I’m introducing this post, because this blogger, Goldfish, is very dear to my heart. She is courageous in ways that go beyond words. She walks through this world, with her head held high and her arms ready to hold those who suffered the way she did.She writes these painful words only in the hopes that she might save someone.
And through everything she has endured, she has managed to maintained her humanity and a sense of humor. She’s a blogging bad ass and I admire her so very, very much. And I don’t tell her enough. So, I’m saying it here.
Trigger warning: This post contains sexual and physical abuse.
Of all the useless mental exercises my brain does without asking, the most futile, besides being terrified of pantsless clowns or trying to pronounce French words, is the what if game. I can trace most of my sordid, barely survivable history back to one night.
On that night, instead of being pulled out of bed by my ankle through the window, and dragged into the woods where he began the sexual torture that would last another year, what if my parents had woken up? What if a magical unicorn stabbed him through the eye and flew me away to safety? (That’s silly. Everyone knows unicorns can’t fly.) What if an adult version of me somehow time traveled to that spot and beat him with a stick? I wrote that last what if down in an autobiographically fictional story on my blog that was Freshly Pressed. It felt better to have his blood on my hands, instead of the other way around. Beating pedophiles with sticks in fictional stories is very cathartic.
In the end, the what ifs are just fiction. I can’t change what happened to me. No one woke up that night or any of the other nights he came for me. It became his habit, and with every successful abduction, he became more brazen, keeping me out until the sun was nearly coming up. I can’t change that, when summer was over, my family invited that very same monster to come live in our house. The monster was no longer outside; he was just down the hall.
It escalated. The worst times where when my family used the monster as a babysitter and we were alone. He hog tied me and gagged me with the dog’s toy. A filthy dog toy stuffed in my mouth, rope abrasions on my ankles and wrists until he learned to not leave evidence, and not a single person within earshot–these are things no child should have to endure. No one would come save me, not then and not now.
The abuse was not just sexual, it was psychological. He dominated me. He owned me. He was not gentle like Humbert Humbert in Lolita; he was a sadist. He enjoyed watching me suffer. I was a plaything to him, not a person.
So, it all starts with that one night. Everything I have gone through starts there. If he had never gotten to me, I wouldn’t have lost my family. They didn’t believe me when I told them what was going on. They let it continue.
How a parent can sleep in the same house where child abuse is happening and do nothing is beyond me. It is part of the reason I never want kids of my own. Another part is that I’m afraid of turning into an abuser. Abused children have a higher risk of turning into abusers themselves, especially those of us who never got any help. I would rather not have children at all than risk turning into an abuser or do nothing to protect my kids like my family did. He stole both families from me; the one I was born into and the one I might have had.
The unchecked sexual abuse led to self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse, anorexia, a host of mental health concerns, promiscuity, sexual assault, homelessness, prostitution and just generally not caring one bit whether I lived or died, and all of that was still while I was a teenager.
From my late teens to mid twenties, I lived with an abusive sociopath. The second monster was different from the first. He started out charming, funny, intelligent and likable. He was not a sadist. In order to be a sadist, you have to have feelings, even rotten ones, and the sociopath had none, but I didn’t know it then. He wore very convincing people makeup. He could pretend to be human quite well. Slowly, over the course of eight years, his people makeup wore off until, by the end, I saw him for the terrifying monster he was. By then, it was too late. At least, it was very nearly too late.
He beat me. He demeaned me. He controlled me. He stole everything I had of value, and even some things that weren’t mine, like taking credit cards out in my name and stealing the mail so I wouldn’t find out, then giving my unknown debt back to me for rent. One night, in the car, he punched me in the face so hard that it knocked a tooth out and slammed my head into the window leaving a nice gash. I was driving at the time. He gave me black eyes, split lips and strangulation marks around my neck. Everything hurt. Somehow, even my ears hurt towards the end. He kicked me when I was already down. Like the first monster, he used to drag me out of bed, but it was to beat me, not to tie me up and rape me. He very nearly killed me. If not for a good Samaritan who passed by, he would have succeeded. I would not be here to write this.
He almost killed me. I’ve written those words before, but exactly what that means rarely sinks in. I have a very distinct memory of the terror of that final night, but I don’t often think about how close he brought me to death that night and so many others. At the time, I half wanted him to kill me. I was certain he was going to kill me anyway and I just wanted it done. I hoped that my death would force the authorities to put him in prison where he belongs. Once again in my short life, when faced with a life or death situation, I did not care about living. I saw no way out other than to die by his hand. That is such a terrifyingly sad thought that I can’t even relate to that woman anymore. I remember what it’s like to be the woman with no options but death, but I cannot understand her anymore. Nowadays, I have a gun and a baseball bat and a damn strong will to use them should he ever come for me again. I still have the expired restraining order and police reports just in case. I carry them with me as I flee from place to place.
That chapter has its roots in that one night, too. I didn’t see the second monster as a monster. I missed the signs. When you live with abuse, you become blind to the tiny indicators that other people might see. The first monster opened the door for the next.
I blame the first monster for the second monster. I blame him for the PTSD, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia, anxiety, malaise and indifference to the concept of continuing to live that I dragged around with me most of my life.
I blame the first monster for making me blind to my motivations. I didn’t know why I was doing the things I was doing. It took most of my life to recognize the patterns and shut them down.
I blame him for stealing my family, my innocence and my ability to ever trust anyone completely again. I blame both monsters for the impotent rage I carry inside of me.
I blame them for my continual state of paranoia and survivor’s guilt at the fact that they are both still out there, free to create more victims. Neither one of them was ever prosecuted for their crimes. Neither monster has ever spent more than twelve hours in jail. They both got away with it, while I live in hiding. The fish persona is not just because I am shy, but because it helps me stay hidden.
I don’t blame myself. At least, I don’t anymore. Though some small part of me still shoulders the blame and probably always will, the rest of me knows that it was not my fault. These things happened to me. They were not things I chose for myself. Sexual abuse happened. Domestic violence happened. Injustice happened. It is not my fault. If only I had believed that sooner, but it doesn’t matter when I stopped blaming myself. What matters is that I did and that I am still recognizing the patterns in my behavior for what they are–the results of untreated child sexual abuse.
I want to take all of these awful things and turn them into positives. I want to help people going through what I’ve gone through. I want to wrap them all up in my arms and keep them from danger. I am not at the point where I can really help anyone else, but I will get there. For now, all I can do is share my words with you.
You are not to blame. You are not alone. You can survive. We will survive. The more we talk, the less power it has. Thanks for listening.
Author Bio : Hello. My not-at-all-fake name is Goldfish. I write at Fish Of Gold and I’m an admin at Stories That Must Not Die. I write anonymously and live in hiding from the monsters described in this post, because they are still out there. If you want to talk about your own experiences with any of the things I mentioned, I’m a good listener. If you are in danger, please, get help.