This piece is a little hard for me to write. But I find it necessary to write about it now, or else I probably won’t ever have the courage to do so again.
Last night I was reminded of some wounds from my past. I don’t talk about it often, and most of the time I like to believe I have forgiven and moved on. But sadly, I was reminded that it’s not easy to move on when you are alone, and in need of a supportive person to hold your hand to move forward. Last night I was drowning in a world of silence. When someone should be speaking for those who can’t speak up, there shouldn’t be silence. Choosing to be quiet, and to ignore what has been going on around you, that’s not okay. Just because it’s not talked about daily, and you choose to ignore things, doesn’t mean they are not happening. That it hasn’t happened. Silence is the worst sound one can hear, especially after they confided in someone to help them be a voice.
As a child, between the ages of 5-6 years old, I was molested by a member of the church. Not just a member, but a member of the worship team. I remember his name, his face, and where he lived. Anytime I go back to visit my old hometown, I have to pass by his house and I am reminded of the sick man who would touch a child. Who would tell a little girl it was okay what he was doing, and for being quiet and such a good little girl, I earned a dollar. But that had to be our little secret. I was a child. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t understand what was going on. It wasn’t until later that my sister noticed I had money and became jealous that my parents had given me money and asked why she didn’t get one, that I quietly mentioned to her that the money didn’t come from my parents. I told her where it came from, and why. She quickly ran to my parents and told them. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I just remember my dad made a visit to his house, and the guy never returned to church. That was the end of that.
Later on in life, at the age of 19, maybe even 20, I was hanging out with a good friend of mine in my apartment. I didn’t live alone, and I had confided in him for several things, and he was what I considered a great friend. He missed his bus one night and I felt awful so I allowed him to stay the night on my couch. We stayed up watching movies, talking throughout the night. At one point I just fell asleep. It wasn’t until later when I woke up in the middle of the night that he was touching me. Rubbing me with his hands where my previous offender had once touched me before. I was in shock. My world fell apart. I didn’t know what to say or do. I pretended to be asleep and swiped his hands away. I eventually just got up and went back to my room. When the morning came I drove him to the bus stop. We didn’t say a word to each other. I was sick to my stomach. I think he wasn’t too sure if I remembered what happened and he didn’t want to risk exposing himself.As we neared the transit stationed I told him that he was to get off and never speak to me again because what he did was not acceptable. All he said was “that’s understandable”. He got off and walked away. He didn’t even apologize. I cried. I called two friends and told them what happened. One said that it was my fault that this happened to me. That I shouldn’t have allowed him to stay the night in the first place. The other said it was bullshit and to call the cops. I didn’t know what to do. So I stayed quiet. Other than those friends, I never told anyone else before today. I never outted him on his offence.
To me, I felt like I was an “adult”. I can move on from this. I’ve survived this before. I can find a way to move on.I was already a mom at that age. A single mom to be exact. My boyfriend of 5 years joined the military and broke up with me the 2 months before leaving for boot-camp. I was pregnant with our second child when he left. But the month before he returned home I miscarried.
I was devastated. Broken. No longer complete.
I was okay with being a single mom to one child, and I accepted that I was going to be a single mom to 2 children. I was okay. I knew I could survive that. But I didn’t know if I could survive never holding my baby. Never hearing her cry. Never holding her hand.
I’ve been in this dark place before. Where the world is revolving around everyone but me. Where I want to scream at the top of my lungs, scream at God. Question “why me?”. I have been here before.
But this time, it was different. This time I could ask why and hopefully get a decent answer. This time, I was led to believe, that I could have somehow prevented this. This time, I could stand before my offender and ask why. And I could also stand before my offender and say I forgive you. So that I can move on and be set free from the hell he has now trapped me in.
But I remained silent. Screaming only on the inside. Telling only a handful of people who can only try to sympathize with me. To be told it sucks and then that somehow I will move on. I believed these people. I believed in myself. So I tried, and I did move on.
Or so I thought.
It is with every new open wound that my old wounds are broken up again. The scars never heal.
