by Sarah C. Wilde
You tell me you believe me. But nothing has happened that has shown me you do. You say you believe me. You just don’t believe me enough. But don’t feel bad. It is not your crime.
I was me. I was the girl who sang with the birds. I was the girl who thought I was a superhero, a ninja, a princess, a Jedi knight, a rock star, an astronaut, a president, a teacher, a NASCAR driver, a writer, a dancer, a veterinarian, a gymnast, a pilot, a ship captain. I was a fierce amazon warrior. I was the girl who played with my rocket ship. I thought I could just reach up and rearrange the stars.
My mommy says the stars in my eyes don’t shine anymore. They used to shine. They used to light up every dark night me and my mommy had. I don’t know why- my daddy wanted my stars.
I am still a little girl. I smile. I run. I play. I fall. I cry. I go to sleep… I don’t dream as much as I used to though. Then I wake up and I look at the world. The flowers seem to have lost their color. The sun seems to have let some fire go. The clouds seem to be sadder. Sometimes I can still see the stars at night. They seem farther away now.
That little girl didn’t notice when I left. 3 years ago, after my stars had floated away, I met a new little girl. She looked just like me. Her hair looked just like mine. Her nose looked just like mine. Her feet looked just like mine. Her smile looked just like mine. Her hands looked just like mine. But her eyes… her eyes aren’t mine. Her eyes scare me. Eyes cold as ice. They’ve been frozen like that. I think she’s sleeping, unable to wake up. Only she’s alive- lungs barely breathing, heart barely beating. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the rest of her was as frozen as her eyes.
Daddy told me it was normal. He said all daddies play with their little girls like that. It didn’t feel normal. It felt bad. And it hurt. But I love my daddy. And my daddy is supposed to be a person that I trust. So I trusted him. And we kept playing. I got mad at myself when I felt like stopping it. It made my daddy happy. It was clear that it should make me happy, too. Why would I doubt my daddy. A girl is supposed to trust and respect her daddy. I blocked out the feelings. I told myself that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I blocked out every idea that said that my daddy was not doing what he was supposed to be doing.
My mommy and I moved away from my daddy. But when I went to his house, we played some more. Soon, me and my mommy decided to move across the country. I didn’t see daddy so much anymore. For some reason, I was happy about that. I hated myself for being happy. I kept telling myself, “Trust daddy. he loves you”.
At school, in September, each 3rd grader met with the counselor for the first time. We talked about my favorite color, and my hobbies, and my family. She seemed very interested in my daddy. But I told her not to worry, everything was okay, my daddy loves me, and I love him.
A few days later, me and my mommy went to a building. It was a strange and big building. It smelled like a swimming pool. I thought we were going swimming. But instead, we walked into a room with a couch, a TV, lots of movies, coloring books, games, stuffed animals, snacks, and hand prints on the wall. I liked it in that room. I felt comfy. A lady came in and took me to a room with a big mirror. She asked me questions about my daddy. But again, I told her not to worry. My daddy loves me and I love him.
Some hours later, after I had finished watching “Charlotte’s Web”, the lady sat down on the couch and talked to me. She told me that the way me and my daddy played is actually not normal. She said it was bad and wrong. I started to cry. I knew it was wrong. I told the lady not to worry, because daddy loves me and I love him. I told her that the next time I see him I would tell him I want to play a different game. I didn’t want daddy in trouble, because he loves me and I love him. But the lady told me that some people would go talk to him and take him away, so that I don’t have to play anymore. I cried harder. Then I got mad. I wanted to keep seeing my daddy. He’s my daddy… A few minutes later, the lady helped me put my hand print on the wall with all the others. Mine was pink. The lady said something like “You put your hand print here to show that you got your voice back”. It sounded rehearsed. Back then, I thought getting my voice back meant getting justice, too.
My mommy cried a lot. She didn’t say why. But I knew it was my fault. She took me to counseling at the strange building every week. I played with play-doe and colored there. I liked it. But all the counselor lady wanted to do was talk about my daddy. I didn’t want to. But I did. She explained to me about why it was bad. She told me that no one should ever play with a child like that. She wanted me to express my feelings. Sometimes I did. It was mostly confused feelings, or angry, or sad. Most of the time I colored.
A few months later, my counselor and my mommy told me that my case wasn’t a case. She said it would not go trial because there wasn’t enough evidence. I didn’t know what she meant by “case” and “trial”. And I didn’t get the “no evidence” part. What evidence do they need? It’s the truth. I was there. It happened to me. I was hurt. People said that they believed me. If they believed me, why couldn’t they tell the people in the courtroom to believe me too? They didn’t believe me.
