Before today, I’ve only ever told this story vocally. The number of times I’ve told it vocally, I swear I thought that this would be easier. Hopefully, after I write it down once, this won’t be as difficult to do anymore.
Also, I know that others of you have fearlessly used real names in such stories. I, however, for the purposes of my own protection and that of those I love, I will be using nicknames for all the players in this story. If you need to know a name, contact me privately using my contact page and we can talk about it.
Let me point out, before I start, that this story is likely to be slightly graphic, so parental guidance and discretion is advised if you’re considering sharing this with your young children. If you’re sensitive to stories about child abuse, I invite you to stop reading. That means you, too, Mom.
Finally, let me be clear that the main reason I’m sharing this isn’t so people will feel sorry for me. I don’t need that. Instead, my purpose is to let others that have suffered as I have know that they’re not alone. Large thanks to Aussa Lorens for helping me come up with a title that worked and to my husband, jaklumen, for all of his support through this highly emotional process.
It was 1979 and we were the typical American Mormon family. Dad was a high school science teacher. Mom was a dedicated homemaker. Then there was myself (age ten) and three younger brothers, the youngest of which was around two. They don’t enter into the story much, though, so we’ll leave them unnamed for the time being. We lived in the large, old house that my dad was raised in, situated on half an acre of grass and trees. This house had an attic that Pop (my dad’s father) had converted into a second story, with two bedrooms, a half bathroom and a middle area that we kids used mostly for indoor play when the weather was too wet to play outside.
Like any proud father, my dad had pictures of his kids on his desk at school. That’s where I think my abuser (hereinafter referred to as “Mr. X”) first saw me. He spun a story for my dad about how he had been mistreated at home, was now living with his brother and being forced to live on bread and cheese. My dad, being the kind-hearted person he was, fell for this story hook, line and sinker. This is how Mr. X came to live in my home. My dad offered to let him live with us until he graduated that summer.
My mother and dad set up a curtain around the middle area, transforming it into a bedroom and forbade us kids to go in. However, my mom told me later that she never felt comfortable around Mr. X. Something about him felt “wrong” somehow and she never let herself be alone with him in a room. My mom is a youngest child, though. So far as I know, she never, ever babysat before she had children, so it never occurred to her for a second that anyone would want to hurt her kids.
Before I continue, please, remember this is the late seventies we’re talking about. At the time, sexual abuse of children was virtually unrecognized in the psychiatric community, let alone the rest of the world. So teachers and parents weren’t being taught how a sexual predator works or what signs to look for, like they are now. This doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, only that nobody ever talked about it.
Anyway, as the eldest of four kids and suffering from ADD (which at the time was called “hyperactive” because they didn’t know what the real problem was) the thing I wanted most was an elder sibling so I’d have someone to share my feelings with. From my perspective, Mr. X became that elder sibling. He always seemed to know the most fun games to play and whenever I needed someone to talk to, which, at the time, I wasn’t getting from my parents, he was always available and always sympathetic. He seemed to love me more than my own parents did.
At the time, my family had a concrete bedtime routine. At eight o’clock, we would say family prayer. Then we had until nine to brush our teeth, wash our faces, put on pajamas and be in bed before my mother came up to tuck us in. My mom always stomped up the stairs to the second floor, so we’d know that we needed to be in bed. The stairs were an acoustical nightmare, so this was usually a good tactic. By the time she finished stomping we were in bed and waiting for her to come tell us stories and/or sing us songs before we went to sleep.
One night, after Family Prayer, I was in bed waiting for my mother to come up and tuck me in when Mr. X came to my bedroom door and asked me if I wanted to play a fun game. As I’ve said, Mr. X’s games were always fun, so, of course, I said yes. With a smile, he left briefly, returning with a pot of Vaseline™. Seating himself in my room’s only chair, he pulled his pants down to reveal that he had an erection.
