It’s 12:15 in the morning, I feel like I’ve been awake for days, and I’m ready to come clean.
This story has been my biggest secret for nearly two years. I feel embarrassed, and honestly disgusting knowing what happened. I’m not at fault for anything although some might argue I could have done things differently, but I believe I dealt with my situation the best way I knew how to. So here it is, the side of sexual assault cases that is unheard of.
I grew up with both parents for a long time, surrounded by friends who had divorced parents, thinking that will never be me. Obviously, I was wrong and my parents ended up divorcing around the time that I was in 6th grade. Every single part of me hurt for a long time and I was unknowingly depressed, but life went on. My dad ended up taking a long vacation in my home country of El Salvador, leaving my mom, brother, and I in our recently bought house in Texas. We were building an American life.
She would never say anything to my face because she knew how much I loved him, but my mom hated my dad. A lot. When he returned from his trip, he bought a house in the city right next to ours. I was so ecstatic to finally be around him again. For a while I would just visit him on weekends and spend full days with him until I was in 8th grade and I began wondering why I didn’t just stay at his house all weekend, including nights. My mom immediately turned this down and I didn’t understand at all. He was my dad after all, he’s good, right? The angst-y rebellious teen in me decided to do my mom one better and move in with my dad. Soon after, my mom caved and decided that she’d allow me to spend full weekends with him if I moved back in with her, so I agreed and went back to living under her roof, visiting my dad every other weekend. Mom always knows best.
For a long time life was just normal. My dad did all the dad things that dads do! He bought me my first car, spoiled me, and supported me through an illness that changed my life. I wasn’t sad about my parents being split up anymore, I was just happy to have both of them with me. I was lucky.
One of my favorite places in the world is the Yearbook room of my old high school, where I found my passion for journalism and leading. I will never let the memory that I’m about to share take that away from me. I love you, N-22.
I didn’t get an office pass. My teacher was called and I was told to go to the counseling office. I thought about the amount of times I had been late in the past few weeks. I didn’t think it was that many but if I was getting called down to the office, they must have accumulated. I wish. I walked into the dull office that Fall morning and saw a woman sitting down in the waiting area. She glanced up at me as soon as I walked in and asked me if I was Krissia. I said yes and turned to the attendance desk lady, she told me to go with her. The older woman asked the attendance lady if they had a conference room we could sit and talk in, and she pointed her to a room down the hall. Being 16 and not the person I am today, I didn’t ask questions. I was just confused and nervous. I thought this was happening to every student.
The strange woman from the waiting area led me into the conference room that we had been pointed to moments ago. We sat down and she introduced herself. I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember her face. I just remember the words “I work with Child Protective Services.” to which I asked, “Oh, is this a routine thing?” and to which she responded with, “No. We got a report of something.” Why’d I ask?
My first thought was that my mom went “crazy” and reported something that never happened to CPS. I was so mad. I texted her in a fit of rage, but she insisted that she hadn’t been the one to say anything. She said we’d talk when I got home. I then texted my dad, who offered to bring me lunch and talk about it. He pretended everything was okay and that the interview they conducted was just a part of routine. I believed him. Life went on, as always.
The timeline is a blur, everything just happened so fast. It was December, I was 16, and I was confused. One day I get a call from the man I held closer to me than any other, saying I couldn’t visit him anymore. I was in the middle of the kitchen of my first job. I wouldn’t have answered the phone any other time, but something drove me to answer it then. I drove to his house right after work. I stood outside and tried to unlock the front door, but he had changed the locks. I knocked and had no answer. I left that night, distraught, and again, confused. Everything was so confusing. I knew nothing.
For a whole month, I lived confused. I thought I had done something wrong. Maybe my dad didn’t love me anymore. Maybe he thought I wasn’t worth the trouble. I made myself so small and told myself I was the reason that he didn’t want to stick around. I stopped going to work. I stopped talking as much. I pushed people away and I let others in because I was vulnerable. How could I change?
I will never forget my 17th birthday. It was the worst birthday of my life. The school day was a day of pretending to be happy about living another year. I had to smile and say thank you to anyone who wished me a happy birthday when all I wanted to do was cry. The day was bad, but night was even worse.
I was looking forward to eating dinner with my mom on her break. She was working as a maintenance worker for a school district and she worked the night shift every single night. We ate at Fuzzy’s that night. For some reason I don’t remember what led up to the important part of the conversation, but we talked about my dad. She then told me what I had been wondering for the past month: What happened to him?
Maybe one day I’ll learn how to not be so blunt, and speak about things with the sympathy they deserve.
My dad had a daughter. It wasn’t me, but she was my age. He flew her to Texas from San Francisco, offered her hospitality, and he ruined her life. I never needed details. I will never want details or another side of the story. I know all I have to: My dad sexually abused a daughter that he had in the midst of an affair while he was with my mom. There is no other way to put it.
He sent me a birthday card that year, I still have it. He only got probation, I checked public records. I stopped at a red light one day and looked at the car next to me, there he was, I turned right on red even though it wasn’t my route. I cried that night and haven’t cried about it until now. Sometimes I see little girls with their dads, and I want to call him and tell him I miss him. I want to have a father figure in my life again, but I know I am doing what is right.
I’ve only ever told this story to my closest friends. Why? Because I feel like I might be judged by others. I am a strong advocate for those who have been victims of sexual assault. I don’t like to be linked to someone who has caused that kind of pain. It has led me to want to change my last name legally, and someday I think I might. The emotional trauma I have from this experience does not compare to the kind of pain that his victim must still be going through, but I think this is the side of sexual assault that nobody thinks of. It causes a chain reaction of hurt. It’s hard to admit this to anyone. It’s been almost two years since everything unfolded for me, and I still feel like I should hold off on posting this, but I know if I keep this to myself any longer, I won’t find peace.
And of course there’s always the lingering thought that maybe that could’ve been me. I remember all the times that Mom was hesitant to let me spend the night at his house, because she knew that he was awful. It’s unsettling.
Then there’s also my internalized condemnation of my father’s victim. This makes me hate myself more than anything. I had a great relationship with my dad for 16 years of my life, then one day it’s all gone because she came into the picture. I hate that I think this way when it gets dark. I know it’s not her fault at all. AT ALL. Yet, I blame her when I am upset because I love my dad. It’s unfair that his actions have caused me to sometimes become into a monster of my own.
I’m sorry if I’ve made anyone upset with anything I’ve said. I needed this story, out of all my stories, to be the most raw and intimate one. I am okay with opening up about all my feelings as long as I am able to leave them behind here today. I hope this allows me to move on and no longer be filled with hate regarding the situation. I just want to live now. It took me two years to want to write this, and two hours to write it.