A Kind of Child Abuse: Part 2 of 2

                In the fourth grade, at age 8, we moved in with my mom’s new boyfriend. I didn’t want to leave my great-grandmother’s house, but I didn’t have a choice.

                The school that this put me in was the worst one I’d been in. The children had this self-righteous attitude and put me down for being different. I say different because I was the only mixed girl, the fattest, and the quietest. The one friend I did make became my best friend and also a toxic friendship. She had it in her head that anything I would do was because she was already doing it and she would respond to my venting as “You’re just being silly.” In the end I really only hung out with her for convenience because I had no one else.

                I spent a lot of time home alone watching my younger brother while he was a baby/toddler and I didn’t connect with him well. I resented him and my mother since she was gone all the time. She’d be home in the evenings, but she’d have me babysit even though I didn’t know what to do. She didn’t show me anything – only told me to watch him. My mom’s boyfriend soon got custody of his daughter (the same age as my younger brother) and now there were two toddlers I had to care for!

                My mother was abusive with my step-sister from the beginning. She was behind my brother and my mother would yell at her and smack her for it. My mother got to the point where depression would hit hard and frequently and she’d take it out on my step sister. You could tell she was taking it out on her, too. Unfortunately, I picked up these behaviors and took it out on both of my siblings and would smack them and yell at them. I wanted them to leave. I wanted to leave them. I wanted to disappear. At school there was bullying and my mother wouldn’t talk to the teachers or anything because she “didn’t know what to say” and at home it was just me being left home alone or a lot of yelling.

                *By the way, I don’t mention her boyfriend because during the 13 years they were together I only spoke him maybe 5 times. He would make a point to not be home with any of us, he’d be in his room playing video games, or he was asleep or at work.*

                When I was home alone I would innocently get on the computer a lot and play games on Yahoo! or get on Neopets. After I discovered I could save pictures I started looking up wallpapers of things I liked and eventually that lead to dark things – especially for an 8 year old. Our computer got a virus. With this virus I discovered porn. And given my unresolved past it lead to horror, guilt, and curiosity. I knew immediately that I shouldn’t look at and I told my mother. She told me to stay off the computer until she could get it fixed. She didn’t talk to me about what I had seen. Once again she’d swept it under the rug.  Later on what I had seen had scarred me and I couldn’t forget about it. So guiltily I started looking it up on my own. I found hentai pretty fast which helped me feel not so bad about it since they were just drawings, but I didn’t feel good about it. I think that because it was such a taboo and I knew it, it made me want to look it up more often. So I did. This also led to masturbation.

                Through school, I’d learned pretty fast that masturbation and porn were something to joke about, but if someone did it they were considered disgusting. Through what I saw online I was exposed to just about anything you can think of at a young age. With the lack of parental guidance and no one to talk to things became a bit weird for me when kids at school would use being a lesbian or being gay as a weapon. It just wasn’t something I saw a problem with. Now to clarify what I mean in this paragraph: I wasn’t taught to believe to accept things or to not accept things in a certain way so I was really open minded to different types of sexual relationships. This made it weird for me that others were making a big deal about it at school. Since I was known to not have a crush on any of the boys they’d make fun of me and call me a lesbian. Even though I didn’t really know how I felt about that I often responded with “Yeah, I am, so what?” the kids would say that was gross, but it actually made them shut up.

                After becoming a bit more accustom to masturbation, my depression and guilt settled in more. I didn’t tell anyone about it. Since I’d always heard about boys touching themselves and not girls this made me feel incredibly disgusting. When I was done I’d burning my hands in hot water trying to get them “clean again.” I was sure that I was going to Hell. Religion was not emphasized in my childhood at all, but I had enough of the sense that I was going to be damned for being such a horrible person. When my mom found out, she simply told me to not look up porn anymore and that masturbation was normal, but to do it seclusion. She literally put it that simply and refused to talk about it again or to me about the changes in my life. Everything just felt worse. I beyond hated myself for masturbating, but I kept doing it because it was one of the few things that made me feel better. I kept looking up porn. I kept burning my hands.

                In the seventh grade I was uprooted again and went to a different school. I would jump anytime anyone touched me. I always wore a hoodie and kept my arms crossed. I hated myself and was jealous of everyone else. I became the goth kid pretty early. One: I really enjoyed the style (I’m still in love with it). Two: it was an easy crutch. Having a style that I could embrace myself in gave me something to proud about when I dressed up; I think that goes for any style. Ironically, the style that worked best for me was goth. So I was now the quiet, suicidal, artistic, goth kid. The seventh grade was a nice change of pace because I went to the local Junior High which had people of ALL different kinds of backgrounds so I was able to make a few new friends and feel a little better.

