Tag Archive | speaking up

Dances With Pedophiles

Get ready for a post full of pain.  I’m angry and hurting and not quite sure what to do with it, or how to find peace again. I’m still struggling with what is right.

I made it to my niece’s wedding. (See this old post )

The day itself was lovely. My niece was so obviously happy and in love, full of hope for her future. It was amazing to share her special day. I just wish I didn’t have to share it with two known pedophiles.  Yes two. This family has two abusive grandfathers, one is my father, and the other is my sis-in-law’s father.

I was prepared for my own abusive father to make an appearance. I was feeling strong and knew I could handle it. I was completely taken aback to see the other grandfather there, and seemingly welcome. Just 2 years ago, he was caught touching a few of my nieces. They stopped talking and visiting at that time. I guess they asked the bride not to invite him, but she did anyway – since the grandfather had never violated her and she had nice memories of him and missed him.

So let’s paint the picture. It was nice small wedding, in a tiny chapel, and then a fairly small reception hall. My own abusive father did not attend the wedding (I personally think he fears the lightning bolt may strike him down if he dares enters a church) but the other guy did – all smiling and proud like he owned the place and nothing was ever wrong. I felt like a hand was gripping and crushing my heart when I saw him there. But I focused on the ceremony and how happy the young couple looked, and how much in awe my own children were since this was their first wedding. (I did not like the old churchy phrases in the vows of her submitting and obeying her husband, but I didn’t dwell on that)

After the ceremony we had a couple of hours before the reception, so we explored the quaint college town. After a stop at McDonald’s, we visited a tiny candy shop with many flavors of popcorn, a cool antique shop, and an art gallery/store with many amazing handmade items like wooden boxes, felted creatures, mobiles, candles, etc. We were all truly enjoying our time there. I was not feeling nervous at that point. (Although the interesting and over-friendly shop owners in the small town made me wonder if I was actually in a Stephen King novel at one point)

We knew in advance that this would be a dry reception and had made the necessary preparations. Hubby bought a dozen little airplane or mini-fridge sized bottles of whiskey. We dosed our sodas before going in, and filled my purse and his pockets with extra bottles. Not that we couldn’t make a few hours without drinking, it was for the fun of it. We felt like we were in college and sneaking a drink became a fun distraction for us. We’d sneak off to the restroom and have a secret shot, and giggle together while the pastor and best man spoke of the evils of drinking.

After the long, way too long, toasts and introductions, I heard a waiter say they needed to make room for a man in a wheelchair. They were making room at the table next to mine, right behind my seat. Yup, you guessed it. In came my abusive father on his motorized scooter, with his mini oxygen tank. His emphysema makes him unable to stand any more. I looked out the window and at my kids across my table as I heard the scooter behind me. I did not turn around. Hubby put his chair closer to mine and sat with his arm around me.

Somehow we had our dinner, with a pedophile directly behind us, and another a few tables away. My daughter asked “Is that Grandpa?” and pointed behind me. I said yes without turning around. She looked away and went to talk with her cousin, completely uninterested in him. My boys didn’t even ask. My youngest doesn’t even know who he is. I felt so good that they would never be a part of his world, never miss him, and never know him. So happy I was able to do that for them. Even if he is still alive, there will be no confusion about wanting him invited to special events.

Then my little guys needed a potty visit. I went with all 3 kids out to the lobby. As I waited outside the Men’s room for the boys to finish up, I saw my abusive father, my brother and his youngest son heading outside. I was curious but not worried since my brother was there. When I got back to my seat, my mom said she overheard my abusive father asking the little boy to go out to his van! She said she told my brother right away and he went along with them. No idea what that was about, and I’m not letting my thoughts wander too far about it. Needless to say that brought me up to high alert level and made me question if we should stay, but everyone else was having a good time, so I should be as well, right?

Dinner was over and the happy couple had their first dance. It was so sweet and tender, I was bursting with joy for them. And then it was time for the father-daughter dance. I saw my brother head out onto the dance floor, but then my mind turned him in to my own father, and I was immersed in a flashback. Instead of my brother and my niece, I saw my father and I dancing at my own wedding. I felt my father’s hand on my back as we danced. I felt the crowd watching us, so few of them knowing our secret. But the ones that did, let me dance with him, so I took my cues from them. And then I was back to current time, the flashback passed, but I was afraid I was going to scream, cry or vomit. I told Hubby I had to get out of there. We rushed out of the room and went to sit in our van for a while. My vision restored, my fear passed, and was replaced with a deep seated anger – nearly rage – that I was out here suffering while the pedophiles were in there having a grand time. So I steeled my nerves, downed another mini-whiskey, and went back inside.

