Say Something: Pt 8 The Worth of Statements

Intro from Pt 7 The Worth of Saying “Yes”

Jesus taught forgiveness, too, but he does not there nor anywhere else in the Bible tell us to forget. The Bible teaches us to not hold onto our bitterness or anger or hate. Remembering protects us from future harm. Remembering helps me air out those locked boxes in my mind, helps me understand the PTSD triggers and nightmares, and helps others and me heal. Back then, though, I had no understanding of forgiveness, but forgetting sounded so good.

Pt 8 The Worth of Statements

When I am twenty-three, about six years after our “family meeting,” my phone rings, crashing through the fortress now protecting lockboxes hidden in dark places of my mind where they lie forgotten. My sister says something like,

“I told ‘Ken’ about Dad abusing us because I think as my husband, he needs to know.”

“Yes,” I say, “it is right you tell your husband.”

“Ken’s parents also know. They all think we should press charges. I am. Will you?”

I am first afraid, then furious, “It isn’t right you made a decision, with your in-laws, for goodness sake, without discussing this with me. If you press charges everyone will know about me too. I don’t want everyone knowing about this. There is no reason now to press charges. All this does is hurt me. You are all the way down in Alabama, safe with a home and family. I (in Texas) live here where people will know. There is no good reason to press charges. It is long past.”

I get off the phone and away from arguing with my sister. I feel justified in my outrage against my sister’s declaration. I begin sobbing once again for my shame and horror, but also now, for my anger and frustration. How dare she, once again, force me to do what she wants! She always does this! She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks or how it affects them! I can’t handle this! I have to tell someone before Brenda starts the legalities that will reveal me. As much as I dread it, I need to talk with the “Tonys.”

For the past four years before My sister’s phone call, attending this church, I have grown increasingly involved with the Tonys–experiences in holidays, birthdays, babysitting, housesitting, ministry, and, most importantly, for their mentoring. Even they don’t know about my homelife or the abuse (How can they, even I don’t know the extent until years of therapy a long time from then.) Many years later when I had been in therapy long enough to realize myself more fully, I knew that this church not only fed my spirit, but it changed my behavior. Unbeknownst to them, these godly people have helped me start learning, through mimicry, how to interact with people and the world.

When I started attending those four years ago, my sister and I were nineteen and seventeen, and I could tell they thought it strange for two teenagers to walk in to church, looking for a church home. That was the first and last church we looked at after we moved from our farm in Arkansas back to Texas. I immediately felt at home in the church. It didn’t take long for people to stop asking questions my sister and I maneuvered around without truly answering. My parents, on the other hand, did not ask questions. My sister and I just didn’t exist unless we bothered them or they wanted us to use. That this church was family-oriented worked in my favor, because they embraced my sister and I as part of their tight-knit church family. The closer I became to them, the more I was involved with them; the less I was involved at home, the farther away from my family I became.

We were as new, true Christians not “normal” Christians. I think, perhaps, though, there is some merit to the route we took. I know, at least in my case, coming to Christ in a round-about way on my own took out of the equation expectations people have on Christians. I am not saying any other way is less than true or wonderful. I just know that God gave me His Spirit, gave me an inquisitive mind, and put me within hearing of preachers on the radio not content with a surface understanding of God’s word. It was God’s Holy Spirit that encouraged my sister and I with the need to attend church, and it was God’s Holy Spirit that gave us the understanding to know what to look for to find a church with a faithful doctrine.

It still makes me laugh to think about my sister and I sitting on my brown with blue bits carpeted floor hunched over a telephone book and a rotary phone, cold calling churches to ask questions of pastors. I know now that people tend to ask about church schedule, activities, and age groups. My sister and I cared nothing for those things. We just wanted to know if they believed in the sovereignty of God (in basic terms, how much God intercedes in this world), what role women played in the church, and what were some of the foundational doctrines of the church. And I was as surprised by the pastor’s surprise that these are the things we wanted to know about a church. But enough of that. As I was saying about those many years ago when I first attended church and when my sister called …

