It wasn’t my fault. That’s what people say. Still, it haunts me every day. I wonder all the time, what did I do that made this happen? Does the fact that I was young mean I couldn’t have prevented it? Maybe if I was smarter I would have understood what was happening. I would not have waited three or four years to tell someone. I could have done something. I didn’t stop him. I listened and did what he said. So I’m to blame. Right?
I was 8 years old the day I was molested. It was somewhere between the middle of spring and the middle of summer. It was a regular day. Cats were outside fixing their bikes and messing with firecrackers. I was at my baby-sitter’s house and her son was watching me while she was out.
I Can’t Recall the Pain
My baby-sitter’s son was like a role model to me. He was 17, had friends on the block, girls, and was always nice. We would play fight. He’d call me his cousin and take me with him when he went to chill. I was a young boy basically growing up without my father, so he was sort of like a big brother to me.
The day it happened, he and I had just made some burgers and fries and were watching TV. I don’t remember if we were talking or what we were watching or really if the TV was even on. I just know I was looking at it. When I was done with my fries I asked him if I could have some more.
He asked me, “You want more fries?” and I said, “Yes, please.” So he told me that if I wanted more fries I had to do something. He told me to go in the bedroom and pull down my pants.
I went, only thinking about how I was going to get more french fries. I never have understood why I did what he said, I doubt I ever will. He came in the room and told me to look straight ahead. After that, I don’t remember much. I never have been able to recall the pain. I don’t even know if there was any. I just assume there was.
After it was over (in my mind it starts and ends at the same time), he gave me some french fries and told me he would kill me if I ever told anyone.
In the weeks after it happened, all I remember is watching Robo Cop and not much else. I think part of the reason I don’t remember much is because when something like that happens to you, you don’t want to think about it, you just want it to go away, so your mind kind of shuts down. Besides, after it happened, I didn’t talk to anybody about it, and when I finally did, they didn’t have much to say, so it never seemed that real.
But after it happened, I made up some story to convince my mom to get me a new baby-sitter. After she did, I thought it would be all over, but really, it wasn’t. For a couple of years I pushed it out of my mind, but still it haunted me in other ways.
For one, my behavior changed from bad to worse. I was doing everything and anything that could be done with girls, except for the actual act of sex (my mom said if I did it I would burn in hell). I got kicked out of school for the last two months of 3rd grade. Plus, I started stealing.
My behavior wasn’t all about the rape. I was already a little bad -ss. But it did make me act even more crazy. I acted in all sorts of wild ways without really knowing why, like I wasn’t living my own life, like I was on auto-pilot, like I was watching myself on TV.
I never thought about the rape itself. I guess I had blocked it out so much that I didn’t even remember that it happened. But in little ways it would come up.
I had a toy car that I had liked to play with which I had left at my old baby-sitter’s house, and for years I bugged my mother about getting it back from there. It was the car from the cartoon Bionic 5. It was purple and yellow with missiles. I had it with me every time I went to that house, and sometimes I would leave it there. After, I would always think about how I lost my car in that house and I couldn’t go and get it back.
‘What You Want Me to Do About It?’
At the time, I didn’t understand what I had truly lost, or that the car was a symbol of something bigger-a symbol of everything that had been taken from me when my baby-sitter’s son raped me. I just knew it was important and that I longed to have it back.
Then, when I was 10, I was just sitting down one day and everything flashed through my head and I realized I had been molested and that I needed to tell someone. I thought about everything I had done with girls and felt ashamed, because they hadn’t fully understood what we had been doing anymore than I had. I felt I had become like him, my baby-sitter’s son.
By then I was living down south with my father, so I went to tell my stepmother. I was scared, but I thought that since she was a psychiatrist, she could make it go away. But all she said was that it wasn’t my fault and then she let it drop. I left feeling even more confused. I felt dumb for even bringing it up.
Then when I was 11 and living with my mom again, I told her what had happened. I had begun to have a lot of flashbacks of the rape and I could tell that my mom was worried. But when I told her, she and her boyfriend acted like I didn’t tell them anything at all. I understood that it was four or five years after it happened, but she didn’t even hug me.
