THE FIRST YEARS:
I never met my father. The last I heard about him, he was in prison or dead, nobody seems really sure. Either way I don’t know him and I don’t want to know him. I’ve managed thirty three years so far, I’m sure I’ll survive however many are left. The man I knew as a father, actually only came into my life when I was two years old. My mom was unreliable to say the least. She was a fan of Mr Jack Daniels but he decided to date and subsequently marry her six months after meeting her regardless. People thought he was a saint, this man taking on this troubled woman and infant daughter and he enjoyed that, he liked being thought fondly of.
He was not a nice man, despite appearances. He fed my mother’s addiction. Yes, she was an alcoholic before she met him but it accelerated once he came onto the scene. I didn’t know he was the one responsible for her downward spiral at the time, I mean obviously, I was a kid but now I look back, especially with the work I do, I see all the red flags. He’s a predator. He saw an opportunity to take advantage of a lone, vulnerable woman and he took it. I guess I should probably explain what I’m taking about in more detail. I’m a abuse victim. I don’t like calling myself a victim, I don’t like the connotation of it, I don’t like the stigma and the treatment attached along with it. Survivor is equally as bad. I endured things that no child should ever have to but it’s in the past. I don’t talk about it, I don’t think about it, it’s blocked. I know repression is bad, I tell the kids that talking about it is the best option but not for me, I think it’s too late for that now. It’s locked away in my head somewhere and that’s where it’s staying.
The abuse started when I was five. I didn’t know it was sexual abuse, I was a kid, I knew I didn’t like it but this was the man I knew as a father, I didn’t realise it wasn’t normal. Once I began to realise it wasn’t, I felt guilty and ashamed for not stopping it and so I didn’t tell. How is a kid supposed to stop it? I had no grandparents, no other family other than him and my mom and she was so strung out she was effectively on another planet. I was trapped, scared and ashamed. For years I spent every last minute I possible could out of the house. If I couldn’t go to a friends I’d walk around until I physically couldn’t any longer. I feel like I didn’t sleep for years. Whenever I went to bed, I knew I was at my most vulnerable. I’d lie there, expecting and waiting to hear his footsteps coming along the corridor to my room. Even when he didn’t come, I still couldn’t sleep because I could never be completely sure he wouldn’t. My childhood was effectively a living nightmare. I never really had the chance to be a kid, it was stolen from me not just by him but by my mother too. Somehow, he made me feel like I was the bad person, like what he was doing to me was all my fault and it took a lot of years for me to realise that he was the bad guy, not me.
THE PRE/TEENS YEARS:
Once I hit ten I started to run away. I was never very successful. I had no money, nowhere to stay and no way of getting food. After a couple of days I always had to go home. It was a vicious cycle I couldn’t break free from. I started doing what most do in my position, self-harming. Why would hurting yourself make you feel better? I didn’t fully understand it but it worked. There’s no one reason for a person hurting themselves, everybody has their own reasons. For me it was like I was punishing myself for feeling ashamed because of what was happening to me and it felt like it was the only bit of my life I had any control over. It’s hard, thinking and feeling like you have no control over anything, like your life isn’t your own. Whenever I did cut, I never had any intention of killing myself. I don’t know, despite the fact I pretty much hated my life I never really and truly considered suicide. It was a passing thought, a very frequent passing thought but it never stuck. I think in my head at the time, I thought that if he pushed me to that, to suicide, he’d be the victor and I’d never let that happen.
It really all came to an end when I found out I was pregnant. People tend to notice a pregnant thirteen year old, it’s the kind of thing that draws attention. It was a teacher actually who was the first to realise. She was the first person to ever really notice me and see that something was wrong. When she asked, it all came flooding out. I can’t describe it, it was like I had this dam inside of my just holding all my emotions back but as soon as she started asking and taking notice, it just gave way and everything came flooding out. It all really snowballed from there. I started to see the school councillor but she was definitely not equipped to deal with me and my situation. I had to talk to social workers, police officers, so many people. In some ways, that was as brutal as the abuse itself. They didn’t tenderly approach the subject, I was effectively interrogated for hours and hours on end and whilst I understand it, details are needed… I was thirteen years old, I needed some support. In the beginning, he tried to deny it. My mom even took his side. I think she honestly believed there was no way it could be happening under her roof without her knowing but she was a drunk, I’m pretty sure she lost days at a time. Once he found out I was pregnant he changed his story, well he changed his plea to guilty anyway. He knew he was caught, there was no way he’d have admitted it otherwise.
