|Disclaimer: Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager. I don’t. Only borrowing
them. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Summary: When Naomi goes missing, it re-opens Kathryn's painful past. This
story covers the subjects of child abuse and incest.
Please read the warning at the beginning of Part One before
reading this story.
THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER.
By KAT LADY.
“Uncle Robert happened…” He heard the bitterness in her voice. “My father’s brother…” He nodded slightly. Kathryn rubbed a hand over her forehead. “It took me a long time to say his name… endless hours in a small office…hours of talking and crying…re-living it…and at the end of it I could say ‘Uncle Robert’…” Her laugh was brittle. “I could say it but I couldn’t erase him…or what he did…” Once more she was quiet and she looked at Chakotay, her eyes almost pleading. “I want to…need to…tell you…tell it… Help me…?” He understood what she was asking.
“How old were you?” Kathryn shook her head.
“I was…I think about…about six or seven…at the start…although for a lot of kids…they’re a lot younger…” Chakotay nodded, fighting to swallow the anger he felt inside. He dug his nails into his palms. “I’m sorry…I need you to ask…to help me tell… It’s the only way I know… talking about it like this…the prompting…” He smiled, fighting for the expression and nodded.
“I understand that. It’s OK. I’m sorry. I just wasn’t sure which was right…talking or staying quiet...” A ghost of a smile crossed her face.
“Talking…helping me…asking… I need that…” He nodded slowly and watched as she stared off into the distance for a moment.
“Kathryn…?” She looked back at him and smiled sadly.
“You know the sad thing?” Chakotay shook his head. “It’s like this with a lot of children… I learned that…” She swallowed deeply. “The sad thing was…that I loved him… It sounds sick and hard to believe, I know that, but I did. He was this great uncle…had always been in my life…always there with candy and toys…playing with Phoebe and me…building a swing for us…presents… not just at birthdays and Christmas…but all the time…whenever he called…swinging me in the air…plaiting my hair… He’d sit there in front of my parents and cuddle me on the sofa…laughing and playing games…” She seemed locked in the memories as her words spilled out. “He had this game…where he’d take a cushion cover…and slip his hand inside…and then he’d poke his fingers against it from inside…as if something was trying to get out…and I had to grab for his fingers before he pulled them back…and I could never catch him… Oh he let me catch him once in a while so I’d have something to keep trying for…but I’d scream with laughter…loved that game…” She came back a little. “And my parents sat there and watched us…laughing with us…delighted in the interest he took in their child… I mean…he was dad’s brother…they could trust him completely…” She sighed deeply.
“He had this other game…played it in front of my parents also…where he’d stick his tongue out…and I had to try and catch it…and I never knew where it would come from…the side of his mouth or the middle…and it was slippery and I couldn’t always catch it or know where to try for…and I’d sit on his lap facing him and stare at his mouth…trying for hours…and then suddenly he’d lean forward and lick my nose…and I’d squeal and laugh…my parents joining in…” She laughed, a cynical sound and then was quiet again.
“Other times…he’d give me what he called ‘doggy kisses’… all over my face and neck…down my chest… He’d run his mouth over me…sniffing and snorting… pretending to sneeze…the way a dog would…hunting for something…and I’d scream in delight…” Her eyes had a distant look in them but Chakotay sensed her gaining more and more control as she spoke on, becoming a little more at ease with him now.
“When did it change…?” She seemed grateful that he was asking…was helping her with this and she smiled sadly at him. He was helping her open a door she had kept locked for too long. Now he was handing her the key and standing by her side to help her face what lay on the other side of it.
“I didn’t notice for a long time… He’d always cuddle me…tickle and tease me…and I’d scream…hated being tickled and yet loved it at the same time… My parents were so used to seeing this…hearing me scream like that…so if they were out of the room and he was tickling me and I squealed…they thought nothing of it.” She was back at the torn fabric.
“I think it was only later that I realized his touch had changed…didn’t notice or see at the time…wouldn’t have understood anyway… He always tickled and touched me…under the arms…around the ribs…and now it changed…but it was slow…changed slowly… Do you understand? It changed so slowly…so gradually…that I took it as normal…” She looked up at him and he nodded, his gentle and understanding smile urging her on as he sensed the words and the telling come more easily for her now.
“In what way did it change…?” He still felt unsure asking her, terrified of saying the wrong thing. She shook her head sadly and he could see the terrible memories in her eyes.
“He’d pinch at my knees…a finger each side…and it tickled… He’d done that with my parents there…pretended his fingers were a spider crawling up my leg or arm…all within their sight…nothing hidden…and I’d squeal…but his touch changed…and I didn’t understand that at first…accepted it…” She drew in a deep breath.
“The spider…” She laughed slightly, bitterly, then shook her head. “The spider went further…from my knees to just above them…not too far…but then over time…further up…” She looked up and dropped her head back against the rough stone wall of the cave. “I didn’t know the difference. It didn’t click that some games were only played when my parents weren’t in the room or when we went for walks or trips to places…” She raised her head again and looked at Chakotay. “Where he used to only lick my nose…he now licked my cheeks and neck…and I’d giggle like crazy and wipe the wet off…all a game…always a game…” The deep sadness in her eyes and voice tore at Chakotay.
“He always made sure he gave Phoebe attention too but she was younger you see…” Chakotay nodded. “Many times, he’d bring us both out somewhere but Phoebe, being that much younger, tired more easily, and so there were a lot of times when he just brought me…and that was looked on as normal…that there were places he would bring me that Phoebe would be just too young for. Oh there were trips to museums…science museums and the like… He knew my interests…played up to them…and my parents were happy for me…especially my dad because he wasn’t always there and didn’t always have the time and my mom had a younger child to care for… It was great for them… Uncle Robert wasn’t married…no children of his own…so they welcomed him…” Chakotay constantly showed his understanding and support through gentle smiles, remaining quiet for the most part, afraid of saying too much or the wrong thing. He sensed her embarrassment waning slightly as she spoke on and received only support from him.
“He’d sometimes take me to his house…and we’d play there…dressing up games…” She shook her head and sniffed. “I could never have guessed…” Chakotay gently encouraged her.
“What was that game…?” She shook her head sadly.
“It felt like a game…always like a game…” She sighed. “He had all these great clothes…make-up even…and like any little girl…I loved playing ‘dress-up’. He’d dress me…put make-up on me…did my hair…and it was our secret game because he told me my mother would be mad if she knew I was wearing make-up at my age…and I loved it all…the dressing up and the game…having the secret even…the one that was just ours…” She shook her head. “I’d parade around…and he’d take holoimages of me…” She fought the tears which came now but failed. “I didn’t understand at the time just how…skimpy…how adult…those clothes were… It was just our game…” Chakotay felt an overpowering disgust build in him for this evil which had inhabited Kathryn's younger life.
“You’re safe Kathryn…I’m here with you…you’re doing great…” She seemed to draw strength from his words as she continued.