She just said, “What you want me to do about it? It’s too late now. You should have told me when it happened.” I went to my room and cried. I felt that it must have been my fault if no one could or would help me.
Soon I was thinking about it every day. I could just be walking and I’d remember it. It really didn’t take anything. The worst was when I was 15. By then, I had entered the system, and I got into a scrape with three or four guys in my group home who started rumors that I was gay.
I Wanted to Be a Regular Cat
Every day I was approached by someone who had heard the rumors. I was afraid to go to sleep because one or two kids said they were going to sneak into my room and suck my dick. I had to fight people off and on until the whole thing died down. I was in a constant state of turmoil.
And in the background, always, there was my secret. Every day I would wonder, “Can people tell I was molested? Do I walk like regular cats or do people see a ‘take advantage’ sign on my -ss?” I wondered, “Am I gay because some man molested me when I was 8?” After all, I took my pants off when he asked me to, didn’t run when he did it. I was afraid it was my fault, that it was something I had wanted, something I made happen.
Even after the rumors died down, I continued to try to prove I was a man. I looked for trouble in the streets, and talked to anything with a pretty face. I once hopped out of a car to get a girl’s number because my uncle said she looked like something I should bag. But none of that made my fears go away.
Instead, the memories came back with a vengeance. Last year, I was bugging out about something or other and staff restrained me. I started to get the signs I usually get before a flashback-which is when memories of that time come flooding back as if they were happening right then. I tried to get in control, but it was too hard with two guys holding me down. I started catching little spasms, so they held me tighter.
I tried to tell them to let go. I told them anything that came to mind. The staff wouldn’t listen, and after a while I just remembered so much that had happened that day I was 8 and I started shaking. Next thing I knew I was crying. I wasn’t totally out of control yet, so I turned my head so they wouldn’t notice. I was afraid that if the staff knew I had been molested, they would go and spread my business and crack jokes.
I Felt Pitiful
Finally it all happened at once. The tears were running down my face and I was shouting, “You’re not going to do that sh-t again,” and trying to fight them off of me. The staff had called for an extra hand. One was at my feet and legs, one was sitting on my back, and one was pulling my wrist to my shoulder. Finally, I calmed myself down.
I told the staff to close the door and I told them what had happened. I felt pitiful. I was afraid to look the staff in the eye. I didn’t want to tell them what had happened. The last nine years had taught me that it was better to hide it.
Nothing much happened, though, good or bad. The staff were cool. They got up and said they were sorry. I told them I understood they had to do their job, and that was that.
A Secret So Deep
I still think about what happened almost every day. I walk around with a secret that I feel I have to hide. I know that lots of girls who have been molested feel that way too. But maybe guys feel it even more-like it has to be hidden so deep, like we have to hide it even from ourselves. If my parents had sat me down and talked to me instead of acting like it never happened, maybe I would feel less ashamed.
The feelings I’ve had all these years are so strong. I never saw my baby-sitter’s son after my mom took me to a new one. I don’t remember his name, and I doubt I would recognize his face. But once when I was 13, I tried to find him because I wanted to kill him. The thought filled my head every day for about three months. But I was too afraid to walk down that block where he lived.
Revisiting the Block
Last summer I’d had a little to drink and I guess the liquor gave me the courage to confront my demons, so I decided to go there. I had stopped being afraid of seeing my babysitter’s son, I was just afraid of the pain I might feel from the memories of the rape.
But when I got to that block, I recalled other sorts of memories, good memories-my kindergarten graduation, old friends and family who used to live there too. It gave me a type of release to confront my fears. And so has writing this article. Life’s got a f-cked up sense of humor, but I guess I think that if I deal with the scars, one day they might heal.
Facing the Past
Still, there’s a part of me that doesn’t know if I can ever fully deal with the rape. It always makes me wonder if someone’s trying to take advantage of me. It makes me feel I’ve got a shameful thing I have to hide.
It’s messed up that something that happened when I was 8 can still affect me so much now. It’s messed up that someone can come into your life for so brief a time and f-ck everything up so much. I feel like no matter what I do, I can’t get back what was stolen. But I’m writing this article because I also know that if I keep it hidden from myself, the abuse will only surface in more painful ways.
- Foster Care