THE AFTERMATH OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
For years, young girl's and women of all ages have been in some way Sexually Assaulted. Men as well. And for year's, we have all remained silent. One feel's humiliated, dirty, and often time's they feel like they deserved it. Particularly women. We often feel like it perhaps was something we did or said, or the way we were dressed. And many time's it is someone we know. A family member, a friend of the family or even a Parent. And for years we remained silent for fear of being called liars, or feared we would be blamed. We often times walk in the shadow of this horrific event in our lives remaining Silent. Thinking that if we say nothing, we will not have to face repeating to anyone what we have gone through and who did it to us. Yes, we protect the abuser. We do this because we don't want to hurt other's with the truth. Many of us lived in an era where no one spoke about this horrific attack on our lives. Whether it be for Religious belief's within ones family, or just being to embarrassed and simply wanting to hide it forever. However, it never leaves us. It remains that horrible shadow that follow's us as long as we say nothing. In my case, I was only 4-5 yr's old. My Dad and I were very close and I was a Tomboy and was always involved with just about everything he did. We raised Pigeons,Chickens and Rabbits as well as Guinie Pigs. We would always go to the Live Stock show's and show off our best animals. I always loved going with Daddy. I felt special. I have two older sister's who did not get the same attention that I got. So, Wow, I really felt special. Mom use to get me dressed in my little Bib Overall's and pull my hair up in pig tails. When Dad and I would get in the car and go around the curve, he would always say, "Move over here by me". I loved my daddy and I would always move closer to him. After all, he was Daddy and he loved me! When we got on down the road, he would put his hand between my legs. I never thought anything about it. I loved my Daddy. We would go to the show's and he would always have me show off our Rabbits or Pigeons whatever we were taking at the time. This continued for year's. When we were at home and Mom was at work, he would always have me sit next to him. Of course my sisters were there. Usually sitting in the floor in front of the television. Often times they would be in our bedroom listening to records or playing on the bed. Now, keep in mind that Mom was a devout Catholic and she was the dominant figure in our home. What she said went. No one ever got on Mom's bad side. When Daddy and I sat on the couch together, he would sometimes say,"Give me a kiss". When he kissed me, I did feel different. I mean after all, Mom never put her tongue in my mouth? Still, I didn't know anything was wrong. My Daddy loved me! Right? When I entered the First Grade, I absolutely hated school. I felt like the Nun's all hated me. They would make me stand in the hall for NOTHING. So, one day when I was made to stand in the hall, I got my hat and coat and walked home. Irony is that I truly didn't know what I was doing except I wanted to be home with my daddy. I would get home (knowing Mom was at work), and Daddy always laughed at me and said, "Baby, what are you doing here"? I would cry and tell him I didn't want to go to school anymore. Daddy always hugged me and kissed me and wiped my tear's away. He would also say,"Your Mamma's gonna kill me if I don't take you back". But I would beg him not to take me back. So he would wait til Mommy got home and defend me by saying, "Now dammit, something is wrong or she wouldn't have ran away". But Mom would take me back and make me apologize for running away. The Nun would always act so nice and hold my hand and make me promise that I would never leave school again. And I would always agree so Mom wouldn't be mad. However, I ran away 2 more times. Each time Daddy would try to protect me. Mom finally got real mad at daddy because I came home with a bloody nose after running into a wire cable while looking back to see if anyone was following me. She took me back to school after a good scolding and told me if I ran away again, I was really gonna get it. Then daddy talked to me and told me to please stay in school cause it scared him when I ran away. I remember hearing daddy and mommy cussing each other and that made me sad. So I never ran away again. As the years passed, I began to realize that what Daddy was doing to me didn't feel right. After all, I had friends and their Daddies didn't kiss them like my daddy did me. And they never touched them down there. The older I got, the more I began to distance myself from my Daddy. I was now getting scared. And my neighborhood friends who use to stay the night with me, were not allowed to stay with me anymore. I could stay at their house, but they couldn't stay at my house. Now I knew something was wrong. Dad was now beginning to touch my breast. Now that really was scary. I knew that I couldn't say anything to my Mom. Goodness, she would have whooped my behind for even thinking such a thing at my age. Dad use to take me and my sisters to the river and he taught us how to swim. Then they built a Swimming Pool right up the road from where we lived and I found a way to stay away from home all the time. I became an avid swimmer and diver. Always learning new diving techniques from the Life Guard's. I spent every single day during the summer months swimming. Dad still tried to kiss me and still touched me in places that were bad. But, I still couldn't say anything. I can remember when one of the Cheerleader's at our school got pregnant and what my Mom said about it. She thought the girl was terrible. And even worse, my Mom knew her mom and knew that she was being sent away to get rid of the baby. We lived in a home where "Hush, Don't Tell" was the rule. Dad use to always tell me, "Now don't you tell your Momma." I never did. As I got older, I became quite flirty. Especially when my sister's would bring their boy friends around. And when a guy looked at me at the swimming pool. Well, my older sister who was now 17, got pregnant by her boyfriend. Mom and Dad took them to get married. Then they lived with us. He was drafted and went to Vietnam. Things were very tense during that period of time. I was beginning to sneak around and see guys. After all, I was pretty and my body was great, and heck, Daddy had done the same thing these guys wanted to do. Of