This is an excerpt from my memoir. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
So, in the car we went, with as many belongings as the car could hold. Mom and I made the drive up to Peoria and moved in with my grandmother, her second husband, Pat and his son, Arnold. Arnold was about fourteen at this time and seemed nice. I remember that he paid a lot of attention to me, and I loved this, of course. What little kid doesn’t like attention?
I don’t know how long we lived there before the weird shit started. This is when another obstacle was thrown in my way. I already had living in a single parent home and not having a relationship with my father to screw me up; but now, the granddaddy of all issues came into play. Arnold began sexually abusing me.
Yes, I know that being sexually abused by my teenaged step-uncle sounds like something off the Doctor Phil show, and maybe the whole family would benefit from being featured on the show; but, this was real and was a part of my life for most of my childhood. Since Arnold was home and available, he became my caregiver.
My mother got a job at a hospital in Peoria and my grandmother was supposed to watch me. Sometimes, grandma would need, or rather want, to go out so she would have Arnold babysit me. Since I was young, my memories are hazy, but the episodes of abuse really stand out.
The first memory of the abuse is sort of innocent. It was night, and I was home alone with Arnold. We were both lying on our sides on the couch in the front room of grandmother’s house. Arnold was lying behind me on the scratchy plaid couch with his arms around me, spooning me. I remember that it felt good to be hugged even though he seemed to be hugging me too tightly. At this point, I still considered Arnold to be nice and I did what he told me to do. Then, I remember seeing headlights reflecting on the wall, from the front window, and Arnold told me to pretend that I was asleep. I wasn’t sure why he was telling me this, but I did what he said.
The next thing I remember is the first time Arnold forced me to perform oral sex on him. Again, I was two. TWO. I was sitting on his lap in the recliner just outside of grandma’s bedroom. The house was small so my grandmother’s room was directly off the living room. I don’t think anyone was home. It was dark. The big old floor model TV was on, tuned in to some 1970’s show. I don’t remember the show, just the noise of the TV and the flickering lights. At some point, Arnold unzipped his pants and showed me his penis. I remember feeling afraid. I had no clue what the thing was. He told me not to be afraid and told me it was nice. He told me to kiss it and then forced it into my mouth. I felt like I was going to choke and I gagged and cried. Arnold got mad at me and pushed me off the chair. He got up and left the room.
Sometime after that, I was alone in the kitchen with my grandmother. While we were standing in front of the refrigerator, I tried to tell her about what was happening with Arnold. Her eyes turned cold and blank and she told me never to talk like that again. I shut up immediately and never said a word about it to her again.
Later, when I was alone in the kitchen, feeling embarrassed and sad, I opened the refrigerator and stuck my finger in the baking soda box, licking the powder from my fingers. It tasted horrible and I never did eat baking soda again, but I did eat a lot of other things over the years in an attempt to deal with the feelings that I didn’t understand and I wasn’t allowed to talk about. I learned to hold things in that day. I got the message that no one would really help me anyway.