A parents job is to show up, to protect a child, to put them first. Unfortunately, that has not been my experience but it is the experience my child will have. She will never know what it feels like to be put last. She will only know what it feels like to be protected, to be safe, to know her parents are willing to sacrifice for her, to love her no matter what.
I believe becoming a parent means you have been given a great privilege to guide, nurture and care for another human. With that privilege comes tremendous responsibility. The responsibility of knowing another life depends on you. A parent is suppose to emote safety by providing a place where children can be who they authentically are, to grow, to learn and to love. A parent is never suppose to be a threat or a predator. In my case, the predator lived in my home. He sat next to me at the dinner table. My mother expected me to pass the man, responsible for abusing me, the potatoes every night. I was taught to forgive and forget. To move on. To keep the peace and to never, never tell anyone.
Abuse of children is deplorable yet it continues to happen. One in ten children will be sexually abused before 18 years of age. 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser and of children who are sexually abused 20% are abused before the age of 8. These statistics describe my situation. My adopted father sexually abused me between the ages of 3 and 6. Think for a moment. Do you know a child between the ages of 3 and 6? Do they trust the adults in their lives? Do they trust their parents? Can they take care of themselves? If one of their parents was a predator where would they go to seek safety?
I remember being in school and watching a video about safe and unsafe touching. I remember playing a game in my grandparents home where I thought dusting was fun. I would dust the house for them. I remember running my hands along the foot board of their bed as I dusted and telling my grandmother how my adopted father touched me. I remember telling her how I would count the pink flowers on my parents light blue bedroom wallpaper while he touched me so I could endure what he was doing to me or making me do to him.
I don’t remember much about what happened next other than a female police officer coming to my grandparents home, sitting on their couch and playing Barbies with me while I described what my father did to me. Then I remember my adopted mother coming over and taking me home.
The nightmares and panic attacks began soon after I was taken home to my adopted parents…to live again with the predator.