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Sitting in the garage, I am visibly shaking.
“Valerie, what else happened, tell me, you can tell me anything.”
“Bobby, can I just talk to mommy for a minute?”
He slowly nods his head. He’s handling all of this surprisingly well.
I was sitting on the couch in my front room when he calls me out to the garage, his voice not angry, but clearly provoked. I slowly follow him, and he stands next to my mother, who had just gotten home from work.
I can tell I am either in trouble or soon to be in trouble.
“Your mother just told me that something happened at your father’s house that involves a boy. Valerie, what happened? Did you tell one of your friends that someone touched you?”
I stand there, attempting to calm my breathing. I don’t really want to talk about this right now.
I explained to them how my sister’s boyfriend’s cousin touched me one time when I was visiting at my father’s house, and how I told him to stop but he didn’t. My parents are divorced, and my mother remarried to a guy named Bobby. Bobby adopted me so now he has all legal rights over me. Me visiting my real father is just him and my mom being nice.
“So basically you were raped?”
I just stood there.
“Does your father know this happened? Did he do anything about it? I’m going to kill someone.”
I wince when he mentions my father. My mother notices.
“Bobby just calm down. Valerie, what else happened, tell me, you can tell me anything.”
“Bobby, can I just talk to mommy for a minute?”
He nods his head a walks into the house.
I didn’t want to tell them this way. I was hoping that it would stop and I wouldn’t have to tell them at all. That I could just forget about it.
I stand there, my head down, staring at my fingers scratching my elbow. While I am looking down, my mother is searching my face. It’s funny how a mother can tell when something is wrong, she knows me so well. She puts her hands on my shoulders, and makes me look her in the eyes. He stare is nervous and calm at the same time, but her eyes betray her true feelings. I know she is devastated. I tell myself to make up a lie, to not tell her now, that I can’t hurt her anymore. She will be mad at me because I didn’t tell her sooner. She won’t let me go to my father’s house anymore. I won’t be able to see my niece or nephew or my sisters. I can’t tell her, I won’t.
“Tell me. I know you are hiding something from me. You will feel so much better; just get it off your chest.”
I can’t control myself any longer. My body shakes uncontrollably. A few tears fall from my eyes. I don’t want to talk about this. It’s only going to make things worse. Nothing will be the same. But if I don’t tell her now I might never get another chance.
“He touched me.”
“Who touched you?”
I burst into tears. My knees betray me and I have to sit down to keep from falling.
Her face doesn’t change, she doesn’t start screaming, she doesn’t close her eyes, hold the brim of her nose and walk away, she doesn’t even start crying or start asking questions. She brings me to my feet and she wraps her arms around me in a very much needed hug.
“It wasn’t your fault. You did nothing wrong. Do you understand me? None of this is your fault. He is messed up in the head. Mommy’s going to make everything okay. Okay? It wasn’t your fault. I’m going to have Bobby bring you and your sister to his mom’s house and I will tell him. I’m not freaking out. I’m not going to do anything stupid even though I really want to.”
She gives me a big squeeze, kisses me on the cheek, and she goes in the house to tell Bobby, Sandy, his mother, and Emily, my younger sister, to get in the car to go to Sandy’s house. I stand there in the driveway, thinking about the neighbors and what they are thinking. Of course they didn’t here the conversation that we just had, but they will surely think something is wrong when they see my mother crying and the rest of us jumping into the car.
I didn’t want to tell them. I wanted to keep it secret, and hope that it would stop. Now nothing is going to be the same. What about Bella, my other sister that lives with my dad? She is going to be heartbroken. She’s been through enough. I can’t do this to her.
Bobby, Sandy, and Emily come out of the house looking very confused.
“Val, what’s wrong? Why are we going to Gaba’s house?” Emily asks me. I can see that she is about to cry because I’m crying, so I tell her that mom and Bobby just have to talk about some things and that everything is going to be okay.
On the way to Sandy’s house, all I can think about is my sisters. I’m still shaking, and I just want to be left alone so that I can sleep. Bobby drops us off and speeds away, and I’m dreading for when he comes back. I know he’s going to do something stupid. He’s probably going to kill my dad.
I go into Sandy’s bedroom and put on the first Harry Potter. I have to re-watch all of them because on Saturday, well, tomorrow, we are going to Navy Pier to see the final movie on IMAX 3D. I can’t concentrate on Harry Potter. I see the characters’ mouths’ moving, but I can’t hear what they are saying. Sandy walks in and asks me something, but I don’t hear her; I only hear the buzzing and my sisters’ voices in my ear. I just tell her I’m fine and that I just want to be left alone.
I sit there as the minutes slowly tick by. Will we be spending the night here? What’s going to happen? What are mommy and Bobby doing right now? I hear Sandy walk in again. She doesn’t leave. I look up and realized she is talking to me.
“Start getting ready, Bobby just called and said he’ll be here in about five minutes to get you. “
I nod and get up and start shuffling things around to make it look like I am getting ready. When she leaves, I sit on the bed and stare at my feet. My feet that started my entire life’s journey. At that moment I regretted ever taking my first step. I hear a car horn; Bobby is here. I get up on shaky legs and sway; I’m very lightheaded. I walk into the living room and tell Sandy thank you. She tells me that Emily is staying here. I nod and walk to the car. Bobby is gripping the steering wheel so tight his knuckles are white. Mommy is sitting in the passenger seat, her bloodshot eyes hidden behind her sunglasses. I open the car door and slide into the car, sitting on the right. Normally I would sit on the left, but I don’t think I have enough energy to slide all the way across the seat.
