WARNING* WARNING WARNING
This whole post is full of triggers...there is no getting around it. The black boxes were a good idea but they don't suffice. If you need to, just scroll down to below the squiggly which is pretty safe. And where you can find my donation link to RAINN
A few ground rules before we begin:
Please understand that this is a tribute diary-Not a place for debate. We are not here to discuss the other person who is being eulogized right now. I ask that we refrain from discussing him as much as possible (there are a couple mentions within the tributes, I did not feel right taking them out as they are part of those individuals personal story.
There will be no tone trolling here. A lot of people still have anger-justifiably so. They are allowed to talk about it in any way they want. It is never appropriate to tell a victim to "tone it down" or "be respectful"-it is dismissive, and insensitive. Some people are dealing with pain you cannot even imagine. That comes out in a variety of ways-and it is not always pretty. If you don't like a comment, ignore it.
This will be a safe space for victims and survivors alike. Any trolls will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. I have a whole army of soldiers with their donut powder dry. If you make a trollish comment, you will get hidden (I request no pile ons) and ignored. Nobody will respond to you. It will be a complete waste of your time.
This also means that we need to be respectful of triggers, especially since so many of us here are dealing with freshly opened wounds. I have made every effort to mitigate triggers in this diary. After much back and forth, ultimately, I decided that those who sent me their stories deserved to have them told-even the ugly parts.
What I have done is used a code to block out the parts that might be triggers in black-if you scroll over it, you can see the words.This whole POST is a trigger....it's a minefield. I don't feel right about the black boxes anymore. If you are reading this know that the first section before the break is full of some of the most horrid, heartbreaking stories you will ever read, and there is no point in blocking out anything. I can't bring myself to look at the black boxes anymore. The part below the squiggly IS a safe space though...I think.
Many of these stories are gut wrenching. I have cried more in the past 2 days just going through them all than I can even remember. But they need to be told. And I think you will find that even within the heartbreak, there are many points of light. This tribute is full of tragedies and triumphs. It ends on what I hope is a positive note. I will warn you that the first 2 sections are probably the saddest and hardest to read...if you don't think you can handle that, I would skip down to the ones under "Those who Survived, and Thrived"
I also just want to say thank you to everyone who supported me in this journey (you know who you are) everyone who submitted their stories and tributes, and a huge thanks to those who helped me put it all together-especially Scotty Thomaston (IndieMcEmoPants), Turbonerd who helped me with formatting, Ari Hait who restored my faith in journalism for trying to get our story out there to a wider audience (even if it doesn't end up working out, he is willing to put his job on the line to make our voices heard) and above all else to Roxine, my survivor sister who I just met but has done more for me in the past 24 hours to help me get this all together than I could have ever imagined. Without your help, this would have never been possible.
The ones who didn't make it to the other side
For sweet, innocent Addison Lanaham, who died from medical neglect, because those who were supposed to protect her did not want doctors to find out what was being done to her.
“When you would walk into a room, she would just be so happy to see you. She would squeeze you so tight, sometimes you would have to take a second breath. There's not a doubt in my mind that Addison is the prettiest angel up there right now”-Addison's Aunt
For the approximately 30,000 victims of sex trafficking who die each year-across the globe, including right in our own backyards. One of them was 5 year old Shaniya Davis
"She's a precious, little angel, full of joy … a little reserved when you first meet her, but once she gets to know you, she just runs around, plays and won't leave you alone."
""I ask you to give me and everyone who loved poor Shaniya -- my little baby, my angel -- the strength to continue on. Lord, I come to you with open arms and it is hard … Don't give up on me and don't give up on Shaniya. She's right there with you."-Shaniya's dad
"I am disgusted, but yet in so much pain at this point. She was such a vibrant child and such an important part of my life. And it's hard at this point to understand why someone would take this sweet blessing away from me." -Shaniya's aunt
For Ashley Billasano, who told, and was ignored. Then screamed out for help in her last anguished moments in the most public of ways, but was met with deafening silence.
"You were my other half. You were a ball of sunshine. It's so sad that someone so beautiful and caring got so hurt. No one deserves to be treated the way you were."-her best friend
"I've been screwed over one too many times. I've been called a slut one too many times. All I ask is, why me? I never did anything to anyone. I have been abused and tormented my whole life. It got to be too much and swallowed me whole."-Ashley Bilisano, in her suicide note
Ashley's memorial fund- Ashley Marie: Just Breathe
For Bill Zeller, a brilliant and ambitious 27 year old Princeton Graduate student who took his life after releasing a 4,000 word suicide note, detailing his lifetime struggle with memories of being sexually abused as a child.
"I often wonder what life must be like for other people. People who can feel the love from others and give it back unadulterated, people who can experience sex as an intimate and joyous experience, people who can experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery. I wonder who I’d be if things had been different or if I were a stronger person. It sounds pretty great."-Bill Zeller, in his suicide note
Bill's Memorial page
For Alex Christopher Mercado, who was killed because his abuser was afraid he would tell
"You can never forget him, when we went to the beach, he would jump over the waves and we would knock him over a bit, but he would get up with a big smile." -His brother
"He loved to dance," she said. "So much so, that the kids knew that when the music started, you didn't go to the middle -- Alex did."-his preschool teacher
"He was the best singer in the universe. And he would sit there and sing and sing and sing, even when there was no music."-A family friend
For Mordechai (Motty) Borger, 24, who tragically ended his life on his honeymoon after revealing the details of his childhood abuse to his new bride for the first time
Wise words from Rabbi Micheal Leo Samuel:
The Sages point out that in biblical and in rabbinic times, it was considered unsafe to let a guest leave a host’s home without being escorted for at least part of that person’s journey. The judges of a community are to some degree indirectly accountable for allowing a murder to occur on their watch, “The victim did not come to us hungry and we sent him away without any food. He did not come to us alone and we offered him no protection.”
The American legal system has a category of law termed, “accessories after the fact.” This would include people who aid or abed a criminal after he does something wrong. Judaism teaches that there is another category “accessories before the fact” – this would include decent people who are good and respectable. Biblical ethics demands that each leader and citizen do his part in preventing a crime from taking place; silence or apathy is akin to complicity. In the final analysis we are our brother’s keeper.
This past week, a tragic incident occurred in Brooklyn that pertains to the message of this particular ritual and its wisdom. A young man named Motty Borger, two days after his marriage, commits suicide by jumping to his death from the motel he and his young bride were staying. Evidently, the young man felt tortured by memories of being molested while he was in yeshiva. Filled with shame, he could not approach his young wife, Mali, and consummate their marriage.
The sexual exploitation of children by clergy is not just a problem that occurs in the Catholic community; it is a Jewish problem as well; Jewish leaders across the denominational spectrum need to address its existence and develop some preventive solutions. While this is obvious to the non-yeshiva world, it is not so obvious to the yeshiva world. Haredi rabbis are more interested in “looking good” than they are in helping their students learn to overcome the tragedy of their lost innocence. Rather than bring such matters to the attention of the police, the tendency of these closed communities is to bury the problem and hope it will go away—but it won’t.
I really must wonder: Can the rabbinic leaders honestly say, “‘Our hands did not shed this blood, and our eyes did not see the deed”?
For a bad-ass chick
She was a fighter, a balls-to-the-wall, full-sleeve-of-tattoos-havin, bad-ass-navy-chick. She loved her puppy (3yr old mixed) like a mother loved a child. She would have been an amazing mother, had she been able to fight whatever was breaking her.
My father started raping my sister Lily when she was six years old and our mother was pregnant with me. Lily and I shared a bedroom and I knew something terrible was going on, but I was too young to understand, and Lily protected me the best she could. It went on for TEN YEARS, until Lily, at sixteen, finally got someone to listen to her and help her, and our family exploded into a mess of cops, screaming fights, and an extremely messy divorce. During the process, my father savagely beat my mother and she came home covered with bruises but desperate to protect Lily because he swore he would kill her.
When it was finally over, Lily swore she was fine. She never got psychological help because she said she didn't need it. She went to college, got married, had a son, lived her life. And then she killed herself.
Lily was a lovely woman in every sense of the word. She was kind and sweet, she loved animals, she had many friends, and had a gift for telling jokes. She was an amateur artist and a part time floral arranger. She was a reader and had books everywhere, like me. She did a wonderful job of raising her child alone. I miss her every day.
The first true love of my life. You fought, survived and thrived for 24 years. I am sorry I could not heal your wounds; I understand the pain was too much, and I forgive you for leaving us. I miss the sound of your violin.
For my mother
My mother revealed to me, as she was dying of breast cancer at the age of 72, that she was raped by a family member everyone trusted to watch over their children. She was 12-years-old at the time and kept that dark secret hidden in her heart for 60 years. She kept the secret because the rapist told her he’d kill her entire family if she revealed what happened. She also kept the secret because she “knew no one would believe” her. I told my aunt, her sister, what my mother had revealed to me and my aunt responded, “I believe her. He tried to get sexual with me when I was five.” My mother never trusted anyone. My mother thought people were out to get her and she was physically ill for most of my childhood. Her dark, ugly, horrible secret almost died with her. Her rapist died of a heart attack when he was young. Too bad. I would have loved to reveal his true nature to the world.
