“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” – Audre Lorde.
I share my stories because I finally have the courage to define myself for myself. I have become confident because I have to be; no one will disturb my tranquility. Do not allow anyone to disturb yours.
We all have our story to tell. Release your emotions by moving the internal to the external. When you are comfortable to share your experiences, please know that the world is listening. Do not allow others to define your story as “inappropriate.” You define your story; do not allow others to eat you alive by placing you into their fantasy of how they want you to be.
I should have known. I should have known there was a reason you looked at me so intensely.
I should have known. I should have known why you waited until no one else was in the house.
I should have known. I should have known why you only wanted me to be in the car with you on certain occasions. But alas, I was a child, and though I should have known, I didn’t want to know that my stepdad had an affinity for boys, or perhaps, just me.
I was young. I was impressionable. I never had a father or father-figure for that matter. What was important for me was doing what I was told. Ever heard of the expression, “children are to be seen and not heard?” I lived it. I breathed it. I sat quietly as to not disturb anyone’s idea of this perfect man.
I hated it. I hated myself.
The comments that made me feel uncomfortable began: “do you and your friends show each other your ‘manhood’ to see which one is the biggest?” This received an awkward chuckle, and an immediate “no.” This was often followed by, “well, I’m sure you would win anyway.”
But this was my stepdad and could do no wrong, so I assumed it was all in jest and moved on. Unfortunately, the comments did not cease. I knew my mom would believe me, but I refused to have her stress and cause any rift in the family.
My heart was heavy, and I had no one to talk to. I spoke to the one person my grandmother told me would always be there: God. But the beautiful, all-knowing Creator didn’t intervene to stop anything. I began to question not only organized religion, but the existence of a deity that would let his child suffer sexual abuse. Say what you will, but as a 9-year-old, I knew enough about life to know what it was about, and the pain I was internalizing was certainly not it.
But again, children were to be seen and not heard, so I just . . . existed.
It all started in 1996 after those few ever-so awkward comments. As everyone left the house, me and my stepdad stayed behind. I was in my room playing with my Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots when I heard a loud knock on the door. My stepdad said, “Boy, put those toys down and come in the room; we need to talk.” This statement would strike fear in the hearts of most Black children because we immediately knew a whippin’ was coming. So I began to cry until he assured me that I didn’t do anything wrong.
I entered my parents’ room and was told to shut the door. The bedroom door closing sounded like prison gates.
I was trapped.
I should have known better, but fear is one hell of a drug. Something just did not add up. Maybe I should have mentioned something; hindsight is always 20/20.
“Lock the door,” he said. No one was home, but one thing was for sure – he was smart and didn’t want to get caught. On the bed was: a remote for the VCR, a sock, pillows, a condom, and a jar of Vaseline.
The first few moments were innocent questions about school, sports, and friends. The questions quickly changed to affirmative statements of sex, sexuality, and whether I had any girlfriends. “No,” I answered. “Boyfriends then?” he replied. Again, this received a “no.”
Not entirely sure where the conversation was going, he seemed frustrated and said, “What do you know about sex?” I had a good memory, so I began spouting exact details from what my Health teacher taught us about the birds and the bees. This must have disappointed him because he was going to undo whatever it was that I was taught.
Already realizing that I was attracted to my male peers more than my female peers, this made things really, really confusing.
I moved closer to him on the bed as he grabbed the remote to turn on the VCR. He inserted pornography and asked me what I thought about it. My first response was that it must have been filmed in the 1970s. Even in this uncomfortable setting, I had to keep my sense of humor. Nothing was funny. I told him I didn’t like it, which did nothing but get me berated.
He told me that my Health teacher didn’t know everything about sex, and as a father, he needed to teach me.
“Take off your clothes,” he said. The fact that I can hear his baritone as I type this makes my stomach turn.
He told me to lay back. I heard the sound of the Vaseline jar open. I was going to “learn” one way or another. I put the pillow over my face, embarrassed that I may actually enjoy whatever was about to happen. The thing about sexual abuse is that our bodies usually respond to the pleasure, so we get this warped idea that it is “good” even though, it is bad. We get this idea that we liked it.
My body was numb. I felt lifeless. I laid there praying it would stop; again, I received no answer. What this taught me was . . . nothing, except that I wasn’t safe in my home.
A house was clearly not a home. And certainly not with him there.
The more my body refused, the more angry he became. Sexual abuse quickly turned into physical abuse, or perhaps, they were simultaneous; my body can never remember. I ended up getting hit for the smallest things. I’m talking, get out of the shower and have a belt waiting for you type whippins’.
This was on-and-off for about two years. I thanked the Creator for those “off” days. One memory that I will always remember is the night it all ended.
I will warn you – this may be graphic.
I was called to enter his room – again, when no one else was at home. Typical. In true form, the VCR was turned on, Vaseline was on the bed, along with a tube sock. I was told to move from the bed to the floor. I suppose this would make things easier. I obliged. Things began to get really weird the moment he tied something around my eyes to blind me from what was about to happen. He asked me to bite on the tube sock. The moment I bit on the tube sock, I felt something my youthful body should never feel. A terrible, painful rip.
Fear struck as he immediately pulled himself out. I limped back to my room, cried, and went to sleep. I had to hurry up and get it all out before my sisters and mom came home. Everything had to appear perfect. Nothing would be wrong with me. This was the last time anything occurred.
The moment my mom divorced him was the best day of my life. She had no idea how happy she made me. It was all over. I would never have to see his face again. Ever. The memories, however, live on.
I write this blog today because I know this has not only happened to me. I have friends and family who I know experienced similar treatment from people who we thought loved us. I am here to tell you to speak up and be more courageous than me. I know it hurts keeping everything inside, but please understand that things will be okay. We have to make it okay. People commit acts of sexual abuse and molestation for many reasons, but asserting power and control over the vulnerable is one of them.
I should have known better, but I didn’t. Remember what I always say: We have a story and I felt it was time to share mine. Don’t feel bad for me. I am living, breathing, and have amazing friends and family. This is about moving the internal to the external.
It is such a beautiful transformation. I am honored to share it with you.