Serious Trigger Warning!
Someone once told me I was at least partly in the wrong because I had ‘given into abuse.’
First of all, I was a child. But let’s leave that aside for now…allow me to explain.
There were times when I did ‘give into abuse’ for a plate of food and a glass of ice tea.
I remember without food; locked down in that basement. I smelled the aroma of their dinner through the floorboards over my head. It made me feel crazy. I often sat at the make-shift table (an old door that they laid across cinder blocks) and pretended to eat. In my mind, I saw an enormous plate of delicious food and bit at invisible mashed potatoes. That is how desperate I was to eat.
Starvation will make you crazy. It will literally eat away at your brain making your thoughts unclear and your responses erratic; Cleo and Lou knew this and used that knowledge as a tool. They used to lock me a basement (or outside in the barn) after the ‘customers’ were finished.
To fight loneliness I had elaborate fantasies about “The Six Million Dollar Man” crashing into the house to rescue me. Rushing in, he would explain how the earth swallowed him whole and he was trapped inside it. How he battled demons through fire pits of molten lava to save me and that’s why it took so long. But then I opened my eyes and faced–reality. “The Six Million Dollar Man” would never rescue me. I had been forgotten, like a dirty rag in a landfill. No one cared what happened to me, I was the unlovable “damn kid.” “Damn kid” was what Cleo called me.
On occasion I would only get to eat if I ‘earned’ it. ‘At times, it meant I had to beg these “customers” to abuse me so I could ‘earn’ food.
This particular time, there were no customers for a few days. I was in the basement and my Cleo decided a few days before that I would eat again would make me compliant to do a specific disgusting sexual act one particular ‘customer’ wanted.
I was so hungry. I remember Cleo coming down the basement stairs. She stood in front of me and told me this particular man had arrived. She asked me if I were ready to eat. Cleo took me to the kitchen where she showed me fried chicken, mashed potatoes, string beans. She put the food on a plate. On the counter sat a picture of iced tea. He said, “and you want this,” he said, (motioning to the food).
As I reached for the plate he said, “Tell me you want me.”
I gave in and said yes to him. When he finished with me, he placed the plate of chicken, mashed potatoes and string beans and a glass of ice tea on the table.
I ate too quickly and vomited.
Yes, for a plateful of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, string beans, and a glass of iced tea I ‘gave into abuse.’
For those who would criticize me of “giving into abuse,” I dare say if it he or she were the one that were locked in that basement, given the “choice” of dying from hunger and dehydration, they would choose to ‘give into abuse’ too.
This wasn’t the only time I had to choose between eating and ‘giving into abuse’ for this customer. I think it was part of his fantasy.’
It wasn’t about giving into abuse. It was about survival.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Would you please be so kind and sign the following petition asking all professing Christians to better address the subject of sexual abuse?
A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.).