Sunday, April 29, 2012

What I Remember

I remember having an ultrasound when I was pregnant with my first child. I was so nervous. The technician asked us if we wanted to know the sex (we did) and then told us it was a girl. I cried. I was so happy. And he cried too. He had always wanted a girl.

I remember one day, when our daughter was just a baby, he showed me a book. The book had photographs of nudes. Some of the photos were of young women, many were of children, a few were of whole families. He admired the photographer, whom he called an artist. I remember feeling an uncomfortable sensation in the pit of my stomach. It didn't feel like art to me. I asked where he got the book. He told me his mother gave it to him.

I remember one day, when our kids were toddlers, some girls from down the street were in our backyard. Kids would often come to our yard when we were out because he liked kids and would stop what he was doing and play with them. He started giving airplane rides to the two girls, swinging them around by their feet. The older girl was wearing a dress and when he swung her it bunched down around her armpits. She was trying to pull it back up, she was telling him to stop, but he just kept swinging her. I didn’t understand why he didn't stop. Afterward, I asked him why he didn't stop. He acted like it was nothing.

I remember the internet used to go down all the time when I worked on my computer. My computer was hooked up to the computer in his home office, which was part of a complicated set up with a router and home server. I could never get into his computer to re-set it because he had everything password protected. I would just have to wait until he got home.

I remember him telling me that he didn't understand why men liked big breasts. He said he found small breasts to be much more attractive, even very small breasts.

I remember the door bell ringing and ignoring it, because I had a migraine. I assumed it was solicitors. And then it rang again and I walked downstairs and opened the door and there were three detectives standing there. One showed me his badge and said they had a search warrant.

Later, as they were searching the house, I remember one of the detectives stopping me in the hallway and telling me they would need a picture of my children. I was confused. My kids? Why would they need a picture of my kids? He paused for a long moment, and during that pause it still didn't hit me. Then he said they needed it for comparison. I felt the walls close in upon me. I nodded, and then I went into the bathroom and vomited.

I remember a domestic violence counselor telling me that I needed to go into his office, that I needed to know what was in there. I didn't want to. But I went in and stood among the pulled-out computer wires and stacks of CD's. I found a disc with his handwriting on it. I wondered why the detectives hadn't taken it.

I put the disc into my computer. There were hundreds of images on it. I opened one up. I caught my breath. It was a young girl, maybe nine. Our daughter's age. She was kneeling on some pillows. She wore makeup and a pearl necklace, but other than that she was naked. I called the lead detective and he was at the house in ten minutes.

I remember my aunt and brother flying out to help me pack up his office. Because I couldn't go back in there. Every time I thought of going in there, I felt ill. As they were packing, they kept finding more stuff. The detective came back out to the house several times. Finally, he said to set everything aside and then call him when we were done packing.

That little girl, she looked so much like my daughter. The same round face. I can still see her face. I can never un-see her face. She was just a girl. She had a mother. Where was her mother? For god's sake, she was just a little girl.




45 comments:

  1. Shit. I'm sorry to swear on here Kris. But shit. I was that little girl once. Not in photos. You know what I mean.

    I am thinking, right now about that little girl. Wanting desperately for someone to save her.

    And I'm feeling literally sick to my stomach for you. I cannot, simply cannot fathom what that must have felt like.

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    Replies
    1. It scares me that several people have responded with "I was that little girl". Chills.

      Thanks for your support, Melissa. You're a good friend. x

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  2. I don't know whether to share this. If you want it shared of if it's cathartic just to have written it. When posts are so intensely personal, I'm never sure what hte writer wants. Tell me what you want. (Besides for none of this to have ever touched your life).

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  3. Oh.. I know that feeling too... I wanting someone to save me...

    Much much love to you. it should never touch any of our lives..

