I remember it so clearly, the wide open door to the porch, the early afternoon sounds of the farm. I remember looking around at the walls of the shed, the freezer, the boots cluttered on the floor. I remember looking behind me, over my shoulder, staring outside, hoping and praying someone would walk into view and stop this from happening. I screamed, “Help!”, more than once. He told me to be quiet before someone heard me. That’s when I knew that sometimes the deaf can hear you.
It was the first time. He pawned at me telling this young girl how I had the body of a 16-year old. I wasn’t more than 10 or 11 years old at the time. My young body was flat as a board and I had no clue what he was trying to do. He scrambled as he touched me, felt my breasts that could hardly even be called that. Slobbering on my face and neck, he began to thrust himself on me as his hands roamed. Over and over again he grunted and thrust his groin against me. I was frozen. My parents had left for a horseback ride and my screams for help went unheard. Had they already made it up the hill? Didn’t they hear his 3-wheeler as he came down to the house? If so, why didn’t they come back? What would he need here without them? Why weren’t they getting him off of me? At the final grunt he let go of me. I stood there not knowing what to do next. He dug in his pocket and pulled out a dollar. I don’t remember if he said anything after that. He left and I went in the house, my mind a complete blur of emotion and confusion. I walked slowly back through the empty house to my dad’s side of the dresser. I placed the dollar bill on top of it and went back to my room. Looking back I wonder if I did that in order to be questioned. Where did the money come from? But sadly that never happened.
I never spoke of it to anyone until he started trying to mess with me when I went up to feed my steer. See I was in 4-H and I had to walk up the hill to feed the calf that I would be showing that fall. Of course, this just so happened to be in eye’s view of his front window. I couldn’t not be seen coming over that hill and walking back to the corral. I confided in a friend and when she could she would ride her bike over and feed my calf with me. No one else knew for the longest time.
Every time my parents would go for a ride or go to check cows he would see them leaving and he would come down. I knew that when I heard the sound of that 3-wheeler that I needed to hide. I couldn’t lock the front door because in those days no one ever locked the front door. And what if I did and my parents came back and I would be hiding and they would be pounding on a locked door?! I would get into so much trouble. So I started hiding under my bed or in my half bath which was really no more than a toilet and sink tucked in the back corner of my room. That door I could lock! But I couldn’t hide there every time. Sometimes I wasn’t quick enough and I would hear the steps on the porch or the first steps coming to the front door, a shuffling sound in the shed. I had blankets under my bed and other random things and I would dive under it and try to become the tiniest ball of a person that I could.
I ate a lot of ice cream that summer. My grandma always kept the freezer full from the Schwan man. I remember returning to school that fall and a fellow classmate making a comment about how big I had gotten. I wonder if he would even remember that. Did it make me feel better to eat? I don’t know. I did know I was alone. I always felt alone and always felt like I was bad.
At the end of the year, I wrote a note to a senior that had graduated. For some reason, I felt like she had become a close friend of mine and the thought of her being gone tore me apart. She didn’t have any idea about the things that happened. She did however know that this little 6th grader no longer wanted to live.
I remember the principal of my school and the guidance counselor coming to my house. I looked out my bedroom door and saw them talking to my parents. The guidance counselor (who would one day be my teacher for many subjects) came into my room. He asked me if I was thinking of hurting myself. I said that I wasn’t and he left the room. I recall being horrified because I had laid my clothes out for the next day on my bed and my little bra was sprawled out on top. He had seen my bra! I don’t recall my parents talking to me after they left, or ever mentioning anything about it. I knew by the looks I received that I was yet again a disgrace to the family and an embarrassment. Little did I know that it would not be the last time that I would gain that medal of honor.
I don’t remember when it stopped or what made it stop. Maybe he just got fed up with coming down and not being able to find me. I don’t know. The dollar bills quit ending up on my dad’s dresser and never a word was spoken about it.
I was in New Jersey working as a nanny at 18 when I got the call that he died. I bawled. I don’t remember if I bawled on the phone or just after. I do know that it wasn’t from sadness. There was never a moment more freeing than when I knew I would never see that man again. That he would never sit across the table from me at dinner. That I would never be forced to go to town as a family and eat with him. I would never have to hide again. I rejoiced in knowing that, in feeling that.
I would spend many, many years after that, trying desperately to find someone to protect me. Protect me from what? I am not sure how to answer that. I just knew that I needed someone to protect me. I wanted someone to stick up for me. I instead found physical, mental, and emotional abusers. Men that would just as soon hit me than look at me.
I am single now and have been for 3 years, in addition to being proudly celibate. I do this for myself and my daughter. I can’t trust my own judgment when it comes to the men in my life, at least that is what my mind tells me. I have had horrific luck and refuse to put my daughter in any danger from some sicko. I am insanely sensitive when it comes to protecting her in every aspect. I never want her to feel abandoned, unprotected, unwanted.
I found out much later in life that the dad I grew up with wasn’t my biological father. I discovered that my bio-dad had left around the age of 2 and easily signed away his rights to me later telling me that this new man was “so good-looking and seemed to have his life together”. It has crossed my mind more than once that perhaps that was the reason I wasn’t protected. Maybe that’s why it was so easy to look the other way. I wasn’t really part of this family. Because I did tell my dad when I was a Junior in high school and he called me a liar…
#protectourchildren #savethechildren #liar