                In the eighth grade I had class with a boy who was determined to break down my walls down. I wasn’t interested in this kid at all but over time he got me to open up. We shared ideas about the stories we’d read and the books we wanted to write and things were good for a while. He started coming over to my house and opened up to me about his depression, this friendship lead to me losing some of my other friends. I didn’t have class with them anymore so I didn’t see them as much and they didn’t like him. Eventually he started manipulating me and using things I told him about myself to hold over my head. At one point he told me to kiss him and I told him no that was weird. Eventually I did. And not long after things escalated. He’d tell me he’d never talk to me again and that I was over reacting when I told him no. I was so scared of losing him as a friend because up until this point I had never met someone that connected on so many things with me. I was never interested in him as a boyfriend though. I tried to put my foot down that I didn’t want to do anything like that, but he definitely played on my depression and suicidal thoughts. At one point he told me go cut myself and I did. I had been a cutter for a couple of years at this point, but that time was the worst. To make it even worse my mother didn’t start trying to connect with me until she thought I had a boyfriend. I guess then she saw me a normal. I never wanted a boyfriend and I was adamant about that. Dating wasn’t for me. I was determined that wasn’t going to be put through what my mother had been put through and make bad decisions or let people use me. But I did let him use me.

                We started having sex the summer between the eighth grade and freshman year. I felt horrible and I could never get clean enough. I hit my lowest when I started making up a fake boyfriend to other people and told them happily about this great guy I’d met. I role played when my “friend” came over and I became completely delusional. Even at the time I knew I needed professional help, but I didn’t know how to ask for it. I wanted help. I wanted out. When my mother found out I’d had sex she blamed me and didn’t want to talk about it. She left the house and took off. When she later asked if I had  been sexually abused before by someone I brought up what had happened to me as a small child and she literally said “Oh, well, I thought you were the one doing that.” like it was completely my fault and sept it back under the rug AGAIN. She never did have a talk to me about it.

                When he stopped talking to me with no explanation my sophomore year I lost it. I thought I was going to die and I was ready to. Not because I missed him, but because I was used goods and was never going to comeback from that. Before meeting this guy I was only interest in sex as far as the computer. I had never had any interest in real people at all. I didn’t look at boys or girls and say “Wow! They’re cute!” I’ve never really had any desire to get married and I’ve never wanted kids. But now I was left with emptiness. I had experienced sex and I hadn’t enjoyed it. I’d made up lies to cover up what was going on and I was just as suicidal.

                I detest looking back on this, but at one point – straight out of a movie – he showed up at my house months later unannounced and without a word we had sex and he left. My grades fell from As to Fs. I started turning my tests in with not a single problem done and I was ready to drop out and die. I remember repeatedly telling people I wouldn’t make it to the age of twenty.

                About this time, my great grandmother was (REALLY LONG STORY SHORT) kidnapped from her home, the cats were left locked inside and her home was sold out from under her. My childhood home and most everything in it was gone. We managed to get the cats and found out that my great-grandmother’s only blood daughter (who had been out of her life for 30 years!) Had moved her into a nursing home! We went to court to help her and lost and her health greatly deteriorated from the experience. Dementia set in and I, regrettably, couldn’t bring myself to visit her like that.

                I made a new friend.

                The summer between my sophomore year and my junior year I started hanging out with – my now – best friend. He literally saved my life. This guy forced me to delete my “friend’s” number and to stop letting him guilt trip me into seeing him again. Yes, that guy went from mentally fucking me over, to dropping me like a rock, back to trying to get me give into him again. So when he’d call me, my new friend would peek at my phone see was him and tell me I not to answer it. I started feeling confident enough to know I did have a say. I didn’t have to talk to ever again! That summer and the next school year were amazing. I started having a lot more respect for myself and my new friend showed me how sheltered and neglected I was. I started really SEEING how FILTHY my mother’s house was and the verbal abuse that was still going on with my siblings. How horrible our diets were and how unhealthy we really had been living.

                My mother and I began fighting again because I started standing up for my step sister and really laying into her because of how gross we lived. I wanted my mother to see what I had my eyes opened up to. My siblings ate the same four TV tray dinners repeatedly. No one in the house cooked. I only ate pizza pockets and pizza rolls and no one in the house drank water. Everyone drank straight out of the jug. No dishes were ever cleaned. We had animal fur everywhere and no one had good hygiene. This was NOT an OK way to LIVE. Not for my mother, not the CHILDREN and not the pets. It was NOT OK. The new attitude to try and make things better lead to a lot more fights, my mother crying, and locking herself in her room. She blamed my new friend and he and I weren’t sorry.

