By: Dr. Kaye M. Smith
Two different men molested me in my life. It began at age five.
At age five, a stranger molested me in a movie theater. Today, I would guess he was about 50-60 years-old, a balding, gray-haired man. He came and sat next to me, right before the movie started. I thought he was nice to give me some candy. While I was eating it, he put his nasty hands down my pants and fondled inside my vagina. I froze and just stared at the movie. I was terrified. I didn’t know why he was doing this to me. In fact, I really didn’t know what he was doing. I lacked the words to describe it at age five. However, I knew what he was doing wasn’t right. I remember it so clearly what he did. After he finished fondling me, he pulled his hand slowly out of my panties, then out of my white shorts, and he patted my tummy. It was then I got the courage to tell him I needed to go to the restroom. I was going to find an usher to help me. He leaned over and whispered, “No, just sit there until I get back.” He announced he was going to get me some more candy. He just got up and left. I followed his command. I sat there, but I was thinking — I don’t want your stupid candy. I continued to stare forward terrified he would come back. I freeze framed this event inside me for what seemed like forever, for fifty years at least, and then I told on him in Reclaim.
My six-year-old brother sat next to me in the theater, but never noticed what this man was doing to me. My 15 and 16 years old siblings sat in front of me, to my left. They never once looked back to check on me. On the way home no one asked me why I was so quiet. The next day, my mom didn’t ask me if I liked the movie. I kept this man’s dirty secret for over 50 years. All of my life, the thought of going to the movies gave me the heebie-jeebies. I never connected why until I faced my abuse.
A relative sexually abused me for three years, before I told. My parents did nothing.
Between the ages of 10-12, a close relative in our family, a thirty-year-old man began molesting me. He did it time and time again. Every chance he got, even with my parents in the other room, he would grab my breasts and my vagina. Under the guise of water play, he would really violate me in the pool, when I swam with my siblings, or with my cousins in my Aunt’s lake. When I saw him getting into the water, I trembled. I hated him. Most of the time I couldn’t relax and play, because I was afraid he would show up. He always did. He always headed to the water and for me. I always retreated to the backside of the dock, just to get as far away from him as I could. It didn’t matter. He always swam around the dock to get to me, to shove his hands down my swimsuit. He would hold me under water while he was groping me with his other hand. I’m still mad at hell at what he did. There were times I thought I would drown. I often came up out of the water crying. No one asked me why. My cousins thought I was acting like a baby. It’s only a game they chanted.
I would catch him peeping at me in the shower. When I came out – he would be waiting for me. He groped me; he would mock me and ask me questions like – what’s wrong with you? I hated him. But, I didn’t have the words to describe to anyone what he was doing to me. I was scared to tell, primarily because I just didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have the words to describe what he was doing. Sex was never talked about in my home. I didn’t even know until much later in life that what he was doing to me was of a sexual nature. I just knew it felt wrong, just like the man in the movie theater.
Everyone else seemed to love it when he came around the house, except for me. No one ever asked me why I bolted down to the basement, or hurried to my room, when he came around. He watched for opportunities to come over to get alone with me, especially when he knew my parents weren’t home. One day, he showed up at the back door and announced he was coming inside. I told him emphatically no. He then went around the house and came in through the front door. I told him my parents weren’t home and he had to leave. I felt trapped. He began grinning and asked me very calmly if he could just show me something he had in his pants. I was so afraid he was going to pull out his “thing.” This is when I told him to leave again, only this time I announced I was going to tell on him. He showed no concern. He pulled out his wallet and tried to hand me a $5.00 bill. I was actually relieved it wasnt his “thing.” I don’t know why he held the money towards me. Even to this day, I can’t imagine why he was offering me money, perhaps to perform a service. At the time, it didn’t matter, I didn’t ask him any questions about the money. I just knew then that I had had enough.
I finally told my parents. They did nothing.
After three years of his sexual abuse, I finally broke down and told my parents. I didn’t say much more, other than he had come over yesterday and had touched me “here and there.” I pointed quickly to my breasts and vagina. They didn’t know what to say. They didn’t really say anything to me. They didn’t ask me any more questions, like where, how often, or anything. They simply did not know how to handle it. I never told about what he did to me in the pool, or the lake.
I did tell them what he said when I told him I was going to tell on him. He said, “Good, because he loved me and wanted to marry me.” How sick is that? When my parents (apparently) confronted him, they reported back to me that he said it was my fault, that I had been flaunting myself at him. I remember my father saying that to me like it was yesterday. I stared through him, as tears welled up in my eyes. I certainly did not know how to defend myself. I’d never even had a boyfriend. I didn’t have a clue what sex was, and I certainly never, ever flaunted myself at anyone, let alone a 30, now 33-year-old man. All I knew was I felt that I was accused of doing something that had been done wrong to me.
There was uneasiness in my house for the next few days. The woman he was married to left him, but went back to him in a week or so. No one ever discussed anything else with me. It was over. Nothing was ever said, no more tension, no more nothing. He came around again, but he left me alone. He laughed and cut up and drank a beer with my father, over the next year. Then he went away. I don’t know where he is today. I’ve tried to find him. I’ve heard his daughter does not want anything to do with him.
For God’s sake, how can this happen in a family? It wasn’t my fault. I finally realized I was a child. I was innocent. I learned to let go of the guilt that had layered inside myself for years that maybe I had flaunted myself at him, even though I didn’t know what that meant. My parents were ignorant as to how to handle this situation, but that’s no excuse, a child should never be left alone to mend their own soul. They should have helped me. They should have sought help for me.
He was caught molesting other children, and still no one did anything about it.
This man was very sick. He went on to molest other children in the neighborhood. A year later, I overheard the adults in my home discussing him. I remember thinking – good, maybe now they will believe me. But, no one ever asked me again, nor did they mention to the other adults what he had done to me. It was like I didn’t matter.
My abuser is probably around seventy-years-old today. His age doesn’t matter. Ive been told he abused many other children If he is alive, he needs to be prosecuted for the perverted, sick things he did to others and to me. For three years, this man put me through an emotional hell.. He terrorized me and made me feel helpless. He was very bad. His abuse felt endless. I never felt safe anywhere.
My abuse affected me, in ways I could never imagine.
At age 16, I became a lifeguard. I was asked to lifeguard at various events, including a high school outing. While standing on the dock, with my power whistle around my neck, I recall vividly looking at the football players in the lake, horse playing. If I didn’t like what they were doing — at the slightest water violation — I made it known. I blew my whistle. I was confident in my rescuer abilities. I knew to throw a water raft. I knew CPR. I was an excellent swimmer. However, a weird feeling came over me that day, while I watched them play. I made special note of the coach, who was at least 250 pounds. I recall thinking that if he started drowning, I wouldn’t be able to save him, let alone myself. In my mind, I can still see the picture of me on that dock, looking out at the water. I recall thinking that if he started drowning and I jumped in to save him, he would actually shove me under the water, in an attempt to rescue himself. I saw myself vividly under his hand being held under the water. I quit lifeguarding that day. I was so terrified. I told people this story for years, explaining it would be me who drowned, believing it was because I was so small compared to the size of the coach. But, I was fooled. This all related to my abuse. The football guys were like my cousins, my brothers playing the water sports. The coach was the same size as my perpetrator, an overpowering man. I loved to swim. I was a great swimmer. Yet, I had flashes of me drowning most of my life. I never made this connection to my abuser until Reclaim.