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My name is Ruth; HE called me “pootie.”  My sister married HIM when I was eight years old.  My father, an abusive alcoholic, left when I was seven. I loved HIS fatherly attention and HE bought me candy, gave me quarters, said I was pretty. Said HE wanted to marry me when I turned eighteen. HE molested me with my mother and sister in the next room. I was so afraid. I didn’t know what HE was doing and I trusted and loved HIM. HE stole the essence of my soul.

In the next few weeks I remember telling my mother. Her response still rings in my ears, forty-nine years later, “Shut up! Do you want to ruin your sister’s marriage?” Do I want to ruin my sister’s marriage? Do I want to ruin my sister’s marriage? Mother, what about ME?  I realized I was on my own from that day forward. I had to protect myself, stay close to adults, and make sure HE couldn’t get me. It was impossible. HE kept saying when I was eighteen we would get married. I made sure I was married when I was seventeen.

Yesterday was my sister’s fiftieth anniversary. I was assigned the duty to take them to lunch and drive them to the church before the party. I become like an actress, I have an out of body experience and hear myself talking about life and asking them about theirs. Two hundred guests welcome and congratulate the happy couple on the longevity of the marriage. HE is respected and admired by the masses. HE is surrounded by granddaughters and great granddaughters that HE carries around, giving candy and money, telling them they are so pretty. I want to scream and slap HIS face but put on my mask of a smile and pretend that I don’t notice. The guilt engulfs my being with the thought that my silence may have caused numerous other victims. HE may be hurting one of HIS own grandchildren in the same way HE hurt me.

I moved to another state when I was twenty years old, went through three marriages and endless heartache because of the terror HE put into my soul. HE is still in my life because of my sister. There is no avoiding HIM. I had to forgive HIM but I cannot forget. The memories are as if it is still happening to me. I am an adult but I still fear HIM. I would never confront HIM and ask why HE hurt me because I would be ostracized from the family.  HE would call me a liar and tell everyone I am crazy. All three of my husbands knew of the abuse and used it against me. The last husband threatened to tell my sister!

I just ended a six year relationship with a man, and I never told him about the abuse. I have not found anyone that can handle it. I cannot handle it. It is very difficult for me to trust and I seem to attract men that are emotionally unavailable for me. It reminds me of my own mother and father that were not there for me. 

I yearn for someone that can love the small child within who lost the ability to trust others. Someone that understands that behind my wall of independence is someone that longs to find someone that I can lean on for comfort without judgment, that my past will not be used or held against me when I revert to my insecure and frightened feelings. Thus far the only one I have found that understands is my Lord and He knows the truth, He knows exactly how hard life has been, and He loves me and has walked beside me and carried me on this journey. The Lord is my strength.

At the age of fourteen, I changed my name; even though my nametag at yesterday’s anniversary party read “Ruth,” I haven’t used that name with anyone but immediate family for forty-three years.

That child could not stand the pain of the name.


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