TRIGGER WARNING: this piece involves child abuse and rape.
By Diana Rutz
First and foremost I am happy to have found that I have a new sister Sharmell, as I was the day that I first found out about Cecily when I was twelve. As I read Cecily’s blog as all this unfolds it really breaks my heart that she and Sharmell see themselves as the ones not chosen. Honestly I don’t know enough about Sharmell to know how her life was growing up. I have read enough about Cecily’s to know it was rough and her mom struggled to do her best.
We – my full blooded siblings – are always described as the ones he raised. The thing that strikes me in this is, when has anyone has ever asked us how we were raised, what it was like, and how we struggled? Did anyone ever wonder why we stayed with our father?
We stayed with my dad because when I was five or six, my mother abandoned us and remarried the man she had an affair with. The last thing I remember is my mom telling me she was going to live with him and start a new family. After that, my paternal grandmother – who had already lost one grandchild through divorce – paid an extensive amount of money to ensure my dad retained full custody of the three of us.
My dad – who suffered from PTSD and Agent Orange poisoning from serving in Vietnam – was given custody, even though this required him to work and therefore struggle just as much financially as Cecily’s mother did. Due to his issues and medical problems, he bounced from job to job. We too were extremely poor and I was thrown at a ripe old age of 7 into the role of Mom. I cooked, cleaned and took care of my siblings. Living in Tacoma is mostly a blur as I was young.
These are the facts that I remember clearly.
When my paternal grandfather died in the 80’s we left Tacoma to come to New Mexico for the funeral. After we were here for a few days, my dad announced we were staying and not going home to WA. We had driven from Tacoma with enough clothes for a few days; we started over. My father and Grandmother got into a fight shortly after we arrived, and she kicked the entire family out of her house on Christmas Eve. We lived in our car for a few months until we finally got an apartment.
My dad took a job as a semi driver and was gone for days at a time so he hired a live in babysitter. This is when life turned to hell. I don’t remember the baby sitter’s name but I will never forget her partner’s name. Tony lived with us as well, and almost instantaneously started his abuse.
I was raped every day for over a year and never said a word.
Tony threatened me and said that he would kill my siblings if I told. As I was the main care giver to them, I stayed quiet. My dad worked so much we rarely saw him; my grandmother was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, so she wasn’t much help. Because I had no one to turn to, I made sure my brother and sister were left alone and I endured the abuse to keep them safe.
Until the day my brother stumbled into my room late one night cause he couldn’t sleep, and caught Tony in the act. My brother was older than me, so he tried to fight Tony, but how strong is a ten year old boy against a grown man? That night my brother was locked into his room by Tony as he tried to cover his sick tracks. Luckily, my brother was smart: he climbed out the window and went to his friends and called the police.
Shortly after that call, we were taken into custody by the State of New Mexico. Dad was notified, and we went through hearings and therapy but had to leave Carlsbad to protect me from people knowing what had happened to me. After this, my dad decided we needed a mother and placed an ad in a column to find a girlfriend. (Which he had never had after my mother left.) He met Katrina through this ad. Another hell began for me and my siblings.
Katrina had kids of her own, and they all moved in with us. The physical abuse started immediately. She would beat us regularly; and once again, my father was not there due to work. She had her sights set specifically on me and my brother; we were locked into closets, beaten, berated.
When my father was around she was an angel to us, but we knew the truth. We told our dad we didn’t like her, but he knew he couldn’t be around to protect us and thought she was protecting. This went on for a year or more .
Then Katrina started her campaign to have my brother placed into a mental hospital. His emotional outbursts and behavior were her reasons, and she stated she “feared for her kids.” My dad – only knowing that, yes, my brother was having violent outbursts – agreed, and sent him to live in a mental institution in Albuquerque. We all moved again to be closer to him, after we moved to Moriarty area.
But then Katrina had a violent outburst and chased my little sister until she caught her and knocked her unconscious in front of my father, and then he realized what the truth really was. He got my brother out of the institution. However, my brother did not come home. My brother went to live with my grandfather’s brother and wife, which was a god send for him. They were good Christian people took great care of him and encouraged him in school and sports; he lived with them for most of his teenage life, and my sister also soon after this moved there as well. I, however, was not that lucky; I was angry, emotionally fucked up, and began to take care of myself and just wanted to be left alone. Mind you, at this point of the story I am only about 11.
Around this time my mother decided to reappear in our lives. My sister and brother had minimal contact with her, but I did through letters and calls. At this point I was running free to come and go as I saw fit, but when I was arrested for breaking and entering at age 11, my dad decided it may be best if I go live with my mother. He put me on a bus and sent me on my way.
My mother was a biker and drug addict who should not have even been given back a child.
I lived with my mom for a year before my sister missed me enough to move to El Paso as well. By this time I was 12, smoking pot daily, and doing meth and cocaine with my mom occasionally (my sister was not given drugs like I was until much later). My mom was married, but had a boyfriend on the side also named Tony, (I hate men named Tony) and we were immersed in the Banditos bike gang.
After one of the brothers kidnapped me to take to Cali to trade for meth, my mom and Tony decided we were leaving El Paso and moving to Louisiana. My mom packed us up and we moved there, I only lasted there for three months when I ran away 3 days before my 13th birthday and have been on my own since.
I was a stripper and a drug addicted runaway.
My sister was kicked out by my mother at about age 13, as well, and she too has been on her own. My brother lived with our aunt and uncle until he graduated high school and went to the military.
There is a lot that I’m not telling, but am I luckier than the Cecily or Sharmell?
I don’t think so.
I think they were spared a life of horrible abuse. Yes: we all had a hard life, yes, Cecily and Sharmell had no father but…
Did any one of us actually have a father in the true sense of the word?
I am not a writer like Cecily, but hopefully she has the courage to share this.