As I sit here listening to music my mind takes me on a journey, one that I try to forget. I am eight years old and living in Indiana again. Instead of basking in memories of playing hop scotch, double dutch, red light- green light, and my favorite; hide and seek, I remember going to places where I was supposed to feel safe like a family member’s house or overnight church shut-ins and being molested by people I trusted. Before drifting off to sleep, I’d always pray that I wouldn’t wake up to my cousins threatening me if I didn’t pull my pants down, let them feel inside my panties or touch their privates.
Memories of my mother dropping me off at my cousins’ house always play in my mind like a movie.
“O.k Chelly it is time to get up. I have to go to work and you have to go to Aunt Rita ‘s house,” my mother would say. Everytime she would say those words I would just look at her and say, “Why, mom? Can I go over to Cee Cee’s house? Her mom said she will watch me.” And she would always say no. I often wondered if she would’ve believed me if I would have told her what was going on. I would just look at her and pray she could see the fear in my eyes everytime we pulled up to Aunt Rita’s house. But I guess she was in such a hurry to get to work on time that she always missed my silent cries for help. As the abuse escalated, I started hugging her a little tighter and telling her I wished I could go to work with her. But she always told me that I needed to quit playing because she knew I loved playing with my cousins. Only if she knew those same cousins she loved so much were the same ones violating her baby. I remember laying down for a nap and waking up with liquid squirted all over my face. At the time, I thought my cousin threw water on me because they were always playing stupid practical jokes. But the liquid was white and sticky. I was only eight years old at the time and had no idea that it was semen. Acts like this went on for years until my family moved out of Indiana.
When I found out we were leaving and started to cry, my mother apologized for moving because she thought I was sad about leaving my cousins. Yes, I was crying. And yes, I was leaving them behind, but those tears were tears of joy. I was finally breaking away from my prison. My Aunt Rita was really sad about us leaving and offered my mother to let me stay behind with her as my mother got settled in Atlanta. Aunt Rita figured it would be easier for my mother to get on her feet first and then send for me. I saw the excitement in my cousin’s eyes at the thought of having me around all of the time to abuse. I looked at my mom and it really seemed as if she was giving it some thought. I grew up in a family where the children do not speak while grown-ups are talking. While my mom was contemplating leaving me in my prison with my abusers, I looked up and said a prayer to God. It went something like this: “God, I know I mess my room up. I know sometimes I don’t listen. I also know I can get on my mom’s nerves, but please don’t let her leave me here. I promise I will do better. I will even be nice to that fat girl in school even though she is always picking on me. But please talk to my mom. Tell her we will be alright and she needs to take me because if not Lord I will never be free.”
God must have heard my prayer because my mother declined Aunt Rita’s offer. We moved to Atlanta after all. Although it was a struggle in the beginning with money being tight, I didn’t care because I was free. I was no longer being abused and having to suffer silently.
It has been years since I’ve been abused, but the recent allegations about Bishop Eddie Long brought these memories back to me. I’m not saying I believe any of those allegations, I’m only saying that I can relate to being violated by people whom I trusted in places where I thought I’d be safe.
I decided to use www.shalenadiva.com to share my story in hopes that parents will pay more attention to their children’s moods around certain people and observe how they act after they come from an individual’s house. I also urge victims of abuse to reach out to someone, maybe a teacher or a friend instead of holding it in for years like me. Those early childhood memories eat away at me sometimes because I still can’t believe my family members violated me like that. They know what they did to me, but they have yet to apologize or even acknowledge what they’ve done.
Parents, be vigilant.
Do you really know who’s watching your kids?
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