Since I was eleven I had been a victim, and I didn’t even know it. I was raised by a single mom with my older sister. Without much experience with a man figure in my life in any kind of steady way; I wasn’t much of a judge of new interactions with men. The only men I had steady contact with were sporadic and always loving in good, funny and positive way.
My mother dated a man whom had three much older sons. The first one I met was five years older than me. I was eleven and he was 16. That first meeting he asked to take me on a ride in his car and we went to a local drug store and he bought me bracelets. Cheap little trinkets and I was enamored. He paid me compliments. Smiled his big dimply smile and made jokes and engaged me in lots of conversation.
What I didn’t know was that Billy had “conditioned” me to think of what he did to me and with me as affection and feeling. When in reality, a guy five years older than an eleven year old girl do not lay on top of them kissing them pressing their weight into them and touching them in places that had never been touched before was wrong. Men don’t buy little girls trinkets and pay them compliments for the pure affection they are feeling, but rather to endear themselves to the young child coming of age. Slowly the abuser begins their assault by endearing themselves into the victims heart and feelings. So the abuse continues, even encouraged to be thought of special.
One example of me coming to terms and learning that yes, Billy knew me, but he also only knew the me he wanted to know. Not the real me. He told me that the reason I was so easily duped by this “stalker/rapist” was because the things this person did to me was so far outside the realm of how I thought that I was unable to see that there is true evil out there and I never had the thought process of doubting people for their innate goodness. “Maybe not in those same words, but close enough”.
I should have listened harder to what he was saying because when I look back on it, I really begin to realize just when my “bad luck” with men began. I was expecting certain behaviors and actions from men and I didn’t know how prevalent narcissism and sociopathic behaviors were and existed in people all around me.
I bet you didn’t either.
My counselor now says that being conditioned at a young age for sexual abuse is very common because it allows the abuse to continue unchecked and without interruption whenever the abuser wants. The behavior usually begins to slack off though the older the victim gets because the thrill for the abuser is gone. This is true and makes total sense.
It wasn’t until I was I was reconnected with this “step-brother” in my early thirties when I was going through a divorce and living back in my hometown that I learned I was Billy’s victim and I wasn’t the only one.
“The incidence and long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse were studied in a clinical sample of 152 adult women. Approximately 44% of female clients presenting to a health center crisis service reported a childhood history of sexual victimization. Prior victimization was associated with increased dissociation, sleep disturbance, tension, sexual problems, and anger on a Crisis Symptom Checklist, as well as greater current use of psychoactive medications, and more frequent histories of suicide attempts, substance addiction, and revictimization. Long-term psychological effects of sexual abuse are interpreted within both a developmental context and in terms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Post Sexual Abuse Trauma, Data and Implications for Clinical Practice, John Briere, Marsha Runtz
The quote from the article above, I can attest to almost all of the symptoms except for repeated suicidal attempts. I know I am not special, nor am I stronger, my story is just different. The part that really shook me when I read this was, “revictimization”. I was, over and over.
Now that I know of the cycle, I can break it. I can think about my thinking and my feelings and I can change how I feel about things by changing how I think about them.
Learn something about yourself. Everyday, you can learn something about yourself that you didn’t know the day before. I’m praying for you. I’m praying that you learn how to be strong, how to be grateful to God for the sight He gave you that has saved you or made you able to save those you love because you fought in some small way to be safe. I also pray that if you need out that you will keep searching and never give up on finding that way out.
It was such a short relationship that I hesitate to even call it that. In retrospect, but the lightening fast speed at which his life became a part of mine left my head spinning. I was left running to catch up to his expectations, standards, wants and needs. I felt constantly on the defensive and I was confused at how or where to turn. I guess this being one of the great tactics he used to get me to follow him down the road to my own ruination. All the times he proclaimed to love me and then to witness and hear all the crazy non-sensical excuses and lies he spit at me was like being hit with Dr. Seuss’ rather large collection of whimsical poems. Or better yet, Shel Silverstein’s poems because although very silly poetry; wasn’t Silverstein’s books banned from elementary school library’s? I was taught lessons of obedience inside of eight weeks of knowing him.
Inside of a three month time period. I had forsaken my marriage as a lost cause. Engaged in an affair with a man whom acted like the answer to my prayers of love and adoration and excitement. Little did I know that the first time I had to be a mother and a “girlfriend” at the same time would the first time he would teach me the lesson of a lifetime.
And it wouldn’t be the last.
