Prayed Upon is the story of one woman’s escape from the abuse of a respected, church-going psychiatrist. Amy reaches out to Dr. Dolion for help with depression, but instead of providing healing, he leads her down a path of deception and betrayal. His office, which initially feels like a sanctuary, becomes a psychological prison, one from which Amy will have to fight to free herself.
Prayed Upon, a true story depicts Amy’s journey from victim to thriving child of God. Her brutal honesty provides an inside look at the warped beliefs that early abuse instills, beliefs that make adult victims vulnerable to sexual predators. Her story shines a light on the under-reported sexual abuse of adults and ultimately the way victims can gain freedom from the bondage of shame that abuse leaves behind.
Targeted Age Group:: young adult-adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wrote this memoir about my experience of abuse at the hands of a therapist and church elder so that other adult victims could know that they are not alone and that the abuse was not their fault. I also wrote this book to shed light on the subject of grooming and abuse of adults to lessen the stigma around sexual abuse and to provide much-needed understanding and clarification for on-lookers. Lastly, I wanted people to know that God can allow this kind of atrocity and still be a loving and present God.
CHAPTER ONE THE OFFICE VISIT
I couldn’t believe I was back in his office. After seven long years. The blinds were drawn, as they had been before, creating a cocoon-like feel. Was it comforting or frightening? Maybe a little of both. The big leather sofa along the back wall was gone, so I sat down in what I assumed was my seat, an oversized walnut-colored leather chair with an ottoman.
I scanned the walls for the pencil sketch. Good, it’s not here. During my sessions a decade ago, I would stare at the sketch from my spot on the sofa and wonder what that girl’s story was, if she’d found healing here and where she was now. Was I as sick as that poor girl had looked in the drawing? Had I made a mistake in returning? Surely, I wasn’t that bad off, or maybe I was in denial? The girl in the sketch had looked so sad and so broken, haunted almost. But by what?
I still remembered the doctor’s words the day he caught me studying it.
“She is very damaged. In fact, she has over one hundred distinct personalities.”
“Really?” “Yes. She had horrible things done to her, things too awful to repeat, things involving ritual abuse, and well, things I won’t burden you with,” he’d said. He glanced over at the drawing and seemed to take a second to honor her. “Anyway, where were we?”
Shuddering at the memory, I welcomed the secretary’s sweet drawl drifting through the doorway. “You know he is completely booked up right now,” she said. Guilt. I had just waltzed in here without so much as a phone call. A friend of mine had an appointment she didn’t need and offered it to me. Maybe he took me because I’d been here before, so technically I wasn’t a new patient. But still.
I inhaled deeply. The girl in the sketch was probably better now. To my left, bookshelves lined an entire wall. The hundreds of books suggested an intellectual type, and as it had the first time, the thought put me a little more at ease. I’m in good hands. He knows what he’s doing.
A random assortment of trinkets and mementos were scattered amongst the books, offering little bursts of color against the sterile browns and grays. Collected from his travels or maybe gifts he had received from clients he had worked with over the years? Probably the latter. Everyone in the community seemed to love him. My friends raved about him. And I enjoyed thinking that some of his clients were so special to him that he remembered them with a small display on his shelf. It was sweet.
I looked behind me. The black-and-white photo of the doctor playing tennis was still there. I scanned the room for family photos but again didn’t find any.
The office screamed scholarly, sentimental, and quirky, just like I remembered him. Quirky was an understatement. Lining the top of the bookshelves, in stark contrast to the masculine space, sat a collection of china teacups and saucers. That was different for a man, but then he was probably close to his mother or grandmother and displayed the collection in honor of one of them. Again, kind of sweet. My gaze bounced along the rims of the various teacups. I halted at. . . a plane altimeter? That’s odd. But that was him, a little different. But different in a good way.
I released a huff of air. Amy, stop worrying! the inner critic shouted. I flopped my head back against the chair, letting it do its job of supporting me, even if just for a minute or two. I wasn’t keen on letting anyone or anything support me. But I was so tired. I needed to do something different.
