How old were you at the time of the assault (s)?, My earliest memory
is at age 3, my last memory was when I was 8 years old.
Did you know the person(s) who committed the assault(s) Yes, my
attacker was my father
Did you tell anyone about the assault (s) at the time? No, he told me
he loved me more than my mother, and I couldn't tell because it would
hurt her. I was a little girl, I didn't want to hurt my parents.
How old are you currently? I am 30 years old
Where did the assault(s) happen? In my childhood home in Philadelphia
Did the assault (s) go to a court trial? No, I was too scared and
brainwashed to speak out
Was there a sentencing? No
Do you think they will commit sexual assault again? Yes. I have two
confirmed admissions to him attacking other relatives of mine.
What would you like to say to people about sexual assault? If I
could tell all victims one thing it would be to break your silence!
This is a deadly crime because of the deafening silence that overcomes
our voices. It is not my fault, it is the fault of my attacker, and
the more I remind myself of that the more freedom I embrace. I carry
no shame for the abuse from my attacker, I am not to blame.
What is your story? I grew up in Philadelphia with my mother, my
father, and my brother. My mother never discussed anything
uncomfortable like sex or rape. She kept herself at distance from me
and my brother. We had the perfect family from the outside, and my
mom did a great job of maintaining that image. So much so that I
believed it up until a few years ago. My father treated me better
than he treated my mother. He bought me extravagant gifts at such an
early age that would have been more appropriate for his wife, not for
me. The first attacks when I was 3 and 4 years old I was terrified of
him. I have broken memories, but a few stand out like massive stains
on white linen. He taught me to masturbate using an ALF doll (yes,
the alien from Melmac) when I was 4 years old. His favorite activity
with me was oral sex, both forcing me on him and him performing on me.
He would constantly whisper that he loved me, he loved me so much
more than he loved my mother, and it would break her heart if she knew
that. So it was our little secret. After all, I didn't want to hurt
my mother. Then as I got older, when I was about 6, I asked him why
we couldn't talk about those things, maybe mom would understand why he
loved me like that. He told me she would be jealous and hurt me if
she found out. And that sealed my silence. I didn't want her to hurt
me. And the guilt I felt for him "loving" me more than my mother was
overwhelming. It was around this time that my father got fired from
his job and began working at another company. The transition
introduced cocaine to him. He became a much scarier man, extremely
paranoid and dangerous. The attacks slowed down, the last one I can
remember I was 8 years old. I often wondered how my mother never
knew, and realized it was because she was so scared of him that she
was trying to survive as well. It doesn't excuse her emotional
absence, but I understand it better now.
I was 9 years old when my father completely checked out, he packed up
his car and abandoned our family. But then he would come back to the
house during the night and physically cut the wires in the back of the
house so we couldn't call for help when he would try to break in. We
lived in the same block of the bar Chickie and Pete's. I remember at
midnight running down to the bar with my mom and my brother, carrying
a big stuffed dog, to beg for help. And the bartender was awesome, he
would grab his bat and go down to our house to scare away my dad.
There is quite the large police report of multiple break-ins, attacks,
and vandalism regarding my dad, but nothing ever stuck.
There's a long list of future abuse I endured from my mother, but
that's a whole other story. Thankfully, the incest and rape from my
father never happened again.
How have you healed since the assault? I shut it all out when I was a
child. I would shut down my emotions when the "made for TV after
school" movies would come on about rape or abuse. I effectively cut
out all emotions regarding the subject, becoming a perfect clone of my
mother. It wasn't until I was in high school that I confided in 2
girlfriends that my dad "touched" me when I was little. Even then I
couldn't admit to myself the full extent of his abuse. It was after
being married for 9 years and having 2 children that I began to see
some serious issues in my relationships with other people. I had
horrifying nightmares, and flashbacks while being intimate with my
husband. I suffered from severe depression. It was about 2 years ago
that I was attending church and they offered a group for adult
survivors of childhood sexual abuse, centering the group around a book
called the Wounded Heart (by Dr. Dan Allendar). I'm not a fan of
self-help books, but this one truly affected my life. It was in this
group that I was able to begin to recall true memories of my attacks,
and admit that I needed therapy for my depression.
I began to talk openly about my rape and incest to anyone who was
curious or who wanted to listen. Our entire community at church and
the neighborhood began to learn my story, and that's when I learned
how extensive a problem that rape and incest is. More and more people
would admit their stories to me, and we would cry together and laugh
together. My healing started the moment I admitted to other people
that I was raped repeatedly by my father. It became so freeing, I
wanted to shout it from the mountains. I couldn't go to any mountains
and get a powerful enough mega-phone, so I did the next best thing.
I got a tattoo of a Phoenix rising out of the flames. A phoenix has
been associated with rape and incest survivors. It wasn't my fault, I
am proud to be a survivor and that I didn't just lie down and stay
silent for the rest of my life.
Then, one day, I found an ALF doll at a thrift store. I was overcome
with emotion, bought the doll, and then arranged to go to the shooting
range with my husband and some close friends. My husband strapped ALF
to a large plank of plywood, one of our friends brought his 12 gauge
shotgun, and I proceeded to obliterate ALF. It was in THAT moment
that I realized how silly it was to be so angry at this doll. But I'm
telling you, the amazing freedom that came from shooting ALF into
piles of fake fur and stuffing was better than I can describe here.
And that's when I took the scariest step ever. I forgave my father.
I wrote him a letter stating "I forgive you" and mailed it to him. I
can't prove he got it, but I didn't do it for him. I did it for me.
That moment of forgiving him, I let go of all the hatred and anger and
resentment that I clung to so desperately. It unlocked a myriad of
doors to new happiness that I never thought possible. I was able to
look at myself in a new light, not stained and soiled, but reborn and
new, a beautiful woman.
I'm not completely healed, I don't think that's possible to be
completely over this kind of tragedy. It still fills me with tears
and pain, but I'm not so scared anymore. I carry no shame with my
abuse. It does not control me anymore. I own it, this is mine, and
this is my story, and no one can change that. I am free, and I have
broken my silence.