Friday, October 5, 2007

"Why Didn't Someone Tell Her?"

The phone is ringing; a call comes from a friend in high school. Her name is Carol. Hey Sashay, how are you? Fine and how have you been, I said? I just thought I would call to see how your workshop was going, Carol said. It has been great, I said. I knew there was something else on her mind because she never called me unless there was some juicy gossip down in South Carolina that she wanted to share. That was about the only way I knew of anything that was ever happening down there because when I left the past behind, I thought I had freed myself from the shackles of that world. As she began to share the latest news, I realized that I have never left things behind and that is why I do the work that I do. Do you remember that guy down in the cove a few years ago, that the police arrested, because he raped a little girl. I believe it was his niece and she was about eight years old, she said. Yeah, I remember that because my mother kept the clipping from the newspaper and I found it after she passed, I said. Well, I just heard that he is about to marry a girl from out of town that doesn't know anything about his history. People are saying, that her mother is having a fit because she has a nine-year-old daughter, she said. Why doesn't someone tell her, do you think she knows anything, I asked. Well, you know how people can act when someone is accused of rape and doesn't get charged, Carol said. Yeah, but you know from all the stories I've done, that not being charged doesn't mean you're innocent, I exclaimed! Keep me updated as to what happens, okay. I really hope for the child's sake that she doesn't marry this guy, I said wearily. I know right! I'll call you if I hear anything, Carol said in a hurry. This call is what prompted me to write the story, “Why Didn't Someone Tell Her?” I hope that this story will encourage ladies to think very seriously about how well they know a male friend, before trusting their children's lives to them, especially, considering the amount of sexual predators exposed through current TV shows. Even though this story is fiction, it is a lot of children's story in our society. Every one of the adult stories is somebodies story in our world. My intention is to try to present the splash factor, of our choices and how every person the splash touches changes their lives forever. The “splash factor”, is a metaphor used to help people envision how we all get wet by another person's actions.

Why Didn't Someone Tell Her?

Why didn't someone tell her? That's what they all said when the child was found in the woods back behind the cemetery. What a fitting place to leave a child after you have ripped away her life and chance of ever having a childhood of playing again. Her childness laid on the ground in a pool of blood where he was a giant in comparison to her small body. In his drunkenness he was pounding away at her while she fought back and cried, hoping someone would hear her and come to her rescue. Now, after eight long hours someone discovers her limp body, barely breathing from the raped episode that lasted so many hours she can’t even remember.

Lying in the hospital with cold dark beautiful brown eyes that now look hollow from the experience, you can’t help but wonder, who would do such a thing to a child. While the mother is sitting next to her child crying, you can hear the local nurses whispering, why didn't someone tell her? Tell her what! I wonder if they would tell me if I just went up and asked.

I was just a stranger passing through and they didn't know me, but that might be more reason they would feel safe sharing this gossip. What can I do? I feel so sorry for the mother. I have been doing stories on sexual predators for ever and nothing surprised me whether it was on the East or West Coast, North or South.

I have always been curious about where they hide out to be able to always find another victim. I got up and went over to the two ladies to ask the question. I introduced myself as a writer for the New Light Magazine and how these stories are what I have been writing about for 10 years to try and inform women how to keep their children safe.

They were nice and said that this man had been accused five different times for this crime but he always got off because he raped children within the family. However this child was the child of his girlfriend. She moved from the west coast so she didn't know his history. They said that a lot of women don't want to hear about a man's past as if it doesn't matter. Just because he is not prosecuted does not mean that he is not guilty. The woman should have found out everything she could about him, being that she had a daughter. They informed me that his family was so embarrassed by his actions that no one ever talked about it, hoping he would change his ways. They said he would always wait about five to seven years and then strike again. If no one locally would have anything to do with him, that should tell you something.

I was so startled by the things they were saying but it wasn't something new, only a different town, different faces, but the same stories all over the country. If the man is not prosecuted and put on sex offenders list, a mother only has the gossip or rumors to depend on. So, this is one more story to mothers to say, please be aware in your dating for the sake of your children and don't just depend on lists and agencies to keep your little ones safe. Take your time with someone new; check out their character and background by any means necessary. It is not a pretty sight to be sitting in an emergency room on your vacation for something you did stupid, to see a small child and their crying parent fall victim to someone who should have been locked up a long time ago. Take heed mothers, if your child is safe now! To our communities I would say, don't be afraid to speak up on rumors or gossip if it may save children's lives. To the families of the predators I would say in this case, blood is not thicker than water when it brings one person sin down on the whole family for generations to come. The question still is, why didn't someone tell her?

