The Night I Became Terrified of the Dark

Please welcome Jackie from To Breathe Is To Write with a harrowing and brave story of child sexual abuse. The more we talk about it, the less power it has.


I was born the second youngest of five kids. There were two girls (me and my sister) and three boys (two older and one younger). I usually only claim having three siblings. My older sister, one older brother and one younger brother. The other brother (I’ll call him OB) I don’t claim and haven’t claimed since childhood. He was the evil one. The bad seed. The monster. He is dead to me. He was also my childhood sexual abuser.

Technically he is a half brother. Same mother, different father. He is a lot older than me. When the sexual abuse began I was four. He was a teenager already when it started. He knew what he was doing and enjoyed every single inflicted pain and humiliation.

I have had other difficulties in my life. The sexual abuse is just the beginning. It is also the one that still lives with me through all my years. It never seems to fade. Sometimes I can forget about it. Sometimes I can’t. It has affected my life in many ways.

I remember the first time the rape happened. Yes, it was rape. A rape of a four-year old child. I remember it was late at night, I was asleep in my bed. I felt someone pulling my pajama bottoms off of me. At first I didn’t know who it was. I think I said something, because the next thing I remember is a hand over my nose and mouth. I couldn’t breathe, and it terrified me.

Then I heard OB’s voice in my ear. He told me to keep quiet, or he would smother me. I know that was the first time I felt terror in my young life. It wasn’t the last time.

He opened my pajama top and pinched my four-year old nipples. He pinched them hard too, I remember the pain I felt. I know I started crying. My young mind couldn’t comprehend what he was doing. But I knew instinctively he was doing something bad. Something really bad.

He was always a bully to us younger kids. OB would always find a way to pinch or punch us when my parents weren’t looking. If we told on him we just got it worse later, so we learned really fast not to tell my parents anything. But what he was doing to me that night was beyond bullying. It was beyond anything mean he had done previously. It was evil.

“Don’t say anything, you hear me?” OB whispered in my ear.

I nodded my head yes. Tears were running down my face and going into my ears. But I didn’t move or make a sound. I couldn’t understand what he was doing. Why was he taking my pajamas off? Why was he pinching me there? What did I do to him to make him hurt me this way?

The dark was so complete I could barely see OB. I was so scared. I felt him put a finger inside of me. I tried to crawl away, but he punched me and pulled me closer to him.

“Don’t move you little bitch, or I’ll kill you!” he whispered fiercely next to my ear.

I tried not to cry out loud. He was hurting me. I tried to pull his hands away, but he was so much bigger than me. I tried crossing my legs so he couldn’t put his fingers in me anymore. I just couldn’t understand why he would want to anyway. It hurt so much. I just wanted him to leave. But he wouldn’t.

OB pinched my nipple really hard again and whispered in my ear.

“Open your legs or I’ll really hurt you!”

I didn’t want to, so I tried to roll on my stomach. He pulled my hair forcing me to stop, pinched my leg till I opened them then rammed his fingers inside of me. Oh, God it hurt so much! I wanted to scream, but OB had a hand over my mouth again. With his other hand, he was forcing his fingers in and out of my little body.

“Scream or cry out loud and I’ll kill you!” I heard OB whisper in my ear again. Even at such a young age I could tell he was excited. My tears kept flowing, and I just wanted it to be a bad nightmare and not for real. I was so scared, and my heart was thumping so loud I thought it would burst right out of my chest.

I felt his teeth. He bit my vagina! He bit me so hard that night that I bled. I don’t remember feeling so much pain in my young life as I did that night. Pain and humiliation, even though I was too young to know what humiliation was. I felt it that night.

When he was finally done I felt him crawl off of me. I quickly put my pajamas back on and huddled under my covers shivering in fear and pain. My young mind couldn’t understand fully what happened to me that night. I was afraid to fall back to sleep, afraid he would come back.

At some point that night I did fall asleep. That’s the first time I remember having a nightmare. Hell, I had just lived a nightmare and then I had one in my dreams. My life from that night on would only get worse. I lived in fear, always.

