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Erin Grace

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fast Forward

Recently, I received a phone call from my sister, who has been helping my mother sort through her belongings. I was told that in our mother's room, she had found unopened letters I had written to "K" and there were also letters that "K" had written to my sister. The letters were from before my sister found mine in the mailbox that day. When my sister asked her, my mother says she has no idea why they were in with her things. She has always been one to not face things or take responsibility for her actions but seeing as she's elderly now, she may genuinely not remember. Somehow though, I have the feeling that even if she was 20 years younger, her answer would still be the same. My mom is legendary for the phrase, "Hmmm? I don't know." I do not understand why she would have intercepted those letters and not confronted me or said something to someone?! Someone could have stopped me from communicating with him; saved me from myself.

She may not be able to empathize at all or communicate in an adult manner about things of a personal and sensitive nature but when it comes to being threatening, that, she could do. For some reason, she could defend us when someone else was clearly in the wrong, as long as it concerned things of a physical nature, like a bully hitting us. Bottom line, she'd threaten you if you laid a finger on her kids. She could scare the hell out of any kid and we have a few funny stories from the bullies themselves. As a kid, I began to do the same thing as my mother to anyone who made fun of me, as long as I thought I could handle them. After scaring one girl so badly that she broke out in hives and her mother told me that she had to go to the hospital, I decided I'd rather not handle things that way.

My sister and I still see members of "K's" family every once in a while, in fact there were a few times that she met with his sister not so long ago...we were both close with her, so I'm sure that was tough for the both of them.

I've seen his brothers a few times over the years.  In fact, my ex up north had a best friend whose sister married one of "K's" brothers. We went to the best friend's wedding, which meant that I would run into members of "K's" family. At the church, I spoke with his parents who were very polite. The scariest thing was that just as I walked away from them in the church, "K's" mother fell to the floor and had a grand mal seizure. An ambulance was called and I later found out that she had a brain tumor. I believe she was able to have surgery and recover. I couldn't help but initially think that talking to me upset her too much because of all that had happened.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pointing The Finger

**This is the toughest post to put out there, over all of the others.  I've debated whether to even write it but it would be leaving a big part of my story out.

For so many years, after this all ended, I really felt as if I was a willing participant in everything. That's what those situations to do you, the abuser puts it on you to carry the guilt and shame. I was afraid I'd end up in foster care if I told. I didn't want to be with my parents but I felt what happened with "K" must have been my fault. I thought if I didn't want to do it, I could have said something, I could have just gone back to live with my parents. I got to be with my sister though and that meant everything.

Eleven turned to 12, then 13 and 14 years old. As I said, except for going to school, I spent all of my free time with "K" and my sister. Eventually, at about 12 years old, I didn't see my father anymore. I went back to live at my mother's house, while going back and forth to see "K" and my sister.

This is why...

After about a year or so of going between my father's house and their place, "K" knew how things were with my father, he used that to his advantage. He'd often try to talk to me about what it was like to live with my parents and he was very sympathetic. I didn't understand that he was just using me for his pleasure and giving the illusion of caring for me. The more he saw me cry and beg to stay with them, every time I had to leave, the more "K" would ask me if anything was "going on". It came to the point where he flat out asked if my dad was doing anything to me. I didn't know how to articulate some of the weirder stuff that was going on between my father and myself. Here I was being told by my sexual abuser, that my father was in the wrong and he was going to help protect me from my father. I felt like a sheep...just follow the leader.

Very quickly I found myself in front of detectives and state police, asking me what was going on with my father. I believe "K" told my sister and then my mother found out. He never said anything specific, just that he knew there were things happening to me, at the hands of my father. I was in over my head before I knew it. It was a whirlwind. Within a day or two, I was giving sworn statements about what my father was doing to me, by recalling events that I had been through with "K". I didn't think I had any other choice, what would "K" do if I told everyone it was him? What would happen to me, my sister, or him? I didn't even have time to consider that it may have been a good thing to tell them the truth about "K". I was blindsided. I was being sent to victim's groups and counseling, all the while keeping secret what was going on and what would continue for another 2 years, with "K".

My father was arrested and put in jail. The guilt I felt was so overwhelming. Whenever I saw a police officer  (it didn't matter if they were just driving down the road), until the day I came out with the truth, 10 years later, I was petrified I would be arrested and thrown in prison for making a false statement. Those words just hung in the air when I was talking to the detectives..."The penalty for making a false statement is..." Never mind that I was 12 years old when it happened. As the years went by, I just played the part. My father wasn't allowed any contact with me and for a while, I was home schooled.

