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This is a tough one

But I want to put the record straight, because there seems to be some confusion amongst my friends and family.  This weekend my husband and I have been invited to my baby brother’s wedding. I want to go. I’d love to go. He’s my baby brother and I’d love to see him married. I thought I could do it. I live in the Now, and the past is the past, right? However, some things in the past are just too large and too big to stay there forever. You see, he’s also invited another member of the family whom I never wish to lay eyes on again, and if I do, I might put a knife through his chest. Might. The temptation would be too great. I can’t really risk it.

Why? Because when I took this member of my family into my home, he molested two of my daughters, then aged five and 18 months. You read that right. Five years old, and eighteen months. And I didn’t stutter, he sexually assaulted them — for months before I found out. You might ask why I’m putting this out on a public forum. Why? Because I have nothing to hide. Everything I’m about to tell y’all is the truth and I’m tired of people speaking about it in hushed tones. Monsters need to be pointed out because once a predator, always a predator. And I’m tired of the lies.

I remember how I found out all to clearly. My (first) husband was in the Navy and out to sea. My brother (not the one getting married, another one) came with us to Washington to help me with the kids ages, 5, 4, 18 months, and newborn. I’d been up most of the night with the baby and was so exhausted that when I heard my brother go into the bathroom through the vents, I didn’t pay much attention to it. When I heard my 18 month old go in to use her potty chair, I didn’t think much of it either. Everyone’s family, right? So long as everyone’s sitting down, it’s all covered. She was a baby.  Then I heard her start crying and him shushing her.  My exhausted mind didn’t make the connection at the time. Because what could possibly be going on between my brother and my eighteen month old child? You just don’t think of things like that. It wasn’t until hours later, when I was awake and coherent that the horror of what I heard half asleep dawned on me.

I couldn’t question my 18 month old. She’d have no idea what I was asking. She’d have no way of articulating what might be going on. So when I picked my five year old up from school, I started asking her questions.  “Do you and your uncle play games while Mommy is gone?”

“Yes, but I’m not supposed to tell you.”

“You should always tell Mommy everything.”

“We play house while you’re gone. Uncle is the Daddy and I’m the Mommy.”  And the whole, ugly story came out.

I tried to stay calm. I really did. But how could I stay calm? How? My brother, whom I trusted with my children, betrayed that trust in the worst way.  I drove past my house to the nearest neighbor’s house and knocked on her door. And that’s where I lost it. I used her phone to call the police — after I forcibly took the baseball bat out of her husband’s hands and prevented him from beating my brother to death. Because he wanted to. He was on his way out of the door when I tackled him and wretched the bat out of his hands. “You’ll go to jail!” I said. “Think about your family!”

“That bastard may have touched my girls too!” And he’s right. My brother spent a lot of time around this guy’s kids. But I talked him out of beating my brother up with a baseball bat. He would have killed him. It’s a  choice I sometimes regret to this day.

I started making phone calls, because I didn’t really know what to do, what to believe… My family, all of them, roundly denied that he could ever do such a thing. My mother’s first words were, “I suppose everyone’s going to blame me for this.” And I can’t blame them completely. Even I didn’t want it to be true. I fluctuated between believing and not believing in those first hours too. I mean, how could someone do such a thing to his own family… to babies?

But, I’d heard it with my own ears, and as a mother, I had to believe my child. First things first, he needed to get as far away from my children as possible.

The police finally came.

Instead of arresting him on the spot (as they should have done), they told me they would take him to a men’s shelter and that he could not go penniless, so I should give him $50. Remember, I was hysterical. All I wanted was to get this man out of my house and away from my children. I gave him $50. They took him away. He fled the state and went to the shelter of my mother’s home.

Remember… my husband was out to sea, my brother had betrayed me in the vilest fashion, and my mother sided with him. My neighbors now viewed me with suspicion because how could I have not known what was going on under my roof?  I went manic. It wasn’t fun. I don’t remember much of the next few months until my husband came home, but some things are crystal clear. My twin, thank goodness, came down to help with the kids. We took my daughter to the doctor a little while later because she developed an infection, and it was there that we learned my brother had done her some damage. Not a lot, but enough. She was Five. Years. Old. It was then that compulsory charges were filed by the doctor and my brother was arrested. He couldn’t refute the medical evidence. They wouldn’t take a hysterical woman’s word for it, but they’d take a doctor’s report. He was sentenced to 10 years, I believe. I don’t know how much time he served because I cut all ties with him the day I attended his sentencing and he looked at me and asked for clemency. My mother called and asked, “How could you let your brother go to jail?” Those were the last words my mother ever said to me. We haven’t spoken since. No one seemed to care what he’d done to my daughters, what the long term affects would be.

