Easter Sunday, 1964. I was all dressed up in a pink dress with white ruffles, cute white socks with ruffles and black patent leather shoes. My accessories were put together as well. I had a white hat with white gloves and a white purse. I looked very cute and I was very happy. I felt pretty for most of the day and I didn’t think anything or anyone could rain on my parade. I remember standing in the dining room with one foot on top of the other foot and my mother said, “Stop standing like that…standing like your father.” I felt proud because I loved hanging with my father and following his habits because I wanted to be like him one day.
The plan was to spend the afternoon at my grandmother’s house as we always did on holidays. However, in route to grandmother’s house, my two cousins that lived with us along with myself were dropped off at another cousins house. I was told that he would bring us to my grandmother’s house a little later. At our cousins house, I remember being bored out of my mind and wanted desperately to hurry up and go to my grandmother’s house. At grandmother’s house, all the grand kids would be there and I could show off and get some play time in.
We walked around the house waiting for my cousin to get dressed. He looked like an old man to me. I guess because I was 3 years old. His name was James and we had to wait around while he got dressed. Albert and Allen were the two cousins that lived with us at home. James came out and offered Albert, Allen and me a banana. We all took one and then James sent Albert and Allen in another room and told them to sit down and wait. He took me to his bedroom where he was and sat me on the bed.
He positioned me on his lap, facing him and my legs were wide open. He put his lips on top of mine and I remember his tongue going in my mouth. Then he began fumbling with my panties, then he went past the panties and played with my vagina. He tried to slide his finger inside but I began to cry because it hurt. I saw that Albert was peeking into the room and saw what was going on. James stopped. Albert and Allen was getting restless and was wondering what was taking so long. Just as we were leaving, James told me not to tell anyone what had happened.
At grandmother’s house, I felt safe and comfortable. My mother was playing cards at the kitchen table with her siblings. She asked me if anything strange happened while I was at James house. And I remember being so scared of him and shy around my aunts, uncles and grandmother, I went underneath the kitchen table where they were playing cards and told my mother what happened and pointed at my panties.
My mother became visibly upset and began cursing at James saying that she should call the police and have him arrested. He said that I was lying and they should not believe me. But who would not believe a 3 year old? Mommy was also mad at Albert for leaving me alone in exchange for a banana. I was deemed too young by the courts to testify at that time. I think James was forced to leave town because he was not seen or heard from for many years.
As I grew up, I later learned that James had once tried to look up my mother’s dress when she was young. And, she knew that he had a history of mental illness. From that moment on, Albert, who lived with us began molesting me regularly and until I was 11 years old. He learned from his uncle. So I have to ask for this question begs for an answer: Why would she drop me at this perverts house with all males and I am the only girl, knowing that he once looked up her dress? Why would she allow that to happen? Then as soon as I get to grandmother’s house, she immediately asks if anything strange happened. She already had to know that something perverted happened. Why me?
written by Joan Nyobe