Note: This is part of a four-part story about my childhood sexual abuse, please read through by starting here.
WARNING: What you are about to read are painful and graphic memories of what had happened to me. If you are sensitive to child sexual abuse, I recommend you not to read this.
Have you ever wanted to know what happens during childhood sexual abuse? Neither did I, but I found anyway as a 10-year-old. Front and center, I was in the crosshair of someone else’s unresolved pain. Well, my pain ends here today.
Sharing with you, the world, what I am about to share is not known to anyone but myself, the police and whatever lawyer out there that have reviewed my case. It is the single most difficult thing that I will ever share with you, but I believe it is the key to finally opening the lock that I have placed on my soul. I had resonated very profoundly with the quote “You are only as sick as your secrets,” so with sharing with you the following secret, I know I am no longer sick.
There was once a time that I did not remember very much from my childhood. Our brain has a funny way of blocking memories to protect us from emotional harm. For more than 20 years I went through life avoiding remembering the first 10 or so years of it. Whenever I was asked to reminisce about events from my childhood, I would merely state that I didn’t remember but in reality, I remembered everything down to the last detail. I instinctively refused to tap into those memories but not on purpose. My conscience rain was merely protecting me from my darkness. It wasn’t until the day I told my wife of my abuse did the memories resurface and did they ever come on with a vengeance! In an instant, I vividly remembered every tiny detail of the events that scarred me and it scared the shit out of me!
I remember spending time with my grandparents by having a rare sleepover. My cousin would often stay there on the weekends so when I had the opportunity to spend the night with him at my grandparent’s house, it was a double whammy of fun for me. My grandmother was a beautiful soul, and she was your stereotypical sweet and loving “Nanny” as we would all call her. There would always be cookies made and sitting in an old Rubbermaid container that sat on the dryer. She loved having us around and made sure that we had everything we ever needed whenever we visited.
My grandparent’s house was tiny, It barely had two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room and a bathroom. A little white house on the corner of a busy road and a tiny side street. It was a neat house that never sat on a foundation. The house was so small that the shed on the property would serve as a napping spot for my grandfather in the summer. Even though the house was tiny, I have a lot of big memories there. It was the central spot where my cousin and I would play, meet other neighbourhood friends and just hang out. Some of my fondest memories were spent there. Whenever my cousin and I would have a sleepover, my grandmother, being the selfless person she was, would give up her double bed so that my cousin and I could watch TV and just hang out together. We were very close in age, so our interests were very much aligned, but we couldn’t be any more different people. He was a dark haired, laid back chubby fella and I was a blonde haired, energetic, skinny-as-a-rake kid. While we certainly had our differences, we did enjoy our time together. I often considered my cousin like a brother.
My parents weren’t party animals by any stretch, but being a couple in their early 30’s they enjoyed going out to see a local cover band from time to time. They didn’t have many friends so they would often go out with my mother’s siblings and their spouses. This would often lead to my cousin and I ending up with my grandparents, which of course we didn’t mind at all.
It was the fall of 1988 when my parents had gone out to one of these cover band dances at the local recreation center. The center was literally a few hundred feet from the doorsteps of my grandparent’s house, so it made sense for me to stay there for the night. Only on this particular night, I wasn’t staying for the entire night. It was late, probably after 2 AM and I was awoken by the sounds of my father coaxing me to wake up. I didn’t know what was going on as I tried to make sense of what was happening. My eyes were barely open and my head in a fog, I thought I was dreaming.
I remember the smell of his rum and Coke soaked breath as I rolled over trying to get back to sleep, just hoping he would let me go. “Wake up! its time to go home”, he uttered in a whispered voice. “I don’t want to go home” I replied. He insisted I go. So, out of the warm bed, I crawled and into the kitchen to put on my shoes. The crisp fall air hit me hard as I wandered out into the driveway and into the running car. I crawled into the back seat, and I didn’t even have the energy to put on my seat-belt. My mother was behind the wheel as she didn’t drink and my father climbed into the passenger seat and we headed home.
Thankfully the drive home was not that far as I tried my best to remain awake, I was cold and confused, “why did I have to wake up and come home?” I thought to myself. All I wanted at this point was to get back into a warm bed and get back to sleep. This was a late night for me. Being only 10 years old, the latest I would ever attempt to stay up would be 12 AM, and that would likely be because it was New Year’s Eve. Finally, we got home, and I darted right up to my bed. It was cold, I was cold but at least it was my bed, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would warm it up and be back to sleep.
I wasn’t even in my bed 10 minutes before I was awakened by my bedroom door flying open. There in the shadow of the light from the hallway stood my father. “Go brush your teeth!” he growled. I insisted that I already had. “Go brush them again!” he snapped. The thought of getting out of my warming bed to lug my tired body to the bright bathroom to do something I already had done was debilitating. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I knew I wasn’t going to win this battle. I never liked my father when he was angry, so I always just relented to his demands so I could find peace. Out of my bed, I slithered, and into the bright lights of the bathroom, I went to brush my teeth before the third request was made.
