Transcript of Conversation between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Lenore Marconi, Monday, February 15, 1999 at 10:00 am, at the California Pacific Hospital's Inpatient Psychiatric Ward.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Lenore. How are you?
Ms. Marconi: Uh, okay, I guess.
Dr. Balis: How do you like it here?
Ms. Marconi: Well, it's different from what I expected.
Dr. Balis: How so?
Ms. Marconi: It's kind of like a college dorm, except some of the people walk around naked and talk to themselves. I'm sharing a room with an elderly Russian woman. I think she was put here against her will by her daughter. She cries all the time. It's really sad.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Marconi: The nurses are nice...well, most of them. There's cable TV in the main room.
Dr. Balis: Is there anything you need?
Ms. Marconi: Hmm, no, thank you.
Dr. Balis: Are you sure?
Ms. Marconi: Yes, I'm okay.
Dr. Balis: Lenore, it's been some time since your last encounter with Herb. I was wondering if we could talk a bit about what happened that night. Is it okay?
Ms. Marconi: I don't know where to start.
Dr. Balis: Last time we spoke, you were in the police station. You were arrested for biting off Herbert's penis. After talking with you and the police, I called to make arrangements for you to be admitted into this hospital. Tell me what has been happening to you since.
Ms. Marconi: Well, they taped up the cut on my head. Now it looks like there's going to be a big scar, kind of like Frankenstein.
Dr. Balis: I see. I think it will fade more with time.
Ms. Marconi: They checked me and...uh, I was bleeding from...uh, from down there. I was afraid I would lose the baby, but I didn't. I was bleeding because I...uh, because I was all torn up down there, from what Herb did...
Dr. Balis: I see. How far along are you in your pregnancy?
Ms. Marconi: I'm not sure. The doctor said it looked like about seven months now. He also said that I...I have...uh...oh, this is so gross...
Dr. Balis: Please continue.
Ms. Marconi: I have genital warts. The doctor said it was caused by a virus, HPV. At first, I thought they meant HIV, the AIDS virus, but HPV is the Human Papilloma Virus. But I guess you don't need me to tell you that--you're a doctor, you already know. I must have caught it from Herb. I haven't been with anyone else. Herb said he had them a long time ago, but was treated and cured. I have a really bad case; they've spread all over my insides. The baby will probably have them, too. The doctor said that babies can get polyps on their vocal chords if the mother has HPV.
Dr. Balis: Genital warts have a tendency to flare up during pregnancy. What else did the doctor say?
Ms. Marconi: He said I had a mild concussion. That's probably why my head hurt. One of the nurses said they had to report domestic violence, but I didn't want to press charges.
Dr. Balis: Were most of those injuries from Herb's assault on you in early November?
Ms. Marconi: The concussion and some other things...
Dr. Balis: When you talked to me back then, you promised to go the emergency room and then straight to a shelter. Why did you go back to Herb?
Ms. Marconi: I did go to the shelter. I spent the next few weeks there.
Dr. Balis: When did you return to the Herb's apartment?
Ms. Marconi: I know I wasn't supposed to go back by myself, but I needed to get some things. I decided to go to the apartment on a Friday night. I didn't think he'd be home. He's still into that vampire role-playing, he likes to get dressed up and go out. And he also goes to these parties to sell...well, you know.
Dr. Balis: I know that Herb sells drugs. Was Herb at home?
Ms. Marconi: He wasn't home when I first got there. When he came in, I was putting my things into a bag. He took the bag from me and told me to make him a drink. I didn't want to start any trouble, so I did what he asked. He drank, and smoked, and watched TV for a while. He told me to sit on the couch, and then he pushed me down, and...uh, I'm sorry. I...
Dr. Balis: Let me get you some tissues.
Ms. Marconi: Thank you.
Dr. Balis: Did Herb force himself on you again?
Ms. Marconi: He's done that before, lots of times. I used to try and fight it, but it was easier to lay there and wait for it to be over. The last couple of times he...uh, he...
Dr. Balis: That's all right, take your time.
Ms. Marconi: I had to tell this to the police, too. I have to keep telling this story over and over again. I cry every time.
Dr. Balis: It's all right, Lenore. Did Herb make you do?
Ms. Marconi: He did it, you know, the normal way. And then he did it the other way. It really hurt, it hurt a lot. I never got used to it. Before he was finished, he took it out and told me...uh, he told me he wanted it in my mouth. I didn't want to, know. He grabbed my hair and forced it all the way into my mouth. I started to gag, I almost threw up. He kept shoving it in my throat and pulling me by my hair. While he did it, he called me a bitch and a whore. Then, all of a sudden, I realized how much I hated him, how I much wished he were dead. I felt all the anger and hate building up inside me until I couldn't stand it any more. That's when I did it--I bit down as hard as I could.
Dr. Balis: What happened after that?
Ms. Marconi: Herb screamed and fell back on the couch. I ran outside and sat on the steps in front of the building until the ambulance came. The police took me to the station.
Dr. Balis: What was going through your mind at that time?
Ms. Marconi: I felt numb and calm, like I was in a dream. I didn't even realize I still had it in my mouth. The police took me to the station, and I waited a long time in a jail cell, until they brought me out to talk to you on the phone.
Dr. Balis: Were you examined by a doctor that night?
Ms. Marconi: Yes, I did what you said--that part about not cleaning up or going to the bathroom. The doctor saw the bleeding, and he put something on a slide. They took my clothes, too. They said it was evidence because of the bloodstains.