Like anyone raised as prey, the first thing I did upon re-entering the room was locate my children and the two predators. I realized I shouldn’t have left them and felt so guilty. They were fine, more than fine, dancing with their cousins and not even aware I had left the room. My Mom was watching them and motioned for me to join her. I wasn’t ready for that and shook my head as I scanned the room for the predators – the scooter-bound one was taking picture after picture of the children dancing (vomit rose in my throat as I thought about them lustfully viewing those pictures later) and the other was on the dance floor, twirling one of my nieces (She was 18 and seemed to miss her Grampa). Everyone seemed to be having a great time, and only I was suffering or worried. Although I am used to this now, it is still surreal to feel like the crazy one. The only one with problems, why can’t I just relax and have fun? That’s what they say to me, not to let these creeps have power over me, to ruin my day. I tried to eat the wedding cake and convince myself that we were all OK and safe, but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t take my eyes off those men for a second.

My other brother brought his new girlfriend over to meet me, and I cringed. I didn’t want to meet her, and I had no energy left for small talk. She started asking questions and demonstrating ownership of my brother, with her hands all over him, and telling him where to sit and stuff. I don’t like her, and view her as manipulative, though I don’t really know her. But I’m an expert at spotting fakes. I was ready to leave, and about to leave soon, and told the kids just a few more dances. They were having a great time and hadn’t seen their cousins in nearly a year. To them – nothing was wrong. I so much wanted for them to have this wonderful memory and begin thinking about falling in love some day.

But then something was terribly wrong. I felt it before I saw it. The other grandfather left the dance floor, and walked over to one of my nieces (about age 13) that was holding my youngest niece (about age 2) who had fallen asleep in her arms after making her pretty dress twirl and twirl the hour before on the dance floor.  Her grandfather held out his arms and though I could not hear him, obviously asked to hold the littlest one. I watched in horror as my niece easily handed over the tiny sleeping girl and went off to dance, never looking back, never thinking twice, never viewing any harm or threat in the situation.

I lost my mind. It’s a good thing the music was very loud, because I screamed, “Oh hell no!!” and then “I can’t fucking do this any more, I have to get out of here!” and I ran out of the room blinded with rage. Hubby followed me again, made sure I was OK, and then went back in to tell my brothers and my mom.  I paced around the lobby liked a caged lion ready to attack, so full of adrenaline that it felt like my heart was thumping in my head instead of my chest. It took every ounce of energy I had to remain outwardly calm and not cause a scene. I just needed to feel safe, and to know those little girls would be safe.  And to stay grounded in reality. Why was no one else upset? Why?

My brother and sis-in-law were shocked when I went back in there, pointed at the grandfather holding the little girl, and said very clearly, “This is not OK. I can’t pretend that this is OK. I love you, but I have to go now. Please keep your kids away from him. Please.” I walked around the room, fists clenched, my fingernails digging in my palms to keep me grounded and present, and hugged everyone and said goodbye with the best smile I could still manage. Luckily everyone was so busy chatting or dancing, and the music was so loud, I don’t think anyone noticed a problem. It made sense for us to go, we had a long drive home.

I went back out to the lobby while Hubby gathered our kids and belongings. My mom came out to wait with me, and kept rubbing my arm and telling me it was all OK, that everyone was watching the Grampas and no one would let anything bad happen here. She insisted they were safe. Every time she touched my arm I had to control an urge to punch her or her push her right through the door. I was so sickened that everyone was more concerned about appearances, that they actually thought it was OK for that man to hold that sweet little girl. And what about the girls he touched? What were they thinking? I’m sure they were minimizing what happened, and thinking it must not have been so bad if Mom and Dad allowed him to dance with them now. Those mixed messages are so dangerous and can open the door for that man to contact those girls in the future. They listen to him because he is an adult. Even though that teenage niece knew what he had done, she didn’t think twice about giving her little sister to Grampa. It’s just Grampa. Yes he’s weird, but that’s just Grampa.

———————–

And now I’m so confused. I spoke with my brother the day after the wedding, and he said he felt he didn’t have a choice here, not a good one anyway. He said his adult daughter invited the grandparents even though he asked her not to. He said he had everyone on high alert and was shocked at first that his daughter listened to Grampa so easily. But then again we weren’t shocked. Children rarely defy adults, we’re just not wired to do so. He said Grampa was watched much more closely after I left, but that they could not tell him to stay away from the children. They said he is angry and unpredictable and would have no problem making a scene and ruining the wedding. So for fear of a scene, a toddler was held by a pedophile. Because it was ok, calm down, everyone was watching, so nothing bad could happen. Why am I the only one that thinks something bad already happened? Why do they allow these people to control them, to do things they know is wrong, to avoid a scene, and actually protect the abuser? Should they have put their foot down and demanded the Grampas not be invited? And then he said that my own father had no formal invitation, that he showed up anyway. I’m not sure I believe that. I think the young bride acted the same way I did, and wanted an image of a perfect wedding, which for her needed to include grandparents. For me, at my wedding, it had to include my father or I would have had to tell hundreds of people why he wasn’t there, and I was unable to do that yet. My delusional world of denial was the the only thing that kept me alive at that point.