Next month in March I will be approaching the end of a 2 year protection order against my uncle. 2 years ago when I went to his house in the morning, to drop off my newborn son, and my 5 year old daughter with our aunt (who lived in his house) so that I can go to work, he stopped me. The day before his then 18 year old daughter decided she no longer wanted to live with her friends after she had already moved out of their home. When he found out she was picked up by me, with the intention to live with me so she can finish out her senior year of high school, he was livid. He didn’t call me the night before to talk. He decided to wait until he knew that I was going to drop off my kids at his house the next morning. I was already running late for work. My goal was to just go in and out, and see my kids during my lunch hour later. But none of that happened.
Instead he stopped me at the top of the stairs, blocking me from leaving his home. He kept yelling at me asking me if I was stupid. If I had a problem with him. If I wanted his daughter to turn out like me. He proceeded to yell at me, all the while I remained silent, until I couldn’t take it anymore and just kept repeating “this is between you and your daughter talk with her”. I could see his anger fuming. My children were downstairs. His wife was upstairs. Our aunt was standing directly behind me, but with her back turned to us.
Everyone was silent.
His wife didn’t come down to tell him to stop. My aunt continued to wash dishes and didn’t say to stop. My children were downstairs, hopefully listening to the TV.
But then he snapped. He had no more words to yell. All he said was “if you want to call the police I don’t care”. It didn’t make sense to me. I just wanted to go to work. Then it happened. He came up to me and slapped his hand to my face. Shoving me three times with his hands to my face.
My world grew silent again.
All I wanted to do was go home. I just ran downstairs, grabbed my children and left. My aunt followed me out and said that she would watch the kids at my home. That I shouldn’t miss work because of this. I let her come with me. Missing work wasn’t something I could afford at the time.
I called my husband, but he couldn’t answer. He was away in Texas for a 3 day work conference. I was alone.
I finally got home, saw my cousin and let her know what had happened. By that point my uncle had called her several times telling her to pack her bags and that she was going to be returning to his home. He threatened her several times saying he didn’t care if he had to drag her by the hair to get her out the door. He said he didn’t care that I had a house alarm system in place, that by the time anyone arrives he would already have had 5 minutes with her.
So I finally called the cops. I just wanted him to leave. I just wanted him to know that she was of age and didn’t have to return home. I just wanted him far away from me, my home, my children. So they came. They explained all of that to him.
When questioning everyone who was who and why they were there, it was when they questioned why my aunt was with me. So I told them. It wasn’t my intention to tell them. I blame my cultural background for my being silent. In my culture, you don’t call the cops. You don’t tell them what happened. You stay quiet. But I spoke.
In the state of Washington, anyone who is a blood relative, or a spouse/partner, and was involved in a domestic dispute, you do not need to press charges. They do it for you. So they handcuffed him and took him away. A 2 year protection order was put into place right then. I don’t know what he had to do. But my relationship with him has been over since.
And still, that wasn’t the end of it.
You see, my uncle is a pastor. Lead pastor of a big Hispanic congregation. I used to be a member. But after he had outted me in front of the congregation on my pregnancy of my first born, I just knew I didn’t fit in and didn’t belong. So after my miscarriage a year and a half later, I never went back. I found a new home church, and I moved on.
During the two years since the protection order though, I have missed out on family gatherings. I have missed out on family events. Christmas was divided. Thanksgiving was divided. Birthdays were divided. I missed my sisters wedding. I missed my cousins wedding. I almost missed my brothers wedding. I almost missed my nieces baby dedication. A little boy I had known from his church, same age as my daughter, he passed away last month. I didn’t get to say goodbye.
I didn’t know someone could cause me to feel so little. So unworthy.
But that’s not the worst part. The part that hurts the most, and is the most deafening silence, is the one that came from the people I told this to.
They heard me cry, saw me miss so much. They could see my pain. But they decided that my experience wasn’t enough for them. They continued to carry on as if nothing had changed. That’s the worst silence of all.
I don’t get that, and I feel as if I’m drowning.
All I can hope for now, is to move on and forward in life. The 2 years are up, but nothing has changed. My uncle never apologized. I could have dropped the protection order anytime, but chose not to because I knew that he held no remorse. As a Christian I keep telling myself that I should just forgive him. It’s what God would want me to do. But I’m not there yet. This time it’s different. This time I don’t want to be silent. So I won’t.
Today I break my silence. I hope if anyone is experiencing this type of silence too, that they can break free soon. It’s not worth this torture.