Disclaimer: Please be advised that the following session has bad language and talks about sexual abuse.
“Let’s discuss the night you decided to turn yourself in, Eve.”
I flinch a little thinking about that night. Not only because of what happened to me, but because it makes me think of the two people who almost destroyed me. My father was a terrible man, but what Laurence did to me, and ultimately what Billy did nearly broke me. Hell, maybe it has broken me.
“Okay,” I say softly, but don’t continue. I don’t know how, or if I want to.
Dr. Woodrow sat quietly, waiting me out. She was extremely unnerving. Most people are intimidated by me, but she certainly isn’t. Sigh.
“Laurence and his buddies finished with me, and I knew I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to take my chances with the authorities. I thought it couldn’t get much worse than what happened to me. Even if they threw me in jail, it would have been better than what happened to me.” I pause. “Death would have been better,” I whisper.
“Let’s go over what happened to you,” Dr. Woodrow prodded gently.
“Do we have to?”
“Of course not. But I think it would help you.”
“Call it a cleansing of the soul. A purging of all of the horrible things that happened to you.”
“I’ve already told Adam and Lainey. Shouldn’t my soul be cleansed by now?” I smirk.
She cocked her head to one side and regarded me until I was shifting in my seat from uneasiness.
“When is the last time you had a nightmare about that night?” she asks.
Crap. My night terrors have, or had, all but stopped after I told Adam and Lainey what had happened to me. But after what happened with Laurence and Billy, they’ve made a sporadic comeback much to my, and Adam’s, disappointment. Obviously my soul still needs some cleansing.
“Two nights ago,” I admit grudgingly.
“Same one as usual?”
“And it’s about that night?” I nod. “Is it a memory?” I nod again. “So, not a nightmare necessarily. You are defenseless when you are sleeping. You cannot keep your brain from recalling those events. What we’re trying to do is make your brain believe that it is over and those men cannot hurt you anymore.”
“I already know that,” I say defensively.
“Yes, you do. But your defenseless brain has not made that connection yet,” Dr. Woodrow counters. “You’re still holding on to it. Holding on to everything. By doing that, you are keeping a part of yourself closed off to everyone. Including your daughter.”
I want to argue. I want to yell that I love my daughter with all my heart. And while that’s true, I know what the doctor is saying is true. I hold back. The realization of that makes a tear escape and roll down my cheek. Dr. Woodrow silently hands me a tissue, then writes something in her notebook. I wonder what the sight of me crying means to her.
“It was my seventeenth birthday,” I begin quietly. “All I wanted to do was paint. I had already decided by then that I wanted out of that life, but I didn’t know how. I was going to take that night to come up with a plan. But then Laurence showed up.” I shudder, going back to that night. “He had three men with him, and had paid Bussiere to disappear. He watched as the other men . . . ”
“Take your time, Eve. And remember, you’re safe here. No one can hurt you.”
I take a deep breath. “Two of them held me down. They didn’t need to, I didn’t struggle. I knew from before that if I struggled, it would be worse. But it didn’t matter to them. They wanted it rough. They wanted to hurt me. They wanted me to struggle. When I just laid there, I would get slapped. I still didn’t fight back. So they hit me again and again until I finally tried to block them. They laughed then. I heard Laurence say ‘finally’, but I didn’t understand what it meant at that time. He walked over to me, grabbed my hair and pulled me towards him. He told me that he bought me, and I will give him what he wants. I tried to tell him I wasn’t fighting, but he just hit me again and yelled at me. ‘Fight back, bitch! If I wanted a wet noodle, I’d be fucking my wife!‘.”
God. I don’t know if I can do this. It occurs to me then that I had never gone into detail with either Lainey or Adam. They know I was brutalized, but they have no idea what actually happened.
“I fought back. I hit, kicked, bucked with all my might. It only seemed to spur them on, make them more brutal. I was so torn. A part of me wanted to stop fighting because I knew it’s what they wanted. And another part of me wished that I was stronger. I wanted to hurt them. But they were too strong for me, and they would rotate. Two would hold me down, while the other did what they wanted to me. It didn’t matter to them if I was bleeding, if . . . if I had never been taken a certain way, if I were trembling with pain. They just kept going. Then, Laurence decided it was his turn. He waited until I was barely conscious and did things to me that . . . ”
“Okay, Eve. That’s enough,” Dr. Woodrow said kindly. “No one should ever have to go through what you went through. Especially a child.”
I noted that her knuckles were white where she clutched her pen. It was as though she were trying to rein in her own emotions as she listened to my tale. She took a breath, and I imagine she’s attempting to calm herself before continuing.
“How did you get away?”
“Bussiere came in to check on me after they . . . finished. It was the only time she looked even mildly ashamed. She helped me clean up, promising that I would have the next day off. Not that I believed her since I should have been alone that night, but perhaps she thought no one would want me since I was bruised and battered.”
