My father left our family when I was 10 years old. He left my mother to raise three children: my oldest brother, me, and my baby sister. I don’t remember it clearly. Seems he wasn’t around much anyway. So it wasn’t as traumatic of an event as it could have been.
Don’t get me wrong. Voids were there. We felt his absence in several ways. Financially, mentally, and physically – there was a whole that my mom tried to fill herself. She did her best but at times it was impossible.
Some days I felt bad for her and not my siblings and I. She deserved dates and foot rubs and a night off from cooking dinner. Then one day, she introduced us to Wayne. He was very cool. He drove a cool van and made mom laugh. We were so happy for her! I was beginning my 8th grade year. Great time in my life! And I now had a dad to complete the picture.
He always hugged us and treated us like his kids. I remember feeling complete when he introduced me as his daughter and put his arm around me. This is what having a father was like. My brothers would go and play football with him and he kissed mom on the forehead. (Hole filled.)
One day he spent the night at our apartment like many times before. This night was different. I was asleep in my bedroom, and I heard someone open my door. I wasn’t fully awake until I felt him sit on the bed next to me. I immediately froze and kept my eyes closed. He rubbed my back and began kissing me. I moved a little and it must have startled him because he quickly left.
I remember being confused for a few days. He acted the same way around me otherwise so the naive child I was said ‘that must just be how dads treat their daughters’. I was special to him. He was showing how he cared, just checking on me. Deep down inside, each time he came to my room to touch me, it still scared me. It felt bad. It felt wrong.
This went on from the time I was 12 until I was 16. Mom had a great paying job that sent us to boarding schools in a neighboring state. We actually enjoyed it. For four years whenever there were holidays or school breaks, I “special hugs” and then his tip toeing to my bedroom for late night/early morning secret touches and eventually more. I used to stay at school during breaks because I didn’t want to take the chance of him having access to me. I never said a word. Mom was happy and I didn’t want to jeopardize that. So I just stayed away.
Then one day, he made me so mad. I was home from college visiting and I can’t remember why we were arguing, but I just packed my belongings and left. I wrote mom a note and told her everything. I expected a call from her but it didn’t happen.
An entire two weeks went by. Her words in a letter to me were “He said he’s sorry you felt that way, and was just checking on you because of your sleep apnea.”
My heart died. Not broke. The woman who said she’d always protect me and be there for me, didn’t believe I was being molested. I have not spoken to him since that day. Eventually they broke up and went separate ways. I’m not sure it had anything to do with me, but part of me hopes it did. To this day that is my only reconciliation.
Mom referred to it once and made me swear to never mention it again. No apology just “You’re fine.” One of my uncles found out from years later that was the reason why I stopped coming home for the holidays. He asked me why I never said anything. I just shrugged my shoulders and cried a little but remembered Mom’s words. “You’re fine.”
Well I wasn’t and I’m still not. It’s been twenty years and I am still haunted. I hate going to certain places in town because I think I’ll run into him. My brother’s mention him and reminisce about how much fun we all had together. They still don’t know to this day. All I think about is how I paid with my innocence and peace of mind for those memories. Other memories flood my mind.
After things started to settle with us, Mom was extremely protective of me until she passed away 8 years ago. I’ve never figured out why she responded the way she did when I told her what her beau had been doing to me. My heart tells me she was once a victim as well. Someone had sexually assaulted her too. She must have been told to keep quiet.
Victims are often the quiet types who are so caring they hesitate to say anything because they don’t want to get anyone in trouble. Maybe they don’t think anyone will believe them. Maybe their families never reinforce support and trust. Maybe family secrets like this are normal. All of that creates more victims.
My thoughts at the time were if I had said something I would have ruined everything the future held for my mother. It’s how I relate to all this stories coming to light about Hollywood executives using their influence and power to take advantage of young aspiring actors and actresses. Every time a new accusation is made public I’m reminded of my experience. I hate that I’m a statistic. It doesn’t make me feel better to know I’m not alone. It deepens the pain and scars. I become 12 again.
Now, at 32, I work as a social worker and make it my pledge that all children know their bodies are not negotiable. NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TOUCH THEM ANYWHERE! EVER!
If I ever have children myself I’ll instill that into them immediately. I’ll make sure they feel loved, safe, and protected. My sons and/or daughters know I will believe them and help them. I’ll go to jail for them. After all I went through, I can’t bare the thought of another victim of sexual assault that stays quite.
Not on my watch.