course, after awhile, they wanted more. I think ya'll know what I'm referring too. Anyway, my other sister also got pregnant. I can remember the many, many tear's my Mom cried. All I could think of was if she ever found out what I was doing. When I was 14, my Mom and I were not getting along at all. Dad was still doing his best to touch me and kiss me even when Mom was home and in another room. Then one day, Mom and me got into a big fight and she kicked me out! Yep, 14 and OUT! I just couldn't understand. Heck, both my sisters had gotten pregnant and they didn't get kicked out. I spent many nights sleeping under a bridge not far from where we lived. I had a friend who lived behind us for as long as I could remember who would come and stay with me to make sure I was safe. He would sometimes slip me into their house and have his sister Kathy tell her Mom we were good friends. She and I were the same age. I never stayed during the week, just the weekends. Then I met a guy. He told me he loved me. I believed him. I got pregnant! We ran off and got married. DISASTER! He was extremely physically abusive. Insanely jealous. Then when I was 25weeks pregnant, he beat me and I went into premature labor. He would often hold me down and force himself on me when he was drunk. Folks, the entire moral of this story which is true, is that when you are Sexually Assaulted, you lose your self. Or at least a large part of who you are. In my case, I had no self esteem. I felt dirty. I felt betrayed. My Daddy? The one man who I loved so much ABUSED ME! This set a course of self destruction for me. Marriage and Divorce, 3 times. Always thinking I deserved the beatings and abuse. After my second marriage, and many years of therapy and even Electro-shock therapy, I finally began to like myself again. I went back to school and became a Nurse. Something I always wanted to do. And by now, I had 3 beautiful children that I had to take care of. And I wanted to make sure they had everything they needed. Then one day, I took my children to visit my Mom (by this time, my Father and I were distant), and while there, my Father came up behind me while I was standing at the sink and grabbed me from behind and grabbed my breast. I whirled around and slapped him and said "If you can't treat me like a daughter, then keep your damn hands off of me". My Mom came in from the dining room and asked "What the hell just happened"? I simply looked at her and said, "Ask your damn Husband". I took my children and left. Not long after that, my older sister finally came out of the closet and revealed that my Granddaddy (My Dad's Father) had done the same thing to her that my Father had done to me! I couldn't believe it! I had gone through so much of my life living with this horrific shadow of disgrace behind me and Now she comes out and tell's about her assault? Oh I was so angry. After all of those years of allowing myself to be abused and assaulted by all of those men! Feeling dirty and unworthy of anything else. My Mother was still in denial. She simply could not or would not believe this. Of course, she believed my sister and cursed my Grandfather to my own Father. Yet, she would never believe anything I tried to tell her about what her husband had done to me. Then it became a subject that NO ONE spoke about. For years I saw two sides of a man. One was a kind, loving human being, the other side, a man who was sick and assaulted women. Yes, WOMEN. You see, I wasn't the only one. As years passed and I began sharing my expiriences with my friends, I learned that they too had been his victims. Now, I have a whole new set of nightmare's. The very thought that my friends had NEVER TOLD ME! Sexual Assault has a very profound impact on ones life. An impact so humiliating and so debilitating to ones own self for as long as one keeps the expirience SILENT! I am writing this to tell ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, SPEAK OUT. DON'T WAIT! It is NOT OK for ANY MAN to TOUCH YOU OR EVEN SPEAK TO YOU IN A SEXUAL MANNER. I loved my Father. Even after all he had done to me, I Loved My Dad. When he became elderly and ill, I took care of him. And yes, there were still times he tried to touch me inappropriately. However, I knew at that time, he was a very sick man mentally. As was his Father. A few weeks before his passing, he was in the hospital and grabbed my hand and began to cry. He said, "Can you ever forgive me for everything I've done to you"? My FATHER was asking for my forgiveness. I held his hand and told him,"I already have". After all of those years, through all of the pain, through all of the wrong choices I made, I had indeed forgiven him. I knew that the only way that I could live my life with my head held high without the guilt, I had to realize that he was a very sick man. I wanted my Father to know that he was forgiven. I wanted my Father's last days on this earth, to know that I knew he was a Mentally Sick man and that he could leave this world with forgiveness and Love from his Daughter. As the years went on and Mom who was also elderly and sick, I took care of her too. It wasn't until then that she began to talk about it. She cried. She told me how very sorry she was that I had to go through that. She shared with me stories of my Dad's infidelity. She told me that she had wanted to leave him many times, but she Loved him. And, being raised in her church that you NEVER DIVORCE, she stayed. She to was a victim. However, she was a willing victim because of the great love she had for him. Believe me when I tell you that Sexual Assault has many victim's. I Loved Both of my Parent's. Some may call that Sick. However, this is the aftermath of Sexual Assault and the lives that it affects. You may have a loved one who has been a victim. Which in it's own way, makes you a part of all of it. You may not have been the one who was Assaulted, but it still hurts to know that someone you care for has been a victim. Love them anyway. Be kind to them. Let them talk. Be a Good Listener. It is often difficult. However, everyone heals over time. I've told my story in hopes that ANYONE WHO IS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, SPEAK OUT AND FORGIVE. Forgiveness is NOT FOR THE ABUSER, BUT FOR YOUR OWN SELF PRESERVATION. Many of you have been Assaulted under totally different circumstances. TAKE LEGAL ACTION. NO MEANS NO! Sneaking around and making their VICTIMS FEEL THE SHAME IS NOT EXCEPTABLE. PLEASE, SPEAK OUT!!!!!!! Love Yourself. You are HUMAN.