“He’d get me to pose for him…showed me pictures of other children dressed up…and I just took it as normal…and he’d tell me how much prettier I was than them…and that felt good. I always thought Phoebe was prettier and people always said that…how pretty she was and how clever I was… He knew that…knew I didn’t feel pretty…that I was hurt when people spoke as they did…and so he used it… Then before we went home…he’d…he’d say I had to wash the make-up off and he’d run the shower for me…wash me…and I didn’t see that as wrong…because it was something my mom did…although my father never did…hadn’t done for years…but I didn’t think like that… He was family and that was all right…” She wiped at her face.
“On the way home then…he always gave me a present…something special that was just for me…because I was so good at keeping our secret…” She played with her hair, seemingly unaware of it. “Of course, later on…I still wore the make-up and had the hair done…but the clothes went…” She lowered her head and let the tears fall, deep shame running through her. “I’m sorry…” Chakotay fought his emotions.
“Kathryn, you have absolutely nothing to be sorry about. He had no right to do what he did. You did nothing wrong.” She looked up quickly, anger on her face now.
“I know that. It took me a long time to learn and accept it but I do know that.” She lowered her voice and smiled an apology. “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to…” Chakotay shook his head.
“Don’t ever apologize to me…You’ve nothing to be sorry about…” She nodded and sniffed, then drew in a deep breath.
“Thank you…” She brushed her hair back and went on. “I learned that…learned it all. I said child abuse but it was also incest. It took me a long time to learn to say that too. I learned to say the terms…the words…his name…rather than ‘him’. Being afraid to say the words or his name…only gave him power. Oh I know it all…learned it by heart. I could quote you chapter and verse on it.” She drew in another deep breath. “Incest is sexual abuse within the family, where a relative uses a child for their own sexual needs. Child abuse is where any adult sexually, physically, verbally or emotionally abuses a child. It’s anything from fondling, the abuser exposing themselves, exposing the child to pornography, intercourse, either oral or anal sex, masturbation, taking images of the child. Some kids have even been led into child prostitution. Kids are mostly abused by someone they love, someone they know and trust. The abuser will force or trick, bribe or threaten the child.” Chakotay sat like a stone as she related her words, her voice sounding monotone as if she were trying to strip the words of any emotion, but he could hear the anger and bitterness behind it. Her eyes stared off into the distance, as if she were reading her words.
“It begins slowly and increases over time. They rarely need to use physical force because children trust the adults around them, are dependent on them for everything. They want love and approval. They don’t question because adults are always right. Abusers know all that and use it.” She laughed suddenly, as if coming back to herself and then seemed shocked for a moment.
“Guess my memory is too good. I read that over and over until I was able to recite it almost. Say the magic words and the spell will work. The bad thing will disappear. Still, there was one good thing. I was at least spared the prostitution, although sometimes I wonder…” Her face twisted and she broke down, her body racked with sobs. Chakotay sat still for only a moment and then he spoke, taking a chance.
“Kathryn, can I hold you please…?” She didn’t look up and just reached out for him. He was there immediately and pulled her into his arms, careful of her injured leg. He held her, rocking her, marvelling at her trust in him, as she clung to him. He made whatever soothing sounds he could but he didn’t speak, didn’t tell her that everything was all right, because it would have been an insult to her. He also cursed himself that he hadn’t held her before this…hadn’t asked. Eventually she began to quieten and pull back a little and he let her. With eyes red and puffy, eyes filled with pain, she looked up at him.
“Thank you…I’m sorry for that…it just happened… It helps though…” Chakotay let her pull away a little more and shook his head.
“No apologies Kathryn…no thanks needed either…I’m your friend and I care deeply about you…you know that…I just want to help you…be there for you…and nothing you tell me will ever be repeated…nor will it make any difference to how I feel about you or see you… You’re the strongest, bravest, most caring woman I’ve ever known and I have nothing but total admiration, respect and affection for you…from the first day I met you… You need to know that…” She traced a finger over his hand and nodded.
“I know that and I trust you completely. I wouldn’t be telling you all this now if I didn’t. I think I would have told you anyway…tried to enough times…even if Naomi hadn’t forced the issue with me… It’s hard telling and yet…in a way…easier than I thought…I don’t know… Maybe it’s because I’ve spoken of it before and it’s a little easier now or maybe it’s because it’s you…someone I know I can trust…I don’t know…” She kept her head down and continued tracing her finger over his knuckles.
“Do you want to go on…tell me more…? You don’t have to…” She nodded without lifting her head.
“I need to…if it’s all right with you…” He squeezed her hand gently.
“It is. As long as you’re all right… Don’t worry about me. You’re all that matters…” She nodded and sniffed, trying to smile her thanks. She then looked up at the opening above them and managed a watery smile.
“Besides, I’ve a feeling we’ll be here for some time…” She looked back at him. “I’m sorry for that. It’s my fault that we’re stuck here…that you got hurt… I just wasn’t watching…my mind elsewhere…on other things… You tried to grab me in time to stop me falling and ended up down here too…” He shook his head, his smile gentle.
“You’re going to have to learn to stop blaming yourself for everything that happens to us. We fell. End of story. Now, do you want me to stay here or move back over there? Whatever you want is fine…” He had enough experience of counselling in his own right, to know that she needed to feel in complete control of everything during this time. She looked to where he had been sitting, then back.
“Where you are is fine…I trust you…know I can… Besides, having your hand to hold…well…it helps…kind of grounds me…if I go too deep into a memory…” He smiled gently at her, showing he understood. He squeezed her hand gently.
“Thank you for that trust. I promise I’ll never give you reason to regret placing it in me…” She smiled softly in return.
“You know…at home…back on Earth…if I ever felt this getting in on me…starting to come back…I just saw my counsellor. Oh I had all the therapy I could want. Out here…I’ve no one…” She smiled at the sad look on his face. “HAD no one… At home it helped…because I knew she was there…” She looked away then back at him. “Louise Carter…a Starfleet counsellor actually…and she was great… She was there if and when I needed her. When we ended up out here, I was scared about that. I hoped so much I wouldn’t need her but now I do and she’s not here…but I have you…” She smiled gratefully at him.
“You’ll always have me…” He didn’t need to say more. He let her have some time, watching her as she studied the ground for some minutes.
“Where was I?” She smiled sadly. “The clothes went…when he took holoimages of me. I think I knew in some way that it was wrong, but I trusted him…didn’t know any different. I had no understanding of appropriate or inappropriate behaviour. I didn’t know the difference. This was a man who was family, who loved me, took care of me and who had never hurt me. I’d no reason to doubt him and I hadn’t enough understanding to do that anyway.” She shook her head. “I sound so sure of all that, don’t I? I sound so understanding of it all… Well it took a long time to get there…a lot of hours with Louise.” Chakotay offered up a silent prayer of thanks for a woman he had never known but who had been there for the one he loved.
“His touching changed too. He’d run his hands up and down my legs…across my chest… When he took images…he asked me to lie or sit certain ways and I just did…didn’t question him… He showed me images of other children posing…had me copy them…” She sucked her lower lip into her mouth and looked away. She was managing to say the words, but he saw how hard it was for her.
