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It was only a gentle touch, barely enough to even register to the senses, but it was enough to suddenly trigger the screaming. I screamed, my tiny, young voice screaming for all it’s worth.
“Sweetie, please, what’s wrong?” I could barely hear my mum over my screaming, all I felt was this sudden desire to get away from her, to get away from those hands.
“Shh now, shh.” She softly murmured to me as I kept screaming and then I began to back away from her, I could see the expression on her face turning to bewilderment at my sudden fear of her. I then stopped screaming and my little body was then racked with sobs and my tears just burst forth.
“What is it? What did I do?” My mum asked, fear slowly creeping into her voice as she slowly stepped towards me, but with each step she took, I would back away farther.
“No more, please, no more.” I managed to say, my voice distorted by my sobbing and my tears.
“I don’t understand. What’s wrong sweetie?” I used to feel love for her, trust, but now I just feel overwhelming fear, something akin to hatred.
“KEEP AWAY!” I screamed at her and then before she could reach me, I ran out of the room, my tears streaming from my eyes and I couldn’t understand as I was only 5 years old, I was only a child and I had just been sexually abused at school by a teacher. My innocence was gone, my childhood was shattered by the action of one heartless woman, a woman I thought I could trust, a teacher.
24 years later: Birth of my child.
The sound of the ventilator and my wife’s heavy breathing were the only sounds I registered in the operating theatre, a gentle whoosh sound from the ventilator, the forced and labour-made breathing of my wife. I tried to block out the sound of the ventilator, it wasn’t being used actually, it was only there because it hadn’t been taken out from the last patient who had been in here an hour ago.
“Your doing great love, just stay calm.” She winced in pain and I gently squeezed her hand, how I wish I could share the pain with her, I feel so useless like this.
“Calm, yes, calm, easier said than done when you have your legs spread from here to Timbuktu and about to give birth to something the size of a melon out of a hole the size of a lemon, OH GOD THAT FUCKING HURTS!” She grips my hand hard, the pain is a mild distraction, it matters nothing to me. All that’s important to me is my wife and my unborn child, nothing else matters now, not money, not the world itself, just my wife.
“Push Mrs. Harker, push! I can see the head, just a little bit more.” My wife’s breathing became heavier as she kept pushing and then the sound we’ve both been waiting for the last nine months arrives, our child’s first cry.
“Congratulations, it’s a baby girl. Healthy lungs too, very healthy.” Our baby girl screamed at being out in the cold world, removed from where she had been growing, warm and safe for the last nine months.
“Next time, love, you give birth, I’m beat.” My wife said and I kissed her softly, we were parents at last.
My wife was asleep, clearly exhausted from giving birth to our daughter. After the nurses had cleaned our daughter up, she had been wrapped up and handed gently to us.
“She has your eyes.” My wife had said as our daughter opened her eyes and looked at us, obviously not seeing us as such, but she could hear us a little.
“She has your nose though and that look you have in mornings, that ’don’t bother me’ look.” I said, both of us looking at our lovely daughter with pure parental love in our eyes for her. She yawned then, her tiny mouth showing her fatigue and she fell asleep, her tiny eyes closing, making her tiny face look angelic.
“You get some rest too love, I’ll be right here if you need me.” My wife nodded slowly in agreement and I kissed her, taking our baby gently from her arms and going over to the small baby bed the nurses had left for us. I set our daughter down and then my wife fell asleep, I sat down in a seat in-between both of them and stood guard, protecting them from harm as I should, as I always will.
5 years later
What a day, it’s good to finally come home to my beautiful wife, who should be back from work in a few hours, and also to my lovely daughter who’s sitting in the back seat of the car, oddly quiet which is unlike her.
“So how was your school day?” I asked as I turned off the highway and headed for our street where we lived. No answer, she’s usually a right little chatterbox which is lovely to hear since her voice is like a tiny version of her mother’s.
“You okay sweetie?” I asked, still no response. Never heard her this quiet unless she’s sleeping and she’s clearly awake, she’s just not talking. The minutes pass and we finally reach home and I park the car in the driveway.
“We’re home, want me to give you a piggy-back ride to the house?” Still nothing, maybe she’s got something on her mind. I unbuckle my seat belt and get out of the car and I open the rear door. My daughter's seat belt is unbuckled already and I think she did that herself, not often she does that. I reach in and as soon as my hand touches her arm, she suddenly screams, a scream so unlike anything I’ve heard before but my own memories.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong? Tell me, please.” I take my hand away and she continues screaming and then she stops and starts crying, hard.
“Dad-dad-I-I-I’m-scared. I-I-don’t-don’t-understand-what-what-happened.” She stopped then, her voice had been shaking, her sobs making it shake with every word she said. What the hell happened to make her scream like that though? Did something happen at school? Was she......abused?
I had managed to get my daughter out of the car, she fell asleep from fear and I carried her in and set her down on the sofa where she’s still sleeping now. She’s even sucking her thumb, something she hasn’t done since she was 3. My wife arrives home at 7 and I tell her of our daughter’s problem and what I think it could be, she knows of my abuse from my childhood and she pales as I speak.
“Maybe she just had a disturbing thought, children do have them, even children at her age.” I shook my head at my wife’s suggestion, I would have known if it was.
“No, it isn’t that. When I picked her up from school, she was quiet the whole time, not one word, if she hadn't been breathing, I would have thought she was dead. She’s in the living room anyway, go to her, she might need her mother, I hope I’m wrong, I really do.” My wife nodded and went through to the living room, I followed her a second later. Our daughter was still sleeping, but she woke up when her mum sat down beside her.
