Welcome to Father's Day 2012, here at, Band Back Together. Today, we celebrate fathers-to-be, fathers whose treasures who are in heaven, fathers who don't deserve the title, fathers who have shaped who we are for good, for bad, for life.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, Happy Father's Day, The Band.
As I peruse the many Father's Day cards available, they just strike me as "not enough." None of them can possibly fully convey the deep feelings of gratitude I have towards my father, so I decided to write my own special letter to him and am sharing it with you, The Band.
Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that fear of physical punishment is more important than understanding and accepting the rules you laid down for my brother and I. I know that kids need rules and should understand that breaking rules has consequences.
However, it just doesn't seem right that the rules seemed to be made up as we all went along and that the severity of the punishments seemed to depend on your mood at the moment. This had the bonus lesson of using the element of surprise to heighten fear at any potential transgression.
Thanks, Dad, for meeting my childhood curiosity with dismissive impatience and anger. At a young age, you were told by my teachers that I was gifted and to expect all sorts of questions as my way of figuring out the world around me.
Rather than embrace these moments as opportunities for me to learn, you decided it was troublesome and not worth your effort. Even when I'd try to engage you by asking about your job and what you do, you would snap at me to shut up and stop asking so many questions. To this day, I find it highly stressful to voice my questions and opinions outside of myself.
Thanks, Dad, for letting my brother and I know that we are lesser than those around us and will probably never be able to lift ourselves up. We were just little kids - KIDS for God's sake - doing kid things like wrestling in the back seat during long car rides and being loud when playing.
You could have simply talked to us about our behavior, maybe set some appropriate punishment when merited.
Instead, you chose to slap and hit us when it reached certain, unknown points then proceeded to tell us how ashamed you were at having the worst kids in the world.
You wished out loud that you could have been blessed by God with any of the other, better behaved kids out there and wondered why you were stuck with monsters like us. You surmised that we'd probably grow up to be embarrassing adults, too.
At 31 years old, I am constantly tracking my behavior and comparing it against those around me, always finding myself lacking or wrong in one way or another. At the end of the day, I go over my many "mistakes" in my head and berate myself for not being more "normal."
Thanks, Dad, for constantly questioning why I couldn't do any better in school whenever report cards came home. I was a straight A student in elementary and junior high school. My teachers all praised me as a joy to teach.
However, you would look at the grades and ask why I "only" got a 92 in math. I would promise to work harder and go to sleep worried over my inability to be good enough. The next time, my grades would be higher, but you would deflate my pride immediately by asking why I couldn't raise them even higher.
Perfection was the only worthy goal, and attaining anything less was a failure. Despite years of therapy, I still look at myself as an overall failure in life.
Thanks, Dad, for never complimenting me to my face but being so quick to brag about me to family members and friends. After hearing nothing but disapproval and criticism from you, I'd hear from others that you were "so proud of my accomplishments and intelligence."
You've made me wary and mistrustful of compliments from people. At best, I can be anxiously uncomfortable when, for example, I received an award for being employee of the year at my previous job.
Thanks, Dad, for never approving of my extracurricular activities regardless of the joy and accomplishment they gave me. In junior high, I joined the band and discovered I was quite good.
Also, despite never having played on any teams, I managed to make the school basketball team! Instead of celebrating, you worried that music and sports would detract from my academics. You treated my after-school and weekend games/practices as a nuisance.
In high school, I was in the marching band; held in high regard by my peers and staff. You acted like it was such a chore to pick me up after games. By this time, however, I'd grown thicker skin; had learned to look to my friends, their parents, and my teachers for the love and support so lacking from home.
Thanks, Dad, for all of the times that physical intimidation and violence were a part of our adolescent life.
Like the time I was too sick to go to church because we'd marched in the rain the night before. I was already run down from midterms, so it wasn't a surprise. You yanked me out of bed so hard I got a bruise both on my arm where you grabbed me and on the shoulder that hit the floor.
Then there was the time you threatened my Little Brother with a baseball bat for talking back to you, and I had to stand between y'all to stop the fight.
Let's face it - at that age Little Brother would have destroyed you, Dad. That's why you grabbed the bat first. Big man.
Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that I didn't need you in my life after years of wishing I could be good enough to earn your love and praise.
I DID need you, Dad. I needed you as a little girl, as a teenager, and as a young adult. I am bitterly angry that I have nothing but feelings of resentment from my childhood; that I have to pretend we're a normal family because that's how you think things are. I hate that I have so many lessons to unlearn; I hate it even more that I never fully will.
