Pink Paper Gowns

Content Warning: Sexual Assault

She lifts the pink paper gown. I am scared; not of her, but of the memories I know will flood my mind when the blue gloves land on my skin. However, I do as she says. For the first time since Him, my vagina is being touched. I know she is a doctor. I know she is safe. The Woman in the Blue Chair and I talked about this. Yet, I can’t stand it. I close my eyes, tight. The memories come, and I lay there, trying not to cry. All I picture in my mind is Him. His terrifying
brown eyes, His grotesque pink sweatshirt, His dangerous hands. I look down to remind myself that it is the doctor down there, not Him.

“I have to insert one of my fingers to feel for any tearing, okay?”

Oh god.


I hold my breath. I can feel her finger go in. The last time something went in me, it was His finger. I haven’t let anything enter my body since Him. Not even a tampon. The Woman in the Blue Chair says I’m avoiding the physical feeling associated with the action; I say I am avoiding the psychological feeling associated with the memories.

She feels around. I want to cry. I might throw up. I can’t do this.

I see him on top of me… my head banging against the side of the car… my hands on his chest…
I try to remember what The Woman in The Blue Chair would tell me to do. Breath in for five, hold for five, exhale for five. This bullshit isn’t working…

Right as I feel as if I can’t handle it any longer, she is done. She said He probably tore some things, but it’s been long enough for the damage to heal. Even my own body fails to provide evidence to prove that I’m the real victim, not Him. My body may have fixed itself, but my mind cannot repair on its own. I should have come six months ago. I should have told my mom back in May about the spots of blood I kept finding in my underwear, all month long.

We talked more about what happened.

“And you still go to school with Him?”


I told her about the time He used his mouth. She said that she should do an STD test just in case.

I lay back down. I put my feet back up. I spread my knees. The cotton swab enters. I hold my breath once again.

Katin Sarner is an 19-year-old from Los Angeles with a passion for sharing her story through words. Katin is currently studying Creative Writing, Music, and Education Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. She plans to become a high school English teacher and hopes to eventually advocate for education reform at a national level. Katin was the winner of the 2nd Annual New York Times Narrative Contest, a Pushcart Prize Nominee, and a Gold and Silver Key recipient in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Katin’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic: Choices, Harpur Palate, The Novillian, Pear Shaped Press, and HerStry. She owes her writing success to all of her middle and high school English teachers who inspired her to find her voice.

Editor’s Note: Pink Paper Gowns originally appeared in The New York Times. This excerpt was published with the permission of Katin Sarner.