Towards the end of last week I remembered something hideous; the men in the ring forcing a dog to rape me. I was so horrified by the memory and so convinced it couldn’t possibly be real that I quickly looked it up to see if it had ever been recorded before. The answer is, yes…particularly, it would seem, in ritual abuse settings but not unknown outside of this.
I didn’t know how to cope with this memory. In all honesty I didn’t cope, and haven’t coped, and it’s been in the forefront of my mind for the last week or so. I spoke to other survivors who’d gone through it (yay for internet) and asked how on earth they’d come through it. The underlying theme seemed the same: they coped by talking about it, because the pent-up shame and disgust they felt was let out.
The memory made me very sick. I wanted to burn acid over my skin so that I wasn’t “me” anymore, and also in the desperate hope that my skin would just…disappear. I could smell the dog, and feel it all again, and just wanted it all out of me. I wanted everything about me to be destroyed. I felt so disgusting even holding my razor blade and contemplating self-harm didn’t feel enough. I simply had no idea how to cope with this. I can still hear the men’s sneers and twisted laughter as I lay there, sobbing, whilst the dog (also abused) was forced onto me. The dog was angry – no doubt actually terrified and lashing out at anything close to it, and so I didn’t dare move. I didn’t dare make a sound. It was snarling and had its hackles raised, and a wild look in its eyes. I was sure if I tried to wriggle free the dog would just maul me to death, and I was very sure this wasn’t the way I wanted to die…because of how terribly out of control the torture would be.
I can feel the pain. Whenever I drop my guard and the memory flares up, I double over, the pain in my abdomen sharp and terrible. I have to run somewhere to throw up, else I’ll just collapse into an incoherent heap.
Who ties a young girl to a bed and abuses a dog so terribly that it’s anger and fear is half of the trauma? Who actually has the mentality to force a dog to rape children? I don’t know if this was the only time it happened. I don’t think I want to know. I know it happened. The number of times it happened is frankly, irrelevant.
I confided in my therapist about it, gagging as I spoke and watching her eyes closely for any glimmer of disgust. She looked sad but not surprised, and asked if that was the first time I’d remembered. I nodded. I asked if she’d ever heard of it before, and she nodded. I wasn’t sure at this stage whether I’d been hoping for her to say no…or yes so I didn’t feel as alone. She explained that sometimes in ritual abuse it’s done because of the symbolism and ritualistic manner, but that in whatever situation it’s done simply because the abusers can do it, and get a kick from breaking the rules so terribly, and causing a child so much incredible fear, pain and trauma. I knew this but hearing it made me feel sick. I wanted to burn the memory out of my mind but I knew this was it now; I had it for life.
I felt a terrible sense of hopelessness that wasn’t mine – or at least it was mine, but it wasn’t suited to the present time or context. I realised this was part of the emotional flashback. The hopelessness coming from the fact that the events such as animal rape locked me in a deeper silence, as a child. I was convinced nobody would believe me, and further convinced that the vile, twisted threats the men had made to me if I should ever speak out would be certainly carried out. If they could do this, they could do anything. There was something profoundly shocking about them using a dog, that not only would they torture babies and children…but now animals too. I remember lying there and thinking, at what point will they stop? If I tell someone, what will they do that’s even worse than this?
And so, I was filled with hopelessness.
There’s something very degrading about being victim to such an act. Even as a small child I felt this. That I wasn’t worth anything; so worthless and disgusting in fact that even a dog could do that to me. I felt dirty, contaminated more in that single event than in any other. Putting it bluntly, there was a dog inside me. There were human bodily fluids and dog bodily fluids. There is no feeling I have ever experienced which fills me with more disgust and shame. Obviously also as a child I didn’t understand the biology; I just knew that whenever I felt that kind of pain I often ended up pregnant. I was suddenly filled with terror. I didn’t understand dogs and humans can’t breed. I was too young. The idea of carrying 6 or 7 pup-humans felt like something from some horror movie. I was a freak.
After the dog had finished I tortured myself, physically. This was probably the only time I did it so extensively. I grabbed a lighter, like they used lighters to rape me. I slashed myself with scissors and knives. I wanted to just cut everything off. I wanted to get the dog and feeling of dog out of me and off of my skin, and very desperately just wanted to burn my skin off.
I used bleach, and at this point the pain grew so terrible that I fainted. I woke up a little later, with a couple of the children cleaning my wounds. They thought the men had done this to me. I didn’t have the stomach to tell them what had actually happened. I could still feel the dog, and still smell it, and still hear its snarls.
I felt like I was a monster. Like I was now not human anymore, but part dog. I simply cannot put into words how disgusting I felt.
And all of these emotions came back last week, and are still very strong and present. I am resisting the urge to cause serious self-harm, knowing that it’s simply just a backlash from the memory. I feel very ashamed of what happened to me.
So why am I posting this, if I feel so ashamed? Because I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed, and I want other people who’ve been subjected to this vile form of torture to know they have no reason to feel ashamed either. You were a victim and powerless to what happened. Some very sick people wanted to try and degrade you to your absolute lowest, pull you away from even being human, and inflict so much terror and pain onto you. They wanted you to feel so ashamed and so scared that you didn’t talk. They wanted you to feel that you needed punishing.
Only they need punishing. You did nothing wrong. You are not a monster, and you are not disgusting. You were put through something awful, and that’s so tragic. You are not contaminated and the animal is no longer in you or a part of you. You’re okay…and it’s okay for people to hug you whilst you cry. I felt like if anyone touched me I’d contaminate them…but it’s not the case. I’m the same person as I was before remembering this. Don’t lose faith in yourself…
It’s hideous and wrong, but not our fault. I didn’t make the dog do anything to me, it was forced onto me whilst I cried. That is not my fault. And neither is it yours…