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  4. I am trying to imagine what hell you've been through in the last few years. You write so powerfully. And it needs to be written. I barely know you but much love and respect to you. x Deb (brightandprecious)

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    1. Thank you Deborah. I look forward to the day when I'm no longer writing posts like this. Thanks for your support. x

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  5. Thanks Melissa. You're welcome to share if you'd like. x

    What did it feel like? It felt like drowning. I'll never forget that girl.

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  6. Oh I'm so sorry, and I am so very sad and so very teary - for that little girl, for you. Sending SO much love xx

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  7. I remember starting nursing as a young innocent 17yr old many years ago in the days when abuse was not spoken about.
    The children would come in from these horror situations and they were forever etched into my brain.
    We hoped it was a rare thing but we soon sadly found out it wasnt.
    I wish I could take your hurt away but please always know we are all out here with our arms open wide full of support for you xx

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  8. Thanks Debyl - I don't think I could do your job. But that's one of the reasons I write about this. It's not uncommon. People think this sort of thing doesn't happen in certain families -- ones that are affluent or well-educated or I don't know...so white -- but it does. It's not obvious from the outside. Sometimes, it's not even obvious from the inside.

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  9. Gosh...it's amazing how in hindsight a million fleeting memories come rushing back at you, link themselves together, and take on new significance.

    You are so brave, and I admire you so much for your willingness to share your story and educate people on such an important topic. It's not an easy thing to do.

    Your writing is brilliant.

    *HUGS* to you Kristin!

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    1. That's it exactly, Kelly. We typically think the best of people, especially those we love, and when these inconsistencies come up, we try to rationalize them.

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  10. I cannot begin to imagine how you felt. All I know is that I felt sick just reading what you had been through. Sending so much love, hugs and positive energy your way !
    Me

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  11. My heart aches for that little girl and for you and your children. I am so sorry you have had to go through this.

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  12. Oh my God, my heart just breaks at the thought of you enduring this nightmare. I dont know how you ever un-forget what you have had to see, but I am just so glad you are free to put many years and space between your past and your future. Thinking of you always x

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    1. So ready to move into that future and leave all this behind. x

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  13. I just don't have any words, hon. Only hugs.
    If I had three wishes I'd use one on you and one on him.

    xx

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  14. In time you will remember how you faced all this, how you got out and got your kids out, how you made your family safe again. You will remember and know how you survived.

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  15. I read. And felt sick. And started to shake. Because like some others have said, I was that girl too.

    I wanted to close down the page. Not comment. Try and rub it out of my brain.

    But then I thought if you're brave enough to write the truth. I'm brave enough to support you. Because that is why it continues, because no one wants to look. No one wants to admit that it happens. Around us, among us, within us.

    Shout it loud kristen. I'm shouting right beside you.

    Xoxoxo

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    Replies
    1. Vicky, I'm so sorry that reading this triggered a reaction in you. I'm sorry, too, for what you had to endure as a child. Why do so many children have to go through this kind of trauma? If I could undo just one child's trauma, I would die happy.

      Thanks for your support. xo

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    2. You may not realise it but your making a difference. Your talking about the stuff no one wants to talk about. And it's only by talking about the ugly things that differences can be made. I'm in an odd space at the moment, PTSD has raised its ugly head, but I'm working through it. Each time it happens, I recognise it quicker, and can do something about it , work through it.

      Keep fighting the good fight Kristen.

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    3. Thanks Vic. Keep healing. x

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  16. Shivers.

    This has to be the most powerful post I've read from you yet Kristin. I could feel what you were feeling, the flip of my stomache with you as you realised.
    And to think, anyone would have thought he was just a really awesome father.
    I would have.

    *hugs*

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  17. I am speechless, Kristin. And what courage that you are not! I don't know what to say. And what strength that you do! Love from Oz, Felix

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  18. My God, but it's good to have your voice back.

    You are so vital. As trite as it may sound, all those kids on all those undiscovered discs in all those horror offices... they need you to keep voicing it in that way you do. That productive, powerful, useful way. xxxxxx

    Sending you (and the round-faced girl) light and love.