It was also the first time I remember truly feeling hate. I hated OB. He hurt me and I couldn’t understand why. I couldn’t even fully understand what exactly he did to me. At four years old you have no concept of rape. I just knew he hurt me badly and I didn’t know how to stop him. Because I remember word for word what his parting whisper was to me that night.

“Tell mom or dad and I’ll kill you. I will kill you then dad will kill me and spend the rest of his life in jail.”

Life went on, but it was different. I grew up much too fast. OB continued to come to me in the middle of the night, two or three times a week. I became terrified of the dark and of people touching me. I didn’t want to be touched or hugged, especially by men. I became painfully shy. I started wetting the bed.

As I grew older the abuse became worse, more sick. It continued on till I turned 9 years old. That’s when it stopped. The reason it stopped was twofold.

One, I got my period and officially became a ‘woman’. Now that’s funny, a woman at nine years old. All it did was scare the shit out of me. A ‘woman’ and having a period only meant one thing to me. I could have a baby. A baby! At nine years old. If OB continued raping me several times a week I could have HIS baby. The thought not only scared me to death it made me violently ill.

One day I was home alone, I remember I was making myself a sandwich after school. I don’t remember where everyone else was. I’m sure my parents were working, as for my brother and sister, maybe they weren’t home from school yet. But I do remember I was home alone when OB found me in the kitchen.

I had a very sharp butcher knife that I had just cut my sandwich in half with when OB came through the kitchen door. I remember feeling my heart speed up in fear. I tried to ignore him but he made that impossible.

He said some nasty things to me. And then said he was going to have some ‘fun’ with me.

“No! Go away! You are NOT going to touch me again!” I shouted at him. OB just laughed. I remember thinking to myself ‘what can I do to make him leave?’ I was so scared and all I could think of is if he touches me I could have his baby! There was no way I could let him touch me!

“What are you going to do to stop me? Tell your Daddy? Go ahead! I want you to tell him what a little bitch you are.” OB laughed some more.

“I want you to tell that bastard what I did to you! I want him to kill me and rot in jail!” OB told me as he moved closer to me.

All I could think of is, ‘it has got to stop now!’ But how? He moved closer to me and I grabbed the butcher knife. I stepped back against the kitchen counter and held the knife in front of me.

“Don’t touch me or I’ll kill you!” I shouted at him. I meant it too. Thoughts raced through my mind. If I kill him, they won’t put a little girl in jail! Daddy would be safe and so would I.

OB stepped closer and I struck out with that big knife. He jumped back and laughed. He laughed! I thought to myself he looks like a devil. His eyes were full of glee and his hands looked like claws reaching out for me. He thought I was joking. But I wasn’t.

A calm came over me then. I felt nothing. No fear, no anger, nothing. Just this eerie calm. I was going to kill OB. I could kill OB and not feel anything. I knew I could. My family would be so much better off without him around. I could live without this constant fear. I could and would do it. I stood there with that big knife in my hand and waited. Calmly.

OB suddenly stopped his taunting of me. Maybe he felt something different. I will never know. He looked at me and stepped toward me. I lifted the knife and very softly told him, “I’m going to do the world and my family a favor and kill you. You won’t have to worry about Daddy doing it, because I will.” Then I lunged toward him.

He ran! OB ran out the kitchen door with me right on his heels. I was determined to kill him! I had to! We both stopped in the back yard facing each other. I still had that calm surrounding me.

OB was scared I finally realized! He was scared of me! I walked slowly toward him with the knife held at waist level. For once I was stalking OB! He backed up as I walked forward. I gazed in his eyes and said, “You will never touch me again.” Then I lunged.

He ran! He ran through the backyard and out the gate to the alley and kept on running. I felt powerful! I felt powerful and in control for once in my life. I stopped at the gate and watched him run down the alley. That’s when I finally realized what a low, cowardly, evil person OB was. That was also when his terrifying hold over me ended.

