Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Daddy Threatened to Beat Me

        It was a hot summer afternoon and one of the men from our church was helping Daddy fix something at our house.  Daddy had to make a run to the local hardware store, so they left me at the house along with the man’s son.  His son was four years older than me. 
        When the guys came back from the store, Daddy looked at me with such scorn, I began to wander if Satan had taken over his body.  No, wait, maybe Daddy thought that Satan had taken over mine.
        Later that afternoon Daddy was on the front porch, enjoying the sunshine while he watched me play.  For some reason or the other, I had chosen to stay at home with Daddy as apposed to going to the store with Mama.  So here we were outside when Daddy asked me,     “What did y’all do while we went to the store?”
    “We played outside on the swing, why?”  
There was a tire swing Daddy had hung from a great big oak tree and everyone that came to our house to play loved to swing on it.
    “If you ever let any boy touch you in any way their not supposed to, I’ll beat the daylights out of you!  Do you understand?”  His bark was loud!
    I drew in a breath.  “Yes, Daddy.  Why did you say that?”
    “I just don’t want you to do anything you’re not supposed to!  You‘d better respect yourself and be a lady!”
    That whole conversation spooked me and shook my soul.
       One Sunday afternoon, shortly after that,  a family invited us to their home for lunch between services.  Their son had a brand new sports car.  He asked if I wanted to ride to church that evening in his new car. 
       "I would love to!"  I said.
       He told me he just had to run an errand and stop by his place of employment to make sure things were going okay.  I believed that to be truth.  Mama and Daddy let me go.   I was fourteen and he was twenty-one.  He had always shown a great deal of respect around my family and at church.  Everyone trusted him, including me.
            Upon arrival at his place of employment, he asked if I wanted to see where he worked and I said, “Sure.  Why not?”  
      So we went in and after walking through the place we came to a room that was away from everything else and he said he had to step in and make sure the other people had left things the way they were supposed to. 
“Let me just give you a kiss.  I’m not going to hurt you.  Besides, who’s going to know?  Here we are, alone, just you and me.  I won’t tell if you won’t.”
            As convincing as he sounded, I knew it wasn’t right.  But then he leaned down and looked me in the eyes.  His eyes were warm.  They were sincere.  He told me I was pretty.  That never happened before.  I was flattered!
Then he touched my lips with his.  I got dizzy.  He had the softest lips.  I found myself wanting his kiss.  
I felt him gently touching my leg and I didn't stop him, as his other arm still encircled me. 
As he did, his hand met my skin and I could not make myself say no. 
      I felt him lift my legs, one at a time until I was wrapped around him.  As he re-arranged me, he unfastened his pants.  He lifted me up and then without warning set me down on what felt like an object much larger than what I could handle.  It hurt!  Oh, the pain that shot through me made me so weak and he didn’t actually penetrate me.  I stiffened up and unwrapped myself from him.  I instantly was brought back to reality and realized that what was happening was so wrong.  If I describe that pain, it would be what I imagine equivalent to being prodded with a baseball bat.
      I was crying.  I was hurting.  I was scared.  I had let him touch me.  I asked him to take me back to where my mama and daddy were.  
      He told me he was sorry that sometimes the first time hurt and maybe we should try it a different way.  I didn't stick around to find out.  I ran out the door and back to his car.
I felt dirty for the rest of the day and still had that evening church service to get through.  

     By the end of that summer, almost every guy in the church where we were going had been told by my friend what he had done.
     And almost every boy in my life at least four years older than me had touched me in some way or another.  No one had actually taken my virginity and I hadn’t given it away.  But I knew all about oral sex, giving and receiving.  I knew the feel of a guy’s tongue on my breasts.  I knew that I had already been condemned to hell and at this point in my life Daddy had started telling me when he saw me in pants that I was going to hell no matter what unless I changed my clothes. 
            A part of me wanted to run to him and tell him of the situation.  I wanted badly to tell Daddy how it felt to have older guys hold me down while others looked at my secret places and touched me in such a dishonorable way.  

          I wanted to scream at him and tell him about the Saturday night when everyone was supposed to be having a pitch-in at the other pastor's house, two boys had taken me behind the shrubs at the street lamp and while one held me down the other one pulled my underwear off and pried my legs apart just to see what a girl looks like in the dark.  And if that wasn’t enough they left me laying there crying while they ran to tell the other boys all about it.   

     I toyed with the idea that maybe if Daddy knew that I was at the mercy of boys much bigger than me, then maybe he would rescue me.   I wanted to beg him for forgiveness because sometimes it felt good to be touched that way.  I wanted him to know that I didn’t consent to being touched every time even though it felt good sometimes.  But Daddy would
have beaten the daylights out of me.   I knew what that beating felt like.  It wasn't a chance I was willing to take.

   So, I kept my secrets from Daddy and everyone else.  I was threatened either way.  
And because I had enjoyed the feeling of that pleasure a couple times, I felt like the sinner Daddy kept telling me I was.
    In the end, the beating I was giving myself, was so much worse than what Daddy had threatened to do.

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