But now, me now, would I have done the same for my own daughter’s wedding? Would I have allowed this man to touch my youngest daughter to keep things going smoothly for my oldest? No. Never. If it were my own daughter in his arms, you better believe there would be a scene. Even if it made me look like the crazy one. Maybe they’d accuse me of being drunk. Whatever. It’s bad enough that these creeps get to enjoy viewing children. No way would I allow them to get within arms reach.

But for them – I played along. I can’t change them, I can’t protect every child, and it isn’t up to me to scream pedophile. No one would believe that charming man, smiling, laughing, and dancing with his grandkids was actually plotting out ways to get them alone. At least this man will go back to his own state and leave us all alone. But I still feel responsible and like I let down my nieces some how. Like I should have done more.

Damn these men for putting this burden on us. Damn them.

 

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Mildly Creepy or Sign of Abuse

I guess I survived the dreaded visit with the in laws. If survived only means I am still living and breathing. I feel icky and ashamed, and confused by my creepy brother in law.

I’m not sure I acted as the new and improved me. Not as the me that stands up for myself and those around me.

I was dreading the visit with a creepy brother in law. He has always given me the creeps. He has an infantile sense of humor, loves practical jokes at the costs of others. He is consistently disrespectful to everyone, but especially women. The first time I met him, nearly 20 years, he grabbed my butt a few times and make sexy looks and comments to me while I was there with my then boyfriend, his brother in law. This is my hubby’s sister’s husband. He also took many photos and videos of me and the other girls there, aiming and focusing in on body parts as we walked around unknowingly. He has untied his own wife’s bikini top in front of family gatherings on multiple occasions. Makes me sick, but she just laughs and giggles, and seems to appreciate his attention.

Well, I’m pretty sure he is up to his old tricks. We were celebrating a few birthdays, cousins of different ages, from out of state gathered at Grandma’s (Hubby’s parents). As kiddos were blowing out candles, Mr. Creepy was taking photos – supposedly of the kids and such, but I am nearly positive he snapped one focused on my cleavage. He was standing next to me, slightly behind me, and all of sudden the flash was on me, and I saw the camera was not pointed at my face, but down my blouse. At that moment, my 5 year old was blowing out a candle on his cake – so I did nothing, said nothing. Then I saw him go around the table and focus his camera on my other sis-in-law’s (not his wife’s) behind as she walked out of the room. Again, I felt icky, but said and did nothing, and continued with the party, smiling with the children, but now with a guarded sense of hypervigilance to remain out of his camera’s view. I felt naked and reduced to an object – no longer a person, no longer his sister in law, but a toy to satisfy his need for cheap thrills. Was I supposed to call him on it and make his actions obvious to the children?

Once the “Happy Birthdays” were done, I told Hubby what I thought was happening. Hubby was angry a little, frustrated, said sorry to me, but otherwise did nothing. We were all eating birthday cake. Were we supposed to sneak away and accuse him of being creepy? I know he’d either deny it or laugh it off as no big deal.

I was already planning to leave, knowing my tolerance would be up for that atmosphere, but this incident soured the remaining time. And then when I went out to the front porch, I see this creep with his 12 year old daughter on his lap, slapping her butt. I felt nauseous and wanted to run, and well, basically I did run. I drove home and the spent the evening alone (Hubby stayed overnight there with the kids) barely sleeping, watching TV and eating junk food, punishing myself for not speaking up.

So I messaged the other sis-in-law, the one he took a photo of, just to let her know. No response from her yet. I’m not sure how big of a deal to make here, but I’m not going to be quiet and tolerate assholish behavior.

The thing I hate the most here, is feeling like a confused child. Just like when my abusive father grabbed me in plain sight, but no one seemed to notice. I looked around to see if anyone saw or reacted, and then doubt myself, maybe the camera wasn’t aimed down my blouse. Maybe I’m exaggerating. Maybe I was hoping he’d find me attractive so I need to confirm it. And then of course, back to my dear old friends – shame and guilt.

Hubby’s sister seems to think her husband’s antics are cute or fun or something, she always laughs it off, like “oh well, that’s just how he is”. She told me he took their daughter out and bought her a skimpy bikini that she would have never approved, but she felt she could not take it away after they spent the day shopping and her daughter loved it. I wanted to tell her that yes, yes she could say no to them, and should if it made her uncomfortable – but I didn’t say that.

Why is it always up to me to do the right thing?! Why am I the moral compass of my entire world? I want someone else to take the lead for once.

