She was only 10, the very same age as her daughter now, when her nightmare started. Really it started before then, but it very quickly became worse, then got a little better for awhile until it finally came crashing down one fateful night when she was seventeen, as she watched her father being led from their home, her mother crying tears of shock and horror over all that had been happening under her roof.
She flips through her mother's old photo album, reminiscing over the good old days when it was just her and her mother. The pictures were few of their life before he became a part of it. Her eyes and heart pause as she looks at the picture of the three of them, after the wedding. Her smile is so wide, and she holds him so tight, so very happy to finally have a daddy of her own.
If I had known then what I know now, would that picture be any different? she wonders, not for the first time.
They were happy, so very happy in that picture. It almost makes her jealous. She flips past it, looking through the rest of the album, noting silently that there are no more happy family pictures in it, though it is full of pictures. Pictures of her, or her siblings, or her mother surprised by a new car for Christmas. No family pictures though, not in the years between their marriage and the birth of their first child together.
This really comes as no surprise to her. She has so few memories of those years, anyway, the only memories coming from this album in front of her. Christmas's past, birthday parties... they all tell a tale of a seemingly normal family.
Only, they weren't. The skeletons were hidden deep in the closet.
It started out simple enough. "I'm tired. Come rub my belly so I can rest", she would hear. She would comply, anxious to please, always hoping to gain his elusive approval. She would rub his belly and they would talk about her day. When they finished talking she would go and play. That's how it always was, until all of a sudden, it wasn't.
"Oh, honey, my belly really hurts today. Can you rub it a little lower?" A little lower wasn't enough. A little lower meant to keep going until she touched that. She shudders in repulsion, and he feels it. "What's wrong, honey?"
"I don't want to do this anymore. I don't like it." She runs out of the room, down the steps and out the front door, vowing to herself she would never touch that again.
He asks her again for a belly rub, another day, another week later. She resists, not wanting to repeat what happened last time. "No," she says. "Please?" he begs, offering her $5.00 to do it for him. "Ok, but only your belly," she agrees. He goes up the stairs to his bedroom and lies on the bed. She reaches out and tentatively rubs his belly. He doesn't say anything at all this time. He tells her to go lower again. She says no. He pulls her hand down and she pulls it away and runs out of the room again.
She tells him never to ask her again. And he doesn't. He doesn't have to. He takes opportunity when she needed help rinsing her hair clean by touching her in her private places, wondering why she is all covered up in a leotard while taking a bath.
He sneaks in her room at night and touches her under the covers, especially when he thinks she is touching herself. He talks about her to his friends in suggestive ways, like he is her pimp, in front of her. He wrestles her in his underwear, his glory shining out for her to see. He pulls it out while she is watching tv and starts up his business until she walks out of the room in disgust.
And finally, he pins her down on the living room sofa one day, pressing himself against her body, taking liberties that no man should be taking, especially to his daughter, clothed or not.
She doesn't remember how it ended, only that it did. She doesn't remember telling her mom, again, but she did. She does remember him leaving, and going to court. She remembers hearing her mom talk about how well his rehab is going, and how pleased she is with his progress. She remembers feeling terrified at the news.
She remembers turning 18, and he moved back in. He turned on a new way of terrorizing her. He made it seem like everything she was doing was wrong. Her mother, enamored by his new attitude, turned against her. She was constantly in trouble, though many times she was doing nothing wrong.
Her whole world he had stolen from her. Her dreams shattered.
Silently, in the middle of the night, she crawls out her window, across the roof, and jumps to the ground. With her bag over her shoulder, she takes one wistful look about at her home. She drops her bag in the trunk of her car, and with tears rolling down her face, she drives away.
Broken. Lost. Scarred.
(This is a fictionalized account of a true story.)
---Stephanie, AKA The Drama Mama