I will try to relate my story and feelings of abuse and what has happened since the abuse has been stopped.
I have read that many/most victims were abused as children. I was not, I was raised in a family that was not abusive and both of my parents are actually overly submissive. They were fortunate to have married one another, therefore neither of them was abused by the other as neither one of them was aggressive. They were also accepting of people and respected people in general.
This however led me to believe that people in general are kind and accepting. So when the abuse started in my marriage I was not able to realize simply that some people are abusive, I thought I could become a “better wife” and things would get better. Of course my husband gladly reenforced that philosophy as it took the responsibility off of him.
Sexual abuse of children is something I had “heard” of, but honestly thought only totally disgusting (and therefore obviously to the naked eye) people would do this. He was not physically abusive to the children, at least outwardly. However they had seen him beat me so this was his weapon to keep them quiet. When my daughter finally told me she said she knew he would kill one of us, she just didn’t know which one – and in truth it really didn’t matter which one – it kept her quiet.
I really can not say much about the actual sexual abuse – as that is not my story. I can say it started when she was about 2 – 4 and continued until she was 12. I will always feel terrible for not knowing it was happening. Even with the knowledge I have now I would not have suspected it from my daughters actions – I would suspect it from my ex-husband now knowing more about abusers. Her reaction was to become the “perfect” little girl – much like I was trying to become the “perfect” little wife.
I am sharing this story in hopes of helping others – victims in being aware of what is happening and that it is not your fault, and offenders in realizing the EXTREME AND LIFELONG pain that you have caused. Not to guilt trip offenders as that will only lead to more abuse, but to hopefully increase your awareness and compassion. It is my belief that anyone with compassion for humans could not and would not sexually offend another.
Unlike typical abusers, we were married over a year before the first time Ralph hit me. It was a slow progression. I am also a Christian (and he professes to be), so I honestly believe this kept me in the situation much longer than if I hadn’t listened to church people. Notice I state a distinct difference between “church people” and Christians.
When I finally took the kids and left as I could no longer take the abuse I went to a different town, and contacted the local program to help battered women. I am happy to say they have changed a lot since then. Anyway, they gave me a book to read and in it was a comment that 50% of physical abusers are also sexual abusers of the children. When I read this at first I was relieved, but then I decided I should ask the kids.
Their first response was no, and it felt so good! A day or so later my oldest daughter came out to me crying, and said “mom, I’m sorry, but I lied to you.” I asked her about what, and she informed me dad had abused her. She proceeded to tell me about it. This was about 9 pm one evening, and the other children had gone to bed. Well she talked and cried until about 3 am. I just held her and cried and told her I was sorry this had happened to her and I was sorry I didn’t know. That is also when she told me he had threatened to kill one of us if she ever said anything.
This certainly made one thing clear, I was getting a divorce. The children and I all got into counseling, and the oldest 2 by now both admitted to abuse, so they were in individual and group counseling. The group consisted of all girls in similar age brackets, I believe around 10 to 18 years old.
The church people I knew at that time probably meant to help, however they were very destructive. To this day I still have little to do with “church people”, but like being around Christians. Ralph (and this is true of many sexual abusers, this is how they get victims) is very charming and friendly. I was very quiet, both by nature and from all the pain we had suffered. So he moved to the town I did and tried to patch things up, supposedly to make our marriage work. Well I had decided it was over and I knew he was not accepting responsibility for what he had done. Oh yes, he admitted doing it, but it was not his fault, he was sorry, etc. I had a restraining order put on him, so he discovered that he could attend the same church I did and not be violating the restraining order. And he used his charm and friendly personality to quickly become acquainted within the church. He even joined the choir to show how deep his relationship with God was!
So he came and sat by the girls and I in church. This made us extremely uncomfortable, and certainly proved to me that he had absolutely no regards for our feelings or the pain he had caused us. Anyway this time he wrote on a note that he love me, and I just faced the front of the church, so he crossed that out and wrote F** you, and shoved the paper in my face as I was not looking at him.
Well a few days later this “church” lady saw me at the local shopping mall. She started asking questions and I politely informed her I did not want to talk about it. She followed me to 3 different stores, continually praising how friendly Ralph was and how he had informed many in the church that he wanted to make our marriage work, and why wasn’t I willing to discuss it. I told her 3 times to please drop it, that there was more to the story than she realized, and that I did not want to discuss it. As we entered the third store, with her still following me, I lost it. I looked at her and said “if you love him so much why don’t you f* him”, and then I walked away.
Well, our society, and more typically church people, just do not accept this from a woman. Not that I am defending myself, I hate that word and am not proud of the fact that I used it. It has been several years, and I still remember telling her off, but I also remember the pain of his actions and the pain that society didn’t let him know it was wrong.
However, the church people could forgive his note as he was in pain from my filing for a divorce, but they could not accept my pain from being a victim and from seeing the pain of my own children from being victims.
I was in individual and group counseling also. At first the group was adult victims, parents of victims, and spouses of either of victims or parents – but not offenders. Sometime later offenders were also allowed in the group. The only offenders that came on a regular basis were court ordered.
Even after all had been reported in my case it took a long time for any action to be taken against my ex-husband. During this time he would fluctuate between “apologizing” and being angry at me for “threatening” his future with the legal process he was now facing. At first he was court ordered to a very competent therapist in this field, however Ralph is extremely good at getting out of responsibility and found a therapist that claimed to “cure” offenders. This therapist was licensed, but he could “cure” offenders in just a few months. So somehow Ralph got the courts to agree to switching. Therefore he was “cured” and sort of off the hook in a very short time.
