Pain Cracks the Rock

Since 2012, TMI Project has offered two 10-week storytelling workshops a year in collaboration with the Mental Health Association of Ulster County (MHA). The mission of the program is to destigmatize mental illness through true storytelling. Earlier this year, Theresa Haney (she/her), a Red Hook-based creative arts therapist, participated in one of these workshops. What follows is her monologue adapted by Chronogram Magazine for print.

Be sure to check out each monthly issue of Chronogram through December. A story from TMI Project’s archive will be published in every issue for the remainder of the year!


On honoring Tarana Burke, the #metoo movement & the power of true storytelling

A disturbing finding in leading TMI Project true storytelling workshops over the past 8 years is the prevalence of sexual abuse among our participants. Early on, I noticed if one person shared a story about sexual violence, inevitably, others would chime in. What I didn’t realize until a year ago, is what they were saying to each other was: Me too.Tarana Burke, #metoo

This past October I presented Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoo movement, with the Eleanor Roosevelt Medal of Honor. I believe she was the best person to receive this award at this particular moment in history and I was deeply honored to present it to her.

My world and the world of women across the globe shifted dramatically when a small hashtag with a big history took over the internet like wildfire. #metoo unleashed a pent up fury, an outpouring of stifled shame that didn’t belong to us. We were given permission to break our silence, to share our most difficult stories, not alone, but in droves. We’ve since been held and supported by each other instead of blamed and not believed

An eruption of this magnitude is not created in an instant. For more than 25 years, Tarana Burke’s unrelenting dedication to creating empowerment through empathy for those impacted by sexual violence, has been laying the foundation for this movement, now strong enough to hold us all.

Like many women, I was personally impacted by the #metoo movement. I had buried memories that needed uncovering. In that uncovering, I realized that one experience, which for decades I had convinced myself wasn’t that bad, was actually rape. The more stories I hear, the more memories come back, the more I find myself saying, “Me too.” I realized, as a survivor, I never listened to my body or trusted my instincts. The #metoo movement gave me permission to talk and to write about what happened to me. I now understand the power of intuition held within my own body.

My community has also been impacted by the #metoo movement. Collectively, we talked about things we all knew but never gave voice to. We joined forces and faced our fears about speaking truth to power. Like many others, we also faced consequences for speaking out, and dealt with more harassment for stepping forward. But, we got stronger and made it clear that men and women abusing their positions of power would not be tolerated in our community.

Tarana Burke, #metooI recently heard Tarana say, “I never thought I’d see a sustained national dialogue about sexual violence, but here we are, which lets us know anything is possible.” I believe her. I believe survivors. I believe anything is possible. I also believe that after dialogue, action is required. I hope all of us here today will renew our commitment to keep fighting for those most impacted, to keep our focus on the healing of survivors and to end sexual violence once and for all.


– Eva Tenuto, TMI Project Executive Director & Co-founder

If you are interested in joining the #metoo movement, check out their new website. If you’d like to share your story with the TMI Project community fill out our online story submission form.


My abortion cost him nothing. I was changed forever.

Katie Anderson (she/her)

Way back in Elementary School I learned that the rich kids know how to party. I went to Parochial School in elementary but it became too expensive so I went to a regular public high school. Invites to rich kid parties came few and far between but I took the bait when offered. Rich kids looked like adults to me with their designer clothing and sports cars. They took drugs like ecstasy and did poppers and suffered no consequences for their actions. But I was no rich kid.

I met Trey at a rich kid party. He was tall and had dark hair and green eyes and knew about bands only played on college radio. And he danced. He was so different from the quiet responsible athletes that were popular at my high school. He was also 18.

We tussled and flirted and drank a lot. We didn’t talk much but ended up on the same corner of the floor. He was the second person I had ever had sex with. I was very pragmatic about my virginity, I wanted it to be gone so I didn’t have to worry about losing it anymore.

He called me about a week later and came to my house to take me back to his suburban house for more teenage sex. When he picked me up, he had his cousin with him. Another boy I had known from my elementary school. I told my mom we were going to the movies.

In the car, the putrid Phil Collins song “Easy Lover” was playing on the radio and the boys were both singing it. They were making fun of me. The song still makes me nauseous.

Why the cousin was with him is a mystery but as years have passed I wondered if they were planning on tag teaming me, family style so to speak. I never minded sex, I liked the attention and it was free entertainment but I can’t imagine that I would have consented to two guys. I was still only 16.