To this day, nearly thirty years later, my family believes that I falsely accused my brother of molesting my daughter. That he was falsely put in jail on a five year old’s word, and that I “misunderstood” what went on. No. I didn’t. My daughters and I are not the villains of this piece. He is. My daughters are the victims. He ruined my daughters’ childhoods. He also ruined my son’s childhood (who was four, they shared a room). Who knows what he did to my son? Made him watch?  My brother is the only scumbag of this story. He is a registered sex offender and he deserves to be. When he went to prison, I actually wished they’d “make an example” of him and he’d die there… for real. No one was sadder than I when he was released. I suppose that makes me a terrible person, but there it is. I wanted him to suffer as he made my daughters suffer, and I don’t have the means to do that.

Anyway, I don’t blame my family for continuing to love and support him, and I’m not asking them to chose sides. They are welcome to continue to love and support him, even believe him if they want to. It’s in our nature to want to believe those we love. Our minds don’t want to believe that we can love monsters. It’s not possible, right? As I mentioned before, it took my mind time to believe and I knew it to be true. But I do want to set the record straight. They’ve only heard his side for so long. I will however not attend functions that he is attending, nor will I acknowledge him as my brother. He betrayed that kinship, and he is dead to me.

__________

Edited to add: I mis-remembered something. My mother and I reconciled once after this… briefly… because my husband and I moved back to our hometown and I didn’t want to deny my children a grandmother. It didn’t last. I wrote about that here. I’m not sure why I forgot about that. I suppose some things just get pushed around time-wise as we get older.

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29 thoughts on “This is a tough one

  1. These scumbags thrive on secrecy. They need — deserve — to be exposed. My father was a molester and he got away with it because everyone was so secretive, because it was so awful. If we spoke up, it would benefit everyone. Good for you.

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    • That is so very true. I often wish we’d bring back the stockades for that very purpose. Herein lies a scumbag who likes to fondle children. And we can pelt them with stones and rotten vegetables and make them wear a scarlet letter or something. No one with a brain will let them near their kids.

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  2. This post has me in shock through most of it and in anger through the rest. I don’t have words to express myself with this topic, none that I trust myself to say here, so all I’ll say is that you are the bravest and strongest woman there can be and your children are lucky to have you as a mother. As for your so-called brother, I don’t know if you believe in an after life but I do and I take satisfaction in the belief that he will burn in hell for his horrible acts.

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  3. I clicked “like” several hours ago when I first read this as way to show you I was there, I guess. Because there’s nothing to like, of course. You are brave to bring it out, as others have written to you. The miserable treatment from the family shocks but doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen something like it. But I did not live it. Not like you. Not even close. I am so sorry your daughters and you lived through that.

    Two cousins of mine were raped regularly by their father when they were little. One was five-ish, the other an infant. They are both adults, in their 30s, living normal lives. (I guess for me the crime is so heinous, and I have never typed this story before, that I interject the word “normal” in a Tourette’s-ish fashion when talking about them to keep insisting that there is some kind of acceptable ending and we are in it now.)

    He was caught, because when five-year-olds regularly mention strange things to relatives, sometimes one of them notices. When I was 10, he was 3-4 and when you hugged him, he would put both his hands on the hugger’s mouth, with his arms locked taut. I asked people if that was normal; I do not know if I was the first, a first, or not at all one of the people who noticed and said something. The dominoes fell somehow or other and the rapist was caught. The younger one, the infant, never cried. Never cried over anything. Never smiled. Never cooed.

    When the man was caught, the mother was treated at first like she was somehow complicit. “How could she NOT have known?” was something asked in a letter to the editor of our local paper. (A local journalist wanted to bring to the public’s attention the ugly existence of domestic sexual child abuse and Poughkeepsie of 1985 was not ready, I guess. My cousin, their mother, was given anonymity and no photos were used.)

    How could she not have known? She didn’t, and the legal system did its job, and she raised the two alone, and they are now a happy three whom I love very much. I do not know if anyone knows whether the rapist is alive or dead now. He served a sentence that seemed shockingly brief; my memory is that it was five years or less.

    A comment that is inspired by your awful awful story and by what I witnessed, but is not directly about either: It is as if people who knew the molester can not believe they were hoodwinked so completely, so they blame the person who complained: The child him or herself. The blameless parent. They need to believe that their judgement is not so flawed as to have allowed a child molester in their house. It is psychologically safer to believe that someone is lying, because that happens every day, than someone has been lying and injuring innocents. This is not to excuse it. Families pick the wrong side again and again, and the same families that make “Blood is thicker than water” a motto are often the families with the deepest rifts caused by the ugliest deeds.