“One day…at his house… It was the usual…but it was a hot day… He gave me a soda…and I fell asleep… Years later I wondered if he’d put something in it…but I don’t know… He was a doctor, you see…” She risked a brief glance at Chakotay. “I woke up and he… I was lying on the sofa. He…he was sitting back at one end…and I was lying…my head to the other end… He’d…I wasn’t wearing anything…and he’d…he’d opened…my legs…parted them…” Chakotay saw her bite on the inside of her mouth, hesitating now, fighting for control, losing her battle with her tears.
“You can tell me, Kathryn… It’s all right…” He prompted her and squeezed her hand gently and she barely nodded.
“I didn’t know what he was doing… He was touching me…there…and his other hand… I’d never seen anything like that before…a man…and he was…to me…pulling himself…watching me… He saw I was awake and turned away and I heard his breathing…and then he groaned… I just lay there…didn’t move…was too scared to…and he looked back at me…kept staring… I remember him saying ‘good girl’ but he kept watching me…looking there…and then his eyes closed and he leaned forward.” She was almost choking over her words but pushed on. “He stayed like that and I remembered a funny smell… Finally he stood up and smiled down at me. I remember his words so well. He told me he’d been itchy and was scratching himself and dear God…I believed him…didn’t know any better…” Chakotay said nothing and just squeezed her hand a little tighter. She managed a faint smile for him but tears poured down her face.
“This was our ‘secret’ too. This was to be a new game. If I kept the secret, the new bike I wanted would be mine. Two weeks later, I got my bike and Phoebe got a new toy also. Had to look equal, you see.” She smiled bitterly and swallowed deeply. “There was a stage in later years, when I felt I’d prostituted myself for that bike. In time though, I learned to let go of that too, thanks to Louise.” Kathryn pulled her hand back and played with her fingers. Chakotay just let her.
“I paid for that bike. Every time we were alone after that, he always had to ‘scratch’ himself. I got to know it. Sometimes, he’d lie me down like that first time…other times he’d ask…” She shook her head. “At that time, he always ‘asked’…” She was picking at a nail now. “Other times, he’d ask me to…well…bend over…and he’d…sit behind me… I’d feel his hand there but it wasn’t ever painful…just his hand…resting there…you know…?” She looked up tearfully. Chakotay just nodded, trying to put every ounce of love and support into his eyes for her to see.
“I don’t know what age I was then…maybe nine…ten…? It moved on from there. Now he was asking me to touch him…and I hated it…hated the feel of…and he saw that…and so the presents would increase. Then he would tell me that it was our secret…that we had to keep each other’s secrets. God knows how he did it…but he always seemed to know the things I’d done wrong…breaking a plate at home and not having told my mother…having had some trouble in school…any number of things…and he’d tell me that he’d keep my secrets if I kept his…about how upset my mother would be with me if she found out…and it worked… Oh I wasn’t afraid of my mother but I was obsessed with my father finding out anything bad about me. I had this passion about pleasing him and Uncle Robert played it to the full.” She wiped at her face and then looked around the cave and was quiet for some time.
“Do you want to go on? Kathryn…?” He took a risk and placed a hand softly on her arm, recalling what she had said about his touch grounding her. She looked back at him slowly.
“Yes, I do. Sorry… Just sometimes, I wander a bit… I’m OK telling you…need to… It’s not what I’m saying…it’s the telling…saying the words and telling are different things…” She shook her head. “I’m not explaining this well…” Chakotay smiled softly.
“You’re doing very well. I’m proud of you…” She smiled a little more at that, like a little girl being praised.
“You see, I’ve already got all this out from inside me…said the words…learned to accept them…so it’s not as hard as it was then…” He nodded his understanding. “I guess it’s just hard remembering again but mostly…it’s hard…telling you…even though I want to… I guess I feel you’ll be disgusted at me…repulsed…” Tears sprang to her eyes when she saw the hurt look on his face.
“Oh Kathryn…how could you ever think…? There is no way…” She nodded and squeezed his hand.
“I know and I’m sorry. I just still have this… It’s not the easiest subject… I mean…it’s not something you just bring up at the dinner table…and I still feel that I’ll be judged or… I don’t know…” Chakotay returned the squeeze on her hand.
“Just let it all out, Kathryn. I’ve told you that you can tell me anything… Come on…” His encouragement was what she needed. She looked down at the bandage on her leg for a few moments, gathering her thoughts. Finally she looked up at him and drew in a deep breath.
“It went on…his subtle threats…even though they were disguised. So I did as he asked… but I was starting to think this was all wrong…something just told me that… I mean, none of my friends talked about anything like that…but then I thought maybe they had the same secrets…I just didn’t know.” She shifted herself slightly and winced for a moment, her leg obviously hurting her.
“It continued as I said. As time went on, I learned more and more and knew it was wrong, knew what he was doing was wrong but I couldn’t stop it. He always seemed to have some way to control me. I was terrified, ashamed, you name it… Whereas at one time, he tried to trick me into things…bribe me really…now he threatened and I couldn’t see a way out.” She looked up at Chakotay, fear in her eyes at his reaction. She saw only support.
“The older I got…the worse it got. I know in a lot of cases like this…the abuse fades and the abuser moves on to another child…a younger child. I began to get really scared that he’d move on to Phoebe and he knew that. He always seemed to know what I was thinking. He used that to control me then and ensure my silence and it worked, just as he knew it would.” She was making patterns in the dust now with a finger.
“I think he was feeling more and more sure of himself now, more in control of me. He didn’t have to cajole me or persuade me anymore. He was in charge and made sure I knew it. I got all the ‘no one would ever believe you’ and ‘they’d take you away and lock you up’ lines. And so there was nothing I felt I could do, nowhere to go…” She played with a small pile of dust she had made. “He was a medical man…with access to all the literature on this… He knew how to play it…” She sniffed loudly.
“By now… He taught me…things…how to…” She looked up briefly, deep embarrassment and shame on her face. Chakotay smiled gently at her, telling her it was all right.
“Kathryn, you can tell me anything. I promise you. You have nothing to feel ashamed or worried about in telling me. You need to talk about this… I love you…” He worried for a moment about using the word ‘love’ but it seemed to help her. She smiled sadly, then looked away again.
“I had to…hold him… ‘scratch him’ was what he called it… Of course he was making me…well you know…and he taught me well… If I didn’t get it right…his hand would cover mine and guide me… In time…when I got it right…his hand would…he’d be touching me as I was…” She didn’t finish but he knew what she meant. He could hear the tears in her voice. Once again, he fought the anger and hate he felt.
“It was like steps…moving on all the time…lessons…he called them my ‘lessons’…” She laughed bitterly through her tears. “By the time I was eleven or twelve…he had me…giving… making me…” Chakotay saw her tremble deeply before her words came out in a rush. “He made me use my mouth on him…” Her head dropped and she sobbed. Chakotay reached for her hands and held them tightly, then pulled her to him and held her.