I took the offered tissue from Dr. Woodrow, dabbing my eyes that keep leaking with tears for my teenage self.
“Thank you,” I murmur. “Anyway, Bussiere left my door unlocked that night. Maybe she didn’t think I was in any shape to try and escape. Or perhaps she was disturbed enough to forget,” I said, and I know my voice is tinged with disbelief. Bussiere had kept pictures from that night, she couldn’t have been that disturbed. “When I didn’t hear the lock click, I waited until I knew Bussiere would be asleep, and I left. I didn’t take anything with me, I just ran. I don’t know how I made it miles away with the way I was feeling, but I was finally far enough away to feel marginally safe and called . . . Agent Donovan.”
“How did he act with you back then?” She asked cautiously.
“At first he was annoyed with me because I had made him look like a fool letting a fourteen year old get away from him. Then we became friends. I knew at one point that he was becoming infatuated, but I never encouraged him. I liked him, and with the way I was feeling about the opposite sex at that time, I decided it was better for him if I didn’t get involved with him.”
“Did he become belligerent at any time because of your decision?”
“By that time I had begun drinking heavily, taking pills, smoking and doing my own kind of revenge. I don’t think I paid much attention to him. Maybe he resented me for that. I don’t know. He was always kind to me, helping me. That’s why when he did what he did, I was . . . shocked. Completely stunned. He hurt me so much by what he did. I thought he was my friend.”
“I certainly don’t know the Agent Donovan’s psyche at the time he did this to you, Eve, so I can only speculate.”
“Anything is better than nothing, I suppose.”
“Well, I believe he thought of himself as your protector.”
“Protector!” I shout. “Some protector! He nearly got me killed! He would have killed Adam!”
“Eve, please.” Dr. Woodrow lifted her hands in a calming gesture. “First, I wasn’t finished. Second, I told you this is only an opinion based on what I know of the case and what you’ve told me.”
“Sorry.” I hung my head sheepishly.
“It is understandable for you to find anything positive said about this man to be offensive to you. Just let me finish the thought, and if you want to discuss, we will.”
“You were young when he came in contact with you. He was an FBI agent assigned to keep you safe. When you ran away, it affected him. When you called him to turn yourself in, he became your protector again. He watched you become a woman. It’s no secret that you’re a beautiful woman, Eve. You have admirers everywhere. I can only imagine Agent Donovan became one himself, then became dismayed by your continued disinterest.”
“But he was married,” I argue. “He moved on.”
“Do you believe that? You called him when you were in trouble, correct?”
“Yes,” I mutter. This was all my fault. If I hadn’t called Donovan when my father was after me, Adam would never had been put in danger.
“I can see you beginning to blame yourself for Agent Donovan’s actions.”
My eyes widened. How could she possibly?
“You have a very expressive face, Eve. What Agent Donovan did was not your fault. I mentioned you calling him because I imagine it brought him back to being your protector, even after he became married and had children. He never let you go. He may have continued on with his life had you not contacted him, but I honestly believe he would have reached out to you at some point. Especially if he had read about your marriage to Adam.”
“But why? Why couldn’t he just move on with his life? We never had anything. I told him I wasn’t interested. He was a part of a time in my life I didn’t want to remember.”
“Obsession,” she answered matter-of-factly. “Some people have the mindset to move on. Others let it consume them. Agent Donovan let it consume him until he believed he was the only one that could keep you safe and make you happy.”
“I can’t be sorry he’s dead. I’ve tried. But Adam was hurt, and my marriage was almost destroyed. If Laurence hadn’t deviated from the plan, Donovan would have let Adam be killed. I can’t forgive him for that.”
“By not forgiving him, you are keeping him close.”
“Then tell me how I let go.”
“Only you can do that. When you are ready,” she answered softly. “You don’t have to feel bad that he is gone, but you need to let go, Eve. Let him go. Let Laurence go. Let Tony go.” She placed a gentle hand on mine. “Let the past go. I know that is easier said than done, but it is something that we will continue to work on. Okay?”
Dr. Woodrow leaned back in her chair, and studied me for a moment. “I would like to ask you something before we finish for the night.”
“How would you feel about having Lainey and Adam join you for a session? Separately of course,” she said quickly when she saw I was clearly panicking.
“I – I don’t know.”
“That’s alright. I know it would be difficult for you, and possibly for Adam and Lainey, but I think it would be beneficial for all of you.” She waited, but I don’t respond. She sighed softly then said, “Will you at least think about it? If you feel you might be able to do it, then talk to both Adam and Lainey and see how they would feel. Is that okay?”
“Yes. I will think about it. I promise.”
“Good. Now I know tonight was extremely difficult for you, so my advice is to go home, take a relaxing bath and let Adam hold you.”
I smile slightly. “That sounds like something I can do. I’ll see you next week, Doc.”
“Next week. Goodnight, Eve.”