In my last post on this subject, I shared some of the actions and words of my BIL, a convicted child molester who has managed to manipulate the system and those around him to such a degree that he has escaped serious consequences for his actions.
In this post, I am going to share from my own life experiences … I know many of us have gone through similar things, and we have personally learned from them. But those of us who have suffered need to express ourselves, to share not only what we went through but why we didn’t get help when we needed it. In some cases (I can think of one lovely lady here who this applies to) help was asked for, but the child was ignored; in others, the child chose to stay silent. There will be a third post on this same topic – it will explain what I did with my children to help protect them from being abusable and abused.
As before – if this moves you, if you feel this needs to be heard by others, if you want to share this – please, feel free to copy and paste or link to this post. Ladies, I have no ego in this – this is not about ME saying something, this is about ALL of us sharing what we can to help protect our children.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual molestation. As so many of us are.
For me, it started when I was only 8, one of my Mother’s friends decided to “show me how to kiss” – he was drunk; I didn’t understand what was happening, only that it was gross. I didn’t know it at the time, but my Mother saw the very end of it, and apparently unleashed the hellish fury of a wounded Mama Bear protecting her cubs. I never saw the man again and Mom and I never spoke about until years later. In hindsight, I wish she had said something then.
At the same time period, another friend of the family would touch places he shouldn’t. His hands would touch my breasts, he would cup my buttock, or place his palm against my crotch. His methods were sneaky, it was always while “helping” me do something, while swimming, climbing a tree, etc. I was active in gymnastics and ballet, I knew the feeling of a “helping” hand on my body, and this wasn’t the same. I tried to articulate my fears, but I couldn’t find the right words. How does a child, who regularly has hands all over her body as “Spotters” are helping with difficult gymnastics moves, explain that this man touching her makes her feel wrong, dirty? All I could say was things like, “I don’t like him” and “He makes me feel weird” and “He’s just … I don’t know … creepy.” To my Mother’s credit, she listened, and he stopped coming around. Again, we never talked about it beyond that. And again, in hindsight, I wish we had.
I can flash back on my life and remember several instances of touches that went too far, talks that were inappropriate and adult “friends” flashing me their genitals.
It was not too long later when it got worse. My Mother’s boyfriend – MM – decided to teach me “self defense”, there had been a lot of problems in our area with teenage boys basically forcing themselves on girls. The boy’s claimed it was consensual; the girls claimed it was rape. The girls’ parents were outraged that nothing was being done; the boys’ parents were outraged that their little angels were being accused. The Sheriff said, “Well, boys will be boys, and sometimes they sow some wild oats.” The boys were high school juniors and seniors, the girls were in 6th, 7th and 8th grade – as was I.
So, MM decided to teach me to defend myself should someone try that on me. Never mind that my Grandfather had given me a rifle for my birthday, and I knew how to use it. Never mind that I was already quite good at fighting, thanks to my big brother and his friends loving to pick on me. Never mind that pinning me to the ground was like trying to hold onto a slippery eel, I always got away. He was determined to “teach” me.
It started out with just that – he used “teaching” me about what men will try to do as an excuse to feel me up. It slowly progressed. He would leave pornography out where I could see it. He would walk around naked in front of me. He would leave the bathroom door open when he went, and he would walk in on me when I was in the bathroom. He actually spied on me in my bedroom, I would catch him looking in the window and his excuse was always that he was “checking the property” and he had “seen some tracks” near my window. He never did this stuff while my Mother was around. Around her, he was friendly and very protective. She thought he was overly paranoid, but considering the local problems as well as our proximity to Mexico and the drug and illegal alien smuggling that went on all around us, thought it was probably wise.
I’m not going to go into sordid detail, but over the course of those years, the abuse progressed and included touching, my stroking him, and him fondling me. I honestly have very few memories of a solid two-year period. I do not know how extensive the abuse was. I do know that the first time I had sex, I did not bleed, nor did it hurt. Though the lack of hymen could have been from my active childhood as well.
I never told my Mother about MM. And it wasn’t too long before he too was out of our lives. I don’t know if my Mother suspected, or what happened, but they went their separate ways. There were so many other reasons for her to hate him, that I never shared this one. Why add to it?
The final incident was with one of my sister’s friends – DO. By then, I was a teenager – 13 and 14, and the attention from an “older” man was flattering – he was 10 years older than I. I was an easy target for him. I had already been “primed” for the secrecy; I already knew to hide things. With DO, it was almost like a “normal” exploration. He introduced me to kissing, “making out”, foreplay and felatio. I actually liked some of it, because it felt good to please a man; it felt good to have that kind of power and control. Again, I never said anything to anyone. This time, I knew I had to be silent. I didn’t want anyone to take this thing that I had away. It didn’t end until I moved and went to high school.
What made me such an easy target?
Why did I not try to speak up more?
What did my Mother miss?
And what lessons can we learn from this?
I had learned to stay silent from an early age. I had been taught, “Children should be seen and not heard.” So, I tried to always be the “good” kid, the “quiet” kid. From the first instance of abuse, when Mom’s friend kissed me, I knew it was wrong; I knew it was yucky. When she did not speak to me about it; when she stayed silent, I learned a lesson – don’t talk about it. In the second case, the touching, I tried to speak my mind, but was mostly poo-poohed; I couldn’t find the right words to explain what was happening, what I felt. And then he was gone and again, my Mom stayed silent. So again, I learned, shush, don’t tell.
With MM, the indoctrination was completed, I already knew this was something shameful. I already knew it was something we didn’t talk about. So when he started, it was easy to keep quiet. He twisted it still a level further however. MM was a “god fearing man” and read his Bible daily. He quoted chapter and verse about “causing a brother to stumble” and taught me that I was the one with the greater sin because I had tempted him. I was a woman, and I was using my womanly wiles to tempt him into things. So, now I knew not only to stay silent and that this was something we didn’t talk about, but I also knew it was MY fault. So I really didn’t want to say anything.
By the time DO came along, I was brainwashed to believe it was my fault. I was very easy pickings for him. He didn’t have to tell me to say nothing; he didn’t have to because I already knew – we didn’t talk about this and this was MY fault.
I spent many years going through life believing that no man would love me unless I had sex with him. I spent many years believing my only value was how good I was in bed. And I spent many years, thoroughly exploring and enjoying my sexuality, while at the same time completely mystified by it – never knowing the deeper side of sex.
I WAS a victim, I choose to not use that word any longer, just as I have chosen to forgive those who hurt me, and I have chosen to move beyond what they did, and to live a life without that burden. To do otherwise is to continue to give them power over me, to continue to allow them control of me. To allow their actions to control my life is to allow them to continue to abuse me. They took that control, and abused that power when I could do nothing about it – I have chosen to revoke their power.
In the third and final post on this topic, I’ll go into those signs my Mom missed as well as what I have done to help protect my children, without teaching them to live in fear, and hopefully, while maintaining a healthy attitude about sex.