Gabrielle ~ I felt horror. I didn't repress it. While she was doing what she was doing to me, I took myself outside of my body. It was as if I wasn't there. It was never spoken about, or referred to, during the day. It was almost as if, it didn't exist ... to the point where I started to question my sanity.
I doubted God for a long time, after that. I felt like I had been duped. Like I had been drawn into religious life, to have this happen to me. For a while I had a very hard time with God. Because, I had entered the convent. I had given my life to God. And then, this happened. So God and I had an awful lot to work out. And, it's taken quite some years. I do not belong to the institutional Church. I do still have a relationship with God. But, believe me, when I get to Heaven, God's going to have a lot of questions to answer.
I was terrified that someone would hear her, or see her coming into my room at night. But, at the same time, I wanted that to happen ...because, I wanted someone to do something about it. She came in almost every night. Even when I locked my door, she was the Superior, she had the key.
It took me a very long time to admit what had happened. And then, even after that, I think in some ways I was still very loyal to the congregation, so I never took any legal action. I think, when I was strong enough, the statue of limitations had expired.
[AA] Barbara Blaine had told me, that in the movie, ‘Cape Fear' [Ed's note, the new version], there's a scene where a guy is raping a woman, and he bites a chunk out of her face, and she screams. And Barbara said, that horror, is what the horror is like.
[GABE] That's true. I haven't got to the point where I would want to kill that nun, or harm her. I'd like to confront her. I'd like her to admit remorse. When I reported her, she tried to tell them it had been a ‘consensual' relationship. I don't know if you've ever read the book, Miss America by Day. She was a Miss America who was abused by her father for years, and never told anyone. She's the one that made me really thing about this. She said, "Even Jesus, he didn't say ... I forgive you. He said, ‘Father forgive them.'" I believe that this was a crime that was so heinous, that Jesus could not offer forgiveness, he asked his Father to do that. That's the way I feel.
I don't think anyone realizes how many survivors there are that as kids were sexually molested by nuns. In some ways, I think it was harder for the nuns to abuse, because they were living in community ...but, in other ways, it was almost easier because no one would even think they would do this. People couldn't even conceive that a Sister would actually do this.
~ I actually entered the convent right after high school. I was very young. I was 17 years old when I entered. I was from a very Catholic family. My father is an ordained Deacon. I went to Catholic schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. The whole bit ...a very Catholic, devout family.
So, I entered the Convent right after high school. It was that Order of Sisters that taught me in high school.
When I was trained, I was told that the Mother Superior is God's representative on Earth, that God speaks through the Superior, that we are there to obey them ... without question. We were to aspire to ‘blind obedience'. Which means, whatever the Superior tells us to do, we were supposed to do. The example they gave us, was, ‘if they tell you to plant the plant upside-down, plant it without asking questions'.
When I was a young Sister, I was transferred to Pennsylvania. The Principle Superior who was transferred there, I knew her. Shortly after we got there, she started to come into my bedroom at night. She would get into my bed, and use me to get her sexual needs met.
This went on for a period of two years.
I never told anyone. Because, I had never heard of anything like this happening to another person. I thought I was the only one in the world that it happened to. I thought, somehow, I had caused this.
We were taught we were supposed to do everything for the Superior. We were supposed to make their beds, wash and iron their clothes, clean their rooms, do everything for them. So, I thought, because I was doing all that stuff for her, maybe she took some ‘meaning' from that ...that she thought I was somehow encouraging her to this behavior. Maybe that's why I didn't even have the words to say what was happening. I was very naive. I couldn't have even told anyone, even if I had enough courage. I became severely anorexic. I weighed about 85 pounds. I lived on Dairy Queen ice cream and M&M's.
I had a plan to commit suicide. I was going to go on the railroad tracks. There were railroad tracks across the street from the convent, and I figured that was the sure-fire way, that they wouldn't be able to revive me. I was going to lie down on the railroad track. The only thing that kept me from doing that, was I felt bad for the conductor. I didn't want him to see a nun on the railroad tracks in front of his locomotive. I didn't want him to think he'd hit a nun on the railroad tracks, and he'd have to live with that the rest of his life ...that would a horrible thing to do. That's what really kept me from committing suicide. There was no other way I knew of that would be sure-fire. If I swallowed pills, I figured somebody would bring me back. Obviously I couldn't get guns. That was the only way I knew that would make sure it would happen.
During those two years, I was asked to go to counseling because I was anorexic. I never told the therapist, because, again, I thought, ‘I'll get in trouble,' because I knew they would believe the Superior, over me. And, she constantly kept telling me, ‘I'm thirteen years older than you. I'm the Superior.' What she was saying to me was, ‘If you dare to try to tell anyone, that won't believe you. You'll be thrown out. They'll believe me.'
So, it wasn't til several years later, when I was really very desperate and I heard about a hospital that only treated priests and sisters, that I asked to go there. And was finally given permission to go there. That was the first place I told my story. Because, I trusted the confidentiality there. And, there were other women there, who had gone through the same thing I had. There were many sisters who had been abused by another sister ...most of the time, by their Superior.
So I began to heal.
I did leave the convent after that, because the congregation didn't do anything about the abuse, or the abuser. They pretty-much treated me as the criminal. So, I ended up leaving the congregation.