I don’t bring that up to be shocking, but to get it out of the way.
At a year or two, I understood that what he had done was wrong. I didn’t know that the other forms of sexual abuse he had subjected me to were wrong. They were confusing, disgusting, and weird. But they didn’t hurt (at least not very much), and they didn’t make me bleed. I was damaged by them, but didn’t understand the nature of the damage.
As we begin to develop a conscience, and a sense of right and wrong, we begin to see patterns of acceptable and unacceptable behavior and to create lines and divisions in our mind about what is okay for people to do.
Making someone bleed was over the line for me. Especially if you don’t say you’re sorry after you do it.
And that’s when I knew I wasn’t living with a man, but a monster. I didn’t have a father, but a captor.
It is not something you ever un-know.
What is devastating about that memory for me is not just the horror of what happened, or the fear, or the pain, but the loss of it. I don’t remember what I felt for my father before that, but I can guess it was something more normal–that I felt some degree of attachment to him. But after that I did not feel anything for him but fear.
If you also grew up with horror, when did you know?