It was intense. The whole period of time. He was always wanting to talk about sex, ask for photos of me, take photos of me. Wanted to know every little detail of me. Said he had just moved back from LA to take care of his mother. His dad dying and sister passed on years ago from a drug overdose. There were a million little things that were red flags when I look back on it all, but it wasn’t until one fateful day at the beach that I realized just how deep he was willing to take my debasement in order to control me.
So new back to town he said he didn’t have a job yet, so I paid for a rental car for him since he was coming to town to go to the beach with me and I had my kids. I picked up two of my friends teenagers as babysitters and we all went to the beach. He wanted a drink, so we walked up from the beach access public parking # 5 and walked the short distance to an outside oyster bar. He drank, a lot. He bought people at other tables drinks and it was so hot I don’t think I drank one whole drink to myself. Every one of them too hot with melted ice too quick for me to drink fully. My girlfriend finally came, brought all the kids up and I ordered all of us food. He didn’t eat, just continued to drink and chit chat with the neighboring tables. Then I got a text that my older son was on his way back home on his bicycle and I knew I had to hurry and rush home. My girlfriend was taking her kids with her and I took my daughter and Brent back to the car.
I realized as we walked up that our beach gear still sat on he beach. I knew we had to get it all and load it into the trunk and I started the car from the passenger front dropped my wallet, keys and phone on the seat and turned on the air full blast. Put my daughter in the car seat and walked to the trunk. This whole time, this guy doesn’t lift a finger to help out at all. He wanted to keep me talking to him. I asked if he could go get the gear from the beach, less than 50 yards away, he said no he wanted to talk, but remember I was on a time crunch, so finally with some extreme frustration I said, “fine, I’ll go get the gear can you please rearrange the stuff in this trunk so there will be room for the gear when I get back with it all?” He said, “fine”.
That was the last time I saw that car in the parking spot I had originally parked in with my child in the backseat. Frantic does not explain what I was feeling.
I dropped the gear, looked at every spot, walked to the road looked up and down and didn’t see the car. Maybe he went back to the restaurant since my girlfriend texted saying she didn’t have enough cash on her to pay the whole bill after all. It was over $200. Unbelievable. But priority one; find my baby. I saw a police officer told her briefly that I needed help that this new guy I was seeing had disappeared in the rental car with my toddler inside. She bluntly told me that I’d have to get in line. Go back to where I last saw them and if when she was done I still needed help then she would be right down.
Instead, the cops that found me next worried out of my mind rolled up into the public beach access parking stopped and asked if I was Quinn Gallo and I said, “Yes, I need help, my new guy had disappeared with my daughter in the backseat of the car and I don’t know where they went!”. He responded, “Shut up before I arrest you for being stupid”.
Evidently, someone in a condominium parking lot noticed this guy sitting in a car with a crying baby in the backseat while he was passed out and when the fire rescue showed up they broke the window revived him and he told them that he didn’t know where the mother of the crying baby in the backseat had went. She had left hours ago and never returned.
I mean, who would question the statement of a man who was found passed out in a car with a crying baby not his own? But the cops did.
I was the one arrested. Child neglect and he a DUI.
After being released the next day, my mom there to pick me up and take me home and all I could think of was my crying daughters face and how she would have felt so scared. I wasn’t allowed to see her. My mom took me home and I was hungry and wanted a shower. She told me get into the shower and she would go grab something to eat and be right back. As I was in the shower, I hear his voice from my bedroom almost frantic with worry, “Quinn, Quinn are you okay?”. I started screaming Bloody Mary that he better get the hell out of my home! And somehow, he turned it all around talking about how he had been out of jail most of the night and was worried and lost and he had his mom waiting a few blocks down and that he watched for my mom to leave and needed to speak to me. What did I tell the police, what were my charges what was going to happen.
I was so pissed and not to exaggerate, but I do have a Sicilian temper. He responded cool as a cucumber as he finally got out the door, “you should have listened to me, Quinn, it’s not my fault you don’t know how to do what I want, but don’t worry, you’ll learn”.
And that was just the beginning.
What are the pros and cons of coming out about sexual abuse, and what are they if a victim waits? What causes someone to hold their silence?
Everyone has a different reason as to why they write. For me it is a release. I also use my writing to reach others. So often you read something and recognize – ” that’s me”.
I have reworked the title, I’m working everyday to grow and learn, how to effectively reach people. My goal is to help even just one person. If I do it, I have accomplished my purpose.