The Victim 20 years later:

People have always told me that I need to tell my story, so that other children will fill safe to tell theirs and so mothers can hear a child's cry out for help. It has taken me 20 years to get to a place where I could even start to let the world know my feelings of embarrassment, discuss, just trust, injustice, hatred, envy, jealousy, guilt, neglect, and feeling ashamed. This is a short list in comparison to what I have had to experience because of someone else's issues.

Why would any eight-year-old have to experience losing their childhood to an adult who was supposed to love you and care about you is truly sick in my book. However it happens every day somewhere in the world. It is happening right now as I speak, maybe at your neighbors or at your own house. It doesn't even matter if it is a best friend or a family member; someone is being abused, right now! I didn't think it could happen to me. As a matter of fact, I didn't think about it at all. I was always taught to listen to adults.

My mother's boyfriend seemed nice enough but he drank on the weekends kind of heavy. He always got friendlier when he drank. Always offering for me to ride with him to the country store for ice cream and cookies. He always told me how pretty I looked. I didn't think anything about it. Was I supposed to? My mother is the one that should have been suspicious. Now I understand that after years of therapy and blaming myself as if it was something I did.

She was relieved that I live, that eased her conscious. But, little did she know, is that I've just started to live when I met Charles, he has a lot of patience though. If it wasn't for his patience, love and understanding we wouldn't still be together. I still have my moments of crying when I realize I am not in the now. Whether it is a fear of something when we are making love all when I lashed out at him because he is not being sensitive enough. When I had these moments I try to catch myself and we have an agreement to not retaliate on the first round.

It takes a lot just to make it through a day, for me. I know it's hard on Charles to. He wishes the guy death all the time because of what it did to my freedom. We get through it though, one day at a time. I have my moments where I just have to stop and cry. Grandma tried to tell Mama that the guy was no good. She told her the rumors but mama had already fallen for his game and his family. Grandma drove mama to him because of the issues they had with one another. The issues between daughters and their mothers can sometimes cause great harmful to kids because healthy boundaries are not established. By the time the daughters are mature enough to see the wisdom from their mother's mistakes they have already put their children in harm's way.

That's the way it was for me and a lot of other children. Mom had to work that weekend and grandma had been arguing with her about mama wanting to move in with Gerald. The next thing I knew we had suitcases in the car and headed to Gerald's family house in the country.

Gerald was excited that mama had stood up to grandma. He had mama right where he wanted her, trusting him. Three weeks passed and everybody got a little relaxed. Grandma stopped fussing but she was still concerned about me because mama and Gerald were talking marriage. She always reminded me that I could come live with her if I felt the least bit uncomfortable. She was trying to be patient because she found out that mom was pregnant with Gerald's baby. Grandma may have lost the fight but she felt that she was still in the battle for my safety.

It was Saturday morning about 8:30 a.m. and mama had left for work about 6:30. I hear Gerald in the kitchen trying to cook. I got up and stumbled to the kitchen, he was just starting to get to grits, eggs and bacon going. He had a beer already open and drinking while he cooked, that was his breakfast. He told me to go get my bath and hurry back. I did as he told me and hurried back to a good smelling kitchen. Little did I know, this was going to be the beginning of a long day? After breakfast, we went to town to run some errands. Before we headed on the way home, we had stopped at several of his friends houses that had children and I played with them. He had been drinking with his friends at every house and they were smoking blunts too. He got louder and louder. It was getting late evening and I was getting tired, so we headed home. He turned up the music and was singing the lyrics as we bounced down the dirt road. I fell asleep. The next thing I knew we were in the back of the truck with the camper door closed with him on top of me. I will never forget his stinking breath and him putting his hands over my mouth every time I tried to screen. I was hurting so bad. He slapped me a lot and told me that no one would believe me if I told. He told me that I wanted him to do it because I flaunted around him all the time with short dresses and sometimes in my panties after a bath. I ended up passing out
from exhaustion and when I woke I was in a hospital with mama beside my bed crying. It took a long time to heal and the doctor said I might would never have children because of some damage done to my private areas.

However, by the grace of God, I am pregnant and Charles is very excited. I am a little scared because I am in my seventh month. Everything is okay thus far but I will feel better when I can hold this little girl in my arms to count every toe and finger.

Grandma took me from mama after that episode because mama was never the same and I needed lots of love along with therapy. Mama lost the baby, I guess because of the stress. I was sorry for her. Her boyfriend never got any time for what he did to me. I don't know why, but I do know that his life has been terrible and I hear that he got hooked on crack after Mama lost the baby. Justice works out in mysterious ways. All I know is that I never sought vengeance on him because my grandmother taught me that the good book say it, vengeance is mine saith the Lord. That has sufficed me all these years while I have been healing. After all, I am having a happy life now with Charles and expecting my own little girl. I am promising her every day that I have worked on my issues with my mother, so that I will not bring it to the table for our relationship. I also have learned about recognizing patterns that need to be broken between the generations, along with establishing healthy boundaries. I also was very careful in allowing God to bring me together with someone who could grow with me in my joy. I may not be perfect but I am making my choices and not letting my choices make me. I owe my life to God and my grandma.

