It was the 1960s. I was in college. The sexual revolution was in full swing. The exact date and year are fuzzy. But details of the event are vivid — forever seared in my memory.
Am I sure who did it? Oh yes, 100 percent.
I was a cool college coed but not that cool. I was still a virgin in the ’60s. I did advance to the so-called heavy petting stage, short of intercourse. I assumed that would come next.
I went to my family doctor to ask for birth-control pills, an IUD or a diaphragm.
His office was in his home, a classic Georgetown 19th-century house, creaky wooden floors with worn velvet Victorian furniture. His office was to the left of the front door, through double doors with glass windowpanes covered with tight curtains. It was a large room divided by a curtain he could draw. Half the room was his office, the other half his examination space.
Again, I cannot remember the exact date or even year. Yet I can still describe the following in detail. He drew the curtain, asking me to remove my clothes below the waist while he sat at his desk by the bay window. When I was ready, he came to the examination area and installed stirrups on one end of the cushioned examination table.
Here I was in my 20s, and I had never had a gynecological examination. I had never even seen exam stirrups before. It was extremely odd to spread my legs and dig my heels into those cold iron stirrups.
While I stared at the ceiling, his right index finger massaged my clitoris. With his right middle finger inserted in my vagina, he moved both fingers rhythmically. He coached me verbally in a soft voice, “Just breathe. ‘Ah-ah,’ ” mimicking the sound of soft breathing. “You’re doing fine,” he assured me.
Suddenly, to my shock, I had an orgasm for the first time in my life. My body jerked several times. Then he leaned over, kissed me, a peck on my lips, and slipped behind the curtain to his office area.
I don’t remember saying anything to him. I could not even look at him. I quickly dressed and drove home.
At the time, I think I may have told one of my sisters. I certainly did not tell my parents. I did not report him to authorities. It never crossed my mind to protect other women. Please understand, I was actually embarrassed about my sexual naivete. I was in my 20s and knew nothing about sex. All I wanted to do was bury the incident in my mind and protect my family.
My mother could not read or write English, let alone drive. From then on, I told her our family doctor lived too far away. We’re not going to see him anymore.
Years later, I told my husband. When did I tell him? What year? What date? I don’t remember.
When the superb reporting of the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and the New York Times’s Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor helped touch off this intimate discussion, my dirty little secret reared its ugly head and I told anyone who would listen.
I think the doctor died almost 30 years ago in his 80s. I’ve driven past his home/office many times but refused to look at it. Just yesterday, I found the house on Google Maps. Seeing it again, I freaked out.
Christine, I, too, am terrified as I reveal this publicly. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. Can you? If you can’t, I understand. I am frightened, I am scared, I can’t even cry.
Will my legacy as a television journalist for 30-plus years be relegated to a footnote? Will “She Too” be etched on my tombstone instead? I don’t want to tell the truth. I must tell the truth. As a reporter, the truth has ruled my life, my thinking. It’s what I searched for on a daily working basis.
Christine, I know the truth, as you do. Years ago, my husband read a novel by Rita Mae Brown called “Six of One.” He told me, “There’s a great line in this book. ‘The advantage of telling the truth is you don’t have to remember what you said.’ ”
I wish I could forget this truthful event, but I cannot because it is the truth. I am writing to you because I know that exact dates, exact years are insignificant. We remember exactly what happened to us and who did it to us. We remember the truth forever.
Bravo, Christine, for telling the truth.