                Once I had few months between me and that old “friend” of mine. I started experiencing what someone described as PTSD. I started feeling so “unclean” that when I’d go to the bathroom I’d wipe continuously until I bled. And there was a distinct moment when a friend of mine was playing around and she tried chasing me to tickle me. Everything was fine and we were laughing until I felt her hands around my neck and I started crying. I looked up and she was feet away from me. She hadn’t touched me. I also started witnessing seeing that guy’s face in public. I’d look around in a store and swear it was him. My stomach would get into knots and my heart would pound.

                To be honest it took me a couple years for this inner fear to leave me. I had such a hard time trying to grasp the sexual crap in my life. I’ve had most people tell me that I was raped and I’ve been sexually abused. I waited for a very long time to try and really get closure. I’ve accepted that, that won’t really happen. I claim that I was abused and raped. I was sexually abused as a child (and I don’t claim having a predator because they were also victim to what they were exposed to). And I claim that I was raped because I was not in a healthy mindset at all. I never name the guy though because I do see how I was at fault as well, but I don’t consider it truly consensual. And I’ve never had sex since and I still won’t date anyone. I’m just not into it.

A Kind of Child Abuse: Part 1 of 2

                I am a 22 year old woman and I do not have any children, but I have my own opinion about do-s and don’t-s. Tonight I’d like to open your mind to the different types of abuse or neglect that you may or may not have put much thought to. I’d like to share the experiences I had as a child.

                My mom conceived me at the age of 17 with a man who was nearly 30 years old. She and her family lived outside the country for a few years stationed with the United States Air Force base. After finding out she was pregnant she had the option to let her father adopt me or move back to the states. (I was told their arranged living on the base only covered immediate family – not grandchildren). So she returned to the U.S.

                Back state-side she lived with my great-grandmother in a very rural town and continued to finish her high school education. I remember when I was very young I was extremely close to my mother and great-grandmother. I remember being so happy to see them and little memories of my mother singing me to sleep or reading me stories still makes me smile. However, those moments were didn’t last.

                When my mother’s father and his family moved back to the states I can recall the tension. There was a night that is still very vivid to me (I was probably only two years old). I was being watched at my grandfather’s house and my step-grandmother (the wife that moved to the states with my grandfather) was holding my arms and I was crying a lot. She was yelling in my face and shaking me telling me “Your mom is a bad mom! She’s very bad! And you’ll be just like her!” There were probably other things that happened before this that I don’t remember, but for me this was the turning point. After that night I was told numerous times by this woman that my mother was the reason I didn’t have a father and that was bad. She told me my mother was keeping me away from him. He was a good man and I should have a father in my life. These things caused the first real rift between me and mother. When I was about four years old, the strain was very real. I had been given enough fuel by my grandparents to question my mother’s authority and I remember screaming at her that “I want my daddy!” and “You’re a bad mommy!” I didn’t fully understand these things, but at this point I’d been taught that if something was wrong – it was her fault.

                When I was four my mother was pregnant again. A friend of hers was having issues conceiving and this led to the adoption of the second child. This caused some problems with me that I’m sure she didn’t expect. My mother’s answer to me as to why she gave the baby was that she wanted the baby to go to a home that could take care of her. She wanted her to have a better life than what she could provide. This caused me to become closer to my great-grandmother. I already had it in my head that there was something wrong between me and my mother, so I was jealous that she’d let the baby have a “better life” because she couldn’t take care of her. I took that as: Why would you keep me if you can’t take care of me either? Obviously not in those words, but the feeling was definitely there. From here on, the tantrums I had escalated and I stopped listening to her all together. I didn’t want to be around her. I just wanted my great-grandmother because she made me feel wanted.

                The war was on and eventually I because I game piece between the adults in my life. My great-grandmother would undermine anything my mother would say to me. If I was in trouble: she’d get me out of it. If I wanted something to eat: she’d get it for me. If I wanted something from the store: She’d get it for me. My great-grandmother was very hands on. She was the one responsible for getting me into swimming lessons at the age of five. She taught me how to clean and do chores the right way. She played card games with me and she’d take me with her everywhere. I’d play in the garden while she was tending to it. This created a great bond between us and less of one with my mother. I do remember getting a bit closer to her for a little while, but between my great-grandmother and my mother’s father and his wife, she was always being put down. Her lack of confidence in herself as a person and as a mother just made the problem worse. Imagine knowing that your five year old is capable of being completely polite and mindful and realizing that you have no real effect on them.

