I’ve never really wanted to write about my father. However, the comments on social media regarding McCarrick and the Grand Jury Report have moved me to tell my story. Those who downplay the seriousness of sexual abuse need to hear from someone who has been abused. My father abused me until I was 7-years old, and I will tell you how it impacted my life.
Some say, “He who is without sin cast the first stone”? or, “This happened so many years ago.” People who say these things have no clue how horrific it is to be a victim of someone you trust, particularly, when the abuse comes from someone who has authority over you.
People need to know and try to understand how these crimes alter the lives of their victims forever.
My father was a pedophile. I lived in horror of what he did to me behind closed doors. As a young child, I didn’t know what to think or do about it.
In the 50’s and 60’s, these things were just not discussed. I confronted my Aunt years later who said that she didn’t know what to do or say after finding out about it. There was no accepted protocol then, and such unmentionables were often dusted under the rug. Any family whose father was known to be a pedophile would become an outcast from the community.
My father was a very pleasant man in public. He had been a school teacher before I was born, but when a doctor damaged my older brother at birth my father suffered a nervous breakdown. This may have been the catalyst for his pedophilia. My mother had to take care of a disabled baby with convulsions, and a husband who would run outside with no clothes if he was not watched closely.
Later when my father healed enough to go back to work, he became a milkman. He worked hard from morning to night. We loved going to see him on the route to get chocolate milk as a treat. Home life though was another story — my father could not communicate with adults, and he gravitated to children instead of people his own age.
I dreaded the moments at home when my mother was not present. I never knew when I would be caught in a situation where my father could take advantage of me. My father would show me pictures of naked people. He kept these pictures hidden in a closet to show my brother and me because it excited him sexually.
When I was very young, I loved it when someone read to me. When my father had the time, he would put me on his lap and read. But when my mother wasn’t watching, his hand would start fondling my private parts.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s and married that my father’s abuse came back to me. For example, when I felt disgusted with cleaning the toilet bowl, I suddenly realized that my father would force me to help him masturbate over the toilet. I had repressed this for years. Who wouldn’t?
This abuse created serious problems in my relations with men, beginning with promiscuity. I had grown up with the dream of having a husband and children to love, and creating a home. As a Baptist in high school, I had sex with my boyfriend, thinking all the time we would get married. That never happened. Just after high school, another boyfriend said we would marry, but he left me for another girl. I was crushed and could not handle the rejections.
I was 19 and had already given myself to two men outside of marriage — I thought my life was ruined. I went into the bathroom at my parents home, and I slit both of my wrists. Luckily, I did a horrible job, and my mother found me laying in blood on the floor. Thank God she had been a nurse and knew what to do. My poor mother, I am sure, was beside herself, but we never spoke of it.
Pedophiles never change. I don’t care what people say. My father went on ‘befriending’ families both at church and on his milk route.
It wasn’t until I was about 25, working for a Christian Radio Station, that I fully realized the hard truth of my father’s abuse, not just of my siblings and me but other children as well. One day at work I received a call from a detective who was my classmate in high school. He told me on the phone that my father had been arrested for taking pictures of little girls at the YMCA with their dresses up. He was booked, charged, and released until his trial date.
I was horrified and became physically sick. I thanked my detective classmate for letting me know and went home to tell my husband.
My father was not put in jail. He was charged and went to trial, but he was placed on probation and ordered to undergo years of psychological counseling. My father was fortunate this happened in the late 70s. Had this happened today, he would go to prison.
At this point in my life, I had a father on the sex registry; my first marriage was falling apart, and my parents were getting a divorce. My world was falling apart. The only thing that held me together in those days was my relationship with God, but even that would go on the rocks after a few years.
My first marriage ended in divorce when I found out that my mother had been seeing my husband. After that horrific bit of news, I stayed with my husband another four more years trying to make it work.
I married a second time a year later to a man at my church who I thought was very kind. How silly of me not to even guess that he was gay! He was a hair stylist, but because he was a Christian and going to Calvary Chapel, I thought this marriage was God’s will.
After this marriage ended a few years later, I was forced to move back in with my father and my brother as I had nowhere else to go. My father, believe it or not, chastised me for my failed marriage — that is when I finally confronted him about his abuse and how profoundly it impacted my life. He cried, and he said he was sorry, and he allowed me to stay until I could figure out what I would do next.
It was humiliating to be living with a father who had abused me, who still watched Shirley Temple movies, listened to Christian kids records, and could not communicate with adults. I felt like a shell of a person, very timid, quiet, and broken. When people saw me in town, they would cross to the other side of the street to avoid me.
I was still working for the Christian Radio Station, and I went to sell the owner advertising. I had been there before. I said, “Hello! I’m back to see you,” and the woman started screaming at me to get out! “Your father abused my daughter, and I don’t ever want to see you in my store again!” I left in tears — the woman would not let me say I was sorry. Who else would I encounter? Who else would tell me about my father’s abuse?
Sex offenders damage the lives of their victims forever. It rips away your innocence. Normal relationships become very difficult, if not impossible.
People should be ashamed of saying things like, “He who is without sin cast the first stone,” when they have no idea of how sexual abuse ruins lives. When they call those victims who come forward “liars” or say, “well, everyone sins,” they are reprehensible.
For example, I pity the 11-year old boy who had to tell his parents that ex-Cardinal McCarrick had masturbated him in the car, only to have his parents not to believe him! No wonder some victims ponder harming themselves.
This is a moment when those trying to understand the unmasking the sexual abuse by ex-Cardinal McCarrick and other priests to recall Matthew 18.6:
“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”