you and me

The Day I Turned from a Victim into a Survivor.

 

I’m 9 years old.

My mom is at work for the afternoon and I just got home off the bus from school. He was sitting in the house when I got home and we started joking around and wrestling. Soon, he had his hand on me, in places that shouldn’t be touched by any man when you are 9 years old. I froze.

I should have run to my mom the minute the door opened, but I didn’t really know what was wrong and what was right at the time. For Christ’s sake, I was only 9 years old.

When he heard my mom pulling up to the house, he grabbed me and yanked me into a closet in my bedroom. He wrapped his hands tightly around my neck and told me that if I ever told anyone about what just happened, he’d kill me.

Imagine that, 9 years old and being threatened with your life.

I turn 10.

We move to a different apartment, and this time we’re wrestling alone. My mom is at work again. We often played around, I honestly thought he was trying to build a relationship with me because he was my stepdad after all. His hand grazes my vagina. I should say it doesn’t graze it, more like he pushes his hand on it, but doesn’t do anything else. He plays even more, grabbing my breasts.

Again, when my mom walked in the door, he gave me the same look he gave me in the closet that first day. If I told her, I’d be dead.

I turn 11.

We moved to a house in the country where life resumed to normal. He taught me how to farm and how to raise calves. I lived a normal life then. I was able to shave my legs the first day of 6th grade, and it seemed like everything that had happened in the past slowly began to fade.

Everything that happened with him, I reference to a specific house. In House Number One he did this, in House Two, he did this, in House Three, nothing happened, but in House Four, five and six things amped up beyond anything I ever thought would happen in my life.

Then I turned 12.

We moved to a farmhouse on a horse farm that I absolutely loved. My friends and I would play in the barns, pet the horses and play like a 12-year-old does. And then, it started again.

I had become accustomed to sleeping with the TV on in my bedroom because of the coyotes and mice that I could constantly hear. He would tell my mom that he needed to come into my room and tell me to turn my TV down. Turning my TV down meant him pinning my legs down and putting his fingers where no child is supposed to be touched.

I’d pretend I was asleep, and often I’d roll over hoping that he’d stop and that he’d somehow get it in his head that he needed to just stop. He’d do everything he could to me aside from having sex with me.

I turned 13.

Not a single thing changed. He continued to do whatever he wanted, and my mom would never find out because she had now taken a job where she traveled out of town.

By the time I was in 9th grade, I had had enough. My mom was laid up due to a surgery and she pushed me too far about disrespecting him. She said that by now I should have more respect for him than I should my own dad because he had stepped out on me when I was so young. How could I have respect for a man who molested me more times than I can count, without her even having a clue?

So, I blurted it out.

As an adult, I can now recognize that the responses that she gave me were responses of pure victim-shaming. If you didn’t wear such short shorts around the house, if you didn’t play-wrestle with him, if you just left him alone, none of this would have happened. How do you know that what he really was doing is that? Are you just making this up for attention?

The pain I felt at that very moment of my life is something I still to this day have never experienced again. I have lost husbands, my mom, animals, family members and friends. I’ve come close to taking my own life… but still, nothing comes close to those words.

My mom gained some momentary sanity and decided to move away from him, but only for less than a year. She wanted to show me that she really did care and that she believed me. Six months later, we were back in the same house so they could try to work things out.

I had hoped-prayed rather that this would have been enough to get him to keep his hands off me. That the thought of losing her would be enough for him to stop. But I was so wrong.

He taught me how to drive my first car, a stick shift. Every time I’d go to switch gears, he’d tickle me between my legs to try to distract me. Each time a tickle came, the closer he got to putting his fingers inside of my underwear.

The very last time I remember him touching me was at the last house we lived at together. He came into my room for the typical turn your TV down talk, and as he slid his fingers inside me, I began to feel things I hadn’t felt before. From that moment forward, I vowed to never let him do that again. I’d stay up trying to make sure that he knew I was awake and was acutely aware of what he was doing.

