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Years of abuse by stepfather

as told to Sanka Price

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I WOULD LIKE the police to question about some of those young girls who go missing from time to time here.
I am sure that they would discover that some of these girls run away from home to get away from sexual abuse.
What I am saying shouldn’t shock anybody. For years in this country big, hard back men, sometimes even fathers, older brothers and relatives have taken advantage of, or tried to take advantage of, the young, innocent girls in their family.
These types of things used to happen 40 years or so ago because a lot of people, adults and children, sometimes a dozen or more, used to live in a small two-bedroom house. That meant girls and boys had to sleep in the same room, sometimes in the same bed.
In such a situation, the older children would sometimes take advantage of the younger ones by doing “rudeness”.
Some unscrupulousmen still try to take advantage of young girls, who are sometimes their relatives. When it isn’t that situation, it’s often a case where the girl is the daughter of the man’s girlfriend.
I know a lot about it because I was a victim of this sort of abuse. I was raised by a single mother who made so little that she depended on the income of a man to help her. As a result, my stepfather felt he had the right to sexually abuse my older sister and me.
Seemed innocent
At first his advances seemed innocent. He used to hug and kiss us, and would tell us things – he called them secrets and told us not to tell anybody.
For weeks we played these games and were rewarded with sugar cakes and other sweets. Little did we know he was setting us up.
I was 12 going on 13, and my sister was 15 when he started. My sister told our mother that he was touching us on our vaginas and playing with our breasts. But she never believed us. Instead she beat both of us, saying that we were lying.
My sister was lucky in that her father was in Barbados and kept in contact with her. So before things got out of hand, she complained to him and he came, made a scene, and threatened to kill my stepdad.
Soon after that my mum sent my sister to live with her father’s sister.
So I was left alone to bear the brunt of my stepfather’s advances.
I didn’t have to wait long. Less than a week after my sister was gone, he came into my bedroom and used his fingers on me. A few days later he took my virginity. After that he would interfere with me whenever my mum was not around.
I hated what he was doing to me, but I dared not complain because I knew my mother would beat me and call me ungrateful like how she did my sister.
So for nearly three years my stepfather did what he wanted with me, and to make sure I kept my mouth shut he bought me little gifts all the time.
Looking back at it now I realize how hard he tried to buy my silence. He even told me that he loved me as if I was his own flesh and blood.
The thing is that after a while I just did it, got gifts in exchange, and got my own way at home. When my mother complained about me not doing something, or quarrelled because I could not cook properly, he would always spring to my defence.
After I turned 16, though, our relationship all but ended as I finished school and started working. He felt that I should have stayed at home and learned to be a seamstress or hairdresser so I could employ myself instead of going to work for someone.
But I really felt that he just wanted me to be close to home so he could continue controlling my life.
He became hostile to me when I met a guy who later became my boyfriend. From the time I realized that man felt the same thing for me that I did for him, I refused to let my stepfather touch me. That is when his nastiest side came out.
Called me names In an argument we had, he called me a “twopenny whore” to have a man I just met pull me around.
He said I was ungrateful for everything that he did for me, and I had to pay rent or leave his house. When my mother tried to intervene, he beat her and made her shut up.
I had anticipated he would behave like that, so I had saved as much of my money as possible and had even located a little place to rent.
I had also encouraged my boyfriend to move in with me and share the rent if the worse came to the worse. So when the big blow-up came I was totally prepared.
The long and short of it was that my stepfather never touched me again.
As for my mother, I had always found it difficult to get along with her after she chose to believe him rather than her own girls. But the fact that she had tried to stick up for me when he put me out showed at least she cared. So slowly we began to talk, and when she asked me to move back in after his stroke, I did, and we became quite close.
The worse memory of those days I have is not the abuse, though. It was the look on my mother’s face when I told her how her man used to have sex with me in her bed when she was at work.
The pain, the anger, hate, frustration, helplessness, disbelief all collided to produce a long, hard, puzzled stare, then a loud, tearful outburst. For the first time, she felt my pain.
I would therefore urge every mother to listen to their girl children when they say a stepfather or some other male relative has molested them.
Don’t dismiss the child as a liar, or just think about how you will survive if you take up for the child. Think about your daughter and the suffering she is going through, and help her.