After EMDR, I Remembered A Violent Sexual Assault

The pieces of the puzzle come together and as they do, so do I.

A far away figure surrounded by an icy landscape
Photo by Valdemaras D. on Unsplash

Previously published on

Trigger warning: Content contains details of sexual assault.

I’m healing. I just finished an EMDR session and I’m feeling tenuously better.

Last week I had a dentist’s appointment. It was a routine screening and exam. I hadn’t seen the dentist in three years. I’d developed a kind of phobia around it. As I lay back in the chair, meditating, counting my breaths, working mightily against a rising panic attack, I realized my eyes were watering. But as they continued to water, I checked in with the rest of my body, I was crying.

Two days later I went in for my annual mammogram, also a thing I’ve been avoiding for three years. I felt nauseous going in and found the experience so brutalizing that nausea kept mounting. On the way home I projectile vomited out of the window on the freeway. It was everywhere. Nothing like that has ever happened to me, but I believe it’s because I am healing and I’m not repressing the stories my body wants to tell me.

I then realized that the phobias of routine medical screenings had developed following my last visit with my mother and older brother. And the last time I sustained injuries from a particularly violent physical and sexual assault perpetrated on the night before my departure.

If you’re encountering this story for the first time, I’ve been writing about the child sexual abuse and adult sexual assault I sustained for decades in my family home. My mother had perfected the art of drugging me. If you want to understand that I’d start here and then come back.

Two EMDR sessions ago, which was three weeks ago, I encountered the first pieces of a memory from that night. That’s how the memories of these events often return. They rise in kind of image fragments. A splinter here, a flash there. This one, I’ve briefly outlined before but bears repeating. My six-foot-two brother, well over 200 pounds, is hitting me on the left side of my face. It feels like he’s hitting me as hard as he can. My mother is standing next to him to his left. She’s grinning and saying something I can’t understand. The lights are on. They are blurry and like I’m seeing them through a shaky camera lens. I’m gasping for air. I’m terrified I’m dying. I’m confused, “how can this be happening, really happening? How is this real? Is this real?” I feel his hand against my face, again and again, and can hear the slap of his hand against my face. It’s deafening.

As I’m writing this, I’m cold. I’m so cold. I haven’t been eating, just drinking a lot of water. This has been going on for the last two years, but these last three weeks even more so. I’ve lost more weight. So, even on this beautiful 77-degree day, I’m shivering. The other night I was in a panic, chewing ice, freezing, taking hot showers, and eating ice in the shower. This went on for four hours.

I tell you this because four hours is significant.

Take yourself seriously and listen to what your body tells you

The night of the assault I was feeling strange and didn’t want to fall asleep. I was up watching YouTube on my computer, much later than I usually stay up when I visited my mother. The house was deathly still. Then my older brother ascended the stairs, but instead of using the bathroom and going back down to the basement where he lives, he stayed in the bathroom. I listened, the toilet never flushed, the water never ran, but he stayed there, the light on, and I kept waiting for him to go back down. I looked at my door. It was shut tight. I felt slightly better. “You’re crazy. Try to sleep.” I looked at the clock. It read 12:40 a.m.

The next thing I remember is waking up and the house was pitch black and deathly still, sickeningly still. I remember thinking that, “sickeningly still.” Listen to yourself when it uses adjectives that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else but you. I looked at the clock. It was 4:11 a.m. “I never wake up that early if I stay up past midnight,” I thought. “Why did I wake up?” I immediately checked the door. It was ajar. I reviewed my memory to see if I’d gotten up to pee at any point. I know I hadn’t. I know I hadn’t. I opened the door to see if I could see my brother; maybe he’d been in the bathroom this whole time. But that’s absurd. Why would I think that? I looked at my mother’s bedroom door across the hallway. It was slightly ajar as well. It’s usually pulled to, a term I use because there are no locks on any doors to any room except the downstairs bathroom, which is loose.

