I was born in 1971, and only recently, in 2012, did I realize I was a victim of medical sexual abuse. After meeting other MSbP survivors, I found that not everyone as an adult has symptoms of medical sexual abuse, so perhaps this behavior is not common among all MSbP perpetrators. However, it happened to me, and it took me 40 years to figure it out, so I thought I’d tell my story to help anyone reading this figure out if it happened to them or someone they care about.
In my previous posts in this series, I reviewed scientific literature on medical sexual abuse. In this post, I will provide you the narrative my mother, the perpetrator, transferred to my father, brother, and myself. In the next posts, I will tell you a dream I had, and then what I think really happened.
What I Thought Happened
I think the best way to explain this is to just make a list of memories I have that I thought were not particularly connected until I put all the pieces together:
The Bladder Infection of Unknown Origin
I had a bladder infection for about a year and a half as a child, that started when I was about 6 months old and lasted until I was 3 or 4. I remember telling my mother I thought it went away because I went to pee and it didn’t hurt. This was just before kindergarten started.
The bladder infection ran my mother and father’s lives while it was there. My mother even had a pregnancy and gave birth, but the baby died, during this bladder infection period. My parents had to leave a drive-in movie because I kept complaining my vagina hurt. My mom remembers being frustrated because there were never any positive labs and the doctor kept saying she was crazy.
At one point, I went to the emergency room for the bladder infection. Medical reports from that day show that I was scoped and I did have physical evidence of an infected bladder. However, the medical records show that the doctor discussed with my mother that it was “psychological” and therefore no antibiotic were given. When I asked my dad recently how he thought I managed to have a bladder infection for one and half years, he said he thought it was due to “stress”.
Sepsis of Unknown Origin
Of course, you can’t have a bladder infection for a year and a half without going into sepsis. I have this unconnected memory of being hospitalized with a 104 degree fever. My father remembers this; he read a Dr. Seuss book to me and told me how he was so fearful his little baby would die. That was sepsis.
Parallel Urinary Infection in Cats (of Unknown Origin)
Before I was born, my mom and dad had a bunch of younger cats from a recent litter, but they all died. I interviewed my dad later, and apparently they went into septic shock. One died in my dad’s arms.
When I was having my bladder infection, our current cat had one and was peeing blood all the time. My mom told me she ran away just before we moved when I was 4, but as we were leaving the old house the last time, she was on the lawn. My mom made me look away from her by moving my head and she told me it was a different cat. My mom and my dad do not remember this.
Being Mentored to Engage in Medical Sexual Abuse
My brother was born when I was 5. My mom decided not to have him circumcised, and my dad agreed. I did not know anything about circumcision or penises, but I remember my mom teaching me how to clean my brother’s penis when he was a very young baby, too young to sit up for himself.
My mom sat him on the sink in herbathroom, and showed me how to pull his foreskin back very far and wash. I remember thinking the middle of his penis looked like my pinky finger would if I scraped the skin off, like when I skinned my knee. That led me to believe what my mother was doing to him was painful. I made a comment and my mom tried to get me to help her. I left the room and then started avoiding my brother and my mom. My mom and brother continued to take showers together and sleep together until my brother was in school, if I remember right. My mom started trying to get him not to sleep with her when rumors floated around.
Vaginismus of Unknown Origin
When I was an adolescent, I tried to fool around with my boyfriend but my vagina hurt. It wasn’t normal. I tried to get my mom and dad to help. I went to an OB/GYN who just shamed me. I kept looking for help until I got to the Program in Human Sexuality (PHS) at the University of Minnesota. The diagnosis was vaginismus.
I had to go back twice because the first time, the psychiatrist was mean to me.
He said, “The problem is your relationship with your mother – this vaginismus is a sideshow”.
Later, I returned and saw a therapist at PHS who was extremely helpful, especially with respect to my severe depression, which I had had my whole life and finally stopped when I was about 28. I tried to treat the vaginismus at the advice of the therapist, but I couldn’t. I kept having these terrible dissociative episodes when I would try the therapy techniques. Sometimes they caused me to try to commit suicide. I had no idea what had happened to me because I had never been raped, not to my knowledge. And I never have cured the vaginismus.
What I Don’t Remember
I don’t remember any genital cleaning of my own genitals. I don’t remember my mother ever changing my diaper, although I should be able to remember this since I have memories from before I was potty-trained. I remember being potty-trained, which took place in the living room, outside the bathroom (which was too small and crowded for a little potty). Essentially, I have no memories of anything that takes place in a bathroom during the time I had the bladder infection. Any bathroom. It’s like that part is erased from my memory.
Incidentally, I noticed that I cannot remember the layout of bathrooms in apartments I have lived in for years in my adult life. I also observe that Marilyn Manson, who says he is an MSbP survivor. Here is a quote from him from a Rolling Stone interview:
“I also have a great fear of bathtubs, maybe because my mother used to bathe me as a child and I have fractured memories of just not enjoying it.”
In my next post, I will describe the dream I finally had, and then, what I think really happened.
Want to read the whole interview with Marilyn Manson?