You need to let someone in, the critic lectured. I know, I replied with a sigh. I’m here, aren’t I? I noted a rolling desk chair across from the ottoman. The doctor’s seat. I imagined the stories we would exchange. I bet he’d heard it all, having been in practice for 36 years. In front of his chair sat a large wooden desk that served little purpose except to display a glass bowl filled with peppermint candies and a notepad and pen.
Geez, what is taking him so long? Amy, don’t complain. He took you in like a stray. Yeah, that was nice of him. After my friend offered me her appointment, she drove me here, whispered to the doctor that I needed the appointment more than she did, and bam, I was sitting in his office ready to be dissected.
I pulled my knees to my chest, placing my sneakers on the edge of my chair.
Amy . . .
Fine. I put my feet back on the floor, instead clasping my arms tightly around my torso. I should rehearse my intro. Wait, why am I here? I placed my purse on the seat beside me and then on the floor beside my chair. I immediately picked it back up and set it on my lap. My fingers fumbled for the zipper pull and rubbed the little piece of fabric between my thumb and forefinger. Would it be rude to leave now? My head found the side of the armchair. Did I have any better ideas? No. And the appointment was so random. It had to be God’s will.
I admitted that just the thought of having hope brought relief. I had tried many counselors and a variety of antidepressants over the years and never could shake the depression. Determined there was something in me that needed to be fixed, I was ready to embark on what would hopefully be my final quest for healing. After all, I had God with me this time around. He will help me. I sank further into the chair’s soft leather. I could let someone help me. I didn’t have to do it alone.
He’s a strong Christian too. I remembered the Sunday morning I first saw him at church. It was about six months ago during one of my first visits to Crossroads Church. After the service ended, he’d approached me.
“Well, fancy meeting you here,” he said. “What? I mean . . . okay . . .” Act natural. What’s wrong with you? It wasn’t just that I had been a patient of his seven years prior.
That was awkward enough. It was the way I had abruptly stopped seeing him after he made me feel apprehensive.
“How have you been?” he asked.
“Fine . . . I’ve been . . . I mean . . . I’ve been fine.” I looked up long enough to smile politely. “I’m fine.”
He grinned at me. My feet were sweating. He leaned in as if he had a secret to tell me. “I never stopped praying for you,” he whispered. Why was he still staring at me? I rocked back and forth. And what did that even mean?
Accept it, move on, and say something. “You didn’t? I mean . . . you didn’t stop praying for me?” “Nope.” He smiled, his pale blue eyes intense. I offered a half laugh, half shrug and glanced down at my fingers,
which were frantically curling the sides of my church bulletin. “Why?”
“Because I knew you weren’t all healed up yet,” he said, as if the answer should have been obvious.
“Oh.” You’re a terrible person. With that, he smiled, turned, and made his way back into the Sunday morning church crowd. I watched him until his thin, grandfatherly frame disappeared into all the other pressed shirts and ties. Ughhh. I hope he doesn’t know I said bad things about him. He’s an elder here too? I groaned, catching his name on the front of the church bulletin.
Oh well, so you misjudged him. Let it go, the voice had said.
“I’m finally here,” the doctor announced as he swung open the heavy oak door to the office where I sat.
I jerked my hand from the purse’s zipper to my torso as if someone had caught me stealing.
“Oh, sorry,” he said with a giggle. “I didn’t mean to startle you.” He eyed the tea sloshing back and forth in his mug and shook his head. “I always overfill it.” He carefully set the tea down on his desk and then glanced over at me. “Oh, how incredibly rude of me. I didn’t even offer you anything!”
“No, I’m . . . I’m good, thanks.” I placed my purse beside me on the chair and reached for my wedding band, wriggling it back and forth over my knuckle.
Amy, calm down.
I released the ring and wrapped my arms around my body. I should’ve worn long sleeves.