Thanks, Dad, for making it impossible to find the right Father's Day card.
Date rape accounts for almost 70% of sexual assaults reported by adolescent and college age women; 38% of those women are between 14 and 17 years old.
This is her story:
It happened twice.
Twelve years apart, each incident different in almost every way imaginable. Except for what was done and the emotional and psychological scars left as a result. Those were the same.
I was only six the first time. This was long enough ago that teaching your kids that someone touching you was not okay and to be aware that it could happen, was just not part of the parenting culture yet.
I was six. She was about eleven, maybe twelve, and lived down the street. This was also a time when we were all "free-range kids." We all used to just go out and play with whoever else was around.
This particular time, I was out on my own and ran into her at the end of the street. She asked to play and, of course, I agreed. She wanted to play House. She insisted we go down in to an empty lot, over-grown with weeds - it was lower than the road so you could only see into it if you made a point of doing so. It seemed a bit odd that she'd made us go there, and I started to get a weird feeling in my stomach.
Once we got there, she said we were going to play Mommy and Daddy. I know what you're all thinking - this was a girl. Indeed, it was. I think I would have been less likely to go had it been a boy. But there I was. She told me to lie down so that she could lie on top of me - like a Mommy and Daddy.
Now I was scared and confused; I didn't know what to do. She was older and bigger. Next thing I knew, she was on top of me, kissing me on the mouth and touching me in places that I really didn't like. I completely panicked but I didn't know what to do. I tried to get her to stop but she wouldn't. I started to cry.
Then suddenly she did stop - but not because I was crying. There was a young man, looking down at us from the road. When I saw him, all I could feel was shame. I felt dirty. I was terrified he was going to tell people what he'd seen. Because I felt like I'd done something horribly, disgustingly, wrong. I was six.
She let me up, told me to go but that I shouldn't tell anyone because we would get in to trouble. I never told a soul. I was too scared and ashamed. I also stopped going out to play by myself until they moved away a year or so later.
To this day, there is only one other person who knows this happened and I only told him recently. My family doesn't know.
I was eighteen the second time.
Fresh out of high school, just starting college three-thousand miles away from home. I was very inexperienced and naive when it came to dealing with the opposite sex. I'd never had a boyfriend, hadn't even dated before. I was extremely shy in high school.
So there I was at a dance in my dorm with a group of guys from a military college that was close to our university. I met a young man and danced with him a few times. This was in Eastern Canada and he was very French Canadian, barely spoke English. He spoke enough to ask me to dance, and enough to ask me out on a date. He seemed nice though and I made the very naive assumption that because he was a military cadet, his behavior should be exemplary.
When the evening of the date arrived, I was excited. After all, this was going to be my first date ever. Was a little distressed when he showed up at the dorm on a motorcycle. He hadn't told me ahead of time so I was wearing a skirt. Also, hello, I have to have helmet hair on my first date?! But, I took it in stride and off we went. Dinner and a movie - Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery's return to the James Bond role one last time.
It was clear to me part-way through dinner that this just wasn't going anywhere. The language issue was rough and from what we were able to manage, we just didn't have anything in common. I remember being very happy that all we had to do was sit and watch a movie when dinner was done, it wouldn't require any more attempts at conversation. It was awkward. But was saw the movie and got on the motorbike so that he could take me back to the dorm.
At least that's where I thought he was taking me.
I hadn't been in town but a month since arriving for school, and hadn't actually been off-campus at all until that night. I didn't know my way around, where anything was, nothing. But I knew we weren't near campus when he pulled the bike off toward the lake and parked it. I asked him what he was doing and he said he thought it would be nice to go for a walk by the lake. Hmmm. I didn't want to.
I wasn't interested in him at this point and I wasn't even sure I liked him. But I wasn't sure what to do. I thought it would be impolite to tell him I'd rather not. Plus, I was nervous that he might be upset and leave me there - it was dark, I had no idea how to get back to the dorm from where we were. So I said okay.
The next thing I knew, I was on my back on the grass and he was on top of me, kissing me hard on the mouth, neck, face, anywhere he could. I was stunned and scared and flashbacks of when I was six were screaming through my head.
I am only 5'2" on a good day, and was maybe 110 lbs then. He was about 5'10" and much, much stronger. I couldn't get him off of me. He had his hands under my shirt and my bra, also up my skirt and in my underwear. I was begging him to stop, I was crying, and all he kept saying was what a tease I was. He was pushing himself on to me with his mouth, his hands, and his body, and just kept saying over an over that it was my fault, I was a tease.
I don't know what made him stop.