I was friends with Cherie, who lived three houses down from me in a middle-class neighborhood of a rich town, from about age 6 until middle school. Sometimes she would say oddly sexual things when we played, but I just let it go, since you don't tend to have suspicions like that as a kid. By middle school, we had drifted apart, but I noticed that Cherie was always walking with a sway to her hips that was not like the other girls our age. Then she started losing weight. By high school she was practically a skeleton. About 10 years after high school, I heard that she had died. Alone in a hotel room, with blood under her fingernails, she had overdosed on drugs. I think I may be the only one who remembers, who noticed, who knew who she was before something happened to her. I don't know who it was, but I know what it was. I'm just sorry I couldn't help her then, but I grew up to be a child therapist - and now I can help others in her memory.
For my half-sister
.she was raped by our teenage brother (and possibly a tenant of their mother's) and she struggled with this her whole life. She was a drug addict, alcoholic, and was probably raped and molested many times during blackouts. Our brother did this because he was raped dozens of times by their mother's live-in boyfriend when he was very little. The abused sometimes abuse as way to control something in their lives. They came to peace with this years ago, but in a bout of post-partum depression she began to have vivid recollections of the abuse and took her own life. She was terrified that she would be a bad mother and possibly continue the cycle of abuse. She was 34 and left two beautiful children behind who will never know their mother.
Our father claims to have never known they were being abused but I think he didn't want to know. Fuck him and fuck Paterno. Fuck anybody who's so afraid of the truth that they'd let somebody suffer like all of these children.
For Those Who are still Here, but Struggling
To honor your living memory for what went so wrong in your life at the hands of ungodly 'trusted' adults in your inner circle of life and safety. How sorry I am that I could not stop, prevent, avoid the ugliness of your predator. I told the truth to the grownups so that you may have been spared, and oh, so horribly -- it was too late. I cried and anguished many a night and day as to why I did not speak up sooner. Only God knows why the predator took all of us for his own. Sickness, psychosis, control, jealously, hatred, resentment, fascination, hate, rage, horror and all those emotions over and over again were part of his mindset. Yet, to the outside world we lived in, what a "great Guy"!
I know you sit and rot in the nursing home waiting to die. So young you still are, but your memories blacked out and your mind left your body a long time ago. I know why the eating disorders, depression, manic behavior, obssesive disorders, nervousness, anxiety, chronic pain, anti-social behavior, lack of trust of any human being are all components of your experience and daily despair from childhood.
Please know that I tried, and hoped, and prayed and I am glad he died earlier rather than later. I am glad he never laid eyes on my kids. I know why you never had kids. I know why you rage to this day uncontrollably.
I am sorry, I still cry too.
For my friend
Who survived the most horrific sexual & physical abuse at the hands of her father. Yet she was able to hold herself together long enough to raise three children. About five years ago she went through what she called a "nervous breakdown." A psychiatrist put her on heavy medication and sent her home. My friend spends her days now mostly sleeping and watching TV. She does not want advise, only friendship from me. She told me plainly, and so I respect that. But it makes me sad to see her growing old in her middle age. Now, I visit, bring a nice meal, & watch TV for awhile with her. About the heavy medication, she says she likes that it makes her sleep so much. She says that she's never really been able to sleep before in her whole life. So who am I to judge. Perhaps it's better just to be the kind of friend she wants.
So so ANGRY. . . 64 yrs old. . . know that we're never 'all better'. Statue of 'pa joe' should be. . . classic 3 monkeys. . . HEAR no evil. . .SEE no evil. . . And. . . DON'T DO A FUCKING THING.
For my friend
My friend was molested when he was 5. We've been friends since middle school and I was the first person that he told. I can't ever know what person he would have been like if that didn't happen to him, but I know he wouldn't have it so rough right now. He's talked to me about suicide and it being a tangible possibility and he told me he thinks about the incident every day. It's hard seeing him the way he is, and I can't even come close to imagining how he's feeling. Hopefully he'll be able to move on from the incident someday.
For anonymous, and her friend "R"
When I was 12-13 I was in an abusive relationship. I'll call him J. It started slowly, gradually escalating from simple name calling, to stealing my virginity, to prostituting me out to his "friends" for drugs, money, or cigarettes. One of these men was in his 40s. My light, the one who got me through, was actually another one of these "friends". D was in his teens, paid my boyfriend for me, thinking I was a willing participant, but once he realized I was being victimized he never touched me again. He continued to come see me, to pay my boyfriend to be with me, but just talked to me. About anything. Some how, even though I knew he couldn't do anything to stop what was happening, I knew
And then there was R. One afternoon I was at my boyfriend's house with one of his friends and his girlfriend- R. J decided he wanted to have sex. He turned on the TV for the other two, then brought me upstairs. By this point I knew the routine, I knew to go along with it, keep quiet, and under no circumstances was I to enjoy it. But I flinched, for a split second I pushed him away, and he stopped. Unhappy with my disobedience it was time to make sure it never happened again. I was thrown to the bed and told to stay there, and knew better than to move. He went left the room and when he came back with R I knew what was going to happen. He raped her on the floor in front of me while I sat on the bed curled into a ball. When it was over and I opened my eyes she was staring at me. I looked her in the eyes, and I watched the R I knew die that day. When she killed herself six years later, I blamed myself.
She and I never spoke about what happened. We stayed friends, were close, shared secrets, but never once said a word about that day. She knew when I got pregnant and J threw me down the stairs, giving me my first (and hopefully only) miscarriage at 13. He broke up with me not long afterwards, leaving me an empty shell who literally had no idea what to do, or say, or wear. I had to relearn who I was, what I thought, how I felt. But here I am, 25 years old, living with a wonderful man who treats me like gold, who loves to see me enjoy sex like a woman should, who holds my hand when I cry, who touches my shoulder and says, "that was pretty intense, are you okay?" after we finish reading your article. He is the love of my life, and the father of my beautiful son. Waking up to my two year old every morning fills me with a joy that I could never have imagined 12 years ago.
J ended up overdosing on sleeping pills when I was 15. I have mixed emotions to this day- he died so young, but what kind of a man would he have been? What kind of a father?
D called me a few years ago to apologize for not coming forward when he found out what was happening. He and I didn't talk long, but I told him I had forgiven him a long time ago. He was a stupid kid, he said, and has thought of me every day since, regretting his silence.
R was an amazing girl and the world is a less beautiful place without her. I think of her every day, and although I haven't completely stopped blaming myself for what J did, I know wherever she is right now, she knows it wasn't my fault.
For the Survivors
For the child I lost
On this day... as the tributes roll to one who closed his eyes to child rape, children are listening. Some of them are wondering, will this be the day when they get the courage to tell? Will this be the day they finally trust an adult to help, when at least one adult has proven dangerous and untrustworthy? Children always listen, but some with more desperation. These children are seeking clues to how you think, and whether you would believe the truth. They want to know, what do you take seriously? A child's safety, or an adult's "reputation?"
It could be any child-- yes, even the one you think it could not possibly be. It was me, and those adults who loved me most had no idea. They still do not know. And yet, a few of those adults who loved me, who believed I trusted them, who themselves did nothing to hurt me, said things when child rape was discussed that let me know where their sympathies might lie. Let stray phrases fall when they didn't know I was listening, didn't think I'd heard the radio, didn't know I desperately wanted to know they wouldn't dismiss such stories with "of course, she was lying." "These things get overblown." "Yes but, he was such a good person!" "He's just wanting a payout."
So I stayed silent.
I mean, it's not like that was difficult for me. I cannot remember a life before silence. I have a few chronologically jumbled early memories, and some of them are abuse. Hints in the memories point to me being about five. I sometimes look at old pictures, I stare into the eyes of the little girl looking out, that face without a smile, the question in the eyes, and I wonder. Was that after? Is this how I can figure out when, exactly, it may have started?
Some people might not understand the reasons children stay quiet, at least children from 'good' families. For me, it was denial. To tell would have been to make it real before I could handle that. To stay silent was to allow myself a refuge in my mind, while pretending fiercely it was a dream. Or that it was someone else's life, and my own would start any moment now. But as the years went by, I got better and better at my delusion. My hold on reality, my hold on the border between memory and dream, truth and madness, was slipping away and I could feel it. So, that was the time, in late childhood, that I came to grips with my reality. That was when I was ready to talk, I had reconciled truth to myself in my own mind and felt safe acknowledging reality.
But there were still habits of a lifetime to break, the choice of when and where and who... and as I was figuring this out, I listened desperately to adults. Especially when they thought I wasn't paying attention. That was when I heard what they thought of "other" children, talked about in hushed whispers. Maybe they were from "bad" families, not like me. Maybe their abusers were considered worth more than them, while I would have been considered worth more than mine. Maybe the way they were considered either irreparably broken or lying, was not the way my loved ones would have looked at me if I told the truth. But then, was it worth the risk of being blamed or disbelieved? I felt like the denial I had so recently overcome had left me fragile-- if I was not believed, would I let go of reality for perhaps the last time? Even melodramatic protestations that, "if something like that happened to *my child I would kill him! / would never forgive myself!" terrified me with the prospect of a parent in jail, or made me feel that it was time for me to be the grown up and protect my relative from the pain of knowing. And so they do not know.
-- once a child
For Dr. Labby
my abuser was my childhood dentist. in the largest city in south texas. he is still alive. i did tell. i told my mother who promptly backhanded me, told me it was my own fault. she told me he was a good man and she loved him and if i ever told anyone this lie (she said i lied after having sat in that cursed chair more than 10 times and cried knowing what was going to happen and none of what was going to happen had anything to do with teeth) she would beat me to death. something she had demonstrated she was truly capable of doing.
to this day, my teeth are horrible as i cannot bring myself to visit a dentist. only once did i try and that dentist told me i was surely mistaken because he knew the "good" dentist and couldn't possibly have done anything immoral.
i have no childhood photos of myself. my mother destroyed them.
