I was twelve-years-old when my life was stolen. I can recall becoming a helpless victim of sexual abuse. The abuse continued for three years. I was forced to see him every day, until one day he disappeared, leaving me with nothing but shattered dreams and scars that bled hopelessness, suicide, and shame. Forced to bear the burden alone, I struggled with trying to find who I was and why he chose me.
Scrapes and Scars chronicle the unapologetic story of my journey to overcome the agony and devastation of a horrifying childhood experience. One that was meant to cripple and challenge my very being for life, but I learned that obstacles and trials were meant to be defeated. Through this journey, you too will learn that the scrapes and scars of your past do not define you; your ability to overcome them does.
|Publisher:||Let's Not Forget|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.30(d)|
About the Author
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I was the fourth of five biological children and my parents adopted six foster children. I have a twin brother Edward who was born a minute before me. Let him tell it, he drags it out to about five minutes. We were born prematurely. I was one pound and Edward was two pounds. We lived in an incubator for a few months. Edward left before me because I struggled to gain weight. My mother smoked cigarettes and was sick a lot during her pregnancy. Maybe that's why I stay sick so much today.
Growing up our home was the party house. That's what I called it. My parents had parties or hosted them and everyone in the family and their friends came over and had a good time. As I got older, I started to see that our home was open to whomever, whenever. If my older brother's friends didn't have a place to live, they came to stay at our house. If family members got kicked out their house, they came to stay with us, too. It didn't matter, our home was where everyone ran.
My parents were cool to everyone but their own children or maybe just me. It was more mother than my father. My relationship with them changed as I got older. They were strict. My mother was a stay at home parent so some working parents in our neighborhood hired her to babysit their children. It was never quiet in our home. My father worked second shift for a mailing equipment company. All my father ever wanted was a clean house. Oh and alcohol. No matter what time he came home from work — or the bar — at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, if his house wasn't clean he woke up everyone. He didn't care if we had school in the morning. We had to rise and clean to his liking. It was embarrassing when friends slept over and my dad came home drunk, yelling at us to clean the house, and he would speak in other languages that everyone got a good laugh out of. To this day, we're not sure what language he spoke when he was drunk. Even though, I hated it as a child I love that about my dad. My obsession for cleaning is because of him.
My mother, on the other, was the disciplinarian. If you did anything wrong, you deserved a whipping. She was the judge and the jury in the house. Whatever she said goes. Period. If we didn't follow the rules there were real consequences. I hardly ever saw her smile. She never played with us. I only have one memory with her that I will always cherish. She signed me up for Girl Scouts. At the time, I had to be about nine- or ten- years-old. I entered as a junior girl scout. I wore that green uniform with pride. The joy of being a part of something excited me.
This one event we participated in was the 5k Walk or Run in Philadelphia. We had spent that day walking with other girls and their mothers in the Logan section of Philadelphia. The smile on my face as I looked out at everyone and up at my mother was priceless. I felt like I finally made a connection with her like the girls did on TV and movies with their mom. I thought I was about to embark on a mother and daughter relationship that was out this world. That day, I thought we had built a great bond and I was excited about spending more time with her, since a lot of her time went to helping and babysitting other people's children. Shortly after that event, I don't remember anything else we did together. I even stopped going to Girl Scouts.
In middle school, I was a tomboy. All I wore was baggy clothes, played video games, and enjoyed sports. Edward and I created a dance group and we were in singing group with our friends in the neighborhood. But my favorite things were basketball, reading, and dancing. Edward and I went around Philly during the summer, attending block parties and challenging other kids in the community to dance contests. My older brother, Derrick, was our manager. He was five-years-older than us. He taught us new dance steps, or we watched videos of music groups like, Kid-n-Play, and used their moves. We never lost a competition. The thrill of going to other neighborhoods and having strangers watch us perform was incredible. It gave me a rush. Back then, I felt like me and Edward were destined to be stars. To be great. We were the totally package.
Being a twin was fun and we made it fun like we were identical twins. One time in school we switched classes and sat at each other desk as if the teachers wouldn't figure out we didn't belong there during roll call. Edward and I were jokesters. It was nice making people smile and laugh. We always had a good time everywhere we went. Derrick was funny, too. He taught me a lot of things. He even had me in the corner store hustling his friends for money, playing them in arcade games like Street Fighter and Mortal Combat. I played on the game all day with one quarter. We even hookied school one day playing on the video game. It wasn't our intention we just lost track of time.
The older I got the more obsessed I became with anything that I had the opportunity to learn something new. I wouldn't stop it until I mastered it. Derrick even taught me how to fight. I had an in-home punching bag: Edward. For years, Derrick made us fight and he would watch. All the times when we fought, I would beat up Edward, until one day he must had hit puberty because he was losing, and all of a sudden, he picked me up, slammed me down and I was out. That was the last time me and Edward fought each other. All my memories before twelve-years-old were fun- filled. I was finding myself until Chester showed up, and then, my life took a turn for the worse.CHAPTER 2
The Unexpected "P"
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As a kid I was never shocked that someone was coming to stay with us for whatever reason. Seeing my parents always willing to help anyone out, taught me how to be a giver, and not a taker. However, at the age of twelve, that changed. One day, I overheard my mother on the phone, telling someone how Chester had started drinking a lot, and had started using drugs. Perhaps, that was why his wife did not want to deal with him any longer, my mom had said. She informed the caller, he could come and stay with her until he got on his feet.