My father was not a pleasant drunk. Whenever he drank, he always became very belligerent and mean. I stayed clear of him when he began to drink, I always wanted to be out of his vision so I wouldn’t be told to do something that I just didn’t want to do. Often he became very emotional when he had way too many drinks, and I would often overhear my mother and him get into low voice arguments whenever he was loaded. Thankfully, my father didn’t drink very often, but whenever he did, it was memorable, but never in a good way.
After I finished brushing my teeth, I climbed back into my now cool-to-the-touch bed. I wasn’t thrilled with the thought of warming it up again, but I was just thankful to be done with my child duties for the night and hoped that this would finally be the last. I looked at my clock, and it was 3 AM. Up to this point in my life, I don’t think I was ever up this late. It didn’t take long as my bed was warming up that I was once again dozing off.
I don’t even know how long it was until I once again heard my bedroom door creak open. My eyes popped open, more confused than ever, I scanned my room trying to make sense of what I heard. This time there was no light on in the hallway, and I couldn’t see a shadow. Then I heard the creaking of my vinyl tile flooring, the footsteps were getting closer to my bed. As the noises got closer the faint light from the outside street lamp peering through my bedroom window gave me some sense of a body walking towards my bed.
My mind began to race “Is it a burglar? Is it a stranger? Who is it?”. When the dark figure finally stopped at the foot of my bed, I could make out who it was, it was my father. What did he want now? My body laid in silence. Once again not wanting to make him angry, I hoped that if I pretended to be deeply asleep, he would leave me alone.
My captain’s bed was placed tightly against the exterior wall of my bedroom. I had a window immediately to my right, and I could stare outside whenever I needed some inspiration to get to sleep. As I tried to find some kind of reasoning behind what was going on, things got really confusing. My father crawled into my bed, placing himself between the wall and me. I had a tiny single bed, there wasn’t a lot of space for me let alone a grown man and me. Even though this was my father crawling into bed with me, I was terrified. I was exhausted, sad that I wasn’t at my grandmother’s house and all I wanted to do now was sleep!
As he was laying on his left side with the wall behind me and I was laying on my back, he took his right arm and began to hug me. Trying my best to remain silent and calm, my heart began to race. Why was my father cuddling me, in my bed and so late at night? He never said a word to me. What was going on? His breathing became deeper and all I could smell was booze. Yuck! To this day, booze breath brings me back to this moment in time.
It didn’t take long before things really got serious as his hand slowly but surely made its way down to my genital area. My heart rate shot through the roof, and my mind was racing just as fast. What was going on? I didn’t know what to do! Do I move? Do I fall off the bed? Do I cry? As his hands made its way into my pyjamas and ultimately inside my underwear, I froze. I couldn’t move if I wanted to. My brain was telling me to roll over, but my body wasn’t listening. I wanted to scream, but my mouth wouldn’t open. All I could feel was my heart beating and his hands down my shorts.
What is going on?
A million thoughts raced through my head. Is this normal? What is he doing to me? Recalling the lessons I learned in school, is this a “no” or “yes” feeling? It was definitely a “no” feeling. But I was taught in school that it was strangers that would give me a “no” feeling. Not my father! I was told that hugging my parents was a “yes” feeling. He started with a hug! But what happens when that hug turns into his hand ending up on my penis? I didn’t learn this in school. It was supposed to be a creepy old man in some kind of “free candy” van parked outside a neighbourhood park that did these things to kids. Not my father! My sleepy brain had no way of figuring this out, so I just played dead!
I can’t remember if I had an erection or not. I was only 10 years old, and while I was somewhat educated on the matter, I didn’t have any idea what an erection was for or if it felt good to use it. As my father’s hand tried to stimulate me into something, I continued to pretend like I was sleeping. I knew at this point if I moved or attempted to stop him, he would probably get angry at me. So I did all that I could at this point, I squirmed a little bit and tried to roll over, so my face was towards his. There is that booze breath again! I could barely breathe, in fact, I slowed my breathing so much that I didn’t smell it as bad. I figured if I could get away from his “hands-on” hugging, I could get him to stop. My rollover did work, he stopped. But he had other things in mind.
After getting him to stop stimulating my genitals, he then proceeded to grab my left hand. What is he going to do with my hand? He carefully placed my hand on his penis, it wasn’t a difficult task because he was completely naked! My confusion never reached a higher state. I had no way of comprehending what it was that I was being made to do so I tried rolling over again. This time, I tucked my arms and hands under my left thigh. Hoping that with my arms and hands somewhat covering my privates and without access, he couldn’t use them against me. But my attempt to stop him failed. He was determined to see this to the finish line.