For me, Everyday I am grieving who I was and who I could have been.
[Editors note-I almost don't want to block out ANY of this, because it is so fucking powerful...but it definitely is full of triggers. I encourage you to highlight, if you can handle the unvarnished truth]
you are made to believe
that the blood
trickling down your legs
is the water of life,
as a lady
it's only natural
that flowers; daisies,
pansies, delicate baby's breath
will sprout at your feet
from the puddle of blood
being carried away
by the shower above,
the petals will spread
like your muscles
from the force of his fist,
a broken hymen
is the foundation
of a woman,
a soul torn in two;
the basis of you,
from pain comes pleasure,
what he says becomes your
new bedtime story,
it won't put you to sleep
but to death
in his bed,
'stop' is the enemy of
only girls don't want
to keep going,
how will you be growing
if you stay
as a girl?
with your fear showing
as hot tears on your face,
the porcelain grows slick,
you can only hope
you will slip,
bust your nose and your lips,
your skull and your brain
where your soul feels
but women take hurt
it to roses, ignoring
that are there for his porn,
as a girl of fourteen
it is time to decide
whether to moan
to stay or to hide,
it's just one more step,
he will say,
as he prunes off the buds,
fills your small body with hate
and claims it as love,
and those tears
are the soil that
give up innocence
for here it's no good,
how can you expect
growth from earth gone unturned?
without any rain to soak
through the dirt,
no worms will swim up
to feed all the birds,
hungry young robins
with chests puffed out orange
and heavy black backs,
their beaks will attack,
the pecking away
at the flesh deep inside,
as a girl of fourteen
it's time to decide,
and the decision you make
only ends in more
as he harvests
the rest of what's
not his to take,
a field of vibrant sunflowers
all torn at the stalks,
but he's left behind
in the ground
where true womanhood walks.
For my family
For my mother, with split personalities from abuse by her father.
For her sister, who suffered the same abuse, and her daughter, my cousin, abused by her own dad.
I hear it runs in families.
And for me, a male, abused by the male neighbor kid who baby sat. I worried that I might have an uncontrollable urge to do the same - because why would someone not control that if they could? Was it inescapably in my genes?
Then my daughters were born.
It's unimagineable. Not even in my vocabulary.
Fuck those guys.
For she who guards the door
Who am I? For over five decades, I have not known how to answer that question. What I do know is this: One day, a little girl of nine crawled into a safe place deep inside, shut tight the door, and turned the lock. In a manner of speaking, for all intents and purposes, she was murdered. The person she could have - would have - become, is a mystery.
And who am I? I suppose you could say that I am just the guardian who stands outside that door, making certain no one gets through. So far, I've been quite successful. Together, we have become a ghost that no one can see.
Again, thank you for speaking for me, and for that little nine year old girl.
She who guards the door
One thing you need to know is that, the ones like me -- the walking dead, those who live their lives in a blessed fog of unknowing, never able to form lasting relationships -- we are legion, we are everywhere.
For Brit's mum
As we entered, my mother was sat in a chair by my sister’s bed, still holding the letter in her hand. Her body was slightly crumpled, her neck turned toward us, one half of her mouth askew as if she has just been hit from the side by a large heavy object. The impact has left no bruises - at the moment it doesn’t even hurt. But her body and face express an attitude of battered bafflement, the wind taken out of her.
I don’t know what I had been expecting. I thought she, of all people, would spot a loophole. But she shook her head slightly, as mystified as all of us.
She looked so frail there, so exposed and lost that instinctively my kid brother, my older sister and myself, all gathered round. She whispered ‘I had no idea’. We hugged her more tightly and only broke a moment later with awkward laughed when she complained we were squashing her.
There was a knock on the door and tea and coffee was brought in. My youngest brother sat next to my mother and took her hand. We explained that we are here to do whatever she wants, to drive her home if she wants, to take her away if she wants, or just stay there if she wants.
She thought about it for a while and repeated the phrase: ‘I had no idea’. There was a long pause, and in the effort to fill the silence –a habit she has acquired over the years – my mother started talking about other things. I knew her mind was racing around this revelation, but in the meantime she talked about how she nearly didn’t make it to the clinic because of her car. She added that she knew something was wrong but had never imagined it could be this. After another pause, my older sister showed her some of the pictures she had drawn. My mother began to lock in to some well worn anecdote about how the drawing skills are distributed among the family, but suddenly the deeper thought process surfaced: “I have forgiven him so many things. But those two little girls. No, not this. It’s unforgivable.”
There was a no smoking policy in the clinic, so my Mum asked if she could to go out for a cigarette and we all joined her, walking around the formal garden, the trees still leafless but budding, the mud broken by the raw green of daffodil shoots. My kid brother walked slightly ahead, arm in arm with my mother. My sister and I took up the rear. At one point, my mother faltered. Her legs gave way and we all dived in to prevent her falling in a faint. She recovered and continued walking around the formal garden. Some of our anxiety seeped away there among the stark rose bushes and wooden latticework. She’s taken it. She’s not dropped dead. She’s not accused us all of being mad. Our mother is still alive, still with us. Part one of the plan has not ended in catastrophe. But part two still looms.
By the time we got back to our older sister’s room, my mother had decided. My kid brother will drive and we’ll rendezvous as planned with my oldest brother. Then, travelling in convoy, she will go back and give the letter to my father.
Before we set off, my older sister and my mother embraced. In it, I saw so much misunderstanding being discharged. I remembered the deep foreboding I felt when I heard my sister was not in communication with my mother. So many times my mother had covered for my father and taken the blame on herself. We had followed her example and blamed her too.
An hour or so later, we met our eldest brother at a roadside cafe half way to my mother’s house. Not having eaten all day we scoffed English breakfasts in the late afternoon. My oldest brother’s presence was reassuring. Like us, he has no answer to these allegations, no explanations. His own interpretation that my father began to build a spacecraft to his own private Planet Zog many years ago, all this is just part of the process of beaming himself aboard. My mother now definitely wanted to give the letter to Dad, alone. But she will leave the door on the latch. We will be waiting discretely outside for whatever is needed next.
We travelled the last leg back to my old hometown: my youngest brother with my mother in her car, myself and my oldest brother following mine. We both agreed that, while the psychologist may think immediate violence is unlikely, we should still try to get the house keys off Dad. The whole territory ahead is so unpredictable. A few miles outside the provincial town the convoy was broken myself and my older brother took a diversion to confirm the hotel booking. By the time we arrived in the familiar small street of my upbringing, my younger brother has been sat alone mother’s car for a good few minutes. Opposite it was my father’s car. We knew he was still at home.
All three of us waited on the pavement. My kid brother has timed how long mum has been in the house. Five minutes. I asked how she was before going in. My kid brother said that she had looked at the letter again, crumpled, said ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ He had held her and said ‘You don’t have to’. But she had then sat upright, said ‘I must do this’ - got out of the car and then walked to the front door.
I think of that walk as the bravest act of anyone I have ever known.
Eight minutes. I try to look through the front window of the house. It is a tiny end of terrace, and through the net curtains I can see all the way to the back of the kitchen extension. My mother’s silhouette flits briefly past, but I can see my father clearly. He is sat perched on the stool in his tracksuit, looking out of the back window, precisely, almost prissily sipping a cup of tea. This was my first sight of my father, and something about is his posture and attitude made me instinctively whisper: ‘He did it.’"
For One of the "lucky" ones
I am one of the lucky ones as well. I got out.. alive...and live a fairly normal life. As I sat reading your story, i sat and cried. Mostly because, it is MY story as well.
From the age of 8 or 9, my step father repeatedly used my body to get his pleasure. i would beg my mom to take me with her to the store so i wouldn't have to be alone with him, or id beg to go to a friends house or even my birth fathers house. I too used to love climbing trees and being outside.
This continued through my teens, through the beginning of my adult hood and up to the age of 33! I could have turned him in at that point, but to do so, would have hurt my mother much more than what he did to me. My mom is the only reason i haven't said anything, to do so would kill her at this point and time.
Thank you for bringing this type of abuse to light. It happens so much more often than many people can imagine. I can speak of it now, but for the longest time, i couldn't. I have 2 teenage sons now, and both have come out fairly well. My eldest son is my life saver. He helped turn my life around.
-Still a little girl inside
For my friends
Sick, sick, sick
Multiple friends in high school were abused by a sick Priest, the chaplain. The f*cker even convinced my parents to let him take me to a movie and dinner. The movie? The French Connecition. "Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?" He brought along an enabler, a female language teacher so no bad sh*t went down. After the movie, driving home, I can still here him saying "Police Emergency, police emergency". Arggh.
This shit haunted me then and tears my guts out today. Longtime jail sentences is just not enough.
God bless the children.
For My Baby Sister:
Oh baby sister, I am so sorry I didn't protect you and I'm sorry you had to experience the same sexual abuse I did. I'm sorry he made me do things to you and you do things to me, and I'm sorry you now blame me for the abuse we suffered at his hands. We were but his playthings - his living dolls - and he made us perform vile, disgusting acts on each other, on him, on ourselves.
