Caroline Hammond

I never knew how rare it is for police, lawyers and healthcare workers to believe survivors of abuse: nor how vital that belief is to someone’s healing. Until one evening I made a discovery on my fiancés computer.

There were online forums this man visited, which discussed how to drug your girlfriend and watch while other men raped her. Many of his emails to the forum began with, “My girlfriend has no idea I am doing this to her…” and then giving out my picture. Year after year, picture after picture, I discovered he had been offering me up for sex with other people, without my knowledge and without my consent. Each post included the words, “My girlfriend has no idea I am doing this.” Or, “My girlfriend is hot. You should see what she looks like.” And the ever present in almost every email, “I will facilitate what we discussed could be done to her.”

I could not keep from vomiting as I read about all the nights. I had zero memory of what happened. How many strangers have my pictures or video now? How many strangers had sex with me, without my knowledge or consent? This component of sexual violence and abuse remains silent, lonely, and shame filled. The implications of this type of physical and sexual abuse are both physical and mental. The tentacles are ugly when the mechanism used is ugly. 

My healing started by the ER physician who believed me, and ensured I was protected, healthy, and safe. Who believed me? Dr. Aaron Doonan. His belief saved my life and sped up my healing, so that I could make plans to use confidence, patience and the truth to hold perpetrators accountable regardless of how long it takes.