I was not on the pill, and the condom broke. I knew immediately that I was pregnant and started crying. My crying made Trey hysterical. “Get into a tub with the hottest water you can stand!!” I did and he drove me home and never called me again.

Three weeks later, I was getting ready for a rehearsal for a school play and I threw up. All day everything around me smelled horrible and I had raging headaches that I know now were probably from dehydration. I went to Planned Parenthood and the test was positive.

My mother would never know. I did tell one of my brothers who showed up in my bedroom with a bible and suggested that I call an out of town teen mom cousin. I told my school guidance counselor who said that I had not been making great life choices. And I told Trey who said that he would pay the $250 for an abortion.

I scheduled the procedure and Trey said that he would meet me at the mall to give me money. He never showed, I cancelled the appointment. Strange thing is that I had money. I had worked all summer and diligently put my money in the bank but it was a custody account and my mom needed to sign to take the money out. I forged my mom’s signature and went to the bank. “We need for your mom to be here.”

A first trimester abortion had to happen in the first 12 weeks and I was at week 8 which was way too pregnant for me. I was in a panic and I was sick.

I called Trey’s house every day. His mom was covering for him telling me that he wasn’t home and then that he had moved to California. I begged his mom to give a number for him and instead she put Trey on the phone. His tone changed entirely. “Look, I don’t believe that you’re pregnant by me. If you try to tell anyone that it’s mine, I’ll get all my buds from high school to say that they gang banged you, no one will believe you.”

And with that he had me.

I was a slut. Only twice but it was a done deal. Who would believe me?

Another high school boy gave me the money for an abortion. I was yelled at as I went into the clinic by protesters who shoved their bodies against mine. “I’m still Catholic” I told the protesters in a small attempt to save face. Next to me at Planned Parenthood was a middle aged mother of four children.

About seven years later, I met up with Trey at another party. A punk rock party. We exchanged phone numbers I wanted to see him, to hear him make a sober apology. Ever the optimist.

We met at his apartment, just blocks from mine. He hugged then kissed me and attempted to take my shirt off. When I told him I wasn’t visiting him to get laid he was legitimately surprised.

Maybe he was just as optimistic as me. Maybe he thought that I actually had been trying to pin an unwanted pregnancy on him and I was the one who wanted to apologize. Maybe his mind went as far as to think that I had purposely somehow willed that condom to break.

Trey did not purposely mean to impregnate me but he did mean to threaten me. No one had questioned his choices, or met him with a bible or shouted in his face. My abortion cost him nothing. I was changed forever, victimized by my own stigma, by my own behavior and by the judgement of others.

Every moment of your life leads you to where you are but what good came from this? Many bad things have an unexpected silver lining but in this one I can’t find one. Sometimes a blank space doesn’t need to be filled.

  • #MeToo story submission shared by Katie Anderson

I was Sexually Harassed by My Supervisor #MeToo

Mourka Photo

Mourka Meyendorff (she/her)

Charlie Vreeland was the bank manager at the Paterson National Bank on Market Street in Paterson, NJ.  He was a small, bald-headed man of about 70 and had an air of importance about him as he sat twiddling his thumbs behind his enormous mahogany desk in the red-carpeted room next to the main bank room.  It was a Friday night when we all worked the day and evening shifts with time off for dinner.  The busy women tellers were stationed at the bank windows in the large room and the doolittle manager men sat in the next room behind their mahogany desks.

I was the new girl on the floor in my early 20’s having worked as a teller for only a few weeks.  I didn’t particularly like this job but it was better than the operator job at Bell Telephone where I worked in the morning, went for lunch and never returned.  At the bank, before computers and internet, client information was written on cards for the bank personnel to use and I remember being shocked to see the word “colored” next to several names on cards. I knew this was unjust. It was 1970.

A few weeks earlier, I was bored and had pulled the alarm next to my knees for the hell of it to see what would happen.  Several very good-looking policemen arrived within minutes to stop the robbery before they discovered my “mistake”. I was reprimanded for my clumsiness and made to promise that I would never touch the alarm again.  I never did but inwardly I was pleased that I gave this inequitable system a little shake.

It was always busy at the bank on Friday nights with clients bustling around, filling out forms, standing in lines, making transactions and talking to the tellers.  Charlie was always sloshed on Friday nights having downed several martinis during his dinner break.  His face was redder than usual and he giggled as he spoke.

