In the social media world, its customary to put up pictures from your past for #ThrowBackThursday. I found a cute cheeky picture of myself for facebook. But as I think of #ThrowBackThursday and I think of April being Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I wanted to spend this Thursday sharing one of the stories from my childhood. I’ve been working on a memoir of my childhood regarding the traumatic abuse, the church conspiracy and my personal journey of transformation. Every now and then I share an excerpt with the wonderful people subscribed to my mailing list.
Today I’m going to share an excerpt of one chapter with you. To find out more about my book and to be one of the first to know when it’s released, I’d encourage you to sign up for my newsletter mailing list. This ThrowBackThursday story is tentative titled, “The California Visit.” (Please note the use of “dad” is in reference to my ex step father whom to this day is listed as my legal father on my birth certificate after he adopted me during my childhood. This same “dad” is a church leader and still by all accounts a pedophile. This is only an excerpt of a draft.)
Somewhere between the age of 13 and 14, my parents agreed to let me visit my dad’s family for the summer in California. In retrospect, I don’t know why my mother would agree to this. At this point we knew that my dad’s father abused one of his daughters, if not more. But they agreed to let me stay with his parents for the summer and honestly, I thought it was awesome. I was getting away from my home in Chicago. I was going to be in California. I was a teenager and this rocked. Until it didn’t.
The first day in LA was awesome. Some of my aunts and uncles came to town and we were your classic tourists. Quite a bit of my dad’s family and their various baby mama’s and extended family lived in Fresno. They migrated to California to support my youngest uncle in college as he played basketball. For a short time being, he was a big shot. It was short-lived for one reason or another.
At first Fresno was awesome. I had freedom. I could wander the big, luxurious grounds of the housing complex that my grandparents lived in. I got to hang out with my uncle’s baby’s mother who lived in the same complex. I got to hang out at the pool and see my cousin almost every day.
What I think this was about, was giving me the summer of my life to try to make up for the years of abuse. Everyone was kind and giving and accommodating. It was amazing.
But a few weeks into it I grew tired of sleeping on the couch. The apartment seemed small and I found it hard to breathe. And I knew about granddad. I knew what he had done to his daughter. I knew the story of how she could identify the specific marks on his penis. I didn’t like him. And there were just subtle manipulations on grandma and grandpa’s part that brought me to full alert.
One day, I walked with grandma to pick up my cousin from school. We talked about the flea market, singing, what she’d cook for dinner and how amazing the weather was in Fresno. Then silence fell between us.
“Sheena, I’m so sorry for what my son did to you,” she said. She seemed remorseful and full of shame.
I remained silent. What do you say to that? Thanks. It’s ok. I appreciate your condolence. Your words make a difference.” ???
What do you say to the mother of a perceived monster whose husband raped one of her own daughters? She stayed. She stayed and gave him more children. And one of those children took something from me. Something so precious. Something I’d never get back. What do you say when someone who played a complacent role in your child abuse apologizes? Oh wait, I forgot. I was a Christian. I should have followed it up with an , “I forgive you and I will give it to god and forget.”
I remained silent. At least she seemed to mean it.
She reached in her purse and pulled out two five dollar bills. “Here. Take this. Maybe you and your cousin can go to the candy store later,” she said passing me the bills.
That’s when things changed. That’s when I started to hate her too. She truly was sorry but now she wanted to buy my forgiveness or make up for what I could never get back. Or maybe she intended to give me the $10 during the whole walk but now her timing was the worse. I don’t know.
I just know I felt cheap. I felt bought. I felt trapped, tricked and manipulated. I was angry and felt shame as I took the money from her. Was I to pretend I liked them all now…even more than I was already pretending to do? Could she see I was faking it? I felt raw and exposed. I felt shattered. I felt so cheap.
A few days later my mom called me as was customary. I had never been away from her for this long.
“How’s everything going?” she asked.
“It’s ok.” I said distantly.
“Are you enjoying seeing your cousins?” she asked.
“Yea,” I mumbled. I kept thinking about that $10.
“Is everything ok?” she asked.
“Mom, I want to come home,” I said………
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. You can read more about the history and discover resources at Child Welfare.gov. April is also National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s campaign focuses on healthy sexuality and its connection to child sexual abuse prevention. You can read more about the history and discover resources at The National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO READ
- Empowered Living : Preventing Childhood Sexual Abuse
- The Conflicting Nature of Good Touch and Bad Touch
- Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept
- My name is…. Sheena LaShay
- The First Offense
- Why I Rise
- What is Sexuality
- Why Don’t People Report Sexual Crimes
- Why I lied to child protective services
- The Least of These Things: Surviving vs Thriving
- Taking Control of the Healing Process
- I was the 1 in 4
- How to rescue victims.
If you have been the victim of sexual assault and need help, or you want to help a loved one, you can contact RAINN or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
If you suspect that a child is being abused, or if you are a child or teen who is being abused, you can contact Child Help or call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD.