Friday, 28 October 2011
Fight or Flight
A while after my stepfathers abuse was discovered by my mother, they decided to sell their house and move from the small rural suburb that we lived - into the main township.
While they looked for a new house to buy, we rented a 2 bedroom unit in a small block of 4. The landlord and his wife lived in the first unit. A teacher lived in the second unit. The 3rd unit was ours and an old lady lived in the 4th unit.
While we were living in the flat, I shared the small bedroom with my older stepsister and younger half sister. My stepbrother was a lot older and he kept living with his Grandmother.
We lived in the flat for about 3 years or so. During that time the old lady moved out of the 4th flat, and my maternal Grandmother moved in. The teacher moved out of the second flat and a single mother "T"and her son "P" (who was in my class at school) moved into the second flat.
One day, my mother and my two sisters and I were next door visiting T & P. P was playing some kind of computer game, which I found really boring, so I came back home, and was hitting a tennis ball against the brick wall in the garage with a tennis racket.
It had been quite a while since my mother had caught him sexually abusing me, and he hadn't tried to touch me since then, so I was totally unprepared for what happened next.
My stepfather was inside, and came out into the garage. "Where is everyone?" he asked quietly.
"They are over at T & P 's house" I answered, concentrating on the ball and racket. I was facing the wall - he was behind me.
"Where's Nanny?" he asked.
"I don't know - I guess she is in her flat" I began...
But he said "Sssssshh" and from behind me he began to put his foot in between my legs and slowly moved it upwards until he touched my bottom and pelvis.
I felt sick.
I knew exactly what was about to happen next.
I had to get out of there.
Any excuse would do.
I decided to try playing dumb; to pretend I didn't know what he was doing; what he was trying to do....
I said, "I have to go over to T & P's place - they are waiting for me".
And I ran.
For a while.
Later that night, I was getting ready to have my shower before going to bed.
My stepfather told me to go and have a shower. In an insolent way (just like most other normal 9 or 10 year olds tired of being nagged by grown ups) I put my hands on my hips and said "I was just about too."
He completely lost it.
"You won't talk to me that way. I am meant to be the head of this house, not the dog!" he bellowed.
He grabbed his strap and gave me a belting.
After it was over I lay sobbing on the bathroom floor.
The tiles felt cool and comforting.
Mum eventually came in to help me. "You will have to learn to do what he says," she said.
I have no doubt in my mind that he lashed out at me that night because he didn't get his way.
When I finally went to sleep that night, I dreamed that my stepfather was trying to abuse me again. In my dream, Mum came to me and accused me of 'being rude' with him, which I denied. In my dream, she said " I know you have been, because I can smell is Teeth!".
I know that dream is a bit random, especially about the teeth, but I believe it was my 9 or 10 year old brain trying to process everything that had happened. That no matter what happened, I was responsible all the bad things that happened to me. That my mother wouldn't be there for her when I needed her the most. That the next time he didn't get his way, I might suffer this consequence again.
But I am proud of myself on that day.
I am proud that I ran.
I am a survivor.