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.