That two little girls should know about such things at ages 5, 6, 7, 8... - that the body naturally responds to stimulation, making the revolting nature of the act get all jumbled up and confused with the pleasurable response of the body - that someone who was supposed to love us and protect us, who was entrusted with our care, who did it to our mother when she was but a child - that no one stood up and said "ENOUGH! NO MORE - NEVER AGAIN!"...that even when I finally DID speak up and Child Protective Services got involved, nothing happened, "do you want to press charges?" What is a 13 year old supposed to say to that when asked by a stranger, do you want to put your Grandfather in jail?
And then you and my brother - asking me "how could you hurt Paw-Paw", you denying it happening to you, even though I was there, and I saw him, even though mom admitted to you and to me that he did it to her, you denied it.
And later, in life, you blame me - telling everyone I sexually abused you - even though I was only 13 months older than you...You, escaping through drugs, alcohol, illicit sexual encounters, horrible relationships (drugs, alcohol, guns, beatings) blaming your whole life on me. For all of this, baby sister, I am sorry. And I wish I could take away your pain. I wish I could take away your memories. I wish I could do something to make you stop hurting.
I love you baby sister.
A family of survivors
I was sexually abused several times when I was 5 by my babysitter's
son, forced to perform oral sex while he played "Hogan's Alley" or
"Duckhunt" on the Nintendo in our house. I was fortunate, however,
because I was surrounded by adults willing to listen and willing to
act and keep me safe. I knew that I was not at fault and there was
nothing wrong with me, which is probably why I don't carry any
long-term burdens from the short-lived abuse. If I have any regrets,
it's just that he was never made to face charges in a court of law. I
only found this out later, and my parents only decided not to pursue
charges because of the additional trauma they thought it would bring
My mother, on the other hand, is a different story. She and her brothers were all beaten unmercifully by her worthless father over the
course of their childhood, but my mom bore the additional torture of
being raped by her father. While all of them carry severe
psychological scars from the bastard who was also never brought to
justice, my mother had it worst of all. And her family was involved
in organized crime; low-level pimps, money launderers, and
smut-peddlers, with my mom and uncles made to help with business
selling whatever adult-oriented materials they were made to help
distribute and sell (though my mother was never prostituted,
thankfully). She tried running away several times, but each time
she'd be caught, brought back, and beaten, and it reached a point
where she simply was too afraid to attempt escape anymore. Her uncle
was even worse than her father; a sexual sadist and a hitman who
eventually served prison time on weapons possession charges, and died
a painful, horrific death from lung cancer a few years after getting
out of prison. If I were to accurately summarize her life prior to
her 18th birthday, I would have to say it was comparable to Dave
Pelzer's autobiographical, "A Child Called 'It'", but with the mafia
thrown in, to boot.
I really wonder how she was able to even conceive children because of
her intense, borderline irrational disdain for all men - seeing them
all as little more than sexual predators. When we were younger, my
brothers and I would wonder why commercials showing bikini-clad women
would make her wig out so much, even when they were commercials for
bikinis. She equates all pornography with exploitation of women,
absolutely with no modifiers. She abhorred corporal punishment and
would go into conniptions when me and my brothers would hit each other
in the head (it was never as bad anywhere else, but for some reason,
striking the head, even playfully, triggers some very awful flashbacks
for her) She would say the most bizarre things, yelling and accusing
my dad of marital infidelity (which is absurd; my father has been a
devoted husband, and absolutely loves my mother despite all that she
carries). She tried to kill herself several times, both before and
after me and my brothers were born. All this, though, we only learned
within the last 3 years, because my parents worked so hard to protect
us from the heavy truth of my mother's past, and the omnipresent
suffering she quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, carries until
I'm convinced her behavior stunted both my and my middle brother's
sexual development. I was terrified to ask anyone out because I was
guilt-ridden with the thought that I was a sexual predator, myself. I
tried to tell myself I wanted a girlfriend, not a sexual party favor,
but in my head, I wondered if I would turn into some sort of
sex-addict. I didn't even kiss a girl until I was 25, but I've since
been entirely devoted to her. My middle brother, on the other hand,
is terrified of relationships. He is convinced he will die single,
and as much as he wants a girlfriend, he is too afraid to even try to
meet someone. I can't speak for his reasons, but he has said as much
that he believes the way our mom acted and the things she's said had a
long-term impact. We do not blame her for any of this, though; her
actions are the carryover trauma from that piece of shit who broke her
and who has nothing but my contempt and eternal hatred - I hate the
fact that I am related to him by genetics, and I hope he suffers a
painful, extended, and agonizing death. Each day he draws breath is
simply a reminder that we do not live in a just universe; the wicked
prosper, and the good suffer, and I don't know which disgusts me more.
Despite everything that's happened to her, I'm convinced that she is
the most loving and most devoted parent on the planet, and is actively
involved with many charities. She always goes out of her way to make
my brothers and me happy, and as children, she would lavish us with
birthday parties and Christmases that she could barely afford, such
was her motivation to ensure that our childhood was the polar opposite
of her own. She loves those awful cheesy and saccharine Disney films,
because for her, it's an escape from the lingering thoughts that drift
in the back of her mind. She is as selfless a person as you will ever
meet, and I don't know how her childhood didn't turn her catatonic.
But as wonderful as she is, she is nearing 60, and the scars have
still never healed, and I doubt they ever will.
When I was a little girl we lived next door to this family they had a lot of kids 2 older boys who were in high school another little boy who was close to my age (6 at the time) and a little girl with leukemia. The 2 older boys who were in high school always hung around us when we would play and always volunteer to keep an eye on his when our parents wanted to go out to the store or take a walk around the neighborhood.
Every time my parents left to go do something i was called over to sit in one of the older boy's lap he would stick his hand down my pants and ask me if i liked it.
I was 6 he was in high school.... When i finally told my parents about it, it just slipped out i remember sitting at the table with my family and we were all joking around sharing gross stories and laughing and then i let it slip about my neighbor....my parents were pissed i thought they were mad at me that it was my fault i remember crying all night just looking for comfort...my parents were at the neighbors house yelling at the family. after that i wasn't allowed near their house i wasn't allowed to play with their younger son who was one of my best friends, at the age of 6 i didn't understand why and then their family started spreading rumors about my family all around the neighborhood, we were forced to move.
When i was in middle school all the flash back and memories came back to me about what happened to me when i was younger, my parents never talked to me about it they never brought it up after that night. I always felt too ashamed to ever bring it up and so i felt alone like there was no one there i could talk to about it i started huffing chemicals when i was in 6th grade which in the town we moved to that was about the only thing you could get a hold of and then i started cutting in the 7th grade. when my parents found out about me cutting they were furious and just yelled at me for hours but still never offered to help me. once i got into high school i started smoking and doing drugs and then my junior year of high school on Christmas eve i tried to commit suicide that was when i finally got the help i needed i started seeing a therapist and when i told the therapist about what happened to me when i was younger (she had to tell my parents) they were out raged the entire car ride home i got yelled at for telling my mom would compare what happened to her to what happened to me as if i shouldn't be upset about my experience. later i found out it was because their guilt was so bad they didn't know how else to handle it but regardless they made me feel like a piece of shit for wanting help for wanting that comfort i had never had. i saw my therapist for about 6 months and then she told me i didn't need to come back...before we had ever even gotten to the root of my issues before we even got to talk about what happened to me. I am a lot older now and have been having a lot of psychological problems i have felt more alone now than ever. to be honest i don't even know why i am sharing this with a complete stranger, i think it just helps to get it all out in the open to someone who understands and who
doesn't know you at all.
Thank you so much for everything
I don't have access to any pictures from that time, but, I was molested repeatedly when I was around five years old. Brian Barnes was one of the many kids in my neighborhood. I had an amazing neighborhood growing up. 13 kids between the ages of 3 and 13. Bike races, hide-and-seek, freeze tag, army, all sorts of fun games, all sorts of fun times. Never a lack of entertainment. We all played, and we included everyone.
Brian's Dad, whose name I can't remember... Bill? Anyway, I remember the names of their dogs. Coke and Pepsi. Brian was older than me. He was at the upper-limit of the range.
Anyway, Brian's dad had Playboy's and Penthouse's and Hustler's (I think. The details are fuzzy.) Anyway, he would let me look at the nudie magazines if I would suck his dick. I don't know if he ever came in my mouth, since I don't even remember if he had hit puberty at that point. I did want to see naked girls (my exposure to pornography came at a very, very early age due to a neighbor who was my age) and I knew it was wrong, but, man... boobies...
God fucking damn it.
All of this happened in Beatrice, Nebraska. 68310.
For Vale, who lost the taste of blackberries, from his mother:
Okay, I admit it. I joined Weight Watchers. Yes, the mother of a recovering eating disordered son joined a ‘dieting’ program. I’m not remotely at a healthy weight and just as Vale needed to make better eating decisions so do I. Weight Watchers encourages me to eat more healthy, so I’m not ‘restricting’ just making better choices. And yes, Vale and I are talking about it quite a bit to make sure I’m not one huge trigger to him. And I keep the scale, which I just recently purchased, stashed out of sight. So far so good as I have lost 14 pounds. Now if only Vale would find them…
And I just said all of that just to say this: I’m buying and consuming more fruit. Monumental right? When I went to our local store (Maine Source ~ do you have one near by?) they had a sale on berries: blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. That’s especially rare for this time of year so I scooped up a bunch of them because the kids and I enjoy them so much. And if you have children you probably guessed that my kiddos were elated. And if you have an ED child you probably guessed that I was equally elated to watch Vale scooping up the berries and eating them like candy. Well, all of them except the blackberries.