It was a small church full of wonderfully warm people who enfolded me into their lives, in ministry and in hospitality, two couples even splitting the extensive costs of dental and orthodontic work for my sister and I who had a habit of covering our mouths when we laughed. I became the go-to for any odd job my father allowed me under the umbrella of self-employment since it didn’t put me under another’s headship. (I didn’t argue Biblical concepts—just quietly, “tip-toed” away.) My aptitude for learning and my attention to detail earned me jobs embroidering, housesitting, babysitting, wood finishing, painting all manner of thing, gardening, pet sitting, cleaning, organizing along with positions within worship ministry, mercy committee, Sunday School, VBS, children’s Christmas programs, and on and on. One day, with no discussion, no hint, no previous desire, I just decided I wanted to go to college, so with my self-employment earnings I attended and excelled in the community college. By the time I ran with my tear-stained face to the Tonys, I belonged more to the church than to my family and more to my self than to my family.

While my sister, looking for her chance to leave home, snagged a husband (I do mean snagged, because she later told me a big part of her marrying was to get out of our house.), moved to Alabama, and started having kids, I still lived at home in body if not in spirit.

My sister’s phone call threatened the life I had carved out with my church family there in Texas. Whether I agreed or not, the whole shameful experience I had never truly told anyone about would shatter everything. I think it was more awful this time than when, as a teenager, I admitted the molestation, because I had to actually say the words myself. I held the hammer. I believed talking of my family history, my history, would taint the relationship I had with the Pastor Tony, his wife, and my church family.

When my sister called, I was mature enough to know that she should tell her husband about the abuse because it might affect their relationship. I had no reason to think that our pressing charges would matter at all except to hurt me.

I turned around from my sister’s calling me to my calling the Tonys to ask if I could talk to them. It was a short drive to their home. As I poured out as few words as possible to Pastor Tony about the sexual abuse, my sister telling her husband and in-laws, and them all saying we needed to press charges, I madly thought, Why is it so sunny? Movies and books I watched and read always shrouded death and sorrow in mist or rain. I wonder now, all these years later, if it wasn’t apt after all. I wasn’t burying something. It was a sun’s rays breaking through the rain clouds. There were rain clouds and storms, even, ahead, but this was the very smallest, earliest hint of a change in weather, like a tree just starting to bud while the weather is still cold. I sit surrounded by broad, doubled up windows, light incongruently streaming down on me, tears running downing my cheeks in great rivulets, convulsing with occasional sobs as I clutch a sofa pillow to my chest, as if it could protect me from this moment. I sit on the now familiar yellow, floral loveseat I have happily sat on many times, as Pastor Tony sits across from me in what I know of as his chair. His wife is in the back of the house protecting her children from my childhood.

As I write, twenty years later, it is beyond my comprehension to think about those children knowing nothing of the kind of life I lived. My chest constricts and my eyes tear, thinking, as I am often reminded, that every day, every stinking day, children do live with the horrific things people feel free to do to them. I avoid the news, because I am depressed enough within this life and within my friends’ lives. I cannot be depressed about things I can’t do anything about. I most avoid the news, however, so I do not hear of every kind of affront to humanity, not human kind, but as just being humane to those who can’t protect themselves for whatever reason from the brutal demands of another. I can’t take it. I cannot truly describe the fine-tuned feeling of absolute anger towards an abuser and just as fine-tuned feeling of absolute hurt for the abused I am possessed with when I hear of it. I have only in rare finite moments felt this way for myself. But it is my own experience that speaks to me of what boys, girls, and women mostly will live with, beginning with the first moment the first hand touches their innocent lives.

Sitting in that living room, trying not to look Pastor Tony in the eye, afraid of being judged, I feel the force of him. I don’t think he judges me for having kept my secret a secret, but it seems almost, almost, that, once again, I face a grey face in Pastor Tony’s unreadable, stone-like demeanor. I pour out devastation. I feel trapped. I feel out of control. I feel afraid. I feel forced to speak my shame. And every time I use the word sexual abuse, I don’t understand when he, corrects me “molestation.” What difference does it make?! Do you get what a difficult thing this is for me?! Does that matter to you? Pastor Drake is all business. Thankfully he doesn’t ask for specifics. The vague term he keeps correcting seems to be enough.

