In high school, I wanted to be a nun, a bride of Jesus Christ. Not just any nun, but a Maryknoll nun. One who would minister to the poor, bring them the knowledge of Jesus Christ. I loved Jesus, loved my rosary and did not fit in too well with others. I was unsure of myself and quite shy. There were stresses at home that added to that. I graduated high school never having been asked on a date, never attending my Senior Prom, still waiting for that first magical kiss. I was afraid to tell anyone I wanted to be a nun. After all, they were smart and I wasn’t. They expected you to go to college, learn Latin. No, that was nothing someone like me could do. So you can see, I had a self-image problem, from the very beginning: too fat, not pretty enough, not good at sports, not good at school work, few friends. I had no idea what kind of future I could have not with a pedigree like that! There she was, no skills, few friends, no social life. She discovered a place where none of that mattered, where she could just be, she found dance clubs. Finally, she was not a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. The local military base made one club her favorite as was no shortage of handsome young men to dance with, sometimes take her out on a date. It did not happen often, those dates, but going to those clubs made her feel more like a part of life.
My parents had sent me to secretarial school, but my typing was sad and my shorthand worse. Before they kicked me out, I dropped out. I did not want my parents to know that I wasn’t smart enough to do what my mother had no trouble doing. It seemed better to look the rebellious teenager. So Mom and Dad got me a job at a local bank. There too, it seemed I was another square peg in a round hole. The other tellers only talked to me if the absolutely had to and would make sure I knew I was not part of the group. Well, I quit.
In the process I did find a place where I fit in, on the discotheque or dance club scene. Every now and then I would actually have a date. One Saturday night my date stood me up. I announced to no one in particular; “Well, I am going out anyway.” Mom warned me that it wasn’t right, a lone girl going into a bar alone. “ Oh Mom, it isn’t a bar and I know everyone there. Besides if he shows up I don’t want him to think I didn’t have anything better to do!” I had no idea how right my mother was, but I had gotten into the habit of arguing and doing the opposite of whatever my parents said.
I headed on out to my favorite club which was a ways from home, but it was near a military base so obviously to an eighteen year old, the best possible place to go. When I got there I waved to the owner and the bartenders and then saw a young man I had been wanting to know better. We made small talk for a bit and then he asked if I could run him back to the base so he could grab some more money, he was running light. It was a pretty common thing so I didn’t think much of it. One had to hold a certain rank to be permitted a car and many of the non-coms just hadn’t been in long enough to make rank.
When we got to the car he reached for my keys, “I’ll drive,” he said.
“Oh no you don’t,” I said laughing. “You’ve had too much to drink. I don’t want my car wrecked!”
SLAP! The blow landed hard across my face and almost knocked me to the ground.
“I said “I’ll drive!'” he said again, anger edging his voice. He picked the keys up from where they had fallen out of my hand onto the ground and opened the passenger door for me to get in. Now, I should have ran immediately back into the club screaming my head off, but at eighteen I was nowhere near as sophisticated or street smart as I thought myself to be. I got in quietly, afraid to argue more, too naive to be smart.
He be-bopped around her car and slid into the driver’s seat; “Boy, you have short legs,” he remarked as he pushed the seat back. They were not bucket sets so the entire seat slid back. I did not respond, just looked out the window and wondered if she was going to have a black eye. I will never forget him trying to joke me into a party mood.
He maneuvered the car out of the parking lot and turned right. “Wait, the base is left, why did you turn this way?” I was afraid he would hit me again, but was afraid he had forgotten his left from his right. He wasn’t drunk, he knew exactly what he was doing.
“Oh, just a little something I wanted to show you.” he remarked casually.
I had heard of these tryst spots and did not want to have anything to do with one. What went on in those spots was something I was not ready for and did not want to learn about. “I don’t want to see, let’s just go to the base. I promise I won’t say a word about what happened and you can get another ride back to the bar if you want, I just want to go home.”
“Aw, come on, I promise, nothing will happen, it’s just a nice quiet place, you’d like it.” He never took his eyes off the road.
