I’m thinking of my mom this morning. How can I not?
Yesterday, I watched a show on ID TV and it was about incest, rape, murder and healing, ( if there is such a thing.) Credits at the end of the program included RAINN, an organization for victims which I’d never heard of before.
Obviously, momma hadn’t heard of it either.
I cringe today, thinking of my Grandfather. I cry, when I think of my mom and the horrible things she must have lived through under his hand.
I found out, much later in life, what she’d lived through. It was after I’d discovered her on the kitchen floor, covered in blood. My dad was beside her, eyes crazed with disbelief. He was screaming for her not to leave him, not to leave us. ” Love you, love you, love you.” It was his mantra, heard in the background of ambulance sirens, as the paramedics whisked her away to the hospital.
Mom survived her suicide attempt, and because I was so angry with her decision to exit this world, minus any goodbye letter, or explanation, I ended up in a mother/daughter therapy session. I fought it, believe me. I was so upset with her. I adored my mom and it was very hard, to think that she was just going to leave me here, without a word of apology. Talking for an hour wasn’t going to help us work through anything that had happened.
Turns out, my Grandfather wasn’t really interested in my mother at all. It was my aunt that he wanted. She was the blonde-haired, blue-eyed young daughter he lusted after. My grandmother knew, but did nothing to stop this. But, my mom…… She felt the shift in relationships and did everything possible, to save her little sister.
Under the dark of night, she’d shoo my aunt out of the 1st floor bedroom window, telling her to hide in the shrubs and be quiet. Then, she’d climb into bed, pull up the covers and wait. Grampa always came, and his act of rape never took long. Afterwards, he would pat my mother’s head and leave, shutting the door behind him.
The rapes went on for about six years. Eventually, my mother and aunt escaped, marrying men at a very young age, moving several towns away from their childhood home. Of course, my grandparents sold their home and followed them, but my dad and uncle made sure they were never subjected to Grampa’s abuse again.
Shame follows a rape victim. And, if it is an incest rape, the shame is mixed, intertwined with love and hate, a good dose of confusion and disbelief. After all, he was their father. Did it really happen? Could this really happen? Families are typically divided, in who they ultimately side with.
I believed my mother’s words, from the moment her torturous truth spilled from quivering lips. Instantly, everything was different. Others in the family doubted our upstanding citizen of a grandfather could do such a thing. When Gramma was questioned, she defended her husband, but her head was always lowered, she could never look us in the eye when she declared his innocence. I hated them both.
I wish things had been different for rape victims back then. I wish that my mom had screamed at the top of her lungs when my grandfather took her innocence. I wish she had scratched his eyes out. I fervently wish that someone outside of the family had noticed, when momma became shy and quiet and withdrawn in the classroom. I wish my grandmother had been a real mother, protecting her child instead of her husband. I wish someone had been there for mom, had been the hero she needed. Like she’d been, every single day, for Auntie.
The rapes of my mother and the escaped rapes of my aunt scarred all of us, in one way or another. We still struggle with the truth of what happened to our family in the 40’s. Yes, today, I’m drawn to shows that bluntly talk about rape and the growing fight against abuse. I raise my fist in the air and shout out-loud, when someone is arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for their actions. I pray for our women, no matter what their age, or circumstance, who have been subjected to this horrific crime.
I pray for the young girl my mom was, that young daughter and heroic sister that made her way through the world, in spite of my grandparent’s evil. I’m grateful that her suicide attempt was a failure, that she finally had the chance to speak her truth and have someone listen.
It hurt like hell, momma, but we did. We listened. And I hope, somehow, we loved you through it, that you landed in a better place.