People kept telling me it wasn’t my fault… It was my fault. There wasn’t enough evidence to believe that it wasn’t. If it wasn’t my fault, he would be in trouble.
I kept going to the counselor, and I kept coloring. One day, months later, my mommy and my counselor sat me down and told me there was a hearing. They said that they sent my daddy a letter saying that what I say is true. But they gave him a chance to disagree… He disagreed. They said that I had the choice to go talk to him and convince a judge that he did hurt me. He DID hurt me. So I said yes. Days later, me and my mommy learned more about the hearing. They said that it would be in a small room, big enough to fit a long desk. My tummy started to hurt. Daddy hurt me. I didn’t want him close enough to hurt me again. They told us that daddy could ask us anything he wanted. I knew that was a bad thing. He made me believe that hurting me was normal and okay. He uses his words as his weapons. They hurt… We were told that the only people in the room would be me, daddy, mommy, and the nice lady who talked to me. No police officer? What if my daddy tried to hurt me… or hurt my mommy? They told me that the judge would be over phone. If my daddy did anything, it would be our word against his. The truth doesn’t count as evidence, I’ve learned. Suddenly, this whole thing sounded like a bad idea. A doomed idea. I was hurt. Now they expect me to do this?
Me and my mommy decided not to go to the hearing. The lady went anyway. She came back and said daddy was creepy and she wanted to leave as soon as possible after the judge man hung up. The judge didn’t feel the same way. He decided that I was lying. He decided my daddy was a good man and never hurt me. The judge decided. And I believed him. My story wasn’t the truth. My daddy never hurt me. I almost got him in trouble. Thankfully he never got punished. He didn’t do anything wrong. The judge said he didn’t. Everyone said he didn’t. So, he must not have. I got mad at him. I made up lies about my good daddy. I’m a liar.
I hated myself. I stopped talking to my counselor. I sat there silent and colored. Sometimes I cried. But I didn’t say anything. No More Lies… I cried everyday. I hated who I was. I was a brand new girl. A girl who tries to get people in trouble. After weeks of trying to get me to talk, my counselor asked why I wouldn’t. I told her, “No more lies”. She was quiet for the rest of the session. It took weeks of her telling me I wasn’t a liar until I finally believed her. I wasn’t a liar. But somehow, I was never hurt. Nothing ever happened. I told my school counselor. They brought me in for questioning. They said I was heard. They said that I told the truth. They said they were proud of me for telling the truth. They said they believed me. Then they said there wasn’t enough evidence for anyone to believe me. They said that what I told them wasn’t true. Are they going to send me back to his house? Are they going to take my hand print off the wall?
It is now 1 year after I talked to my school counselor. I can only think about daddy. Not about missing him, but about all of his freedom. He probably has a new family now. He probably married a woman with kids. A woman with little girls… just like me. It makes me sad, to think about all the little girls he could have hurt by now. And just like when he hurt me, it took me years to realize I was hurt. Daddy knows how to make himself seem like the good guy. Those little girls will realize that he is not the good guy. They will realize they were hurt years before. An adult will find out. The adult will tell the strange building. The little girls will feel Heard and Believed. Then they will be Ripped Down. They will be told that there is not enough evidence to believe them. They will be told that they told the strange building too late, just like they told me. The little girls will be told that it is uncommon for victims to tell somebody that they were hurt years after the hurting stopped, just like I was told. The hurting will Never stop. But daddy will never feel pain. He is pain. He is hatred. He is free… According to everyone, he did nothing wrong. He didn’t do Anything. There is no record of him even being doubted. He is free. I will never be free. My stars were taken. I was hurt. It happened. I know that now. I told the truth.
To believe me you need evidence. I am truly sorry I could not deliver that evidence. My abuser should have told me that he was doing bad things to me. He should have told me that it was not normal. He should have told me that I was being taken advantage of. Maybe then I would have told sooner. According to you, that is the most common scenario. My abuser should have hurt me in front of an audience. Witnesses seem to be good evidence. My abuser should have told you the truth, that he hurt me. He should have confessed. That would have made things a lot simpler for you guys. My abuser should have told everyone he knows that he hurt me. That way, they just might believe me when I say the exact same thing. My abuser shouldn’t have been so clever. He shouldn’t have been so invisible. My abuser should have thought less…
My penname is Lucilia. I am sixteen years old. That story that you just heard about the little girl…. that was me. That was the little girl inside of me. A little girl turned broke. Some events that I went through were put into a different order to keep the story short. But every single emotion. fear. thought. idea. heartache. it’s All True. Last year, I realized that I had been raped and abused sexually, emotionally, and physically my whole childhood by my father. Everything you just heard, whether a feeling or a fact, is true. And so is this.
