Rebecca’s Story: My story of abuse and aftermath

Rebecca’s Story: My story of abuse and aftermath

I was born on January 8 1980 in Readfield, Maine, I was my parents’ first child and my sister was born in 1982, my parents never really got along very well and though they tried for my sister and I, they eventually separated in 1983 and their short marriage officially ended in 1985,

I met my best friend, “S”, in Kindergarten and we were inseparable, I had trouble with shyness and making friends, but somehow S and I clicked, we spent all our time playing together, or exploring as we called it, we explored our backyards and as we got older we explored the nearby forest, as my sister “M” got older she became the third member of our exploration team, S and I always wanted to be teachers, ever since our elementary school teacher took the extra time to encourage us and help us see learning as fun instead of boring, also joining us was our mascot Rocky, my pet raccoon who loved grapes and attention, so M, S, Rocky and myself were always active, or overactive really and would run around madly all day and seemed to have boundless energy, my life was almost unbelievably happy thinking back on it, I had more fun than I ever could have asked for,

Me and my family always went to the state fair in Bangor every year without fail, so in 1990 when I was 10, we planned to head off however as Mom was unwell the first week we instead went on the last two days, we left out home in Readfield at around 6am on Saturday August 4 and arrived at the fair just before 9am, as always M and I were running around like mad having fun, I would say I was a very friendly child but also a very naive and trusting one, I always found it easier talking to adults rather than children and I always believed adults were good and honest people who would never harm me, so when I met “Frank”, no thats not his real name, I am using a different one for legal reasons, Frank saw me admiring some horses and started talking to me, Frank explained he was a veterinarian and specialised in horses, I was amazed and want to learn more about them, horses were my favorite animal, so when my Mom saw me talking to Frank, who appeared to be a respectful and professional looking adult, she thought nothing of it and even introduced herself and M to him, so I talked to Frank for an hour or so and eventually went back to out crazy adventures, the next day Sunday the 5th, I again met Frank who offered me what sounded like the chance of a lifetime, to join him on an adventure helping horses, all he needed was my address, I hesitated knowing Mom had told me never to give it to anyone but I so believed what he said that I relented and gave it to him, Frank asked our plans and I told him, he then gave me instructions on how to meet him, and I promised I would follow them and not tell my Mom, I know looking back on it that this is the most stupid thing a child could possibly do but at my age and with my lack of understanding the dangers of the world I thought it was exactly as he had told me, a chance to help horses and go on an adventure, so after we got home that night and everyone, including Mom had gone to bed I climbed out my window and waited for Frank, just as he had instructed me to, around midnight he showed up and we left on what I thought would be the journey of a lifetime,

So my journey of a lifetime only ended up taking just across the border to Berlin, New Hampshire, by the time I started realising I was in trouble the situation had already gotten far outside of my ability to control or even understand, so when I ended up in Frank’s house, locked up in the cellar I had no idea what he wanted from me but I knew things were going to go badly for me, so after being left along for “ages” though ages to a 10 year old was really more like 45 minutes to an hour for anyone else, when he returned I begged him to let me go home, saying I was sorry for whatever I had done to make him mad and that I would never mention his name or anything about him, he found this funny and I almost felt safer for a second because he laughed which I thought was good, I had idea of the hours of sexual abuse and pain that would follow, most of it I ended up blocking from my memory, I do remember though after it was done I felt as though something inside of me had been torn away from me and stolen by him, when he returned with food, pancakes, I was too distraught to eat, I had no idea what was going on or why he was doing these things to me, I refused and he warned me I would be punished if I didn’t but again I couldn’t, so Frank got mad at me for disobeying him and punished me by assaulting me again, this time in a different and more painful way, after this was over I remember all I wanted was to die, and he left me along in the dark to bleed and suffer, a lot of thoughts raced through my mind, my Mom, M, Rocky and S, all the things I knew at that moment I would never see again,

When Frank returned hours later, again with food I did like I was told and ate, I wasn’t hungry and actually felt sick to the point of almost throwing up but I couldn’t bare the thought of being punished again, I again begged to go home and Frank told me that this was my home now, he also told me he loved me but of course I didn’t believe him, for the next few days I managed to avoid punishment by doing as I was told, no matter how much I didn’t want to or how much it hurt, I tried desperately thinking of ways to escape but none of them would have worked, except maybe in my mind, on my eleventh birthday on January 8 1991 I was given a present, or really I was myself a present for him, though somehow in his mind this was something I would enjoy, that day is nothing but an endless blur of pain and I would look back on it as the second worst day of my life, by the time my twelfth birthday came around I was finally allowed to wear clothes again, however Frank had started telling me over and over again that no one loved me and no one wanted me but him, that my family would never want or take me back after what I had done, the worst thing wasn’t the abuse or the fear, it was the loneliness and isolation I felt, sometime in 1992 after accidentally saying something about Frank’s mother, I ended up having my wrist fractured, of course he apologised for it but also said I had made him do it, he bought a brace from the pharmacy and “fixed” it but it never healed properly and ended up with nerve damage,

Things continued like this, I won’t go into more specific detail because one; my mind has blocked a lot of it out, and two; almost every day was exactly the same, darkness, isolation and sexual abuse, by the time I was 14 I had created an incredibly vivid imaginary world for myself, a place where I was safe and happy, where no one would hurt me, sometime in 1994 I started feeling “strange”, I didn’t know why but I assumed I was getting sick, so you can imagine my; shock, terror, fear, any and all of those words fit, when I was informed I was going to be a mother, Frank on the other hand seemed ecstatic about the idea of being a father, as some time went by I started thinking maybe it would be good to have someone to love me and someone for me to love, I was 14 so this reasoning made sense to me, however a few months later Nicole “Nicky” died before she could be born, I don’t know if it actually would have been a girl or not but I imagined it was and gave her a name, she deserved that much at least, I felt it was my fault she died and when Frank found out that I had done, he got mad and attacked me but stopped short of strangling me, so he left me alone without food or water for a week, I reasoned I had been left to die, I laid in the same spot and I cried until I no more tears left, after a week when

