Confession of an abused child
The first time I spoke aloud what happened to me, I was strapped up to a polygraph machine. I was 24 years old and had never told a soul that I was sexually abused as a child. I started to sob. Across the desk from me sat the local sheriff department’s senor detective. I had applied for a job I really wanted as a 911 dispatcher and part of the testing process was taking a polygraph.
He asked me an array of questions and all seemed to be going well. After all, I thought I had nothing to hide. I’d never done drugs, stolen anything, lied about who I was. I’d never even gotten a ticket. I was good as gold. Until the detective asked me if I’d ever abused someone. It struck a nerve. I wanted to yell NO! I’d never done the abusing. But the moment had come and gone and when I said no, I knew my heart rate had spiked. The detective continued down his line of questions and I became agitated. I had worked so hard to get to where I was. Was I going to let the past define my future?
I spoke up and asked him if we could stop for a moment. The detective tilted his head at me and asked if everything was okay. It took me the next fifteen minutes to say the words “I was sexually abused by my uncle.” I had to explain to him that his question was a trigger for me. No, I’d never abused anyone in my life. I was the one who was abused. I was the one whose innocent was stolen at the tender age of six.
In case you’re wondering, the polygraph continued and I passed. I worked as a 911 dispatcher for several years. In some ways I’ve spent my whole life trying to save people from the horrors that I experienced. I preach education and condemn child abusers.
I went to school originally for Criminal Justice. I wanted to become a lawyer and lock away criminals. What I learned instead was so much more about our society and the rates at which abuse happens. Most girls and boys who’ve been abused never speak up. When those words left my instructors mouth I felt an instant flood of relief. At the time I still hadn’t told a soul about my experiences. The next words however, sent an icy chill down my back. The average child molester is not caught until he’s harmed more then 100 children.
When I was sixteen years old one of my cousins who was a few years older then I, came out to our family as an abuse victim. More than that, she said that our uncle did it. The same man who hurt me. I cried. I cried for her. I cried for me. I cried because she never told anyone either and more so… I cried because I wasn’t the only one.
My family broke into pieces. There were those that believed he was innocent, and those who believed his guilt. To this day the biggest regret of my life was never speaking up in her defense. I am ashamed of myself for this. The shame sometimes eats at my soul darkening it and the only way I’ve found relief has been by helping others. Trying to tip the scales in my favor for failing to do the right thing. I was a scared little girl inside and in a lot of ways I’m still her.
I stood by and listened to various family members say that my cousin was a liar. She was only saying those things to save a failing marriage. They called her names. Horrible names. And the only words I could muster were “I believe her.” I had hoped in vain someone would read my mind and just know that she was telling the truth because the same things had happened to me.
She lost her court case against him and a little part was lost that day too. No one believed her, so why would they believe me? What made me any different then her? She was so much prettier than me, she was better at seemingly everything and up until the court case, my grandmother had made sure I was aware of it every time I’d seen her. But not even my grandmother had believed that her own grand daughter was telling the truth. What chance did I have?
I was 26 and had a new roommate at home. She was great, life was great, and we’d hit it off as friends instantly. One night she confided in me that she had been in an abusive marriage. Her husband had beat her up and called her names. For four years she lived in fear for her life. I opened to her and told her how I’d lived in fear most of mine as well. I told her about my uncle and about my cousin. How everyone had called her a slut and a liar and I didn’t want people to say that about me. I told her how I didn’t want my father to loose his family because of me. He would walk away from them all if they said those things about me. I sobbed as I told her about the detective and the cold interview room. I told her about the blackened parts of my memory that always follows the bad ones. I told her about how he used to threaten to hurt my baby sister if I didn’t comply. I told her how he threatened to kill me if I ever told my parents. They both worked a lot back then and he’d had me convinced for years that nothing would stop him from hurting me if he wanted to and no one would ever believe me. I poured out my soul to someone who was little more then a stranger. And it felt good.
I found myself a few years later faced with a hard decision. I had to decide weather or not to sell my half of a company. I knew it was the right thing to do but it came with consequences. It meant that I might have to move back in with my mom and dad. I love my mom and dad to the ends of the earth. My mother is my best friend and I would be lost without her. The only thing stopping me was the knowledge that at some point my father might invite his brother over and I would be trapped like a rat.
In a lot of ways not telling people has eaten away at me little by little. I never wanted to be seen as a victim. I never wanted to anyone to pity me. It came as a great surprise when those I’d learned to tell treated me the same after. No one ever treated me like glass or as though I was damaged goods. But deep down that fear still remains. Fear that when people know they’ll look at me different. I’m already a bit different and I didn’t need to give the world any more reasons to poke fun.
Surrounded by sixty moving boxes I sat my sister down to tell her the hardest thing I’d ever had to say. She took it in stride and nodded her head. She told me she wondered at times if something had happened. She’d always assumed that I would open up to her though. The more we talked I learned that other girls in my family were also abused. Another cousin and my uncles own daughter. It all made sense once we swapped information. 100 victims was all I could think about. 100 victims before they’re stopped. How many others were there? Are there…
My niece and nephew live with us now. They were in their own hell and my parents saved them. I stay here for a lot of reasons, the top most one is my ability to help my aging parents raise a two and three year old. They were looking toward retirement and suddenly they were thrust back into the early years of parenthood. The second reason, the one I don’t say aloud is that this man is still alive. He hasn’t been out to the house since the kids have been here. I’ve been blessed with that much relief. But the day will soon come when I will shatter my father’s world view. Where I will have to tell my mother that the children aren’t aloud to go to visit their great grandmother alone because a bad man is there and he might hurt them. Worse, I’ll have to explain why I choose not to say anything to either of my parents for more then 25 years. I dread this moment to come more than I’ve dreaded anything else in my entire life. But I would rather die then let anyone hurt either my niece or nephew. So the day will come when my hand is forced and the truth will come out. I only hope that my father’s relationship with his family is spared in the process.