“Sure?” “Yeah.” “Very well then.” My body tightened as he walked past me to the door. The sound of the door as it closed, the little click, made it final. I can’t breathe. You want privacy, right? Could I still hear the secretary’s voice on the other side of the door? Yes. My shoulders relaxed as I heard some of what she was saying. I shifted in my seat and unclasped my arms, resting them on the arms of the chair in a futile attempt to appear relaxed.
The doctor shuffled from his desk over to a cabinet under the bookshelves, humming as if hosting a dinner party. He opened the far-left cabinet door, revealing a stack of different-colored afghans. He reviewed his choices, looked over at me as if to size up my outfit, and then turned back to the pile of blankets. He removed a multi-colored afghan from the middle of the stack and then held it out in the air in front of him, admiring his choice. “Here. This one accents your clothing beautifully,” he said, and then he walked over and, ever so gently, covered me up with it.
“Oh. . . thank you.” Awkward, whined the critic. My outfit was hardly match-worthy. I glanced down at my stay-at-home-mom outfit comprised of baggy terry-cloth athletic shorts that hit just above the knee and had the frayed edges I liked, a V-neck T-shirt that met my requirement of clothing that was cute but comfy enough to convert to pj’s, and finally, white ankle socks and running shoes.
He giggled as he made his way back to his chair. My face flushed. The gesture was meant to put me at ease. We don’t feel at ease. I’m quite aware! I adjusted my position in the chair by tucking one foot underneath me. Then, I tried two feet and eventually admitted defeat by sliding both feet back onto the floor in front of me. I shouldn’t have worn these clunky sneakers. I wished I could curl into a tiny ball, making myself so small he couldn’t see me.
“Would you like the ottoman for your feet?” the doctor asked. “No, I’m good . . . thank you.” He’s just trying to be thoughtful. I remembered that about him. He had always been attentive, almost too nice. I’d never felt deserving of love. That’s probably why his acts of kindness were hard to digest. Part of my therapy was to accept that I deserved love and to allow some of that love in for a change. And relaxing had never been a part of my vocabulary. I could stand to do a bit more of that, too.
The afghan gave me an added layer of protection, and for that I was grateful. I needed help. I knew that. But could I let my guard down? Could I trust him?
Are you kidding me?
My body slumped. What little confidence I had seeped out of me like a balloon leaking air. The voice was right. Everyone had greater worth than me. There was no testing period to determine if someone was worthy of my trust. I released a heavy sigh. The idea of letting this man into my world was terrifying, but the realization that he could help free me from depression was enticing. That we could all agree on.
He took a seat. His swivel chair released a whoosh of air and a loud creak as he tilted back and spun around to face me.
“You’re baaaaaack!” he said, holding out the word for what felt like an eternity.
“Yeah,” I said, raising my shoulders to my ears and then dropping them, hoping my voice sounded the right amount of pleasant.
“I never stopped praying for you.” Here we go. “Why?” “Because I knew you weren’t all healed up yet, silly,” he said, his eyes holding me captive, just like they did that Sunday after church. I didn’t know what to do with that tidbit of info then, and I wasn’t sure now either, so I just smiled politely, hoping my eyes conveyed the appropriate amount of thanks.
“Really?” “Really,” he answered, his countenance warm. He had aged quite a bit. His once-brown hair was now streaked with gray, as was his sparse mustache and beard. His eyebrows, you could say, had a life of their own. They had taken on a sort of every-man-for-himself approach. They were so thick and wiry that I imagined they required their own line of hair-care products. And they weren’t helping. He was donning one of his signature ties, which were often conversation pieces. Many of them displayed Christian themes, but some were just plain silly. Silly worked for him because there was something different about him, something playful, almost childlike.
As he looked away, I stole a glimpse of his pale blue eyes. Years ago, they had frightened me because they seemed to look right through me, as if to intrude into my inner world without invitation. Was that energy still there? No. His eyes were intense, yet kind. Nevertheless, I was not ready to let him look me in the eye, so I diverted my gaze whenever he looked over. Instead, I looked down at my fingertips, which were poking through the little holes in the afghan over and over again.
“So . . . you couldn’t stay away?” he began.
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