Yes, let’s go on and on about how the football program and the University itself is being punished for its inaction and enabling of a child rapist (enough with the “child sex abuse” crap. Children don’t have sex, they are RAPED). Let’s talk about what this does to Joe Paterno’s legacy (note to Paterno family: “SHUT UP”). Let’s not talk about child rape/abuse and what it does, not just to the victims, but to everyone.
I’m going to take this opportunity to delve further into the pool (swamp?) of my abuse. I’ve been trying to talk about it more in therapy. And after a lengthy absence from blogging, what better way to break the silence than to talk about something light and sunny, like a six-year-old being forced to perform oral sex? Yeah!!!!
Honestly, I can’t remember the first time it happened. We were living in Alaska, my step-father being stationed at Elemendorf Air Force Base. When I was 18 and told my mother about what happened, I had to ask her how long the babysitters, twin sisters named DAWN AND DIANE VAN NESS (screw them), had taken care of us. My mom said they had been hired pretty much when we moved there, so I can only assume it started when I was six. I clearly remember the last time it happened. But I digress.
Dawn and Diane were the older sisters of my friend, Heather. They lived down the street. They would take turns babysitting for my brother and I. They’d take me to my parent’s room and lay down on their (king size?) bed. I remember the black and brown patchwork bedspread. They’d strip off their clothes and lay back, and make me get on my knees by the bed and perform oral sex on them. They’d take my step-father’s leather belt out of the closet and whip me with it and threaten me with more beatings if I said anything about what was happening. The leather was brown, and cracked, and there were flat metal brads on it, and holes punched through, so it looked like swiss cheese. It didn’t feel like cheese when it hit me.
I remember one day, filling my hard, orange suitcase with socks and underwear (?), because I was going to run away. I didn’t, of course, but the suitcase was still packed when my mom was packing me up for a summer in Oklahoma with my grandparents. “Where are all your underwear?” I was afraid to tell her what was going on, so I told her I had attempted to pack for Oklahoma on my own, and presented the suitcase. She bought it.
This was my normal. So normal, in fact, that when a visiting female family member asked me to put on my mother’s pantyhose and perform a strip tease for her in the basement, I did it. Then we lay down on the couch and made out. She told me to rub her crotch, and I did as I was told. I *think* that only happened once, but my memories of Alaska are a blur, so I could be wrong.
When we were preparing to leave Elmendorf for Medina Air Force Base in San Antonio, one of the twins decided that I should experience what they had experienced all those years, so they “treated” me to some cunnilingus . I remember staring at the ceiling, trying to pretend I was elsewhere. We moved to Texas when I was 9.
I’d say within a year of moving to Texas, my brother started hitting me. If I didn’t do his chores for him, he’d hit me. If I didn’t give him the remote for the tv, he’d hit me. If he was driving me somewhere and couldn’t see past me in the passenger seat when looking right, he’d backhand me. The physical abuse lasted for roughly 5 years. After that, he was just verbally cruel. As I’ve said before, I confronted my brother about all this 17 years ago, and he’s asked my forgiveness, and I’ve given it to him. I love my brother very much, and I consider our relationship healed. I know he still struggles with guilt, and hope he can forgive himself some day.
Lastly, there was the other family member, a male, who, on at least two occasions, pinned me to the ground and kissed me on my neck and maybe my chest, over my clothes. Where exactly he kissed me isn’t as clear as the memory of his erect penis on my leg. Again, we were both clothed and it didn’t go any further, but it shouldn’t have happened at all.
So, that’s it. From age 6 to age 15, I had five different people sexually and/or physically abuse me in one way or the other. So let’s talk consequences, okay? Let’s talk about how child abuse affected me. Obviously, I can’t, and wouldn’t dare, try to speak for all victims of child abuse.
So let’s talk about consequences…
- Prior to hitting puberty, I thought I was gay. I had no sexual feelings towards girls, but, since I had engaged in sexual behavior with girls in Alaska, I assumed that meant I was gay. It wasn’t until I hit puberty at age 12 that I realized that wasn’t true. When I was 14, “Something About Amelia” came out. I didn’t have a father abusing me, but it was the first time I really realized what child abuse was, and recognized, at least in my head, that I had been abused and it “wasn’t my fault”. NOTE TO BEN AFFLECK AND MATT DAMON: While I loved “Good Will Hunting”, getting a hug and being told repeatedly that “it’s not your fault” is nice, but it’s no magic bullet.
