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I was so protective of other people, but felt none of that for myself

I was so protective of other people, but felt none of that for myself
It happened…
I was 6 years old when it all started and 17 when it finally “ended”, except it never really ends. It carried with me my entire life. It changed the course of my life and who I am. Most times when I think about it, it feels like it happened yesterday. I see it still the first times it happened, in such clear and vivid detail like a nightmare I can’t wake up from. I had just started first grade the first time. I spent every other weekend with my grandparents for a while and was glad to get away. I went to church every other Sunday, did homework, and played house or dolls with my friends like other kids.
It was…
The first time it happened, it was my step dad. My mother had gotten into a bad car accident and was hospitalized for a while. “Special” was the word he used to talk about what we were doing. No one flinches when daddy wants to have special time with his little girl. No one thinks anything is wrong with that. No one reacts when you tell them that you don’t really like it. It ended up becoming something that happened at least a few times a week and it spanned over the next several years. I was 6 so it didn’t take much to keep me quiet. I didn’t even know it was wrong at first. When I started to realize it, he told me that my mom would be mad at me, that everyone would hate me. He told me I would get in trouble; he let me stay up late and gave me different treats like ice cream or money.
Soon I became more and more aware of what was going on. I feared he would hurt my mom and my little brother if they found out. All I wanted was to keep them safe, he was a violent person. I didn’t think he would ever stop what he was doing to me and I feared that telling my mom would hurt her rather than help me. I became quiet, described as zombie-like. I would sing my brother to sleep at night so he never had to know what I did to keep them safe.
I never told anyone what happened until my mom left him when I was almost 10 years old, and it was months after we left before I felt safe enough to bring it up. My mom, of course, immediately called the police and they came and took a statement. They asked me what I wanted to happen to him and apparently what I told them at that time was “nothing, I still love him”. He ended up in prison until my 21st birthday when he was released. He passed from cancer shortly after.
When I was 10 I went to live with my grandparents, where it happened again with my uncle. He lived there too, and actually asked me if that was what my step dad did with me. It wasn’t, but it was still wrong. The problem was I had gone through all this counseling and they did all this work to tell me how it wasn’t my fault, and what to do if someone ever did that to me again. But, it was already in the process of happening again and I didn’t know how to react because in my mind I reasoned that at least it wasn’t as bad as what had been happening before.
One day I walked in and caught him touching my cousin and I lost it. I was so protective of other people, but I felt none of that for myself, I told him if he ever touched her again I would tell everyone what he was doing. He got up and I got scared so I told him I didn’t care what he did to me, just to leave her alone. He did. He did not however leave me. It was mostly inappropriate touching and for years I reasoned with myself that I knew how much worse it could be.
Finally, I broke down and told my friends. They went to the police and I was forced to give a statement. I was 16 years old at the time and, as if being 16 isn’t hard enough, this threw my entire life into chaos. No one in my family believed me. I tried to tell them about my cousin, but she had come to me and told me that she had already forgiven him and that if I were to tell them about her, that she would lie, and she did.
The courts said he would need to stay somewhere else while this was sorted out; instead they made me stay with a different aunt and uncle. He got to stay at home and my life was upside down. This went on for many months and I was constantly called a liar, and I was told that even the CPS and prosecutor thought I was a liar. Every little thing I did was being scrutinized and all I wanted to do was to go home. Finally, I caved. One day, as we sat in the prosecutor’s office, I just couldn’t take any more and I told them I lied about everything. I just wanted to take it all back, pretend I had never told anyone. My family swore that I was doing it to be allowed to see my friends. So as much as I thought it was ridiculous, that is what I told the prosecutor.
He was still sentenced to several years of parole and had to register as an offender. They said it couldn’t be stopped because my statement had already gone to the grand jury. I don’t know how any of that worked but they made me go sit in the courtroom while he was sentenced. I think they wanted me to feel bad for what happened to him because they believed I lied – even though I didn’t – so I didn’t feel the least bit bad.
During the trials throughout the second incident, a boy on the wrestling team at school approached me in an empty hallway. He pulled me under the stairs and unzipped his pants. I begged him to stop but he was so much stronger than me. I felt helpless. Everyone in school knew I was already in a situation where my family thought I was a liar. Who could I tell? Who would have believed me? I never told anyone what he had done, and continued to do, several times throughout that entire school year, with the exception of a small group after the fact.
It made me feel…
I felt so many things over those 11 years. I felt scared, angry, frustrated and helpless. All I wanted was to protect those around me and no one protected me. For years I couldn’t see a dad and daughter together without being disgusted and I still can’t smell certain things or eat certain things without having intense flashbacks or feeling sick to my stomach. How could I believe it wasn’t my fault if it kept happening?
I told…
Quite a few people including my husband know what happened to me. I don’t usually talk publicly about it, because I know even as I write this that if anyone in my family stumbled across this article they would know I wrote it even without my name on it and I would be persecuted for it all over again. In the end, I decided it is important that people know. Its important people know they have somewhere to turn and that they are not alone, even if they think no one believes them.
I survived…
I made it, even when I thought I wouldn’t. Even on the days I wanted to give up, even when there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel, here I am. I now have an amazing family of my own with an amazing husband, and three beautiful children.
I dream…
I dream of a world where this doesn’t happen to kids. Where there is less red tape for them to get the help they need, to get away from these monsters. A safe place for people to go to tell about the abuse they are living through not just what they managed to survive. A place that makes sure that the kids who tell are being properly cared for and not just clothed and fed. They need better emotional support through it all.
I want…
To help other people cope with having had to live through this type of abuse. For people to know they are not alone even if no one believes them. For people to know they have somewhere to turn. I want people who are living through the abuse to know there are people to turn to that will help them.

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3 thoughts on “I was so protective of other people, but felt none of that for myself

  1. Gina Lendino

    Now what? You should maybe add a link to a support site that people can go to or a phone number, some kind of resource.
    Sorry this happened to you. I too want to see this stop!

  2. Roxie

    Thank you for your courage. I know he will never fess up to his actions. I’m glad you are safe now and away from him. Stay strong, don’t stay silent. Our silence gives him courage. So sing baby girl sing,

  3. Laurie Babbage

    I believe you 100% You are very courageous and want to give you strength to move forward. You can overcome everything.

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