“ Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”
Jordan was a beautiful azure eyed 10 year old little girl with long copper red curly hair that framed her
cherubic face. My first impression of this quiet child was that she should have been a model for children’s clothes or
some great toy store. She was very solemn at our meeting and never connected her eyes to mine. Those beautiful wide eyes seemed somehow remote and distant, always staring off into space, never near.
Jordan’s story is difficult to tell, and it was extremely difficult for her to process or know how to tell. One day
she told a friend at school about her father touching her and making her cry. The school friend told the teacher about Jordan’s story. The teacher spoke to Jordan, who broke down and cried, not just because of what happened, but because
she was afraid of might happen now that the secret was uncovered! The teacher called Children’s Protective Services Hot Line.
The CPS worker went to the school to interview Jordan and didn’t know what to believe. Jordan recanted her story about her father, saying it was a dream she made up. But the teacher and Jordan’s friend both said it wasn’t a dream. They believed Jordan had told them the truth and was now scared. They believed Jordan had been raped by her
Father……and Jordan was scared because the “secret” was out!
I began my sessions with Jordan at the CPS office. Later, many months later, I would move them to the
Local Dairy Queen (my favorite office location, well maybe my second favorite). Kids eating ice cream seems to make for great conversation…..I have not quite figured out why ice cream did the trick, but it always worked. After a marshmallow sundae or a banana split, they would talk, relax and breathe, exhaling breaths that would divulge deep secrets held in tight.
It took 8 months to finally break into the depths of this child and the family secrets each member held within.
Her mother was in denial that her estranged husband (who had already served one prison term for raping Jordan when she was 4 years old), whom she let back into her life, was doing anything to Jordan. She believed he did his time for his past crime and now was different….a new man. Jordan was lying and making up stories about him, she said. This mother was not supportive of her daughter in any way. She stood by her man! Plus, she had a new baby to contend with. While, Jordan’s
Dad had been in prison for 4 years for the conviction of raping his 4 year old daughter, Mom found a new boyfriend.
She got pregnant and had another little girl, Callie. But Callie’s father beat her, and she had kicked him out when her estranged husband got out of prison. Sounds like a “Jerry Springer Show ”. Life is stranger than TV!
“Well Jordan, shall we go for ice cream today?” I asked as the pretty little girl came into the office.
“I would like that. It’s very hot outside today,” she replied, very matter of fact.
We left the office walked to my car and sped off to the Dairy Queen. Once there, we found out favorite booth.
Jordan sat down, and I went to the counter.
Half way through our chilly snack ,she began to talk………..”I really love ice cream, you know.”
“I seem to understand that,” I said with a smile. “You really like coming here better than the park, don’t you?”
“Yeah!........The only time I get ice cream is with you. My mother says we can’t afford it. Money is scarce because of the baby, and daddy doesn’t have a job, yet.”
“Hmmmmmmmmm. Well then, it is a good thing I came along to take you to the Dairy Queen,” I said.
There was a long silence as we both ate out sundaes. Finally it was broken by Jordan…
“I need to ask you something Miss Pam.” She said, but did not look up from her ice cream.
“Sure, Jordan…ask me”.
“Is it true that fathers can do anything to their kids…I mean is it the rule? They can do to us what they want?”
“You know that isn’t true Jordan. Your father just came out of jail because he did things to you he should not
have done,” I said looking at her. But she would not raise up her face …no eye contact.
“I don’t remember before………..I was too little….and he and mommy told me it was all a mistake.” She kept eating her ice cream, her face down, talking into the table top.
“Jordan…you were very little, but there was a lot of evidence…..proof, that your dad did things to you he should not have done. …..
“Well…..I know what he does to me now. He comes in my bedroom at night, and he makes me do things.”
This was going to be the “talkie day” (some call it a break through moment) with Jordan. She trusted me enough
to open her heart and spirit to me. This was not going to be just a head talk day…chatter session.
“Did you tell your mom when these things happened?” I queried.
“I tried…she told me I was crazy…or I was dreaming…or she just told me to shut-up!”
“So you told your friend at school….I know it’s hard to think about stuff like that, and you need someone
to talk to.”
“Yeah. He kept coming in my room every night making me touch him and kiss him. He loves me, I know.
And I missed him when he was gone. Mom’s boyfriend Rob never touched me. He was drunk all the time, and he was
mean to mommy. He never made me touch him, though. Once daddy came back, it has been better. ”
“No more screaming and hollering. The baby cries at night, but mommy and daddy don’t fight. Mommy is
tired a lot, and daddy wants to let her sleep. That’s why he comes to sleep with me a lot…..you know, so mommy can sleep.”
“Couldn’t he sleep in another room or on the sofa?”
“I guess so….but he says I am his, and he can do what he wants to with me. I belong to him.”
“I see….so why did you tell your friend at school you were afraid of him and he had done bad things to you?”