“Kathryn, I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry…” He felt her head nod as her tears fell, and felt the warmth of them seep though his jacket. He just continued to hold her tightly until she quietened. “Kathryn, you don’t have to…” She pulled back suddenly and looked up at him.
“I do have to… When it gets like this…I have to…have to talk it out…get it out…” He nodded in sympathy, knowing he could never understand what she’d been through.
“I’m here…” The words felt so inadequate to him but they seemed to help her. She fell back into his arms and let him hold her tightly for several minutes before pulling away again and continuing.
“I thought I’d choke…be sick…and I was a few times…but he kept making me…” She broke down again as Chakotay held her against him. He waited until she was ready to go on.
“The first time he…he…he kissed me…there… I was afraid…then…he kept doing it…licking me…and I was scared and yet…” She wiped at her tears angrily, using her anger to overcome the shame she still felt. “The bastard knew what he was doing…he knew… I was scared…so scared…and yet…God forgive me…I liked it…it felt good…and I felt so bad…so ashamed and guilty…even though I didn’t understand…” Her shoulders were shaking as she cried now. He heard her swallow deeply, forcing her words out.
“Louise spent a long time getting me over that. I felt so dirty and guilty… My friends only ever spoke about kissing boys…nothing more…yet I knew all this…but I never said it to them…just knew I couldn’t…” She drew in a ragged breath.
“He seemed happy with that for a while…but of course…” She shook her head. “The first time he…he used…his finger… God it hurt…it really hurt…and he didn’t seem to care…told me I’d get used to it…that I had to obey him…and he’d push it into me…there and the other…” Chakotay dropped his own head, not wanting her to see the murderous look in his eyes. He continued to hold her. “His finger…other things…I don’t know…” He finally looked up at her and tried to show his love for her, his understanding, anything he could, with his eyes.
“I’m here for you love. You’re safe… He can’t hurt you anymore…” He cursed his own lack of knowledge, desperate to know the right things to say, working on instinct only and his feelings for her. She seemed to draw strength and comfort from his words without actually acknowledging them and spoke on.
“I was…starting to…develop…and he liked that…always touching me there…and then when…when I…started…started my periods…he…he…” She looked up with deep anger in her eyes. “He actually gave me hypos…the bastard gave me contraceptives…and I didn’t know what they were… If I had…I’d have known his plans…what he intended…but I didn’t…I just didn’t know…” Chakotay ground his teeth together. He wanted to stand and pound the walls of the cave…attack something but instead he forced himself to sit there, trying desperately to just be there for her.
“I was thirteen when he… He told me I was almost a woman now…and I had to learn what women did…that I was old enough now… I was thirteen…the day after my thirteenth birthday…and he was taking me for my birthday treat…” Bitterness and pain poured from her. “My ‘birthday treat’ was to be raped…” Chakotay just pulled her to him, not thinking if it was a right or wrong move. When he felt her clinging to him, he knew it was the right thing. He held her for a long time, rocking her to him, making soothing noises but not using words. It took almost ten minutes before he felt her relax into him a little. Finally she eased back.
“I’m sorry…I still… I mean…I can say all the words now…normally I can pull myself back from it…it’s just…at these times…” He smiled gently at her, saying nothing, knowing she needed to continue, gripping her hand tightly.
“I screamed… The pain…oh God the pain…and I remember his hand over my mouth…telling me to be quiet or it would be worse…” She shook her head, tears pouring from her eyes. “It couldn’t be worse…I’d never felt pain like that…like I was tearing apart…” She wiped at her face again with her free hand. “He wouldn’t stop…and I begged him…pleaded with him…told him it hurt…and he kept saying it was only for a while…that I’d be a woman afterwards…that I should be grateful to him…” She laughed bitterly. “He just kept on…kept saying ‘yes…yes….good girl’… kept on…and he turned me onto my stomach…pushed me down… ‘Better to get it all over with in one go’…that’s what he said…and I thought the first pain was bad…” She looked up at Chakotay, tears streaming down her face. “How could he do that…? I was a child…I was thirteen… He was a man…a grown man…and he forced…forced himself…into both…” Chakotay once more just pulled her to him as she broke down, her body racked with sobs. This time he whispered to her as he rocked and held her.
“It’s over love…I’m so sorry…I wish I could take all that away for you…I’m so sorry…” He felt her nails dig into his back but ignored the pain. “It’s over…let it out…I’m here…you’re safe…” He didn’t know how much time passed before she began to settle slowly. When she pulled back this time, her eyes were swollen, tears still coming. He wiped gently at her face. “It’s OK…it’s over…I’m here…” He tried to smile for her and she nodded.
“I hate him… He’s dead and I hate him…” Chakotay nodded.
“He only deserves your hate. I hate him… I hope to God he’s burning somewhere…” Kathryn tried to smile her thanks weakly for his words of support but failed. She cleared her throat and sniffed.
“For years, I wanted to try and understand how he could do that to a child…what made him that way… In time…I let that go… I’d remember back to that day…to the pain…and… God I can’t ever forget that pain…and I was terrified… When he…finished…and I saw…I saw my blood…thought I’d bleed to death…and it hurt so much…I couldn’t move, it hurt so much…and he just smiled at me… ‘You’re a woman now’…as if I should have been proud of that…been grateful to him. He pulled me up then…took me into the shower with him…washed me…and the water was stinging me… I couldn’t stop crying…couldn’t stop… I was shaking…crying in gasps almost… Later on…I realized I must have been in shock…” She drew in deep breaths.
“I got the talk then…as he dried me…about not telling…what would happen if I did…and he…” She stopped a moment and drew in several deep breaths. “He lifted me…lay me on the counter…kept touching me…his fingers…then his…mouth…and he…” She looked up angrily. “He always knew what to do…to make me…and I did…and I’d feel so dirty…and he’d laugh and say ‘See…you enjoy it…if you told…they’d laugh…because you enjoy it too’…” She wiped the back of her hand over her face.
“I was so sore…so much pain…but he didn’t try and help me. He gave me…sanitary protection to wear…and told me to tell my mother it was my time of month if she asked… He thought of everything…even had his timing right… I had to try so hard at home…to hide the pain… He even thought of that though…gave me hypos for pain… When we got home that day, he told my mother I’d run across a road…was almost hit by a hover car…said that was why I looked upset…that he’d given me a good talking to about crossing roads…and my mother joined in…shouted at me…and I just wanted to scream at her…tell her everything…but I couldn’t…and Phoebe was there…laughing because I was getting a telling off and she wasn’t…and all I could do was cry…and I ran upstairs and locked my door… I cried for hours and no one came near me…no one came…” Chakotay pulled her back to him and held her again for a long time. This time when she settled a little, he spoke, changing the direction a little to give her some rest from the horrors she had been reliving.
“Did you ever try and tell her…your mother…tell someone else…?” Kathryn shook her head.
