When I started my journey of healing, one of my strongest memories was the voice of my inner child screaming, “Please don’t hurt me, Daddy!” Oh, he didn’t beat me. Instead, his violence took the form of molesting me, starting at the age of two, raping me at the age of nine and continuing to do so until I was thirteen and graduating from elementary school.
It was painful physically, especially when he used foreign objects, but the scars to my psyche were far worse than the ones to my body. Like all other victims of abuse, my sense of self disappeared, or never really had a chance to form. Even after the abuse had stopped, daddy was the person I most wanted to please. I became a lawyer, just like daddy. I joined him as a partner in his law firm. I was his friend and companion. It was all about daddy.
And who was I? I was a mess. In trying to cover up the lie of my life, I became addicted to booze and Valium as a teen and young adult. I slept around, waking in strange beds after alcoholic blackouts. I was sick a lot. And then, in my mid-twenties, I got cancer.
Cancer was a wake-up call of gigantic proportions. Soon I was in AA, giving up alcohol and pills in one fell swoop—forever, one day at a time. Because I didn’t want invasive surgery, I started to seek out alternative health practitioners and healers. I did everything I could to bring all the hidden and repressed painful emotional experiences of my life into the light of a new day.
I journaled like crazy, allowing my emotions to run rampant on the page. I had a lot of therapy. And most importantly, I learned how to meditate and how to access the space of peace and clarity deep within me. Ultimately, I had a remission from the cancer and became a student and later a teacher of alternative medicine myself. Today, I’m an abuse and addiction expert, and have written a book, Truth Heals: What You Hide Can Hurt You, which tells parts of my story along with a process for connecting our emotions to what’s happening to us physically.
When Mackenzie Phillips told her incest story on Oprah, it reminded me of the time when my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given six months to live, he wanted to go to Rome. Good Catholic that he was, he wanted to see the Vatican and St. Peter’s. My mother suggested I take him there. After all, wasn’t it my job to keep daddy happy? Needless to say, that was never going to happen. Instead, the whole family went. Even though my father was quite ill, I still locked the door to my single hotel room each night during the trip.
Incest and sexual abuse are just as violent as physical battering, as demeaning as verbal abuse. It makes the victim feel shameful, guilty, and “dirty.” It takes a lot of courage to speak out, so I’m very proud of and grateful to all of the survivors of domestic violence who are now telling their stories. Someday, hopefully, no child will be screaming, “Daddy, please don’t hurt me.”