I felt helpless and lost and moved closer to the door wondering if I could just open the door and fall out of the car. I looked around and didn’t recognize anything and was too afraid to jump from a moving car. So I stayed put and hoped for the best. I just wanted to go home.
He stopped in a deserted area facing a swamp that opened eventually onto the Atlantic Ocean. She was truly lost. There was no water to see, just cattails that belied the wetness of the area. He had driven pretty far in so they were surrounded I couldn’t tell other than by the back of the car which way we had come in.
He reached over and tried to pull me to him. I resisted. He chuckled and moved across the bench seat himself and began to try to seduce me with gentle kisses; but those gentle kisses became harsher and angrier as I tried to push him away.
SLAP! POW! I saw stars. The slap had not been too bad but the punch, I had never been hit so hard in my life. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do next but knew what he planned and what he would do. So there I was, in the middle of who knew where with a man who had no problem beating me up to get his way. How far would he go? How much did I want to get hit? I stopped, stopped resisting, stop responding in any way. I just laid there. This was my first experience with a man and I was beyond terrified.
After a time, he seemed satisfied and sat up and started the car and drove to the base. No words were exchanged until he stopped the car in front of his barracks. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” he began; “If I ever want a date with a really nice girl I will call you.”
I just looked straight ahead. Again I could have called for help, could have told an MP what had happened. I was still so afraid, and now so ashamed. Mom had been right; now I was used.
On the way home, my car started to act up with loud backfires and billows of black smoke. I got as far as my girlfriend’s house. All the lights were out but the car would go no farther. The entire family got up. I scrubbed my face with my hands, put on a smile and asked if I could spend the night. Once in Deb’s house, I ran upstairs to her bedroom and looked at my panties. Tthere was the proof of innocence stolen, they were covered in blood. I screamed a loud, horrified scream and fell on the bed sobbing.
“Is everything alright? What is wrong? Did something happen to you?: Mrs. Rizzi called up the stairs. Deb ran to the door.
“Everything is fine, she was just a little nervous and then tripped and scared herself. She is fine,” Deb called down, trying to cover for me.
Mr. Rizzi called my dad to advise where I was. He shared that he thought something bad may have happened. Kate had not realized how bad she had looked, pale face, in a state of shock.
The next morning mom and dad came out to pick me up. They wanted to see the condition of the car and what it might need. The car engine had blown up and the men decided there was no point even having it towed home so the appropriate arrangements were made. I climbed into the back of Dad’s car and did not utter a word all the way home. Mom and Dad tried to find out what had happened but I stayed tight lipped.
In in those days, a girl was either good or nice. A good girl was a virgin, married a nice man and raised children. A nice girl was the town tramp. I was no longer a good girl, I was a tramp. With that in mind I began to act the part in the way I dressed, talked, and acted.
Dad found this out, what I had become when he was talking to someone who was new to the town. He started to talked about a town tramp he had heard about who was pretty friendly. He only knew her first name and had a general description. As he described her and finally gave the name, her father froze. The man had described his daughter, Kate down to her name.
Mom and Dad tried to get me into counseling which I refused; they tried to restrict my activities by locking me out if I came in too late or threatening to kick me out. I would give them a blank stare and say “If that is what you want.” I didn’t figure I deserved much else.
Finally I became pregnant. My parents had no regard for the man I had been dating. I was in love with him and had daydreams of us raising this child in a land of rainbows and lollipops. Dad ordered him to marry me. Well you didn’t order Frank to do anything. He refused. I was in such a state of confusion and denial I just sat there. Dad and Frank had a pretty bad argument and Dad decided I would never marry him. I was whisked off out of the country for a very illegal abortion.
He was a real doctor and did a number of abortions for people in the States. He was all business and never thought about the placement of the equipment. The vacuum tube ran right next to my face. As the babe was pulled into pieces as the suction machines do, the tube would vibrate as larger parts of my now dead baby were pulled through the tube. I will never forget the sound or the vibrating of that tube. suctioned out. In the recovery room I cried the tears of a mother who lost her child. In my mind an entirely new persona was forming. I had been just a tramp. Now I was a tramp and a murderess. I was worse, I had murdered my baby. What could possibly be lower or more disgusting?