Grandma 20 years later:

When I look at her now, I can't hardly believe we've come this far but I am so grateful to God that things have turned out for Sheryl the way that they have. It hasn't been an easy road to hoe but God is good all the time. It has been 20 years since that ugly episode happened to my grand baby but I knew in my heart that God would pull us through. It broke my heart what happened to her and then I had to wedge a knife deeper between me and my own daughter, to save my granddaughter. Enough mistakes have been made in our family towards the girls and I was determined it would stop with my grandchild.

The sexual abuse goes back as far as I can remember with stories from the elders, about the women in our family. The women were made to believe that they only came to serve the sorry men they had chosen in our lives. My mama’s father died and her mother remarried. He used to take them into the tobacco barn to do his business. If they tried to tell, no one believed them, plus everyone was so worried about keeping the man around. It wasn't anything for the men to whore around. It seemed to have become accepted behavior. They all went out sometimes and got drunk together just to try and forget the madness. I can remember the first time my step-daddy slapped me down in the barn to tell me who was boss over my body.

When my husband died, I remarried because I needed help with those six children and the farm. The first time I caught my husband about to hump my girl, I got the shotgun, loaded it and shot in the air. I told him I would shoot his damn brains out. He was lucky I didn't, but somebody had to raise the children. He got up, got his clothes, and left. I never saw him again. I'm vowed it would not happen to my daughter. I never remarried but I may have been bitter to my children, because it was hard being 27 with no man and six children. We had to work hard and share everything. We never had much and they did with the best I could do.

Cheryl always resented that she didn't have what other children had but I did the best I could. If it wasn't for my children, I don't know. My children gave me purpose. I didn't know about psychology or therapy back then but I can appreciate it, now that I have hindsight. I look at my child and her eyes are so empty with the crack look. She and her crack husband have had a time.

I think that my granddaughter is going to turn the direction of our family around by the grace of God. Our God is a forgiving God and I have learned that life is so much better if you can find it in your heart to forgive. We can have anything we want if we are willing to forgive and strive forward. My granddaughter has really taught me more, than what she says I have taught her. I was just trying to survive but I am trying to teach her how to live. Set yourself free my darling. Grandma loves you.

Mother 20 years later:

I am a mess! Nothing in my life makes any sense to me. Why am I killing myself with this drug? Because, I don't deserve to live. I allowed a man to come into my life, and destroy my child's life, my life and my mom's life. Who am I fooling? Everybodies life is much better than mine because they decided to do something to change theirs! I on the other hand would rather blame myself and lay in self-pity and get high to try to forget! It doesn't work, it never goes away, and it’s always in my head! The memories will not go away! I thought he loved me.

No one loves me, the world is a fraud! My own mother doesn't love me! My daughter doesn't love me! I don't blame her though! I let a man fool me because I was lonely and full of shame, thinking no one would want me with a child and I would never get married. So, I settled for less than what I wanted for me and my child. Now look at what I've got! A big fat nothing! My daughter has told me a million times that she forgives me but I just can't forgive myself! That would be too easy. I must punish myself for what I allowed to happen to her.

She keeps asking me to get some help. She tells me she loves me and that she wants me to see my first grandchild. The child would be better off if I was dead. When she knows the truth about what I let happen to her mother she will hate me anyway. That's what I'm afraid of. I can't handle that! But, that is what I deserve! I owe it to my daughter and to myself, I know, to be a better grandma that I was a mother. I will never be as good as her grandmother as my mother was. My mother was brave; she had courage to take my door away from me to give her a chance at life. I don't know if I could ever do that. Take a risk and no one loving me. Wow, I have already done that!

If I can straighten up as well as I have messed up that would really be a story to tell. I should really go to get some help because I can’t do this by myself. The Women's Circle helps women like me and they are open until 8:00 p.m. It's 7:45 p.m. maybe I can make it, if I hurry. Arriving at 8:02 p.m. the doors are locked. Oh well, maybe I'll try again tomorrow. Walking down the street with her head down she walks by an alley and someone hit Sheryl over the head and knocked her unconscious. When she awakens in a hospital emergency room, she looks up to see those same big brown eyes from 20 years ago with tears falling down, “Mama I love you! Please stay alive to see your first grandchild!”

The Predator 20 years later:

The dim light from the lamp causes my eyes to burn as I strain to get my flowing thoughts out on paper, before the moment passes into the utter darkness of forgetfulness. What makes me think those memories will ever part from my mind is an illusion I keep imagining will manifest. I feel desperation to get it all out before they decide if my sentence is going to be death or castration. Do they think cutting my penis off will be a punishment? It will actually be freedom from my haunting desires that I have no control over.