My father put in a plea of guilty but thankfully my mother asked the judge to consider him for counseling and release as long as he kept away from me. She didn't think he belonged in jail. He told my mother he knew it was "K" who was behind this. In fact, one day when I picked up the phone at my mother's, I heard my father's voice. I started to cry. I handed the phone to my mother but I heard him say, "Erin, I know this isn't your fault. I know he's doing those things to you." I cannot tell you how much I felt as if I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.

The first person I ever confided in, was my boyfriend Darin, in 1991. He was and still is, a great friend. For the 3 years we were together, I wanted to tell him what I had carried around for 10 years but I just couldn't, I thought he would hate me. There were so many times I said to him over those 3 years, "There's something I want to tell you but I just can't." A few times he asked, "What did you do, kill someone? Why won't you tell me?"

 I remember one day, at an apartment we lived in, the police showed up looking for the prior resident. I heard the bang of the nightstick on the door and as soon as I looked out, I thought, "This is it, they know." I was terrified. Just before we broke up, I wrote my boyfriend a letter telling him the story. I gave it to him when I knew he could read it and have some time to let it all sink in. When I saw him later that night he was so understanding, I couldn't believe it. I broke up with him because I knew I needed to start dealing with what happened and start my life with a clean slate.

The next step was telling my sister. Gradually, my father and I began to talk again and although I know he didn't blame me, I still apologized for all that had happened. He was older and so was I, there wasn't the same dynamic anymore and although he still had schizophrenia, I was an adult and we had a different relationship. There were times when his illness got in the way but I just dealt with it, there was nothing I could do for him if he didn't want help. "K" was dead and we were trying to start over again. Ironically, the psychologist I started working with for the next few years (who was also my psychology professor) told me that after he saw me a few times, he knew my name sounded familiar. Although he couldn't disclose anything, after about a year of me working with him and knowing I was beginning to talk to my father again, he said, "I happened to look back in my records and a few years before you met me, your father was a patient of mine for quite a while." Out of all the people he could have picked, in the cities he lived near, my father picked that guy.

June 1995 - Dad & Me

A few years before my father died, in 2008, I got up the courage to tell a lawyer my story and see if there was any way to get any charges against my father dropped. He said it was so long ago that I shouldn't worry too much about it. I still wanted him to look into it but he never returned my calls. Thankfully, I found out that the registry for New York State didn't go into effect until January of 1996, fourteen years after everything happened.

I learned more recently, how angry my father was towards my mother, even as I grew older. Before my sister met "K", my father woke her one night to say that he was "going to end things once and for all", by killing our mother (my sister was living with him at the time, while I still lived with my mother). After he left, she tried to contact my mother but couldn't get her. This was long before 911 and the police wouldn't have made it in time. All she could do, she said, was pray really hard for something to stop him before he got to our mother's house. He never made it. A deer jumped in front of his car, caused an accident and he ended up turning around and going back home.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Coming To Terms

I've been doing a lot of crying lately, something I try not to do much of at all. I'm afraid if I start, I'll never stop, I'm afraid I'll get stuck in that despair. I realize things will get better but it scares me to feel all of this...I'm going through the breakup of my marriage and most days I really question if it's the right thing. It has brought out a lot of fears in me, that I have never let show before, but I'm done with covering it up. I'm really scared. I'm trying to manage not having support around me. Growing up as I have, I've always had to put on a front of being able to get through, no matter what. My mother tries but she has such trouble emotionally, that she's much like a child. Two of my brothers I have cut off contact with, due to the very abusive and threatening manner with which they have spoken to myself, my mother and my sister. The third brother is schizophrenic and our communication is mostly me writing to him. Due to our age difference, we have never really known each other and when he has spoken to me, it's very distant. I can't tell you how much it has hit me lately, that I so miss not having a close knit, healthy family. One that can work through problems and deep down, really loves each other. I have to mourn it and put it behind me. I have spent so long pretending it doesn't bother me and that I'm okay, when really, I have to stop and face the fact that it hurts so badly that I didn't have parents who could function as such, on even a basic level, consistently.

I am easy to make friends but it's tough for me to be the one to reach out to people...I tend to need someone to pester me. No matter how much people tell me I've helped them, through life coaching, I often feel as if I have nothing to offer. It's that feeling I inherited from my parents, their own feelings of worthlessness that I'm trying so hard to shed. I've become used to giving and not receiving if anything I give is not that worthwhile anyhow. The truth could be right there in front of me and I don't believe it. I realize a lot of that has to with being so betrayed growing up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I'm working on another's a tough one for me, so it has been slow in the making...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Walter is one person whose identity I won't conceal. Early on, he had an idea of what was going on and I overheard him telling "K" to be good to me. Walter was about 4 years older than myself and had seen a lot of tragedy in his life. His family blamed him for a siblings death, when he was very young (I believe it was a sister). I always felt he and I had a connection and he treated me like a little sister. Walter would come over alone or with "K's" brother and his friends. He'd hang out with me and he'd smoke and talk but if "K" was around, I think it scared Walter and he wouldn't stay long. He was so sweet to me and my sister.

