My Father, My Lover
edited: Wednesday, April 24, 2002
By Virginia M Swift
Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2002
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Sexual Child Abuse is not a pretty thing, but it is real. This is my story.
My Father, My Lover
Virginia Marie Swift
November 10, 2001
The first time I saw him, I was only nine. He was drunk. He and his brother came staggering down the back country road in front of our house on their way home. My sisters, brothers, and I were playing outside on the long summer evening. It was still safe to play out, unsupervised, chasing fireflies, jumping rope,playing marbles. We didn’t know him, even though he lived less than a mile away.
My mother, a divorcee with 5 children under the age of twelve, was very lonely. She asked him if he would like a glass of water. He recognized opportunity when he saw it. In a matter of weeks, they were married. She got a drunk that she had to work to support. While she worked, he got ample opportunity to “love” her three daughters, and torment her two sons.
My mother had struggled to make ends meet, and we had lived on welfare until she married him. Shehad other men in her life before he came along, who took advantage of her lonliness. The rural bread delivery man came once aweek. We always had to go outside when he was there. When he left, we had bread, cakes, pies, etc. She never gavehim any money. We knew even then how she paid him. My “uncle” also came to visit about twice a nomth. He didn’t bring food, but he gave my mother a break from the unrelenting lonliness for a little while. My father left her when I was four, with 5 little kids to raise. Once, my sister and I hid up in the attic when our “uncle” visited. The attic floor had spaces between the boards. Sex is an ugly thing to a small child. It is sordid and incomprehensible.
By the time my step-father came along, we had a fair amount of knowledge about sex, but very little about love. So, when he offered us love, we accepted it at face value. Hetold me I was pretty. Since then,whenever anyone tells me I am pretty, I stop believing anything else they say. He hugged me and held me and I felt loved and special. People who know how to make others feel loved and special have great control over them. I always knew that the things he did were wrong, but I could no more resist him than the thirsty soil can resist soakingup the rain.
He had a lot of time to spend with us. He never worked for a living. He did something called “junking”. At the time, when someone had stuff to throw away, they would drive to the woods on some dirt road, and throw it away. Junk yards paid for used metal. So, he drove his old pickup around picking up the metal and selling it to the junk yards. Then, he bought whiskey. I can still smell the odor of that cheap whiskey a mile away. He took my brothers and me with him. The boys were there to load the metal. I was there to keep him company.
Sometimes,if he was having a bad day, he would leave my brothers, ages 6 and 7, at one of the dump sites. They had to wait there,regardless of the weather, until my Mom came home and went to get them. My job was remembering where they were, and how to get there again. Fortunately, I have always had a terrific memory. Mom was crazy about him. So, she never did anything about his abuse of my brothers. They would hide in cardboard in the rain and snow, waiting all day without food and water, and wondering if Mom would be there soon. I was only 9, and couldn’t get them by myself.
I was about 11 when I discovered that I wasn’t special to him, and that he was “loving” my 2 sisters like he loved me. I walked into my older sister’s bedroom and discovered them together in the same act that she and I had watched our “uncle”and mother perform from the attic. I was devastated. That was the day I lost my innocence. All my illusions about being loved and special were shattered. I had clung desperately to that illusion for 2 years. Now, I knew that love and sex were unrelated. I hated him fiercely; but, I was trapped. I could not tell anyone. He told me I would go to reform school . I knew it was possible. My sister had been sent to reform school acouple of years earlier when she was raped by two high school boys. They were reprimanded and released. She was sent away. The judge apparently believed that a child could make a decision that teenager was incapable of making. She was blamed for having gotten into the car with the boys. Though they were older than her, they were not expected to know better than to rape achild. She was apparently, somehow, asking for it. She made the mistake of accepting a lift home from the store with them.
Soon after this incident, my younger sister had to go to the hospital to have open heart surgery. We were very close in age, only 11 months difference. She was never allowed to play “rough” games with us. She had been born with a hole in her heart. The only spanking I ever remember getting was because I was playing “statue” with her. That is a game in which you get thrown around in a circle, and when you stop, you must freeze in that position. Mom said it was too rough for her. She was afraid of surgery, and she confidedin me about what our step-father was doing to her. I guess that wasn’t too rough a game for her to play.
She died a week after surgery. I still miss her. If she had lived, would I have had the courage to tell about him, I wonder? I prayed every day for his death, but that is all I did.
