Thursday, October 1, 2009

Roman Polanski and Me

First - go here
 Snips And Snails And The Unbearable Heaviness Of Roman Polanski
and read her post.  Then come back.  I'll wait.

Back? Good.  You, of course agree with everything Bad Mother wrote, as do I.  He's a bad man who should be punished.

Now let me tell you my story. 

My mother was raised by an abusive father.  He would lock her in a closet for days on end to keep her from eating because she was too fat.  When she accidentally shut her little sister's finger in the car door, he did the same to hers - and left her there for an hour.  Her nail grows with a split in it to this day.  There are many many stories like these that I know, and undoubtedly even more I don't.  She was also sexually abused by him, but I don't know any of those details.  She has never shared them with me, and I have never asked. 

My father was raised by his father, and step-mother.  His mother was certifiably insane.  She ended up having a lobotomy later in life, actually.  His step-mother never liked him much, he wasn't even allowed to sit on the furniture.  He was only 16 when he and my mother met, although he lied and told her he was 18 to her 21.  They were married just weeks later.

He  had a temper.  And seemed to have inherited a good bit of his mothers psychological issues.  And my mother had victim written all over her.  I was born when he was 17.  He rarely worked, and never consistently - leaving my mother to be the one to keep our family afloat. He was physically violent to my mother for the entire length of their marriage, although I only rarely saw the actual abuse.  I was about 18 months old when my mom came home from work to find me passed out drunk in the corner - his excuse?  I'd wanted the beer, and he'd thought it was cute.  And I was only 2 the first time he threatened to have sex with me.  My mother had said no to him.  His words?  "if you don't, she will" pointing to me.  She did.  I was safe.  That time.

But I didn't stay safe.  I don't actually remember when it started.  I was very young.  I'm not sure I ever remember a time when he wasn't touching me.  I do know that for a long time I thought nothing of it.  When I was in 2nd grade I had two close friends and we started talking one day, and the subject somehow came up.  What my father was doing to me, J's brother was doing to her, and D's step-brother was doing to her.  When you're 7, if something is happening to you and your friends, why would you think it's NOT normal?  r at least convince yourself it must be okay?

I do specifically remember the first rape - I was 9.  He held a pillow over my face to keep me quiet because my 3 year old sister was asleep in her bed just a few feet away.  That was just the first time.  I remember one night my mother opening the bedroom door while he was on top of me, turning around and walking out.  It broke my heart.  I found out later that she has absolutely no memory of this.  I believe her.  At some point it got to be too much for me and I stopped remembering it myself.  I have huge gaps in my memory.  Massive pieces of my childhood are just not there.  Mostly I'm okay with that.  The things that I do remember are bad enough.  But sometimes it's really frustrating. 

My parents divorced when I was 11.  The abuse didn't stop, it just had to wait for visitation.  I saw him give my mom a black eye one night when she had to bring my inhaler to his house because I forgot it.  I vowed not to forget things anymore.  This went on for a few years.  I had managed to put away all memory of the abuse, even while it was going on at this point, so things just kind of flowed, on the surface.  But really - things were bad.  I was hyper-sexual, chasing after boys and doing things other girls my age were NOT doing - heck that the BOYS my age weren't doing.  All the guys I ended up with were years older than me.  Then, just a month or so after turning 13 - my first suicide attempt.  I took 100 tylenol and some other random medications I found in my mom's medicine cabinet.   Paramedics told my mother if she had been an hour later getting home, she would have found me dead.  Landed me in the hospital for a few days, then in therapy.  First thing I was asked - have you been abused?  I honestly said no, because I didn't remember it.

Things continued from there.  More and more promiscuity.  Lost my virginity (willingly - totally different thing) at 13.  Discovered pot and alcohol, the only things available on the island where I lived.  Another suicide attempt.  Still in therapy, still having court ordered visitation with my father.  Until I was about 15.  I started having nightmares.  Horrible, detailed nightmares.  I was taking so many No-Doz to avoid sleep, to avoid knowing,  I started throwing up blood.  One night, when the pills had worn off and I'd fallen asleep against my will, I started yelling in my sleep, loud enough to wake my mom.  She came in and listened.  And in listening learned things she'd never seen.  The next morning, when I woke up she was sitting in her chair, looking so sad.  She looked at me, and asked "Jen - has your father ever hurt you?"  after the months of nightmares, and the look on my mom's face, I couldn't deny it anymore, even to myself, and I burst into tears.  Within hours, we were at the police station making a report.

This is really long, so let's skip to the chase...

You want to know what happened to him?  The man who stole my entire childhood?  The one who taught me that the only thing I was good for was to fuck?  That the only way I could ever hope to be loved was on back, or my knees?  He was allowed a plea bargain.  One count of attempted molestation.  He lived in a halfway house for a couple of years, and had some therapy.  No actual jail time.  That's it.  Think it's a fair trade?