    You have my admiration and love.

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    • I’m sorry your family had to go through this as well. I hope your cousins are healing…

      My daughter dated a monster once. Of course we didn’t know he was a monster. He played with her younger sisters. Laughed, roughhoused, and treated my daughter quite well (for a teenager). My daughter and his mom grew to be close, and he seemed to be a normal person for all intents and purposes. She parted with him on the best of terms before she moved across country to live with her dad.

      About oh, a year later, I spotted his picture in the paper and wondered about it. I was horrified to read that he’d killed his mother, stuffed her body in the freezer, and told his siblings she’d “gone to visit family” which they believed for nearly a week (I think) before she was found.

      Monsters, they hide in plain sight. We don’t want to believe that we can like them. That we dated them, invited them into our house, played with them, laughed with them. We want to think that we “always knew something was wrong” with them. That’s why people ask, “how could she not have known?” Because people don’t want to admit that they themselves might have a monster in their midst and they just don’t know it.

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  4. I’m glad you are talking about it. Too many families sweep this stuff under the rug. I would not be able to be in the same room with that man, and I don’t blame you for staying away from the wedding. To me, the people who are incomprehensible to be are the family members who are ignoring the fact that he is a convicted sex offender, and convicted with evidence from a doctor of physical damage to a tiny child. Unbelievable. Your daughter may blame you, but it seems to me that you took action as soon as you had any inkling that something was wrong.

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    • Thank you, Ruth. My daughter doesn’t beat me up any more than I beat myself up whenever I think about the past (which isn’t often, so don’t worry, I’m not wearing a hair shirt over this). It’s a mother’s job to protect her children, and I often think that I failed them spectacularly.

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  5. I just cannot understand how you can back up someone who sexually assaults anybody and for sure little kids! Even if that person is family! Good on you for not allowing him back in your life! I’m so sorry to hear what has happened to your girls and in that sense to you too! What a scumbag…

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  6. I am very touched by this. I can imagine it was hard to write. You are correct, these are still things that we don’t like to talk about it openly. I was an abuse child (before I lived with my Grandmother) not sexually but violently almost beaten to death. Nobody talked back then…they should have, because I know many knew or suspected it.

    Your Mother’s reaction made me angry and I hope you don’t mind me saying so. I understand the “unconditional love thing”, but I don’t understand -and refuse to understand- the unconditional denial some parents have.

    I admire you for still having contact to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your daughters are very lucky that you:
    1.) Paid attention to them
    2.) Listened to them
    3.) Acted as immediately as you could
    4.) Did everything you could to protect them

    The roundabout and run around that you got from the rest of the family is oftentimes all that victims like them ever see. You sound like an excellent mother, and you should totally trust your instincts.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough. It caused a chasm to form in later years between myself and my oldest. She hasn’t spoken to me in years, and my failure to protect her was part of it. His actions were far reaching. But such is life, at least the physical damage was minimal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s the mental, emotional, psychological damage that’s the worst. Believe me, I know. When I was hurt, I was told to not tell anyone because the thing was shameful. I’d be so grateful if my mother did what you did and if my abuser was as far away as an uncle. Your girls are luckier than most. Take comfort in that.

        Liked by 1 person

          • I’m not sure there ever is healing, perse. I’ve lived with it for over 25 years, so I’ve made it through. The worst thing was becoming a teacher only to find it (abuse in general) had happened to at least three of my female students and one of my coworkers, too. There are a lot of silent victims out there. None should ever feel alone. It really is an invisible disease.

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            • I wasn’t abused by a family member, but by strangers – plural. Babysitters, neighbors, and once a passing motorcyclist… I seemed to have “victim” stamped on my forehead until I reached puberty and said “no more”. Even then, our mom was married to an abusive asshole who took his frustrations out on us kids (not sexually, but still…) It’s probably why I knew to listen to the kids and get him out of the house.

              Liked by 1 person

            • And you’re right, we never really heal fully. But I can deal with it so long as my past doesn’t intrude into my present. Living in the Now helps (for me, not everyone can…). I’m sorry your had to live with it for so long. At least my encounters were brief, if plentiful. Blah. I’m gonna go watch kittens now. ^_^

              Liked by 2 people

  8. What a horrific story. My heart breaks for you. I am not sure if I would have been as logical as you and not moved forward with a bat on my own. If I did make it past picking up a bat, paying off the cellmate to torture him, and not stalking him during his release, I may spend the rest of my waking moments away from the children making sure he never had a decent night rest again. You are strong and wonderful person-big hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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