The following is one of my own letters, excerpted from my personal memoirs, “My Voice of Truth”. Please be aware that reading this can possibly trigger your own wounds. If you feel you may not be in the right space and time in your life to read it, don't.
Remember to seek professional help and support as you need it. You should not try to do this alone.
Norman was an x-ray technician at a major New York hospital. My mother seemed to like him and we often went to see him at his job in between her many doctor’s appointments. The following occurred on the first and what I believe to be the last time he visited us.
I remember your white lab coat and how you worked at a hospital in the city. You were kind and pleasant, even humorous. I remember how you tried to talk to me and how I shied away from you. I was nine. Then one day, there you stood at the doorway to our apartment dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans, your eyes grinning beneath your bifocals. As usual my mother was still getting ready when you arrived. I was to be your host and so I showed you to your seat and asked if you wanted a drink of water. You didn’t and instead you rambled on speaking words I can never remember. I think you made me laugh because I could feel myself moving closer to you. My mother called out to you, promising to be ready soon.
She was absent just long enough for you to molest me.
As I sat on the marble coffee table in front of you, your hand rested on my knee. You continued to talk to me even as your hand made its way up my skirt and into my panties. As soon as you started to touch me.
There is calmness about you, an air of “I've been here before”.
I stand frozen and confused as your light almost jovial tone sharply contradicts what you aredoing to me under my skirt.
I could no longer hear what you were saying to me. One by one my senses shut down, leaving only this strange sensation between my legs. I could feel myself go numb, removing my self from my body, attempting to pretend that IT wasn’t happening.
You heard my mother and stopped. Jolted by fear, I quickly went to the carpet and sat in front of the television. I pretended nothing happened but inside my heart was pounding and in between my legs the sensation of your fingers was still there. I felt as if I was the one committing the crime.
There were no thoughts in those moments between the first and the second time, just the voice of my mother, calling out once again that she would be out soon.
I could hear you get up, your pants swishing, a determination in your step to once again touch me. You came to the other side of the marble table and sat on it, motioning me to stand in front of you. There as stood before you, you proceeded to touch me again between my legs. You placed my hand on your crotch and that is where my memory fades. As with most of my memories what happens afterward is a blank.
What did I feel directly afterward, days and weeks later? What did I say to myself? How did I survive? Perhaps it was in the stoic numbness that I found my comfort.
For years I imagined that you and the others happened upon an opportunity to molest me, but the more I learned about men like you, the more I realized how planned our encounter was. It wasn’t until my thirties that I came to the realization that you and the others chose me long before you entered our home, long before you dared to place your hand in between my little legs. As you asked my mother for a date, it was me you were after. I was the plan, already marked as less than human, an object chosen by you, for your satisfaction, without even a thought or care about what it would do to me, the girl, the human being, the life.
And when my small body responded to you, I’m sure your twisted mind took this to mean that I wanted it. This is part of how you pretend to be sane and live an otherwise normal existence while you creep your filthy hands up little girl’s skirts. You imagine this unique connection. You imagine that this little girl likes you and wants you. That she is your girl, your special girl, there just for you and only you.
I’m here to tell you, that little girls want you as much as they want needles in their eyes, as much as they want to be set on fire or drink rat poison and die. Men like you delude themselves into believing that we are loving and wanting you back, when all that we are doing is escaping your touch; by going far, far away to a place where you cannot touch us, where your insanity cannot reach.
I now speak for the little girl I once was and that little girl never wanted you to put your dirty hands on her. She could never want you sexually or otherwise. All you did was create a physiological reaction, no wondrous feat. Nothing a real man would need to be considered a man. What you did to me goes beyond the fact that you molested me in those moments in my living room when I was nine years old. What you did forever changed who I became, who I trusted, who I gave my love to and how I walked in the world. Among the many parts of me you altered, you changed how I would feel about myself as a sexual being; making my attempts at normal sexual interaction futile and corroded by your violations of me. For years I would feel guilt about being turned on, about wanting to be close to someone sexually.
You did that.
You don’t deserve that kind of power.
Today, I choose to change how I look at myself. I choose to reclaim the power I've given you for so many years. I release the heavy darkness that comes over me when I think of you. I release the shame and guilt for having responded to you physically. I release the sadness over not being protected and not being able to protect myself. I release my anger and hatred of you, knowing that it will take time to let it all go. I release the distrust I have in all men because of the evil you showed me on that day.
As of today I embrace the sexual woman that I am and have every right to be. I embrace my divine right to my sexuality and love for my body.
I choose to take back my power and relinquish yours.
From now I on I decide who I become, who I trust, who I choose to love. I decide how I walk through this world.
As for you, you are like a dead man walking, a wasted life that could have been a light to others. There is the shame.
I don't know what ever happened to Norman. Like most of the men in my mother’s life, he did not stay beyond the first or second date. As I look back I can see how robotic I was and how routine it seemed for him. He seemed fearless and unashamed; I, guilty and afraid. Even upon becoming an adult, there is this emotional confusion despite being intellectually clear about who is at fault. I used to wonder why I didn't react? How could I like what he was doing to me? I felt unsure for years about how to read people. How does one know who to trust when bad men smile so gently, arouse and violate so softly?
For years I would wonder where was the seduction, where was my resistance? How could I have been so friendly and trusting having been molested before? How could I ever trust myself? These questions would haunt me and I blamed myself for getting too close, for being “too friendly”. I blamed the little girl I was instead of putting the blame where it belonged.
In retrospect I can see how deep my conditioning was to respond in a certain way, to not question authority, to accept abuse, to take on the blame. I was schooled in passivity early on which later became an ingrained trait. I learned to stay very still and quiet as my abusers produced either pain or pleasure to my body. I never wanted to get in trouble or make things worse. By the time Norman came along, the perfect conditions were in place for him to safely molest me.
While writing this letter I uncovered some of the anger and distortions that still existed within me. Some of the wording of previous drafts were modified to reclaim the power I gave him as an adult. It is just the beginning of the work that I must do, but it is a start. Just being able to say that I was letting him go was difficult in and of itself but the more I grow and discover all the love and power inside of me, the less space I have for the bitterness. I am working on forgiving him still.
Stephanie Gagos 2006