This all took place a few days before Christmas. When I returned home, I slipped out of the house to return Frank’s Navy sailor shirt and other things to him. We sat down on the steps at his rooming house and he apologized for everything and said he thought we should get married. I responded with one sentence; “It’s too late.” We sat in silence for a while and then I got up and left. The next night we found ourselves at the house where he rented a room for Christmas Eve. Mom and Dad were trying to get me to leave the room where Frank was and sit in the dining room with them. My deviant behavior kicked in and I began to jump up and down as hard as I could. I refused to stop and the more people told me to the harder and faster I would jump.
I started drinking heavily and had a brush with alcoholism. I quit drinking for two years but prior to the shock of possible alcoholism; my hard drinking would drown out either what was happening to me or give me the false courage to drive my car into the big oak trees that grew in my neighborhood. The car would never seem to cooperate as my suicide weapon and sometimes I would scream in frustration and fury.
Even though I stopped drinking, my destructive behavior continued and Mom and Dad finally talked me into seeing a psychologist. He did not seem very caring or interested so I put on my show face. I was sent to a woman but I was having no more of it. They couldn’t change what was or had been and in my mind they were putting me down, pointing figers at me. Secular psychiatry offers a hurting person no help, no answers, at least it didn’t for me. They did not see what I needed. I needed to have my soul treated first. They were starting in the wrong place, putting the cart before the horse as it were. No one realized I still wanted to be a nun, dedicate my life to God, but a murderess, a killer of babies? I deserved hell and I knew it.
Years went by and she produced another pregnancy, out of wedlock. I was forced out of the Navy, harassed by the Navy wives, abused by the doctors who would examine me and I found myself back home with Mom and Dad, this time an unwed mother at twenty five.
When I let it be known that the baby’s father was Philippine I was told I had to put it up for adoption. Besides, it would be better for the baby, what could I possibly offer it, someone like me. I was loose and a single parent. I had finally found an obstetrician who treated me with kindness and compassion. He gave me permission to keep the baby. Erick’s birth did not fix me. I was still the tramp who had killed her baby. I was a good mother or tried to be but I always saw myself as garbage.
I married Bob, a monster. He beat Erick to a pulp, this made my final failure complete. I had allowed a monster to beat and possibly permanently damage my child. The marriage lasted five months. Again, she was back with her parents, dependent on them as she could not earn a living wage to feed her and her precious son. He had become her identity, for she had none that she was willing to look at.
As a single parent, I was shunned by married women as a threat to their marriage. I knew they had nothing to worry about, but evidently they were not secure in their marriage. I hated them for that and had “fun” with their attitudes and insecurities. Deep down it hurt so much, but I was used to it.
I met Frank number 2 and we married and I had two more children. I asked Jesus to come into my heart, to be my Lord and Savior, to forgive my sins. Jesus did, I did not. I lived under the guilt of what had happened so many years ago. Eventually I lost sight of why Jesus could possibly love or forgive me. I would reach out to Him – I knew then and know now that he is truth and salvation, but how could I have that I was a murderess, worse, the murderer of my own baby.
The trials of life continued, my younger sons made disappointing choices, I buried my parents, suffered merciless nightmares begged God, apologized to Him, became unbelievably defensive. I was coming undone, not much was mattering any more. All she could see was baby killer.
One sad night Jesus came to me, a dream a vision, I can’t say, but He was there. He dressed me in a white gown and put the most beautiful white veil on my head. He told me I was pure just as my name, Kathleen meant. I shook my head and He stopped me; “You are pure because of My blood. You are my bride and you are pure with no stain of sin.” For forty eight years I had punished myself for that act; longer still for the rape.
Sexual sin, be you the sinner or victim damages you for the rest of your life. I was that girl, I am now that woman and fir the first time in almost fifty years I am beginning to put that sin, the sins it led to, the guild it caused behind. I still give praise because Jesus took what was broken and through His love, mended it, mended me. I am still mending.