When that didn’t work, I’d roll over on my stomach so he couldn’t do anything.

Years went by. I would casually mention something here or there to a friend, or someone in my family, but my way of sharing was making a joke of things because the reality of saying my stepdad molested me was just too much. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I finally broke down and really told my friends. Of course, I never told anyone the full extent of what happened, but I did tell them.

Shortly after that, when I was 20, I told my uncle.

When I think back now, I think about telling people you were molested is like telling people that you are suicidal. No one knows what to do with it. They don’t know what to say, they don’t know whom to tell, most of the time they don’t believe you and think you’re doing it just for attention, and that-breaks your heart.

The only difference between molestation and suicide is that you don’t die on the outside, you only die on the inside.

As the years passed on, his presence in my life dissipated. He moved on and married someone else, who too was expecting a daughter. It was go-time for me. I couldn’t just sit by the wayside and let him do this to someone else. I made the brave move to go to his house and tell him that if I ever found out that he did this to someone else, if he violated another young girl, he’d go to prison.

I stayed friends with him on Facebook so I could keep an eye on him. No one will ever know the feeling of seeing a man who has brutalized you, and taken away your youth, with another little girl. As time went by though, the fear that he would do something to her subsided. She was his own flesh and blood, he wouldn’t hurt her.

Shortly after he divorced his second wife, he married a woman who had a daughter around the same age as I was when he married my mom. Every single gut-wrenching feeling that I could have struck my body to the core. She wasn’t safe, and it was my turn to make sure that he paid for what he had done to me and to save her.

I was 26 years old when I reported him to the authorities for the first time. I reported everything, and the main question was Why didn’t you tell anyone sooner?Why would I? No one listened in the first place. I had told at least seven people by this point, and not one single person cared to do a single thing about it.

After 14 years of violation, I was going to get something done so that he would pay for what he did and never hurt another child.

As many know, the legal system is as slow as molasses in the wintertime. It took almost five years for them to finally pin him down and start his trial.

Again, victim-shaming ensued. His attorney pushed me to say that I was lying, that he had never violated me, and that I was just making the accusations for attention. She wanted me to say that it was not his fingers that penetrated me but it was my imagination that made me think so.

She wanted me to say that I didn’t remember the layout of any room that I had in any of the houses I lived in, and that he never reached down between my legs while I was driving and fingered me.

I couldn’t say it, because it wasn’t true.

That day, I turned from a victim to a survivor. Survivor is a funny word, isn’t it? It applies to someone who makes it through even when someone else has died. Part of me did die with that man, and I’ll never get another do-over.

I guess I decided to write about this today because one of the men whom I love says that I have daddy issues. Damn right I have daddy issues.

I use sex as a tool to satisfy me and gain approval of men, because I thought that’s how I got him to love me, by letting him do whatever he wanted to do to me.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

10 years… a little more than one year for every year that he touched me.

I’ve been married since, and have been grateful enough to find husbands who understand that my legs can’t be pinned down. That there are times when my PTSD flares up and I. Just. Can’t.

The emotional part is the hardest. Like I said, I use sex as a tool to protect myself from rejection. I use sex as a tool to protect myself from the rejection of this man I love.

He is the first and only one who has ever called me out on my daddy issues, and he’s also the first to honestly make me think that I really do have them. But, at the very least, I am a survivor. I prevented another child from being molested. I prevented another child from losing her childhood to my piece-of-shit stepdad. While he rots in prison, I survived. Daddy issues and all.

***

HannahBloomfieldHannah Bloomfield is a 30-something living just outside of Denver, Colorado. Her daytime is filled with sexual assault survivor volunteering, saving the world one piece of medical equipment at a time, and over-processing all of the information in her head. Her nighttime is filled with the stories that you see here, her friendships, her not-so-good relationships, her triumphs and heavy losses. Taking one step at a time in the pitch dark, not knowing what will happen next.

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