How do I even begin to try and explain the damage being abused as a child has caused me? I was 6, we had been friends with this family for a few years, our families did a preschool co-op together. My friend was the same age as me. We had play dates, saw each other at school, at church, eventually we had sleep overs as well.
The problem was her father. He went to church, he had been a visiting teacher at our home, he played basketball with my dad. He was also a monster. He had a game he played with his daughter, where he would pick her up and swing her high in the air. I can still remember being in the foyer of their two story home, at the bottom of the stairs, where this happened. He was molesting her, and then myself. Then there’s the time I was sleeping on my friends bedroom floor, and woke up to him on the floor next to me. This is probably the same night that my parents got a call close to midnight to come pick me up from this friends house, because I was hysterical and they couldn’t get me to calm down. My dad came to pick me up. I ran away and hid from him. I wouldn’t calm down until I had returned home to my mom. The monster had called my dad, told him I had been fine until after “bath time” then I started acting very strange.
I know I have blocked some of the details of these incidents, I’m sure in a six or seven year olds way to try and cope. His daughter used to tell me stories when we had sleepovers. Stories about a mans car, going into a woman’s garage, and scenes of rain, and being in the shower. I never told anyone what happened. This still makes me sick to think about today, the abuse my friend was suffering.
I sit here today, as a 36 year old woman, my eyes still filing with tears trying to share this. I now know more details of what happened in my life, because almost two years ago, I called his now ex-wife. I needed to know what else had happened in my own life. I had too many blanks that I and my family couldn’t fill in. So she told me. Her then husband had molested her nieces as well. They came forward and told what happened. They divorced, she re-married, but the monster stayed. She had gone to my parents and told them something had happened, and she couldn’t be sure if I was involved.
My dad had gone to the bishop. He was told NOT to go to the police, it would be too hard on me, and “who would believe a 7 years old anyway”. She told me she had gone to the bishop, she had sought help from the time her daughter was 18 months old. They didn’t believe her. Counselors, bishops, nobody helped her. I feel bad for her, but I feel worse for the children she let into their home, and her daughter. The monster had to serve house arrest, and probation. The bishop and his cronies, threw the monster a party after he served his “time”. Throughout this time, the bishop and others continued to pressure my dad to baptize me. I was terrified of my own father. I wouldn’t go near him. I refused to be baptized, and I never was. I was terrified of water. I had attended that same friends baptism, where the monster baptized her. He was welcomed back at church though. He then attended the singles ward, where he met the mom of another one of his victims. That child came forward as a young teen, a trial was held for her abuse, and he was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
I buried this secret for as long as I could. I always felt like something was wrong with me, why did I feel the way I felt, ashamed of the way I felt, maybe I had done something wrong. Why did I have so many stomach aches, and so much anxiety. Why did I feel sick every time I saw that house, or a car like theirs, or someone who looked like him. I was 33 when I finally couldn’t cope anymore. Kill myself or try and get some kind of help. My panic attacks were keeping me from leaving the house for a good part of 2 years. I couldn’t do that to my husband anymore. I found a therapist, and she helped save my life. I was finally, after so many years, able to even begin talking about this with my parents. It has taken years from me, taken my childhood from me, taken a relationship with my father from me, taken my trust in people from me.
I am working constantly to try and rebuild myself, but it is not an easy task. I have tried to contact the current bishop about getting help paying for the cost of all the therapy I’ve paid for. He wouldn’t return my calls. NOBODY has said a word to me about any of this. People who were around at the time, just claim they didn’t know anything. I was invisible. I contacted a lawyer and tried to pursue a case against the church for covering up for this monster. The statute of limitations may have come into play in my case, so I accepted a small settlement. It covers the cost of therapy for the last 3 years, and not much more.
I am dedicated to trying to spread the truth about what happens, even in small towns, with “good people” who you think you can trust. Many days are still a battle. Depression and anxiety are hard to deal with, and I feel I will deal with it for a long time to come. Something has to change.