After a bit of the other children enjoying the berries, Vale came to me and said, “You know Mom, I just can’t eat the blackberries.” I was confused. I did see him sampling them earlier and so I asked him if it was because he didn’t like blackberries or was there another issue. Yeah, yeah, you know what I was thinking… restricting? And in actuality I found the real reason far more sad. Vale told me that at his former foster parents’ house, where his rapes occurred, there were blackberries growing all over the place. And although enjoys the taste of blackberries, he just can’t eat them without thinking about it. Another simple pleasure stolen.
My poor baby. You go on and just eat those other berries then.
Never, ever underestimate what sexual assault, what rape will do to a person. It snakes its way into everything.
A tribute to those children molested by Dr. William Ayres, psychiatrist, former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
For those of us, young and old, who still struggle with depression, general poor health, destructive behaviors, violent acting-out, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts because of what he did.
For the men, who have died while struggling with despair, at least in part due what he did to us; For the one who died in a motorcycle accident while in a bad frame of mind. For the one who died of damage to his liver due to his self-medication with alcohol. For the one who ended his pain by stopping on the freeway, and stepping in front of an RV traveling at full freeway speeds.
For countless others molested by him, and who are struggling alone.
For the Survivors
RIP Years 8 - 24.
16 years is more than half of my life. So, more than half my life has been spent coping with what you did to me. Unable to form healthy relationships and friendships. Unable to speak up when I was scared, or when I knew that I was being treated poorly. Unable to take care of myself properly, or love myself in the way that I should have. I bury more than half my life as a result of what you did to me, and as a result of being unable to find an adult who cared to help me. I bury those years and I bury you.
For ME, a tribute to myself and my survival and my recovery. Recovery of self.
Even though there was no overt sexual abuse, I was emotionally incested (which is just like the sexual encroachment, but without overt physical contact), and suffer the scars. Society doesn't even begin to recognize the scars and horrible damage of this.
Last night, in therapy, I was able to declare passionately for the first time, how "wrong" this all felt. In my case, the person who abused me died suddenly, and it has been hard to grieve, partly because this "wrong" got so much in the way.
It was so emotionally gratifying to declare these things before another last night, in an emotional way. And I know it will be healing - till I get out all the wounded feelings of longing and love and mourning that also have to be declared, for the abuser for whom I still cared so much.
For 2 daughters
My oldest daughter was 13 when blood pressure medication "caused" her step-grandfather to touch her vagina as she was sleeping on the floor in their living room, having watched a movie.
She fled and ran to her Dad's house, who called the police. He was never publicly prosecuted, but spent the remainder of his life on the sexual offender list in our state. As he was a genial and popular guy, the town turned against her. She was ridiculed at school and ostracized at church. To this day her grandmother doubts that it ever happened. I might add to this that my daughter forgave him on his deathbed, right before they removed life support. How, I'll never know. She is a SURVIVOR and is an amazing woman.
My youngest daughter was molested by her stepmother's brother. He impregnated her and then transported her across the state and fled. He stayed on the run for years until Hurricane Katrina drove him back to US shores from an offshore job. He spent a year in the county jail before his trial. Of course, during the trial, the public defender made her out to be a whore and said she seduced him. She also caressed him during the trial, it was sickening. Again, he got 10 years. I could tell that the jury was torn apart. One man on the jury was crying after the verdict. She is a SURVIVOR and is an amazing woman.
For she who sits beneath the Cruel Oak
Cruel oak in my yard
Tall, and with that rickety swing.
For shelter, for show,
and so majestic.
You know I cannot grow in that cold shade.
Still, you are noble: “What a Beautiful Tree!” “How Grand!”
Who would see me, under you,
Not the robins for their havens. I’m neither safe nor strong.
I cannot find the lilacs that I smell.
For me, Spring is uncertain.
While you, through me, are renewed.
The death of happy childhood.
The irrational fear of basements...especially ours.
The sexualization of a six year old should never happen.
The theft of being able to hang with guys...to enjoy them as guys...because now every guy is assumed to have an agenda.
Every guy is just another rapist in the waiting.
Rush the inevitable, expose the jugular and see if he takes the bait...hyper-sexualization. The disappointment when he does; the flood of self disgust when he does not.
Sick mind games and self blame.
Then one day the realization...this is not my fault.
Going to survivor group meeting not because of my brother, but in-spite of him. The last place he and my parents want me to be is in a public setting telling the secrets.
And I was only as sick as my secrets. Once they were aired out and disinfected with sunshine...I healed
For my sister and her daughter.
And for those of us who have to have lived with the hammer coming down next to our ears.
For 4 brave girls
"There are four women in my life, 2 dear friends, my sister, and my spouse, all who have been sexually assaulted. Though they suffered greatly, they are amazing adults, and I write this to honor their success."
I was out with my girlfriend, celebrating her graduation from college. It was a good night; early summer, warm enough for a t-shirt, cocktails made out of cucumber vodka and lime.
My sister came back from the bathroom, and told me that we should leave. When asked why, she said that there was someone there that neither of us wanted to see.
I looked. He was sitting on the other side of the room in a crowd of people.
I have a history of violence, of acting out, of black eyes and shouting and slammed doors and bloody noses. I also have a history of impulsiveness, of bad decisions, risky behavior.
I could feel rage pour down my spine. I wanted to burn him alive.
I am 26 years old, and he pinned me down on a couch in my living room fourteen years ago, after a night of drinking and smoking and partying. Pinned me down and touched me and then passed out on me, and I have never forgotten that I am lucky to have gotten away with so little, relatively, so little compared to what he could have done, and I have never forgiven him.
I wanted to break a glass on his face. I wanted to tell his girlfriend that the man she was dating would have me if he hadn't drunk so much. I wanted to demand why he said he never remembered that night, when I can't forget it, even five-ten-fifteen years on. I wanted to tattoo his crimes on his eyelids, so everyone would see it when he blinked.
I walked out of the bar with my sister, without my girlfriend, without an explanation, without causing a scene. I walked away, smoked half-a-dozen cigarettes, and calmed down.
This is a tribute to my niece GH who was molested every night by her step father from age 6-12 when she finally told a school counselor.. I am unsure why she didn't tell her mother or myself earlier but she didn't but today she is fine and thriving and last week she delivered her first child - a baby girl!
For Kristen Katz, This one girl from Austin (who's effing amazing)
I, too, was a child that died. I am a perfectly healthy adult now, about to go to law school, and doing well. I am, as you said, one of the (rare) lucky ones. However, I knew exactly what you meant when you said that your attacker had killed you. The child I was died seventeen years ago. I was never a child again. I was never the same person again.
[Note-Kristen describes this as "a disjointed, emotional, angry poem-esque type thing that I wrote in the wee hours of the morning after another sleepless night haunted by cruel memories and bad thoughts" I think it is beautiful but haunting.]
Baring my Soul
Just so you know
I have voices screaming in my head
My soul is fighting with itself
I can’t type this
My computer is so cold, my mind is on fire
Angry, yelling, screaming thoughts
Chaos in my brain
Why did this happen?
Am I fucked up forever?
Why did you do that to me?
Does it really matter THAT much?
I’m over it, right?
Thing of the past.
Bu these aren’t real
These are fake, fake tears
Because I don't deserve them
Feel sorry for me
I’m a victim
This is nothing but a fucking pity party
A pity party for one
Because it lives in my head
And nobody knows
I lay in the dark and wonder
thoughts racing, tears falling, anger aching so bad my fucking teeth hurt…
Is this real?
Is this anger tangible?
Can I touch it?
Can I taste it?
I feel like I can grab it and choke it by its throat
But it’s not there
So it must not be real
I cannot prove this, show this, explain this feeling…to anyone.
Only I know what this is
NOBODY FUCKING UNDERSTANDS
I don’t understand
It’s just ME
Seventeen years later
in a dark room
crying the mascara of a woman
for the soul of a child
But I try to explain this on a fucking laptop
A FUCKING LAPTOP
Seventeen years ago, I wrote by hand in a child’s journal what you did to me
Fuck a laptop
It will never express what it’s like to be me
They will never understand
No one will
I am so angry
I am so sad
This dark room in this dark place in my head…this is where I live
and have lived
for sixteen years
I hope you enjoyed your childhood.
I did not enjoy mine
Because YOU could not be a fucking grown-up...
I did not get to be a child
You took it all from me, and I feel guilty for crying
No one is watching me
I am alone
but still I wonder…
is it right?
Should I be crying?
Get over it
That’s what I tell myself
This dark place in me…
it never leaves
Fuck you for my dark place
IT NEVER FUCKING LEAVES
Worse than what you did in 1994, is that in 2011, I still have a dark place
Fuck you for that
This shit is not poetic
This shit is real
For Myself - Roxine
[Authors note-And the voice too....one of the most powerful voices you will ever hear. LISTEN.]
I am the face of child sexual abuse
And this is the face of my abuser.
He was my grandfather. "Paw-Paw" sexually abused me from age 5 to 13. And people knew.
The events unfolding at Penn State involving the sexual abuse of children and subsequent cover-up has awoken that little 5-year-old girl who deserved to be protected, who deserved a childhood, who deserved to live, who deserved for someone to say something to make it stop - as did all of the victims of this sexual deviant at Penn State.