Trying to remember how it all began takes me back to when I was six years old. Mom would send me over to the seminary to work with father George. She said it would be good for my soul to see what a sacrificial life looked like. I felt like she was sacrificing the lamp to the wolves but how could I get her to understand that without telling the secret! I often asked myself, if I was a girl would she have insisted for me to go over to work with father George. Maybe she did know what was going on at the seminary and that is why she sent me. That is too cruel to even imagine but I still wondered. Mom, would send me over every Monday, Thursday and Saturday with instructions to do what ever I was asked to do, because service was the highest calling, she would say.

The first time I was suspicious of father George's intention was when we were alone in his office and he said that we were going to file some books on the high shelves he couldn't reach. While I was showing the books he talked to me about the celibate life choice and how it could be difficult sometimes but that was why it was such a high honor to be of service to those that had made the choice. If they were being tested by their natural inclinations it was an honor to be of service to them, he said. I didn't know what father George was talking about, but I reflected back to the day I caught him with his hand inside his roab, moving. When I was coming down the ladder he called me over and asked me to help him with something under his desk that he couldn't reach. As I was getting up off my knees he put his hand on my head to rub my hair. He said I had beautiful hair. When I turned around he grabbed me and pulled me toward him. I was startled and he explained that he had chosen boys that helped him in ways that no one else could. He told me, that if I help helped him I would be blessed and my mother would be so proud of me. It didn't sound right but my mom continued to say, to do what Father George asked. He rubbed my shoulders and started moving his hands down my back, quickly he reached around to my pants to unfasten them and then to slowly move them down, just enough, to push himself inside of me. He leaned me over his desk and I was crying but he couldn't see my tears. He kept telling me that this was our special secret. It hurt so badly but all I could think of was how proud my mother would be. Father George told me not to tell anyone because then they would think he was weak. He also said, I wouldn't receive my blessing and mother would be punished. This hideous act continued three times a week until I turned 10 years old. I was so ashamed that I couldn't tell anyone.

Mama got suspicious when I started refusing to go. I tried to help her understand that I wanted to play sports with the other boys. I began to notice girls and I wondered if I would one day have a girlfriend. Kids picked on me all the time. The boys used to call me a faggot and the girls picked at me because I didn't make passes at them like the other boys. The confusion that was going on in my head was starting to cause me to have thoughts of violence. Maybe, I would tie a girl up and force her just like I was being forced, even though I was being obedient to my mother's wishes. Maybe, I would have someone to hold a boy while I did to him what Father George was doing to me. Then they could be blessed too! Maybe, then they would leave me alone! Nobody wanted to let me fit in. Did they know? Did Father tell someone?

Seven years passed and I was walking home one night from the movies. I saw two girls walking ahead of me and I split off through the woods so they wouldn't think I was following them. They looked scared and I didn't want that, because then they would take precaution. One girl went in her house, while the other walked on down the street toward hers. I came out of the bushes behind her and covered her mouth while she was fighting me. I knocked her out with the tree of limb. While she lay there I looked at her and wondered what it would feel like for her, if I did to her what was done to me. I unzipped my pants, pulled her panties down and then I flipped her over to enter her from behind. I felt a warm sensation come over me, it was like Father George said, and I couldn't help myself. Maybe she would be blessed, like I was promised by Father George. I took out my handkerchief and wiped her off; gently like father George did me, and kissed her buttocks. I realized at this moment, as if I was looking in a mirror, I was seeing Father George through my eyes. I pulled up her panties and straightened her dress just like nothing had happened. I ran and hid to watch. I had to make sure no one hurt her. When she woke up she was startled but she felt her head and placed her hand on her panties in shock, as if she were saying to herself, nobody raped me! She got up and ran home. The next day, the paper read that someone had attacked a young girl but there was no evidence of rape. That was my first of many attempts at rape but I always thought I was blessing the children. This time I went too far. This was the child of the woman I was going to marry. The woman that finally loved me for me but she didn't really know me. The deep dark secret finally caught up with me and stole any possible hope of my ever having a life of happiness. There was a part of me that was really tired and for once I came really close to being blessed by a woman. That moment came and passed me by so quick that I missed it. Now I sit here waiting my fate.

Written and submitted by: Brenda Williams


Vanessa Mebane-Adebowale said...

Bren, this story really and truly touched my heart. I'm sorry that this happened to you. I know you are still in a healing process and that God is the only one who can take it away.

If you need me, you know that I will be there for you.........

Love Vanessa

Sacredflower said...

This story is not my story, only in that we all are intertwined in the great Mystery of Life. Life is waiting for us to remember our connectiveness. Please extend that compassion out into our community because this is happening every day somewhere. Love, Bren/Sacredflower