It’s me, your eldest daughter, and there’s something I need to tell you. Something that I think about saying often, but I’m not really sure how to go about saying it. So here it goes…
For knowing where I was.
That night at the lake was just like any other. I went with a friend, a boy. But this was nothing unusual. I had known this friend forever. You knew this friend too. We had gone to Junior Prom together. Still, I knew to ask for your permission before leaving with him. And he knew you meant it when you said we needed to be back in an hour.
See, you and mom were those “cool” parents with an open door policy. The house was always full. You knew my friends, my friends knew you. But really, you and mom were those involved parents. I just didn’t realize that your involvement would someday save me. Not my life, but rather, the very core of my being.
Something bad happened at the lake that night, Dad. But it could have been so much worse. My ‘friend’ didn’t ask if he could kiss me, and his hands didn’t stop when I said stop. His hands didn’t stop when I tried to push him away. They didn’t even stop when I hit him. “If you scream, no one will hear you.” And suddenly, I was paralyzed with fear.
As a young woman, sadly, you prepare for this moment for years. You imagine how strong you will be if the time comes when you have to defend yourself. You know your strength, and you know how to voice yourself, how to say no, how to be firm. But you can’t really prepare for that moment, can you? You can’t prepare for the bone chilling fear, or the strength of your attacker. Especially if you never saw it coming. I never saw it coming.
And then, I remembered, you made me bring my phone, Dad. You made me bring it in case we lost track of time and stayed too long. In that moment of horror, I managed to pull it out if my pocket, and then he took it from me, snatched it right out of my hand. There was nothing I could do. I felt the adrenaline rushing through my body, but it wasn’t accompanied by super human strength. Only fear.
And then my phone began to ring, and I froze. He froze too. It was you, Dad. It had been an hour, and you were calling to tell me to come home. He knew he had to let me answer, knew that if I didn’t, you would come looking for me. I answered. Your voice broke through my racing thoughts, it cut the hold he had on me, it freed me from the moment that my life could gave changed drastically, would have changed drastically. You told me to come home. But what I heard was “I love you, I care for you, I am here to protect you.” He knew he had to let me go, then. Because you knew where I was. You would come looking.
He left me with nasty threats. He said he would be back to finish what he had started, that if I ever told, he would tell everyone at school I was a whore.
I did tell. I told mom. And in true mom form, she got in her car, drove to his house, and told his mother. Then, she got back into her car, drove to his girlfriend’s house, and told her mother. In return, he told everyone at school I was a whore. He was a football player. Everyone believed him. Senior year of high school was probably the worst year of my life. He took my friends, and he took my happiness, though only temporarily. But you know what he didn’t take? He didn’t take my innocence. I still had it, it was still mine to give. Simply because you knew where I was.
I don’t know that words have the capacity to express the significance of what you did for me that night, but I hope that with this letter, I might shed a little light on the appreciation and respect that I have for you as a parent.
So thank you again, Dad. Thank you for knowing where I was.
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