I remember idolizing my dad. I wanted to eat what he ate, walk with strides as big as his, and read all the time like he did. After my brother was born when I was 6, I became the less important child. I always felt like a problem, no matter how good I was or how quiet. The things that made me special before, being smart and creative, didn't seem to matter anymore.
Our family went to visit my dad's relatives in Clarkston on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes Easter. They were my dad's aunt and uncle, cousins, and the cousin’s children. The children were all older than I was by 5 to 7 years. They were all boys except for one girl. The boys played with me but teased me a lot. I remember that they made fun of my body when I was 10 because I didn't have curves. I didn't understand what they meant. I also remember playing Monopoly with the one other girl (who was about 13 at the time and I was 8) and 2 of the boys. The girl was drinking something pink and fruity, and she kept handing it to me, and telling me to drink it. It made me feel dizzy and lightheaded. At some point, she kept spilling the glass on the Monopoly board, and as soon as we cleaned it up, she'd do it again. Then she started laughing a lot and falling over, and we had to stop playing. I had no idea what was going on.
My great-uncle initially treated me the way I wished my dad would. As soon as my family walked in the door, he would call me over to sit with him. Everyone would play games together like Uno and Skip-Bo. I did well at those games, and he would praise me and give me the attention that my dad didn't. He was so attentive, in fact, that I had to sneak away from him just to do anything else. He seemed to want me at his side all the time. He would rest his hand on my knee, then my thigh, and then when I was 9, he started placing his hand between my legs.
He wouldn't do that when adults were in the room, but he would in front of the kids, usually just the boys. They would act uncomfortable, and seemed to have a hard time ignoring it. I felt like I would vomit. It felt really bad, and my whole body would freeze. I felt like I couldn't move, as if I had left my body and was floating slightly behind it. I would get angry with myself that I couldn't move. I was so afraid. I wanted to scream and cry and run out of the room and tell everyone, but I knew, I knew in the way that a child understands something, even if a lot of adults don't understand or don't think a child can understand, that I would not be believed, or even if I was, I would not be defended, especially by my parents. I was less important than my great-uncle and I knew it.
I spent a lot of time planning for the next time we would go to their house. I would plan to be around other adults at all time, to stay as far away from him as possible, and I would psyche myself up for overcoming my freezing instinct so I could push him away and get away from him. He overcame all my defenses, though. He knew where I was at all times, and stalked me like an animal. I felt like I was an animal, a small, helpless animal just trying to prolong the time until he molested me. I did manage to push his hand away, but he would always sit on the outside and put his much larger legs up against mine so that I couldn't get out and there was no where to go. The boys would note that I was struggling against him, and put their eyes down.
It was also getting worse. He started putting his hand in my pants or up my dress, and then in my underwear. Since none of my techniques for making it stop had worked, and it was progressing, and it made me feel so disgusting I would do anything if it might make it stop, I decided to tell my parents even though I knew they wouldn't believe me.
I was 13 when I told them. My dad was furious. He kept saying that this was his only family in the area, and I was going to their house, and I was never to say anything about this again, and if I didn't cooperate, he would beat me senseless. My mom just didn't react. She acted as though I hadn't said anything. I still felt relieved that I had told, even though I was not looking forward to an increase in verbal and physical abuse from my dad, and I was angry but not surprised that my mom did nothing.
Telling did seem to embolden me. I still had to go to my relative's house, but with increasing frequency I would push my great-uncle's hand away, and say "stop it" loud enough for everyone in the room to hear (just other children). He continued to follow me around, though, and look for every opportunity to fondle me. I guess it was a game to him, and the more challenging I made it, the more interesting it was. What I do know is that making it clear to him that I wanted him to stop didn't help the least bit.
In high school, I began refusing to go to their house, and when my dad said I would go voluntarily or he would beat me and drag me to the car, I began running away from home on holiday mornings. I would go downstairs and out the back door, or out the front door like I was going to the car, and I would run as fast as I could to someone's house who was out of town, or to a friend's. One time I didn't know where to go, so I wandered around town until I got frostbite on my toes. I would stay away for however many days I thought I needed to until my mom would want me back enough that I would be "forgiven" for running away. From the time I started running away, I never went to my great-uncle's house or saw him again.
In high school, I also started staying away from home more and more because of my dad. When I was home, he was constantly screaming at me, threatening me, throwing things at me, and hitting me. The more I tried to get away from him, the more abuse I got, and the more I resented the way he treated me and how he was perfectly okay with me being sexually abused. When I started hanging out with a group of kids in Moscow, Idaho when I was 17, I went home even less. One Sunday evening I came home from being in Moscow all weekend, and my mom was crying and my dad was screaming, as usual. For the first time, I told him to get away from me and leave me alone, instead of standing there, taking his abuse. He flew into a rage, punching me in the face over and over. I went limp, so he grabbed my right arm to hold me up and kept punching me. I started trying to kick him between the legs, and I guess I connected, because he started swearing, and picked me up and threw me against the wall. I tried to get away but he grabbed me and threw me against the wall again. He punched me a few more times, and then walked away. My mom sounded hysterical.
I swore to myself at that moment that I would never live with my parents again. I was dizzy, more than dizzy. I didn't fall asleep so much as pass out. My mom woke me up for school the next morning, and I had to laugh that she wanted me to go to school when I looked in the mirror. I had a black eye, my cheekbone and the side of my face was bruised, my braces had punched through my lip and my upper lip was black and blue and my mouth was full of blood, I had a bruise on my arm the shape of a hand, and lumps on the back of my head and back. I called Child Protective Services myself that morning. The police took me in, and I told them about my great-uncle as well as my dad.