One day, during Spring (just before Easter I think), Walter, "K's" brother and another friend stopped at the apartment. They were excited that the local "outlet", as we called it (more like a small river that runs through that city), was really churning with water. They were taking small rafts and paddles and were going to do a sort of "riding the rapids"  through the outlet. "S" was headed off to work and I was with "K". The boys hung out for maybe 30 minutes and then they were off.

Later that day there was a call from "K's" family. The boys had gotten into more than they anticipated at the outlet and Walter was missing. The other boys made it to shore but Walter was carried away by the current. The last that was seen of him was when he was pulled under by the water.

Emergency crews searched for Walter; they finally found him. He had been pulled under and slammed against one of the large pipes that ran under the water in the outlet. Walter was dead.

"K's" brother was inconsolable. I remember going to the wake. It was surreal. Kids crying and going out on the porch of the funeral home to vomit. I had to leave, it was too overwhelming. I still have a little ceramic, painted creamer that I made in elementary school, that I let Walter use as an ashtray. I took a rose from his grave site and put it in there, with the cigarette ashes.

"K" and Walter are buried in the same cemetery. The extension of the cemetery (the smaller part) was the one that we lived next door to, in the apartment....the one that I used to ride "K's" motorcycle through and walk through, when "K would get really angry with me. It's strange how life goes. Who would've thought I'd be going back there to visit them, after spending so much time living so close and wandering around in it? When I lived back in that city again, years afterwards, I used to drive up to that cemetery and spend hours walking through there and visiting their graves, mostly Walter's though. I completely get the people who sit there, talking to people that are gone. It's actually kind of calming, at least for me. It helped me move on.

Miss you, Walter.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Amazing Sister

In case it was missed, in my last post, "S" is my sister. I won't give her real name, out of respect for her privacy but, as you can tell, she has been with me through the toughest parts of my life and she still is, even if from a distance. She has been very traumatized between her own childhood with my parents and her marriage to "K". 

We've talked more about that time, almost 30 years ago (wow), more now, than ever before. I think after it all happened, we just never felt like talking about it again...we needed to breathe, to just have a break and try to find what "normal" feels like. She still feels a lot of guilt for me living with her and "K" because she knew some of what was going on and tried very hard to leave without getting us killed. Every day she was planning. Every day she had different experiences than me because while I was being used sexually, she was the one threatened or assaulted by him, to keep quiet. As I said, if I mouthed off to him or caused problems for him, he would take his anger out on her or whatever I cared about. We were both "kept in line." She had very genuine reasons for being terrified, as do most victims of domestic violence and repeated sexual assault.

I am encouraging her to write about her life and experiences (maybe as a link to my blog, maybe not), to help her have a voice. We have talked of writing a book someday. I truly do not know what I would do without her and I don't know of many sisters who have written together, of their experiences. 

"S" was literally told, at a very early age, that she didn't seem to ever "need" anything. Our parents "projected" their needs, onto her. They weren't able to be parents or even have a loving marriage, so they put it on us, to do for them. She was and is very intelligent, compassionate and talented. Those qualities were seen as interchangeable for independence and used as an excuse not to nurture her. Her job in he family was to "do" for everyone else, especially our parents. Like other female survivors I have known, she felt and was, enslaved. 

There is a very damaging concept still going on in our family (and many families) called "enmeshment". It is excused as being "typical" in many families...something that gets excused as being passed down as part of your nationality or gender role but it is warped and damaging. I spoke before of "parentification" and "spousification", those were our roles with our parents, as well as, in the relationship with "K". Seeing as my main influence was my sister (who should never have had to raise me), I guess it's no surprise that, as an adult, I began to mirror the role in relationships, that she had learned. In the past few years, I have come to understand myself better and why I end up in certain types of relationships.

Senior Year

So I was now living with "James" and his family. I hadn't stopped to think of how much I had moved around by then, it certainly was a lot. I wanted so much to have my own place and only move when I wanted.

