I don’t have any recollection of any unsavory activity between myself and my grandfather – most likely because he died suddenly, in a car accident, when I was only six. It would be decades before we would all find out that he was a paedophile, and that he had very seriously abused my older sister until she was about fourteen.
I grew up in a typical suburban home in New Jersey. My father had a good union job and my mom stayed home and took care of us and the house. I was born the third child, and second girl in a large Irish Catholic family. It’s a spot where you are usually relegated to complete obscurity but I was a very pretty little girl, and my grandfather was more than happy to assume complete responsibility for me, from the time I could walk. It was a great relief to my harried, alcoholic mother.
My sister’s abuse stopped around the time I turned two. Her story makes my story look like a walk in the park. After my grandfather died, my older brother started to molest me. He had in turn been molested by the priests at his school, and he was taking the lessons he had learned there and applying them to me. I became a sex toy for an adolescent boy as soon as my grandfather was gone. When you grow up with this sort of thing, it is easy to see how it just becomes “normal”. I was literally groomed to be a compliant sex object.
I started running away from home by the time I was eleven, trying to get away from what was becoming more and more serious abuse. Of course out in the world I only found more abusers. I was pimped out by a boyfriend at the age of 13. That same boyfriend drugged me and allowed me to be gang raped. I was THAT girl, through no fault of my own.
I lost myself in drugs and eventually became a heroin addict. From the kettle to the frying pan I went throughout my teen years. I did get clean and sober just before my 18th birthday and met a “nice” man in a twelve step program. He treated me pretty good, he only beat me a couple of times, we were married when I was twenty – but as it turned out I was just a front for his homosexuality. The abuse did not stop, it only changed.
My second marriage – which I am still in – has also been riddled with emotional and verbal abuse. It has only been in the last 5 years that I have started to put all these things together and say to myself and the world – hey, wait a minute, I don’t deserve this treatment.
I am just starting to see the depth of damage that has been done to me and my sister(s). I have carried the shame of these things my entire life and still am afraid of the judgement I might incur if I tell this story.
But two years ago, I heard somebody at a V-day rally tell their story.
I realized that we who have been the object of such abuse need not feel ashamed nor should we be silent. And I know this kind of abuse is still going on. It must stop in order for us females to take our rightful place as equal heirs of this planet, the saving of which is imperative.
Only light can cast out the darkness. Only love can heal this pain. There are one billion women who have been beaten or raped in this world. I am proud, every February 14th, to be one of them, rising up for justice.
This article is appearing under a pseudonym and some of the identifying details have been altered.