That’s when I notice a thick, salty taste in my mouth and my tongue swelling. Did I bite down on my tongue or cheek? My face hurts. The left side of my face is throbbing and my left eye is swollen. I have a headache and my ear is ringing loudly. I can feel the blood in my neck rushing, can hear my heart beat pounding in my chest and it feels like a drum. My stomach hurts, and aches. It’s sore like it’s been punched on the left side just below my ribcage. It’s tender too, like bruised. And my genitals are sore, like painfully sore, like they really, really hurt. I’m confused. Do I have to pee? Sometimes if I have to pee my bladder feels like it hurts. Is that what this is? I then notice that my other cheek hurts and feels like it’s swelling up too. What’s wrong with me? My eyebrows feel thick like they’re protruding. I feel sick in my stomach, nauseous, and like I’m about to throw up. I want to vomit, but can’t. My throat hurts “with a passion.” I still don’t know what this means, but it’s what occurred to me then. It feels like an ice pick had been driven into the back of it and I have the sensation of water having been up my nose. I feel like blood is coming down the back of my throat from my nose. I can’t breathe. I can barely breathe through my mouth, my throat feels like it’s closing up. I sit up. I want to go to the bathroom, but I’m terrified.

“Don’t be an idiot,” you’re mom’s right there. If he had come in and done anything, she’d know. He wouldn’t dare do anything with her there.” I reluctantly get out of bed and go down the hall to the bathroom, heart in my throat, terror coursing through my veins. I don’t turn on the light. I don’t want anyone to know I’m there. I’m so terrified every movement feels labored like I’m moving through molasses. Molasses. My mother is from the South. They have a lot of sayings that use that word. Molasses feels like it figures prominently for me, though I don’t know exactly how or why. This doesn’t come back. I still have so many unanswered questions.

I make it to the bathroom and decide not to turn on the light. I sit down to pee and I can’t. Something hurts like hell. My urethra feels wounded and damaged. It’s swollen and tight and my belly hurts so much and I can’t pee. I try to pee and little trickles out. “But I always have to pee. Why can’t I pee?” I notice that I don’t feel like this, ever. I’ve never woken up feeling like this, at least not since I’ve been noticing how I feel when I’m alone or with my husband. Because in the intervening years since I’d been on my own I had begun working on myself to understand why my body told a different story than the one I told myself, and the one my mother told me.

And that’s where she went wrong. She probably should have killed me when she had the chance. She probably wishes she had now.

Lucky to be alive vs. happy to be alive

But here we are and I don’t just feel relieved to be alive, I feel incredibly lucky to be alive. Because many in my shoes may not have lived to tell their families’ stories. But here I am. And the story of my abuse isn’t just my story, it’s my entire family’s story. They knew. They all knew. And justified it because I deserved it. I believe they believe I deserved it, asked for it, and was born to be it. My father knew. He couldn’t even look at me the day he walked me down the aisle, couldn’t look me in the eye. Couldn’t even speak to me. He was dead from cancer four months later.

I’m starting to hyperventilate, a thing I didn’t anticipate. But since I’m writing about this for the first time, it’s all very fresh and my body feels it’s a little soon. Well, it’ll catch up. Let’s press forward.

I go back to my room, crawl under the covers and feel like I’m going to throw up. I’m frozen in fear and watch the sunrise. Eventually, when I hear my mother stirring in the kitchen beneath me I rise. I am confused about what to put on my body. I don’t know if I’m hot or cold, only that something is wrong, “terrifyingly wrong,” I think. “I’m being silly, stupid. Don’t think that. This is your last day with your mom. Have a good day.” This doesn’t help me know what to put on my body. I’m deeply confused and disoriented. My feet feel glued to the floorboards. I get fully dressed. I don’t feel like showering today anyway. Showers have felt very strange in this house on this trip. Very strange, “dead strange.” I think.

Right now, I want to finish this, but I want to stop. I want to pull up the floorboards where I’m sitting in this lovely little coffee shop and crawl beneath them where I belong. I belong beneath the floorboards. I belong to the ground. That’s a weird thing to think. But since I thought it, I wanted you to know. It seemed important.

I’m switching tenses like crazy. I may go back and fix that, but I may not. It depends on how confusing this turns out to be. I’m getting lost. God, I’m cold. And tired. Recalling this is exhausting. I feel like I could sleep. Which is far more than I can say about that last day with my mother. I felt like I’d never sleep again. I sat down for breakfast. She made eggs, I think. I think, but I remember not feeling hungry at all. I remember looking down at the food but not registering what was there. Yes, it must’ve been eggs because I remember they tasted rubbery and flat, and chewing them nearly made me gag.

My older brother ascended the stairs from the basement, a thing he rarely did before noon. I look up and his back is to me as he stands at the stove. “How did you sleep?” He asked. Did he say it twice? I think he did because I looked at my mother who didn’t respond.

