Tag Archives: Sexual abuse

#Metoo at Two

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.

Lisa youngThe 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.

“At Least You’re Honest”

I’ve heard this a million times. Well, maybe not a million, but a lot.  It has been said to me whenever I say something unpopular, which is often, I guess.  I’ve been told that I “certainly don’t mince words” and several other clichéd ways of saying “please, just lie to me.”  I really don’t understand how honesty, something that used to be valued, became the least common denominator.  People would rather have some fictional version of reality than the truth, I guess. I have always found that annoying.  I just say what’s on my mind. I’m surprised that I am so straight forward as I learned very early in life to hold things in.

When I was two, we lived with my grandmother and step-grandfather for a bit.  When none of the other adults could watch me, my thirteen-year-old step-uncle babysat me.  He also forced me to perform fellatio on him.  After weeks of this, it finally dawned on me that this just wasn’t right.  He had told me not to tell anyone, but one day, when I was standing next to my grandmother in front of the refrigerator, I decided to say something.  I thought that my grandmother would certainly put an end to all this. In a way, she did because she ended any talking about it.  She got angry at me when I stumbled through my two-year-old version of what was happening. She didn’t wonder where I got the vocabulary to talk about a penis going into my mouth.  It was 1974. There was no internet and porn wasn’t widely accessible, at least not to toddlers.  Instead, she assumed I was just talking trash.  Grandmother told me, “We don’t talk like that!”

So, I didn’t.  We eventually moved out of my grandparents’ house and I never spoke of what happened, until it happened again.

I was quiet about it for five years until I was seven going on eight and decided to speak up again after a particularly terrifying night with my step-uncle. When I finally told on him, again, my big brother asked me why I was lying.  He was 17 at the time and should have beaten the shit out of someone who was raping his sister.  But no, like most people, he didn’t want to deal with the truth.  Since I did not receive any counseling or medical care after this episode, I assumed the rest of the family didn’t want to hear it either.  They simply couldn’t handle the truth. It was easier to just not talk about it. So, I didn’t.

The other day, I was unfriended on Facebook for being honest.  This person had posted something like, “If you are always saying ‘just being honest’ people hate you.” I commented that I really didn’t care if my honesty offended others.  The person told me that my friends probably didn’t like me, or something to that effect, and unfriended me.  When I noticed she unfriended me, I said “okeedokee” to myself and went along with my day.  This was a writer I had never met in real life, so it was no big loss.  Even if it was someone I did know in real life it would be no big loss because a “friend” who tells me to stifle myself is not a friend.

I am grateful that this particular former Facebook friend posted what she did and unfriended me.  She inspired me to take another look at how I have been communicating. I figured out that though it may seem like I have no filter, I have been holding a lot in, and that’s not good.  Holding everything in gives me stomachaches and headaches, and it gives me horrible writer’s block.  Every time I go to write something honest, I stop myself.  No more.  I intend to finally finish that memoir I have been procrastinating on. I’m going to be honest, and that may piss off some people, but I’m not sure I care.

Not Digging Duggar #‎callthemout

Unless you live in a cheese-lined cave without wifi, you know that Josh Duggar recently confessed to molesting multiple young girls when he was a teen. Honestly, that didn’t shock me. What is making my stomach turn over this whole situation is the fact that A LOT of people are defending him. I keep seeing Facebook posts from multiple “friends” who think that Josh should be forgiven because he was a teen when this happened.  And now that he is an adult, all of his abusive behavior should just disappear because he apologized and found Jesus. Well, that might work for Josh and his family, but I know for sure that time has not healed the horror his victims experienced.

My teen step-uncle molested me when I was a Sesame Street watching pre-schooler. I know that sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil, but it is actually my reality.  He was the first of two pedophiles in my life.  He was 13 when he first began touching me inappropriately, and 17 when it finally ended.

The abuse started a year or so BEFORE this picture was taken.
The abuse started a year or so BEFORE this picture was taken.

