Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Miracle I made it through my teens - literally

TEENAGE YEARS
By age 19 I had my own apartment. I paid 20 dollars a month for the bottom half of a duplex in Echo Park, L.A. That was in February 1968 and by June I’d moved to Leland Way near Sunset and Vine and changed my name to Jesica Leland. I often say I was not raised by parents but by Los Angeles. So naming myself for my stage name after my street was appropriate.

It was amazing I was still alive at age 19. My dad had sent me to Europe in 1966 -- high school graduation present was a round trip ticket, a place to live and a job in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked as a typist in a bank, typing often in German, even though I didn’t know the language, but just copying these lo-o-o-o-ng words. But my office in Geneva was very cramped with three people crowded in it already and then all of a sudden here’s this political hire teenager from Los Angeles with no experience or skills at all taking up more space in their cramped office. I didn’t really need the money anyway so I quit the job to just travel around.

Kick around. I was actually mad at my parents for sending me to Europe because there was so much happening in L.A. and California and the whole country in 1966 with love-ins and free psychedelic drugs and bottles of amphetamine pills that fell off pharmaceutical trucks and pot everywhere. Ten dollars for an ounce of pot and it was good pot that you rolled in joints and it smoked smooth, usually imported from Mexico or points south.

I was mad at my parents for picking me up out of the middle of all that and sending me to Europe but today I’m grateful, because when I got back to suburban L.A. a year later my friends who’d been passing joints with me when I left were now passing needles full of speed and heroin. It happened fast and my parents got me out of there at a good time.

I digress. I should list. The reason it’s amazing I was still alive at age 19 was, well one, in Europe, I met these American GI AWOL guys and we decided to go to Paris to trip around. I met them through my sister who also lived in Geneva -- this is Patricia, the sister who was also raped by Father Horne from age five to age eight before he dumped her for me. Her response to the incident was to freeze up sexually for years, remaining staunchly a virgin until age 21, amazing even in the 1960s. However, by the time Trish was back from Europe and living in San Francisco a few years later she got deep in the sex industry, which thrives always in that city and still today Trish parties with the Strippers and Hookers Ball folks and lives in Haight Ashbury near Golden Gate park and is a very unusual person even for San Francisco. Trish plays into this story in many strange ways, but someone else will have to find her and interview her to get her side. She and I do not speak.

So I rode with the two American guys who were AWOL from the Vietnam war in their VW van across the Swiss then French countryside until we got to Paris. Then I dumped them. I was on a mission and it did not include them. I had to be anonymous.

Here is another place where the PTSD induced compulsion did weird things in my life. These cute, cool, my age American guys wanted to party with me in Paris and I said, sure, I’ll be here at this hotel where you're dropping me off, see you in the morning. They watched as I walked into the hotel and went up to the desk. They drove away and I peaked out and when they left, I scurried out of the hotel. I dragged with me this about 10-15 pound suitcase, because understand I was 17 years old from L.A. and I had to have my clothes. All my clothes were in this huge white suitcase and I lugged it for many, many blocks until I found another hotel so I would be totally anonymous and alone in the middle of Paris.

I was on auto-pilot, synchronicity time. It’s hard to explain but it is part of the story, part of the compulsion placed in me by the priest when I was five, and how it played out. I would just move along almost in a trance knowing I was doing something crazy and dangerous but also knowing there was some reason, some purpose, and I had to keep following my instinct because there was something I had to do. And it had something to do with sex and God.

I had one phone number, Patricia’s friend Philippe, who I phoned one time from a payphone. He was a Brit living in Paris and Pat had said he probably would have some acid. (I’d been amazed that you couldn’t find acid in Geneva where the Sandoz Laboratories had developed the drug.)

I wanted to buy LSD because I had already read and re-read Timothy Leary’s Book of Psychedelic Prayers and other writings and I was convinced that mankind was going to go to a higher plane and it was connected to the deep spiritual religious practices of the ancient book of the dead as Leary translated it. So all my LSD trips were in pursuit of some kind of religious thing.