My story sadly is not rare. All to often people accept the mistreatment and abuse and remain a victim all on their own accord for various reasons. Sometimes you feel as if you have no other choice because you have tried before and failed and the consequences were too great to try again. You choose to have a life of torment and remain the victim. In the same way you can choose to walk in VICTORY. That is what I want you to know. That where you find the will you will find the way. The main point I want to impart to anyone in a position where they feel trapped for one reason or another; no matter the reason, ASK FOR HELP. Do not remain silent. Talking to someone about what you are going through, no matter how many times you have to do it, at some point, you will get the help. Someone bigger and badder than the oppressor you have in your life right now keeping you down can and will help you get out.
Even if that person is YOU!
All paths will present challenges. You’re going to fight either way. I encourage you fight for your freedom , fight for the life that was meant for you. You don’t deserve this and you may think you do or that you have no choice. It’s common to place the actions of others on our backs to excuse their actions. STOP! Nobody deserves to be abused, oppressed, threatened, manipulated or coerced into living a life that keeps you in constant fear. You have to accept that this is not your fault, and you want the life God has intended for you. A life of goodness , joy and peace.
I want to remind you. Whatever you’re facing. No matter how bad it seems. Hopeless , helpless and frightened. You can be free. Nobody promised life would be easy but with the help of God He will give you strength and guide your steps.
There is a way out. All you have to seek it. You have to desire to be fully free from those victimizing you and FULLY walk away.
Once the flip is switched, you will not be able to accept the irrational behaviors of others. We all have different points when that is reached. I’m here to help flip that switch.
So this is my why. Choose victory. The life you’re living is not yours. Boldly go in the direction of your dreams, you can’t even imagine what great things God has in store for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 says , ” for I know the plans I have for you. Plans to give you a good life filled with love and peace, plans to bless you . Victory in the final outcome.”
You choose, choose life – it is really a beautiful thing . You’ve missed enough of the beauty. Decide to find your way out.
Know you are never alone. He hears you’re every cry.
Sometimes going through a terrible time is God’s reminder of just how much He was there with us and protecting us all along. A friend told me once that God does want me to be alone. He does want me with no where else to turn, so that the only place left I have to turn is to Him. That day, I started praying to God as if I was the errant child He must think of me. Lost and turning in all the wrong directions and asking the wrong people all the wrong questions. When I finally lifted my head to the Heavens, closed my eyes and asked God all of the questions and gave Him all of my worries did He start showing me just how much He has been with me.
A few days ago He showed me again just how wonderful a person I am. A young woman I had the pleasure to work with and know got in touch with my husband. She said she had been back in town for three months and everyday she was reminded of me. Reminded of all I was to her. When I first heard that she was contacting Brian I wasn’t sure if I wanted anything to do with her. She had offended my husband and I, of course, defended him. It, she, had left a bad taste in my mouth. So when Brian asked me if she could come over and see us and that she loved and missed me I didn’t answer him right away. After several minutes of quiet contemplation I heard a whisper that surely God would want me to forgive her and ask for her forgiveness in turn. Would I want Him to judge me the same? With a determined but cautious demeanor I consented.
Later that evening when she came in our front door she started running and talking loudly. This is what she said:
“Oh my God, I love you and miss you so much. There aren’t many people I would ever say I looked up to, but you were one of them! I just miss you so much. I’ve kept a prayer you wrote down on a piece of notebook paper when we worked together with me everywhere I go…. I’ve never had it out of my presence! As God is my witness He is good and you told me about it Him and I never gave it a thought, but He has showed me and if I never get another chance to see you I want you to know how much I looked up to you! How much I admire you. I just love you so much!!!”
All through her tears and her squeezing my neck with such fierce force to express just how much she meant her words. Right there in her arms God was hugging me. It was God’s words she was saying to me. It was her words she was saying to me. In those moments God was proving to me and I was filled with the greatest love I had ever known. My God loved me as I loved Him. This was just another sign He was showing me that He would never and had never forsaken me. I have walked His path He set for me and at the most pivotal moment too.
Isn’t God’s love and His plan perfect? To know what we need and when we need it? All I had to do was give in to His grace. Stop asking the wrong people the wrong questions. All I had to do was ask God to take all the negative out of me; my fears, my pain, my loss, my anxiety, my worry and the most amazing blessings have been coming to me one after another after another!
God is Great! So go ahead and stand over there in your disbelief… but He will show you everyday that He is very real indeed! If you doubt me…. give yourself over to Him and He will show you what He has shown me. I am but His servant. I live my life for Him and my love is for Him and Oh how He loves me!
If anyone is curious about the prayer I wrote down for her because she had never heard it before and didn’t know it. This is the prayer I wrote down on that fated notebook paper for her:
“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen”