I could never understand why the world needed a band called The Monkees and one called The Turtles to say nothing of The Animalsbut I do know that those father-daughter musical car rides defined me. And then, just two years later, the music in my life stopped and everything changed. I was eleven years old when I lost my father, and by the time I was sixteen, I had developed into a delicate, soft-spoken, hyper-feminine teenager.
The young man looked her over, amusement tugging at his lips. Indeed, he was only twice her age. He bent over, resting his palms on his knees to bring himself to her eye level.
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It's ugly and, even now, more than 25 years later, difficult for me to say. With my father, in his bed, I first experienced the bump and grind of sexual relations. It was his genitals I first explored; he was the first to touch my body sexually, and those hands have left an indelible imprint. I have no memories that predate his abuse -- his rubbing and touching, his forcing me to touch him.
Let me tell you an everyday story about one of the many things that can happen when girls are taught to hate themselves. When I was 13, a man took me up to his apartment while his wife was out, gave me Pernod to drink and tried to manipulate me into giving him physical affection. I worked for this man in the shop he ran below the apartment, and I had agreed to go upstairs with him after weeks of what can only have been careful grooming on his part, following a sustained effort on my part to achieve what I thought was the ideal body size.
I was 11 years old, standing in line for the school cafeteria, on the cusp of my elementary school graduation, and suddenly a thought popped into my head. Y ou know fully and entirely who you are, my year-old brain said. You understand the world.
My husband Andy had an early softball game tonight so the kids and I met him there to cheer him on. And by cheer him on I mean I tried to catch him at bat at least once while watching four-year-old Sophie climb all over the bleachers and feeding tiny cut-up grapes dinner to her two-year-old twin brothers. Near the softball there's a nice playground area, and Sophie knows this.
The two 9-year-old girls were forced to perform oral sex on one another while the two men watched. He never threatened me until I said no. After countless medical examinations and interviews with law enforcement, it was time to sit down with the Kalamazoo County prosecutor.
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When I was at a football game in fifth grade, two boys who were 3 years older than us thought it was funny to pin my friend and I down to the ground and threaten us with lewd and suggestive remarks. We felt helpless and alone. When they finally let us go we ran for the bathroom because that was the one place we knew they couldn't follow. I can't imagine what we would have done if we felt even there was unsafe.