Grey Street by Dave Matthews Band

My name is Kim and I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.  I have blocked out most of the memories of the abuse and most of my childhood.  I have a few clear memories and a few vague ones but most of them are gone, forgotten.
My childhood home was never a happy one.  My drug addict mother and alcoholic father divorced when I was still a baby.  I was the third child, the only girl, and the one least wanted.  My oldest brother, Jimmy, is eight years older than me and he was born to my mother and her high school boyfriend when my mother was seventeen.  Jason is twenty one months older than me and the only one my parents intentionally got pregnant with.  After Jason was born my mother decided she didn't want anymore children, but eleven months later she was pregnant with me.  My dad convinced her to keep me and she agreed only because I was a girl.
My mother remarried when I was about four.  My new stepfather also had three children, two boys and a girl.  We all lived in the same house until I was about seven.  The oldest of my step-brothers, Billy, was the first one to sexually abuse me.
In the most clear of all the memories Billy and I are in my bedroom.  He is leaning against the wall with his pants unzipped.  I am kneeling in front of him with his penis in my mouth.  He is telling me not to use me teeth.  I try to get it as far into my little mouth as I can because this pleases him.  I am chocking and gagging but I am enjoying the feeling of approval when he says I am doing a good job.
We are all in the car and I am sitting on Billy's lap because there is not enough room for everyone.  I am wearing shorts and he puts his hand inside.  He feels his way into my underwear and his fingers find the inside of my vagina.  I am scared that someone else will see what he is doing.  The other kids are right next to us.  I jump up suddenly and his fingers are removed from me.  When I sit back down they are inside of me again.
I am in my bedroom going to sleep.  I have bunk beds in my room.  I may have shared a room with Jason, I can't remember for sure.  Billy comes into the room.  He lays down next to me and starts touching me.  Everything is a blur from there.  I'm not sure what happens next.  I fear I was raped but I don't know.  There is a vague sense that Jason was also in the room, but I can't remember for sure.
I know these things were common for that three years.  It was a part of everyday life.  Mom was emotionally unavailable and I was painfully shy and so the only attention I got was from Billy.  Little did I know the attention would cost so much....
We moved in with my dad and step-mom a few days before me seventh birthday.  I'm not sure when Jason began abusing me.  Was it at the same time as Billy or after we moved?  I'm not sure.
Jason thought sex was sliding his penis between my thighs just below my vagina.  So that is what we did... until Jimmy showed him the correct way to do it.
I am laying on the sofa and Jimmy tells Jason he will show him how to have sex.  Jimmy rapes me.  The pain becomes unbearable.  Jimmy says the pain will only last a moment and then it will feel good.  It never feels good.  The pain continues even now, twenty years later.
We all move back to live with my mom.  My step-mom has a baby girl.  I'm eleven.  Dad and my aunts and uncles go camping for the weekend and they bring all of us kids.  My step-mom takes my baby sister home for the night.  I'm sleeping in the tent next to my dad with my brothers on the other side of  him.  I feel safe because they can't get to me.  I wake up with my dad's hand inside my underwear.  He is rubbing my vagina.  I'm scared.  I'm thinking "No! Not this! Not my dad!"  I get up saying that I have to use the restroom.  I wait outside the tent until my dad passes out.  I know he has had a lot to drink and it won't take long.
When we return home to my mom's house I work up enough courage to tell her what happened.  She says "I can't believe your father would do something like that to you!"  She thinks about it for a few minutes.  Then she says "Well, he was probably just drunk.  I'm sure it will never happen again, but if it does, let me know."  A few months later she says I have to go back and live with my dad because she can't afford to take care of me anymore.  My brothers are allowed to stay with her.
My dad and I pass in the hallway.  He gives me a hug.  One hand is rubbing against my breasts and he's asking me if it's okay for him to rub me there.  I freeze.  I don't know what to say.  I mumble something and walk away.
It's summer and dad is home from work sick one day.  We are watching television together.  He asks me if I've ever had an orgasm.  I say "no".  he asks if I'd like him to give me one with his mouth.  He says after he is finished he will rub lotion all over my body and I can rub lotion all over him.  I say "no" and leave.  I stay in the woods behind the house until my step-mom comes home.  I try to never be alone in the house with him again.  I spend a lot of time in the woods.
One day mom says I can come back and live with her if I want.  I go.  She has divorced my step-dad and is married again.  Jimmy has married and moved away.  Jason has a live in girlfriend.  Mom is depressed and stays in the bed all day reading romance novels.  We move to a different city four hours away from my dad.  We live in a two bedroom mobile home with Jason, his girlfriend, my new step-dad's brother and his girlfriend, and my new step-dad's father.  My mom and step-dad live in a camper in the front yard. 
After about a year my mom tells me I have to go back and live with my dad because she can't afford to take care of me anymore.  I'm fourteen and the only one not old enough to work.  I beg her to let me stay.  I tell her my dad continued to abuse me after the camping incident.  She begins trying to find my dad to tell him to come and get me.  I tell her to give me three days and I will find somewhere else to live even if I have to call the Department of Family and Children's Services and ask them to put me in foster care.  She agrees.  In the meantime the neighbor comes over and she tells him the situation.  He says I can live with he and his wife if I will get my drivers license and drive him to work and home every day.  I must also have sex with him because his wife does not want to.  My mom thinks this sounds like a good idea and encourages me to move in with him.  I refuse.
I call the pastor of the church I've been attending with a friend from school.  He has already known about some of my home life.  I tell him everything.  He comes and picks me up and takes me to the home of the youth leaders.  They are wonderful.  Real parents.  The kind that love you and protect you and make sure you have enough food to eat.  I was legally adopted within a few months at fifteen years old. They are grandparents to my children and a constant support to me, even now. 
I am only starting therapy now.  I'm twenty-eight.  The healing journey has finally begun.  I have been married for almost four years to a wonderful and supportive guy and we have two boys together.  We also have custody of my little sister who is seventeen now. 
 My mom's husband took his life in 1999.  My mom died of liver disease in the early morning hours of September 11th 2001.  My step-mom died of a heart attack on August 28th 2003.  My father and brothers are still alive, but I have no contact with them.
Healing is a journey.  A long one and a hard one, but one that I am not alone on.  There is hope.  A bright future awaits at the end.  A day will come when the memories will lose their sting.  The memories will remain, my constant companion, but they will serve to help me bring about change in our world.  The memories will serve to give me wisdom to take someone else's hand and help them along their own healing  journey.  I am not alone in my fight.  Healing is possible.  The memories lose their power and a bright new day dawns full of hope.

Backward, flow backward, O full tide of years! I am so weary of toil and of tears, Toil without recompense--tears all in vain, Take them and give me my childhood again. I have grown weary of dust and decay, Weary of sowing for others to reap; Rock me to sleep, mother, rock me to sleep.
~ A.M.W. Ball

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