“Not then and I never told my mother. When I think about it now…all the signs were there…of what was happening…although they differ from child to child…but my behaviour changed and that’s a classic sign. Louise helped me to see that I told my parents in every way but words, but they didn’t ‘hear’ me. Some children begin to suddenly fail at their lessons… I was different. I threw myself into my studies…hid behind the padds of science and mathematics. I withdrew from everyone and everything. I still played games and was hell bent on beating everyone. I think because I couldn’t stop him or beat him…I tried to do that with my opponents on the tennis court or wherever. I didn’t eat well or sleep well for that matter. That’s a habit I never got out of. In later years, I got to hate myself…my appearance…my own body… I never really got past that either…have never felt good about myself… As long as my appearance is neat and clean…nothing else matters…” She licked at her lips, finding them dry.
“I couldn’t tell my parents…was afraid to. My dad wasn’t there a lot of the time and I adored the time we did have. I thought if I told… I was afraid that it would ruin what we did have…thought he’d be disappointed in me…my biggest fear… I worried that he would think I was causing trouble or lying. He treasured the time he had with us…being away so much…and I didn’t want to ruin that for him.” She wiped at her nose. “You said recently about how you loved the holidays? Well I hated them…” He nodded, remembering their time in the stores and understood now. “Uncle Robert would stay with us so he was there all the time. I felt so unsafe then…knowing there was no getting away from him… I drove my mother crazy…following her around and hanging out of her then… She’d be busy…trying to prepare all the food and stuff…” She laughed slightly. “There were no replicated dinners in our house…” She shook her head sadly. “Anyway…I’d do anything to avoid being alone with him but she’d push me away…tell me to go play with Phoebe or him…” She shook her head again, closing her eyes a moment. “Oh, he saw what I was up to…knew what I was trying to do…and I paid for it. He’d come to my room at night…in my own home with my parents asleep across the hall…and I’d pay for it. Of course, no one ever knew. Only once did my mother find him there in the middle of the night and he told her he’d heard me crying and had come to me. He told her I’d been having a nightmare and he was getting me back to sleep. She accepted that so easily…was grateful to him… God…he knew what he was doing…” She dropped her head and played with the torn fabric again.
“I tried to get out of the outings with him, pleading illness or too much homework. All I got from my mother was ‘don’t be so selfish’ or ‘look at the trouble he goes to for you’ and ‘you should be grateful that he spends so much time with you’. I could never go into the barn beside our house. I was terrified to go near the place, because he’d brought me in there so many times. The lower field and down by the river were the same. I know by that stage, I acted differently around him when he was there with my parents and he’d ‘punish’ me for that later on. I began to spend hours in the bath…grew to hate showers… I can take showers now but I still prefer the bath…I feel safer there…sort of cocooned…” She swallowed. “Is there any water…?” Chakotay nodded and reached for the canteen. He watched quietly as she sipped at the water, knowing she needed the moment.
“Thanks. My throat was very dry.” She replaced the cap and smiled gently at him, but the sadness remained in her eyes. “I even thought about running away a few times but I could never think how to do that…couldn’t think of where to go. For the longest time, I just tried to shut it out and pretend it wasn’t happening. I mean at first, I was just too young to put it into words and I didn’t understand it anyway or see it as wrong or different. There was the bribery then…all the ‘keeping the secret’ side of it. I saw it as him showing me love…just a different kind of love. Later on, I waited. I think, to see if my parents would notice what was going on but they didn’t. You have to understand that I still loved him…he was still my uncle…no matter what he did to me. I know that’s hard to understand but it works that way and abusers depend on that and use it.” She was back playing with a nail.
“Later on, I was too afraid to say anything. I was sure no one would believe me anyway. I also felt that they’d want to know why I’d never said anything before. Part of me felt I was to blame for it even. Later on, he would ‘punish’ me as I said and I began to really believe that what he was doing to me was punishment because I’d been bad. I was too embarrassed in the end and I also worried that I’d get into trouble or be taken away from my home and my family. I even worried about getting him into trouble, if you can believe that.” She cleared her throat.
“So it went on and on. I was silent and it was that silence that enabled it all to continue. I learned the party line, if you like, on that one too. ‘Silence protects sexual offenders and hurts children who are being abused.’” She laughed cynically. “It took me years to learn to say those terms even. Now I could stand with anyone and have a lengthy discussion with them on the subject…talk openly…and they’d never guess. That’s the thing, you see. I’m fine with it as long as they don’t know. Guess it’s a way of hiding again.” She pressed her lips together a moment.
“They say that times are different now. Children no longer have to suffer in silence. They talk about all the help out there, how this is the 24th century and all that. Well, it’s different when you live it. Inside the home, it’s still the best kept secret and has been since time began.” She waved a hand around. “Look at us. The perfect Starfleet family. Father an Admiral. Mother a perfect wife and mother. Children excelling in school. Uncle Robert was top in his field too, a top medical man. Things like this don’t happen in families like that.” He heard the deep bitterness in her voice.
“You know, had I been attacked outside and raped by a stranger, I could have dealt with that better. It would have been a one-off, a random act of violence, which I could have worked at, and put behind me. Avoid the place where it happened. No betrayal of trust which is the worst part of incest. I’d never have had to see the rapist again hopefully. I’d have had a safe place to go…my home. You’re supposed to feel safe in your own home over anywhere, but I never had that. You know, I can actually understand better what drives a rapist…more than I’ll ever understand this. I wouldn’t have felt as ashamed and dirty either. I also think I’d have had an excuse for not being able to stop it.” Chakotay shook his head.
“Kathryn, you didn’t do anything wrong. You couldn’t have stopped this.” He reached out and laid his hand on hers, making sure she saw what he was doing. She allowed his hand to stay.
“I know that now but still… I guess there’s always that question there…that nagging doubt that won’t quite go away…especially as I got older. As I said, he’d punish me. Mostly it was pinches or slaps, places a bruise wouldn’t show. The presents still came but they were a cover and we both knew that. Where he’d once bribed me…now it was threats. He once told me he could kill my sister…even my mother and father…if I didn’t obey him. He asked if I’d prefer it if he took Phoebe out instead of me. He knew all the right buttons to press. He told me to think about how my friends would laugh at me…would hate me even…to think about the rest of my life…how it would be ruined…that Starfleet would never take me… Oh he knew I wanted that…even at that age…knew I wanted to follow my father…” She shook her head and sniffed loudly, then was quiet for a while before going on.
“After that first time…he left me alone for a while…just touched and made me…do it for him… He’d still touch me…try to make me…said I could enjoy it…and I tried so hard not to let it happen…but I couldn’t always… He was always angry with me if I didn’t…said he’d know…and he did…and I tried to pretend but he’d always know…” She wiped at her eyes. “When he felt I was ‘ready’ for more…he continued… He’d show me images and holovids…get me to copy what I saw… He’d done that for a while now…more ‘lessons’ for me… He had me under his complete control… trapped… and sometimes he’d threaten to bring some friend of his if I wouldn’t try something with him…because he knew that would work… I was so terrified of him… He took what he wanted from me…used me any way he felt like…and I let him…couldn’t stop him… It was easier in the long run… In time…it just didn’t hurt anymore…physically or emotionally. He even stopped calling for me… I had to go to him…and I’d have to go upstairs and get dressed in whatever he’d left there for me…be ready for him…do whatever he asked and let him to the same to me…” She looked up sadly. “So I guess the prostitution bit did apply after all…” Her face crumpled. Chakotay took her in his arms again.
