily's school. Lily's Mother became depressed and seemed no longer able to cope. She constantly abused Lily's Father, and on the weekends Lily saw her Father, Lily's Father constantly abused her Mother. It was a trap out of which Lily saw no way out. She became depressed herself, although she had never even heard that term before. She attempted suicide, not once, not twice, but three times. Each time she should have been successful, if that is a word you can apply to suicide.
The first time, she took all of the pills prescribed to her by a doctor to rid herself of an anxiety itch. She didn't die, but lost a week of memory. She made a new best friend at school! She was called in by the school councellor to ask if she was on drugs. It must have been some week.
The second time, she was feeling unwell at school; depression would have been an accurate diagnosis. She lay down on the bed and the teacher left the room. Lily saw the furniture polish on the windowsill. It was a full bottle. Mechanically, she got up, reached for the bottle, unscrewed the cap and poured the entire contents down her throat. She replaced the cap and the placed the bottle back where she'd found it. She lay back down. When the cleaner came in later she saw the empty bottle. She was suspicious of the girl lying on the bed. She checked the sink and could find no trace. Lily said she didn't know what had happened to the bottle. Lily didn't die. Luckily for her the furniture must have been plain oil. Lily's suicide attempts were starting to look like a comedy skit. If only it wasn't so serious.
The third time she took a packet of paracetemol at home. She intended to go to sleep and never wake up. Instead she argued with her Mother who then rang Manny for help. Her brother arrived and saw how distressed Lily was. He told his Mother that he was taking Lily home to his place for a break. It was on this drive that Manny realized that Lily was unwell. He asked her if she had taken anything. Lily said 'yes' in a way that rang alarm bells.
'How many have you taken?'
Manny drove Lily to the nearest hospital where the hospital staff pumped her stomach. She was kept there for several days in the geriatric ward. It was here that Lily felt truly remorseful for the selfish actions she had taken. She saw people all around her hanging onto life while she had tried to rid herself of hers. She felt guilty about how much sorrow she would cause for her brother and her Mother. She felt that she had been given a lucky escape for the third time and that maybe it just wasn't her time.
Of course she didn't think all those things straight away. She thought them over the ensuing 25 years, when she found time for reflection. The adult Lily was truly thankful that her life did not end all those years before. She had been lucky because she'd had supportive people around her at that time. She had been lucky to fall in love with someone who returned her love, although it took her a long time to trust him. She had been lucky to have two beautiful children. Her life was whole, but there was unfinished business, which just would not go away by itself She had to dredge up the past and deal with it. Then she hoped to bury it.
On the day of her first meeting with Mary, Lily spoke for two and a half hours. She let it all out like she had never done before to anyone. She told Mary everything she could remember about what had happened, her feelings, her actions and even how she felt about it now. It was such a relief to speak to someone non judgemental, and who had so much empathy and understanding. One who could add small comments along the way, which never jarred with Lily's confidence and self-esteem.
'I'm not sure that I have much cause for grievance? There are so many other girls out there with far worse stories than mine. I feel so stupid. I know with hindsight that I was taken advantage of, but I put myself in that situation. I want the adult me to reach back in time to the girl me and tell her to slap John's face that first time he kissed me. To turn around and walk off. Don't look back Lily; you're life will be so much more carefree for the next ten years at least!' Lily cried. She didn't want to be that victim, but she was and she felt the full force of her despair come back on her.
Mary spoke plainly to Lily
'You were only 15. He gave you alcohol. He made sure his parents weren't home. He had his friend there as a further means of intimidation. He premeditated that night, believe me, a lot of planning went into getting everything in his favour that night. If he was capable of that at I8, just imagine what he is capable of now? You have to understand that what he did to you was a crime. It was not your fault and it could have been any other girl he plucked off the street at the time, it was just unlucky for you that it was you. There is nothing you did that you should blame yourself for.' Slowly the weight seemed to lift off Lily's shoulders. It was as if Mary had managed to touch that 15 year old girl on the shoulder and tell her 'it was alright', that 'she was going to be fine.'
Lily went back to see Mary several times, and on the last visit they addressed the issue of closure for Lily. 'Before I came here, I had so much bitterness inside me. I wanted to tell him that I reserved HATE for murderers and rapists, and that I hated him. I wanted to know the full extent of what happened and why he did what he did. And I really wanted to hit him as hard as I could. But now, I know that what happened back then can never affect what and who I am now. I don't even need to know what happened anymore. I know I am lucky to have survived and come through the other side. I know I am lucky to have a loving family around me now. I just want him to know that I know, that what he did was wrong. No, not just wrong, it was criminal. Although I would still hit him if I saw him in the street, and I would own up to it! I wouldn't be a coward like him and hide, and I'd tell the whole world what he did!' Lily laughed outright and Mary joined her.
Lily said good bye to Mary and thanked her for her warmth and compassion. And even though it was a cold and overcast day outside, Lily felt the sun shining inside her. She hadn't felt this way for so long, she cried with joy. And she felt good.