Every Breath You Take…
I want to talk about love. About a dark, evil, and twisted love. The love of a pedophile for his victim – me. My pedophile was my great uncle; my grandmother’s brother-in-law. He was in his 60s when he began grooming me. He was one of my favorite people in the whole world. He took time with me, listened to me, treated me with kindness. He would bring me gifts, take me places when I needed a ride and nobody else was available. He kept our household going, fixing the things we were too poor to replace.
The first time I know that he molested me, I was not-quite 11 years old. That day, I was sitting on his lap, cuddled up and feeling safe and secure. He held me, like he always did, with his arms around me, one hand between my legs. So it wasn’t the first time, it was just the first time I understood it to be wrong, to be abuse. I had no idea what was happening when an orgasm washed over me. How could I? I was about three weeks away from my 11th birthday, four years away from my first period. I had no budding breasts. I had none, no acne, no oily hair. How could I understand what had just happened?
I remember jumping off his lap and running to the sink, feeling like I might throw up, and holding on for the waves of dizzyness. “What happened,” he asked?
“Nothing,” I said.
I still remember how different his tone was; how self-satisfied. He knew what had happened, I knew. And I knew, right down to the bottom of my soul that it should not have happened, that this person I’d loved just a minute ago was my enemy. I ran outside, out to the woods, through the thick puckerbrush where it would be difficult for a large person to follow me. I didn’t come back until evening, when my mother came home, and I got in trouble because supper wasn’t cooking.
Somehow, that night, I convinced myself that nothing had happened. I’d just been sick, I’d imagined it. When he came back the next day, I was confused. I avoided his invitation to sit on his lap, though I wanted to, I wanted to go back to two days ago, when it was the happiest thing in the world. My two younger brothers were there, so he was circumspect for an hour or two. But he couldn’t stand it, he needed to gauge this awakening of me that he’d probably been working toward for years. It was too much to bear, and I could see it in his face, hear it in his voice. He asked me to go out to the shed with him so he could show me something. We went out, and he grabbed me, pulled me to him, and put his hand down my pants. “This is our secret,” he said.
I pulled away. I ran again.
That was the last time I ever let him touch me. But it was only the beginning.
Being the victim of a pedophile as I was is not just inappropriate sexual touching. It’s being their fixation, the focus of their love and longing, while at the same time, having the love and trust you feel for that person twisted and broken.
From that day forward, he would be there, waiting, when I got home from school more days then he wasn’t. Every time, it was a battle of wills, a dance to avoid his touch. A constant barrage of sexual talk I wasn’t able to stop, to understand, or welcome. It was a bribe; all the things I didn’t have; new clothes, records, candy, soda pop. Later, the bribe would include drugs and alcohol. But only if I was willing to play our secret. I always turned him down.
He stalked me. If I didn’t come home on the school bus, he’d drive to my school to find me.
When I was 14, I’d gone to the Eastern States Expo (in Springfield, MA) with my 4-H club for a week. While there, I met a boy, Barry, who was two years older from NH; about an hour and a half from where I lived in western Maine. It was wonderful. We made plans for him to come visit me when afternoon; he would pick me up at school. On this particular day, my pedophile was waiting for me at home, and my younger brothers were all too eager to tell him about my new boyfriend who was picking me up at school.
I had a wait, Barry got out of school the same time I did, and he had a drive, even though he’d gotten off school early that day. It gave my pedophile time to get to the school, too. Barry pulled up, got out of his car, and I was introducing him to some of my friends when I saw the big maroon car my pedophile drove pull up. He parked behind Barry, and stared at us. I am sure he wanted to kill Barry. I tried to pretend he wasn’t there. Barry and I got into his car, and began driving, and that maroon nightmare followed. All the way home. And it drove up and down in front of my house until Barry left after supper.
After this, I gave up on boys. Boys could not withstand this. I started dating men; some twice my age. Within a year, I told my pedophile this, that I was dating them, sleeping with them, and he would never get what I freely gave to them. I will never forget what he said: “That’s good, they’ll know how to please you, they won’t ruin you like those teenage boys will.” That’s how it justified what he did; he was making sure I was properly sexually awakend.
After that day, he left me alone more and more. For years, I thought it was because of some inner strength I’d displayed. Now, I know better. I was nearly 16, and starting to look womanish. I was no longer attractive the beautiful little girl I had been. And there was a new little girl. My greatest shame is that it took me another year to find the strength to tell the adults; to offer some chance of freeing her from I lived through.
What I experienced was a crime. But it was more; it was my pedophile’s orientation. I don’t know how to fix this, either. Changing someone’s sexual orientation is wrong. We don’t even try. Instead, we wait, wait until after. And then, there’s a good chance that even if that little girl or boy has the courage to speak out, there will be no proof. It will be a child’s work agains the word of a respected member of the community, someone who’s gone to great lengths to create respect as a defense against the horror of his sexual orientation.
I have no answers. But I thought you should know of this kind of love, a love that isn’t loving. And I thought, the next time you question what a child says, you should have some small notion of what that child might be going through. The sex? That may well be the least part of the nightmare. It’s the love that’s the burden.
[Photo: The author, one year prior to the events described.]