“When did it stop…?” She let him hold her and didn’t answer for some minutes, gaining strength from his arms.
“He was at the house one day…took me to the barn… I was close to fifteen…” Chakotay tightened his arms around her. “He was…had his hand up my skirt…was holding my hand against him…against his… I remember him saying to me… ‘Come on baby…do it like I showed you…it’s our secret…I don’t want to have to punish you again’. Suddenly there was a noise behind us… I looked up…I know I was crying…I remember that… I looked up and…my father…my father was standing there…” He felt her cringe against him. “I was terrified… I met my father’s eyes for just a second…couldn’t read his face…and he looked away from me…was staring at Uncle Robert… I remember his voice though…very soft…low… I knew he was angry…knew that tone…controlled anger… and I was so afraid he was angry at me… He barely spoke to me… ‘Kathryn, go into the house… go up to your room and stay there…” He heard her sniffling again.
“I just ran…was so afraid…I ran up to my room and hid there…crawled into the bottom of the wardrobe… I remember hugging my legs to my chest…terrified… Eventually…maybe an hour or so…I looked up and my father was standing there…no expression on his face. He knelt down beside me and just looked at me for the longest time… I began crying again… ‘Don’t cry now’… that’s all he said. I couldn’t stop and he just waited. I felt so afraid…so ashamed and dirty…so guilty…embarrassed even… I was even afraid that he’d blame me…say I’d started it…had wanted it…that Uncle Robert would have convinced him of that. I mean he was the adult…would be believed more. Finally I managed to stop and saw that he hadn’t moved. ‘Kathryn, you won’t see him again’. That was it…all he said… He got up and walked away.” She pulled back a little now.
“He never spoke of it again. Life was just expected to return to normal. My mother and Phoebe were the same with me as they always had been but my father… I saw him trying to be the same but he wasn’t… Nothing with him was ever the same again. He never spoke to me about it…never told me…even years later…never told me what had happened between him and his brother… Uncle Robert disappeared all right…I never saw him again. My pain though…what I’d been through…that wouldn’t leave…” Chakotay was stunned.
“He never once talked to you about it?” Kathryn shook her head.
“I think maybe he couldn’t…felt responsible… I never knew what he knew or felt…if he had ever any idea of the degree of it all…how far it had gone…how long a time…I don’t know…and I never asked him. I just knew he wasn’t able to talk about it. Maybe he felt guilty…didn’t know what to say or how to say it…I don’t know. I learned quickly that my mother and Phoebe knew nothing…that he’d kept this from them…and I was so angry at him now… I was crying out for him to hold me…make it better…tell me it wasn’t my fault…that I’d done nothing wrong… I needed him to acknowledge that it had happened…that it wasn’t my fault…understand my pain…say he was sorry even…but he didn’t. For a long time, because he played it down and didn’t speak of it, I began to believe that what had happened wasn’t that important. It wasn’t until later, that I came to understand the severity of it all. Dear God…I was fifteen years old and I didn’t know…didn’t really understand it all… Oh I knew all about how things worked…knew that only too well…but I didn’t know it was wrong…I’d honestly never heard of incest or child abuse…taboo subjects children were kept from… I was too young to be spoken to about all that…but not for it to happen to… There’s a sick irony in there somewhere…” Suddenly Chakotay felt her shiver.
“Are you cold…?” She looked up at him slowly and shook her head. Chakotay looked up towards the opening, noticing that the light was fading a little. “Let me know if you are. I can use my phaser to heat some rocks.” She nodded and tried a tired smile.
“It’s been a while…” Chakotay just pulled her tighter to him.
“It won’t be long now. They’ll find us soon…I promise…” Kathryn leaned her head against him, the gesture of trust not lost on him.
“I know…” They were quiet for some time. Chakotay broke the silence.
“So your father never spoke of it…?” Kathryn shook her head.
“Never. All I wanted…needed…was his support…for him or both of them…him and my mother…to just say… ‘It happened but it’s over now…it wasn’t your fault…we’re sorry’. I needed to understand what had happened and what I was feeling. I’d had all these feelings and emotions inside me for so long…questions… I was so confused… I think I was always afraid… I mean I just always had this fear there… There were times I doubted it was all real even…maybe that I was dreaming it… And later… Oh God…I had so much anger inside me. I was angry at Uncle Robert…for what he’d done to me…angry at my mother and father for not seeing what was going on and not stopping it… I hated them for a long time for not protecting me from that… and of course at my father later on for ignoring it, even when he knew. That anger also turned inwards over time. I was angry and ashamed at myself for not understanding it or being able to stop it… All these questions… Could I have done this or that…should I have done this or that…did I do this…did I not do that…did I cause it…was it my fault…could I have done something differently…? So many doubts and questions…I hated him for abusing my trust in him…for calling it love…making that word dirty to me for so long…I hated myself for being too scared to reach out to someone…tell someone… I even mourned for the childhood I’d lost…the one I saw my friends having… Guilt was there in abundance with me…that I’d caused it…made him do it… ‘turned him on’ even in some way…” She laughed bitterly.
“I mean…I was the one who sat on his lap…played his games…I must have done something… He told me that once…said I’d come on to him…simply because I played with him and sat with him…” She swallowed. “My entire childhood was gone…and I felt so isolated from normal life… As I got older…I was so insecure in myself…hated everything about myself… I constantly worried about other people’s opinions of me…felt I had to please them or they wouldn’t like me… I’d look back and have doubts about what had happened…wondered if I was even remembering it right…if it had happened at all…all those feelings crowding in on me…all negative…pain…anger…” Chakotay leaned his head against hers.
“Kathryn, you have and had every right to feel anything, in response to what happened to you. It wasn’t your fault. You were never to blame. Incest…” He hesitated over the word but getting no reaction, felt it safe to go on. “Incest…child abuse of any kind…perpetrated against a child is a terrible crime…the worst crime there is… What happened to you was all his fault…his evil…you could never have fought against that…” Kathryn nodded against him.
“I know that…although it took me a long time to learn and accept it.” She turned her head slightly. “I did fight him once. I actually fought him… Biggest mistake I ever made. He beat me… Oh, nowhere the bruises would show…except one. I fell against the table and cut my lip… He brought me home…once I’d learned my place and he got what he wanted anyway… He brought me home and told my mother I’d been climbing a tree in his garden and fallen from it. My mother just shook her head and accepted it. She believed him so easily.” She twisted her body slightly to try and get more comfortable.
