© 2018 by Kate Ryan.

I was born in Israel.

My mother graduated from elementary school. 

My father didn't finish elementary school. 

 

My mom was a very passive, submissive person. 

My dad was the one controlling the home. 

There was a lot of love from her, a lot of aggression from him.

My sister and brother were beaten up quite a lot. 

I was not. 

I was the youngest. 

 

One night before I started 7th grade, I woke up to find my dad rubbing his penis against my behind. 

I was frozen and paralyzed.

I didn't know what to do. 

So I pretended as if I didn't wake up. 

When he finished what he was doing and left, I remember standing by the window in the room and thinking that I have to deal with a new reality in my life.

 

This entire thing went until I was 17—pretty much ongoing, on a weekly basis. 

 

*

 

I did a lot of things to signal to people around me that something is wrong. 

During the winter, if I wore pajamas that were not tight, I use to take socks and tie the bottom so nobody could lift them.

I also tied very tightly the waste of the pants so nobody could undress me. 

Sometimes in the summer, when I couldn't do that, I used to wrap the blanket around me. 

I hated him, but I knew that I needed him. 

It's a feeling of being in a cage. 

He was a very scary man. 

You couldn't predict how he was going to behave. 

But I knew that he was important for my existence. 

 

I wasn't a rebellious child. 

I always had good grades.

I was very good at math. 

Also science. 

I never created a problem for them. 

 

The question was always, of course, why did it happen to me? 

What did I do to cause this? 

I used to have a lot of crying attacks where I would start crying uncontrollably. 

 

It's not like I was always miserable. 

I had friends. 

I was in the youth movement. 

I served in the army.

 

I kind of had a double life. 

 

*

 

My fear with telling about it—it's kind of a double edged sword. 

One, there's always the possibility that he will deny. 

I will have to stay in that home. 

The other option is that someone will believe me, and he will get kicked out.

And my mom is not sufficient to raise us. 

It was easier just to suffer. 

 

*

 

I came to college here.

I was living with my brother and sister. 

I worked at a bagel store. 

 

My parents decided to also come here, because they were all by themselves in Israel. 

My father saw this other bagel store is doing so well, and he decided to open one. 

I said, "Ok, since I know the business, I study at night, and I will help you for about 6 months.” 

After two months I realized there is no way that he will be able to run this business.

 

I continued studying at night and working at the bagel store.

7 o'clock in the morning until 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then go to school. 

Working 7 days a week for two to three years. 

{O said that in the early 90’s daytime TV shows like Oprah were discussing sexual abuse on a regular basis.}

 

It brought a lot of the memories: being exposed to all this as well as working with my dad seven days a week. 

One day we had an argument, and I was so frustrated that I went to my sister.

I said, “I cannot do this anymore.  I cannot work with him.” 

I told her what he did to me.

 

She hugged me, and she said, “I'm so sorry.” 

She was really concerned about me. 

That brought a lot of emotional feelings inside of me: the idea that somebody knows about it.

 

I sank into a clinical depression. 

I was crying all the time. 

One day, I arrived at the bagel and I told my mom, "I've decided to kill myself today." 

 

She took me to a psychiatrist in the city.

He went to my mom and said, "I have to put her in an institution.”

I said, "Mom, don't put me in an institution.  I don't want to be there."

My mom was a very weak kind of person, and she said "Sure, I'll take you home."

I had Tylenol in my car, and I put 11 Tylenol pills in my pocket. 

 

At night when I came home from the psychiatrist, I took all the pills and I went to sleep to die. 

I was waiting and waiting and waiting. 

And then something happened. 

I went to my mom, and I said, “I took all these pills.” 

So they rushed me to the hospital [and] pumped my stomach.

 

My aunt decided to come to the psychiatrist. 

I was telling them that I worked very hard. 

I'm not saying anything about the fact that something happened. 

And they call me back and say, "Is there anything else that you'd like to tell us?" 

And then I told them. 

 

I found out that the same thing happened to my aunt when she was 5 years old. 

I'd left working in the bagel. 

I got accepted to Columbia for a master's degree in computer science. 

 

They had a flier saying if you were sexually abused we'd like to interview you for psychological research. 

So I'm sitting in the interview, and I'm sobbing and crying as I describe what happened to me.  And when I left to the interview, I thought, "Oh my god.  You are really not well.”

And I made a conscious decision to go back to therapy.

 

I asked the person running the research to recommend somebody. 

