When I was eleven years old I was a young eleven. Certainly by today’s standards, I was a very young eleven. I was a compliant eleven — just the kind of girl who wanted to please everyone. I was just the kind of girl who wanted everything to work out well — to be happy — to be a family. Just the kind of girl one could trust to keep a secret.
Initially (and I believe this is most often the case with sexuallyabused girls) I didn’t grasp or understand what was really happening, nor that it was completely and absolutely inappropriate behaviour.
So, when I was praised for being Daddy’s good little girl and then was told that these things would be our little secret. I obeyed. Because that’s what I did — that’s the kind of girl I was: obedient. Daddy’s good little girl. [This Daddy was not my dear birth-father, nor the man who is my dear step father today. Just to be clear.]
It would be another year or so until I began to feel afraid, awkward and guilty about those “little secrets.” And I think this was part of the death of innocence , death of trust, death of freely loving others — and the beginning of fear, doubt, shame and deception in my life. Still earnestly desiring to please, to be a good girl and to be loved, I continued carrying “our little secret.” But in time I would avoid situations that would isolate me with him and I would feign sleep when he would come into my bedroom at night — then stirring just enough to frighten him off. Daddy’s good little girl was beginning to grasp that this behaviour or these activities were wrong in this context.
I recall the day I stumbled into the sickening reality that this “little secret” really was wrong — not normal — not okay. During homemaking class at school one day, there was a group of girls huddled together over a paperback book. And as they were reading excerpts from the book, they attempted to muffle their gasps and laughter. A large area of that homemaking classroom was divided into several “kitchens” for cooking assignments. I could hear them in the adjacent “kitchen” and I remember being assaulted by the reality of sexualbehaviour and having mixed emotions — youthful curiosity mixed with the desire to be in their group.
What was my revelation? I was suddenly deeply sobered by guilt and gripped with shame over knowing what they were talking about. As I listened to their talk, it dawned on me that they didn’t have their “facts” straight. I wanted to say: “no, it doesn’t happen like that.” And then I knew. I knew at that moment that I knew what I shouldn’t know. It sank in. And another part of me died.
I wish I could say here that I immediately rushed home and told my mother. But I can’t, because I didn’t. I didn’t tell her then for some of the very same reasons girls grow up to become women who still carry the deep secret… and that reason is: fear.
[correction in this paragraph] I’m sure people wonder why girls and women don’t tell. It’s no different from any other “forbidden” or “naughty” thing. No one wants others to know they have had “bad” things going on… whether that bad thing is/was pornaddiction, drugs, theft, bulimia, anger, abortion — and the list goes on. I don’t know why we all fall into that bondage, but I’m going to guess it’s the oldest reason in the Book. Fear. They’re afraid. So it is for little girls who are being abused. They’re too afraid of the consequences of telling. I was afraid. I knew I needed to tell my mother. But I was afraid of what would happen to her if I told. I was afraid of what would happen to me if I told. Because, part of the “our little secret” was: “we don’t want to hurt mother.” A child doesn’t grasp the subtle nuance of what “hurt mother” means. They, like all of us, only know what they know — and to a child, hurt means: hitting, burning, falling, cutting, killing… stuff that causes hurt.
More months would pass… I knew I needed to TELL. I was beginning to be afraid of what would happen to me if I didn’t. Soon I would muster up the courage to tell “our little secret.”