“Are you asking me?” I said. He grunted an affirmation. I don’t remember how I responded. If I was honest I’d have said “not very well.” I think I may have said that. I think so because I believe he responded sort of flatly, like “That’s too bad.” But he may have said, “That’s good,” which means I would have told him I slept fine. I was so confused that morning, disoriented, foggy, but trying to pretend everything was fine. I remember that exchange and then turning back to my breakfast and thinking how “nothing” everything tasted because all I could taste was that thick, salty, somewhat metallic taste in my mouth. I couldn’t get enough water that morning. Nothing washed it out.

The evidence a predator leaves behind can be seen

My mother and I went shopping, as we always did. But instead of browsing, she followed me, but not in a way that a mother and daughter would follow one another: chatting lightly, asking one another for advice on an item or a recommendation, looking around for things the other might like, laughing occasionally at an old family joke or a story about someone they both know. No, this was far creepier. I remember thinking at the time, that she was being, “really fucking creepy.” I felt a sharp pang of guilt and scolded myself, making a mental note to ask her if she was OK. But she was watching me from a long way off, not staying close. When I found some things I tried them on in the dressing room. When I tried to find her to get her opinion on them, she was gone. I got dressed in my own clothes and came back out, thinking I’d find her in the aisles, but she was nowhere to be found. I got in line and texted her. She said she was waiting for me in the car. It hurt. Something was wrong.

When I got in the car I asked her if she was OK. She looked strange as if that were an odd question. She said she was fine, but she was silent. At lunch, she didn’t say anything despite my concerted efforts at conversation. “Are you sure something’s not wrong?” I asked this time determined to get an answer.

She nodded quickly, multiple times, and with short, sharp breaths said, almost in a whisper, “Yes, yes, yes. I’m fine, fine, fine.” When she took me to the airport she was ranting about politics and “democratic socialism” being the new evil of our time, the new name for fascism. I didn’t respond. I felt like she was goading me. When she wouldn’t stop, I think I said something about how fascism and democratic socialism were not at all the same and then laid out a couple of my points. This silenced her until someone tried to get in our lane and she said, “I’m gonna getcha!” It was weird, particularly how she said it. It came from a pinched-off place in the back of her throat. I thought it was strange, that she was acting so strange and not at all “Christian.” Then I thought, “She’s not a Christian.” And once again I scolded myself for the thought. But then something else occurred to me, “She may not be. Remember everything from the last 24 hours. Catalog every detail and think about it when you get home.”

And I did. And as I thought about it, another thing happened that caused the great unraveling of my mother’s life-long narrative. I was wearing my favorite, raw silk sleeping pants. My husband said, “You have three holes in your pants.”

“I do? How’d I do that? Did I sit on something?”

“Not unless you sat on three nails. It looks more like you poked your fingers through them.” They were on my left inner thigh.

“I’d have remembered if I did that. That’s some pretty aggressive scratching.”

“Well, how else would they get there?” He asked.

How else indeed. I took them off and examined the holes. I thought they were finally proof that my older brother had sexually assaulted me. But it bothered me that the holes were too small to be left by his fingers and too small to be mine, but too big to be anything other than finger holes. It would be another year and a half before I was ready to see those holes for whose they were. Hers.

How ironic that my mother’s metaphoric grasp finally broke because of the finger holes she left in my pants. I want to add here that holes like that had been appearing in my pajama pants, underwear, and nightgowns throughout my life. I thought they were from my older brother. And maybe some of them were, but I doubt it. I think, like any good serial predator, my mother delighted in leaving evidence behind, as she delighted in ruining things I needed and/or loved, favorite pieces of jewelry would end up mysteriously broken, lost, or bent so badly they were unwearable, in between wearings.

My favorite nightgowns were ripped and stained without my knowledge. And at the time there was always a plausible reason, but on balance, there was a distinct pattern in everything of mine that got ruined. It was only when I was around my mother for an extended period and only when she had unfettered access to my things and my body.

And that’s the memory that resurfaced, placed within the context of the moments just before and just after it.

I still have the salty, metallic taste in my mouth that won’t go away. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic or if it’s because of something they did to me that night.

The good news is, I’m feeling better. I’m feeling stronger. I’m feeling less shame than I’ve ever felt in my life, but especially since that last assault. I’m fucking better and that deserves a goddamn celebration. It’s evening now and I’m going to have a glass of wine. The good stuff.


© Amy Punt, Punt On Point Media, Inc. 2022

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Speak Memory | A Visual Poem

There are many times when words fail to express the totality of the human experience. The truest, deepest emotions often occur in spaces where language cannot go. My abuser wanted me to die. I live and I’m telling. This is just the beginning.

