Someone hurt me a long time ago. It’s not one of those duck’s back hurts, it’s a hurt that changed my inner core. Overnight. Just like that, I became un-trusting, scared, overpowered and loved in the wrong kind of way. I was too young to really understand intrinsically that it was wrong. But I knew 100% that it was something I didn’t like. I wanted it to end so badly but he told me that it was okay, we have a special secret. I was 8. He made me feel special, more special than anyone else which was a big deal when you grew up in a huge family.
It was before school at my Aunt’s house. We were doing the weekly magazine circle (our family used to buy magazines and then cycle them through all the families). My parents were hard workers and I don’t blame their absence, even though I know my mum carries guilt every day. They left home early and returned late. They were saving for the elusive Australian dream- Their Own Home. Because of their over time we were left with our grandparents. They were trusted, they were FAMILY. We had grown up with them and around them all our lives and yet something that day changed. Something about me, or something about him, I’m not sure, but that was the day, and then every week day afterwards for 3 years.
I was abused sexually, emotionally blackmailed, bribed and manipulated by my grandfather. I was shamed, vulnerable, embarrassed and isolated. I lost count of how many times I cried, prayed, wrote and screamed ‘WHY ME?’ I now know that I wasn’t the only one. As time went on the abuse intensified and became scarier. I was still too afraid to tell anyone. The abuse crippled my ability to trust my own parents love for me. When I was 10 I wrote letters to my mum, my dad and both my brothers. I told them everything, I apologised for what I had done and then told each of them what I was leaving behind for them. I wanted to die, I didn’t know how to make it stop without breaking my family apart. I didn’t want to be the one who took my Dad’s parents away. I used fairy stationery, it was my favourite. I was 10 and I had decided I was guilty as i was told I was every day.
Life was crap, I would be lying if I said it was all cupcakes and rainbows. My parents were exhausted, they were arguing which only further convinced me that I was ruining everything. There was one good day. The calm in the storm. January 14th, it was a Thursday. I had finished my choir rehearsal and was so happy when I came out to find my mum, dad and brother waiting for me. I thought Grandpa was picking me up. I felt the safest I had in a long time. I was 11 now, We all went to Marion to go food shopping. We laughed, we mucked around, we were a family again. For the first time in 3 years I thought ‘maybe they don’t hate me’. So when we got home, I sat on my parents bed while my mum was putting washing away and I finally uttered the magic words. ‘Mum, I think Grandpa’s been doing things to me that he’s not supposed to’. That’s it, everything stopped. Everything changed, my life, my family, my worldview.
I gave my statements, another victim came forward and the legal process began. I can’t tell you much about all of that, I didn’t really understand it all. I remember being afraid, being escorted around the court room, being prepped by lawyers and being so relieved when a call came through that he had pleaded guilty. IT WAS OVER. I was there at the Christie’s Beach courts when my Grandpa entered his guilty plea to the judge. His voice was croaky and I remember my heart thumping and I wanted to cry, but not from relief, from real sadness. I remember my parents holding me so tight so that nothing could hurt me. I don’t remember my Grandpa walking away free, but that is what happened. He took a plea deal, he served no jail time, nothing. I was in a prison of my own making and he was walking around like nothing happened. He is still free now, even more so because he has Alzheimer’s and he no longer remembers anything he did to me or the other girl. Does it make me a horrible human being that I want him to remember? Probably.
I have been angry at various stages in my life because of him and now I am angry again because he will die not remembering what he did to us and I will stay here fighting my PTSD and anxiety, with daughters of my own that I am terrified for.
Don’t get me wrong though, I am blessed. I have the strongest mum that anyone could have, she sacrificed her own personal justice so that I could have mine. I have brothers that helped protect me and rebuild me. They are my champions. I have a step dad who stepped up and became a hero for me when I couldn’t do it for myself. I have a husband who is patient and listens when I am scared. I have two daughters that are destined for greatness and I never had to give away my vinyl. I SURVIVED!
This guest post was brought to you by the lovely Nicole Arbuckle.
You can see another post by Nicole here.