It takes a great deal of courage to come forward and tell your mother that you’ve been sexually abused by her father.
My grandmother laid in bed dying, cancer ravaging her body, when my grandfather first abused me. Having a dying wife did nothing to deter him from making sexual advances to his young granddaughter. I don’t think anything would have.
It happened early one morning in his parked Toyota Corolla while waiting on my bus to arrive. I had frozen in place, couldn’t cry or signal for help. I just sat there with his hand going about its business in my crotch.
I spent the entire bus ride to school in silent confusion and disbelief. You know, he never even asked me to keep it a secret. He was brazen, a well-known and respected member of the community. No one ever would’ve believed me.
Besides, it must’ve been my fault.
Surely I had done something to encourage him. I shouldn’t have laughed at his inappropriate jokes. I shouldn’t have smiled. I shouldn’t have worn those jeans. But I should’ve fought back and I should’ve screamed, though I had been taught otherwise.
I’d been raised to be kind and above all, respectful of my elders. No talking back, no rocking the boat. So I packed it all in and tucked it away every single time he abused me.
Coming forward was difficult. I struggled with guilt and placed blame on myself. Above all, I was afraid of breaking my mother’s heart. But I’d been living in fear with depression and panic attacks and something had to give.
I had tried to protect my mother, minimize her grief. But in doing so, I failed to acknowledge my own.
I won’t lie and say that coming forward was a total relief. In the end, the abuse was swept under the rug. He was never brought to justice. He lived until he was 94 years old. And some family members refused to believe me.
But I’d finally put an end to the year of abuse by coming forward, though it meant hurting someone I love.
Today I still live with depression, nightmares and panic attacks. I even survived a suicide attempt a few years ago. But I’m slowly moving forward, acknowledging my grief and working through releasing myself from blame.