Frank finally returned I was almost dead, all I could say was “I’m sorry” though I don’t think I was saying it to him, I was saying it to Nicky, so Frank apologises and tells me its not my fault and he still loves me, he gave me water, and bathed me, then he took me to his room, it was so beautiful to have a bed and be clean and somewhere nice, Frank kept telling me he loved me over and over again, and reciting his rhetoric that no one in the world wanted me or loved me but him, finally on the third day I gave in and told him I loved him, I was so mentally broken and so desperate for someone to love me and take away my pain that I finally gave in and allowed myself to feel the same for him, he was the only person in my world and I needed someone,

So after two weeks in his room, I was informed it was time to go, I feared going back into my bleak prison surrounded by darkness, but to my surprise I got my own room, which was actually nice, well compared to what I was used to anything would be nice, but it was light, and had colors and didn’t smell, it was beautiful, so I had a lot better prison, and although the sexual abuse started again almost immediately I was so overjoyed to be somewhere so nice I almost didn’t care, I gradually got more freedom as time went by, I started to think I was in a normal loving (though highly abusive) relationship, I cooked and cleaned and did as I was told, when I was 17 I had got sick of my existence, I was always scared and in pain and I hated myself for loving a monster like Frank, so I decided to kill myself but I didn’t have the courage, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t do it, but this phase ended when I was allowed into the back garden for 5 minutes late one night, I looked at the stars and remembered my mother how she had held me and told me about the constellations and how I could reach any star if I tried hard enough, and I felt the grass under my feet and remembered my sister, M, that day before I was taken that night, had been the happiest of my life, me and M and Mom had a ball, I remembered the world existed around me, I remembered people loved me, and I remembered I was me, a person not a piece of property, though knowing this and doing something about it were two distinctly different things, I continued being submissive but kept thinking of how to escape, in August 1997 I was allowed to go to the store with Frank, a lady noticed I looked and behaved odd, being a teacher she could tell something was wrong but both Frank and I convinced her I was fine, that I had just been sick and was very shy, I wanted to say something but I thought it would put her at risk, the last thing I wanted was to have anyone else hurt because of me, on Friday October 31 1997 I finally found my courage, and my opportunity to escape,

I got dressed, stole Frank’s wallet and snuck out, by this time I wasn’t locked in as he believed my submissiveness would keep me from leaving him, I made it outside and ran and ran, I had no idea what town or even what state I was in, I found a park and I sat down on a bench, I was terrified he would come after me but I was so exhausted I couldn’t go any further, I waited until morning and wandered into town, I know looking back going to the police would have been the smart move, but I was so damaged it was the last thing I thought of I just wanted to go home, and out of surprise I happened upon a bus company which had a bus going to Augusta, Maine, 15 miles from my home in Readfield, so I waited all day for the bus to leave at 3:30pm, it was coming from Manchester, New Hampshire, I attracted the attention of a lady who worked there, I wouldn’t tell her what was happening but she surmised I was escaping an abusive relationship, I got off the buss at Winthrop, Maine about 10 miles from my home, and I walked him, it took me three hours but I was so determined I could have worked for 3 days, I arrived home at around midnight on Saturday November 1 1997, 2,643 days after I had snuck out to meet Frank, I tried to get up the courage to knock on my door, but Frank’s rhetoric was going on and on in my mind, I feared my Mother would hate me and what I had become, but I wanted so desperately to see her and M one last time, so I knocked and my Mom didn’t quite recognise me at first until I said “Mom” and she realised it was me,

Mom welcomed me home, and set aside my fears by saying she loved me, no matter what had happened, I saw my sister M who did the same, I was finally home, the police were called and questioned me, though my communication skills were limited by my lack of access to outside stimuli and this should have been the time Frank was arrested and sent to jail forever, but though this kind of thing is sadly all too common nowadays, back then most people didn’t understand about how things like this happened, there were so many questions I couldn’t answer; Why did I leave with a stranger willingly? Why didn’t I run away before? Why didn’t I call for help? Why didn’t I speak up in the store that day? Why didn’t I go to the police when I escaped? The answer is mental conditioning, and/or brainwashing but in 1997 in rural Maine no one believed this could ever happen, and no one believed I could have so many chances to escape and didn’t, so my case went away, I was the girl who ran away, ended up in an abusive relationship and made up a crazy story to cover it up, I was partly devastated but also so happy to be home I didn’t care as much as I may have otherwise,

The police made me see a psychologist, feeling I was mentally unstable, she told my mother I was so mentally damaged I would never be able to lead a normal life, this alone should have told the police I was telling the truth, but it didn’t and they closed the case without action, so I went on with my life, what small scrap of if I could piece back together, I got my GED, I went to college and I got a job helping people, ironically had my story been believed and had Frank been prosecuted I would have never been able to do the job I wanted because people with severe mental trauma are not allowed to work for the federal government, so it worked out for the best, I am finding my way towards happiness and away from pain, Frank died in 2005 in his home in Vermont, having moved sometime after I escaped, he had ended up drinking himself to death, I was so happy to know that my life had been the only one he had stolen, and that no one else ever suffered what I did at his hands,

I have a lot of problems, trust is the biggest one, I am always scared of being hurt again, but I am slowly working my way back to the person I used to be, the one who was stolen and locked away but is slowly reemerging, I will make it.


Editor’s Note: This Story was edited with permission rankrom Rebecca, in order to exclude identifying details for others.




When You're is a community for survivors of sexual violence to share their stories.