On Finding Inspiration In Dark times

Hello Artist, welcome to the second week of finding your mojo, your inspiration, your passion for your thing again. Last week’s insight was about changing what media you’re consuming to replace it with the kind of thing you want to do more of. How’d it go? Mine was rocky. Mid-week turned into a horror show. I didn’t fair well after that.

Let’s pick up the pieces.

When I talk about inspiration, I’m not talking an inspiring sunset or movie or book. Those are great and helpful, but if you haven’t created the space within for inspiration to take root then those things fall on arid ground and never last for more than a moment. I’m talking about creating a fountain of inspiration within that you can tap into regularly. Wanting to be inspired, in my experience, means something within you needs to shift.

That usually means changing behaviors, creating routines, utilizing discipline to do so. I hate all that stuff. Wild horses couldn’t get me to do “discipline.” I die inside at the thought of it. That said, it’s really more about routines, or habits. We all have them and if we haven’t thought much about our habits, then more than likely we have many that aren’t good for creating inspiration.

With the right habits, Inspiration comes from within and can be a fount of magic you can always access.

On Tuesday I stayed up late watching the Georgia run-off and woke up in a great mood ready to create. Then the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol occurred and by 11:30 pm on Thursday I was weeping on the floor overwhelmed with despair at the fruitlessness of it all. Friday I had to watch 12 hours of Buffy The Vampire Slayer to stop the suicidal ideation.

All my life I’ve been subject to the winds of mania — deep depressive episodes followed by manic bursts of destructive behavior. More recently that manic behavior has manifested in shopping sprees. And I’m tired of it. I’ve done this for the better part of two decades. Saturday it occurred to me that I could do something else. I could go for a walk.

It cleared out the muck and lightened my load. I no longer felt the need to die or shop to feel better. Changing something simple like walking instead of shopping, broke the pattern, at least for the day and one day is all I can hope to change right now. With any luck, one day can lead to others.

And after the walk something extraordinary happened. I found the courage to approach an old project with new hope. I sat down to write the next scene of a book I’ve been trying to write for six years now. I just never believed in myself enough to keep going.

So, that’s the assignment for the week; change one bad habit and replace it with something good, something relatively easy, but also something that will lead to other good habits: iron, make the bed, dust. You never know, any one of those things could lead you to a seismic internal shift.

If this is helpful to you, follow, subscribe on YouTube and let me know in the comments what keeps you inspired. We need each other right now.

Getting and Staying Inspired in 2021

Last week, New York Times bestselling author, and one half of YouTube’s beloved Vlog Brothers, Hank Green, uploaded a video called, “How To Change What You Want.” In it he talks about how the media we consume shapes what we want and what we value. As a writer and artist I consume a lot of media, but have never thought about what it might be doing to my output. 2020 brought so much confusion, I found myself completely stymied for most of it and ended up watching a lot of political YouTube. It shaped the direction of my content for my channel. While I’ve enjoyed making videos about social and political issues, I must find a way back to my first love, creative writing. Hank’s video helped me see a way forward. If you’re an artist, even if you’re not, I hope you’ll subscribe for this new series, “Hello Artist,” on getting and staying inspired in 2021. Each week I upload a new video to help myself and anyone else who needs it, create more creatively.

Why Are Cats?

In this new series with Cat Behaviorist Mirian Hasani, we’ll be unraveling many cat mysteries and addressing the most common mistakes we as cat guardians make, often without even realizing it. Mirian has been rescuing both cats and their people for six years. She is certified as a Cat Behaviorist and is currently pursuing additional certification in cat psychology.

In episode one Mirian and I discuss cat introductions and she reveals her secret weapon in speeding up the time it takes for cats to get used to and accept one another.

Why Are Cats? Sneak Peak at a new podcast with Cat Behaviorist, Mirian Hasani

Ever wonder why cats do what they do? Every day? Yes, then you’re my people and you may enjoy this podcast with cat behaviorist and cat psychologist Mirian Hasani. Here’s a sneak peek where she tells us about Basil the blind cat who was rescued out of a very dark and dangerous shelter. Basil had been abandoned, blind, dumped on the street. The owner of a no-kill rescue took her to save her from certain euthanasia. A whole year passed and she couldn’t get near Basil for fear of being attacked. Finally, she found Mirian and reached out to her for help. What follows is the story of how this lonely little kitty finally opened up to love.

4 Ways To Destress Your Cat

On Today’s episode of LotusLand Cat TV, Ollie and I share how we destress in these stressful times.

