I’ve had a problem with dads my whole life. My biological father gave me up to my mom and her then husband for his new family. I used to envy the daughter, my step sister. Until I learned he groomed her to be his sex slave and drove his second wife literally crazy and she divorced him. It makes me sick to think about.
The husband my mom was married to adopted me and my brothers. She thought he was a good dad, so when they divorced she shared custody with him. She didn’t know he beat my brothers and molested me until he tried to rape me and I told her. I’ve never used that word before to describe this. Rape. But he tried to take my innocence from me. I was 12 when it started, 13 when it ended. Unfortunately, his mother worked for the courts so my case dropped through the cracks. Legally, my mom couldn’t keep my brothers from him. That made things worse.
It started while she was still married to him. I thought he was my dad. One night, I laid on the couch beside where he was sitting, keeping curled up to give us both personal space. He insisted I was hurting my knees and to relax my legs out. When I did, he put his hand down the back of my pants. I laid there, stiff as a board, tears streaming down my face. I was scared and confused. I’d never had a dad before, but this didn’t feel like anything a dad should do.
Later, after she’d divorced him, I was in my bathroom taking a bath for school the next day. I learned to lock the door. I wouldn’t unlock the door for him, so he punched a hole in the wall. I found out he was watching me from that hole.
There were a few other instances that should have sent red flags to other adults, but they never saw it. When I realized that there was nothing safe in that house for me, it was almost too late.
I was playing solitaire on the computer in his bedroom like I did when my mom lived there. He was in his bathroom. When he came out, he said it was bed time. Like any kid, I begged for five more minutes to play my game. He agreed. And then he sat on his bed behind me and put his hands up training bra. I stood straight up and said I should go to bed. He pulled me on top of him and tried to kiss me. He told courts I pushed him onto the bed. I weighed 90 lbs, he weighed 300. He said he had to fight me off and say it wasn’t right. I said it wasn’t right and wriggled away from him, crying. I got to the doorway and told myself to pretend everything was fine, for my brothers. So, I turned and said goodnight… He covered my mouth with his and put his tongue in my mouth. I gag at the thought of tongue kissing to this day. I’d never been kissed before that, and I didn’t think I’d ever like kissing after. I ran to my bedroom and locked the door. I didn’t sleep, I just cried.
The next morning, I told my friend at school and made her promise not to tell. We lived in a small community. Everyone knew my family. It caused a huge rift in our church family, I never felt okay going back. Everyone said they were on my side, but they gave me this look and I could practically hear the whispers.
After school, I told my mom. She said “shut up” and I cried, begging her to understand what I was saying. She said, “Please shut up. My gun is in the trunk, I need to focus on getting you to my lawyers office. I want you to tell him.” My mom was a cop, so it took everything she had to obey the law and not kill him.
I told everyone she took me to see. Therapist, children’s center places, attorneys. In the end, we lost the case and I felt unsafe. My aunt promised I was safe at her house over the summer. She wouldn’t let him near me. But, my brothers still had to see him every week. He taught them to call me “princess” (his pet name for me) and “whore”. They were 10 and 7. After the case closed, he sent a manila envelope to me. It had an “apology” letter that said he was sorry I misunderstood the situation. I learned later that this was called gas lighting, I just thought I was crazy. Inside the envelope was a necklace that said “princess”.
I have a daughter of my own now. It took a lot of praying and talking and thinking before I could stop feeling scared and defensive every time someone would call her a “princess”. I also have a dad now. He was dating my mom when all of this happened. He’s always given me my space, never pushed me to talk if I didn’t want to. And when my mom begged me to say I was lying (because who wants to believe that happened to their child?), and I cried alone in my room… He told her never to do that to me again. He pulled our family together. When the boys were dropped from my abusers life for his new family, my dad picked up the pieces. He showed us that not all men are evil, and that a true dad loves his children and respects their mother. I think it’s his calmness and dad-like way of life that helped me heal. I will always be grateful to him for that. Because of his love, I don’t have to be broken.
I’m sharing my story because I want anyone being abused to know it’s okay to tell. They’ll say that you’ll be blamed or harmed if you tell, but you won’t be. Anyone that blames you is in the wrong. They can’t hurt you anymore if you tell. Please, do not suffer in silence.