It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I certainly have not forgotten you. In all honesty, I’ve been taking care of myself following the sudden loss of my son. There are days when my heart feels so heavy that I don’t want to move. But, there are also those days that are blessed with new hope and smiles, and I am most thankful for those days.
I thought it would be appropriate to get back to my story of living with a practicing pedophile so that we can continue to understand a bit more of the mind of a predator, as well to understand much more about what happens to those whose lives are touched by the actions of a predator. Christmas was always a big time in our home even though we didn’t give lavish gifts. Who could afford that with such a large family? But, we did try to make Christmas a beautiful holiday for the kids — one centered around God, the birth of our Lord, and the beauty of showing love in special ways.
As the kids got older, the gifts became more grown up — less fun, I guess you could say, and more of the necessary things like warm coats, thermal gloves and boots — you know what I’m talking about.
John was an odd man about a lot of things including Christmas. As you know, he was a preacher and you would think that as a Christian he would have absolutely loved Christmas, and loved teaching about the birth of Christ. But, and this is where it gets interesting……….nobody ever knew what John was going to preach about on Christmas!
I remember one particular year when the congregation had been hearing him give lead-in sermons that talked about the wise men, the immaculate conception, and the bright star of Bethlehem. Everyone was prepared on Sunday for a beautiful Christmas sermon.
Instead, it was as though we all got knocked off of our seats and hit over the head with what he said!
“I refuse to celebrate Christmas, and you should, too! Do you know that Christmas is a pagan holiday? Do you know the origin of this holiday? Do you all sit around the tree and sing songs and worship a tree? Do you know that we should not even say the word ‘Christmas’?”
By now I could feel my heart racing, and my blood pressure rising from fear and anxiety. I never, ever knew what this man was going to say or do!
Our kids were all sitting on the pew next to me in church and I remember looking at them as if to say, “I don’t know what’s coming next, but I don’t feel real good about it!”
And, then he let us all have it! We were made to feel like monsters sitting in church. We were made to feel evil, dirty, and so full of sin for coming together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
*Note: I realize not everyone reading this blog believes in the Christian faith, but John claimed to be a Christian and the people of this congregation believed in the birth of Christ. To hear him speaking evil against this was like something out of a movie!
“I refuse to give gifts. I did not get my wife a gift. And, I’m upset that she bought gifts for my children. I had nothing to do with decorating a tree (and he didn’t!) because it is against my beliefs! You all need to go home and begin studying about this pagan holiday! I will not call this Christmas ever!”
By now, hot tears were streaming down my face. He had once again humiliated me and the kids. He had degraded those innocent ones in church who came to worship God on what is considered the most blessed day of worship in all of Christianity.
We were in shock as he shook his bible and went on a thirty minute rant about how sacrilegious we all were.
There was nothing but silence in the congregation. I still shake from the inside out remembering that particular Sunday morning.
One brave little old little stood up and said, “I’ll never set foot in this place again!” And, she walked out never to return. Oh, how much I admire her yet to this day!
As for the rest of us…………we sat there in stunned silence.
What in the world does this have to do with sexual abuse? What does this have to do with pedophilia? What does this have to do with any kind of abuse?
As this particular Sunday service ended, nobody said a word leaving the church building. It was a most bizarre scene. Nobody challenged John (except the little old lady who had the courage to break away and leave.) We all just hung our heads bewildered by it all.
The story doesn’t end here, though. I wish it did, but there was more to this odd, confusing, painful day.
We ate lunch in silence — nobody knowing what to say or do. What this the same dad who had just moments before been singing Christmas carols in our home as we got ready for church? Was this the same man who had admired our Christmas tree sitting in the living room? What this the same person who had in years past read Christmas stories to the kids at bedtime?
Was I crazy?!?!?!?!?!?!
I can’t remember how many days it was until December 25, but of course I was not expecting any kind of gift. That part was not unusual.
But……….this year was different. Quite different!
We were sitting around the table talking about who knows what when John reached behind his back and pulled out a beautifully wrapped gift. I still remember how lovely the gift bag was. He smiled a strange type of smile and passed along the gift saying, “This is for mother.”
Again my heart began racing. I thought it might be something like perfume. Maybe a necklace? A bracelet? No, the bag was too big for that! What could it be?
Inside of the bag, I slowly removed the gift wrap and began pulling out something silky. Now, keep in mind my kids were older by this time — many of them teenage boys.
I took one look and about died on the spot. There was a totally sheer, see-through “something” that I knew I would never wear! It wasn’t just the gift — I could have accepted that, but it was literally about 10 sizes too large for me! I had never seen anything like it — ever! Trust me, it wasn’t something you could buy in a regular department store!!!!!
I quickly shoved that back into the bag with my mouth hanging open.
What do you say to something like that?
John hated shopping. In fact, he would tell everyone that he hadn’t gone into a store in years — not even to buy shoes. And, this? I couldn’t picture him walking into a women’s underwear department and picking out a gift like this!!!! I honest and truly could not picture that scene in my mind, and yet………dangling right before my eyes was this “gift.”
I honestly “get it” now. This was another way to embarrass and humiliate me. It was another way to twist the truth and make me seem like something was wrong with me. It was another way to shame me. It was another way for him to come off as a great father and husband in front of the kids while making me look like an ungrateful wife.
I still have this garment packed away in my cedar chest. Why? Sometimes you just know deep inside that you need to keep certain things to remind you of either your extreme happiness or your extreme pain. This was kept to remind me of my pain.
I often took that lingerie out of the bag and looked at it, held it up to me as it drooped down to my knees, and saw how I could wrap three bodies inside of it and thought to myself, “This is just so wrong. So very wrong. He knew what he was doing. He did this to hurt me, not to give me a nice gift.”
That did hurt me. It hurt for a long, long time. But, thankfully that gift and pain no longer controls me. That man no longer controls me. He no longer has the power to demean me or make me feel crazy.
Please listen to what I have to say because it’s so important.
People who abuse use all kinds of mental tactics for control. That is a thrill. And, when they have control, they also use mental maneuvers to get to young children to sexually abuse them. They laugh. They mock. They plan. They use and abuse. They sweet talk. They give gifts. They use whatever it takes to get their way.
They get what they want while leaving behind the victim of abuse to feel ashamed, belittled, baffled, shocked, and in a state of confusion.
Domestic abuse is much the same. Only with domestic abuse, there are beatings, along with all of the other forms of physical, mental, and spiritual abuse.
This is serious stuff! We need to pay attention to people like John who was crafty and calculated in his every thought and action. He knew what he was doing, just as every abuser knows what he/she is doing! They think, they plot, they plan, and they work hard to get what they want.
Be wise and teach your children early on to respect themselves. Teach your children that it’s important to know boundaries and to say “no.”
As adults, often those who were abused as children, get into abusive situations and continue to suffer from abuse. My mother and father were both extremely verbally abusive. I was programmed to believe that’s what I deserved. The more I study abuse, the more I understand why I was such a perfect target for John.
Love yourself enough to say no to abuse! Respect yourself enough to get help and get out of an abusive situation!
It takes courage to leave an abusive relationship. It takes great courage to seek help. We are so full of fear of abandonment and of not being believed. We think we are not worthy of respect and love, but that is the greatest lie ever told to us!
YOU ARE WORTHY!!!
Together we can make a difference! Together we MUST make a difference! Innocent children are being hurt every hour of every day. Victims of abuse need help in finding ways to become “survivors of abuse.”
Please help be a strong voice for our children, as well as a voice for those who suffered abuse as a child!
We must end this horror of abuse now!