I calmly walked back into the kitchen, put the knife in the sink, and ate my sandwich. After I finished the sandwich and went into my bedroom, I sat on the bed and started shaking. I was shivering uncontrollably and tears were running down my cheeks. To this day I don’t know if it was shock setting in. The shock of knowing I almost killed someone. Or the shock of knowing the rapes were finally stopped.

It would be several years before I saw OB again. He was arrested for multiple rapes. I enjoyed the time he was away. I got to breathe a little easier for a change. It was nice to be able to live without that fear. The fear of OB.

He never touched me again. I never received counselling, because I never told anyone.

There are residual fears, mental damage and emotional scars that never heal. And I have never been able to get over being afraid of the dark. But I survived. I have even grown tremendously as a person. It was hard, but I did it.

I didn’t let him win then, nor now. I couldn’t let him win. So I became a strong woman. I became me. And I’m proud of this woman I have become.

If there is anyone that needs help or just someone to talk to about their past, I’m always available. I understand and I’m listening. You can contact me at jlroeder (at) mail (dot) com.

In the United States and Canada, call the National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

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60 thoughts on “The Night I Became Terrified of the Dark

  1. I cannot begin to imagine how much you had to deal with on your own after all of that. You are one strong woman. More ((hugs)) to you for being who you are and for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you J! We can’t let it be a taboo subject anymore. We need to talk about it. The ones who were abused have nothing to be ashamed about. If I can help one person, I’d be happy. Hugs back at ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Powerful story and I can totally understand your feelings. It was my father that abused me. And I talked at age 12. he stopped existing for me as a father at that point. Although I still had to live with him. My mother never did anything but blame me. I actually grew up and became an volunteer host of several incest groups of various kinds over the years. I even volunteered to train doctors, nurses, psychologists on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hugs Cee! Thank you for reading and discussing it. It’s not easy I know. You are a strong woman and kudos for talking about it and trying to help others understand. My mother didn’t find out till I was an adult. My father, I don’t think ever knew, or if my mother told him, she never said anything to me. I just don’t understand parents not believing their kids. Such a shame. Hugs again

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s all apart of disfunction. There are so many dynamics that can come into play why abusers abuse and partners remain silent or totally unfunctionable as protectors. I just knew I couldn’t let it ruin my life and fortunately I had a loving adult friend who loved and protected me and mostly believed me and supported me through all my feelings as I worked things out. That is why I could live in my household and survive. I had an angel or two along the way to keep me sane and help me reconnect to my true self.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be abused by and have to live with a family member. My abuser wasn’t related to me. I do know what it’s like to have your family betray you with inaction and denial. My grandmother blamed me for the abuse. It’s awful to have to live in a house with that.

      Good for you for turning that harm into positive. That’s what I would like to do, too. I’m not there yet, but stories like Jackie’s and yours give me hope that it’s possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. i’m in tears right now. my daughter is 4. i’m in tears and i’m sick to my gd stomach right now. i’m SO VERY INCREDIBLY sorry this happened to you. i don’t even know how more to say that- i’m so so sorry.

    thank you for sharing this. thank you for your bravery. i’m confident this can help someone else. it just must. you are an amazing person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Christina. I appreciate you reading and commenting. I know it was a hard thing to read, especially having a daughter the same age as I was in this.

      I survived. I grew. I am a strong person in spite of what happened. I do hope I can help someone, I know how it feels to feel alone and helpless and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
      Thanks again.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh Jackie… Ugh, I just… ugh. I hate that this is part of your story. And I hate that there wasn’t anyone there to realize what was going on. To have that happen to you and then to have to come to terms with the idea of killing someone at such a young age is horror wrapped in horror. It’s no wonder you’ve turned out to be such a strong woman. This must have taken a hell of a lot to write down and to put out for the world to read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Aussa. It did take a lot out of me, but I felt it needed to be said. It’s part of my memoirs I’m writing. I never talk about it much otherwise. It took more out of me than I thought it would to have people read it. Then I think if it can help just one person, I’ve done a good thing. Thanks for reading my red headed friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel such deep sadness over the fact that you were robbed of your childhood in such a horrible way, that there was nobody you could trust and tell about this abuse, and that you had to deal with it for years all on your own. Sharing your story is important. It lessens the power of such evil people. And you being there to listen and understand others is a remarkable thing. Lots of love and admiration to you my dear friend. [Hugs]