He got off of me, angry, told me to put myself together so he could take me back to the dorm. I'm not sure how because I couldn't stop crying but I managed to get my clothes back to mostly normal and climbed on the fucking motorcycle behind him so I could get back to my room.
The whole way back he wouldn't stop telling me it was all my fault.
He kept calling me. The son of a bitch wanted to see me again. I couldn't even hear his voice without bursting in to tears. Finally I told my Proctor. She took the phone from me the next time he called and told him to leave me alone or she'd call the police. Which, in hindsight, I should have done anyway. But I didn't. You know why?
Because I believed him.
Part of me still does. Just like I still feel guilty about what happened when I was six.
It happened twice.
For more back story, you can read my first Band Back Together submission here.
Every other night is bath night in our house. My husband takes my only baby boy and ushers him to the bathroom to get washed up and to splash around. Tubby Time is his favorite time of the day! I take that time to start making dinner for my husband and me so it can be ready after the baby is put to bed.
This has never bugged me before. Tonight, everything changed.
The bathroom door was shut, like it usually is to keep in the heat. That made my mind wander. With the door shut and my innocent baby on the other side, he could be doing anything to him and I would never know. It's the prefect opportunity for, well, anything.
I checked in on the bath several times. I tried to be silly about it, like I wasn't being paranoid. Every time I opened the door I made a silly noise or made a silly face. But really, I was just being paranoid.
Why does my mind have to go there? Why can't I just know that my husband is in there simply to bathe him, and nothing more? Why must I assume that since my father was an abuser, my son's father will be, too?
I can't do this. I can't live my life in fear. I can't assume that my husband, who I love and trust more than anything in the world, would be capable of doing such awful things. I can't become so paranoid that I can't leave my son alone in a room with someone other than me.
Going through the abuse was one thing, but living my life after the fact -- that's something completely different. Those who have endured similar situations, what have you done with your children to help calm the fear that the same thing will happen to them? How do you let them live their lives without you becoming a crazed, over-protective mother that won't even let their father give them a bath as a baby?
I'm going to have a lot to talk about with my therapist this week.
Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now? He/she needs a sounding board. It's time to Ask The Band!
Dear Merry Band of Pranksters,
I need your help! As some may know, my two sons are from my husband's ex. Our oldest son is from their "relationship," a one-night stand gone bad. Our youngest son is from another one night stand (not my husband this time). When he was seven months old, she decided once AGAIN, that motherhood didn't suit her. We adopted our youngest boy in December. He is a great well-adjusted three-year old.
As awful as that sounds, it's better for the little guy.
She will not, however, let go of our oldest son.
She only contacts him when she thinks she can get something out of him. She also thinks she can get my husband back. A different story for a different day.
She won't allow me to legally adopt him even though she abandoned him when he was eighteen months old. I have been raising him since. He will be eight in March and he calls me Mommy most of the time.
Here is my dilemma: she's an emotionally abusive bully to my son. When she calls (which is, thankfully, not often) she asks very leading questions about what his father and I are up to. What I say about her. Which is, of course, nothing, because I don't care about her. I don't need to say anything about her to my son. I want him to find out who she is on his own.
What bothers me is that she also asks things like, "why you don't you love me?" She tells him that if he loved her, he would buy her presents.
Well, he doesn't buy you presents because he's SEVEN YEARS OLD. Since when are presents love? Since when do kids have to show their parents love by buying them stuff? I mean, she doesn't spend a dime on him. She buys him NOTHING for the holidays or his birthday.
But he's seven. He has no answers. This confuses and upsets him. How can he respond to her? Then, she flat-out tells him to go ask us for money to buy her presents. The poor guy gets confused. He asks me what to tell her.
And I don't know what to tell him. He is being emotionally abused and bullied by his own mother and I don't know what to do about it.
To make matter worse, the other night he fell asleep on the couch. I ran upstairs to take a shower while my husband went out to shovel our sidewalks. He woke up on the couch and he was alone.
Now, I don't know how much he remembers about being abandoned as a toddler by this woman. Because when I say "she abandoned him," I mean she left him in a house ALONE, called my husband (who was three hours away) and said, "I can't handle this. You need to go get him."
It was awful. His parents got over there ASAP. He was probably alone for twenty minutes, depending on what her truth is. That's terrifying. But at eighteen months old, what do you remember?
Anyway, a little off the path there, he woke up and went ballistic because he was alone. He couldn't find us and thought he'd been abandoned AGAIN. When I heard him, I flew downstairs, but the terror and fear I saw on his face and heard in his voice, it broke my heart. All I could do was hold him and promise him I wasn't going anywhere. He is in therapy.