So as much as the situation with Roman Polanski INFURIATES me, in the long run, it's not going to matter until the laws in this country are changed.  We need to stop treating these men as though it's okay, it's no big deal.  It a really big deal.  Stop slapping them on the wrists and treat our children's innocence and childhood as though they are actually worth something, okay?  Actually punish the people who do wrong and maybe there won't be as many Polanski's who think it's okay to do this.


Tina said...


I am so sorry...breaks my heart!


Anemone Pie said...

I have no words, just tears for you. I feel like I'm a strong person but I honestly don't know that I could have come out of what you did alive. I'm awfully glad you did. {{{you}}}
I absolutely agree with you, too.

Really Frugal said...

Aching for you and have no words. There is no punishment on this earth for people like that.

won said...

I am sorry, and I understand. I believe you said to me that you had read my story too, so you know I know where you're coming from.

The part about the missing memories really resonated with me. I'm glad, in the end, your mom was there for you and spoke up to protect you. I am sorry the consequence was not harsher, although again....I'm glad there was one.

My molester still walks around accusing me of lying, and being believed.

Anonymous said...

This story took my breath away...I am so so sorry that it is your story. You seem to be a beautiful/wonderful woman and mother......Blessings~

Shawnee said...

Jennifer- I am so sorry your innocence was taken in such a cruel and inhuman way. No one should ever have to endure one minute of that. I also have an attacker who was never caught. Even when the pain dulls and you are able to find peace and joy, there will always be a piece of the puzzle missing without justice.

Creepy Mommy said...

Wow, what an emotional story. I just don't know what to say, except I'm glad you made it through. I'm so sorry.

Jennifer said...

Thank you all for your support.

Won, and Shawnee, my heart aches for you. I know, as little as it was, I did get at least some justice. I wish you could say the same.

lisa said...

No words I could ever say can express the pain my heart holds for you. I'm so sorry this happened to you and continues to happen to innocent children.
I'm am infuriated with the sentence that your abuser received and the whole hoopla over Roman Polanski. How anyone can come to his defense boggles my mind.


Like the others, I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry that you have had to go through this and lost your childhood. I agree with you that things need to change.

Trudy said...


Kathleen said...

Thank you for sharing, I hope it helps a part of you begin to heal. It blows my mind that you and your friends all were being molested, and that it was kind of just the way things were. What a travesty. I really think people who do these types of things should be castrated, and possibly have their hands removed. Nobody should have to suffer like this.

Elizabeth said...

I have no other words to say than I am truly sorry. I wish I had words to take it all away.

Robin said...

I am so sorry this happened to you.



Jennifer said...

Thank you all again. Kathleen, I agree. There isn't a fitting punishment, really, because you can't do to these men what they did to the child - you can't take away their childhood.

Lisa - I don't get it either, it's not something you can defend. I'll never understand how anyone can think it's not a big deal, or something to make light of.

Boy Crazy said...

I came here via your comment on Her Bad Mother. I am at a loss for words, but I wanted to tell you that I'm listening to your story. I hear you. And I'm so very, very sorry for what you have endured. You are a brave woman for sharing this story.

Kristin said...

Oh my...I don't have the words...I just can't imagine, I haven't been there. You are a strong woman to speak up and the more women you help, is a true blessing.

The justice system astounds me. How they come up with sentencing just baffles me.

Thank you and I truly am sorry for your struggle...he should have had his nuts cut off ...but that is my opinion.

From reading the comments on Krista's blog, you have reached a lot of people and that is inspiring.


Suze said...

I am so, so sorry. Thank you for the courage and strength it took to write and share your story. It has already helped others. (((hugs)))

Amy said...

I don't know what to say. Don't have anything to say. But couldn't read your story without leaving a comment.

I can't imagine.

Jennifer said...

Thank you yet again. I never imagined so much support would come from this.

The Queen of Chaos said...

((( gentle hugs )))

I've been there, I too do NOT have memories of my childhood, there are huge gaps, and I am convinced that it's my brain protecting me.

J from Ireland said...

I am so sorry. You are a brave person, fair play to you. Thank you for sharing.

Maggie, Dammit said...

If you'd ever like to share your story on, I'd be honored to have it. Email me at maggie [at] violenceunsilenced [dot] com if you'd like to. Either way, thank you for sharing your story here. Every time a survivor speaks out, she helps so many others. Take good care.

Whimsy said...

Oh sweetie (Can I call you sweetie? This comment deserves a sweetie, I think),

I am so sorry. Those are the first words to come. But on the tail of them, there is this: you are very brave. So very brave to share your story, to still go on. To do what you do in lightness. To have a family and raise them in a way that is the OPPOSITE of what you experienced. Damn, girl. You are brave, My First Jenny, BRAVE.

heather said...

i don't know how i missed this when you first posted it. wow. i am so sorry that you had to go through that. i too am glad that you survived. and know that you are giving your children the childhood that you deserved. through them may you heal. lots of love.


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