Trigger warning: child sexual assault, pedophilia, sexual assault by parent
“I would kill him.”
“He’d be dead!”
“I’d string him up and cut his *%$^ off.”
That’s what they say when they hear the story. Hmm, really?
You say that. You mean well. You feel angry, you feel sorry for us. Two of her (male) doctors have been brought to tears when they heard. They felt empathy. They felt sad.
It sucks when you grow up and find that monsters are real … living, breathing human monsters.
The truth is you don’t know what you would do until you’re in our shoes. Until your 5-year-old daughter grabs your hand with her tiny hand, and so grown-up, says “Mommy, I need to speak with you in private.” Until she explains in detail what “Daddy” did to her. And your world shatters. Your heart breaks into a million pieces for her. You wish you could take it all away, take all her pain as your own.
And what you do is what any good mother does. You stay calm. You listen as she speaks. You say, “I believe you.” You hold her tight. You say, “This is not your fault.” You tell her she was very brave and strong for sharing her story. You assure her she is safe, and that you’re going to get her taken care of.
You move in slow motion, a good man in a storm … whatever she needs, one step at a time. You accompany her to the forensic exam. To the forensic interview. File the police report. Talk to detectives. You cry in the lobby as they take your baby, alone, to tell her story to a stranger. They play a white noise machine, so you won’t hear.
You cry the entire time she’s in there. You have a moment and you take it. You get a police escort and go to your house and fill your car with all the things for you and your daughter. You drive away before he gets home. You don’t even answer his calls when he realizes you’re gone.
You text him back saying you can go straight to hell. You put her first. You keep her safe. You get therapy for both of you. You grieve the person you love, while simultaneously wanting to kill him. You want to kill him. You wish to do all manner of bad things to him. A bullet to the skull is your first choice. And you have the means to do it, but you don’t.
You put your child first. She needs her mom. You rock her to sleep. You cry with her. You hold her while she screams. You wake up screaming and covered in sweat. You’re full of rage and hate. But you don’t let her see that. You try to keep a routine. School, work, therapy. You’ll feel like a hot mess, because you are.
You wonder if you’ll get in trouble because you can’t seem to get up and get to school on time. But then again, you don’t really care. Mental health and healing comes first.
You’ll get up every day no matter what. You’ll make mistakes. You live in survival mode. You won’t be able to sleep through the night. You’ll cry in the shower, you’ll cry a lot. You may write … pages and pages … getting it all out on paper. You’ll sleep when the world feels too heavy.
You’ll try to be the best mom you can be. Do homework. Color. Tickle fights. Blow bubbles. Play Silly games. Sing songs. You co-sleep. Truth is, you need to be close to her too. You’ll cheer for her at soccer. You’ll do the next right thing.
But what you won’t do is act on the vengeful feelings you feel. Because you can’t parent from prison. Because besides your village, you’re all she’s got. Because killing him is too kind. Because he deserves so much worse.
You begin to accept the fact that vengeance is not your job. You hope that karma is real. And you hope that one day he will go to prison and the other inmates will take care of it for you. But you accept that this is not within your control.
Which is why, despite your instincts, you wouldn’t kill him.
So until you’ve been the mother of an abused child, don’t say that shit to me. Because you don’t really know what you would do, and I hope that you never have to.