I remember the first time Arnold (not his real name, of course) forced me to perform oral sex. I was 3 and I was sitting on his lap in the recliner just outside of my grandma’s bedroom. Her room was directly off of the living room. My mother and I were staying at my grandmother’s house at this time. 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. Arnold was babysitting me. I will leave out the graphic details. I will just tell you that I was very frightened, and I started crying. This made him angry, and he shoved me off the chair and stormed from the room.

Some time 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 sparkly blue eyes turned cold and blank. She told me never to talk like that again. I shut up immediately and never said a word about it to her again.

We moved back to Florida not too long after this. When I was in third grade, Arnold came to live with my mother and me in Florida. From what I could overhear when my mother talked to my grandmother on the phone, Arnold was having trouble in school and was too much for grandmother to handle. So, the adults thought it would be a good idea for Arnold to live with my mom and me.

Since we lived in a two-bedroom apartment, Arnold slept on the spare twin bed in my room. Previously, Arnold’s bed had been home to my stuffed animals. They were relocated to a garbage bag in the closet, which I wasn’t happy about because I thought they would suffocate.

There were two big incidents that I remember when Arnold lived with us. The first one occurred one day when I had to come home early from school for vomiting. I remember the grown-ups thinking that I vomited because I got overheated on the playground or something like that. I thought that sounded silly, but I had learned that as a kid I shouldn’t question them. Mom picked me up and brought me home. When Arnold got home from high school she went back to work.

I was lying on the black and white couch when Arnold said he wanted to “play a game.” I had been watching TV and snacking on the potato chips he had given me. I had eaten quite a few when he started his old tricks. He unzipped his pants. I immediately started to feel sick. I’m sure he must have said something first, trying to persuade me that this was a good idea, but I don’t remember any of that. I just remember vomiting potato chips. He smacked me for puking on him and the couch, and I started crying from the vomiting and from being smacked. To this day, I still cry when I puke. Neither one of us mentioned any of this to my mom when she got home.

Shortly after that, Arnold abused me for the last time. I had a bad dream and woke Arnold with my crying. He told me to come over to his bed. I’m not sure why I complied, but I did. At first he held me and comforted me. I started dozing. The next thing I remember, Arnold was on top of me, with his pants off. He was pulling down my pajamas telling me, “It’s ok.” I didn’t think it was ok. I don’t know where I got the energy, but I got out from under him and ran into my mother’s room.

My mother’s boyfriend went into my room to get Arnold. This is actually ironic because a couple of years after this my mother’s boyfriend became my second abuser. But on this particular night, he played the role of hero. I’m not sure what happened or where Arnold slept the rest of the night. I heard yelling. The next day, I was sent to school, just like any other day.

After school, Arnold was sent home on a plane. Before he left, he was sitting with my brother, who lived with my father. Arnold and my brother, Timothy (again, a fake name) were close in age and always got along well. They were talking about how horrible it was that Arnold had to leave. I was relieved and couldn’t wait for him to leave. Timothy was angry with me, and blamed me for this. He asked me why I “lied” about this. I was stunned. I really couldn’t believe that my big brother was not taking my side, but I didn’t want to tell him the truth. I’d already learned from my grandmother that no one really wants to hear the truth about sexual abuse.

Arnold is in his 50’s now and I still hold him responsible for what he did to me as a teen. I don’t know what he has done as an adult, and the truth is it doesn’t matter.  I wouldn’t forgive him if he cured cancer, saved all the baby seals, adopted all of the homeless kittens, or found a way to make kale taste like vanilla cupcakes.  He still violated me.  He took my trust and my peace of mind.  He is the reason that men make me nervous.  Even now, 40 years later, men scare me.  I feel incredibly safe with my husband, my son, and a couple of close male friends, but other than that, I am on edge if I am somewhere alone and a male approaches me.  My “uncle” taught me to fear men when I was 3.  He was never punished for this. The police were not called. No jail time was served. People tell me I should forgive him, and move on. I’ve moved on to a happy, normal life, but I will never forgive him. I bet Josh Duggar’s victims know what I mean.