“I mean, he could easily have used a dermal regenerator on me…treated me…but he didn’t. I think he just enjoyed knowing I was hurting…was suffering. He was a doctor, for God’s sake. He could have hidden what he did to me…even though it was never noticed. He left me with my lip split…barely treated…took a chance with that and maybe that’s what was behind it.” She shook her head in disbelief. “My mother never asked why the cut was still there. It never occurred to her to ask why, as a doctor, he hadn’t treated or healed it. I think in a way, it was his way to send me a message. ‘I can do what I like and no one will question me’. And it worked. It wasn’t like I didn’t have a list of physical complaints the entire time, yet my mother and father just brushed them off… ‘normal childhood knocks and bangs’… ‘our Kathryn is such a tomboy’… They knew I didn’t eat or sleep well…didn’t have many friends… I was a very withdrawn child and it happened over a short enough period of time… I washed constantly…I was anxious and nervous when he was around… I had the lowest self-esteem…and they didn’t see any of that…” She shook her head sadly.
“To be fair to them…I suppose they weren’t educated to look for that either. Besides, sexual abuse isn’t something anyone likes to think about… It’s always something you hear about with someone else…strangers… It can never happen in your own family and yet one in five boys and one in four girls have been abused as a child. It’s far more common than people know. It happens. I had to learn it the hard way…” She cleared her throat. “What I mean is…I only learned about all the signs later on…when I began counselling… Silence and ignorance… They’re the accomplices of every abuser. I was bribed and then terrorized into silence. Most kids are. They can drop hints or make indirect comments but it’s not always picked up on. Some become very passive…like me…others become destructive…hostile or aggressive… Oh I had that but I turned it inwards… Some commit petty crimes and later on, more serious ones…that or they can become self-destructive...injure themselves. Fire starting is even a sign. Some kids will act out adult sex play…behaviour…with other children or their toys…showing sexual knowledge way beyond what they should know. Of course, that’s often put down to them having access to holovids not meant for them and it gets overlooked again. They have physical…medical problems… swellings… bleedings…bruises… Of course if they’re not picked up on…the other physical problems are never noticed…the damage that is there from…tearing… infections…” She swallowed loudly. “Drug and alcohol problems…are common later on… Sexual activity or pregnancy at an early age…even running away or suicide attempts…” Chakotay eased her up a bit when he heard her voice, as she almost narrated the facts for him.
“Kathryn…?” She seemed to shake herself out of it.
“Sorry Chakotay… I still get angry and those facts are so ingrained… I think I know the texts word for word. I’m an expert at this. I feel anger at the people who wrote them even….some doctor or therapist… I want to scream at them… ‘Big deal…you know all the words…but what do you really know…?’” She shook her head again and smiled sadly. “I guess I still feel that anger and bitterness…” Chakotay leaned back against the wall of the cave slowly, gently taking her with him.
“You’ve every right to feel all that, Kathryn…every right… You said it yourself…you told in every way but words…but no one heard you.” She nodded.
“There was so much confusion…everything I felt…had felt for so long…conflicting emotions and feelings… I mean I feared him and loved him at the same time. I was afraid to cause trouble and lose my family…and he’d told me I’d be taken away…and people would point at me and laugh… I was angry at him and my parents…even Phoebe in some ways for not being the one…” She cried now.
“How sick and hateful is that…to be angry at my own sister because she wasn’t the one being abused…?” Chakotay just held her firmly. “I think I was angry at just about everyone…myself included. I closed myself off because I thought there was something really wrong with me…I mean why me and no one else…because I didn’t know this happened to others… Later on…when I’d started counselling…I got depressed…so sad…for all that I’d lost…that innocence that should have been mine by rights. He took all that…took such a big part of me… I grew up so fast in some ways and remained a baby almost in others… And God…the betrayal…I felt that so badly… Then the guilt even…for not being able to stop it… I hated myself for not telling…yet I know I’d have hated myself for telling too…if I’d done that. I’ve no way to know what would have happened if I had told straight out. I even went through a time of believing I’d actually ‘consented’ because I didn’t fight him. Oh and let’s not forget the shame. For still loving him…for what he made me feel physically…for swinging back and forward between love and hate… I don’t know… At that stage it was so mixed up…all the time actually…” She coughed and leaned into him.
“I hated him for how he controlled me. When the presents stopped and he knew he had total control of me…and I’d see him looking at Phoebe…making sure I saw him…I hated him so much then. He ruled me completely. I didn’t know if he really wanted her or was using it to control me and I was terrified. He even threatened to go after Phoebe if I told and didn’t keep coming to him.” She wiped at her face. Chakotay drew in a deep breath.
“How did you feel after he’d gone?” He still felt so unsure of what to say or ask. Kathryn seemed to just accept his question though.
“When he’d gone…I was terrified for months that he’d come back… I’d lie awake at night…waiting for him to come into my room and take me away… Every sound in the house at night made me jump and I was afraid to go to sleep in case he came. I thought he’d blame me for being caught…and would come back and get me for that. Over time though, I began to feel a little safer. Having control over what I wanted for breakfast became the highlight of my life, control of anything…even what I wanted to wear. For a time, I was obsessed with controlling everything around me…even stuff that didn’t matter…just so I could control something…anything…” She laughed slightly. “I think that’s why I need to always feel in control now…” Chakotay said nothing, just continued to hold her.
“Anyway…I tried to move on…not think about it…build some kind of life… I threw myself into my studies…could hide there. Applied for Starfleet even… I think for a time I even tried to deny to myself that it had happened. Then…” He sensed her reluctance.
“Kathryn, you can tell me anything…you know that… Just let it out…” She pulled back a little from him.
“I know that.” He gave her some time. “I had the summer off…before joining Starfleet…” Chakotay watched her face, seeing her memories written there. “My father was over the moon that I’d been accepted. Life was back to normal. He wasn’t there that much but this made him so happy and I was just happy to be able to please him. I think I felt I was making it all up to him…giving him what he wanted… although it was what I wanted too. That summer…” She laughed now, although the sound was wrapped in pain. “God, I was naïve… I went on a date…my first date… I didn’t know him well. The boys I did know weren’t actually knocking on the door to ask me out… I’d been too withdrawn you see…didn’t mix with them… So in my effort to convince myself that I really was normal…I went on this date…” He heard the sarcasm drip from her words. “I know now I probably gave him the wrong impression… I only had my childhood knowledge of how to please a man…didn’t know the difference…and I liked him… and only knew one way to show that…” He saw tears in her eyes again.
“He thought it was his birthday…” She laughed cynically through her tears. “For a while anyway… Only I panicked… Suddenly it all came back to me and I lost it… The trouble was…he was too far gone and couldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer at that stage…so he kept going.” The tears fell down her face and Chakotay pulled her tighter against him. “He raped me…and I’d walked right into it…” She was sobbing now and Chakotay turned her into him.
“No Kathryn…you didn’t…please love…don’t say that… No man has that right…” He comforted her for a while, feeling her breath against his neck. Slowly he felt her relax a little, her hand pressing against his chest.
“I know what I just said…but I know you’re right… Louise helped me there too… I do know that… It’s just sometimes…sometimes…I just forget…” She sounded like a lost little girl for a moment.
