People who have been hurt want to be heard. Imagine if someone walked up to you and punched you in the arm. You’d grab your arm where they punched you, possibly cry out in pain and say, “Hey, that hurt! What was that for?”
Have you ever watched children play together? When one gets aggressive and pulls another child’s hair or, as my son used to do, bite them, the hurt child would run to the nearest adult and ‘tattle’ on the offending child. I remember being told that tattling was wrong. Not only by my offending grandfather but even in regular child play by my parents and teachers.
When my kids were little I struggled with this area of parenting. I didn’t want my boys to become tattle-tales and I didn’t want them to feel like they couldn’t ‘tell’ if something was wrong. I wanted them to learn independence and take care of a situation which is why I didn’t want my kids to be whiners and tell on every little bump and mishap but at the same time I wanted them to know they could tell me if they knew the behavior was ‘bad’.
What happens when it’s a parent that is the offender? And how do we expect a child to react when they tell but they aren’t heard?
Amber wrote me a few weeks ago to share her story and asked if she could ‘have a voice’ to help others. I want to give her that opportunity. If you ever wonder how a father, a seemingly wonderful father, could harm their little girl then please read Amber’s story and take caution.
*For those who have been through childhood physical /sexual abuse please use CAUTION when reading, the story may trigger memories.* (Feel free to scroll down to the last three paragraphs which will encourage you.)
I was personally triggered by reading her story but at the same time I related and shared in her pain. I considered deleting a large portion of what she wrote but I prayed about this and decided it’s important for YOU, the general reader, to understand.
My first memory of sexual abuse was when I was 11 years old. One Saturday I spent the day on the couch with my father watching movies. He was rubbing my neck and back. Later in the day he moved his hand to my stomach, then up to my chest. I felt uncomfortable with this so I told him I needed to go to the bathroom. When I came back he asked if I was alright and I said that I didn’t feel well. He told me to lie back on the couch so he could rub my stomach to make me feel better. I did as I was told. A few minutes later I felt him unbutton my pants. I tried to get up from off the couch but he held me tight and told me to just relax so he could make me feel good. For the next hour I laid frozen, unable to move. Finally, I heard the garage door open and I knew mom was home. I jumped up and buttoned my pants. As I went to the door, my father told me not to say anything about what happened to mom or she would ground me.
My father molested me that day. He violated the father daughter bond of trust. He took advantage of my youth for his pleasure. But even worse, my father placed the blame on me. He did that by saying mom would ground me.
It was difficult to live with myself after that. I felt like I did something terrible. I didn’t know where to turn, surely I couldn’t say anything to my mom! I felt dirty with what happened. When my father tried to get his hand in my pants again, I was able to fend him off. But even that brought more guilt. I kept asking myself, what am I doing to have my father act this way? Why does he get upset with me when I say no? What is wrong with me?
I must have been 13 years old when my father asked me why I don’t let him touch me anymore. He had been giving me massages often, but whenever he had the chance he tried to put his hand down my pants. So when he asked this time, I yelled, “NO DAD, I HATE IT. ” My father was really taken back by this. He said that he thought I liked it. But I finally was in charge of my own body. My father never touched me again until I was 17.
I felt so good about telling my father off. I didn’t have to worry every day about whether I would be molested. I could live my life, all because I had the courage to say I hated it to my father’s face. Not only that, but my relationship with my father was getting better now. He was there for me as a father instead of a perpetrator, waiting for his chance to get me. I actually forgot about the abuse within a few years. Life was good.
When I was 17 I was on the high school softball team. One day after practice I came home to what I thought was an empty house. I was changing out of my softball clothes when I heard my father call me. He was in bed and asked me how everything went at practice. We were talking for quite a while and all of a sudden he pulled me into his bed. He tickled me over and over. He was naked and I could feel his erection pressing against me. I screamed for him to stop and he said he would if I quit fighting and let him give me a massage. I was desperate so I allowed him to give me a massage, even though it grossed me out. After a massage that was very sensual in nature, he finally let me out of bed, telling me he just wanted to make me feel good.
I do not blame myself at all for this incident either. I think it is important that survivors know this. I was still young, and he was still my father. He violated the trust I had given him. He wasn’t going to place the blame on me again. I told my mom the next day. I thought I had to and am proud that I did. My mom didn’t really believe me and my father denied everything. My father never touched me again, this time for real.
It was a tough choice to tell my mom, even tougher when she didn’t believe me. But I encourage anyone going through a similar experience to still say something. You have a voice. You have your own body. Bodies respond how they are built to do. It is never the victim’s fault for anything that ever happens. No means no! Voices are meant to be used too. Please use it.
When the perpetrator places blame on the victim, it is the most difficult thing in the world to overcome. I did overcome it! I am grateful for that too. I have a loving husband and a beautiful daughter who are on my side. My family is split over this, but I believe my mom doesn’t want to believe it. I pray someday her eyes will open and see the monster she is living with. Once a monster, always a monster.
Abuse is ugly. The more we speak out about the truth then the better chance we have of educating our young ones to RUN and SPEAK OUT immediately. The louder our voice the better chance we have of making it difficult for abusers to abuse.
Thank you, Amber, for having a voice today! My prayers are with you.