They might as well have thrown me out of the house to become a feral child and fend for myself. At seven years old, I might not have survived, but at least I wouldn’t have to look them in the face every day, because there is no way that you can come back from that.
Kids often tell lies to their parents. “Did you break that vase?” “No, mom.” LIES. Kids have terrible poker faces and they’re bad at lying. They do it anyway. For some reason, lying comes naturally to humans, but without years of perfecting our skills, we’re dead giveaways. Kids have huge visible tells. My mom could always tell when I was lying except once. I was not believed.
I really can’t even remember how it happened. You’d think I’d have a crystal clear memory of the time I told my family that the guy they let live in our house was doing things he didn’t want me to talk about late at night, but I don’t. My memory of childhood is spotty at best. All I know is that it happened.
I like to think of it happening in the style of one of those 80s after school specials where they put the warnings up front:
It probably didn’t happen that way. I know my mom didn’t give me a hug and say, “You’ll never be alone with him again. I promise you.” If she did, it was a lie since the monster continued to live in our house after I told her.
My family’s silence and denial was the biggest betrayal I’ve ever experienced. It cut deeper and hurt more than any wound possible. Their abandonment was worse than the actual abuse. I was just a child. It just kept going on and on. Every day for more than a decade, I lived with traitors until I was finally old enough to move out of the house. It is still an open sore and I don’t talk about it much because it hurts. I mask the hurt with anger. I still have so much anger.
When I started using drugs and drinking, she asked me why. When I stopped eating and started cutting myself, she asked me why. When I skipped school and my cumulative grade point average dropped from 4 to 3.6 in two semesters, she asked me why. When I stopped listening to her advice, she had the nerve to ask me why. All I could do was glare. My restraint was admirable, but I didn’t appreciate the vastness of my anger then. I only felt the glow of it.
I’d like to know why, too. I would like to know why they left a seven-year old child, their child, to carry the burden of child sexual abuse alone. I want to know why they didn’t believe their child when she told them about sexual torture going on under their roof. Why didn’t they make it stop? I’d like to know why they blithely watched me self-destruct and never got me any help. I’d like to know how a mother can live with herself after failing her child in the worst way possible.
They might as well have kicked me out of the house. It would have been easier for me to hate from afar rather than live in the same house with passive evil. It would have made more sense if they never cared about me at all.