I figured out how to make the pay phone in Paris work and called Philippe and said “Hi I’m Patricia’s sister and she said you might have some LSD that I could buy?”

He flipped out and got so paranoid and swore at me never to call there again. So now I was totally on my own in Paris and may have done that on purpose, as I’m not really that dumb. I was on autopilot, on a Mission from God, driven by a compulsion that came deep inside me and at age 17 I hadn’t quite identified it yet.

Next day after a scary bath in the coed bathroom that everybody on the floor shared where there was pubic hair in the tub, ah the French, I took off to stroll the Left Bank. I sat in cafes drinking wine, wow no age limit, I walked around up and down streets. It was 1966 so Paris was still very much just Paris then. Down one side street I found a bookstore and wandered in, and two young men wandered in close after me. They were my age, my generation almost, a little older, but the hair was long and they wore jeans.

Now remember it was 1966 and in California if someone had long hair and jeans you automatically identified them as a fellow traveler in the counter culture. I was 17 and thought things would be the same in Paris so I may even have been the one who struck up a conversation with them. I know I asked if they knew where to score some LSD and they pretended to know what that was but didn't know where to get some, but we could get some lalalalala, don’t remember the name of it, a drug they said was like LSD and I said, great let’s go.

Somehow in my high school French and their enthusiasm as they explained their house was out in the suburbs I agreed to go to the hotel and get my stuff and take it with us. We rode the train out of Paris to their house, this big empty house in a town up the train line. We walked about a block from the train to this huge brick house surrounded by a 10 foot brick fence. Inside the gate were trees and gardens before you got to the front door.

I was a 17 year old girl hooked up and ready to party. I was no virgin. I was a 17 year old Southern California natural blond tanned girl with a dancer’s anorexic body but Polish curves -- I was hot and probably some kind of fantasy come true for these French guys, who already thought all American women were whores but a girl from Southern California! But I was unaware of that. I was just natural in a sundress and sandals and little else sitting in this kitchen outside Paris drinking wine and eating something home cooked with these two French guys and then taking this drug. . .

It was not anything at all like LSD. In fact I just fell asleep. When I woke up I was locked in a bedroom upstairs, groggy, they came in and fucked me over and over and then gave me more of the drug and that went on for a few days, I really don’t know how long. They came after me in the bathtub, they made me take the drug when I didn’t want it. The sex the first night may have been consensual but after a few days of being locked in the upstairs bedroom except when I was let out to take a bath and then they’d be in there with me -- it was beginning to be a bad experience. I don't think I even thought of the word rape. I was groggy.

I just wished they’d quit fucking me, as it was hurting.

Finally one day strangely my door wasn’t locked so I was able to come to the tof the stairs, then tiptoe down a few steps, and listen to the two French guys having this animated conversation with two men with what seemed to be Arab accents. I peaked and the two new men were dark with Arab noses. The French guys were doing their Parisian French which was really hard for me to follow but I got it that they were describing me, how it felt to touch my skin, the Skin! They kept repeating it, “le peau le teint.” And they talked about money. I shivered there on the stairs hoping they didn’t hear me, realizing “They’re going to sell me to the Arabs.”

So I freaked. Got to get outta here. I listened longer, understood little more but enough to know the deal was done and I was going to Saudi Arabia in a few hours. Then they all left, without even checking on me, which was weird. Thinking back now I realize maybe they’d been up in the bedroom earlier while I was drugged and knocked out looking at me and didn't realize they hadn’t locked the door when they left, then didn't want to make the Arab guys wait, so the French guys left without checking. Anyway, my door was unlocked, and I had to get out of that house now.

I still had my big white suitcase and I still had to take all of my stuff with me. I lugged the suitcase down the stairs. Every window on the ground floor was nailed shut. I ran to the kitchen and all the doors of course were locked, except one, the door that led to the basement. So I dragged the huge white suitcase behind me down the narrow basement staircase in that old French country house.