I’ve learned, that rapists and abusers are smart. I’ve learned that they don’t hurt people just to get caught and punished. I’ve learned that rapists and abusers know how to twist words, convincing children that everything they do is normal, and that they love them. I’ve learned that rapists and abusers hurt people secretly, where there are no witnesses. I’ve learned that rapists and abusers Charm other adults, making them like and trust them. I’ve learned that rapists and abusers make sure that the adults are on their side, so that when a child says something against them, then the adults call that child absurd and a liar. I’ve learned that the SMART rapists and abusers will not confess… CRIMINALS KNOW HOW TO COMMIT CRIMES.
I thought it was your job to fight them. I thought it was your job to give the victims justice. I thought it was your job to keep the criminals from hurting other people, after one person, especially a child, says that they hurt them. It Is NOT your job to only pick the easiest of cases: the ones with 5 witnesses, and DNA proof right after a child was hurt. It IS your job to fight for those who are too weak to stand. I thought it was your job to care more about getting me justice, than getting yourself wins.
I Thought You Wanted Us To Tell.
But Why? Why did you do this to me? Why did you want me to tell? To prove to me that I was wrong? To prove to me that I’m not worth believing? To strengthen him and weaken me? To mess with my head as he did? And yet, it’s not titled a crime.
I was hurt. Haven’t I been through enough? I don’t think you meant for this process to hurt me. But it did.
I am not in my father’s care anymore. But, according to law, my father is entitled to a copy of my interview video… and my home address. My rapist and abuser has a video, showing him everything that I said about him, and he knows where I live. I was completely unaware of this until I was told After the hearing. No part of it seems right to me. If anything, I feel I deserve the right to privacy and protection, especially for someone like me, who has a no contact order against my father.
And what about the other victims who are still in their abuser’s care? I’m terrified to even think about what would happen to them.Their abuser tells them that no one will believe them. But they want out, so they tell anyway. They seek protection from their abuser. They deserve protection from their abuser. But they don’t get it. Their abuser is not charged with anything. Their abuser is free. But, the abuser is notified that the child tried to get away. And, by law, the abuser now has a video showing them exactly what the child said in the interview at the Safety Center. The child goes back into their abuser’s care. I don’t think the abuser’s first response would be, “I hurt you and you told. But no one believed you. So, I better stop hurting you now before someone finally does believe you”. No. They think, “No one believes you. I am free. I can do and get away with whatever I want.” Or, they get mad at the child for telling. And the child pays for it. All this process does to the unlucky victim is hurt. And sometimes, it hurts so much that it worsens the victim’s circumstances.
My penname is Lucilia. I am 16 years old. My soul did not deserve to be crushed. My body did not deserve to be penetrated. My brain did not deserve to be manipulated. My heart did not deserve to die. Yet it did. All of it did. I realized last year that I had been raped and abused sexually, emotionally, and physically my whole childhood by my father… I was one of the lucky ones. I had, and still do have, a no contact before I realized any of this. I have this, because I had great lawyers who believed in me and fought for me when they found out he was emotionally abusing me, even when I was too young to understand. I also had a judge who listened. I am eternally grateful for that judge and those lawyers. Thanks to them, I do not see my father. But he has not seen justice…
I met with the prosecutor of my current case after she told me that there was not enough evidence. This is what happened.
“Lawyers of the defendant are smart,” they say.
“Why aren’t you smarter?” I ask.
“A witness like you has the right to be upset,” they say.
“A VICTIM like me has the right to Justice,” I say.
“And the good news is, you don’t have to see him right now,” they say.
“Voluntarily greeting my rapist and abuser is not currently at the top of my bucket list,” i Think.
“I have a no contact order,” I say.
“I couldn’t see him even if I wanted to,” I say.
“I don’t want to,” I say.
“The world favors the defendant,” they say.
“The world favors the criminals,” I say.
“Laws are in place to keep the falsely accused from being punished,” they say.
“These laws make it nearly impossible for the guilty not to win,” I say.
“Every year Tens of falsely accused people are punished,” they say.
“Every year millions of rapists and abusers go Untouched,” I say.
“That’s the way it should be,” they say.
“That is the way it is. That is not the way it must remain,” I say.
You don’t believe me. but don’t feel bad. it is not your crime.
It is my abuser’s crime.