“Kathryn, you’re the strongest person I know… You survived all this and you beat it…” She nodded her head against him, her fingers tracing an idle pattern on his tunic.
“I wasn’t strong that summer…” He said nothing and waited for her to continue. “I hid away for days and then suddenly I just got up and went out. I’d decided you see, that this was what it was like…this was what it was all about between men and women. They wanted it and I gave it. That was what I had to do. If you loved someone…man to woman…you had sex…and in my head…this was what love and sex were all about. One was the same as the other. No difference between them. I truly thought this was all I could ever expect. It was that or lock myself away.” He saw her lower her head.
“For the rest of that summer, I went wild. I was dead inside but I lived on the outside. I went to every party I could…drank like there was no tomorrow…threw up a lot… even tried some drugs… You see…I learned later… that the abuse had scarred me deeply in a lot of ways… I’d no self-esteem. I was practically an adult yet emotionally I was still a child in so many ways. All the ‘social maladjustments’ as they call them, that come from abuse… Well…I was finding them. Alcoholism… drug addiction… promiscuity… I was only short of prostitution. The drinking and drugs deadened the pain and the memories. They blocked out the reality. Some victims, if they feel they were abused because they were pretty, will overeat and become obese so they can look unattractive. Others get bulimia. You feel like being sick so often when it happens and later on, bulimia is just another way to act that out. Anorexia is another one… I guess another form of self-punishment…like injuring yourself. Suicide among victims is more common than we know.” She felt Chakotay’s arm tighten around her.
“And so here I was…all these emotional problems with little understanding of them… So I partied hard and on top of all that…earned a nice little reputation for myself…” She barely glanced up at him. “I slept with any boy who came near me. Boy or man…didn’t matter. Word got out on that, of course… Janeway was more than willing and they were queuing up. I just didn’t care… I really felt nothing. I can say in all honesty that I don’t remember half of them…half of what I did or with who… I just lay there and let them do whatever they wanted…let it happen. Most of the time I was either drunk or stoned anyway…” He heard the sorrow in her voice, felt her tears splash on his arm.
“Kathryn, that was his doing too…not yours…” She nodded but kept her head down.
“I learned that one too. At the time though…these men liked me and that felt good in one way…despite how dead I felt. When I looked back on it…I couldn’t understand how I’d allowed any man to touch me. Between the abuse and the rape… Louise tried to explain that because Uncle Robert had let me down and then my father in his way…that I was needing and looking for love…still wanting to please… I guess it was the old one about confusing love with sex. I don’t know if I thought or believed that these men loved me… I don’t know. I do know I just cared nothing about myself. I thought this was love…and I craved it. The men were just there…all the same…and Uncle Robert had just been the first of them.” She laughed slightly and then seemed shocked at herself that she could. She looked to Chakotay quickly to try and gauge his reaction but all she saw was love and support, giving her the courage to continue.
“Of course, it didn’t take my father long to hear of it all. He actually dragged me half-naked out of a car one night and hauled me home. Mom and Phoebe weren’t there and when I thought about it later, I guess he’d sent them out. He had hold of me by my arm and hair and he pulled me up the stairs and threw me into my room. I was crying so hard. I remember screaming at him…pulling at my clothes… ‘Do you want some too?’… That’s what I said to him.” She looked up tearfully at the man beside her. “I’ll always remember the look on his face…although I never understood it. I’d hurt him…I know that. He said nothing about how he’d found me and just turned and walked out the door. He looked back at me and shook his head. ‘You’ll be attending the Academy early…you leave in the morning…I’ve arranged some summer classes for you’. Nothing more. He just closed the door behind him. I remember screaming after him and then throwing myself on the bed and crying for hours. In the morning, my mother barely spoke to me. She knew, knew what I’d been doing, must have. She most likely heard about it the same way my father had. Maybe she was even the one to tell him, I don’t know. She looked so sad and all I wanted to do was tell her why…why I’d been like this. Of course I didn’t. Didn’t understand myself.” She shifted a little.
“I left that morning. My father had already left the house and I didn’t see him again for a long time.” She was quiet for some time now.
“What happened at the Academy?” She smiled slightly at him.
“I was a good girl there. In a way, it was the best thing my father did for me. I was in this new environment…with no reminders…except the ones in my own head. I took all the classes he’d arranged for me and paid attention. I threw myself back into my studies, where I’d always felt safe. There weren’t many people staying on campus…most of them in my classes were day students…outsiders… taking the classes as part of their jobs… So I was alone for the first time…and at first I was terrified… I mean every noise at night…a floorboard creaking… By day I felt OK…too many people around…but at night…” She shivered. “And then the flashbacks started…” She looked up at him. “Maybe we could heat those rocks…?” He smiled down at her and nodded. They both looked up and saw that it had gotten a little darker.
“At least it’s a lot slower on this world…getting dark…” Chakotay pointed to the opening high above them. “It apparently doesn’t get completely dark at this time of year…kind of like Earth’s midnight sun…” Kathryn grunted as she moved aside to let Chakotay get the rocks. She watched quietly as he used his phaser to heat them, then sat back. She felt the heat immediately. “Is that better…?” She smiled up at him and nodded.
“You’re being wonderful about all this… I don’t know now why I was afraid to tell for so long. I mean…I’m pouring my heart and my deepest secrets out to you here and… Well…let’s face it…my sordid past… I think I was afraid that you might be disgusted at me…” Chakotay’s face was serious.
“Kathryn, there is absolutely nothing sordid about you or what happened to you. Please don’t ever say that again…even to try and make light of it… I’m deeply honoured that you trust me like this and I would never, never be disgusted… Please don’t even think like that…” She swallowed and smiled a little, settling back against him.
“On with the story then…” He didn’t miss the catch in her voice. “I had these flashbacks…at least I learned later on that’s what they were… At the time…they terrified me. Louise referred to them as ‘recollections from the past’ and told me that they could be pictures, sounds, smells, feelings, or even the lack of them as in a numbness. Sometimes it was like seeing it…standing back and watching it happen…sometimes the sounds…or both… Other times, there was nothing but this overwhelming feeling of panic…feeling trapped… I’d feel as if his hand was on my face again and I couldn’t breath…or I’d feel the pain…so real… It was like dreaming while awake…one image after another…like waking from one dream into the next one… And then it began to invade my sleep too…to become real dreams and nightmares… I was hardly sleeping…barely eating…I lost weight… It was almost like before…so real and fresh in my mind…and I couldn’t understand that. I can only describe it as like… It was like my mind had one schedule or timetable and my body another. I can’t describe it exactly…” She moaned slightly as she tried to move. At the look of concern on Chakotay’s face, she smiled weakly.
“It’s OK. It’s just sore when I move.” She settled herself. Chakotay leaned over and checked the bandage. Seeing only a little blood on the dressing, he sat back. Smiling at Kathryn that it was fine, she nodded and went on.
ON TO PART THREE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.
RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.