The sexual abuse of a child not only takes away their innocence, it takes away their life, because who that child was supposed to be is forever changed. And while we don't carry scars that you can see, they are there. Internal, emotional scars, filled with trust and betrayal issues, fear and anger, loss; sometimes we are unable to find value in ourselves as human beings because we were once just objects used to satisfy someone's abnormal sexual desires. Once we are old enough to realize that what our abusers did to us isn't right, we begin to think that maybe we had no worth, because no one protected us, no one stood up for us, no one cared.
Used and discarded, we are left to seek out "love" and "value" in the only way we know how, through sexual behaviors that aren't rooted in real relationships. We don't know how to have relationships because we can never trust anyone fully. The relationships we counted on as children failed us. No one stood up for us. No one protected us. No one spoke up.
Because child sexual abuse is taboo, it makes people feel uncomfortable. And it is this uncomfortable feeling that leaves the door open for the abuse to continue. The incredulous thoughts of "not in my family, not him, not her, no way he or she could do that" make people question what they actually saw, or makes them doubt what they know is true. Because it is such a gut-wrenching notion to imagine a child being raped by an adult, people would rather rationalize it than deal with it. They would rather it just go away than have to face it. Our mental self-preservation mode kicks in and we try not to think about such awful, monstrous acts on a child.
Already, just a few days into this news story, there are articles, reporters and radio hosts saying they just want to be done with it. It makes them so uncomfortable that they just want it to go away. But for us, for the little kids who suffered the heinous acts of child sexual abuse, this never goes away. In a way, we welcome this conversation and want it to continue. It is the only way that some will listen. That little 5-year old girl is screaming at the top of her lungs for you to help her - if it doesn't look right, if it doesn't feel right - go with your gut - say something, do something, anything. Don't just walk away because it makes you uncomfortable. Don't sweep it under the rug because you don't want to embarrass the family or the team or the university.
Children cannot protect themselves. It is our duty to keep them safe. Speak up. I would rather say something and be uncomfortable, than say nothing and risk losing another child. No matter what, always protect the child. If any of those involved had said something, they would be hailed a hero. Instead, they turned a blind eye. In my opinion, they are no better than the perpetrator himself.
When the sexual abuse was occurring, there was a little trailer on the property that I would retreat to at the lake. It was my safe haven. And I became a voracious reader, for in those words, I could escape the horror of my life. When I was probably 11 or 12, I came across this poem and it has sustained me throughout my life:
OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley. 1849–1903
my mom my boss my best friend
For a Penn State Student
I'm a junior at Penn State and a child
abuse survivor. I was abused for very much of my childhood, up until I
moved to live with my mother full-time my sophomore year of high
The reports of abuse were very much triggering last semester, as you
can probably imagine. It sickens me, it reduces me to tears. My
freshman year, I was able to say what happened to me out loud for the
first time, but only in whispers, to myself. I would cry myself to
sleep every night I did that, but I saw it as progress, I guess. I was
finally able to tell someone, my best friend, after talking to her
about the grand jury report. I didn't want to read it.
My freshman year at college I took a sociology of gender class with
that best friend. As a part of the class, we watched a documentary
about pornography that showed a clip of "fantasy incest porn".
It was the first time I'd ever been publicly triggered. I left the room
sobbing. I had to lie to her about why I was incapacitated. I still
cry thinking about it.
I was sexually abused by my father for almost as long as I could
remember. I don't know how to reconcile that with anything else he's done for me. I only talk to him when I have to, now. Until I figure it
out. You're the only person who knows. I never told my friend who it
was, and bless her heart, she never asked. She got it, that's what
If there had been anyone who had even a suspicion that I was being
abused, they never did anything about it. If such a person exists, I
can't find it in my heart to forgive them, just as I can't forgive
anyone involved with Sandusky. I go to a school that is all but
shutting down to memorialize Paterno. I'm beside myself with
frustration and despair and anger. I guess people don't understand how
this feels. I hope they never have to.
For an anonymous Kossack, who will wear red and dance in May
I haven't told my story in a long time, and with the passing of my primary abuser, my father, I feel the time is right to share again. My story is one of so called "soft abuse" at the hands of several men.
My first childhood memory is of my father beating my mother when I was about two years old. It was shortly after that beating that my father dropped out of my brother's and my life for about 7 years. When I was nine, my mother divorced her second husband, and she chose to let us resume a relationship with my father. As far back as I can remember, it was after this reunion that my father started fondling my legs any time they were exposed. He would also comment the quality of the shaving (or lack thereof) of my legs. This continued until I was 16. The result of this inappropriate behavior is that until I was about 30, I had a fetish about removing my body hair, going as far as to pluck hairs from my arms and legs until I could no longer focus. To this day, when anyone touches my shins or calves, I have to steel myself not to cringe.
More inappropriate touching followed me throughout high school. The pediatrician whose hands wandered all over my chest as he listened to my lungs, and since I was asthmatic, he got to listen to my lungs a lot. The teacher who always dropped things around me, so that he could get a good look down my blouse or up my skirt. The teacher who ran his fingers through my hair because he just needed to touch it. The result of this inappropriate behavior is that I learned to coverup and not draw attention to myself, and to be distrusting of any man that addressed my physical appearance.
The abuse culminated when I was 16 years old. My father had retired to bed early, and I was going for a drive to visit my grandmother. I climbed in his bed to tell him goodnight, and he held me next to him and fondled my legs as usual, and then worked up to feeling my thighs and then my vagina. I was so startled by this trangression that I lept out of the bed, said goodnight and drove to my grandmothers. By the time I arrived at Grandma's, I had convinced myself that this event never happened. The result of this inappropriate behavior is that I suppressed this memory for 5 years, married an overbearing man who would never leave me alone (which kept Dad from ever being alone with me again), and participated in a lot of demeaning sexual adventures because I did not feel that I deserved any better.
So it was very difficult for me to give a eulogy for my father when he passed away last Thanksgiving. I finally was able to use the theme of thanks and list a few things that I was thankful for. My plan had been to wear red and dance at his funeral and tell everyone that he was a wife beating, child abusing bastard that should be rotting in hell. But unfortunately, my Dad died young and my Grandmother survived him, and there is no way I would disrespect my Grandmother and her grief. But I think this year on my birthday in May, I will wear red and dance in celebration of being a survivor.
For M, L, A, C, S, M, and mom
Tribute to my friends "M" and "L" who were in scouts with me through high school, and regularly raped on camping trips, outings, and "sleepovers" with our troop leader. His wife knew about it and said and did nothing. L eventually got pregnant at 17, and claimed it was the child of some boyfriend, but we knew it belonged to our troop leader--and later found out he threatened her with a knife if she told anyone or tried to abort it. So instead of completing high school, she carried the product of her rape to term. The rest of us, in fear of similar threats, kept quiet.
"M" is still stalked by our troop leader. More than 5 years after leaving the troop he has placed tracking devices in her car and even showed up on my doorstep in college trying to track her down. He created fake Facebook accounts--in his daughter's names--to try and befriend us (her friends) to gain access to M. Fortunately, M has a restraining order against him and a high-ranking military husband with many guns--and every legal right to shoot to kill if they ever see him. And for reasons I do not understand, M begged me NOT to go to the police, that the statute of limitations on prosecuting has passed, and she would rather move on and forget. I don't understand it and I don't agree with it, but to this day I abide by her request.
(He tried to rape me as well at age 16; I was a bitch enough to fight back--I actually vomited in his shoes to that when I ran into the woods he couldn't come after me--and later threatened to go to the authorities--police, my parents, the school, the scouting council, the newspapers, anything I could think of not for myself but for his continued abuse of my friends. He never attempted on me again, but verbally abused and humiliated me in front of my friends and peers for another year until I quit the troop.)
This piece of shit child rapist has been a troop leader in the community for almost 20 years now. I can only guess how many young women's lives he has ruined.
Tribute also to "A" and "C", the little sisters of my best friend "S", all three of whom (and their mother, "A") were murdered March 6, 1999, by their stepfather who has been raping the 8- and 10-year old girls for longer than I know. They were bright and creative, beautiful young women with promising futures in math, science, and music. They had a joy of life that slowly began to fade after their mother married this monster, and was unaware of the abuse, because she worked two jobs to keep the family afloat.
The day of the murders, he grabbed several knives from the kitchen and stabbed the women and girls to death, raping each one in front of the others before he killed them. This horrific monster, this child rapist and brutal murderer is still sitting on death row in our state. Not a day has gone by that I don't think about killing him myself for the ultimate destruction and hell he put a close-knit, loving, church-going family of strong women through.
For my friend "M" who confessed once, briefly, and never spoke again that "by 11 [she] was no longer a virgin and it was not [her] choice."
For my own MOTHER, who has also mentioned but never discussed her own experiences of child rape during the cold war, living in communist East Germany. The pain and hurt that she never has and maybe never will express when I see her crying, the anger and hurt and violation I feel vicariously that the very vagina that birthed me was mutilated and tortured long before I could be created. The absolute destruction caused to her genitals made it almost impossible for her to conceive and give birth to me--something only said once, aloud, when my father was away, when I was 16 and finally asked why I was an only child. The few words she said on it before running out of the room crying haunt and anger me to this day.
Finally, for all the women in my life for have experienced such horrors and lived to tell about it, but haven't. Those whom I love and carry a pain I do not know and can't help them with. Those who have denied it, or turned to alcohol or drugs to block it out. To the survivors: stay as strong as you can.
To those who might have been my friends but, because of child rape and those who know and refuse to report it, are no longer with us today: I hold a loving tribute to you.
