This story contains graphic or mature content.
Memories are like photo albums, forever capturing all aspects of life. But I didn’t expect a memory from my past to be triggered by a news story. As I lay on my sofa, Channel 5 news reported the story of how two sisters escaped from being attacked (or worse) in the bedroom of their home. The gist of the story is this: a twelve-year-old girl was awakened from her sleep by a man entering the bedroom she shared with her six-year-old sister. While her younger sister slept on, the twelve-year-old engaged in conversation with the man. He had asked her her name, age, etc. This quick-thinking girl made an excuse to the man and said she was going to the bathroom. The man, either on drugs, alcohol, or dimwitted, believed her and allowed her to leave. The girl quickly went to her parents’ room and alerted them of the stranger. The father came into the bedroom to find the man lying next to the still sleeping six-year-old. The father apprehended the man and the police were called. The police determined that the man was a known sex offender. One can only imagine what could have happened to those girls if not for the eldest daughter’s wit and the dad’s actions.
As I listened to the news story, a memory emerged from the recesses of my mind. From childhood to early adulthood, my family and I lived on Quincy Street in the middle of the Roxbury/Dorchester line (some people claimed it as Roxbury and others claimed it as Dorchester). We lived on the first floor of a triple-decker house. We experienced many things in that house—the good, the bad, and the things best left to a therapist. But the news story had triggered a memory definitely intended for the couch: molestation.
The news story had me flashing back to an early morning from childhood. I don’t remember if it was during the spring or summer. But I do remember wearing a long nightgown and having bare feet. The floor was cool to my skin as I was beckoned by a man who lived next door to us. I was about eight or nine years old. I knew the man, but I couldn’t remember his name. He was much older than me, but still considered young in the adult world.
As I lay on my couch, the scene became vivid in my mind. The man was in my younger brother’s room. The room was large and my brother slept on the other side of the room oblivious to what was happening. I entered the room through a door that connected our two bedrooms. The man was crouched in the center of the room urging me forward. Curiosity had overpowered my common sense. Although I remember wondering why the man was in our home and feeling as if I needed to alert my parents who slept in a bedroom located in the front of the house. As I stood in front of the man, he smiled nervously at me and put a finger to his lips. Then, he motioned for me to sit down. It was at this moment that a measure of common sense returned and I shook my head no and tried to run back to my bedroom. It was then that he grabbed me by the wrist stopping me in my tracks.
He turned me around and whispered soothing words to me, but there was an edge to his tone. And at one point he made a reference to my brother who continued snoozing away. Even at a young age, I was able to understand the implication—do as the man says and my brother would be left unharmed. I was scared but nodded my head in understanding. I could feel the excitement my acquiescence had caused. With his hand firmly clasped to my wrist, he directed me to lie down in front of him. After doing so, he released my wrist and moved his body over mine. He was not completely on top of me having stopped around my waist, but he left no room for me to escape. He then slowly lifted my nightgown exposing my underwear.
The man continued talking, saying he just wanted to “see” me. He began by stroking my thighs and I shrinked from his touch. My mind was whirling with what was happening to me. A part of me kept hoping that my brother would awaken or that my mother would come in to stop what was happening. Then, the man reached back and I heard the unbuckling of his belt. Panic rose in my chest. I knew what that meant.
But, luck was on my side. Suddenly, my brother started to toss and turn in his sleep. The man stopped and looked at his restless form. I wanted to yell out to my brother but feared what would happen if I did. As quickly as it had begun, my brother settled back down and was soon heard snoring quietly. My heart sank, but the situation had changed. The man seemed more hurried. He took his hand from his belt and started to quickly stroke my underwear. He then pulled my panties down so that his hand could more easily get in. His fingers then roughly dug around in my private parts. I was frozen with shock. The man got into a rhythm with his hand and was soon moaning softly to himself. I just looked on wide-eyed as he lost himself in the moment.
After what seemed like an eternity, he stopped and removed his hand. He pulled my panties up and told me to stand. He warned me not to say anything to my parents and then he slipped hurriedly from the room and out the back door located in our kitchen. I stood there for a moment wondering what had just happened and then slowly returned to my bedroom. I crawled into bed dazed and thought hopefully that this had just all been a dream. But deep down, I knew it wasn’t.
I never told my parents what had happened; partly because I didn’t want to accept what had happened to me, partly because I was afraid that if I told, the man would come back and hurt me and my family. I also feared his family, as they were known by the police for a variety of offenses. But as the years went by, I knew that I had to acknowledge what had happened. I had been molested. I had been sexual assaulted. I had been attacked by a pedophile. While there had been no penile penetration, one could argue that I was raped. But as I think back on the incident even now, the news story made me realize something else—I could have been murdered.
My attacker could have killed me, but for whatever reason he didn’t. My brother and I survived something horrible that could have very easily turned tragic. That’s what occurred to me as I watched the news story—those two little girls could have been killed. The entire family could have been wiped out. Fortune smiled on this family and prevented a sick person from becoming a murderer—just as it had with my family so many years ago. Thank God.