“Do you want me to sit in the back with you?” Mommy says.
I shrug. She climbs through the two seats and plops down next to me. She wraps her arms around me and makes me rest my head on her shoulder. Bobby pulls out of the drive way and starts driving to God knows where.
“So what’s going to happen now?” I ask.
“We’re going to take a ride to Bridgeport. We have to make a police report there since that’s where it happened. You’re going to have to talk to a detective probably and tell them what happened. I’m not going to leave your side if you don’t want me too,” says my mom.
The ride to Bridgeport is mostly quiet, except for Bobby trying to lighten the mood by talking about work and money. The whole time I just stare out my window, watching cars and trees fly by. Finally, we get off the expressway and drive onto the crammed, messed up roads of Bridgeport. I love that neighborhood and I always will, no matter how much it changes. Bobby parks in the police station parking lot and half-heartily jokes about how he won’t have to worry about his car getting stolen. The three of us walk into the dimly lit police station. A lady officer at the front desk asks how she can help us. All I think is please make this quick.
“We’re here to file a report on a case of sexual abuse.”
“And who did it happen to?”
“My daughter Valerie.”
“Okay, please follow me.”
My mom and I follow the officer into a small white room with four chairs; one behind a desk with a computer and papers scattered about, two on the opposite side of the desk, and the last in a corner next to the door. The officer takes a seat and opens up a page on the computer and starts typing. She asks me personal questions like my age, what school I go to, address, birthday, height, and weight.
“Okay now sweetie, I know this is going to be hard for you, but I need you to tell me exactly what happened. Take your time, I have all day.”
This is going to be the first time I actually told someone exactly what happened. I don’t want to. I just want to pretend this is all a dream. Once I open my mouth everything is going to change forever. I start to scratch my arm with my nail, to take my mind off the questions she’s asking me. I sit there for a few moments, and I realize that I made a small cut in my arm. I take a deep breath, scratch a little bit more gently, and start talking.
“We just got done watching a movie. It was about bugs. Me and my younger sister Bella, we went into her bedroom to go to sleep. There are two beds in there, one that Bella sleeps on and the other my dad sleeps on. I lay down with Bella on her bed. She passed out almost instantly. I have a bad case of insomnia so it’s hard for me to fall asleep right away, plus it was really hot. I got up and lay on my dad’s bed, because his bed is right next to the window and on the window sill is a fan. My dad wasn’t in the room at the time. I think he was in the bathroom or something. I dozed off for a little bit and woke up to him tickling me. That isn’t unusual because ever since I was little I always loved being tickled gently to help me fall asleep. He didn’t know I was awake. The entire time I pretended to be asleep. I was lying on my left side so my back was facing him.”
I take a deep breath; I really don’t want to say what happened next. My nail is scratching my arm even harder without me noticing. The cut has gotten bigger. I focus on the tiny drop of blood just visible as I continue telling her what happened.
“He started running his hands along my back, and then he would rub my butt, go down to my thighs, then back up again. Each time he got to my thighs he would spread them a little bit more, to the point where I was on my back, with my legs spread, and my head facing away from him. He went really slowly so he wouldn’t wake me up, even though I was awake. I was wearing my older sister’s pajama shorts, which are really big on me.”
I take a few deep breaths and squeeze myself. A few tears start to fall. This is the toughest decision I’ve ever made in my entire life. I can’t say it. If I say it I can’t pretend it didn’t happen anymore.
“Then he slid his hand into my shorts and,” I can’t say it. I don’t want to believe it. I start to cry harder.
“And he fingered me.”
I hear my mom start to cry, too.
“It’s okay mom, I’m fine.” I rub her arm and shoulder, attempting to comfort her. She straightens up, wipes her eyes, and apologizes for breaking down like that.
“Do you know how long this went on for?” The officer asks.
“I don’t know. At least five or ten minutes. I spaced out after maybe ten minutes.”
“Are there any other times that something like this happened?”
“One time at my uncle’s house, he fingered me, rubbed my breasts, and made me touch his privates. I was pretending to be sleeping that time also. That time I think he might have known I was awake.”
“Do you know if he was high or drunk when these events took place?”
“I don’t think so. I know he smokes weed, but I would have smelled it.”
She asks me more questions, like what does my dad look like, his nationality, if we know if he has a criminal record. After I give her all the answers I possibly can, she says someone from DCFS will contact us in about two days. She also says that I will have to talk to a couple detectives, tell them my story again, and that I will also need a medical exam to make sure that everything is okay and to check if he ever had sex with me. I shudder at the thought of a stranger staring at my private area. It’s hard enough being violated by my own father.
About two weeks go by and it is time for me to go to my medical exam. They take a blood and urine test and I have to tell the doctor, a lady from DCFS, and two detectives my story. By the end of the day I feel like a broken record, repeating this horrible song over and over again. The medical exam is probably one of worst things I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. They couldn’t even complete it because I was freaking out to much, so they couldn’t actually tell us if anything was wrong, but they said I look very healthy. When we leave the doctor’s I can barely stand because my legs feel like toothpicks.
It’s been a couple of months since I told. My mom doesn’t want me calling my father dad anymore. She wants me to call him P.O.S. for piece of sh*t. Probably the worst thing about it is that my two older sisters don’t believe me. They said it is my fault that all of this happened and that nothing is going to be the same because of me. They say that even though my father failed the polygraph test, that there is no proof and that I am making it up. All I want is for one day I can go back to the bookstore, hang out with Bella, and play with my niece and nephew. Just for one day, that’s all I ask. But I know that even if that does happen, it will never be like it was before.