For several months, I have wanted to write out the secrets that I have carried since childhood, but each time I started to write about those years, I became fearful of judgment and deleted the text. I am ashamed of the sexual abuse that plagued my life from childhood into my teens. Sometimes, when the images come to mind I feel disgusted and cannot look at my reflection in the mirror. There are many women who can easily speak of those times. They have mastered control of the truth whereas I cringe and internalize my distress. I have been told that by letting go of these secrets I can embrace freedom from shame.
With learning the release date of the song, “The Age of Aquarius”, I can estimate that I was six-years-old when the ordeal of sexual abuse began. He was the teenage brother of my best friend. How he was able to repeatedly trick me to enter his bedroom is still beyond my understanding. I did not resist, I did not cry, I did not tell. Close to the end of sixth grade, at age eleven, I knew if I said anything he would be in serious trouble. I started demanding money or else; candy sufficed for his lack of cash. Two months later a moving van pulled up in front of our house. That is when my mom informed my three brothers and me that we were moving to a new house across town. Two days later, I waved bye to my two best friends since kindergarten, never to see them or my abuser again.
The new house was built on an acre of land atop a hill. There were no other houses around. That following Monday, I entered into a new school with three months left to complete the sixth grade. The teacher had made a notation on my report card that was given out at the end of the school year, it read something like, Cynthia is a very bright child. She would have been considered a good student if she hadn’t been so belligerent. My mom never kept our report cards and this one, like the others, was thrown into the trash.
There was only a brief interlude between the sexual predators that would come to abuse me. The most horrific of all of was being raped by my older brother just after we moved into the new house. This brother would torment me by picking the lock on the bathroom door while I was showering. I would scream for him to get out, but he would stand there laughing. When he did leave he would take my clothes and towels with him so that I would have to come out of the bathroom naked.
I did not tell my mom because I thought she would blame me for his actions. I have carried this secret until right now, you are one of the few who now know. I resisted, I cried, I told no one.
The sexual abuse began anew just after starting seventh grade. His name was Detective Bud Oliver of the Santa Barbara Police Department, assigned to the Juvenile Crime Division. It was a Sunday morning when, as a shortcut to the bowling alley, my friend and I ran across the freeway. By chance, Detective Oliver witnessed our crossing and came into the bowling alley looking for us. He took down our names and warned us of the dangers in what we had done.
The following week, l began Junior High School. A few days later, I recognized Detective Oliver sitting in an unmarked police car parked outside the school grounds. He called me by name waving for me to come over to the car. When I did he asked how I was doing. Often, he would wait for me after school. Slowly he gained my trust, buying me French fries or letting me drive around in the police car when he was on duty. It was not long before he took me to his apartment and the molestation began. He took pictures of me naked with a Polaroid camera making lewd remarks while smiling. This went on for six months during which time I would descend to the ranks of the “stoners.”
The stoners, also known as drug abusers, accepted me into their group. They introduced me to LSD, mushrooms, weed, speed, reds, keg parties, etc, the worst was smoking cigarettes, which I still smoke forty-four years later. Of all that we had in common as a group one thing stood out, we did not have parents who cared. After being repeatedly cited for curfew violations, truancy, drug possession, my name became too well known in the court system for Detective Oliver. He phoned one night to say he was not going to be at the school anymore. He said that I should never tell anyone of our relationship. I remember crying when I hung up the phone.
Just afterward, the juvenile court system was threating to sever my parent’s parental rights declaring their lack of parental supervision was unacceptable. “She is becoming an incorrigible,” said the Jewish Judge. In response, my mother purchased two one-way tickets to Tel Aviv, Israel. I had no idea what was happening nor the inclination to ask, life was life, nothing mattered.
The man to my left wearing the hat in the photo was our guide in Israel and the newest pedophile to enter my life. Arriving in Israel did not change my mother’s lack of concern for my well-being. In fact, I was left to fend for myself for the following six months. While being molested from time to time by our guide, I was befriended by a Lebanese Arab man in his late twenties and his friend, a teenage American boy from Los Angeles. I was earning money by running Lebanese hashish for the Arab and living with him and my fellow American. Occasionally, I would check to see if my mom was still alive. While in Israel I turned fourteen-years-old, finished reading the book Helter Skelter, watched the movie Dirty Harry starring Clint Eastwood three times and participated in my first threesome. What a shame.