I keep going back and forth about whether or not to write about this thing that plagued my childhood. I was driving back from Colorado Springs recently with my training partner and my way of thinking eventually brings up the question of why. Why this happened. How no one noticed it was happening. And if my mom knew. Amira asked me questions that I hadn’t been asked before, and made me recall details that sounded crazy even to me… and I lived it. The reason I go back and forth is because I feel like these things won’t matter to anyone, part of me doesn’t want anyone, not even my closest friends to know, not even my sisters (whom I’m not sure realized the extent of what happened).
Rape (Los Angeles, CA)
We lived in a duplex less than a block from my elementary school, and those first five years of my life are full of images of walking to school, playing on tricycles with my classmates, learning to speak Spanish, and my mom and stepdad fighting. I remember my stepdad (I call him dad since I never met my father) pushing my mom into the fridge, and then my mom leaving. I’m not sure where she went but she’d be gone for days at a time. When I’d get home from school my dad would ask me where she was, I’d shrug, say “no se” and then go play the duck hunt video game with my neighbor, who was my best friend at the time. Eventually my mom would come back, although I don’t remember asking her where she’d been; I don’t think she cared to explain to me.
I’m not sure if my twin sisters were in the picture yet (they’re only two years younger so I imagine they were for those fights). I don’t think my mom took them with her when she’d leave though (she probably left them for my dad and I to watch, she was like that).
When my sisters were older my mom would take us to “work” with her. She pushed a cart around the streets of LA selling Honduran food she prepared that morning. Our job was to give her customers whatever soda or chips they wanted. It was an easy job for my sisters and I. Those are the only memories I have of living in Los Angeles. Those and one more…
My mom took me to a two story house, or maybe it was an apartment, where a couple lived. She told me to help the husband with something. Or maybe he asked my mom. He took me upstairs to a corner of the attic. I’m not sure why but he pulled down his pants and then pulled down mine as well. Using my legs he stroked himself and then came on floor. I just stood there. He pulled up my pants, then his, and told me to go downstairs to get a bag. I walked down the stairs without saying a word and asked my mom for a bag, walked back upstairs to give it to him as he cleaned the floor.
That was the first time I was raped. I didn’t know it at the time. But it wouldn’t be the last. We moved from Los Angeles to Cordes, Arizona when I was five. After moving from trailer to trailer we settled into one that my mom eventually painted red, white and blue. It was at this house that the rape continued. My mom use to let men that had recently migrated from Honduras to the states stay with us for a few weeks until they found somewhere to live. These men, different men, for some reason would touch me and do things to me.
I tried telling my mom once after one of the guys tried to sneak into our room late at night. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, my sisters laying next to me, and seeing the shadow of a man getting closer to me. I cried and covered myself with the blanket. He tried to soothe me but I cried harder. He left. The next morning I mentioned something to my mom but she got mad. I never told her when it happened again.
The next man that touched me went farther and farther. He raped me until I was 15 years old. I don’t remember when is started but I would guess around 8 or 9. He would take me to different places telling my mom, and later my older sister (who was my guardian) that he needed me to help him translate. What they didn’t know is that he was taking me to the back roads of Cordes to rape me. He was the first person I had intercourse with, and in my mind I began to think that he loved me. For a long time I didn’t say anything.
This man became my sisters husband, but the rape didn’t stop. At one point this man was doing things to me, my sister and her cousin. It was sick. He even tried to do things to my younger sisters. I was placed in foster care at the age of 16 and spent a year away from my family, barely talked to my guardian or my younger sisters. I think I was so numb to life that I didn’t want anything to do with them. That and my older sister was mad at me from bringing a CPS case to the house.