How much trouble am I supposed to stir up in people I see once every few years? Should I get involved or just grin and bear it? Am I over reacting at his creepy behavior? Is he just an immature asshole and I tend to see signs of abuse every where? Or is it that I am expertly able to recognize them?

Ick, ick, ick. Not sure what to do.

 

What Did She Mean By That? Probably Nothing.

I have had some level of social anxiety my entire life. I have always felt like an outsider, and only truly comfortable when alone.

I could never speak freely, always shouldering the burden of my family’s secrets. Never showing the real me. I was taught to lie or exclude information to always appear perfect. Nothing’s wrong. Don’t look at me. I’m fine.

I learned to be a great listener, never speaking unless directly asked to. Even among friends, I always assumed my words would be a bother. I always assumed their words meant I was nothing, or mildly tolerated, but certainly not wanted company.

Going out into the world with a bit of self-worth has changed all that. Now when someone says something, I may wonder briefly what was meant by it, but not obsess, and not direct it inwards as proof I am no good. If you don’t know what I’m talking about – I’m happy for you! If you do, then you know how devastating and exhausting simple social interactions can be.

I have joined a parent volunteer committee for a local children’s theatre troupe. I let several productions go by without letting anyone know I am an artist and helped out in other ways. Last year I finally felt secure enough to join the scenery crew. I was terrified though. All these new people. Would they accept me? I knew I could design and paint lovely scenes for them. But could I make it through the committee meetings?

The first few meetings I just listened to all their ideas, not wanting to step on any toes. I went home and researched images online, printed some I thought might work and asked if they wanted me to paint them on the panels. At first they laughed, and I was horrified, thinking I had made a mistake, and inwardly kicked myself for speaking up. But then they saw I wasn’t laughing. The chairman asked, “Can you actually paint that?” I said “Yes, I can paint anything you want.” It turns out they were laughing because they thought I was joking, that I could paint something so intricate. They immediately got excited, and wanted to see if I could actually do it. He said “That would be beyond awesome” and pointed to a panel for me to get started. Now I had never painted something so large, my panel was 4 by 8 ft. But I used my same process as usual, and got to work blocking out colors, then slowly shading and transforming until my panel matched my printout. I was vaguely aware of people coming and going, moving and working around me, and even some comments or exclamations of “Wow, look at that – she’s really good!” My daughter came by and would say “That’s my Mom – she’s an artist”

I felt proud, but only a little. I take my talent for granted I guess, it is just a part of me. Just something I can do, not really sure why I can and others can’t.  I have great respect for the other parents helping to paint – I don’t have the typical artist ego, and I don’t want to be in charge. But here’s what happened. They put me in charge. Slowly but surely, design questions were asked to me “The artist”. Ugh. I just want to have fun here and support the troupe like everyone else. So I was taken aback when I found other parents putting themselves at my service. Did I need my brushes rinsed out? Did I want them to block out some color areas for me to add details to later? Could I help them mix the perfect brown? This made me terribly uncomfortable. Didn’t they know I was worthless and that painting was a worthless waste of time? Or wait – Was I wrong? Had my Dad been wrong? Is that voice in my head, leftover from Dad, WRONG? Yes. Yes of course it was. But accepting that made me dizzy. It meant I had to believe I was just not accepted here, but DESIRED here. (Insert image of Lost In Space Robot flailing his arms- “Does Not Compute Will Robinson . . . . Does Not Compute”

And so I now wear the artist crown. I unintentionally dethroned the previous best painter that no one called an artist. I was afraid she is hurt or jealous, although I invented that, not by anything she did or said.  I still hang on her words more heavily than the others, but I always come to the same conclusion. She didn’t mean anything by it. Any discontentment or negative tone or funny face was more likely because her kids were interrupting her, she was hungry, her Mom was ill, her shoes are too tight, she has gas or any number of reasons NOT having to do with me. I can let my down my guard. These people are not out to hurt or shame me. MOST people are not out to hurt or shame me. Most people are thinking of themselves, and what to make for dinner, if they need a haircut, if they have bad breath, if they paid the water bill and if they have time to go shopping before picking up the kids. They are not thinking of You, so relax, and let odd words slide off you.

Another example: I was talking to the registrar while I paid my fee for my dance class. She was chirping happily and excitedly that her husband was at the pound, picking up a dog for them. She’s younger than I am, and only married a year. A dog was huge for them. She even showed me a picture of the dog. So when I asked her, “Is she already here?” I meant, “Is my dance instructor in the classroom and should I go ahead to my class now?” But she thought I was talking about her dog, and said, “No, not yet, but my Husband might bring her here to visit on their way home.” I realize my question had way too many pronouns, but it just proves how most people are thinking their own thoughts, and not about you at all.

So next time you are left wondering what someone meant by that comment? Let it go. It probably meant nothing at all.