*Trigger Warning* **Child Abuse**
I lived in my grandmother’s house almost my entire childhood. It was a nice 2 story house with a small house adjacent. Two houses built-in the same ground to be more exact. Grandma had a beautiful garden in front, follow with a huge backyard where my sisters and I played with our pets (chickens, hens, our puppy). I close my eyes to renaissance those times, I see my grandmother smiling, I remember her kindness, the smell of her food, the golden sunsets she and I shared.
Everyone knew our family in our neighborhood. My grandparents were missionaries for a long time, going from town to town building churches and providing assistance to the poorest families in Honduras until they settled down to raise their children in Tegucigalpa, the main capital.
They bought both houses for the future generations to come. When my grandfather passed away, Grandma decided to rent the small house and left the big house to my parents because she had set her mind to live in the US for some time. It was sad to have the closest person in my life gone, but my family and I flew many times here in the US to visit.
Those were the good times. Suddenly, everything changed. My parent’s marriage was broken, beyond fixing or resolutions of any kind. I no longer felt safe in the house, I could no longer speak of the things I saw. My older sister tried to protect us the best she could every time a fight was about to break in, there 3 little girls holding on together, frightened, trembling on the backyard not knowing what to do. I could hear mom crying desperately calling for help, the neighbors knew what was going on, “we cannot help your parents” they said; “your father is an alcoholic and your mother should leave him period” I was only 7 years old. I did not understand why they couldn’t help. “He’s punching mommy“!! “Please help!” I ran upstairs as fast as I could, maybe if I hit him really hard he’ll leave. Then suddenly, my sister’s hand prevented my steps. She was shaking as well, she took me and my little sister into her arms, and in horror we saw our father without any clothes on, drunk, hitting our mother, forcing her to alleviate his sexual perversion on her.
It happened many, many times. for 7 years, before I was born, my mother endured this pain. Why did she stay with him? I would never know. it was only the beginning of my continuing nightmares.
Because of my father’s tendencies, mom had to think quick and rented the small house to this family, a couple with their 3 children. That’s nice! I thought, new friends to play with! and they were fun to play with, even though they spent a lot of time by themselves, they were always dirty, and we share many meals because their mom never cook for them. Their parents fought a lot too. It was an insane environment to be in, but human nature tends to adapt even in the most dire of situations.
One day we were all playing on our backyard, it was sunny day, I remember wearing this pink nice dress grandma had sent me. The sky was clear, no potential fights on the horizon, maybe this is what peace feels like. I saw the kids gathering around this man, he had a cigarette on his lips, “this is my uncle” one of the kids said, “he’s telling us one of his stories, he’s very funny!” the man glanced at me and ask me to join the group, I didn’t like him. he was smoking and I hated the smell of nicotine. His story wasn’t interesting either, I made up my mind to get back into the house, when his long arms reached me. He held me for a bit pressing my body against his. I paralyzed. He kept on talking while my mind went blank in shock. I felt his right hand touching my legs, my back, he kept going until he reached my private parts. I knew something wrong was happening, I wanted to scream, to run, to call mom.
He did it one time, two times, three times. Did the kids noticed it? they weren’t bothered at all, it turns out, their mother was a prostitute and the “father” was a pimp, so who knows if this man was really their uncle. I finally retreated. It was the first time I felt shame, I felt guilty, dirty, my innocence was gone forever. My life was a living hell, I had nightmares, I masturbated until I felt pain, my parents didn’t know what to do. We never talked about it, I never told them what had occurred to me. I’d kept everything to myself in shame.
Life got more complicated from there. My mother finally left my dad, and we moved into this tiny apartment while he kept living on my grandma’s house! but he was out of our lives. To this day I still struggle with all the memories, I look at my pictures during that time, I want to save that little girl “everything is going to be OK Steph” but Stephanie the adult knows everything is going to be OK, because I no longer feel shame of the man who robbed those golden sunsets from my childhood. The weight has been lifted.