- I remember coming home from school at age 12 and taking shots of Glenlivet. I would later become a raging alcoholic, complete with drunk driving, attempts at promiscuity (thankfully, unrealized), blackouts and midnight vomiting.
- A pattern emerged in my relationships…I let the other party take control, and it usually was to my detriment. I had a few friends, good people, who I still think of fondly and even have some contact with, though it freaks me out, but more often than not I associated with people who didn’t treat me very well. Why should they? I had been taught in word and deed for 9 formative years that I wasn’t worthy of decent treatment.
- I retreated into a fantasy world. I spent most of my evenings shut in my room, pretending I was anybody other than myself. While this was a savior then, it has proven to be harmful to me in later life.
- I had no confidence, and no willingness to take risks, so I did the safe thing after high school and stayed within Texas to get my degree in Radio, Television, and Film. No USC film school for me, or driving cross-country to try and break into Hollywood. After college, I moved to that mecca of entertainment, Enid, Oklahoma, and worked at a crappy TV station for a crappy boss.
- I was only asked out once in high school, and he stood me up, further devastating my already weak self-esteem. I went on to date just a few men, all of whom treated me, not abusively, but poorly. I was there to service their ego. Josh was the one exception to that, but he was far from a healthy relationship.
- I became someone who could rather easily be defeated. I’d offer some fight, but eventually would acquiesce to the notion that I’m cursed…that I somehow deserve all these bad things happening to me. The abuse, the schizophrenic boyfriend who committed suicide, being ignored or mistreated by men, failing at any pitiful attempt I made to try to break out of the “safe” cubicle-dwelling career I’d settled for, etc.
- I put on a ton of weight, first after Josh’s death, then again after a back injury. I’ve told myself for years that the injury was to blame for my weight, but, let’s face it, I had surgery years ago, my back is 95% better, and I still “eat my pain”. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I use my weight as a shield. The world largely (no pun intended) ignores, dismisses, and ridicules the fat. If I’m fat, I have an excuse to not take more risks, not put myself out there, and I can blame it on everyone else because THEY are the assholes who judge me for my appearance. How convenient.
- I’ve battled depression and PTSD for 25 years, went through cutting myself and anxiety attacks and still find myself talking about myself in a far more hateful way than I would ever talk about someone else, with the exception of pieces-of-crap child abusers who should die in a fire.
- Did I mention I have anger issues? Of course, like any sane person, I hate child abusers, but I also have moments when I feel hatred towards anyone who’s never suffered setbacks, or who suffered them and managed to not let the setbacks defeat them.
- I still struggle with anger and resentment towards my parents, not as much for being unaware of the sexual abuse happening in Alaska, but for deliberately turning a blind eye to my brother’s bullying when I went to them and pleaded with them to help me. Even now that my brother has acknowledged his abuse, my parents have yet to come to me and tell me they are sorry for not only not putting a stop to it, but for turning around and calling me a liar. I still have trouble asking people for help, and I expect no one to protect me. I’m working on letting my husband in, but it’s hard.
- My emotional problems have caused great distress for my loved ones, specifically my husband, who deserves much better than what he got. And now my daughter, my sweet 4 1/2 year-old, is already showing signs of being hypersensitive about my moods. I’m currently in bed with a head cold, but when I told her “mommy is sick”, her first words were, “okay, mommy, well, let me hug you and kiss you and that will make you feel happy again”. She now won’t compliment someone else without reassuring me that she loves me, too.
I’m working through all this. Talking more openly about everything that happened, in a therapeutic way. I hope to get clear of this before I do any more damage to my daughter. I know it will be hard to convince her she’s lovable and valuable if I think her mother is crap.
I pray for other victims of child abuse…that they find a way to overcome their trauma, and have peaceful lives, and don’t let this cancer that is child abuse spread any further.
And screw Penn State, or any other organization, that lets this happen to children.