In the basement there was one small window just at ground level near the high ceiling. Beneath the window were these huge laundry basins like for washing sheets by hand a century ago. I could climb up these sinks and then crawl through the window. It was a tiny opening. I pulled myself through and then went to pull the suitcase through and get us to freedom. But the suitcase was too large. Remember I was a 17 year old girl from L.A. and I wasn’t going to leave behind all my clothes for these French freaks to keep so I pulled and pulled and pulled and the suitcase was just plain larger than the window.

Then there was a BLLLLLLNNNNNNGGGG sound. It came with the wind through the trees. There are even angelic voices in the moment as I remember it today. Whatever happened the suitcase came through the window. The solid 1960s pre-plastic quality suitcase came through the old window which was surrounded by brick wall surrounded, and I was able to get out of there. I had to climb a tree and throw the suitcase over the fence then jump down myself. I scrambled in the direction I remembered the train station to be and got out of there before the French guys came back with the Arabs and probably would have sold me into some kind of white slavery and I wouldn't have lived a lot more years.

Later in life I realized that because I’d been raped by a priest at age five and had thus gone out into the world with a shitload of confusion and sexual compulsions, always thinking I was doing some holy thing when I was having sex so in no way sinning, just being this fantasy female for men like I was supposed to be.

God looked down at me at age five being raped by that priest in the rectory of a Catholic Church and realized, this girl is going to have a lot of trouble in life. So he dispatched a couple of extra angels down to watch over me. And that's how I got out of that situation and also so many others, but this story, the “time I almost got sold to the Arabs as a sex slave at age 17” story, is the main reason I say it’s a wonder I made it to age 19.

There was a man at the train station that day when I escaped who I also now think of as an angel connected to that experience. I must have looked pretty disheveled, drugged, scared, shaking, but trying to act cool. The older guy sat next to me and I didn’t tell him at all what happened but he thought I needed help so asked something like well how much can you pay for a hotel. I told him how many American express travelers checks I had with me and he was amazed, and stopped reaching for his wallet. He said, well then go to the Hilton, hmm, the Paris Hilton, and I thought yeah good idea.

I went downtown Paris checked into the Hilton paid with a couple of my checks, my parents had sent me with a wad of American Express checks. I was raised in benevolent neglect. It felt so good to feel the American-ness of the Paris Hilton, and on my way to my room I wanted to get a magazine. About all there was in English was an edition of Playboy. I went to my room and luxuriated and took a private bath and luxuriated in the bed with room service for a couple of nights, recovering from the “trauma” as we’d call it today, alone at age 17, achy from several days of involuntary sex.

I found nurturing and comfort in the pages of Playboy that night.

-----------------------

This chapter is supposed to be about my high school years, teenage years. Let me resort again to a list to get through it because this period of life can be written pretty much like that, this happened, then this happened, and I have to get through this story.

By age seven I was obese, one of those kids your heart goes out to because they sweat more and can move less and especially today we know that overeating like that is a sign of sexual trauma in children. I do remember the moment I decided to get fat. My atheist mom was giving me a bath around age 7 and noticed I’d put on a few pounds. She said, “Oh Kathy, none of the boys are going to want to be with you if you get fat like that.”

I proceeded to eat my way all the way to having to shop at Lane Bryant’s store for fat girls and stayed obese all the way until age 13 when I reached puberty. Then I suddenly remembered how much fun it had been to be sexually aroused. But by then the actual experiences with Father Horne were totally ingrained, deep inside. However the sexual monster was coming to the surface.

I lost the weight at age 13 and as it happened, we had moved to New York for about a year. So I got to come back to San Marino, California, thin. I left the fat dumpy girl and came back slim and slinky. Well I still had those Polish curves. The boys before I went to New York would tease me and calling me “Tubby-Ebolino” because of my last name which is sort of like Ebolino. They would chant “Tubby Ebolino is a fat tangerine-o” and I’d cry and keep eating and eating not understanding why.

In New York I went on Metrecal and came back a year later to the same junior high school a size six and those same boys were now panting after me. Also I was now accepted with the more popular girls. We all sat near each other at an assembly one afternoon soon after I returned to the junior high school. The boys were sitting in front of us, and I was sitting with a row of the popular girls. I got so excited.

