There are very few people who know the full story of my childhood. Friends know bits and pieces—that I was adopted, maybe, or that my parents have passed away, or that I am uncomfortable in crowds—but the details are often too much for me to share or for people to hear. I’m speaking out now in the hopes of urging anyone having a hard time to seek help, and in an attempt to find other survivors like myself.
I am a product of incest. My grandfather sexually abused my mother—his daughter—for years, eventually getting her pregnant, and I am the result. He’s my grandfather and my father; his other seven children are my aunts and uncles, and my brothers and sisters.
For years, my mother, the oldest, put up with the abuse through a twisted agreement with her dad: Do what you need to with me, as long as you leave the other daughters alone. She was 18 and a mother to me before she learned that he never actually kept this promise, which is when she fled.
She also decided to finally report the abuse to the Department of Human Services. My family had escaped attention by staying on the move and isolating themselves from any kind of community. They lived in various hotel rooms and never sent the kids to school. In a strange coincidence, my mother went to authorities at the same time that two of her brothers were found by police after running away. Their stories were so similar that social workers connected the dots.
MY MOTHER, THE OLDEST, PUT UP WITH THE ABUSE THROUGH A TWISTED AGREEMENT WITH HER DAD: DO WHAT YOU NEED TO WITH ME, AS LONG AS YOU LEAVE THE OTHER DAUGHTERS ALONE.
Unfortunately, we weren’t suddenly safe just because my dad was behind bars. My mother started doing drugs, and continued the cycle of abuse. She got a new boyfriend and would use me, a toddler at the time, as a part of their sexual activity—she filmed and photographed me in these situations and sold them as kiddie porn. One of my earliest, haziest memories is being sent to my room for the night because I resisted, and in another I refuse to give her boyfriend oral sex. My mother hanged herself on August 7, 1996, when I was almost 5.
I was sent to live with my grandmother, who had been a silent witness to the horrors her husband performed. She wasn’t mentally stable herself, and she saw me as the love child of her husband’s infidelity—to her, my mother was the other woman. So she regularly beat me, and peppered me with constant psychological abuse. When I did something that displeased her, she reminded me that my bad behavior was because I was a “child of Satan.”
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