I actually share five ways to destress in the video. Well, four-and-a-half. The last one may not be one you’ve prioritized, but it is very helpful.

  1. Music: Calming music played quietly throughout the day works wonders for you and for them.
  2. Hidey-Holes: Create places to hide that are not under the bed or furniture. When they hide under furniture they retreat from the world and from us. They can’t self-soothe, they need our help. Providing tubes or even clean carriers with fresh bedding keeps them integrated and allows you to check on them and stay connected. Also, you want to keep an eye out that they’re not hiding too long as it can indicate illness.
  3. Routine: A fixed routine is as important for them as it is for you. Limit the free-feeding to a little in the afternoon, if that’s a thing in your household. Set meal times in the morning and evening. It helps you structure your day and it helps them feel more grounded and less anxious.
  4. Self-Care: Finally, you need to prioritize your own self-care. It’s like on an airplane when they tell you to place the air mask on your own face before your child’s. If you’re not happy, they won’t be happy. Whatever you have to do to feel better, feel good, feel relaxed, make it a priority. It can be 10 minutes of gardening, meditating, journalling–all of the above. Please, right now, don’t forget to take care of you while you’re taking care of everyone else.
  5. 15-Minute Play Session: This last one is a bonus and it’s not in the video. I’ve found that throwing a 15 minute play session in with your kitty will help them exhaust anxious energy and strengthens your bond.

I’d love to hear how you destress. Anything we can do to help each other right now is a welcomed change from all of the forced isolation and social strife.



LotusLand TV: Help Vivian Find a home.

Vivian is a 7-year-old, healthy, sweet Lynx Point Siamese who has so much love to give.

In September 2020 she will be surrendered, for a second time, to the Southern California Siamese Rescue. Why you ask? No fault of her own.

Cats, particularly Siamese, are very sensitive and form strong emotional attachments to their owners. They get hurt and confused when abandoned. The flip side of that is that once they’re in a forever home, they are forever grateful. Vivian will follow you from room to room, sleep with you and stay by your side. She needs a human who will be there for her as she’s been let down too many times for someone who deserves so much better.

The first time she was surrendered she was the victim of bullying. She’d been viciously attacked by the dog and the resident cat–for five years. The owners stuck her out on their porch, where she stayed by the screen just to be near them. Now, she’ll be abandoned again because her owner, of just 9 months, is now going into assisted living.

The mission of LotusLand TV is to spread the word about cats in need and right now, Vivian needs help. She’s facing a second abandonment of someone she’s grown very fond of and she won’t know why. Vivian needs a special person who will cherish her and love her for the rest of her life and in return they will receive more love than they imagine. Please help us find her a home before she’s surrendered. It is challenging to find a forever home for a cat who “must be only.” Most people who love cats, already have at least one. Additionally, at 7, people can be ageist–just like they can be about us.

Here is the link to the Southern California Siamese Rescue. Vivian is featured right now!

LotusLand TV: Cats Helping Cats Save Lives

Lena, Ollie, Greta and Charlie, all former fosters have gotten together and created a YouTube Channel to tell their awesome stories and help other babies find their forever homes too.

Lena here, I’m running the show!!!! Hahaha! (Mom left her computer because Greta was being bad.) Watch our new video. I helped edit and write, though I gave all the credit to Charlie. He needed to feel important. Hope you all like it! Just watching it helps, but if you want to share it, maybe more people will love cats and then more cats can be saved! Oh, mom’s back. I have to post this right now before she erases it.

You Tube Influencers Have Keen Eye for Racism, But Fall Hard on Sexism


Aba and Preach are comedians with a keen eye for racial inequality. However, their unwillingness to use that same insight to understand the gender imbalance in male/female relationships and society more largely, presents a glaring inconsistency. They complain about double standards that, in their opinion, favor women, presenting their personal and anecdotal perspective as evidence, without ever examining the historical and systemic privileges that favor men and shut out women. Why does this matter? Because they perpetuate a toxic masculinity that, however palatable to most, is the very subtext that feeds the misogyny running in the background of our culture. Unexamined, this perspective drives the narratives that result in discrediting women and marginalizing their opinions and voices. Lauryn Moses and I cannot stay silent about it. This video is the first in a series to call them out and is a response to their first video on the recent revelations regarding Chris D’elia and the barely legal girls he routinely objectified and sought to use.


IG: @misslaurynmoses @punt_on_point_media Twitter: @amypunt