To Kris, from himself
There is a hole inside my heart still. It's the size and shape of Kris, the five year old boy who was destroyed by a monster. I still blame myself for that hole, for the death of your spirit and your laughter. I let the atrocities continue for almost two years before I said anything. I'm so sorry. I was scared. I didn't know what to do. But then I told. I went to the hearings. I met with the attorneys and the doctors who made me recount every horrific detail of the past two years. Then I sat on the witness stand and told a courtroom full of strangers about the most intimate, shameful, disgusting things. I said words I wasn't supposed to say at seven years old. I died the second time then. I didn't come alive again for five years. When I woke up, I was a twelve year old boy with a hole in his heart and no idea how to live. I had no self-esteem. I had lost the ability to do all the things in life that I loved. I couldn't draw anymore. I used to be so good at drawing. Everybody said so. I sit here today, fifteen years later, and I still can't draw. He stole that from me.
When I was fifteen he was released from prison. He raped another boy. When i got a phone call from an investigator with the District Attorney's office I felt so much hate for him. The investigator told me what he did, how he took advantage of a severely autistic boy. A neighborhood boy, just like you were, Kris. I was sixteen when I got that phone call, I had dropped out of high school. I was selling drugs to support my drug addiction, and when I got that phone call I had a gun with me. I thought about killing him. I agreed to speak with the investigator, and subsequently agreed to be a character witness against him at trial. We didn't get that far, though. He accepted a plea deal. 23 years in prison.
I spoke for you, Kris. At his sentencing. I tried to tell him, and a room full of other people, how beautiful you had been. I tried to tell them how innocent you were. I told them that you loved to draw, and that you were so good at it. I told him that he killed you, and that I would never forgive him for it. I tried to do your memory justice, Kris. To make you sure you were represented there that day. To make sure that he knew who you were and that your ghost was standing before him. I was a broken young man, not whole and missing you, Kris. I told him it was your fault. I told him that I hadn't cried in 9 years. I told him how much you were missed. I feel like I didn't do you justice.
I'm a father now, Kris. A husband. I've been sober for more than 10 years. Whole weeks go by sometimes when I don't think about you. Then I see your crooked smile on my little one's face and I feel the void in my heart.
I'm becoming whole, Kris. A little at a time, but slowly and surely becoming whole. I want you to know today that it's safe to come back. I'm a big, strong man now. I can protect you. You can draw again.
For my sister:
She was only 5 yrs old when she was
raped by a neighbor, family friend and father of one of my childhood playmates. She never told anyone, we moved out of that town shortly after it happened and it wasn't until she was in her late thirties that she was able to remember clearly and talk about it. When she started to talk about it, and she described the kitchen of the home it took place in I knew immediately who the bastard was.
I was 11 when it happened, he had tried to touch me while "showing me how to stand to play darts, his hands were on my hips, standing behind me, as his hands moved forward on my body toward my crotch, I moved away and stayed away from him.
I didn't say anything to anyone either and never dreamed he would hurt my baby sister! This was in the mid 60's, no one talked about sexual abuse of kids. When I found out what he did to her I felt so responsible for not speaking up. I will always feel pain over that.
Today my sister is an amazing woman, she is a strong, loving mother of 5, grandmother of 11 and says he has no power in her life, she won't allow him any power anymore. She and her husband raised their kids without ever leaving them at daycare, even though they both worked, how they managed that is a miracle, but I understand why she never let anyone care for her kids other than trusted family members, grandparents or siblings, she kept a close eye on them because of what happened to her.
To "B.A.S." from her mom
To the spindly little girl with the big blue eyes and loving smile; to the sweet girl who was only afraid of clowns and Santa Clause; to the girl who didn't strive for perfect, but already was.
i too know that the pain does not go away. i was molested by my uncle from the time i was 7 until i was an adult. he also molested my older brother. i am 48. this has been with me my whole life. it changed who i am... for me a life of self destruction and battles with alcoholism and drug addiction. i am coming up on 10 years clean next month. low self esteem. suicide attempts. guilt. shame. my uncle who molested me would also publicly make fun of gay men or effeminate men.. which really fucked with me as a gay man. i have worked very hard at feeling proud about being gay and what really angers me is when people conflate pedophilia with homosexuality.so i understand the anger. the pain is still here.
the last time i slept with him i was an adult. i thought it was my way of taking the power back. but it just lead to more guilt. The fucked thing about all this is that it felt good to me as a kid. i cant tell you in a strong enough way how THAT was the most damaging for me and also how i wasnt able to help my older brother who was being molested too. i was a smart kid BUT I DID'T KNOW that what was happening to me was robbing me of my childhood. it is only in looking back that i can see that my innocence was stolen. i acted like such a little adult as a kid. i knew that what was happening to me was wrong and i thought that if anybody found out it would destroy my mom and my grandmother, after all this was my grandmother's son and my mom's younger brother who was molesting me. so i learned to keep it a secret and i carried this incredible toxic weight that i then turned onto myself in the form of self destructive behavior as i said before..drugs and alcohol. Eventually the truth came out when i was in my late twenties but it didnt really set me free... getting into recovery and a 12 step program has certainly helped. some of the things that i have noticed that i carry with me as a result of being sexually abused are that i have never had a professional massage because i dont like to be touched. i put off going to the dentist for years not because i was afraid of pain but because i couldnt handle the intimacy of someone being so close to me. i feel uncomfortable around little kids. i am scared to hold a baby. i always feel on the outside of life. it takes me years to trust someone. i have to be careful not to sexualize my professional relationships. This will sound strange but i always feel like i smell or that i have bad breathe though i have read that this is common for incest survivors. these are just a few of my observations about how this has affected me.
Also i want to say how punk rock saved my life and how being an artist has given me a place/space to find and articulate my truth and given me a spiritual connection that i try hold onto and develop on a daily basis. So most days i have hope and try to live in joy. i am lucky. i have a loving boyfriend and a few close friends. i wanted to end on a note of hope. thanks.
I was a victim of child sexual abuse when I was an innocent little boy at a summer camp. When camp was over, I wasn't so innocent. I think I was about 10 or 11 at the time. The rest is history. The way to describe what happens to you psychologically is that your spirit is stolen, and the trauma damages your psyche for the rest of your life. Only a survivor can relate to the horror and disgust of being raped as a child. The details of my rape have played over and over in my head for decades (I'm 46 now). The shame, guilt, and overall horror that one lives with after being raped was indescribably until now.
Reading other's stories has given me comfort that it wasn't my fault, even though I already knew that. I always felt somehow that I should have tried to stop my attacker, but I shouldn't feel guilty. Know that there are many of us quietly living our lives, and struggling to feel normal. Please have strength and even though we are strangers, know that we have an unfortunate bond that only a few of us know.
Like so many of you - I have been there, - sadly there are too many of us.
Like you - I was fierce, unafraid, and ready to take on the world before all the shit happened. I was abused from age 5 to 8 by an uncle.
Like you - it is a stark contrast to look at myself in pictures from before it happened and after it happened. All the life is gone from my eyes in the "after" pictures. No six year old child should have that quintessential "fifty yard stare" like they've been in the shit in Vietnam. Not unless they've lived in a war zone. And I certainly didn't - not literally anyway.
Yeah - I've done therapy. It helped me figure out how to talk about it and navigate the world. But it doesn't really help. Not in the way that it should. Nothing really makes me feel comfortable in my own skin.
I feel like I've been programmed for self-destruction. Every single day is a struggle to get up and live.
My soul, my future, the quality of my life was all ripped away when I was so young.
I am now 45-years old, childless, unmarried, and barely scraping by. This despite having two college degrees, talent, smarts, looks, and a good personality. I am missing something on the inside. Like the page in life's handbook that tells you how to make it all happen? That page was ripped out so I don't have a map on how to get where I want to go. Some people look at me with admiration because I have done some things right along the way. Like earning two college degrees. And producing a feature film - that's pretty cool, right? But it's not. Everything is incredibly out of balance. The life I'm living - I don't think it was the life I was meant to have. I'm missing so many pieces of the puzzle and don't know how to make things better.
This put me back in touch with my anger.
I never want the bastard to win. And I realize that it's not enough for me to wake up every day - I have to do much, much more to keep him from casting a massive shadow across my path.
I have to keep fighting and lighting fires as I go to chase his shadow away.
And being kind to myself. That's a big one.
For Melissa, my fellow Virago, and a true survivor in every sense of the word.
"I have received a lot of support and thank you's from people for telling my story. i don't tell it so you weep over my losses - i tell it so you see what a badass mofo'ing cyberpunk artist i am. i am not surviving - i am thriving and fighting back. i'm taking every inch of life back that i can. every time i doubt what i am doing, the person i am dating, my friends and therapist assure me i not only deserve justice, but i should do so unapologetically. i'm fearless, but they make me so."
I GIVE A DAMN - The Politician or How My Brother Broke My Heart: The Bullies in My Own Backyard (A Bisexual Girl's Story Part 2)
I am writing this for every GLBT kid out there who lives in a house of horrors - surrounded by chaos, homophobia, abuse, destructive people and patterns. I am writing this because often people you hope won't fail you will. But their failure makes room for others who won't fail you, who will surprise you and lift you up, hold your hand and crack a stupid joke just to make you smile.
