I don’t really think it is fair to tell stories of my family members, brave women who come before me, those who have survived tragedies, without being honest about what has happened to me. So, here goes:
I received a text message from my close friend, who is my former boss in Alaska. She sent me a link to a news article. The link said, “Local doctor charged with sexual assault is arrested in New Mexico.” Curious, I opened the link and read the first line. Luckily I was alone in my office because I outwardly gasped. I quickly messaged her back telling her that if she was available to please let me know, that she has to call me as soon as she can. I was speechless, shocked, overwhelmed, and the realization hit me. I wasn’t crazy, and it wasn’t just me.
When I texted her I told her that he was inappropriate with me, and I never said anything because I thought I was crazy. She called me immediately and I told her my story. She asked me if I wanted to go to the police. I honestly didn’t know.
Here were the thoughts that were running through my head:
“I’m so stupid.”
“I was sure I was crazy.”
“Maybe I’m still wrong.”
“He was my colleague and friend, those couldn’t have been his intentions.”
“Were they his intentions?”
“If I don’t report this I am a hypocrite, as a therapist I’m always an advocate for victims, so it’s my job to be an advocate.”
“Why didn’t I realize this was wrong sooner.”
“I knew it was wrong in my gut but I dismissed it.”
“What is wrong with me.”
“I feel so guilty.”
“I’m the one in the wrong.”
“Wow, this must be what everyone must feel like.”
“He had so much power in this situation, no wonder I felt stupid.”
“I still feel stupid.”
I talked it through with my sister and my best friend. They were both supportive, thoughtful, and helpful. I needed to process it with them before talking to my husband because I assumed that he would be shocked, and maybe upset, honestly I didn’t know how he was going to react, I just know he is protective of me. I told them both the story, saying over and over how stupid I felt, and how when it was happening, I felt uncomfortable and I believed what he was doing was wrong, but I dismissed my thoughts and feelings because he was a chiropractor, and he was my colleague, and it couldn’t be his intention, so I thought I was the one who was wrong. They supported me, and something my sister said struck me. She said if she were in the situation, she would probably have reacted the same way, or felt the same way.
She reminded me of Larry Nassar, the doctor who raped and assaulted hundreds of gymnasts. She said, they thought something was wrong too, but dismissed their own feelings because he had power, he was their friend, he was “nice to them.” She said people with power can make you feel like you’re crazy, they have that power over you.
I wasn’t raped, what he did was push the boundary too far. He did things that were far too inappropriate for a chiropractor, and he had no right to do them. Truth be told, talking them out with my sister and my husband, I kept saying over and over, “I sound like an idiot, of course this was wrong” over and over I said to my sister, “Oh my gosh, I sound like an idiot.” She continued to reassure me that I’m not. But honestly, I feel stupid. That is the power of the perpetrator. They make you feel stupid, and they make you believe that what they are doing is normal. Especially a doctor. A chiropractor, a massage therapist. A big part of the reason I was so confused is because he said he combined massages with chiropractic care. At first I thought, BONUS! He had 2 Ph.D’s and was working on a 3rd. He and I were working on a primary care mental health integration project together at work, and worked very closely together on multiple projects. I really believed that whatever he was doing was probably just something that was some kind of technique, and my discomfort, and confusion about why he would ask me to pull down my shirt or pants with no sheet, was normal. Why he would go lower in certain areas, it had to be some kind of technique. That is what I kept telling myself. My discomfort, “it was ridiculous.” “What was he doing,” I would ask myself.
When I told my husband, he asked me, “Will you prosecute? Will you contact the police? Whatever you do I will support you, no matter what.” I told him I was still reeling. I didn’t know, but I thought I might. He said he would love it if I did, but not to feel pressure from him.
This will not define me, but it did happen to me. I am reeling from it. I have decided to call the police. I left them a message as the detective on the case will not be in until next week. I am doing it, honestly not for me. I’m doing it because I believe it is my duty. I don’t expect it of anyone else, in fact, I don’t believe anyone is obligated to do it. However, I have encouraged so many women, men, and children to report, and have made probably hundreds of mandated reports throughout my career. What would it say about me if I let fear, guilt, shame, anxiety, and all of my other feelings get in the way of standing behind the women who were brave enough to listen to their gut about him the first time. Honestly I am ashamed that I didn’t listen earlier. I cannot help but think, if I would have, would he have hurt those women? However, now is not the time to shame myself, if I do that, then I will hide in fear.
I still feel all of these feelings, they haven’t gone away. I feel sick, angry, frustrated. My mouth is dry and scratchy as I write this article. I have not told many people. But, I am publishing it. Hopefully it will help people. I hope that my story will help others.
My husband asked me, “Will you tell (our daughter).” I asked him, “Do you think I should?” He said, “Not tonight, not while you are raw, but yes, maybe it will help her to know to tell someone if she feels the way you did.” My sweet husband is wise. This was a colleague, a Ph.D. 2x’s over in chiropractic care and physical therapy, and a self professing Christian. You can never know who or how you could be perpetrated on. I am disgusted by his actions, but I’m also going to take this opportunity to use it as a platform to help people understand that you can be doing nothing but trying to help yourself feel better by seeing a professional. Trust your instincts. PLEASE, trust them. Your instincts are God given. I tend to push mine aside sometimes because I give people the benefit of the doubt. If you’re uncomfortable, there is a reason. It is okay to say no to a professional. I know that in my brain, but it can even have difficulty translating to my mouth.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted there are resources out there:
RAINN | The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization
Contact your local Law Enforcement
Contact a Therapist near you: Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist
Or if you are in need of a therapist in Nevada, Missouri, or Kansas-I have openings
The Parkey Group Las Vegas, NV 89145