I just finished watching Brave Miss World. I thought I was just going to watch Linor’s story, but as her story was told, and then the other women and girls….the memories of my childhood abuse woke up in me again. They never really go away, and compared to other people, I used to think that my abuse was not AS BAD as some stories you hear. I have a very happy life now: married for some 23 years and with 6 amazing children. So why should I be sad, right? Now and again it all comes back and I remember.
My mother was away at her sisters wedding. I remember waking up in my parents bed, my father on top of me and a wetness in between my legs, my pajama bottoms around my ankles. I remember the smell and feeling confused. I felt yucky and wanted to put my other pajamas on, that were the same style, but a different color, with little flowers and lace trim ..and that felt ‘clean.’ As I got up to make the change, my father said quietly, “Where are you going?” Where are you going? Whenever anyone says that to me now, for any reason, it’s like an echo in my head. My fathers voice again. I was 9 years old, going 10 perhaps. Young enough to completely trust my father, old enough to know something doesn’t feel right. The next day and even when my mother was home, he acted as if nothing had happened. And I suppose, so did I. I didn’t really know what had happened, just confusion and yucky. I never told anybody.
When I was 12, I woke up to my father in my bedroom over me, kneeling by my bed, fondling my breasts which were starting to develop. He said, “You are getting a big girl now. This can be our little secret.” He said, “I can get a vasectomy.” A what? I didn’t know what that was. I hate that word, whenever I hear or read it, my fathers voice echoes in my mind. I started to cry and he shushed me and told me not to be sad. For a brief moment, he became my dad! Then he left.
Again, the next day he acted as if nothing had happened, and …so did I. It did not occur to me that I should tell my mother or anyone. So I didn’t. When I was older and learned about how you get pregnant etc, it hit me suddenly that I could be pregnant! So as a 14 year old, having been, what I now understand to be, raped at the aged of 9, was again traumatized with the real likelihood that I could be pregnant after 7 years! So confusing I At 14 I somehow decided to confide in my local Church Leader, a family friend and as it turned out – our neighbor. When I told him what my father had done, he turned bright red and said to me, “if he EVER does that again, come and tell me!” So – the one adult I managed to tell, turned me away out of his own shame. Throughout my teen years I was always very clear about what had happened to me. it was never a ‘suppressed memory’ that came back. I have always known with exact detail what happened to me. I managed a pretty normal existence really and was (and still am) very devoted to God. My earthy father had failed me, but I knew in my heart – that I had a Heavenly Father who loved me and was aware of me. I have never once felt to blame God for what happened. When I was about 18, my father, who was a violent man to my mother and brothers, finally had ’cause’ to lash out at me and while he was slapping my face, over and over, I knew I didn’t deserve to be treated like this..so I pushed him back. He raged..and started punching and kicking me. Strange…it didn’t hurt! I curled up into a fetal position on my bed and just let him keep hitting or kicking me! My mother knew this was happening, but I can see now that as a survivor herself she was powerless in many ways. I do not blame her , and she had no idea about the sexual abuse until I was about to be married.
The possibility of that idea, that I may have been subject to abuse from my father, was planted in her head because of accusations from other female relatives. SO – shortly before my wedding day, she outright asked me, ” Did he ever do anything to you?” I just sat there silent, looking down. And that was all she needed to hear! SO now, my mother finally knew. Relief for me, the worst day of her life for her.
It took a another year for me to process what needed to happen. I was pregnant with our first child and ironically, working as a police woman. I confided in a detective and so began the chain of events that lead to the investigation of my father, which ended up resulting in additional women coming forward with their own complaints – all of them relatives, and sadly two of my high school friends who were approached by my father in the night when they came to sleep over :(:( He denied everything, of course, and was charged with rape of a minor, and indecent assault of me, the rape charge reduced to indecent assault to get a Guilty plea and for me to not have to testify against him (not my decision). Unfortunately the judge threw all the other cases out claiming that they only came forward because of my complaint and it would be grossly unjust and biased to have all the cases heard at once against this one man. I was stunned and floored by all the legal jargon, but I trust ed the police and left it to their judgement. He went to jail for, I think it was 1 and a half years. He had already served time in prison waiting to go to trial etc. I have always been caught up in the confusion of forgiving him and not wanting anything to do with him…I still am, even though he has been dead over 15 years!
Upon his release from prison, I was ever anxious he was going to turn up at my door and hurt my family and ruin my happy life. Just before he died, I went to see him at hospital, I think in vain search of acknowledgment and an apology, but before me was a man full of sickness and regret. So I put it all behind me.
His death was in many ways a huge relief for me, but I suppose I am never free of the effects of the abuse. Anxiety, panic attacks, extreme lack of self esteem and self worth (which have now improved significantly) , a ‘suicide attempt’ at age 11 yrs with a pack of Aspirin, self destructive personality (though I didn’t really do anything, but I wanted to hurt myself many times. Bulimia as a teenager was how I accomplished that – and again, no one knew.
But as I write this I am very aware that I am blessed. I have a wonderful father for my children..and I am happy and enjoying life most of the time. Now and then the PTS arises and I have learned to just let it surface and ‘be’, nuture it so that it can heal – cry, sleep, curl up in a blanket, sleep..and just wait out the feelings that day…and that seems to work for me. I have 3 treasured daughters. Whenever any of them got to either of the ages I was when I was abused it would stop me for a moment. I would look at a photo of me at that age and ask…..”How must that have changed me!” How could your own father breaching that sacred Father/Daughter bond NOT change you?? But, I will never really know. I just am, who I am now! I have embraced the woman I am, with the history that is mine, and the future which is full of hope…and the HAPPY life I choose to live now:) Thank you, BRAVE MISS WORLD ‘voices’ for reminding me to be strong and to own my experiences and to enjoy the great privilege it is to live this life! Much love and courage to you all.