NPFP Guest Post: I was three

Welcome to RMB’s Naked Pictures of Faceless People, a series of guest posts from diverse anonymous bloggers. (Read more about NPFP’s origins.) These are the posts that are jumping to get out of us, but for whatever reason — safety, embarrassment, conflict of interest, protection of loved ones’ reputations or feelings, or so on — we don’t or won’t or can’t post at our own blogs. Anyone is welcome to submit or discuss a potential post by emailing me at arwyn at raisingmyboychick dot com.

TRIGGER WARNING There is a strong trigger warning on this post for descriptions of child sexual abuse and incest. Please do not read if doing so would put your own health or sanity in jeopardy.

I was three

I was three when it began. It was our own little game, you said. No one but us could know because they wouldn’t understand. On that one count you were right, they would never have understood. You were fifteen or sixteen, my uncle. In the beginning it wasn’t so horrible. Your touch was gentle and you said you loved me. I wanted so desperately to be loved. At three I already felt alone in the world.

You held me close when we played hide and seek in the snow with all of the other cousins that winter; I was terrified that we would be found. You whispered to me, “It will be okay, I’m here. They won’t find us.” That thought was strangely calming. You frequently gave me treats; that day we shared hot cocoa wrapped in a blanket on the swinging bench at Grandma’s house.

By the time I was five, gentle touching had turned to rape. I remember the first time, how could I not? That day has been indelibly etched in my mind. Your room was filthy, as always. Your bed not made, dishes from days before stacked around the room gathering ants and flies, clothes strewn all over the floor. The sheets on the bed were foul smelling and scratchy, the pillow lacking a pillowcase and showcasing a prominent yellow stain. I had no idea what was happening; even for all of the touching that had gone on I was quite ill-prepared for what came next. That is the first time I remember trying to get away from you. I earned a swat on the butt for that and then was thrown into the wall. You picked me up from the floor and pushed me on the bed. You stood there naked, expectant and high with excitement. Your weight was crushing, your breath stinky and your body sweaty. I had never before experienced pain on that level. I felt I would break in half, thought of Humpty Dumpty and wondered if I’d be able to be put back together again. There was no way for me to comprehend that the part of me that would not be fixed, could not be fixed, was my mind.

Your bedroom was upstairs in the converted attic. I remember so many times standing at your gabled window; the serenity of the street below in direct contrast with my emotions. Our relationship no longer felt safe, I no longer felt loved by you. I wanted out; I wanted nothing to do with you. I never felt dirtier than I did when I was with you. And yet you had the perfect way to keep me quiet: the winter before I turned six my little sister was born. You never thought twice about using the image of her little body with yours to coerce me into doing whatever your sick mind wanted. The fear that you would get to her like you’d been able to get to me haunted me to the point that many times when we arrived at Grandma’s house I sought you out in order to keep you away from her.

I was six years old and I was following every order of yours to the T. I knew it was wrong; one of the first things we learned in school was that no one should touch me in the multitude of ways I was being touched by you. And yet. And yet there were the many threats you offered up to keep me compliant. You would tell everyone I was lying and I’d be taken away from my family for being such a Bad Person. You would take my little sister next. You would cut me into little pieces. My fear of you and what you would do if I ever told anyone kept me quiet.

For the last seventeen years I’ve done everything I could to avoid seeing you. This year Grandma called me and invited me to dinner at her house. When I asked who would be there your name was on the list of attendees. I wondered if I was strong enough to confront you. I wondered what I would say when I came face to face with you for the first time in more than half my lifetime. I fantasized about bringing our secret out in the open and what would happen to you when I did. I thought long and hard about going to dinner. In the end I called my sister and gave her the bare bones account of what had happened years ago. I asked her if she’d be willing to come to dinner with me. I needed to face you, but I needed help watching my four year old son. I wanted to make sure that he would never be in a room with you.

When we walked into the house we greeted Grandma with hugs and kisses, sat down at the dining room table with her and then looked around to see who else was there. The fear came back immediately when I saw you in the doorway; I was once again three, five, eight, eleven, fourteen, fifteen. Those seconds lasted a lifetime. Then all at once your gaze switched from me to my son, my four year old baby. I was no longer three, five, eight, eleven, fourteen, fifteen. I was thirty-two and I was a mother. I stood up and set my boy child back on the chair the two of us had been sharing. I stood between you and my loved ones, my little sister and my child. I stood for all those times that I couldn’t say or do anything except exactly what you said. Although my heart felt as if it would beat through my chest, I stayed there. And you, you sick man, you looked from me to my sister to my child again and again. You waited to see if I’d say anything or what I’d do. And still I stood tall. I stayed there, breathing, taking strength in the time that had passed, in the stories I’d recently shared with a trusted friend, in the knowledge that I no longer had to bear this horror alone. I stood, knowing the truth and hoping that you remembered all of it too. And when you finally turned away and walked out the front door to leave, I drew in a fresh breath and gave thanks.

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11 Responses to NPFP Guest Post: I was three

  1. I don’t really know what to write, but I feel so moved that I have to respond. This is a terrible story beautifully written. I am so very sorry for your suffering, but also grateful that you have shared it. Your strength is amazing. When I came to the end of this post I wanted to cheer you on – how powerful you are, to face him, and to gather strength from your sister and friend. I hope that lots more loving help is available to you now and in the future. Huge anonymous cyber-hugs to you.

  2. You amaze me. Your pain and suffering at the hands of that man broke my heart, but oh, your strength and determination are so incredible to see. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank You for sharing. You are really brave.

  4. This is such a powerful post. And hurtful and too close to the bone. And almost triumphant by the end, facing your abuser. Thank you for having the strength to post it.

    The timing of this is so weird. I recently (three days ago) in the course of my work had a letter recounting a similar story. Similarly traumatic. Like hearing your story and not being able to do anything, I read that story and felt so powerless. I think stories like these are much more common than we know and I thank you for being brave enough to inspire others to make their abusers known, or at least to find comfort in that they’re not alone.

  5. This an incredible and moving and powerful story. I read it with tears in my eyes, tears of rage and pain for the child you were, and tears of wonder for the adult you’ve become. An immediate member of my family shared a similar (albeit not as violent) story with me recently regarding her childhood abuse at the hands of a close relative – in her case the abuse stopped short of rape, but the tactics and sickness you describe in your attacker was eerily familiar. I was then, as I am now, equal parts appalled that such horror can be perpetrated on children, and amazed at the strength that people find to survive and overcome. It all makes me that much more determined to do what I can to both protect and empower my own daughters as they grow.

  6. Wow. I am so impressed with your strength and your instinct to protect those you love. I’m sorry that that same instinct kept you frightened and silent for so many years, but glad you’re speaking out now. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. I am so sorry that this happened to you. So sorry. And I am glad that you found your strength.

  8. Prudence_Dear

    Wow. Don’t know what else to say except that your strength and courage are simply awe-inspiring. I mourn for the child and all that was lost while also celebrating the wondrous adult who was able to take that stand. Wishing you thoughts of healing and peace, whoever you are.

  9. This is my story, too. I’m so sorry, but so proud that you are now able to protect your son, your sister, and yourself.

  10. You are so incredibly brave. Thank you for sharing this. I wish you peace, joy, and grace.

  11. Thank you for this post – I am so so terribly sorry that you had to endure this, but am awed by your strength.

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