As it all came out I had to change schools, actually we moved towns because the story was just fodder for the local new outlets and gossips. The attention the story had bought was too much for me or my mom to handle. I stayed out of school the majority of time I was pregnant. With the police investigation going on, the move, it just seemed easier to miss school for that period of time. Besides, we’d just left town to avoid the scandal so the less people knew about it and particularly the pregnancy, the better. I gave birth on September 12th 1996 and that was the first and last time I ever saw the child. I put them up for adoption and that’s the end of that story. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about them because I do but I know that was the best decision. I was a kid, my mom was a drunk and I didn’t want to ever have to explain how I came to be a pregnant thirteen year old. I want them to have the best chance at a decent life and knowing you’re father is a paedophile and predator is not something somebody needs to have in their head. I hope that whatever they’re doing, they’re happy, comfortable, safe and I think mostly importantly, I hope they feel loved. I don’t really want to talk about it honestly, the past is the past and for me, that’s where it’s staying.
My mom did sober up for a little while. We were under a lot of state supervision so she had no choice but to really but it was a short lived affair. She’d been alcoholic for so long and with everything that had happened I’m not surprised she relapsed. I think she felt a lot of guilt for what happened to me. She was supposed to be my protector and she failed, she had invited the man that caused me so much pain into our lives with open arms. I don’t blame her though, I mean I did, I really did but not anymore. As far as I’m concerned, she was just as much a victim of him as I was. He drew her in and I’m not angry with her for falling for it, he knew exactly what he was doing and he played her like a fiddle. That’s the thing with abusive men like that, they are master manipulators. Despite the fact they are the bad people, that they’re doing the bad things, they somehow make you think it’s your fault, that you’re the bad person. Even if somebody on the outside tells you that they’re the bad person, you don’t see it, you’re so caught up in it, there’s nothing anybody can say to get his narrative out of your head or hers because women can be abusers too. It takes years before you can look back and see the situation for exactly what it was.
The thing that really fucked the relationship with my mom was how she reacted afterward. Once her sober stint was over she just continued to spiral downward and I never really forgave her for it. Instead of supporting me, being there for me and acting like a decent parent for just once in her life, she didn’t. My teens years were spent mostly looking after her. I remember coming home from school and finding her passed out in the chair having pissed and puked all over herself. She was a useless mother and once I hit eighteen and finished school, I left and never went back. I don’t know whether she’d dead or alive and I do care, of course I care about her but I hate her and I want nothing to do with her.
The rest of my teen years, mother aside were relatively normal I think? My school grades were average to bad which is not ideal but at least I was in school? I guess my priorities weren’t really in the right place but I did actually finish school so that’s something right? I did starting dating a boy when I was eighteen too but he made a move and I punched him in the face. It was a reflex! I did however break his nose and there was blood just everywhere… it definitely was not pretty. I didn’t really want to and honestly I just couldn’t bring myself to explain why a romantic gesture had led to such a violent act and so he dumped me which in retrospect was a smart move on his part. Maybe they weren’t so normal? I don’t think there really is such a thing as ‘normal’ anymore anyway.
I think I went through a sort of teenage rebellion whilst in my early twenties. I drank a lot and I’m not using the word ‘lot’ lightly, I was raised by an alcoholic, remember? I was not the type of person that could have just one drink, I drank until I made a fool out of myself and passed out. I guess I learned from the best. Yeah, I was messy. I slept around, I mean not a lot but enough to be a little embarrassed looking back on it now. That was not the person I wanted to be, I ended up being a carbon copy of my mom and that was definitely not the direction I wanted my life to go. I was twenty four and I woke up half naked and covered in my own piss, gross I know but hear me out. I remember thinking back to how many times I’d found my mom like that and how disgusted and disappointed I’d been with her so I decided that was the last time I was going to let myself get into a state like that. So I may have been drunk since, I mean, I’m not a fucking saint, not by a long shot but I’m definitely in a better place. I save the messy Billie for special occasions.
I started working at Point Tailor Treatment Facility nearly six years ago now. Everything just kinda fell into place when I found it. I worked my up to lead supervisor which I don’t know, I still find a little surprising. I could never commit to anything, even now I struggle to even have a Netflix account and that can be cancelled anytime. I was constantly moving from one position to another and from one place to another but I don’t know, this just fit I guess? I love my work. I can empathize with the kids more than most. I think it’s good for them to know there’s somebody there who knows what they’re going through. I may not have had the exact same experience as them but I’ve suffered and I’ve come out the other side. Yes, I still have scars, physical, emotional and psychological and it’s definitely had a lasting impact on me but I’m still here and I’m pretty normal? I think it’s nice to know that there’s something after, that you won’t always feel that way and things will get better. Look at me being all soft and gushy, I’m the tough one you know. I mean, I’m not tough but I feel like I’m the one who takes the less shit and lays down the law as it’s required and it’s a role I’m happy with. I’m the tough love provider and it suits me, I can’t be too squishy with people all the time. Honestly, the work means everything to me. I want it to be a place that I would’ve felt safe being and I work hard to try and make it the best it can be.