Talking about sexual abuse and assault is a sensitive subject for most of us. I grew up in an era where you didn’t talk about abuse. There was no such thing as, “tell until you are believed, or “see something, say something”. Even if I was brave enough to say something, no one believed me. It was swept under the rug, and excused.
I was between 7 and 9 years old. It was by my godfather. My mom, sister, and I always visited my godparents on Saturday. For me, it was a dreaded experience each week. This was often the beginning of my mother’s weekend drinking binges. My godparents’ home was not welcoming, warm or friendly. The furniture was covered in plastic.
We had to ask permission for everything.
Need to go to the bathroom? Better ask.
Want some water? Better ask. 💧
The candy in the candy bowl, that taunted me? Better ask. 🍬
This was the home where children should be seen and not heard. Most of the time, we couldn’t even go outside, and when we were allowed, it was to sit on the porch. My godparent’s had no children, so they had nothing to entertain children with.
On this particular day, we had gone to their house like every week before. I walked in and greeted my godfather who always sat in his recliner. His recliner was positioned in such a way that there was very little room to pass to the kitchen. As I went by him to greet my godmother, who was always in the kitchen, he palmed my butt. I quickly scooted into the kitchen, confused, shocked, and bewildered. When I passed him again going from the kitchen, he grabbed my hand and forced me to touch his dick. The adults acted as though nothing was going on. I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
Sadly, I was used to inappropriate touches, and lewd advances from the drunken idiots at the bars my mother went to. This was the first time a trusted relative had done anything like this. I mentioned it to my sister later that night, she had been groped and touched by this same man too. She explained that is why she always threw a tantrum when we were going to their home. My sister is boisterous and outspoken.
She began to quietly fight back. She would bend his fingers back when he reached for her, or she would elbow him if he came up behind her. I was quiet, and reserved, not wanting to upset people, especially my mother. By this time, I was well schooled in being called the “troublemaker”, “causing trouble”, “making shit up” and “rocking the boat.” The result is that I didn’t do anything for years. I would try to avoid walking past him, only to get fussed at for not speaking to my godmother. I would sit in the corner of the sofa, not moving until we left.
At 10, he cornered me coming from the bathroom and stuck his tongue in my mouth. I yelled STOP loudly enough that my godmother came from the kitchen. He lied about scaring me as I came out of the bathroom. That night I told my mother what had been going on. Her response was to make excuses and accuse me. I found out years later that he had been doing this to the females in my family for years; my mother, and cousins were all subjected to his vile behavior.
This is when it became abundantly clear that men could and would use their strength to get what they wanted from anyone they could. I believed that men were vile, uncaring, and could do whatever they wanted without consequences. These beliefs were reinforced by my mother’s failure to protect me, often being the instigator of the abuse. I believed it was normal to accept unwanted touches from men.
I believed I didn’t matter.
I deserved it.
I came to believe that men only wanted one thing and they would do and say whatever to get that one thing. I believed the only power I had was my full breasts and between legs. These beliefs were confirmed by the home I grew up in and the behaviors of the adults in my life that were supposed to protect me.
When I was 12, my mother got into some trouble with DHS, so a caseworker was assigned to do random Well Checks on my sister and me. This woman was caring enough to show me that the world was bigger than my backyard. She introduced us to tennis, roller skating, and swimming. She often said that I would one day be able to leave all this mess behind and make decisions for myself. To me, at the time, this was an impossible dream. I grabbed onto her words and they fueled a new belief in me.
I became convinced that there had to be a better way to live and love and I became fiercely determined to find that ‘better way’.
I still had several years to live in the mess in my home, but now I knew there was an expiration date coming. This was my fuel. 🔥This became my driving force. I would arrive at my expiration date and I would make a life for myself and my children that did not include the quiet acceptance of wrong. Nothing on the outside changed, but OH BABY! Everything on the inside was changing.
In middle school, with the help of an aunt, I discovered that I was good at gambling. I began to gamble and took money from anyone who challenged me with dice, cards, or dominoes. I started babysitting that summer. Although I had to give any money I made to my mother, I managed to squirrel away enough for my planned escape.
Sisters, if you are living and you are not continuing the cycle of abuse….You Won! 🏆
If you are speaking up and speaking out about your experience…..You Won!
If you are helping others to overcome their pain. You Won! 🏆
These are your victories.
This is how we slap all those who told us to sit down and shut up in the mouth.
This is how we emerge triumphant and victorious. 🥳
Let’s be encouraged and rise to the challenge so no other child has to feel lost and abandoned and victimized by sexual assault and abuse.
Remember, you can always call your sister! 💕