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    1. Thanks K. I can't stop thinking about all those children. I don't know that my voice will make a difference. I wish i knew how to make a difference. xo

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  19. Sending you hugs, and wishing there was much more to send... and say... but I know that this is part of your healing process, and one day you will be able to look back without there being any pain.

    I remember the day I found photos on our computer that my (ex)husband had downloaded. He was my abuser for 12 years. They were pictures of gay men and he said he was curious, so I believed him. But the pictures of women with horses and men with animals... I didn't believe his excuse that they just came with the downloads and it frightened me a great deal.

    I left him less than two weeks later, but never touched him again after seeing those photos. I can think of that time now without wanting to throw up, but it took a long time.

    I hope that it does not take you as long, and that your heart will heal faster than mine did. I still wonder if mine has...

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    1. Cindi, wow, how shocking for you to find that. I don't know if you've read some of my older posts, but I also found horror porn (dead women) in his collection. It's disturbing on a very deep level to look at these things, to think that someone is turned on by another person's physical or emotional pain. I think someone has to be in a tremendous amount of pain themselves to be drawn to that sort of thing. x

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  20. I have no words but I wanted to let you know that I read this incredibly powerful piece of writing.
    Jenn

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  21. Like Jenn, I find it impossible to find the words but you need to know that people hear you, read your story and are so incerdibly grateful that you are brave enough to share it.

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  22. I don't quite know what to say here, I wish I had your eloquence.

    What you're doing here is incredibly important, society needs people to speak out, to share their experiences not matter how horrid, just in case you trigger a thought in someone else, turn on the lightbulb in another woman's mind.

    Great to have you back. x

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    1. Hi VBC - you know I often feel like I'm the only one on the planet who has gone through this, but I know that's not true. I'm always surprised by the emails I get proving me wrong. So yes, maybe it will trigger something in someone, I don't know. Just hate that it happens at all. x

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  23. I am so glad that you are back.

    The things you can never un-see. It is true - but for me it also the unseen, the unknown. The silent other victims that never got a chance to have their voice. :S

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    1. Jo, I know. The unseen/unknown. There were apparently 18,000 images on his computer. And that's just his computer, what about all the others. It's staggering.

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  24. How are you supposed to un-see that? hideous

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  25. My breath caught in my throat and shivers shimmered down my spine reading this. But my eyes also snapped open wide - no one ever wants to have to see what you cannot unsee but I want my eyes open to the world, to not ignore the plight of others and to be wary for the signs.

    Thank you. As difficult as it must be, you are changing the world and helping other people one blog post at a time.

    You write so beautifully despite your ugly subject matter. Sending healing power to you xx

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  26. I keep trying to write a comment on this here but everything I say just ends up sounding trite. I am so, so, sorry you've had to go through this.

    This must have been an incredibly difficult piece to write, but if no-one talks about it it will just keep happening. So thank you.

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  27. I have no words, sending you hugs.

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  28. Honestly is important. Shattering the silence for both those in your shoes and those who have been hurt in any other way by someone who has taken their innocence. This post takes my breath away... but thank you for being willing to share ((((hugs)))))

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  29. I remember being that girl. Feeling like I couldn't breathe. Couldn't tell anyone. Couldn't speak. I never talk about it, but sometimes it bubbles up so fast and I feel like that all over again.

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    1. I'm so sorry Rhonda. Again, I'm a bit speechless at how many women have said that same thing. It's just so very sad. x

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  30. My daughter was that girl. In the hands of an asshole we called family. I never knew. Until years later. And I hate myself for not being able to protect my child.

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    1. I'm so sorry Tina. How horrifying. But that's just it, more often than not it's people we trust. That's why the whole 'stranger danger' bit they teach at school leaves me a bit flat. What if the danger comes from a trusted adult?

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