Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sexual Abuse

I haven't really told many people about this, but I was sexually abused as a child.

It's not something that comes up, partially because I was super young when it happened, and partially because it wasn't a defining event in my life. And, compared to some people's stories of sexual abuse, I'd say my brush with it was incredibly mild.

That said, it crossed my mind recently, and it startled me how much I remember. So, in the spirit of Speak Your Silence, I think it might help to share my story.

I'm not entirely sure how old I was at the time. I know I was in elementary school, though, and I think I can narrow it down to the 1st or 2nd grade, when I was 7 or 8 years old.

I was a super quiet kid at that age, way more shy than I am now. I didn't have many friends, just a few kids in my immediate neighborhood I'd sometimes play with.

There was also this kid my age who lived down the street from me, and we'd sometimes sit together on the bus. His name was Chris, and a scared me. He wasn't particularly big, and I think he considered me a friend, but he would get angry when he didn't get his way. He would express his anger by punching me. I never fought back or told on him, though, so he kept hanging around with me. He would visit my house sometimes, though I don't remember what we would do. I don't remember most of how I played with other kids at that age, though, so that's not really surprising.

However, one time I was playing at a friend's house; a neighbor girl I had been friends with since we were both toddlers and whose parents, though not related to me, were considered an "aunt" and "uncle." They lived in between my house and Chris's, and I think Chris was walking to my house when he saw my friend and I. He came over and joined us.

I think there's a reason we don't remember most of our childhoods. We spend most of that time playing, and that play gets woven into our identity, defining who we are in subliminal ways I don't think we really understand. Childhood play is primordial soup: a near-unbroken fantasy not meant to be recalled, since the details aren't important.

However, there are moments in childhood when things suddenly become very real; moments that aren't a part of the fantasy that forms us; moments real enough to be remembered.

I remember sitting on a couch in my uncle's shed next to my friend, and Chris was standing in front of us. My friend and I were scared. Chris was giving us orders, and we knew he'd hit us if we didn't obey. He forced us to kiss, and he watched.

I don't remember how it ended. Maybe my uncle walked in to check on us, or maybe Chris just let us go after that. As I said, it was fairly mild as sexual abuse goes. I still remember feeling helpless, though.

Not long afterward, maybe a day or so, I remember driving home with my mom and my sister, coming back from some errand in town. We were nearly home when my sister and I saw Chris and his sister walking toward our house. Apparently Chris's older sister had similarly attached herself to my sister, and my sister was similarly scared, though I have no idea what happened between them.

Regardless, my mom picked up on the fact that we didn't want anything to do with those people anymore, so when we got home she told us to stay in the car and keep our heads down. Mom got out and, when Chris and his sister arrived, my mom told them we weren't here.

At least, I thought that's all she said. The fact is, I never saw them again after that. I guess it must have been summer, because I don't remember ever seeing Chris on the bus again, and the family moved away not long afterward.

Looking back, I can't help but wonder about them, though. No doubt they were both abusive children, which makes me wonder what their home life was like. I have a sneaking suspicion that whatever mild abuse Chris visited on me, he and his sister may have experienced far worse.

That said, I'm grateful that my mom was there to protect us. Thinking about their family makes me more grateful for my own.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing about this. I never experienced anything like it growing up, but it's very... I don't know, sobering to think about how rapidly things can get queasy like that out of the childhood "primordial soup."