Now, I’ve mentioned that I have brothers and I’d walked in on my dad a few times in the bathroom and changed my baby brother’s diaper a number of times, so I knew what male private parts were supposed to look like, but I’d never seen one that looked like that. Naturally, I was curious and asked if I could touch it. He seemed pleased with this request. He agreed and guided my hand until I was holding it. That was when I started to feel distinctly uncomfortable, so I let go and lay back, expecting him to leave after that.
Instead, he pulled my covers down and my nightgown up and anointed my crotch with Vaseline. Then he put some on his privates and lay down on top of me to try and push inside. At this point, I felt very strange. It was like I wasn’t really there. Like my body was just a doll and the real me was watching from somewhere above me. He never pushed hard. He simply lay on top and tried to get inside. While this was happening, the part of me that felt detached was having an internal argument.
“This is wrong! I should have said ‘no.’”
“But he’s an adult” he was seventeen “and knows what’s best.”
Some part of me knew that what was happening to me was wrong, but not what to do about it. I felt horribly confused. Fortunately for me, I was small for my age, my parents bedroom was almost directly beneath mine and my mother chose that moment to come upstairs to tuck us kids in.
What that means in todays terms was that he had no easy ingress to my body, he didn’t dare make me scream because my parents would hear it and know something was up and if he didn’t stop soon he was going to be caught. As soon as we heard my mother’s footsteps on the stairs, he was off of me in a flash, had me and himself all put back together and covered up and was at my bedroom door when my mother opened the door to the attic.
“Now [Cimmy], don’t you worry about those nightmares anymore, okay?” he told me in a conciliatory tone of voice. Then he stepped away from the door and headed back to his “room.”
My mom came in and, never asking me what Mr. X meant about nightmares, tucked me in, told me a story, sang me a song, then kissed me good night and was gone.
Before then, I’d never had a nightmare in my life. Just stupid, little-kid bad dreams. That night, I had my first REAL nightmare. It was horrifying to my ten-year-old brain. I dreamed I was in a dark place and a monster was sitting in the dark waiting to eat me. When I jerked awake in fear, I felt like the monster had followed me out of my dream and now sat in my bedroom in the dark, just waiting. What it was waiting for I couldn’t have told anyone.
Terrified, I went downstairs, half afraid and half hopeful that Mr. X would come out of his curtained room and want to try again, right then. I went to my parents and asked to sleep with them in their bed. Dad said, point blank, that I was too old for such things and to go back to my own bed and go to sleep. Mom told me to look at the ceiling of my room and remember that it was only a dream and that I was safe. Safe? How little she knew at the time. How little I knew.
I went back upstairs and used the toilet, wiping off the slimy Vaseline that Mr. X had left on me. Then I went back to my bed and tried to do what my parents said. I’ve never had such a hard time falling asleep in my life. The next day, Mr. X. spent every waking minute with me. I don’t remember if there was school that day. Probably not. I know now that what Mr. X. needed was to reassure me, to build back that trust he’d created with me so he could try again. He needed to quell any fear he might have caused and assure himself that I still loved him.
He made his second attempt that night. With this attempt, he waited until my mother tucked me in, so he was able to try for a much longer amount of time and, of course there was lots more of the nasty, slimy Vaseline. As before, I felt, again, that I wasn’t really there. That I was just watching from above and wondering why I let him do this and why I felt so icky about it. I don’t even know how long it was that he lay there just struggling to gently push inside me without making me scream. Finally, though, he climbed off me.
“I guess your hole is just too small,” he declared. Then he left my room without another word and I lay there struck with the peculiar feeling that I had somehow failed to please him.
His behavior toward me was different after that. He no longer had time for me. He wasn’t willing to listen any more. He was rarely, if ever, in the house. It was like, suddenly, inexplicably, he didn’t love me anymore. Shortly after that, my mother put him on a bus and I never saw him again. I haven’t seen him since. So far as I know, he was never caught or punished. I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing now.
His actions, however, left a permanent mark on my life. I was forever changed by it. That, however, is another story.
Have you or someone you know ever been molested? How do you cope? Talk to me. I’m listening.