On her blog for Babble last week, my friend Lori of MissLori.TV wrote a post titled Wade Robson Says Michael Jackson Molested Him and I Believe Him. While browsing her Facebook wall yesterday, I noticed the link and clicked over to read. By the time I got to the end of the second paragraph, I was sobbing. I messaged Lori asking for her cell number if she had time to talk. We talked for her entire 45 minute drive from wherever she was until she got to her child’s school for pickup, and when I said goodbye, I felt like I had just had a year of therapy.
The reason I had to stop reading Lori’s post and call her immediately was because I was also molested as a child. Just typing those words, I get this flood of heat to my chest and my head gets all woozy. I’ve had this blog for 7 1/2 years and in the back of my mind have always been waiting for the “right” time to tell this story. After my talk with Lori, I knew today was the day. Because keeping the story to myself keeps me in the victim mentality of “no one can know, they won’t believe you anyway, you’ll ruin everything if you tell”.
I’m hazy on the dates, but around the time I was 7 or 8, my parents, who had adopted my sister and I, saw a photo of a boy in the Detroit Free Press’ “Tuesday’s Child” feature and decided they needed to adopt him. He lived in an actual orphanage in Ohio, he was 10, and he was diabetic. My Mom was a juvenile diabetic, and she wanted to save him. The Catholic Social Services worker she spoke to on the phone told her the orphanage was having problems managing his diabetes. Well, my Mom was a master at handling her own, and I think she felt like it was a sign or something. I remember the long drive to Ohio to pick him up, and the stop at the Toledo Zoo on the way home. I thought having a brother would be the coolest thing in the world. I was wrong.
I don’t have to close my eyes to remember, I can see a flash of it just by thinking about it. Our living room in Bloomfield Hills, early on a Saturday morning when my parents slept in and we were allowed to watch cartoons as long as we kept the volume and our voices down. I can see where the TV was, the couch, the coffee table. It was the summer after third grade, so I was nine. I was wearing pale yellow summer pajamas. The top was like a man’s pajama top, with the collar and the buttons down the front, that style, with short sleeves, and the bottoms were shorts.
It was chilly that morning, so I was on the couch with an afghan pulled around me when my brother suggested I lay down on the couch with him and snuggle to warm up. Now, we were not a snuggly family. My parents were not affectionate people at all, and my sister hated me from the day my parents adopted me (really), so here was this person offering to snuggle with me, and that sounded pretty good. I remember he laid down first, then I laid down in front of him, and he wrapped his arms around me. This was what siblings were supposed to do, hug you and make you feel loved and safe, I thought.
It was so quick. His hands went to my little breasts, groping, and then one went down between my legs rubbing. I had no idea what was going on but I knew I didn’t like it. I know I jumped up and said “stop it”, of course I had to say it quietly because waking Mom and Dad up on Saturday morning meant a really bad day. I know I ran up the stairs to the second floor where the bedrooms were, with him right behind me. I know he got between the wall and me and corralled me into his room until I ended up on the bed. I know he laid down on top of me and mashed his mouth down on mine, doing something weird with his tongue. I know I shoved as hard as I could and said “get OFF me! Go kiss your girlfriend!” I know I said it like I know anything else. And I know I said “don’t touch me like that again or I’ll TELL.” And I know I then ran into my room, closed and locked the door, and never said a word to my parents, my sister, even to him. I made it go away in my head.
He never touched me again. But something else happened involving my sister that now makes me think he might have touched her too. She is 3 years older than me, so that summer she would have been 12. She was adopted first, as a newborn, and when I was adopted at 16 months and she was 4 1/2, she was NOT excited about getting a baby sister. She liked having all my parents attention. One of the first things she did to me was bite my hand after my Mom asked her to hold my hand while we were waiting in line at a restaurant. I took her hand, she lifted our hands to her mouth, and she BIT me. I still have the scar. She didn’t play with me, or read to me, or help me do anything.
So I was quite surprised later that summer when she woke me up in the middle of the night. We NEVER got out of bed at night except to go to the bathroom, so this was a big deal. I remember she said “come on, I want to show you something.” She led me into my brother’s room, he was laying on his back on his bed with the sheet pulled up to his chin. And then I remember he put his pillow over his face and my sister pulled the sheet all the way down. He was naked. “Look at it”, she said, and pointed to his groin. I had NO IDEA what I was supposed to be looking at. It was pitch dark, there was moonlight coming in from the window, but I still couldn’t see anything. I remember she giggled and said “it” was funny looking, then he pulled the sheet back up and she said go back to bed. What. The. Hell.
For the next few years, I was still a little girl. I had my Girl Scout “bridge crossing” ceremony and went to Girl Scout camp, I learned to ride a bike and played kick-the-can on warm evenings after dinner with my friends in the neighborhood. 1976 was the Bicentennial and my entire 4th grade school year seemed devoted to celebrating. I went with my class to a one-room schoolhouse for a day, my Mom sewed me a long dress and a bonnet just like Laura wore in Little House on the Prairie. But I also started early-onset puberty that year, and by the time we moved to the Lansing area and I started 5th grade, I was developing as they say. Once 6th grade started, the little girl went away forever.
The next nine years of my life were a series of increasingly bad and even dangerous choices that I fully believe were a direct result of that molestation. Boys came into your life, they put their hands on you, you didn’t tell anyone, life went on. That’s what I thought my life was, until I met Chris, and finally let myself be good enough for him. Because this post is already so long, I’ll write that story next.
To circle back to the beginning, Miss Lori was also sexually abused, even younger than I was, and she DID tell. What I learned from our phone call yesterday, among other things, is that even if I had told my parents right away, that doesn’t mean they would have 1. believed me, or 2. done anything about it. I’m not “bad” for not telling. I’m not “bad” for any of the things I did when I didn’t know any better and didn’t have anyone to turn to anyway. I’m not “wrong” for wanting to tell this story even though my abuse wasn’t as severe as what others have been through. ABUSE IS ABUSE. Anyone putting any part of their body on any part of anyone else’s body who is too young to understand what’s happening is an ABUSER.
There’s no VICTIM PRIDE PARADE, people. We are supposed to keep our secrets and our shame to ourselves, but I’m not doing that anymore. I’m not looking for anything here but to get this story off my chest. I’ve lived with this story for so long. I think about it all. the. time. Which means I give the power to my abuser, and I’m not doing that anymore. I didn’t deserve what he did to me. It wasn’t my fault that I had already started puberty and had little breasts and a whisp of pubic hair. I don’t care if he was curious about it or not. He gets NO EXCUSES. Does he get forgiveness? Eventually. You can probably tell from the length of this post that there’s a lot more I want to say. Because the summer after 3rd grade wasn’t the only time I was taken advantage of (although not by him), and I want to get it all out. I want to get every ugly, messy thing out there.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for your kind comments on Facebook when I posted this morning that I was writing THE post. And please know that if YOU need someone to talk to, I’m available. Whatever your story is, if you feel like you want to tell it but are scared to start, I’ll be your Miss Lori and help you work out your feelings. I’ll be forever grateful that the internet brought me more friends than I could ever imagine having, and helped me feel that I really am okay. You can be too
Whew. I finally did it.