Saturday, December 6, 2014

Here goes nothin

I watched a video yesterday (click here for video) of Teri Hatcher speaking about being assaulted at the age of seven. 
Quite a few years ago I read Teri’s book “Burnt Toast.”  I had seen her speak on Oprah about low self-esteem and putting everyone else’s needs above her own. I bought the book and have not been able to part with it. I’ve carried it from Newfoundland to North Carolina and across Maine through a total of about 15 homes and bookshelves. 
In the book Teri didn’t talk about being abused. She talked about her efforts to be a good mom and how hard it was to fight the urge to take the burnt piece of toast. She wanted to instill in her daughter not just proper values but to properly value herself. Something about her book has stayed with me. I knew there was a reason I kept her story close to me.  Today I found out why I felt a kindred spirit in her story.

As I watched the two-minute video, I remembered the day I came forward and broke my silence.

At the time, my family was all wrapped up in gossip about a woman who had accused yet another uncle of mine with sexual abuse. He was OLD and she was five when it happened.  Some people thought she was lying. Some people always thought my uncle Jimmy was a weirdo. Some wondered if he had touched any kids when he stayed in homes around the province as a touring musician. He was a bit of a name back in the day and would have been something if ‘the world hadn’t conspired to keep him down.’ Or maybe it was the invention of television. It had nothing to do with the songs he wrote about the one-eyed stripper or the love of his life that he referred to as Jezebel.  No, it was definitely everyone else’s fault. It runs in the family.

In our little circle folks wondered why people who seemed to have knowledge of the abuse didn’t stay away from Jimmy. They brought their young daughters around him and then when those girls grew up, they allowed him around the grand-daughters too. Some even said those family members were basically feeding him a supply of young girls. The chatty ones were the same folks who knew about my uncle Jack.

Jimmy was charged with sexual abuse. He spent time in jail. I don’t know if he plead out or if he dragged it all out to further torture his victim but he went to jail.

Around that same time the whole Mount Cashel horror was unfolding and everyone and their brother was disgusted (or in my family tree, hiding behind each other).

The third topic of conversation was a guy who lived just out the road from us. His house was on my school bus route. He used to wait with his kids for the bus. After he was arrested and remained incarcerated, his wife used to wait with the kids. I was very good friends with his youngest accuser. There were a LOT of others who came forward but my friend’s statement carried a lot of weight since it was the most recent of all the accounts. Everyone knew he was kind of a ‘bad dude’ that would beat you up or steal from you but nobody believed he would hurt a child. I mean he wasn’t ‘rape raping’ anyone he was just rubbing tiny vaginas through their pajamas when he visited family members.

I know what was said around me about that friend of mine. She was looking for attention. There must have been a conspiracy to take the guy down. Nobody believed her. Even though there were others who had almost identical stories, she was the bad guy. She was the one taking this man away from his family. He was missing Christmas - his poor wife home with the kids by herself while he was out in jail.

Once again, I was listening to stories about who else might have been abused by this guy while in the same breath they were discounting my friend’s allegations.

I have two uncles who served time for sexual assault of children. Jackie -whose name appears in The Telegram as William John in the announcement about his sentencing - the other is James. I don’t know how many times I was asked in Newfoundland if I was related to Little Jimmy Linegar. I looked him up just yesterday and there’s an article on Newfoundland heritage that says he was the first country singer in the province.

I ran into him once at the Bluegrass Festival in Mount Pearl where he was performing. He was super nice to me. He had clipped all my articles from The Telegram and I didn’t know how to respond to such a compliment.  He offered me a free copy of his cd. I didn’t have the guts to say no thank you. I gave it away but I worried the person I gave it to might ask him to sign it.

That’s the kind of fear that I’m ashamed of. Why did I care if his feelings got hurt? Why didn’t I say the things I wished someone had said to my rapist?

It would have been such a triumphant scene. No thank you Jimmy. Please take your free cd and rot in hell with the rest of the people who prey on children.

This blog can get confusing sometimes when I jump back and forth and talk about my family of origin and the assholes I’m related to who raped children. Someone actually asked me once if my father was who I talked about on here.

No. My father did not sexually abuse me. He was accused a few years back of sexually abusing a child that my parents took care of from time to time. They could barely show their faces in the community for a while. But then the accusations were turned to the child’s own father. And somewhere along the line the person pointing the finger at everyone else had to have supervised visits with her son.

Again, my father was not the abuser. And not that it matters but they’re all friends again now.

So to clarify – James who goes by Jimmy and William John who goes by Jackie – child rapers. The man who raped me when I was seven years old is George Squires who goes by Dick Squires. Jackie was his stepdad.
My dad whose name I have never used on here – just a bastard to his kids. And he would want me to say that he never hit a woman. Although he said it counted when he hit me because I was 14 and had gotten my period. I saw him shove my mother against a wall once when she tried to stop him hitting me. And I saw him kick the bathroom door in to get to her when she was hiding from him. But he doesn’t hit women. He’s got a tremendous singing voice and he’s a wonderful guitar player. He’s an excellent shot and has taken down many geese, ducks, rabbits and moose in his lifetime. He’s also meticulous with storing his guns and ammunition separately and securely.

I can say with certainty that the chances of his guns misfiring because they weren’t cleaned properly are minimal. The last time I visited about 8 years ago, he was cleaning his handgun at the kitchen table. I’ve always been terrified of the handgun since it usually came out during New Year’s Eve when he was fighting with my mother but only to shoot it off like a redneck to ring in the New Year. I tried to walk through the kitchen that evening and ignore the smell of the gun cleaner but he stopped and said “Hey Vickie, did you know I had this?” But he has never threatened a person with any of his guns. They are just for hunting. And celebrating.

Now my mother was charged with uttering threats once. Her brother told the police she had made mention of the guns to break up a fight between him and another of her brothers. She swore it didn’t go down that way and the charges were dropped the day she had to appear in court. But my father never threatened anyone. He didn’t have to. According to him. He had proven himself many times and people know better than to fuck with him.

So no worries – my father has only hurt his own children and never with a closed fist or in any sexual way whatsoever. He was only removed from his home once by the RCMP. At the time they thought a mental health facility was a better choice for him over the lockup. My mother sounded proud when she told me it took 4 orderlies to hold him down at the Waterford Hospital when he realized they were keeping him in there. She said they sedated him and put him in a straightjacket in a soft-walled room that first night. I didn’t visit until a few days later when he was in a regular room unrestrained but he was heavily medicated. He was very nice when he was doped up – even nicer than when he used to drink which was actually the nicest time I remember him. The attending nurse told me he'd be there for a long time but a family member signed him out less than two weeks later. 

I have blogged about being afraid of him but that in no way reflects on his character or propensity to be kind or generous. He’s normally very forgiving and considerate and even-tempered. It really must be something in me that sets him off. He has a solid relationship with all his sons. So again, it must just be me that pushes his buttons.

Teri Hatcher says she recently found an article about an 11-year-old little girl who blew her own brains out after years of being sexually abused by the same man that assaulted her when she was a child.  According to the video, Teri Hatcher’s uncle went to jail and eventually died there.

I’m so thankful for that friend of mine who had the courage to press charges against her abuser when we were in ninth grade. It made coming forward a little easier to face. In fact, it gave me the words when I don’t know how else I could have said it. And thanks be to God and the other gods and the universe that the person I disclosed to believed me and stood by my side through the entire process.

I’m still friends with both of those warriors from ninth grade. You’re born into one family but when you grow up you get to choose your own family. That’s not to say I don’t care about my parents and brothers and even those aunts, uncles and cousins. I just think forgiveness is a dish best served cold.