                There were times when she and I would have a full on physical fight and she’d slap me and scream at me. This became the norm and unfortunately I learned very fast to hit back. I didn’t respect her. Once she had even screamed at me repeatedly “You need to respect me!” and I responded with “I don’t know what that means!” and told her to “Go away!”

                During the short period that my mother and I lived in apartments – just the two of us – I stayed mostly at my great-grandmother’s house. I experienced some close moments with my mother and I enjoy looking back on some of them like how we’d eat at the table just the two of us, we’d play with my toys and color, and she’d often let me watch TV with her and stay up late and she’d carry me in to my room.

                When I was half way through kindergarten my life changed drastically and for the worst. My mother met her first absolute piece of shit boyfriend. In the beginning he was very nice. He’d take my mother out and he came over to our apartment once in a while and even took me and his children to Chuck E Cheeses. I got along with his kids. The oldest was a girl (6) and the youngest was a boy (3); I was 5. Within just a couple of months we’d moved in with them. When we moved in his ex-girlfriend was literally still moving out and his mother also lived in the house. I didn’t understand what was going on back then, but looking back… Oh, my god! The son was only with us every other weekend for visitation. I shared a room with the daughter. Things declined quickly.

                The daughter and I hated each other. Almost as soon as we moved in I got to experience head lice for the first time. His daughter was riddled with them. The boyfriend made my mother cut all of my hair off down to an inch and proceeded to say that he couldn’t cut his daughter’s hair because “Models don’t have short hair.” His daughter was the favorite and was always given extra gifts for whatever reason or holiday and her word was always held above mine. She would hit me and if I hit back she’d start crying and tell on me. When I’d get in trouble for it she’d literally be laughing about it. Sometimes she’d smile while she hit me and the grin would grow as she tattled. There was a lot of fighting. When I’d get in trouble it was always the boyfriend’s say over my mother’s and more often than not the punishment was to be sent to the corner (he’d do this by grabbing us by the back of the head or neck and hitting our heads in the corner), go to bed early without food or be grounded from literally every toy and no sweets for a month. And he kept to it. He used to tell me and his children “Kids only exist to serve adults.” We didn’t eat much and were often left home alone at night. There was once that the power had been shut off in the winter and his daughter and I were told to stay in bed and not leave; we were left home alone that night, too. My mother and I became more distant and I sought a safe place with my great-grandmother. I’d call her after school and she’d pick me up. I’d stay the weekends at her house and things were good.

                At school I was very, very quiet. I was put into a speech class for a day to make sure I could talk at all. I could talk just fine, I just didn’t much. I didn’t particularly make any note-worthy friends during this period of my life and the teachers had asked me a couple of times if everything was okay (at home). Since I didn’t really understand what they meant I always told them I was fine. In that moment – at school especially – I was fine.

                While living with this boyfriend I was exposed to sexual ideas and behaviors. The boyfriend’s nephews (ages 6 and 4) would come over and act out what they had seen their parents doing with their cousin (the daughter I shared at room with). They didn’t touch each other beneath their clothes, but they defiantly made implications and called it a game. I didn’t feel that I could tell anyone about it because I didn’t really understand what was going on. I just knew it made me very uncomfortable. I was exposed to this for a long time and eventually I became curious since I was the only one left out. Nothing happened until the boyfriend went to jail.

                When my mother’s boyfriend went to jail his daughter’s behavior was a lot better, we got a long more and I got along with my mother better.  And once again this didn’t last. This occurred on the summer vacation between kindergarten and the first grade.

                When I was left home alone with the daughter there was a movie that was left on in the living room and I witnessed a guy say he didn’t want to kiss her lips, but instead implied her vagina. It reminded me of the “games” that the daughter and her cousins had played. I left to tell her about what I’d seen.

                The events that fallowed caused my life to completely flip. I experienced more confusion, shame, and embarrassments than I had ever thought possible. It became a game to us that when we were home alone after school she’d have me perform sexual contact orally. A couple of times she’d done the same to me, but more often than not she’d have me do it. I remember it feeling very strange and repulsive, but at the same time we both had that sense of “Ooo! We’re being sneaky! Haha!” which made it feel more like a game. Keep in mind at this point I was 6 and she was 7. When the summer ended and we went back to school I was terrified that she’d tell her friends about it and say what I did and blame the whole thing on me. I scared to death. My paranoia lead to me believing that I had caused the whole thing single handedly and that I couldn’t tell anyone about it or I’d get in HUGE trouble. There were times after this that she and I would continue doing things once in a while, but each time it made me more and more paranoid and I became to utterly hate myself.

