not keeping the abuse a secret

a child-sexual-abuse survivor's blog

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hard chain to break

I’m single.  Not in a relationship.  (For, years and, years.)  So, my son has urged me to try online dating avenues.

This is the thing.

What being sexually abused as a child does to a woman… — What being sexually abused by an older brother you used to look up to, does to a child… — What seeing your father r-e-g-u-l-a-r-y steer your sisters into his bedroom to sexually abuse them does to one… — What being roofied and raped as an adult does to a woman — What being raped by a guy you meet in a club and make the mistake of inviting home does to a woman…

Gosh, how to say this?

Um, there’s a lack of trust that ensues??  (Righteously so, folks.)  (Common-sense logically so.)  (Like, one would have to be an idiot or, severely dissociative [<- Been there, too…] to “trust normally?”  I mean, C’mon.)

cartoon, your worst fear, by matt bors--fr dailykosDOTcom
Your Worst Fear
Not all men.  Just some.”
— Matt Bors cartoon.
Find political cartoonist Matt Bors on Facebook at ,
on Twitter at .

 Hard chain to break…



“all he thinks about is sex,” complains my aunt to me one day

I’m 13; and, we’ve returned from Memphis; and, we are living with my mom’s sister Tanis & her three kids-still-at-home; and, Aunt Tanis & my father take an afternoon drive one day to return saying, they’ve married; and, a month?, two months? later, my aunt more sensibly gives my father the boot.

“All he thinks about is sex,” complains my aunt crankily to me one day as she heads up the townhouse stairs to her room, glass of whiskey in hand.  “Sex sex sex!” she sputters.

Wow.  “And he molests Sally & Sharon and he used to molest me,…” I venture.

“Well I don’t know anything about that,” Aunt Tanis says.  “But he shouldn’t beat you like I saw with my own eyes and if you want to go up to Social Services and report him I’ll back you up.  You could get foster home placement.”

I could get what?  I am stunned.  What is Social Services?  (What’s a foster home?)  Wait a minute — I don’t have to live with my father?!?

“You mean I wouldn’t have to live with Buck?!” I exclaim.  (Explanatory note:  at our house there was no “Father,” or, “Daddy,” or, “Dad;” the sibs & I had instead, a “Buck,” our father preferring this nickname over Father/Daddy/whatever, which, he said, made him feel old.)

“Nope,” says Aunt Tanis emphatically.  She drank too much but, this was my favorite aunt, and, I admired that she worked and supported three kids by herself.  She seemed “smart.”  I trusted that she might indeed know what she was talking about here.

And so, I learned where Social Services was located, walked in there one day, met with a staff-person, and spilled.

Everything:  Buck’s sexual abuse of us, Paul’s sexual abuse of us, Buck’s physical abuse of us, the horrors of Memphis — from endless sexual molestation to waking to choke-holds in the middle of the night to Buck dumping poor Philip’s remaining food over his head when he didn’t finish his dinner to being left without adequate groceries while Buck was up north visiting our aunt to… — every single thing.  I’d held it all inside for so long, convinced that the other grown-ups out there were just as potentially dangerous as my father:  no refuge to be had:  be abused in your own home, or, be abused by strangers.


I wanted to live with Aunt Tanis.  My cousin Jaci, Aunt T.’s youngest daughter, pretended to want same and to be working to facilitate this but, I learned way into adulthood, in reality she had adamantly nixed it.  (“I was finally getting into the popular crowd!  It would have just ruined everything if you’d lived with us,” Jac explained far in the future.)

I was placed with my mom’s brother’s family.


The shocker is, — well, to me it’s always been a shocker — a social worker interviewed the sibs in my father’s presence.  Fearing for their lives, they denied any & all abuse.

Sally & Sharon & Philip would live with Buck for several more years to come.

Me, I would leave for Uncle Edward’s house, the first of four foster homes.


little brides of Christ & the girl in the basement

I went to a Catholic school called Blessed Sacrament in first and second grades.  I loved it.  I don’t have any of the mean-nun memories so joked about.  The only scary part for me was when we were to have our first communion, be little brides of Christ as the nuns smilingly called it.

First Communion Class, Holy Redeemer, 1958 Madison WI

Wisconsin State Historical Society photo:
1958 Holy Redeemer Communion Class, Madison, WI

This terrified me.

So much so that, I was good and sick on the day I was to celebrate my own first communion with my Blessed Sacrament classmates.  Somehow, I was aware that brides “do married things” in bed with their husbands, and, I wanted no part of it.  Flat-out scared to death, I started the morning vomiting and got a reprieve.

Why was I so frightened?  OF, exactly, what?  (What did a 1950s seven-year-old know about “things” married couples do in bed?)

Christ or no Christ, I just knew I wanted no part of any brides-&-husbands script.


Memories from my first couple of years of elementary school include this particularly bizarre one:  I am with my father at the home of a friend of his.  The friend has just shown my father something in his basement, me in tow via my father’s hand, and we are walking back upstairs.  (I don’t know how old I am — somewhere between five and, seven?  Eight, tops — but I am young enough that, to hold my father’s hand, I have to reach upwards.)  The stairs are adjacent to the concrete basement wall and my father is on the side nearest the wall.  In my unobstructed right field of vision, I see a naked little girl tied to a vertical pole or column.  I can still “see” me climbing the stairs, a surprised me catching sight of her there, a rope going from her right wrist to around a concrete column or, pole.

“Why is that little girl tied up there without any clothes on?” I ask my father.

“Mind your own business,” he says.

Fade out.