My mother did know what he was doing to me, even if she didn’t know about my sisters. She walked in on us in her own bedroom one day and discovered him in the act. She made me go to my room for the entire weekend without food. Meanwhile, she allowed herself to be convinced that she had not really seen what she had seen. Never underestimate the power of deception. We say, “I can’t believe that so and so did that!”; and we don’t believe it. We deceive ourselves.
We never had friends over to spend the night, or birthday parties. If people came over, they might discover how we really lived. So,we played our own games by ourselves. Our favorite game was playing “INDIAN”. We made a tee-pee from old bean poles from the garden, covered with oldblankets and quilts. It was amazing how well built it was, considering we were only children. We made tripods from branches and pretended to cook meals. We spent countless days in that tee-pee. Of course, our mother was very glad to have us out of the house, so she had her husband to herself.
People have asked me how I dealt with my step-father’s abuse. I remember how, because I still have the same instinctive reaction whenever I feel threatened or overwhelmed. I checked out, mentally. I was there physically, but mentally I was in Alpha-Centauri or Orion. I can still hold a conversation, read a book, watch T.V., and even have sex without really being present. Usually, no one but meknows I’m gone. My really best friends can tell by the look in my eyes. Mostly, though, people mistake my mental absence for “calmness”. A few years ago, I took a CPR course. I did so well handling the emergencies during practice, that the instructor asked me to become certified to teach. I am extremely level-headed in emergencies. That is because the feeling part is impaired. That is very effective in a crisis. Unfortunately, when you shut down part of your feelings, you shut down all of them. I have missed a lot of joy and pleasure from being shut down. I am learning to re-feel my emotions and re-join life, with all it’s pain and joy.
We always tried to find ways to avoid being alone with our step-father. It wasn’t easy. Mom would make us go with him. She helped him to abuse us. Once, I put a hook on the inside of my bedroom door. I wanted to keep him out. He told her it was dangerous, in case of fire. She took it off. I really wanted to be able to sleep all night without wondering when or if he would slipping into my bed in the middle of the night.
My older sister “escaped” when she was 15. She got married. Unfortunately, the man she married was a cousin to our step-fater, and he was also a drunk. She chose him because she thought he couldn’t have any children, and she didn’t want to bring any children into the world in which she lived. She had 5 children in 5 years.
After she left home, I was the only girl there. It became really bad then. Life was desperate. I prayed even harder for his death. When I was 13, he drove into a tree one night on his way home. He was drunk at the time. He died a few hours later. I was so relieved that I fainted. My mother thought I was overwhelmed with grief. She never did know how long I had prayed forhim to die.
I felt guilty for the abuse. After many years, and 5 years of therapy, a lot of praying and reading, I have achieved some healing. I know I am not the one who was guilty. He was. I know that a 9 year old can’t protect herself and her family. I know that my prayers for his death weren’t evil. Even David prayed for his enemies to be destroyed. I know that life hold both good and evil, and I can allow myself to experience both pain and pleasure.
This is a poem I wrote about the abuse, titled “ME”.
Virginia Marie Swift
You said it was my fault
And if I had only..
And I believed it, you see
You should know,
You were my father
And I just a 9 year old girl.
So, I kept the secret
And cried in the night
As I listened to hear your approach
The floor creaked, my heart broke
Each time you crept into my bed.
Mama, why didn’t you make him stop?
You knew what happened in the dark.
I didn’t know I could say no.
Then, when my own girl child was 9,
And I realized her innocence
I realized my own as well.
It was NOT my fault!
It was yours.
I claim it no more.
I refuse to excuse you
And allow you to blame
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|Reviewed by Victor Jensen
|This story brings tears. To think that such a horrible thing can be done to a small child and the mother does nothing about it. Perhaps the mother does become a victim but to fail to protect her child makes her no different than the abuser. I really don't know how any child could live any type of normal life after this type of experience. It's good that this sick person is dead but he has killed so much of those he abused and that can never be made right in this life time. My prayers go out to you and I pray that God will give you a newness of spirit to deal with your past. Vic|
|Reviewed by Patricia
|So many of us have been exactly where you were with exactly the
same response from our mothers, for our entire childhood. There was
never a way to get help when we were kids. Still today, it is a major
problem- what can we do to save our kids?