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you my friend. I just couldn’t tell anyone, because I was so afraid my dad would kill him, and I think he would have as I was ‘Daddy’s girl”. Even as young as I was I understood that much. I survived and that is the important thing, he didn’t win. I did. He never got what he wanted, not really. ((Hugs my friend))

      Like

  6. This is terrible, but the way you took control again is impressive. You did it, you took control again, you were the strongest after all!
    Sorry to hear though what you had to live through. Such a nightmare… But you are obviously strong and that is so great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I’m not sure if I was strong back then, but more terrified than anything. I’m just glad I stopped it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  7. This was very difficult to read, Jackie, and in that sense reading is absolutely nothing compared to the nightmare you endured. I am so sorry this happened to you and its an horrific thought that this happens in many families (I personally know of three families and they’re only the ones who have shared their stories with me). I am hoping OB is permanently incarcerated now for all his crimes. If not, he will certainly continue to offend.
    Your shaking was definitely caused by shock, but your defiance and strength are truly outstanding. Hugs xxxxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you DIanne, it was hard to write, but I’m hoping I can help one person or if I’m lucky several people. They need to know there is nothing to be ashamed of and to talk is to heal.
      Thank you for reading this. Hugs to you too xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You are so friggin’ brave — for fighting back, for telling your story. For being here. My warmest, best wish of happiness for you. (And if you’re every looking for a sport to take up, fencing is incredibly empowering–it actually helped me get through a tough part of life.)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I wish OB a long and painful death. Your courage is inspiring. I don’t think many victims can face their abusers like you did especially at such a tender age. Good for you.

    Like

  10. What a post! Such a horrendous thing to have happen to you. I relate for I too suffered sexual abuse at the hands if evil in the form of a human being. I never got counseling but feel I have indeed overcome. I appreciate you sharing JacKie. Thank you so much for sharing this nightmare. It’s more helpful than you can believe.

    Like

  11. Jackie! Holy. Shit. You are one of the bravest people I’ve ever heard of. I don’t even know what to say, I just wanted to say something, to add to the support you so very much deserve. You are brave. And blameless. And so incredibly strong. ❤

    Like

  12. I’m still catching up on posts I missed during my move. I read this 2 nights ago and could not for the life of me write a comment. What do you say to someone who has lived in hell at an age they should be loved and nurtured. I so wish yours was an isolated story. The fact that you can describe the horror so well may help a caregiver understand what young children really feel when they experience that kind of trauma. I remember my mother telling me children didn’t have nerves or feelings. People think they can do what they want to children with no consequence. I don’t think people who abuse children have the right to life. It should be a death penalty, period. I don’t know that therapy helps with childhood issues as much as writing them and bringing them into the light. I was reading a quote by Confucius yesterday that said something to the effect that the places we are broken is where the light gets in. You’ve had a lot of broken places, Jackie, and lots of places for the light to come out of you. You radiate your strength, resilience and compassion. Hugs from my heart to yours.

    Like

    • Thank you so much Marlene. I am strong because of others that have helped me throughout my life. I am strong because I had to be to survive. But, I am the strongest when I have friends like you and many others on here that reach out with understanding and care. I think a lot of abused children and women make the mistake of thinking no one cares, no one will believe, and that might be true in some cases. As long as THEY know what happened and confront it head on and believe that it wasn’t their fault they can at least come to terms with things. It’s a life long battle, I won’t lie about that. But it is a battle that can be won in small steps and with loving friends. Thank you for being one of them.

      Like

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