I wore a straight skirt that day, a little short, and a Jackie Kennedy style short-trim jacket and I looked fabulous, just fabulous and was so happy to be with the popular girls and the popular boys in the row in front of me. Especially the boys in the row in front of me.

In fact I had to get the boys’ attention. So I crouched down in my chair, lower and lower so my legs came off the seat, and let the skirt slide and slide up my legs as I spread them apart. Of course the boys in the row in front started to pay attention, so I continued to slide down in the seat and spread my legs wider and wider and like always with these things never being able to do enough so going wider and maybe gyrating a little.

Well the junior high school boys were loving it but my new friends the junior high school girls were not. They were looking at me and at each other with shock and I didn’t care - what did they know - I had all these boys looking at me so I kept it up for a while.

The rest of my time through high school I ran with the sluts.

When it came to losing my virginity I was very clinical about it. I had this boyfriend Animal, a drummer in a rock band, and he wouldn't do it with me because I was still a virgin. So I went over to one of his friend’s house, just showed up there one afternoon ditching high school, and seduced him very aggressively there in his little Pasadena bungalow. He was amazed after it was over saying, wow, usually virgin girls aren’t so aggressive, but I wasn’t even listening. I was packing up to go over and be with Animal 'cause now I wasn’t a virgin any more.

And now I was age 19 living in Echo Park in a hovel of an apartment that rented for 20 dollars a month. Great place, with about a thousand steps in the front yard that led right down to Echo Park Boulevard, all overgrown and the lake and the park across the street, for 20 dollars a month, imagine that.

I began my career as an actress.

To be continued. . .

POST SCRIPT:
From the Snapnetwork.org public discussion group February 2006

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SNAP Survivors' Network
The Pope, The Vatican, the Power at the Top
Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
Author
cityofangels1
Registered MemberPosts: 8(2/28/06 10:18 am)Reply Edit

Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional

One thing that is part of my experience and that plagues me and that permanently affected my personality is:My predator was also the priest who guided me into first communion. So he also taught me how to go to confession. He taught me to talk dirty to him in the confessional, and apparently over a time I got very good at it. Then we moved from Illinois to California and the new priest at my new church was so shocked when I went to confession that he ran out of the room with his eyes popping out of his head and pointed at me pointed at me pointed at me...So I have this rich filthy fantasy life in my head that was planted there by a holy priest in a holy sacrament in this oh so holy church that I don't understand is still in business but that is a different story.I wonder if other people have experienced abuse at this level, particularly in the confessional, and isn't this an entire new area to "approach" the church in that it is direct "Spritual Abuse"? Perhaps we need a whole new kind of class action lawsuit.Still screwed up in L.A.Kay

Reply from S:
Re: Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
Kay,I don't have that experience, but I'm not surprised at all.The only curious thing that happened to me in confession was when another priest who was stationed in our parish said to me, "If someone makes you do something and you don't know if its a sinner, then you haven't sinned"I had no idea why he said that to me, because I was sure he didn't know what was going on. As I matured I realized there was no other explanation.But, I too have residual effects from the abuse. It may not be a rich filthy fantasy world, but it is something!Peace, S---

Reply from sa
Re: Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
kay,my abuse consisted the sacrement of confession and at some points I was told things to say...I believe the degradation and humiliation and spiritual aspect of this is beyond words sometimes....there is a great book that I have found to be extremely rewarding in my recovery, by Wendy Maltz called Healing the Sexual Journey....SA
****"It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action,engagement and remembering."-Judy Herman****

Reply from RB
Re: Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
Perhaps no other form of abuse cuts as deep as abuse connected with Confession. In Confession, we were supposed to be vulnerable. To have either the venue itself or the contents of your Confession used as weapons of abuse leaves one completely lacking in any confidence in church authority to seek one's spiritual interests. It's quite one thing when an authority figure uses those under his charge; but to do so in the context of the "Holy" leaves one lacking in any trust whatsoever.The Baltimore Catechism used to talk about the unpardonable "Sin against the Holy Spirit": a condition wherein the soul becomes so hardened that even the mention of the things of God repel the soul, making reconciliation with God chronically impossible. Such is the context in which many wounded souls simply walk away from God in horror.

