My Telling: Dietrice
Five different people sexually assaulted me before I was even old enough to have a menstrual cycle.
I was adopted at age two. The physical and emotional abuse began almost immediately from two relatives. The sexual abuse, however, started at age five. I don’t know which one initiated the abuse but they seemed to find enjoyment from watching each other molest me and even once invited a neighborhood boy to watch. He would later become my third molester.
At five years old, I couldn’t tell time but I knew when ever 2:30am came. I would be awakened from a sound sleep to find myself being lifted from my bed and led to the living room floor. The older molester would pull my panties down, smell my vagina, and then insert his penis. He would take me back to my bed where I would lie awake until I heard the rooster’s crow announce a new day. When it was my younger molester’s turn, he, too, would put his penis inside. Afterwards, he would show his gratitude by pressing my face into the mattress or sofa cushions, or choke me until I would be at the point of passing out. I later learned that if I stopped protesting and he feared he’d killed me, the torture ended sooner. What a sick game for a little girl to learn.
Help is on the way?
I was six or seven when I was approached by an aunt who pulled me away from the playgroup and mud pie I was making and asked me if I was ever ‘messed with’ by these two relatives. My young mind thought that I’d finally found someone who would get them to stop. I told my aunt everything. I didn’t want them to get into trouble, I just wanted them to stop hurting me and I wanted to sleep through the night. My aunt listened but as she walked away, I didn’t feel like she was really going to help me. Moments later, my mom showed up with an angry look and her face. She said we were going home and that I was in trouble. She said my aunt told her what I’d said and that she was going to tell my daddy. I thought to myself, “Good, my daddy will believe me and make them stop.”
When we got home, my father was there. Silently, I went into my room waiting for my dad to be told and come to my rescue. My daddy was my hero. He didn’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. He didn’t wear a sweater and smoke a pipe like My Three Sons patriarch Steve Douglass, but he was my dad and could do no unforgiveable wrong in my young eyes. Kryptonite may have brought down Superman, but was no match for my daddy. And he was going to save his little girl from sexual abuse.
Holding out for a Hero
My dad yelled out from the living room, “Dee-Dee, Get In Here!” I knew my dad was angry and I felt bad for the trouble those two were in. My little legs carried me from the bedroom to where my mom, dad and the two relatives were all waiting. I knew my mom would be there: even though she’d been upset earlier, I knew she believed me. But I couldn’t understand why those two were present. Maybe they were going to apologize.
In his angry voice, my dad asked me to repeat my earlier story and I did. When my dad asked where the two had messed with me I pointed and said ‘down there.’ My daddy looked me in the eye, pointed his finger at me and said I was a ‘goddamn liar.’ Oddly enough, I felt as if I’d let my daddy down. Life changed for me that day. The people in that room should have protected me yet with the utterance of one phrase they all became people I needed protection from. And from that day on, we never spoke about it. No apology, no rescue, no hero. I learned to be quiet and take care of myself. My parents started leaving me with other relatives when they couldn’t be at home or took me with them but they never spoke of my abuse again. It was in one of those homes some years later that my fourth molester appeared.
By age nine, I felt as if I were a target for nasty, filthy males. So when my body started to develop, my shame magnified. Unfortunately, it was just the opening molester number five needed.
Memorial Day of 1978 was supposed to be a fun day. Family members came from out of town to attend a cookout. I was especially looking forward to seeing an elderly relative whose visits to town were rare. My mom bought me a new outfit just for this occasion. Because there were so many happy people around, I felt safe. I was on the front porch talking to older cousins and their kids when the elderly relative showed up. I could tell he’d already been drinking but I was happy to see him. His presence never made me feel scared.
We were all talking and laughing on the front porch. My cousins went in to get food and drinks. I remained on the porch talking to the elderly relative. I was looking at something off the porch when the relative came up behind me to look at the same thing. He put his hands on my shoulders and told me how cute I looked. I could smell the liquor on his breath. We continued to talk and laugh at the antics going on around us. Suddenly he lowered his hand and started rubbing on my little nine year old breasts. What did a 59 year old man see in a nine year old? I froze for a minute before breaking free and running. He tried to put his hand over my mouth and hold me but I got away. I didn’t know where to go. I just knew to run. So I ran and ran and ran. Lots of kids were playing outside so no one notice one more kid running. I ran until I was too tired to continue. I returned to the cookout but stayed close to my mom. The relative tried to get me alone but I wouldn’t leave my mother’s side. Even after the relative left I never told her what he did. I’d learned early on not to tell adults because they couldn’t or wouldn’t believe me or help.
At age forty one, I told again. And thanks to Reclaim, someone finally believed me…and helped.