|Biographical Non-Fiction posted February 13, 2009||Chapters:||...18 19 -20- 21...|
Valerie's Mother agrees to a family conference
A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind
Betrayal Part 1
by S. Pumpkin
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
Valerie is a young girl forced to live through years of abuse by her father. Valerie shows signs of both physical and psychological damange fom the abuse. She finally convinces her mother to address
BETRAYAL PT. 1
“IT IS PARTICULARLY HARD TO TAKE BEING STABBED IN THE BACK CLOSE TO HOME. THERE’S ALWAYS A FEELING OF BETRAYAL WHEN PEOPLE OF YOUR OWN GROUP OPPOSE YOU”
With no explanation, he stopped coming into my room at night. Several months passed before I dared to believe his physical abuse was over. However, in its place, he began a vicious psychological torture that while hard to believe, became just as intolerable. Although free of the physical abuse, this new behavior became just as intolerable.
The more I complained about him, the bolder he became. Mom’s refusal to listen and Teresa’s silence gave him a blank check to do whatever he wanted without fear of reprisal. Confident he was above reproach, he went out of his way to upset me. He got a sick thrill from watching me react to his vulgar behavior and the more public the arena, the greater the thrill. My temper continued to be my only weapon.
Just hearing his voice sent waves of panic and rage through me. I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with him, knowing that at any minute he would say or do something to annoy me or send me into another rage-filled temper tantrum.
He sat opposite me at the dinner table and would stick his tongue out and wiggle it suggestively, or make an obscene gesture with his finger. My reaction was immediate and often violent. I would grab my glass of milk and throw it in his face, smash a full plate of food onto the floor, or kick a hole into the wall. He always made sure no one else around the table caught him making those offensive gestures at me. My violent reactions always appeared as unprovoked and inexplicable tantrums. Telling Mom was pointless. It was always my word against his.
Things got so bad that at least once a day, I threw a major tantrum. When I entered the room, everyone held their breath, anticipating what I might say or do. I was so consumed with anger there was no room left inside me for any other emotion. I could not escape it, not even when I slept.
I seldom slept soundly. The sound of a door opening, or the familiar creak in the floor outside my bedroom door, told me someone was up. I found him sneaking into the girls’ room on more than one occasion, and making as much noise as possible, I turned on the lights, stomped down the hall and loudly demand he leave them alone.
He’d laugh and say, “I was just going to tuck them in.”
Mom would get up to see what all the commotion was about and tell me to go back to bed.
Throwing a temper tantrum, cursing, slamming doors and breaking dishes did nothing but alienate me from the family. Mom wasn’t interested in what I tried to tell her, only how I said it.
“Valerie, the language you use is vulgar and unladylike.”
I found her concern amusing.
“Please tell me the socially correct words I should use to describe his sick behavior?” I asked sarcastically.
“Don’t be so dramatic,” Mom said. “I don’t know why, but you have become obsessed with the absurd idea that your father is going to hurt your sisters.”
“Mom, what’s wrong with you?” I asked in despair. “How many times do I have to catch him sneaking into their room before you open your eyes and see what I am telling you is true?”
Angry, I looked Mom in the eyes. “If you don’t do something about him, I am going to call the police.”
Startled, Mommy said, “What are you talking about?”
“You know damn well what I am talking about.”
“Oh, Valerie, we have been over this before. You are overreacting...”
“Don’t,” I yelled. “Don’t you fucking dare pretend you don’t know what is gong on? Don’t you dare.”
“Let’s talk about this,” Mom said, clearly concerned.
I was all too familiar with what she was trying to do. Calm me down by changing the subject.
“No! I’m finished talking. Either you do something or I will call the police. Then everyone will know our dirty little secret! I mean it. I swear I’ll call the police. How would you like a stranger coming into our house and asking a bunch of embarrassing questions?”
The blood drained from Mom’s face. I could see the wheels turning in her head as she desperately tried to think of what to say. She sat silent for a few minutes before responding.
“Okay, what do you want me to do?”
I was completely unprepared for her sudden change of heart. My first thought was, this was way too easy. However, I didn’t dare ignore the first real chance I had to do something tangible about his chronic abuse.
“The first thing you need to do is stop pretending nothing is wrong,” I told Mom. “You have let him get away with this for too long and it has to stop now.”
“But, what can I do?” Mom asked again.
“For God’s sake Mom, you’re the adult here. Think of something.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
Mom was one of those people who subscribed to the out of sight, out of mind method of dealing with difficult situations. She honestly believed, if you ignored something long enough, it would just go away.
“We have to do something different this time,” I said. “It’s not enough that you talk to him. He knows you’ll smile and believe everything is fine if he just apologizes. He’ll do what he always does -- promise never to do it again. Not this time, no apologies, no promises, he needs to know you’re serious.”
I had no idea how to do that. I knew we had to stand together as a family. He had to know none of us would put up with his disgusting behavior any longer. We had to confront him as a group. Reluctantly, Mom agreed and said she would find a way for all of us to do that.
Mom spoke with Teresa and to my amazement got her to agree to my plan. She even called Auntie Bea, Daddy’s older sister who lived in Vancouver, B.C., and asked her to help us.
* * *
It had been more than two years since Colleen had stopped talking. Mom and I had been right, there was something seriously wrong with Colleen. Mom took her to dozens of doctors who had no answers.
Give her time and she will outgrow it, was their only contribution until Colleen was eventually diagnosed as emotionally disturbed. She was assigned a psychiatrist who seemed to know even less about what was wrong with her than the previous doctors.
Mom arranged for all of us to meet with Colleen’s psychiatrist at the Stillicum Psychiatric Facility in Tacoma. He agreed to act as mediator.
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