It does get better, but there is a point we have to face what is going to work and what is a lost cause. We have to face our own personal monsters and not let them turn us into one as well. We have to know there is so much love out there, but going through this hell is a crucible of change, forging your resolve, will and spirit into the person you will become. We are usually the people in any family that become the whipping boy, the scapegoat, the target. Siblings and parents alike can bully us, make us feel completely unwanted, but they cannot annihilate us. We can be hated, beaten and abused, but WE CAN STILL THRIVE.
To do so, we must be honest with ourselves, and do what is appropriate for our safety, sanity and soul. Know that person treating you like a bad dog or a servant is vomiting their self-hatred all over you. BECAUSE YOU ARE LOVE. You are love personified - you are willing to risk so much, to live despite the pain, love despite the hate, and push through despite the being beaten down. Every time you see a gay person openly expressing affection to their mates or friends, know that person risked everything to be able to do that. And know if that person can survive, be happy, despite not having the acceptance or love of their family, despite growing up in hell, YOU CAN TOO. We are depending on you to join us as soon as you can, so we can show you how much better it does get.
So please, hold on, hold out your hand, reach out to us, because many of us are here for you. You are not alone. You are so loved. I love you though I may never know your name or meet you. I love that you choose to fight, to live, to make it through. I AM SO PROUD OF YOU.
About my brother
I wanted my whole life to hold on to my brother's hands, for hope and love, for change and promise, for a better future for our family. My brother let go early and never sought me out to try again, to make amends, to make our family whole again. He failed as a brother. I too failed as a sister, I feel.
If my brother ever runs for office, I won't let him tell people he's a "family oriented" person, or that he believes in GLBT rights, or that even that sex offender law he assisted on as a law student means shit against betraying your little sister. He's well on the path to a career in politics in Ontario, and he's inserted himself in all the right channels, married into money and chummed up with the right people. There is no room in his world for the truth. Is that really a man anyone would want to represent their interests?
Now I have true brothers, not of blood, but of friendship. I've had and have great men in my life to lean on, and each and every one of them puts their bandaids on my wounds, dries my tears and gives me hope. I know good men exist, have compassion, care and do the right thing.
my inner she-hulk
In the years since, I've taken very good care of myself - I sought out therapy and it took a few tries, and ten years, to understand myself clearly. Therapy does help, but the goal is know yourself, so you can take care of your needs on your own. I stopped cutting long ago - almost immediately after leaving my family, with a few flare ups here and there. Despite every attempt to annihilate me, I beat the odds and now thrive as a filmmaker and artist. I have had great relationships and shitty ones. But I got to have them openly, without apology. My therapist says beating those odds - where I could have easily ended up dead, an addict, a drunk, in jail, a total raging mess - is a miracle
For the girl I once knew as my best friend. The girl who was not scared of spiders and danced to Madonna with me, who took me on adventures and taught me how to build forts, to climb trees and rollerblade. The girl who shared my secrets-including the one we never talked about and eventually split us apart-who I will miss and think of always. For the boy who went to camp one summer, and came back broken, for the girl who found the small sheltered trailer and sat there in the night reading poetry that gave her hope and strength, the girl who lay in a dark room crying the mascara of a woman for the soul of a child. The girls who grow into women who swear they are fine, but never are, who never forget. The girls who grow into fearless punk-artists and take no prisoners, who find their inner she-hulk, and speak truth to power. The boy who grew into a man, survived and overcame addiction, learned how to love again, and create works of art that could brighten even the most darkest corners of the world. The ones who sit in nursing homes rotting, waiting to die, still raging at the world. The little boys who cannot eat blackberries, the men who cannot hold babies, the men and women who cannot ever find intamacy, or have children of their own, because of the memories, and the fear that has consumed them. The sisters who suffered the same abuse and whose relationship is left in tatters.
For the little girls and little boys who never even make it through childhood, because those who are supposed to protect them don't, or because cowards would rather snuff out their lives than face their own consequences. To those who cry our for help but are met with silence, who are failed by people and institutions that have the power to stop it but DON'T. For those who suffer still with memories too painful to bear and escape or disassociate through alcohol, drugs, and other harmful behaviors.
For those boys who survive to become adults, only to lose their will to live when they find they cannot experience the colors and happenings of this world without constant misery. Or love their wives in the way they are supposed to.
For those who cry and scream for help, but are met with silence. And then silence themselves, once and for all.
For the mothers, the fathers, sisters and brothers, children, grandchildren, grandparents, aunts, uncles friends and lovers you know who's pain you can sense but never fully understand.
For the dancing boys, the child brides, the sex slaves, the exploited- the little girls and boys who are treated like commodities to be bought and sold on the open market instead of human beings.
For those who we have lost forever, we honor your life. And we wish that we could have done more to help you while you were still here. Although we wish, more than anything, that you were still here.
For those who are lost but still breathing somehow, we will not give up on you. We will go to those nursing home where you are left to rot, the back alleys, the corners, the strip, the crackhouses, and we will tell you-you are worth so, so very much more, and that you cannot let the monsters win. You are the master of your fate, you are the captain of your soul.
For the survivors and thrivers, who refuse to stay victims-who refuse to stay silent or be ashamed. Who use their own voices, their own personal pain and stories, even if they are horrifying and hard to hear, to bring what is shrouded in darkness into the light-who point their finger at those horrors we don't want to talk see or understand, pull them out from the shadows and scream LOOK, goddamn it, and don't you dare look away.
For all the boys and girls being abused right now, who think nobody cares or nobody will listen or understand. Who think there is something wrong with you, who are afraid to speak out. You are not alone, and you do not need to be afraid. There are millions of us out here who care for you. For those who feel they have no voice or who are just finding their voice - Just reach out to us-break your silence. We will make sure you are safe. We will believe you.
We make this pledge- never again. Never again will we look the other way. Even if it is inconvenient, or painful, or if it means fighting giants, shattering halo's, fighting against sclerotic beuracracies where justice becomes apathy and then goes to die-we will not give up. We will go above and beyond the pitiful minimum requirements under the law-and live up to our most basic moral standard, that if we know or suspect a child is being abused it is not a choice, but an obligation, to make sure it stops. And that to do so is not a heroic act-it is our most basic moral and ethical responsibility as human beings. Because nothing less than that will ever suffice. Because anything less is a failure-and one that we will be eternally judged for, no matter what other good things we did in our lives.
And finally for all of the boys who were victimized by an individual who's name I will not even tarnish this page with-the boys who were labled as lost, and disturbed troublemakers- who were promised salvation and hope, only to be tortured and brutalized by the very person who posed as your savior. The boys who were deemed less important than a legacy, who were powerless and left powerless by the most powerful men and women at a a most powerful institution. Who were failed by so many. The boys who were bullied out of school for telling the truth, the boys who become men, or who never survived- we will never know how many of you suffered. We will never know most of your names, or see your faces. Those who are referred to as “Victim #__” in a grand jury indictment, and talked about like objects as their personal pain is laid bare by a media who cares more about headlines and sensationalism and myths than how all of this feels for you. In the glare of the spotlight, you have been overshadowed. But not by us, not today. Today, especially, this is for you.
In your eyes I see pain, joy, love, sorrow
But in an instant I realize it is my reflection looking back at me
I close my eyes, not wanting to see
Opening them, I am captured yet again
In your eyes I see hope, despair, desire, confusion
Wanting, needing, begging, pleading
How is it you can see so clearly that which I hide from myself?
For it is in your eyes that I truly see
What I've been hiding from:
Pain, sorrow, despair, confusion
Love, joy, hope, want
Try as I may to look away, I cannot help but look at you
Look at me,
Look at me the way you see
The way I should see
There is no other that captures me in the way
I see myself reflecting in your eyes
Why then can I not look away?
How is it you possess me so?
How could you possibly know?
And why, when I no longer have the opportunity to see
The only thing I want is you looking at me?
Often, in a glance, we elucidate that which words cannot define
Thank you for looking at me
For showing me
That which I could not see
That which I had blocked so long ago
Thank you for giving me back me
In (not forgotten) but often painful memory
No matter what cost, always protect the child
Please donate to RAINN to support the victims of sexual abuse. You may even make a donation in honor of someone you know.
(P.S. This is incomplete...I have to add more still. Wanted to get it up by 2:00 though)
11:45 AM PT: I have to go pick up my daughter....and bawl my eyes out for a little while, which I am sure you will understand if you read these stories. There are a few more I need to add...if you do not see yours up, it will be soon.
If you see something that needs to be blocked out that I missed please PM me and I'll take care of it.
If you have second thoughts and want me to take your tribute down, I understand. Kosmail or email me and I will honor your request.
1:47 PM PT: $145 raised so far for RAINN, thank you!
Please share this link on your social networks so it gets more eyes!
Here's the link again: http://rainnmakers.rainn.org/...
My goal is $2,000. Lofty, I know. But I know we can do it.
As soon as I can convince my parents to let me use their credit card (I only deal with cash) I will be donating $25 in memory of J, my best friend
3:44 PM PT: OK, I'm pretty sure all the tributes are in now. I can't do any new ones tonight....you may still send them, I can use them in a future project, but I just can't do any more tonight, sorry.
BTW- up to $330 for RAINN! Thank you so much everyone! Keep sharing on your social networks!
Fri Jan 27, 2012 at 4:26 AM PT: Now republished to my new blog:
PS- OVER HALFWAY TO OUR GOAL OF $2,0000!!!!!! Thank you so much everyone who has donated!
Fri Jan 27, 2012 at 6:22 AM PT: Halfway to our goal guys....my gosh, thank you.