Dr. Balis: I see. How does it make you feel to talk about it now?
Ms. Marconi: It's like I relive it each time I talk about it. I wish I didn't have to keep telling people what happened. I feel like it was my fault--I went back there when I wasn't supposed to. I'm afraid of what will happen now. Am I going to jail?
Dr. Balis: I can't say for certain right now. You need to find an attorney and tell him everything that happened. Are you planning to press charges against Herb?
Ms. Marconi: I don't know. I'm not sure if I can do that.
Dr. Balis: Herb assaulted you numerous times, the emergency room records bear that out. You need to consult with an attorney about that, too. Legal Aid provides assistance at a sliding scale. You should give them a call after you're released from here.
Ms. Marconi: When am I getting out of here?
Dr. Balis: I'd like you to stay for a few more weeks. You've suffered a serious emotional and physical trauma. If you could stay here until the baby is born...
Ms. Marconi: But my job--I've probably lost it already. It's been so long...
Dr. Balis: Lenore, you've been through a traumatic ordeal, and you and your baby need time to recover. You could tell your employer that you've been hospitalized; you don't need to reveal all the details. Here, have another Kleenex.
Ms. Marconi: It's probably too late already--I've been here for almost two months, I think. You must think I'm terrible.
Dr. Balis: No, Lenore, I don't think that at all. What makes you say that?
Ms. Marconi: I'm...I did all these bad things.
Dr. Balis: You've been thrust into a difficult situation at a very young age. Many adults wouldn't know how to handle themselves in these circumstances.
Ms. Marconi: I feel so stupid. I've ruined the baby's life, too. It would have been okay if I only ruined my own...
Dr. Balis: The doctors told me that your baby seems to be fine. And if there's something wrong...
Ms. Marconi: I couldn't stand it if it got hurt because of me. Sometimes I wonder if it might be dead. It feels like I'm carrying a dead weight inside me.
Dr. Balis: You're not. Didn't you have an ultrasound while you were here?
Ms. Marconi: Yes. It was so small. It was strange to see it's heart beat--it doesn't feel real.
Dr. Balis: Can you feel the baby move?
Ms. Marconi: Sometimes, although I'm never sure if it's not just me--just my stomach doing something. What happened to Herb?
Dr. Balis: They were able to reattach it, and he seems to be recovering okay.
Ms. Marconi: Did you talk to him? How did he sound?
Dr. Balis: He sounded all right. Do you want to see Herb again?
Ms. Marconi: No! No, I don't.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Marconi: Was that a bad thing to say?
Dr. Balis: Frankly, I'm relieved. I'd like you to stay away from him.
Ms. Marconi: Okay.
Dr. Balis: Lenore, is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Ms. Marconi: Are you leaving now?
Dr. Balis: I can stay a little longer. Would you like that?
Ms. Marconi: Yes.
Dr. Balis: All right.
Ms. Marconi: I guess I better think of something to talk about. I'm glad you came to see me. I don't have a lot of people to talk to here.
Dr. Balis: How about the psychiatrists and counselors here? Are doing therapy?
Ms. Marconi: I kind of...I have a hard time with them.
Dr. Balis: Do you find it easier to talk to me?
Ms. Marconi: Yes.
Dr. Balis: Why are you crying?
Ms. Marconi: I don't know. That's stupid, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: No, it's all right. Have you had a chance to get to know the other patients here?
Ms. Marconi: No. They're kind of...uh, this isn't going to be very nice, but some of them have problems. They're kind of creepy.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Marconi: That must sound funny coming from me, after what I did. I hope they don't know.
Dr. Balis: That's confidential. No one but the doctors will know unless you tell them.
Ms. Marconi: It's hard to be around people like that when you feel like you're not in your right mind.
Dr. Balis: Is that how you feel? Do you feel like you're not in your right mind?
Ms. Marconi: Yes, kind of. I lie in bed and pretend this is not really happening. This is all just a bad dream.
Dr. Balis: Where would you like to be when you wake up?
Ms. Marconi: In your office.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Marconi: Nothing bad happens there.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Marconi: That doesn't make sense, does it?
Dr. Balis: It does. Unfortunately, I can't treat you. I'm Herb's therapist. But after you're released from here, I can help you find a psychiatrist that you feel comfortable with. Okay?
Ms. Marconi: Yes, I would like that.
Dr. Balis: All right.
Ms. Marconi: Doctor Balis?
Dr. Balis: Yes?
Ms. Marconi: What's going to happen to me when I get out of here? Where will I go? Will I go to jail?
Dr. Balis: That depends. I know you're worried about that, Lenore, but I can't answer those questions right now. I'm hoping you won't go to jail. The city of San Francisco does have a system of what they call "halfway houses." It's a government-subsidized program that provides shared housing on a temporary basis. You can stay in a halfway house until you find something more permanent. I think you'll qualify for that program. The social workers at the hospital will help you with that when it's time.
Ms. Marconi: I was afraid if I didn't go to jail, I'd end up homeless. I can't go back to Herb's place.
Dr. Balis: I don't think you'll be homeless; I'll try to find something for you. And I don't want you to go back to that apartment again, understand?
Ms. Marconi: Okay.
Dr. Balis: Good. Well, I really need to be going now. I'll contact you when you're out. Take care of yourself and your baby, Lenore. You'll be okay.
Ms. Marconi: Okay. Thanks for coming, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: You're welcome. Goodbye, Lenore.
Ms. Marconi: Bye bye.
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