On previous Friday nights, I watched Charlie become bored at his desk, stand up and with his incessant drunken giggle and foul breath, walk over to the teller department and one by one, pinch the busy teller’s asses from behind.  No one said a word for fear of losing their jobs or perhaps there were some women who enjoyed the attention, I don’t know, but I was appalled and dreaded Friday Nights.  How would I react if he did this to me?  So far, Charlie had bypassed me – perhaps because I was new.  Nevertheless, I tried to prepare myself for the onslaught – I had one foot out the door already.  It wouldn’t take much for me to quit.

This Friday night, it was particularly busy because of the upcoming holidays.  I was speaking to a client and did not see Charlie coming.  I was unprepared when I felt his hand squeeze my ass, felt his hot alcohol breath blow on my neck and hear his piercing laugh in my ears. I screamed as I half fell off the stool, papers and pencils flying through the air.  I caught my balance and looked at his pathetic face turning from a red to a kind of purplish color and yelled for the whole bank to hear, “Charlie, get your hands off me and go to hell!”

I lost the job on the spot.  I put my hat and coat on and walked out into the street, breathing a sigh of relief in the cool air.

P.S. On Monday morning, I drove myself to the main offices of the Paterson National Bank.  I marched into the executive office, told them what had occurred on Friday night and demanded a high recommendation in case I wanted to work as a teller in another bank.  I told them if I didn’t get a recommendation by the end of the week,  I would go to the local newspaper and spill the news about Charlie Vreeland’s drinking habits and his pinching practices.

Within days, I received in the mail, a brilliant recommendation from the Paterson National Bank which fortunately I never had to use.  I said good-bye to Paterson, New Jersey and moved back to New York City to my sublet on W. 99th St and West End Avenue. Good riddance to straight jobs with ass-pinching managers – I’m off to hit the New York City pavements, audition for shows and hope for that lucky break!

  • #MeToo story submission shared by Mourka Meyendorff

Brutally Raped in Jail at the age of 14, Greg Correll Bravely Shares his #MeToo Story


Greg Correll (he/him)

I was in jail at fourteen, in 1970, for being an incorrigible runaway. It was St. Louis, in a “lost cause” facility where boys from 8 to 17 were waiting for sentencing, almost always to infamous Boonville (the former long-term director blithely described to a reporter (see below) how boys were raped in hallways and in the cafeteria, and there was nothing he could do with such animals).

With the help of corrupt guards I was made to take my turn in a cell with three older boys, who raped, tortured and humiliated me for five days and nights.

It has taken me over forty years to be able to speak of this. All the things ignorant teen boys, themselves brutalized, can do to pretty, younger boys when guards permit unfettered control, day and night, in a locked cell. I required corrective surgery later for what they did to me, including an anusectomy.

I was “lucky” because the judge decided to let my mother take me home at my hearing. But every day is still that day, that cell, those faces and hands.

Being brutally raped changed everything about my life. I re-entered the world of ordinary suburban 9th grade, at a time when America could not face the truths about girls and women being raped, much less boys and men (we still blame the victim, and excuse the rapist). For years, I invented layers of “self” to seem ordinary, to “get over it” all on my own. I had a nervous breakdown in college that I “walked off.”

I became a single parent at 20, and I devoted myself to my daughter. This was spectacularly good for her, and in some ways tragic for me, because I lived within an inauthentic, self-denying heroic bubble for decades, convincing myself I had nullified everything by being a good dad.

One cannot escape severe trauma though. After my daughters went on to successful lives I fell apart. I had no more purpose if I wasn’t heroic dad, and all that I thought I had resolved came crashing back into my life. I found myself bitter, resenting the good life my children had, that everyone seems to have. I began to obsess about hunting down those guards.

A founder of the Bristlecone Project, who had interviewed me, has located a man who apparently was also assaulted in my facility in 1969. He is currently serving a life sentence in California. We are trying to arrange communication, and (I hope) a visit. I am mortally afraid of going into any kind of facility but I want to embrace him. He is a murderer but I want to tell him: it wasn’t his fault, back then—at the beginning of us—what they did to him, to us.

It will be terribly sad for both of us. But I hope that where there is one there will be many, and if any of that staff is above ground, a reckoning is coming. A goddamn reckoning.

I was fourteen. That truth resonates like a bell, over and over, and destroys me. I cry every day now.

I recently answered this question on what was the most awful thing I saw in prison? It was the look on the nine-year-old boy’s face who took his turn after me in that cell. I did nothing to help him. I could do nothing, I know that now, but I will spend the rest of my life believing I should have died trying.