                I finally got the courage to speak up to my mother about it when I involved a friend of mine. This girl was the same age as me and I had spent the night at her house. I tried to open up to her about what has happening at home and she said she wanted to play. Reluctantly, I told her what I did to the daughter and my friend tried it me. I immediately started crying and had my mother come pick me up. I told my mother. She corned me and the daughter in our room and simply told us to stop. That’s wrong. Don’t do that anymore. But that was it… I felt more alone about the whole thing because there was confirmation. There were no answers for if I was at fault, was I in trouble? Was I a bad person? It was pretty easy for me to completely stop at this point. The daughter, however, started making sexual motions while alone in bed or humping her pillow. I was further confused by this and left the room (she’d do these things while I was present).

                When I reached the second grade (age 7) I reached my first suicidal thoughts. The boyfriend had returned and became one hundred percent abusive. If I did anything wrong he’d sit on my back and hold down my feet with his legs and hold my arms behind my back. Eventually this changed to: he’d twist my arms backwards so that my hands touched the back of my neck. My arms were moved under and up – a direction they shouldn’t go at all. (Present-day, I can now willingly partially dislodge my shoulders and pop them back. Gross right?) These actions were displayed only once at my great-grandmother’s house – ON CHRISTMAS – and she was having NONE of it. She made him get away from me. Not long after he banned me from seeing my great-grandmother all together. As the abuse increased he started making my mom “take over” for him. If he was tired of holding me down in that position he’d have her to it to me. And she did it. That was the last straw for me. I no longer had any ounce of respect or even felt love for her. I hated her. I tried a couple of times to run away to my great-grandmother’s house, but it always failed.

                Also during the second grade, I was taught “Good touch Bad touch” at school. This horrified me. It was the first solid explanation I had for anything to do with that subject. No adult in my life had taken time to me about it. We went over it for a week in class and it was heavily emphasized that people who commit these crimes are horrible people who should and will go to prison. I believed I was a pedophile and became incredibly suicidal.

                During the winter of my second grade year my mother found out she was pregnant with her horrible, boyfriend’s baby and we moved out of state to live with her aunt.

                The time away should have helped our relationship, but I didn’t trust her at all. Even after being free of the people that constantly undermined her and put her down she still take time to teach me anything or to talk to me about how I was doing. Nothing. This made me even more lonely and resentful. I didn’t make any friends in this place. I didn’t know how to relate to the kids or be carefree and friendly. Even just at 7 years old I’d seen too much to forget about it. I gained weight very quickly and being fat made me even more depressed. I started doing bad in school. I went from having straight A’s to A’s, B’s, and C’s. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be there and I didn’t care about my classmates. I started telling my mother I didn’t want her to come to the mandatory school programs and she wouldn’t come. She didn’t get to know any of my teachers. She didn’t try to know me.

                Now, I’ve always been an artist and could sing and came across as really smart, but the attention just made me hate myself more. I saw it as adults telling me I’m fine and I should be happy because I’m talents (that what was hurting on the inside didn’t matter). As I got older the physical fights with my mother worsened and when we moved back to my great-grandmother’s house things were not the same.

                I was more than thrilled to live with my great-grandmother, but my past experiences had changed me and I was more susceptible to her undiagnosed mood swings. I had seen her act “crazy” before, but now it was very real. It made me feel even more alone. I looked up to my great-grandmother more than anyone because she had shown me the most care and love, but that took a toll too. Living with her I was in the third grade (age 7/8). I got to really see the way she would change her mind on a dime and start cackling like a witch. I got to see how she’d just as quickly forget and claim something completely different had happened. The more I was open to see this it made it easier to know I had seen it before. She’d been like this my whole life. And looking back she was also just as abusive to me: she’d hit me and push me around and then just as quickly bought me things and treated me (A SUPER ABUSIVE behavior to learn! That just teaches whomever that it’s okay to abuse someone if you say “I’m sorry” or “I love you” and treat them later. A bad habit I had to identify that I had picked up on myself and put an end to). Her twisted behavior was a large reason why she undermined my mother and why my mother had such a hard time being in charge of me. However, when I would ask her questions about anything at all the only answers she’d give me were “I don’t know”, “you’ll understand when you’re older” and “I don’t know how to explain it.” Sadly, it just made it easier to turn my back on her because she wasn’t there for me when I needed her or when I asked. My mother and my great-grandmother continuously fought and I was stuck in the middle and would yell back at both of them. It was chaos.