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Anorexic, Bulimic and Near Death: A Victim Opens Up for the First Time

Heather Bowman, treated at a local center, describes her eating disorder that started at age 13.

Heather Bowman says she was first sexually abused at 13—by someone in her Arizona home. But when she went to her parents, she was ignored.

The abuser told her he did not like skinny girls, so she stopped eating, she recalls. He eventually left her alone.

Bowman, who is 5 feet 8, says she starved herself down to 90 pounds.

Her family and friends insisted that she go to an eating disorder treatment center, so she went, reluctantly, she said a week and a half ago publicly for the first time. She spoke at the overlooking the .

But she learned to be bulimic at the previous center and hid her disorder for many years, she says. 

Bowman says that when she finally started overcoming her eating disorder, at age 23, she was raped.

Associating the trauma with looking like a woman, Bowman says, she once again transformed her body into skin and bones. 

One day while showering, she passed out and woke up 10 days later in a hospital, unaware of how she got there, Bowman said.

Homeless, without a job and with very little money, she raised donations to send herself to Montecatini, an eating disorder treatment center on La Costa Avenue. The 21-year-old center that serves hundreds of women provides residential, partial hospital and intensive outpatient care. 

In 2008 while in the partial hospitalization program, Bowman left one night to meet up with a guy, she recalls. Back in treatment eight weeks later, she learned she was pregnant.

Montecatini kept her in the program while pregnant, and she stayed there until her third trimester, she says. Bowman had a baby girl and has been free of eating disorders for three years.

Do you know someone who might have an eating disorder?  Montecatini says symptoms include fatigue, sleep disturbances, dizziness/fainting, weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, cold intolerance, loss of menses, broken bones, bloated/heartburn, constipation/diarrhea, puffy cheeks, brittle hair/nails and loss of muscle mass.

More resources and information about eating disorders can be found on montecatinieatingdisorder.com.

And Heather Bowman? She and her baby now live in Arizona.

Deanne Goodman (Editor) March 22, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Thanks you Heather for being so brave and candid while sharing your story. Thank you Montecatini for inviting us to tell this story. I think this video has the power to change lives.
Eric Yates March 22, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Heather, thanks for sharing your story! Hopefully there are people out there who can see this and be inspired to beat their eating disorders. Great job telling the story, Deanne!
Marlena Medford March 22, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Heather, it's inspiring to know what you've overcome and I have no doubt that your story will help raise awareness and encourage others who are struggling with similar issues. Thank you for for sharing your story.
Chris Jennewein (Editor) March 22, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Thank you, Heather, for having the courage to tell your story and raise awareness of the struggles faced by those with eating disorders.
Ann Zevely March 22, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Heather, I am so proud to be able to bring your story to our Patch readers. Your story is one that reflects courage, determination, forgiveness and hope. My hope is that you can find that perfect platform for you to spread your words of empowerment to young women stricken with this disorder and help them to rise above just as you have. My blessings to you and your darling daughter for a happy life. Ann Zevely
Daniel Woolfolk March 22, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I really admire the patience of the people who work at centers like this. Very few people can pull that off and have results like this.
suzanne March 23, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Good for Heather--who has been through so much. What a brave woman to be able to share her story so that others might avoid such awful traps. And beautifully shot and told. Thanks.
MistyMay April 02, 2013 at 08:16 PM
I admire Heather for helping others. I wish her all the luck and happiness in the world. But try hearing a similiar but opposite story. A girl who was raped and abused, and turned to food because she was told that guys don't like fat girls. She became heavy to ward off men. She had many of the same problems as Heather. However, most people would not have sympathy for the heavy girl. For some people, they hate and make fun of overweight people. They say, just stop eating. But nobody says to anorexic people to just start eating. Why is that? People feel sorry for anorexic girls, but not overweight girls.
Dog April 02, 2013 at 10:40 PM
I have no idea why this women or her story warrents any attention or symathy...
Deanne Goodman (Editor) April 02, 2013 at 11:43 PM
The story is about overcoming obstacles and providing awareness surrounding serious issues, she was not seeking sympathy or attention.
Libi Uremovic April 02, 2013 at 11:58 PM
i would hope that adults would see how their neglect and abuse effects a child's life...but most abusers and negligent parents blame the child ... ....or suggest the victim is only looking for attention or sympathy...
Doug Curlee April 03, 2013 at 12:47 AM
dog.. it warrants attention and sympathy because the same thing could happen to your wife, or daughter, or girlfriend.. of course, that would demand a simple human view of the situation..and commom humanity.. something you appear to be more than a little short of.. doug
Brenda April 03, 2013 at 01:05 AM
I hope this story impresses on young kids, teenagers, boys and girls that if someone molests, sexually assaults you, you tell your parents immediately. IF YOUR parents do not listen, do not care, or do not believe you, then go to the next person who will. An aunt, uncle, sister, brother, school councilors, call CPS yourself or even 911, and all of these people will listen. Do NOT stop your story with your parents if they dont listen, TELL it, dont just give up. Some parents do not believe their kids for some reason or other, but KIDS need to know its OK, very OK, to go past them to the school, the councilors, police. etc. If its held inside the cycle continues. Being raped, then getting pregnant by a man, and then trying to recover from alot of different things instead of the first initial molestation. God bless you for sharing your story and I pray you continue to do so.
Doug Curlee April 03, 2013 at 08:30 PM
ann.. you done good, kid.. real good.. but then, you always have..proud to know you.. proud to be your friend.. doug
DB April 04, 2013 at 04:17 PM
in case you do not get the email I sent ya: Lets have lunch, get to know each other, I'll introduce you to the man you just called a coward. Pick you place & time, I'll buy.......
Arthur Spooner April 04, 2013 at 04:25 PM
DB I love it!! He will never do it though. He sits in his undies all day and talks smack behind his computer screen. We pay for him to do it too! Doesnt sound too disabled to me. If he can stay online all day, he can sit at a desk and do a job. Just sayin!!
Arthur Spooner April 04, 2013 at 04:27 PM
I would love to know how you think conservatives have a war on women anyway? I just do not see it. I never see on here from any conservatives, only the liberals.
Things I Learned April 04, 2013 at 06:46 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wOxuFrMP1E

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