Monday, June 28, 2010

The Worst Betrayal of All

This is not a happy story, and I don't tell it to many people. The trouble is that innocent people can always be hurt by the truth. So, when do you decide to risk that and tell what needs to be told? When do you blurt your crap out to the world? There's no "rule" in AA that says I have to tell the world this story (not that the whole world reads this blog anyway), but this story is so common that I know sharing it will also be akin to my sharing someone else's truth. And I'm sure it will be a great relief to just say it anyway and put this horrible secret down, let it be a part of my past. It will always be a part of my story, but I want to own it, bring it out of the dark, and put this burden down. I'm tired of carrying it.

My best friend's father molested me repeatedly when I was a little girl.

It started, I think, when I was around ten years old. It was a hot summer day and the boys were all running around with their shirts off, playing with the hose, getting wet, and cooling off. I was (of course) a little tomboy and there was no way these boys were going to have anything on me. So I pulled off my shirt and starting playing in the water, too.

Mr. Cipriani was outside smoking a cigarette and thought that was the funniest thing he'd ever seen.

It started shortly after that. I was in the kitchen one day, eating a bowl of Kraft macaroni-and-cheese, all by myself for some reason I don't recall. The back door swung open, and in came Mr. Cipriani. I looked up, then went back to my lunch, thinking nothing of it since he'd headed right to the cabinet where they kept their instant Maxwell House. Then he coughed. I looked up and there he was, standing there with his cock hanging out of his pants, stiff and red and with a weird bump on the end and I'm pretty sure my mouth dropped open, stunned, because I'd never seen an erect penis before.

He also thought that was the funniest thing he'd ever seen, and he started stroking his prick as I looked on, horrified, sure I was NOT supposed to be seeing that. Then a door slammed in another room and I was saved. He turned around, zipped up and was out the back door before you could say "Jack Robinson."

After that, until I was fifteen, I dodged this man's advances as well as I could. People to whom I've confided the story always wonder why I kept going back over to the Cipriani's house. I have no good answer. It was more of the madness that was my childhood. My stepmother had this rule: my brother and I were to leave the house and go play with a friend on Saturdays and Sundays. During summers, no problem. During winters, in snow, sleet, freezing weather, not so okay. I had no other friends, so I went to the Ciprianis. Most of the time, he wasn't even home. The thing was, sometimes he was. Those were the days when I tried to stay out of his sight, get out of his path.

But I wasn't always successful. So, at times I had to put up with him sitting down next to me on the couch, grabbing my hand, and placing it onto that swollen cock of his. Or he'd corner me in a room and shove his hand down my pants. One day when I was fourteen, he put his hand down there and found a maxi pad. For some obscene reason, this turned him on. His breath came fast and his voice got raspy and he asked me, "Are you old enough now to be on the rag?"

Ugh. I never consented to any of this, obviously. I'd squirm and try to get away. I'd say, "No. Stop!" but the more I protested, the more determined he got. He told me to let his son fuck me as a "first lesson." Of course I did not. And then he started offering to give me rides home. I always refused, but one day he followed me home in his van, pulling alongside me and pleading for me to get into the van. I just shook my head, quickened my pace, then shot off into someone's backyard, getting the hell out of there.

Finally I stopped going over to the Cipriani's house. It was shortly after this that I ran away from home, went into foster care, and the problem solved itself.

I think back on all this, and I remember a day when I was about twelve, perhaps. I arrived at the Cipriani's house, and it was as if half the family was waiting there at the door for me. The first thing they said to me was, "Joyce Ann, you missed the funniest thing!" And they told me the story of how, during the night, Gracie had gone into the bathroom to go pee and was in such a hurry she hadn't even bothered to turn on the light. She sat down and WHOA! Daddy was sitting there. Her screams had woken the house.

I cringe when I remember this. For, you know, it means I had it easy. The most he got out of me was a finger up my pussy. Grace was the most beautiful of all his daughters, and I feel pretty sure he got more than that out of her. Gracie and he, it seems obvious now, had gotten caught and I'd merely been told the cover story. His own daughter. That bastard. Now I know full well why she hated her daddy so much; why, at sixteen, she couldn't wait to turn eighteen and get the hell out of that house.

I think about the astonishing statistic: that one in four women will be sexually abused at some point in her life. I know (at least to my knowledge) four women who were raped by their own fathers. I could confide a bit more here, but this will have to remain between my sponsor and I, and Chelle and I, because though I'm sure Mr. Cipriani is long dead by now, there are others still living whose families I don't wish to hurt. But the story of my sexual abuse isn't confined to what Mr. Cipriani did to me.

I guess my point about sexual abuse is this. It is so common. And it is so horrid. Growing up, I used to hear guys express bemusement over the idea of rape: "I don't get it. Why doesn't the chick just lay back and enjoy it?" Jesus Christ. The only way to make some of them get it is to say, "Hey, if some guy grabs you, throws you up against a wall, and decides to butt-fuck you, why don't you just enjoy it? I hear having your prostate gland massaged feels really good!" Jesus.

Molestation, rape, sexual abuse, are not about the sex. It's about the total disregard for your person. It's about being utterly powerless to stop another person from violating you in the most personal of ways. It's an utter distortion of what our sexuality is about--a mutual sharing of the most intimate part of you, an expression of love. Mr. Cipriani did not love me. He just wanted to stick his dick in a virgin, in a powerless little girl who had no means to fight him off other than relying on her own wits.

Because he knew, you know. And that, perhaps, is the biggest betrayal, the thing that hurts me the most when I tell this story. I was an easy target because he knew I would never tell my parents. The Ciprianis knew my home situation. I did not dare tell Dad because he wasn't the one to go to; it had to be Lois. Lois, that sadist, would not do a thing about it. Instead, I'd be blamed; I'd be punished. She would have somehow found a reason to blame me for what had happened, or she'd believe Mr. Cipriani's denials and I would be whipped for lying. I guess I thought the occasional hand down my pants was easier to bear than yet another beating.

Try living with that one. I tried to drink that fact away for most of my life.


Anonymous said...

been there. have countless friends who have also been there. we probably don't talk about this enough.

Joyce said...

Yup. It's devastatingly common. What a crazy thing for so many of us to have to share....

Lucia Olson said...

Joyce I'm so sorry this happened to you. If I could take it away I would.

Joyce said...

Aw, Lucia, that's sweet of you. I was just telling Chelle that the overwhelming feeling I have now about it all is just sadness. At least I don't have to drink anymore to avoid my own feelings. Everything's okay. In the balance, I still think I am luckier than many.