My oldest daughter (who was the target of most of the sexual abuse) cried to me after the court hearing was over, asking over and over why I was the only one who really believed she didn’t deserve this. In preparing for court district attorneys had talked to her, child welfare workers had talked to her, police had talked to her. They all told her she didn’t deserve it, that it was Ralph’s fault. But in the end the system basically told her no big deal by allowing Ralph free with his only “punishment” being that he could not come near her for 10 years. This sentence also confirmed that society really thought “she” was part of the problem, otherwise he would have had to do more than stay away from her.
Since then what has happened? How can I really explain the EXTREME AND LIFELONG pain I mentioned earlier? And I will mention that he is still finding ways to hurt all of us. He was court ordered to pay all medical as the therapy was extremely expensive. He also had a job which had medical benefits, I did not.
Well he is still doing this (it is approximately 8 years later). When I submit medical claims to the courts they submit them to him. He submits them to his insurance and them keeps the benefits paid. Believe me this has been reported to almost everyone I can think of and yet the medical claims must continue in this fashion as the divorce and criminal court papers indicate this. I will never understand why it couldn’t be changed and why he is not in prison for violation. However, I have dealt with numerous people, all of whom claim this story is crazy and they can do something – only to find them a few months later shaking their heads in apology.
So the message still tries to come through that Ralph didn’t do anything that bad. Look, he gets almost no punishment and has literally made a mockery of the court for even suggesting he did wrong – and has financially BENEFITTED by approximately $20,000 at this point. Not that all of that is for therapy, but there have been 3 surgeries on the children for other things, and he still gets to keep the money for himself.
As for the pain – I realize I wasted a very loving and trusting relationship on someone who did not deserve it. And as a result my children and I have all suffered. It also comes down to none of us can ever trust and love another in that same level. What I mean by this is total trust can never be there for a victim. The trust I am talking about is actually a combination of trust and naiveness – but none the less it is a trust that is so sweet and kind. Once someone is truly aware that there are people who use their postion, even in families and among friends, to hurt others — it is impossible to go back and NOT know that anymore!
It has been approximately 8 years since any of us have seen Ralph, however with the continual frustration each time any of the children require any medical services comes the reminder that he is “making” money because he sexually abused. My daughers still cry (now both over 21, yes I stated until she was 12 but it took a few years from that point before the court orders came) that he did not have the right to deprive them of their first sexual experience being with the person they chose.
The younger children, well they were little when I got divorced. They don’t remember Ralph. They know the basics of what happened. They both comment that they wish they had “a dad”, but they are glad they don’t have “their dad” (meaning living with him). All the kids know about the medical bill situation. So each time they are sick they apologize for needing to see the doctor! I try to tell them I love them and want them taken care of, that they don’t need to apologize. Each time when I am done talking to them I go in my room and cry hard and long. How can I explain the pain when a child feels the need to apologize for needing medical services because they know their father is so abusive that it still creates hardships on us? How can I explain the pain they feel knowing there are men that are so cruel as to sexually abuse their own daughters, and then benefit from it financially? How can I explain the pain of them simply knowing their father is such a man?
At the time of the divorce most of Ralph’s family supported him. I realize offenders are people and have families. However, in our situation only one of Ralph’s sisters kept in touch with us, the rest wanted nothing to do with us if we insisted on telling these lies about how Ralph treated us. Deep down I believe they all knew as once I became aware of the situation I truly believed Ralph’s father abused all of his children. His one sister confirmed this, and basically the family condemned her for letting out the family secret also. Today, only Ralph and this sister are still alive, his parents and other sister, who wanted the secret kept, have all passed away.
But this again shows more pain suffered by my kids, again the question of why mom and mom’s family were the only ones who believed they didn’t deserve it, and sometimes still wondering if there are others who would love them if they knew everything that had happened. Realize one set of grandparents, an aunt, an uncle ( husband of the sister who wanted the secret kept), and a father – all shut them out for telling the truth.
As for me, I don’t know how to KNOW that if I became involved with another man that he would NEVER sexaully abuse anyone. Experts in this field tell me there is no way of knowing this. So yes, I miss having a man in my life, sometimes I would really like being married as I like sharing in a marriage. However, absolutely nothing is worth putting any of my children or future grandchildren through being abused by a man I thought cared about me and my family. I am not saying all men are like this, and I know there are women abusers. I am saying my children and I deserve not to ever be abused again, and there are no guarantees. Yes, we could be raped by an acquaintance or a stranger, but how does one compare that to being raped by someone who professes to love and care about you? How does one compare that to being raped by a father or father figure? Father’s are to protect and head the household, not to rape and overpower. Is having a partner worth the risk of finding out the reason this individual pretended to care about me was so he could sexually abuse family members?
Yes, I still have anger over what Ralph did. Personally I believe I will always have some anger as I will never believe my children or I deserved the treatment we got. What would I wish on Ralph, and all offenders? I would wish them the pain of all their victims each day. Not all of the pain each day, as I doubt any human could stand that much pain, but all of the pain their victims are suffering on that particular day. Yes, victims do have days where they are really happy, but most sex offenders have many victims by the time they are caught, and few offenders seek treatment until forced. Therefore, if offenders could feel the pain of their victims each day it might be enough pain to prevent them from hurting others again.