“Cause ………..cause…….it does hurt sometimes. Not every time…just when he puts his fingers in me it hurts
a lot, and his fingers are big. But he tells me it is only for a minute…an’ the hurt will go away. He says he is making me
ready for my boyfriends. And it makes him feel good. I make him feel good.”
“Jordan….adults, not even daddies should touch children in certain ways. How does it make you feel when he touches you…?”
“Scared…kinda. He tells me not to tell mommy or anybody. It is our secret, and I belong to him, so he
can do what he wants to me. …………..I really don’t like it…..I really don’t like …. when he makes me kiss on him.”
Jordan was talking at a pretty fast pace today. Why today was confession day, I don’t know. Maybe enough moments of time had occurred between us for her to trust me………..or maybe another incident with her father
had happened. Whichever, I had the conversation that would now either pull her out of the home or push her father out.
The choice would be her mother’s. Sexual abuse was happening in this family, and finally somebody was listening and
so should her mother…failure to protect would be grounds to remove Jordan.
“Miss Pam…why do you come talk with me every week?” Jordan looked at me with those pleading blue eyes.
“Why do you think I am here Jordan?”
“Cause my social worker thinks I need a counselor, and I’m messed up because by father abuses me.” She said
looking directly at me.
Whoa! Where is God when you need some moral support. Kids have the most direct way of getting to the
heart of things sometimes. Are they innocently direct or directly innocent? Good question. I am not sure myself, but I know I have had to face years of such blunt “in your face” questions from kids.
“Jordan, you are very smart. Do you believe your father is abusing you? Is he making you do things you would not do with other people…other men?” May as well be direct with the child, especially if this is a test. I thought.
A sudden change in her countenance happened. “Yes….I don’t want to do the things he wants me to do…I
feel funny when we are in my bed, and he makes me touch him. Sticky stuff gets all over my sheets and I feel dirty….”
she said. Her eyes were filling with water as she brushed the copper tendrils from her face. “He doesn’t touch the baby the way he touches me.”
“How do you know?”
“Cause he told me. Callie isn’t his, and so he can’t touch her like he touches me. I belong to him, so he can
do things to me, he says.” Now, tears where gently falling down her checks. “They play with Callie and cuddle her. Mom
just yells all the time at me. He tells her to shut up and leave me alone, but she keeps on.”
“Have you told your mother about your dad touching you and making you do things you don’t want to?” I asked.
“Yes………she says I am lying. Daddy went to prison once and I should shut up and lie about him cause I’m mad about Callie.”
“Are you mad about Callie?”
“No! I love her. I hold her and play with a lot.” She said with a tone of joy in her voice. “She is better than a doll to play with.”
“You aren’t unhappy because your mother had another baby?” I asked cautiously.
“I change her diapers…feed her….wash her…lots of things, cause mommy doesn’t feel good a lot of the time. She sleeps a lot, so I watch her and do stuff with her…… I do love her, she is better than a doll really and truly.” She seemed to lighten up when she spoke her sister. “Mommy is sick a lot and I have to help with Callie…but I do it because I want to not because mommy wants me to.”
The air was silent for a long moment as we finished out ice cream. Then I broke the quiet with another question.
“So you believe your dad doesn’t touch Callie in the same way he touches you?”
“No. She isn’t his…..and he is afraid of her real daddy! He might come and kill my daddy if he touched her
like he does me. No…he just loves on her normal, that’s all.”
“Do you want to stay at your house with your mom and Callie?”
“Yeah….I don’t want to go anywhere else. I just want daddy to stop touching me and making me touch him. Can you ……Can you make him stop it?”
Her tears had stopped now, and she was squirming in the hard seat. A chocolate ice cream ring circled her lips, so I told her to go to the restroom and wipe her face. When she returned from the restroom she smile was back and the moment to talk deep feeling had passed.
I had to take her back to her home, to a mother who didn’t listen and a father who felt she was his property to do with as he saw fit. Her words to her school friend and her teacher were not fantasy, not a dream. This child lived in a home where life was distorted and “People of the Lie” (Scott Peck, 1983) rule.
Jordan’s story did not end that day. Months of therapy and manipulation by parents and social service workers would trap this little girl in a
world of torn loyalties. Lies ….. traps…..cons and malicious games would turn her life upside down. Jordan would survive, but how well was always the question? And her words have haunted me …”I love my daddy and I don’t want him to go to jail again. Please, make him stop doing those things to me Miss Pam….please make my mommy believe me. Why won’t she listen to me listen to me? Somebody needs to listen to me.”
It was very interesting that not one time did Jordan say she hated her father all the months I worked her. She was afraid of him and afraid she would be the one to cause his return to prison. In her soul she hated the things she did sexually with him, but her heart loved him. He had convinced her she was his property and he had “rights” with her. When you own something you can do with it what you choose.
excerpt from book "Listen to Me-Whispers in the Dark" 2007