With my back now faced towards him, he grabbed my right arm and put my hand back on his penis. This time his attempt at manual stimulation with my hand was not going to end. I don’t know if he “finished” or not. To this point in my young life, I certainly had no idea of what the full functionality of a penis entailed. All I know is that he stopped and his half flaccid penis in my hand was something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
He finally let go of my arm, was he done? Was I done? I quickly put my arm back under my thigh in hopes to turtle and just hope that this would all be over. He then sat up in the bed and scuttled himself to the end of the bed. I was so excited to be over this living nightmare, my bed was still warm, and even though I was perplexed as to what just happened, I was too tired to think anymore. All I wanted to do was look out my window, close my eyes and sleep.
The nightmare was far from over.
He got out of my bed and kneeled beside my bed as if to pray. What is going on now? By now I had rolled myself over towards the wall -my safe place. I hoped that by facing the wall, I could hide in plain sight. But he wasn’t done with me, he gently grabbed my hip and rolled me onto my back. What now? Will he ever leave me alone?
I screamed in my head. I did everything to fight back the tears at this point, but I was terrified to do anything but fake that I was sleeping. I didn’t want him to get mad at me. He then he pulled down my pyjamas to expose my penis to the cold air of an early morning bedroom. Why? What is happening to me?
At this point, I was confused, exhausted and terrified. I just wanted it to be over, so I gave up rolling around and zoned out. I went to my “happy place.” I was hoping to just fall asleep and wake up in the morning. It was at this point that I felt him kiss my penis. Why is this happening? Why is he kissing the part of my body that I pee out of? This is gross! My heart was beating a million beats a minute, my brain was completely blacked out. I had nowhere to hide now except the deepest part of my brain. As he tried to orally stimulate me, I literally felt my soul float out of my body. I am quite certain that I had an out of body experience that night, my body was no longer mine. Here my father was doing things to my body that terrified me. I was feeling the “no feeling” that my school taught me about, but it wasn’t that creepy man in the park, no, it was my father, the man I looked up to the most in my little world, my hero.
Thankfully after a few moments of him trying to do whatever it was to my body, he gave up. He sloppily pulled my underwear and pyjamas back up, paused for a few seconds and got up. I screamed in my head, “he’s leaving!”. As he walked across the creeky floor to my bedroom door, I shed a tear that I so badly wanted to let go a few minutes earlier. I laid there in disbelief of what just happened and by now, I couldn’ t fall asleep, my senses were too heightened. Would he come back? What if he does? Do I scream next time? For the next few minutes, I could hear every nail in my house creak. I listened to every ounce of air flow through my furnace vents. On top of it all, I listened to my mother snoring in the room next door. Soon, I would hear two snores.
My nightmare was is over. Well, at least the physical act was over. Mentally, it had just begun.
This one night of my life changed me forever. No matter how much I feel that I am healed, there are scars in my sub-conscience that continue to itch and burn, and I don’t think will ever recover. Ever since that night, I have been an extremely light sleeper. I hear every creak in my house, every pet walk and every leaf on the tree outside my window move whenever the wind blows. I have rarely slept through a night in close to 30 years. Since that night, I never sleep without hugging a pillow of some sort. It is a protection mechanism, and it makes me feel safe. My body is shielded.
I still cannot piece together what went through a man’s head to do what he did to me. I still cannot believe that my mother, who was in the room next to me, did not know something was up. I often wonder if she just shrugged off his drunk advances and was happy to have him out of her bed. There are some questions that I have that I never want to be answered, I am not sure I could handle the truth.
Somewhere in my young head, I was able to bury that night into the very darkest part of my brain. He is my father, I was going to have to live with him the rest of my life! So, while I knew those were “no” feelings, I could put them aside to maintain peace in my house. Like we were taught in school when someone touches you, and you don’t like it, you are supposed to run and tell someone you trust. But what if the one touching you in a wrong way is the one you trust the most? I had nowhere to run. All I could do was survive and try to forget the memory as best as I could.
There was never a night when my father drank that I would sleep. If there were a time when I knew he was going out to a bar, I would beg and plead for him to not drink. I would make him promise me he wouldn’t and credit to him, most times he wouldn’t. I am not sure if he knew what would happen if he did or if he was just concerned not to break a promise. There would be times in which I either couldn’t get a promise out of him or he wouldn’t go along. If he did drink at home, I would make sure those nights were the nights I would have a friend or cousin sleepover. I selfishly figured that he would leave me alone if someone else were in the room with me. It is amazing that even at a very young age we quickly find ways to survive. Thankfully, my father was not an alcoholic and never drank frequently.
There, you now know my deepest and darkest secret. It scares the living soul out of me sharing it with you as I have no idea how it will affect you or your reaction, but really, it shouldn’t concern me. It is my gift, to you, and your reaction is yours and not mine to make. My hope is that sexual abuse to you is a little more real now than it was before you read this post. The more the secrets are broken, the more the cycles of abuse become shattered. While I may have burdened you with my story, I have freed my soul of its chains and now finally, we can work together and heal this world from pain.
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