Reply from SE
Re: Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
What that famous Vatican document commanding that people keep sexual abuse secret under pain of excommunication, at http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/churchdocs/CrimenEnglish.pdf, is really about, is "solicitation" during confession. That document begins, "The crime of solicitation takes place when a priest tempts a penitent, whoever that person is, either in the act of sacramental confession, whether before or immediately afterwards, whether on the occasion or the pretext of confession, whether even outside the times for confession in the confessional or [in a place] other than that usually designated for the hearing of confessions or [in a place] chosen for the simulated purpose of hearing a confession." The confessional is clearly is a place where abuse would be particularly abusive. Sure, this document talks about some sexual abuse which wouldn't involve the confessional. This mentions sex "with brute animals (bestiality)," and I doubt that what the writers had in mind was that during a confession, the priest would arrange with the parishioner that he bring his big dog to the rectory soon. Yet that document still clearly stresses the opportunities for abuse that the confessional would give.

Reply from GB:
Re: Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
If memory serves, the notorious Shanley used the confessional as the locus of abuse on at least oneoccasion with the man he was finally convicted ofabusing as a boy.

Reply from MS
Re: Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
Quote:
Perhaps no other form of abuse cuts as deep as abuse connected with Confession.
I am not Catholic, and I am very ignorant of all aspects of the religion. I take it that at this is supposed to be Holy time and that as a Catholic, your priest is an instrumental, central, integral part of you connection to God, and the forgiveness of your sins. And that the priest represents the Lord, and can be trusted completely. If that is close to the way it is, and the child is old enough to appreciate these facts at the time they are molested, it is indeed an exponential aggrivation of what is already an abominable sin.I thought I could trust my perp because even though he told me he was the janitor, and the priest at his church trusted him enough to let him live there. ( he was the priest btw ) So he must be tight with God. I was 16, I know that many Catholics were much younger when they were molested.My heart just goes out to anyone who was molested period, let alone by clergy, let alone as a child. For it to be aggrivated by the crime being commited during a holy ritual.....As a non Catholic MG, your post has illuminated for me how this can impact Catholic child to even a greater degree. I'm not comparing here, saying somebodys experience was any worse or than anyone elses or anything. I'm just sorry it happened to you and so many others this way.

Reply from me:
cityofangels1
Re: Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
Yes!!! Now I know why I come here to message boards. AZ wrote: "I take it that .. a priest is an instrumental, central, integral part of your connection to God, and the forgiveness of your sins. ... it (Confessional abuse) is indeed an exponential aggravation of what is already an abominable sin."YES !!And that wasn't all Father Horne did to me, just a part.In the confessional Father Horne (or as I like to call him Father Horne-y) did something more, weird, he taught me to talk dirty to him. I guess he taught me his own sexual fantasies and coached me so I knew how to repeat them back to him. Then in his little enclosed room and me in another enclosed room next to him, he'd listen as I talked. And to me I was still going to Confession because to be honest once the priest shared his fantasies with me they became my fantasies too, so I confessed them as "impure thoughts" and you can see how this is self perpetuating.And how seamless is the stream from sex crime to spiritual crime, if there even is a category in law for spiritual crime.If there isn't there should be.It would take a team of professionals to figure out how many ways this abuse of the Sacrament of Confession harmed me. The point is the church needs to acknowledge this can happen and prevent it from happening even if it means opening up those little confessional rooms or in some other way getting rid of secrecy. Secrecy may give us privacy but it also breeds corruption and deceipt.
Kay In LA
PS I have this fantasy that representatives in the Vatican are reading this message board, monitoring it, and maybe we can get to them this way.....?????

Reply from S
Re: Sacrament Abuse as in the Confessional
I'm not sure if Rome reads this, but I know it is read by clergy and the hierarchy in the Worcester Diocese.It stands to reason that if they read it, so do others.It also stands to reason that the information is passed along.

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