Drowning in Triggers

It feels like they’re everywhere right now.

My mother wants to talk about Ferguson and how people just need to take personal responsibility because clearly that would solve all the problems.  My sister the cop posts an “I support Darren Wilson” badge on Facebook.  She wants her department to have more riot gear to crush the race riots she thinks are inevitable.

These are two people who know–know–what cops can and will do to people who can’t defend themselves.  They’ve seen it; they’ve lived it.  Just like I have.

My father, my mother’s first husband, was a cop.  He sexually abused and raped me for sixteen years.  He hit me.  He nearly drowned me in a bathtub when I was three years old.  He regularly suffocated me, though I don’t know whether it was to keep me quiet during the abuse or to make me think he would kill me or both.  He put his gun to my head more than once.  He made me watch him kill my dog.  He forced me to choose whether he’d rape me or my sister.  He let his criminal justice students rape us too.  And he taught me that no one would ever believe me if I told because he was a cop and I was nothing.

My mother doesn’t know the details, but my sister the cop does–she lived it too.  I sheltered her from as much of it as I could, but she still got hurt badly.  She was the one who told, originally.  I would’ve gone on denying it forever because I needed to have one parent who didn’t hurt me, but once she disclosed, I had to support her.  She’s my sister.

We tried to have him investigated–well, my mother did, really.  I don’t recall her ever asking me or my sister if that’s what we wanted.  It was a complete joke.  No jurisdiction wanted it.  The abuse occurred across three states and several cities, so no one wanted it.  Everyone said it was someone else’s jurisdiction because who wants to investigate the cop-turned-criminal-justice-professor?  Finally, the Iowa State Police took the case.  They wouldn’t talk to me at all because I’m crazy.  They interrogated my sister, who would’ve been 16 or 17 at that point, until she threw up in a trash can.  They polygraphed my father, got an inconclusive result (OMG, a cop might know how to fake the notoriously unreliable polygraph?  Inconceivable!), and dropped the whole case.  Welcome to the Blue Wall of Silence, where victims don’t matter because cops have all the power.

Do they really not see the connection?  Do they really not think that giving people nearly unlimited power over people’s lives, freedom, and even bodily integrity with almost no oversight is dangerous?  Do they really not understand that the system that let Darren Wilson shoot Michael Brown and abuse protesters and journalists is the same system that let our father get away with raping us for 16 years?  How can they not see that?

I feel so, so alone in all of this.

And then there’s Bill Cosby.  Another upstanding citizen who gets away with sexually assaulting women for years because he’s such a nice guy and has influence and power.  It’s all the same: the victims don’t matter because the rapists are such nice guys, you know, aside from all the rape.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Drowning in Triggers

  1. Its horrendous. I’m sorry the investigation came to nothing. That is not how it should be. Hugs for you my friend. XX

  2. I am so sorry for your pain and the terror you suffered as a child and then again attempting to achieve justice. It’s heartbreaking to hear stories like yours. You are a survivor. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  3. I have not words. May there someday be light and strength enough for all your broken places, and to heal the injustices done to you.

  4. saraharnetty

    I am so sorry for everything you went through. I think the world needs an attitude overhaul when it comes to sexual abuse. A users NEED to be held to account!

  5. Belle

    Im sorry for what you been through. A parent should be the one who guides and protects you and in your case, he failed to do so. You don’t deserved to be treated that way. I hope there’s something I can say to make you feel better but there isn’t only to ask you to stay strong. You managed to live till today shows me how brave you are. Xx.

  6. no words:( its heartbreaking. *hugsifwanted*

  7. Argh! I’m not sorry, I’m furious! That is wrong, absolutely, screamingly wrong.

  8. Thank you for being brave enough to state the truth, and tell your story. I am weeping silently for you. And for all the wounded and murdered children…My heart is broken.
    Love,
    Pam

    • Hugging you so tight. What would happen if you said to them “it really triggers me into sadness when I listen to you all talk about sadness and violence. Would it be possible for you to discuss those topics when not around?” How would they react? Would they respect you or be dismissive? I get easily triggered by conversation in general so I really understand that.

      Your experiences are horrific. To know that our perpetrators are out there walking free is disgusting. I empathize with all my being.

      • I know that for my own sanity, I don’t want to have a conversation with my family about why this stuff upsets me so much. My tactic is mostly just being a topic-changing ninja. I’m really good at it. (There’s a skill for my resume.)

        Like today/yesterday (my sleep cycle’s all wonky, so naming days gets complicated), my youngest sister, who’s not a cop, Facebook chatted me to say that “all those pissed off people rioting are bullshit.” Because I didn’t feel up to addressing the veiled racism, I responded with, “What’s all this white bullshit? Yesterday it was 60, and now we’ve got 6 inches of snow.” I was kind of pleased at myself for sneaking in a double meaning about how actually white people were the problem, plus I got to change the subject to how freaking expensive warm, waterproof gloves are.

      • Good for you — I loved the veiled reference to white bullshit!

      • When you’re the only liberal from a very conservative family from the Deep South, you have to sneak your leftist propaganda in somewhere. I really hope in time I’ll be able to convert my sister. I think she’s just never really been exposed to other points of view–or, rather, they’ve never been presented to her as legitimate and valid, let alone valuable. She’s working two low-wage jobs, putting herself through school, has a heart condition but no insurance because Alabama won’t expand Medicaid. I’ve slowly been trying to show her that the Republicans want to make her life even harder for her, and sometimes I think I’m getting through to her. But the racist stuff she says really bugs me. That’s harder to get her to change her mind about because there’s no direct advantage to her for not being racist. I mean, it’s nothing violent, no slurs or anything like that, but it doesn’t have to be violent to be racist and damaging.

      • I love the phrase “topic changing ninja” and lol @ the white play on words. Another love! Its not worth expelling the energy when you know there’s no receptor.

      • Exactly–no point in expending the energy to try and explain systematic racism to someone who doesn’t really care to understand. I love my sister, I do, but I want to smack her when she says racist stuff. It’s never violent and doesn’t involve slurs, but it does involve hurtful stereotypes and utter ignorance about the effects of racism. To be fair, she grew up in Alabama, and our grandfather (who we spent a lot of time with) is racist enough that he’ll occasionally drop the N-word. She’s just never been exposed to anything else…although, for god’s sake, growing up in Birmingham, Alabama should’ve taught us all SOMETHING about racism. It frustrates me that she just isn’t motivated to challenge the party line.

  9. Topic-changing Ninja ~ you ROCK. Wow. I am amazed by you.

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