That made me hate her more than I'd ever hated anymore before. You're supposed to protect your kids. How do you protect them when their biological parent is responsible for their pain?
We have full, legal custody. We do not legally have to allow her to talk to him. But I don't want to be the bitch who kept him from his mother. Sometimes, though, I feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place. I want this woman out of our lives. Every time they get off the phone or he sees her, he's miserable for days, sometimes weeks. He cries. Sometimes he'll talk about it, other times he won't.
Which is why we started him in therapy; I know it can't be easy to talk to us about it.
I don't know what to do. I want this woman out of our lives. I don't want to be the bad guy. How do I respond when she asks him for money?
Any and all advice is welcomed.
Over 90% of juvenile sex abuse victims know their victims.
This is her experience.
I have been trying to figure out where I want to start. I think I will start here.
Sometimes, I feel the events of my childhood define who I am today.
My mother married the monster when I was 8 years old. I loved him while they were dating. He owned a bar, and when my mom was working during the day he would let me come to work with him. He would supply unlimited quarters for video games and enough Slim Jim's to make me sick (to this day, the sight of Slim Jim's makes me nauseous).
He came into our lives at a time when my mother was very vulnerable; he would buy groceries and pay her bills. When they were dating, it was great. When he moved in, things changed.
My mother and the monster were always hiding and doing something, or they would be out all night. I cannot tell you what it is like for an 8-year old to wake up, alone, at 3 am. I later found out he got my mother hooked on cocaine.
I do not remember exactly when it started, but I have little flashes of memories. He used to make me touch him until he was...umm...done. I remember the tears silently falling down my face. I remember the way he touched me. He told me that my mother would never believe me and that if I told her she would hate me for making up lies. This abuse went on for many years.
When I was 15, I finally got up the courage to move into my father's house. One night, my mother called me crying - the monster had beaten her. She asked me to come home. The only time he beat my mother was when he was not able to abuse me. Because I love my mother, I moved back.
When I moved back, I started talking to boys even though I knew it would make the monster mad. One night, when I came home from hanging out with some friends, he asked me if I had sex with the boy. I hadn't but for some reason, I told him I had. The monster got this look on his face and I thought he was going to kill me, but instead, something totally different happened.
That night, after my mom went to work, he did not come into my room.
After that night, I became very promiscuous. I realized that he would not touch me if I was sleeping with others. I got pregnant at 16. When I found out I was having a little girl, I knew I would never allow her to be anywhere near him. I made plans to move back to NY to live with my aunt and uncle.
Then one night my mother, the monster and a friend went out and got drunk. When they came home, they were all screaming at each other. The monster wanted my mother to perform oral sex on their friend. My mother refused, so he started to beat her. The friend did not know what to do, so he grabbed the monster's shotgun. He shoved it into the crack of the door that the monster was trying to hold shut while he had his hand around my mother's neck with the other hand. The friend stuck the gun through the crack and it went off.
The monster was killed instantly, shot in the head.
The man who did it confessed to the police and my testimony got him a year. I honestly think that if that man had not been there that night, the monster would have killed my mother and I. We later found out that he was taking a dangerous amount of medication and mixing it with alcohol. The combination made him crazy.
We live in a small town and the months that followed the shooting were horrible. There were rumors; all kinds of rumors speculating about what happened and why. We spent Christmas alone. We ate in a cheesy dinner.
One night, my mother was having a really bad time, missing him; I told her what he had done. All she said was, "you are only saying that to make me get over this faster."
After a few months, she asked me about it again. She wanted to know if I'd been lying. I said no. We talked all night. Finally, she believed me.
My father has always known about what the monster did to me. He never did anything about it because he was afraid of the monster.
I went to a shrink once. I asked her to hypnotize me so that I could remember everything. She refused. She said that bringing all of that back out might make me a person I do not want to be. I have handled the abuse pretty well over the years. I have my bad days. Early into my relationship with my husband, I told him everything. He never brings it up but is always there to listen if I need to talk or cry.
My mother hasn’t changed much. She is no longer on drugs, but she is still a heavy drinker. She constantly tries to make me feel guilty for not being a better daughter. I hold a lot of resentment towards my mother because I just cannot be the daughter she wants me to be. I always wonder what my life would be like had I not been abused. Had I not become a mother at 17. Would my life be better? Would I not struggle every day with anxiety, money problems and depression?
I have never gone to a support group but I decided this is my year to be positive, to change my life.