This seems like a good time for me to stop the ongoing narrative that follows my healing process to speak to you about something that I feel needs to be understood for you to truly understand the blessings of this healing and the very difficult work that had to be done. In order to tell this part of my story I will need to be a bit more specific about some things but I do not intend to be graphic. So please decide for yourself if you are ready to read this post.
I have spoken to Ruth a few times about not “seeing” my story out there. So many of the abuse stories you hear about deal with incest or abduction. The general story line is that the child was completely innocent and all touching was against the child’s will. It is easy to be sympathetic to these children. But a whole other category of abused children exists; the ones who were groomed. Part of the grooming process involves the abuser convincing the child that the child wants what is happening to their person. In most cases the groomer will work very slowly with the child to gain trust. My abuser was in his teen years, about 15 years old I think. His behavior with me indicates that I was not his first victim and I think it likely that he had experience with grooming victims before.
The first day of abuse was not dark and rainy but sunny and cool, sometime in early April I think. I believe that I am 8 years old and a couple of my siblings and myself are at the neighbor’s house playing Kick the Can. I am hiding behind a grain bin, peeking out at the person who is “it” when I turn around and the abuser is right behind me. I never knew where he came from as I never saw him approach. He smiles, says “shh” and winks at me. And just like that we are connected in this game, on the same side, sharing a moment of fun. I am completely relaxed as I know this person from many other visits and he is a my friend’s brother. He is near the age of my oldest sister and he seems very grown up to me. He peeks around the corner, seeing where everyone is located then he turns back to me. He begins to speak to me about us being friends and not just friends but “special friends”. He says he likes me and that I am special. He wants to be “special friends” with me. Do I want to be his special friend? I remember feeling really good that someone liked me, I immediately felt special and it was a good feeling. I never questioned then as an 8-year-old all the things that make no sense to an adult; like why this 15-year-old would even want to be friends with an 8 year old? What could these two possibly have in common? It was enough for me that he liked me and was showing me some positive attention.
My mind is still on the game going on and I am going back to peek around the corner again. It takes a moment or two for me to realize that he is speaking quietly to me still about being friends. He is telling me that there is special things that happen between these “special friends”. He says that special friends kiss, do I know how to kiss? I am thinking about kissing my parents when I go to bed. I kiss them on the cheek. I think this is what he is referring to. He tells me that if I want to be his friend then we should kiss to show that we like each other. This seems harmless enough so I pucker up but he kisses me on the lips. This is strange to me, I am not sure about this but he immediately is telling me that friends kiss; don’t I know how to kiss a friend? I no longer feel like such a big girl as I understand that there are things that I just don’t know. He tells me that friends kiss to show that they like each other, but that “special friends” french kiss. Do I know what french kissing is? I do not and I tell him so. He tells me that it is open mouth kissing. I don’t understand what he means and that seems kinda yucky. He pulls me towards him and I stiffen up. He says it doesn’t hurt or anything, but if you don’t want to be special friends we won’t do it. Before I can figure that out he is kissing me and it does not hurt although it feels funny to me. He then begins to instruct me on the proper placement of my mouth, “open your mouth a little wider. kissing… good. that’s better. This is nice. kissing…” Then he put his tongue in my mouth. That was a real shock for me. I pulled back but he held my head to him with one hand while he put slight pressure on my back to keep me there. When he was done he began to praise me for how I did. Tell me that it felt good. He used the word “good” over and over while convincing me that what had just occurred was “normal for special friends”. He next began to speak to me about keeping this encounter a secret from everyone else. He told me that if I told anyone that we could not be special friends anymore. He said that the others would want to be a part of this also and he just liked me. It didn’t take long for him to have convinced me that I wanted to kiss, that I wanted to kiss him again, that I was his special friend, and that this behavior was completely normal and going on everywhere between special friends.
The molestation portion of my abuse took place over about 6 months with 60-100 separate incidents of abuse. These abuse sessions moved indoors to a loft and during those times the abuser taught me everything I know about the act of sex. There is nothing that I know that I did not experience with him. As each progression in the abuse took place he seemed kind, patient and loving. And as this person used me for his pleasure I absolutely believed that what we were doing was normal. I never questioned anything that the abuser told me. If he said it was true then I believed it with never a second thought. As he touched me and taught me more and more I physically felt the pleasure that people feel during sexual relations. Even though I was very young I did experience orgasm and this was just one of numerous issues of shame that I have dealt with over my lifetime. In the last few weeks of abuse the abuser begin to use the F word with me. He began to tell me that he was going to F___ me and that I was going to really enjoy it. I had no idea what this was but I trusted my special friend and I never felt that he had hurt me or lied to me before. He continued to speak of it, to get me used to the word even though I had no idea what this would entail. I couldn’t imagine what would come next in this progression of physical and emotional connection, but I knew that it was going to be wonderful because my special friend had told me so.
Every abuse took place on his home turf. He would tell me to come over on certain days and to meet him in the loft. He was always careful to remind me not to be seen and to not tell anyone what was going on. He continued to use the same reasoning with me that he started with, that we could not be friends anymore if I told. He told me often that the other children would be jealous if they found out and they would want to be a part of our time together. He was preparing me physically for the day of rape. Every touch was calculated to elicit a particular response and to get me used to his touching me in all kinds of ways.
After the rape occurred I was completely and utterly devastated. I was physically in horrible pain, I was terrified of the abuser and of anyone finding out what had happened, and I was emotionally broken. I wanted to die but I had no idea how to go about this. The person who I had come to trust more than anyone else in my small world had hurt me, yelled at me, accused me of wanting to be raped, blamed me, and betrayed me. My mind was fractured and it would take nearly 4 decades to put the pieces back together again. I was both terrified of this person and I missed my friend. When I thought of the abuser many years later he became like two different people in my mind. First there was the molester, who cared for me and was my friend and then there was the rapist that hated me and hurt me. I had a really difficult time meshing these two individuals into the one horrible monster that he is.
It required quite a lot of EMDR therapy and talk therapy in order for me to not feel good, warm feelings when I thought of the abuser. I had over the years convinced myself that the molester was the real person and he cared about me and that it was somehow my fault that this person raped me. Even after more than 5 years of therapy I struggle with feeling angry with this person. Every time I begin to allow myself to feel angry with him I seem to shut it down and refuse to feel it. I don’t understand this yet, I just know it to be true. The grooming process is an effective tool in trapping young children in abusive situations. It is a horrible thing to trap a child in a place where they have pleasure within the pain. It creates conflict within and confusion.
If you are still reading I thank you for sticking with me. I know it is not easy to hear such things and while I have no desire to be graphic for shock value, I felt it was important for you to understand where I come from in order to understand what occurred during my journey. If you have been groomed, if you felt pleasure please understand that you do not walk alone. Many of us have felt the pleasures of the body while being hurt. Ruth explained it this way to me: “God gave us the ability to feel sexual pleasure, but he never intended for this to be forced upon anyone. To sexualize a child is an evil thing as children are not ready to handle the consequences nor to understand what is occurring.” God intends good for his people but man takes that good and uses and it for evil. Another thing that Ruth would tell me nearly every day that I saw her in the first few years is “God will redeem that”. Whatever your pain, whatever your memory or whatever your sorrow, God will redeem it. God Bless.