I said, "Can you recommend a male therapist?  Because if I have a problem with males, I need to deal with it from that perspective." 

 

I went twice a week for 4 years. 

I did a lot of work of trying to rediscover who I am and try to work through the blame of myself.

 

*

 

Right after around a year—I think I was 27—I started having the feeling that I need to confront my dad.   

One day, it dawned on me that the right thing to do was actually to confront both of them. 

Because if I confront my dad, he might not do anything about it. 

If I confront my mom, she might not do anything about it. 

 

I called a meeting.

I said to my dad, "I want you to tell mom what you did to me when I was young." 

And he said, "I didn't do anything to you." 

I said to him, "You know you did something to me, and I'd like you to tell her what you did." 

He kept denying it.

I said, "Do you remember when you used to come to my bed at night and do this and this and this?” 

My mom was so angry. 

She started yelling at him. 

And he kept saying, "I didn't do any of this." 

And I said, "You know you did that." 

And I kept describing it. 

I kept describing how I used to tie my pajamas and all these things. 

And he said, "You were just dreaming it.  It was at night.  You're making it up." 

And then he said, "Your therapist put it in your mind.  You know it never happened." 

And I kept saying, "That's what you did." 

 

My mom was very adamant that he's not staying. 

And the next day he asked my brother to arrange a flight to Israel. 

And he just left. 

 

*

 

I felt this is my responsibility to take care of her.

So at first it was all about letting her talk about it—letting her ask me any question that she'd like to ask. 

Making her feel comfortable, that it's not the end of the world that it happened, that I'm much better, and I'm healing. 

And really making sure she doesn't do anything to herself. 

 

I actually found out my mom suspected that he was doing that when I was 16. 

She went to my sister, because my sister and my mom are very close in age. 

At the time my sister was already married. 

My sister said, "Have her live with us." 

And my mother said, "How am I supposed to tell her that she should live with you? 

I cannot tell her that I'm suspecting something like this."

She didn't know what she was going to do. 

Her mom died when she was 7 and her dad died when she was 13. 

And she had a step mother that destroyed her: beating her and making her feel like nothing. 

She got married when she was 17. 

I understand why she couldn't do anything. 

 

*

 

After three months she went to Israel to see him. 

She says he admitted that he did that. 

And of course he blamed her. 

Because she wasn't a good enough wife for him. 

So he had to do that. 

He couldn't go to a prostitute. 

He had to destroy his daughter's life. 

 

And then my dad had a stroke in Israel.

She needed to go there to manage things.

It was very important for me that I would help her go through the process. 

He went to rehab and a few months later passed away. 

I did not fly to the funeral. 

I continued therapy for another four years, doing psychodynamic. 

After four years I made a decision that I should go into psychoanalysis.

I felt that there was a lot of work that needed to be done on my sexuality and how I see sex and how I relate to sex. 

 

From a dress code perspective, it took my three or four years in therapy to allow myself to wear open shoes. 

I don't know why it is. 

After four years I bought my first pair.

I think that until I started therapy, the concept of taking care of myself didn't even exist. 

 

Therapy was not a walk in the park. 

I used to have dreams—I had one dream in therapy that my father was peeing on my face. 

I knew that it's a dream, but I couldn't stop the dream. 

Therapy was extremely excruciating in terms of the amount of crying. 

Looking back I think I was an extremely strong person to go through that, to really push myself. 

 

*

 

I've been doing meditation for about 10 years. 

It brought me from being happy to being joyous. 

I learned to be very grateful for everything that is happening in my life. 

I recommend everybody meditate. 

 

*

 

From my perspective, the sexual abuse is something that happened to me in the past. 

I think it stopped impacting my life probably after I got married. 

Because our sexual life was amazing. 

I got divorced recently, but throughout that I had a very happy relationship. 

I dearly loved my ex-husband. 

We just grew apart recently, and it didn't work anymore. 

And at the same time, I developed an amazingly successful career. 

I have two step daughters.

I have two grandsons. 

I adore them. 

I have a lot of friends.

I count my blessings every day. 

 

*

 

Now I've reached a point in my life where I feel that who I am and how I feel about myself is at the peak, so my story will be heard the way I want it to be heard. 

 

My agenda really is to inspire other girls that may be going through that right now or went through that and have no idea how to get the support that they need. 

I want them to realize that they can do it. 

They can create the lives they want for themselves regardless of how horrible the past was. 

 

-O