Excerpt From the Memoir, Controlled
A journey with sexual assault, shame, anorexia, and identity
In her debut memoir, Controlled, Neesha Arter shares the year of her life that followed a harrowing crime. When she was 14 years old, she was sexually assaulted by people she had no reason to mistrust. She tried, subsequently, to reconcile feelings of guilt and shame by searching for a means of control. In a whirlwind of legal proceedings, family conflicts, and loss of identity, Arter succumbed to anorexia as the only way to find her childhood self in an unraveling world. Ten years later, she is able to look back with healing insight about the importance of speaking uncomfortable truths.
Here’s an exclusive excerpt from Arter’s memoir, which is sale on Amazon.
Controlled, Chapter 11, “Lose (Wednesday, January 4, 2006)”
That morning in my bathroom, I took a few deep breaths before getting on the white scale I kept underneath one of my two sinks. I weighed in at 87.5 pounds. Not terrible.
Walking into the kitchen, I glanced at a cup of coffee in my normal place on the counter. I grabbed it without adding any milk to it, just three Splendas. My mom looked over. “Do you want any milk with that?” Can you not talk to me, please? “No. I’m fine.”
“Okay, well, Dad will take you to school, but I’m going to be picking you up after your first two classes. A detective is going to call you about everything. I know you probably don’t want to do any of this, but you’re just going to have to. We need to get to the bottom of this.”
I never missed school, but more than that, what was she talking about? I wanted nothing to do with this. My dad drove me to school as I chugged a bottle of water and sat there in silence. I slowly walked to my Algebra II and Geology classes with Brad, Jane, and Emma but didn’t have much to say. I focused on drinking water during each class to try to clear out my system. Feeling as disgusting as I did, I thought a little cleanse would be a good way to feel clean.
“I haven’t seen you in a while. You doing okay?” Brad asked me.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I have to leave after this class though.”
Oh my god, stop with the questions. “Dentist appointment,” I said as I rolled my eyes.
As I sat at my desk, I looked down at my legs and noticed that my jeans already looked looser. I smiled to myself for a second. Baggy jeans would become important for me during the month of January. If my jeans were falling off my body, then I was truly disappearing just like I wanted. I could rewind the clock to before these adult things happened to my childlike body. If I didn’t have any curves or anything to resemble being a grown up, then I would be more like the kid I was before. I could be like everybody else again.
The bell rang, and I grabbed my backpack and books as quick as I could to avoid any sort of conversation with my friends.
“Bye, Neesha!” Emma tried to get in before I made it out the door, but I just mustered up a wave.
My walk to the office to sign out of school for the day was more of a slow saunter. Misery weighed my shoulders down, and I prayed that this would be the last of it. If I could just tell this stupid detective what happened, then it would have to be over, right?
Staying silent on the car ride home, plugged into my music, I ran into my room once my mom parked in the garage. I sat on my black chair with my knees to my chest. I felt safest that way — small enough to always fit in a ball, safe enough where no one could break me. But I ultimately knew I was broken now.
Staring at my white-carpeted floor, I couldn’t even hold my legs up for more than a few seconds. I lost my balance and collapsed onto the floor, mentally and physically exhausted. Thoughts raced back and forth in my head. What was he going to ask me? Why did I have to relive this night once again? Last night’s visit to the rape clinic had been humiliating enough, and I had no desire to talk about New Year’s Eve ever again. I was finished with this and just wanted to move the hell on with my life.
But my parents thought differently.
I wanted them to respect that they were not getting the story out of me again. No one was. Why would I tell a stranger what I could not even formulate in my own mind?
I looked down at my body, angling my hips to see if my hipbones were more visible today. They weren’t, and I felt useless. I still existed too much. I had only been fasting for a few days, but I wanted to be gone quicker, to disappear from this situation.
The phone finally rang. I jumped up like bread out of a toaster. I ran to the door and waited for my mom to walk down the hall with the phone. When she knocked a moment later, I opened the door and took the phone from her hand without saying a word. I then closed the door before she could say anything to me.
I can’t believe this is happening. “Hello?”
“Hello, Neesha?” asked an older male voice. “This is Detective Reynolds, and I was wondering if I could ask you a couple of questions about what happened the night of New Year’s Eve. Also, this conversation will be recorded to keep on file. Is that all right with you?”
“So, this happened on New Year’s Eve?”
You just said that. “Yeah.”
“Where were you?”
“My uncle’s house. In Houston…”
“Can you tell me what happened that night?”
I don’t want to talk about it. “Um…like what?”
“With you and those boys. Who was involved in what happened later that night?”
“What do you mean? It was two of my cousin Rob’s friends. I left my other cousin’s room after we went to bed.”
“Then what happened?”
“I went to the living room,” I said, my heart beginning to pound. “Then all of a sudden, we were in the exercise room. I was with my cousin’s friends…”
“What were their names?”
Don’t you already know all of this? “Mark and Will.”
“So what happened with you three?”
I hesitated. “I thought my mom already told you.”
Buy CONTROLLED here.