What would child molestation look like through the eyes of the child being abused? This is NOT a fairy tale:
Once upon a time there was an innocent little girl. She played with dolls, pretended to be a princess living in a castle, but her innocence was interrupted. So, here she shares her story of molestation.
I was only seven years old the first time it happened. I don’t even remember how he got me to his house. It was a neighbor guy. I walked over. I think it was to carry a cup of sugar he wanted to borrow. He didn’t cook. I did not understand why he needed sugar. When I got there, he took my hand and led me into a bedroom. As he opened a bureau drawer, he told me he had a big secret he wanted to show me, but I could not tell anybody, because I would get him in trouble if I did. He pulled out a book and flipped through the pages. He told me to sit on the edge of the bed, and he began reading about “Peyton Place.” It was about a teenage boy and girl taking their clothes off in the back seat of a car. I had always been told never to let boys see me naked. Having three brothers, and being quite a bit older than the two youngest, who were twins, I had to help give them baths and all. So, I had seen guys’ pee-pees. But I was always told not to talk about them. This felt really creepy. I had no idea I was in the very beginning of numerous years of being molested.
The next time he had another surprise. This time it was “The Carpetbaggers,” and again he told me I had to keep it a secret. The books were hidden in his mama and daddy’s dresser, and he was not supposed to even be in their bedroom. I figured that if I was in there, too, then I was also in trouble. He told me he would tell them I went in there, and I’d be in trouble. He said he would tell them it was me who found the books and it would be all my fault. He reminded me nobody would believe me because I was so young. He was a teenager, and I knew the family thought he was pretty special. I also knew they would believe him over me. I did not feel very special, and I did not know this was leading to child molestation.
Things just kept going. He knew I lived close to him, and he always managed to trap me. It was very scary. Sometimes I thought I would throw up in my mouth. I remember the time he touched me “down there,” rubbing and telling me some day soon I’d start getting hair like the popular girls if I let him do it a lot. I was only eight at the time. And besides, I didn’t want hair down there. I didn’t even know you could get hair down there. That was just gross. But then, child molestation is gross, especially to the poor innocent upon whom it is being perpetrated.
For about eight years I tried to stay away from him, but he always found a way to trap me. I felt really dumb about that. I thought I was smart, but it sure seemed I must be pretty dumb to keep falling for his tricks. Whenever I got a “C” on my report card, it made me feel dumb, too. I figured I was dumb all the way around in life. Smart girls made “A’s” and they did not get into trouble like this. Smart girls did not let guys touch them “down there” over and over again, when they didn’t want them to do it. The girls that happened to were the ones who go to hell. That was what I figured about the whole thing.
I knew I could not tell anybody what he was doing to me. They would not believe me, and he told me I’d be the one to wreck the whole family—and the church we all went to. He also told me if I said anything, “they” would come and get me and take me to a home for bad girls who did the things I was doing. I didn’t get that. He was the one doing the stuff, not me! But I knew I had to stay quiet. I did not want to be taken away from my mama and daddy, and never get to see them again, like he said. Perpetrators of child molestation always use intimidation and fear as their weapons of choice, isolating and overpowering their prey.
There was always this funny smell when he would get me trapped. His skin started to smell almost musky. It was just weird.
The worst time was the last time. He promised to give me a sweat shirt from the college he was going to. I was about 15 years old by then. It had been awhile since he tried anything, and he was dating a girl. So, I figured maybe it was finally okay to trust him. Maybe he had stopped being that way. Maybe he was trying to make up for all the bad things he had done to me by giving me a really cool college sweatshirt. When I got there he took me into his bedroom where the shirt was, said he wanted me to listen to a new record he got. I walked over to his stack of 45s and was looking at all the cool records he had. I even knew the words to some of them. Standing behind me, I heard him say, “Hey, you want this shirt?”
I turned around, and he was naked from the waist down. His private in no way resembled the ones my little brothers had, and by that time they were bathing themselves, so I had not gotten any recent updates on guy stuff. He started opening what I thought was an Alka-Seltzer in a foil wrapper. But it looked like a balloon. Then he started putting it on his gigantic wacker. What was he doing? He grabbed me, forced me down on the bed and began pulling my pants off—shorts AND underwear. I was trying to fight back. He just kept saying, “I won’t give you the shirt.” He explained he was using what was called a “rubber” to keep me from getting pregnant, and it would be okay. Hey, I was nearly 15. Hell, no, it would not be okay! He was not putting that where he thought he was going to put it. I came to learn that rape and child molestation were close friends.
Suddenly there was a knock on the back door. We were no longer alone. Someone was calling out for his brother. He stood up, pointed his finger at me and said, “You stay here. Don’t you dare move. I’ll be right back.” He walked to the back door to give the other kid the brush off. I could see him standing bare-assed naked with only a shirt on. The door had a glass pane in the top half, so the kid who came to play had no idea he was not fully dressed. This was my one chance to get away. I grabbed my shorts and yanked them on quickly, grabbed the sweatshirt and wrapped my panties inside it. I didn’t have time to put them on, too. I bolted out the front door, running home, wondering what he thought when he returned to the bedroom, finding me gone. Later he called me on the phone. He asked me why I left. I could not talk, my mama was standing nearby and she would find out. He told me he would make me pay for what I did. He was quite angry I got away. That was another part of child molestation. Threats, constant threats of retribution, or even death.
That’s my story of child molestation. I grew up convinced that all a guy wanted was to stick his wiener in me. There was always an ulterior motive. No guy could just love me, and want to make love to me. It really screwed me up. It took a long long time for me to become healed and get over what he did to me.
My book came out. Almost without exception, every female in the family of my generation came to me and confessed (finally) that for so many years they thought they were “the only one” he molested. The really sad part is that he never had to pay for what he had done. Not ever. When he passed away, he left a large group of damaged victims. Some have overcome, some are powerful survivors, some are still struggling with hiding their dirty dark secrets, afraid of the fallout that may take place if they tell someone beside me. Then there’s the short little blonde girl who just told you my story of child molestation. Many years after the sexual abuse took place, he moved away and it ended, I transitioned directly into an abusive marriage. The foundation had been set, and I figured that was all I deserved. I was spoiled goods.
BUT (isn’t there always a “but”?), today I am a very visible and outspoken survivor, a victim services practitioner, an advocate, and a fellow traveler who extends her hand to help other victims find their own place of healing, wholeness and belief that they were created for a special and unique purpose. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. Yes, we all have stories to tell. I chose to tell my story of child molestation. What’s yours?
Carolyn S. Hennecy recently received a certificate as Designated Victim Services Practitioner through completion of a 40-hour course conducted by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Florida. She is recognized nationally as an expert survivor spokesperson on domestic/intimate partner abuse and violence, sexual assault and child molestation and abuse.