“Mummy?” She asked, her voice sounding so small and weak that it was hard to hear her.
“I’m here sweetie. Daddy here feels something bad happened at school today, can you tell us?” I sat down on a seat next to the sofa and our daughter looked around at both of us.
“Heavy then light.” Was all she said and I understood it instantly, it was what I said when I finally told of my abuse, my memories of that time are still from a child’s view and I can’t seem to get the words out in a more grown-up sense.
“Heavy then light? Hun, you said you had also said that years ago when you finally told of what had happened to you., looks like you could be right after all.” My wife reached a hand out then and our daughter looked at it with fear in her eyes.
“Don’t, it will make her worse.” I whispered softly and my wife nodded and retracted the hand, our daughter seemed to calm down.
“Mummy, I’m tired.” Our daughter said quietly and she got off of the sofa, my wife stood up and as I did as well.
“Okay, you take her up to her room, I’ll see about taking us a meeting with the school’s headmaster for tomorrow. I’m not letting this be swept under the carpet.” My wife nodded in understanding and took our daughter upstairs and I made the phone calls.
We managed to get a day off from work together and we left our daughter with a trusted friend, I didn’t want her going to school until this was sorted, if it can be sorted anyway. I had managed to get us an appointment with the headmaster for 10 in the morning, I’m not going to let this rest.
“Mr and Mrs. Harker, please come in.” The headmaster’s voice called us in and we entered his office, his office was more like the Sistine Chapel than an office, it was huge.
“So I may I be of service?” He asked, he was a medium set man, medium build, balding hair, why do headmasters usually have balding hair? His face is stern looking and yet I can see a playful gleam in his eyes, but I don’t like him at all, he’s an arrogant git who gets on my nerves.
“We think our daughter has been sexually abused by a member of staff here. When my husband picked her up from school yesterday and started to help her from the car when they got home, she screamed like she was afraid of him. I found that out for myself when I tucked her in for the night, she screamed like she was being attacked, she never did that until last night. So start telling us what’s going on here, because this isn’t right.” The headmaster looked at each of us and then stood up, his hands behind his back.
“I see. Are you sure she didn’t just scream at something else? It is possible.” He walks around the back of us and I feel my old fear flare up a little, this bastard seems to like intimidating people.
“How do I know? Easy, I was sexually abused when I was her age, I remember what I was like afterwards. I know that scream, it’s the scream of pure terror that happens when the shock lifts. Some sick bastard here sexually abused her and I’m going to find out who it is if I have to tear this place apart.” The headmaster returned to his desk and sat down, my wife was watching him carefully, I was ready to jump up and smash his face in if he was the one who abused my daughter.
“Mind your language please, this is a school. You could be overreacting t-” I then got up and planted my hands on his desk.
“Overreacting? You think my daughter being terrified of her own parents who have never hurt her and who will never hurt her is just overreacting? Oh man you are so full of it. When we helped her get dressed and ready to go to a friend’s this morning, she backed away from us, fear in her eyes. A 5 year old child should not have fear in her eyes, not the kind of fear that I know all so well. Now either you get off your undereducated ass and do something about this or we report you and this school to the police and media.” At the mention of the police getting involved, his eyes narrowed.
“Don’t threaten me, I’m well within my rights to have you arrested.” I fight the urge to ram this guy’s desk down his throat and I sit down when my wife plants a hand on my shoulder.
“When it comes to our daughter’s well-being, your rights mean diddlysquatt, our daughter was harmed and until we find out who did it, we will not let this be brushed under the carpet. Well we’ll get going now, we hope you get to work in finding out what happened yesterday right away or you and this school will be under very heavy questioning from the police. Good day.” We got up after my wife’s last words and left the school, there was nothing else to say.
The healing process
It’s midnight, our daughter is sleeping in her room and she’s still as scared of us and others as she was this morning. It’s horrible to see her innocence, her childhood, just shattered like that. She can’t be hugged and told she’s okay now because she’s too scared of us. Damn the bastard or bitch who did that to her, damn him/her to hell and beyond. People are truly sick if this is allowed.
“She’ll need therapy, counselling, everything. We can barely afford it, but we have to, for her. We can’t leave our daughter in a pure state of fear and mistrust like this, not like my parents did since they didn’t know about my problem. It’s going to take a long time for her to heal, but we have to try, for her future.” I’m in my wife’s arms, we’re both fighting tears of anger at what’s happened, it’s like we’ve lost our child.
“I know and we will, the expense means nothing when it comes to her well-being, her future. We’ll manage somehow, for her.” I kiss her softly and then I fall asleep in her arms, my dreams of losing my own child, of seeing her grow up as I did, alone and afraid. The healing process will begin tomorrow and the cost is nothing at all, she deserves her innocence, her childhood. She deserves a life to live and we will fight for her, nothing is more important than your child’s welfare, nothing.
It’s never over.
*I wonder if I’ll do what I can for my child if my own children were abused like I was? I would, damn right I would. I don’t want them to go through what I have to go through everyday, fighting a fear that paralyses you, makes you hate for no reason. Protect your child, don’t let them suffer, there’s too many sick people out there who harm children. Why do they harm children though? What’s the reason? There isn’t any, those who harm children are killing young lives, young lives that deserve so much love and care. If you can’t trust an adult, who can you trust?