I was always the first one on the bus from "James's" house and the first one off. Due to asbestos removal at our high school that year, the juniors and seniors had to go to local middle schools, in split sessions, with the freshmen and sophomores. It was a crazy way to spend a senior year. Despite it all, I was really buckling down in my senior year. After the past few years of really screwing up and failing in classes that I loved, I wanted to do better and try to live a decent life. If only I could figure out what a decent life was...

 I was getting my bus at 6am and getting out at 12pm or so. Other classes would go from 12-5pm The schedules at the schools were crazy, to try and accommodate everyone. My first day riding the bus was an eye opener. The route came out onto a main road and there, on the side of the bus that I was sitting, was a field...and the shack. It was set back from the road but due to all of the leaves falling from the trees, over the winter, it was easily seen from the road. I had to go past that every morning. I tried to just ignore it or it would ruin my whole day. It was hard to do though, I would always catch where we were, out of the corner of my eye.

Then one day, during change of classes and a week after "S's" birthday, I ran into the sister of one of "K's" friends. She said, "Did you hear?" I didn't know what she was talking about. ""K" shot himself last night, out on his grandparents property. They said he never came back from hunting out there and they found him in the hunting shack." It was the shack he had taken me to, so many times. I felt like a zombie. I just walked away to my next class. I was late. I didn't know how to feel. I sat down and my teacher looked at me and asked if something was wrong. I said out loud, "My sister's ex husband killed himself." He said to go to the nurses office and I was excused for however long I needed. The nurses office wasn't so understanding. They had heard nothing of it and didn't want to allow me to leave school. I told them I was leaving and they probably didn't know anything because it just happened overnight. Out in the lobby, I called "James" to pick me up.

Years after that, I was looking through my yearbook at candid pictures taken around school. There was a picture of me, from that day, talking on the payphone. There aways seemed to be little reminders.


Oops! A couple of my last posts were out of order and I left a new one unpublished. Things may make a bit more sense now...

Late 1987-1988 (Senior Year)

I had wanted to go see a therapist for a while, to deal with how I was feeling. The first appointment I had was in Syracuse and it was the first day of the season that we had any snow. I was really nervous about driving and I had asked my mother to go with me, prior to that day. I had just received, as a gift, my great aunt's enormous, 1972 Oldsmobile. I swear that damn thing took up the whole road. I should have called it The Intimidator, at least for how it made me feel. Anyhow, my mother said she couldn't go with me because she had to do some things (?) with my car before I could drive it. I was stuck driving her smaller car, which made me nervous in wet, snowy weather. After the last accident with her, most little cars made me feel claustrophobic. My mother and I got into a huge argument because she said she couldn't go. The last words I said, before I left were, "Well, don't blame me if I get into an accident." Famous last words.

I was driving down the road, about 4 miles from my house, when I came up over a small hill. As I crested the hill, there was a car that was pausing (not stopping), at a stop sign on the right. She pulled out into the road in front of me and I was, admittedly, going about 5 miles over the speed limit. The roads were slippery, so I knew I wouldn't be able to slow down in time, without hitting her from behind. I began braking but I also jerked the steering wheel too hard to the left, catching the left rear of her bumper. I still had the wheel turned too hard to the left and as I caught her bumper, I felt the car start to roll. I thought, "This is it. I'm going to die." The car rolled side over side, three times, until it came to rest right next to a large boat that the homeowners had in their driveway for the winter. I had rolled over their mailbox (special delivery!) and through their front yard. Luckily, after the accident with my mother and "S", I had learned to wear my seat belt. No doubt that saved me.

When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics told me that I was very lucky, as the week before, they had been to a very similar accident scene that was a fatality because the person wasn't wearing a seat belt. I had no serious injuries but the next day I couldn't get out of bed. When the car began to roll, I had tensed up so much that all of the muscles in my body had been exhausted from gripping the steering wheel and trying not to get thrown around, inside the car. I had hit my head and shoulders against the drivers side door and window but I didn't have any serious injuries from that.To add insult to injury, so to speak, my mother came tooling by the accident scene right after it happened. There were no emergency vehicles there yet, so she said she just looked at the car sitting there, next to the boat and she told me that she said to herself, "Gee, that kind of looks like my car." I had to laugh at that one, you know what they say about luck...

Now that my mother's car was totaled, I had no transportation to and from my mother's house for school. My mother was so upset about the accident that she barely wanted to let me leave the house, much less ever commute again. She had to use The Intimidator =) until she could get another car. I refused to transfer back to my hometown school and stay with her. "James" said his family would allow me to stay with them, so I began living with them and taking the bus to school. My friend "Jared", who hung around me when I was dating "Lee", was also the cousin of "James". It was great that I got to see him again and we had become really good friends.