There is no question. There is only action. Pastor Tony tells me to get my car and lead him to my home. I don’t understand. He said we need to get my things and I can live with them for six months while I look for a job and place to live. I don’t argue. I don’t think. I am on autopilot. He in his minivan and I in the Toyota Corolla hatchback Grandmother gave me right before she died drive out of the city and down a white gravel road, leaving a dusty cloud in our wake, to the mobile home I am fleeing. He tells me to hurry as I try to think about what I actually own and what is important I take. I have never moved from a place anywhere this fast. Think! Think!, Do I take my bed? Pastor Tony tells me we can only take what will fit in our two cars. No, no bed, but I can’t leave my hope chest, the cedar chest of which was given to my grandfather when he was a baby that I was given. “Hurry,” Pastor Tony doesn’t give me time to think. I just begin grabbing things: the rocking chair I bought for myself years ago, craft stuff difficult to replace goes into whatever container I have, other inherited and personal memory keepsakes, correspondence with all my pen pals of my teenage years, my Bible, college textbooks and papers, my photographs, armfuls of clothes. I want to look through the house for things belonging to or important to me that are nothing to my parents. Hurry! The cars quickly fill and, again, we leave a cloud of dust trailing behind us. I feel tight with anxiety, breathing in quick, short breaths. I don’t think, except, Why are we in a hurry for me to get away?

My sister did not have my respect. I resisted her desire to make me do something I didn’t want to do. I resisted arguments made by her and Pastor Tony and his wife about pressing charges. “It is for your sake.”

“Why?” How could that be? How could making my shame known make a difference for me with my parents?

Finally, one day soon after that day of conversations with my sister and Pastor Tony, I realized the only reason there was for pressing charges against my father. I had to do it to protect my baby sister we adopted when I was fifteen. I had to do it to protect other children my father would come in contact with now that my mother and my baby sister had moved out. I thought he wouldn’t ever be in reach of another child to abuse—children like the ones my parents were house parents for when I was a baby. They had said my father sexually assaulted them, but since they were troubled kids no one truly believed them. My parents had been told it was only policy the organization had to remove my parents from the girls’ home. My father should never be allowed to touch another kid in his life.

The defense of my baby sister and any other children my father might meet gave me reason to press charges against my father, though I didn’t feel quite brave enough to be all in. I discovered that we had to prosecute per county. In other words, my father could only be prosecuted for those things that he did to me while we were in a county whichever we chose. My worst years and the longest we stayed any place while my father, Robert, sexually assaulted me was when I was in third and fourth grade and that county was close to where I lived when I decided to press charges. I told the detectives and prosecutor I really didn’t know when everything happened. They said to just write on the witness statement what I remember. I had to make a statement.

VOLUNTARY STATEMENT (NOT UNDER ARREST)

I, Yvonne Hope Osborn am not under arrer am I being detained for any criminal offense concerning the events I am about to make known to __________________________. Without being accused or questioned about any criminal offense regarding the facts I am about to state. I volunteer the information of my own free will, for whatever purpose it may serve. I am 23 years of age, and live at ——————————————.

Except for a few individuals I have told no one of what occurred to me as a child because of shame, fear of loss of security/stability, and aversion to my being the reason anyone, particularly though, my own flesh + blood, should be publicly punished. I feel it is now necessary to report to governing authorities my dad’s actions against me, because 1.) it has recently been suspected that the youngest (8yrs) of my sisters has been inappropriately touched by someone (perhaps my dad) 2.) my parents are divorcing, leaving Dad free to marry whom he wishes and to have more children 3.) of a need for protection for any child with whom Dad comes into contact and 4.) I believe a shameful and unlawful act needs to be finally brought to light—no more deceit, lies, or dodging of justice.

I do not remember when my dad first started molesting me. I only know that he began before I was in my first year of school (1st grade). At least the fondling and desire to see me in my nakedness continued into my early teen years (perhaps 14 yrs of age). Neither can I say how frequently that I was subjected to his desires. I would guess say how frequently that I was subjected to his desires. I would guess these instances occurred no more than one or two times a week, and they certainly could have occurred often less frequently. Saturdays were the main days in which the instances occurred for this was a day that Dad was off from work and Mom might sleep in or leave my sister and our Dad. There were some nights that Dad would visit me.

