Trigger warning: sexual abuse of a child
I was seven when it happened.
I remember we were moving apartments. The new place wasn’t completely furnished and my mum was in the last trimester of her pregnancy. Daddy was away on a trip. Several relatives had volunteered to come over and help us with the move. One of them was my mother’s cousin, an extremely helpful, kind and sincere man. I thought so too until my experiences with him taught me otherwise.
The first of my “strange” encounters with him began during the move. My mother and aunt left me sleeping in the living room and retired for the night, leaving him to watch over me. I woke up the next morning disoriented as most children do, but aware that the hand between my legs did not belong. He had slipped under the blanket and cradled me within him himself in a ‘fatherly’ manner. There was nothing remotely parental in his touch. This would become the pattern for the next couple of days.
I still remember that state of confusion until today, I doubt I’ll ever forget it.
The next time, I was visiting my grandparents. At that time a bachelor, my mother’s cousin lived with them. I remember one day, everyone fell asleep after a heavy luncheon, but my childish buzz kept me awake as he was getting ready for his evening shift at work. With the lure of a game that would help me kill time, he brought me closer, asked me to close my eyes and kissed my lips. He slipped his tongue in for good measure. I pulled away, not knowing what to do. Startled by my reaction and afraid I would rouse the adults, he tried to tell me that it was ‘our secret kiss’ and that I shouldn’t tell anyone about it. Like a good girl, I kept quiet, but I made sure I never was alone in the same room with him again.
As I grew older, I made sure to maintain my distance from him. Unfortunately, that did not stop innuendoes from coming my way. When I got my first phone at age 13, he somehow got my number, started to send me porn and dirty texts. I didn’t respond, but that did not deter him. His messages continued until I changed numbers once I turned 18.
When I was 15, another male relative, some far off cousin came to visit and yet again, my grandparents opened their doors to him.
One weekend when I was staying over, the two of us were watching TV. I grabbed the remote to change channels without letting him know. He jumped on me to snatch the remote, I threw it away far from his reach, laughing. He got really angry and squeezed my breasts hard, pinched my nipples, saying that was my punishment.
I ran away.
He chased me around the house and once he caught me again, he slipped his hand inside my bra and squeezed again. This time, harder. A few years later when he got married, he texted me saying that I should try him now that he has some experience.
Relatives. Such a blessing.
The result of these encounters is that I now associate sex and physical love with pain and punishment.
My boyfriend, who I am head over heels in love with, spends hours trying to make me comfortable so that we can make love. Often times, I just end up in tears and he keeps staring stonily at the wall. We go to bed that way, and the next morning we pretend nothing happened.
My therapist tells me I don’t want to heal.
I love my man, I hate his touch.
He plays the guitar and he has the most amazing hands that turn me on but I hate those beloved fingers on me. The reality is far from it. It’s just a miserable existence. We’ve been together two years, this last year has been filled with daily arguments.
Soon, we’ll break up.
I know the drill, been through it twice already. I have made peace with the hand I was dealt, but I cannot let such a travesty continue.
Though I’m not a parent, I am constantly surrounded by children. Never once have I left them alone with an adult.
They always need to be in groups of their own. Their parents and I have made sure they know where people, not just strangers but anyone, are not supposed to touch them. They know that their privates are off limits. It is indeed sad that we live in a world where childish innocence needs to be marred by such lessons but is the harsh truth.
The sooner we accept it happens and teach our children about consent, the safer we’ll all be.
Two men took away my ability to trust. I’ll never forgive them.