The main way in which Dad bothered me was to place hand on my vagina and “massage” my vagina with his hand. He would ask me if I liked it and how I felt. He would even talk to me about levels/degrees of sexual excitement (for lack of his exact word). If my sister happened to be in the room at the time (perhaps watching cartoons) there would not be much said and we would have a blanket over us. There were other times that he would want me to put wrap my hand around his penus. When I wouldn’t not do it on my own, he would put my hand in position himself. He would also touch me in other places sch as my breasts. As I grew older he would want to see how my breasts were developing.

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I can remember one occasion when he came to my bedroom at night to do something unusual. He had me lay on my back across the width of the bed, raise my knees and spread my legs so that he could lick my vagina.

I hated all of this. I would never answer yes when he asked me if I liked it, but I could not stand up to my dad to say “no” until my early teen years—this is when he stopped. I could only think, “I wish he would stop.”

I did not know until later that my sister was also molested. Neither my Mom nor my sister knew that I was being molested until after the molestation had ended.

Dad never threatened me or asked me not to tell. There were a few times that he discussed with me how it would upset Mom to know. It was enough for me that I was ashamed, fearful of what would happen if anyone knew, and afraid of the affect on Mom.

I wish to make it clear that I am not personally aware of my dad’s continuance in any of the above with any child. Y.H.O.

I have read each page of 2 page (s), each page which bear my signature, and any corrections, if any I certify the facts contained herein are true and correct.

Dated at 1:51pm , this 24th day of October, 2000. ____________Y. Hope Osborn

Signature of person giving statement

Looking at my statement today, I think how clinical, how naive, how disassociated I was in what I wrote. I still hadn’t gone to therapy to open lockboxes to realize the full extent of the assaults on me by my father (and mother.) I had to say something. I just couldn’t say everything that was important.

Six months later I sit in that darkened courtroom, and I tell the judge “no” I do not want to say anything. For several years after that, everything seems to go back to normal. No one talks about it. I was again allowed to lock it away. I had done my bit and that was that. I had no earthly idea how much my life was affected by all that I did not say about anything of my life with my parents. A dark depression drug me down into a pit, finally, and I was pushed into seeing a psychiatrist and therapist where I was forced to start unraveling the huge amounts of chain I used to lock the boxes of my memory. Since starting therapy, I have been with different therapists off and on for these last fourteen years. Holy crap, there is so much I held tight to for so long!

I am not ashamed anymore for things I had no power in, had no experience for, had no voice. I continue to work through the life sentence my parents handed down to me while my father and his second wife, I guess that is my stepmother, walk away from a completed sentencing. He is now only a registered sex offender, but the post online for him doesn’t fit him anymore and there is no picture. He is an anonymous registered sex offender. I, on the other hand, deal with PTSD; Severe, Recurring, Chronic Depression; and an unreal amount of health problems studies have shown abused kids are more likely to have. I am not anonymous in my sentence. It touches everyone around me.

Many times, in recent years, I wished to turn back time, without losing my experience and understanding of my abuse, to cut to the courtroom scene. I think what it would be like…

One week after my twenty-fourth birthday, I am half-aware of sitting in a dimly lit courtroom, a judge and two men standing at a table before him mumbling. The room sharpens into focus as I realize someone, the judge, speaks more loudly, looking roughly in my direction. I sit diagonally across the room, distancing myself from the defendant. When the judge repeats the question, “Do either of those who pressed charges want to say anything before the defendant is sentenced?” I say, “Yes, I want to say something.” I walk out of my bench in the back, up the aisle, into the light through the gate where the judge, Robert’s lawyer, and Robert are. I say, …

At this point in my re-imagined courtroom scene, I always become frustrated and realize the pointlessness of speaking in that moment. I always need to remind myself of who my father is. If I walked up to him today, he would be pleased as punch, because he has contacted me via text a couple of times to ask, “Are you ready to talk yet?” He is a sociopath though, and they only care and only play a role to get what they want to help and pleasure themselves. He is not the one to say something to. It isn’t in me most of the time to attack anyone to defend myself. I don’t really think that I would be able to say with the force it deserves the extent of how I believe my father and my mother have victimized me. But there have been times I did have the force to say something …

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