When Chester usually came to visit, he always presented himself as laid-back and super cool. He always made jokes and was the life of the party. Generally, he was OK to be around when he did come by the house. But this time when he came to live with us, he came as an entirely different person.
My memory is a little fuzzy here, or perhaps my young and immature mind purposely locked away the initial memories, so that they couldn't hurt me again. I am not quite sure how long after he moved in that he started sexually assaulting me.
One weekend his children — yes, he actually had those — came to visit and he went out for a while. Being the oldest in the house during this time, I made sure to keep them from getting bored so we played and played until we fell asleep that night in the basement in Chester's bed with my parents upstairs.
While asleep, I felt something heavy lying on me. A strong smell of smoke, cologne, and alcohol pouring off someone that made my nose itch, forcing me to wake up. As I rubbed my eyes with my hands, I was trying to remove what was on top of me, but he refused to let me up no matter how much I tried to push.
"No, please stop." I cried as he continued to force himself on me.
"Shut up. You're going to wake up the kids. Shut up. Shut up," he kept saying in an aggressive tone. I quietly cried in fear because I didn't want to wake the kids lying on the bed beside us. I told Chester to stop, again. I pleaded in all the ways my twelve year old mind knew how.
He just kept telling me to shut up.
I tried to bite his hand that was covering my mouth, so he squeezed my cheeks together so hard I thought one of my teeth had actually fallen out when he let go.
Then he said, "If you tell, no one would believe you."
I feared that this was a fact. He was my mother's relative. Who would believe me if I told, he had feasted on my innocence? He did it right beside his own children at night with my parents in the house.
I weighed my options. He was already having his way with me. My struggles to fight Chester off seemed to ignite his excitement. I gave up fighting. I was no match for him. I laid there like a limp and broken rag doll. As tears came down my face all I thought about was how no one would believe me. What may have only been but a few minutes seemed to stretch for a never-ending eternity.
I felt alone, so alone I thought I only had to fight for myself. I believed his words when he said no one would believe me because my mother would believe his lie. She had stressed, in the past, how family business should always remain within the house.
My eyes were closed as he finally found my opening and pushed. Ripping though my flesh, I closed my eyes tighter, clench my teeth together and balled my fist up to maybe control some of the pain as he pounded and pounded away at my vagina whispering to me all the time, "Vonnie, damn you are a special girl."
When he let me up, I looked at him from the middle of the stairs in disbelief. I tiptoed upstairs to the bathroom to wash my skin, and to scrub his filth off my body. As I wiped my own vagina it burned so bad that I almost hit my face on the sink due to the pain weakening my legs. My legs felt like rubber bands. In my head, I kept replaying his voice telling me to shut up. Then seeing the blood on my rag made me cry harder. His brutal assault had torn through my sensitive opening badly enough to make me bleed.
That night, I was forced to lie in bed with a rag between my legs because I did not want the blood coming out of me to leave its mark on the sheets. Blood on the sheets would lead to questions and questions meant I had to provide answers. This wouldn't be answering mere questions. Even as a child I knew that I did not have the strength to give answers to defiling questions. How would I explain to anyone? What if no one believed me? Plus, the water was warm and it eased some of the throbbing I had down there. The rag between my legs felt like the only safe way out for the night. I decided I could not afford to let anyone see the evidence of my violation. Not on my bed. Not where anyone else could see my shame. The next day, I planned to be the first out of bed to dispose of the rag.
Disoriented: "To confuse by removing or obscuring something that has guided a person, group, or culture, as customs, and moral standard."
Everything that I knew was taken from me that night and I had no idea how to go back. When someone touched me I was jumpy. I could sit and just fall into a daze. It hurt when I walked. For many days, it felt like my vagina was on fire. It hurt when I peed and every time I whipped myself I looked at the rag or tissue to see if I was still bleeding.
Why me? This question haunted me every day. I laid in my bed the first time it happened thinking and asking God, why me? What have I done so wrong that I deserve this to happen to me?
At twelve-years-old, no child should have felt that kind of pain. I blamed myself for what happened. I blamed myself for being with his children and for falling asleep in his bed.
I blamed myself for fighting and saying no. Maybe the pain wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't fight him. The word no did not mean anything to me anymore. I said, "no" so many times. He never listened so I simply went ahead and removed the word from my vocabulary.CHAPTER 3
I Thought My Dad Knew
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"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." — Sigmund Freud
As I slept in bed, I was suddenly awakened in the middle of the night by a finger in my vagina, a hand over my mouth, and the nasty smell of cigarettes. When I opened my eyes, Chester was gazing right into my eyes, as if he was trying to look for some kind of connection with me. I quickly closed them tightly shut and held them closed for as long as I could. My heart was beating fast out of my chest. He climbed into bed with me, I balled my fist up, clenched my teeth as he violated my body again.
All of a sudden, I heard a fire alarm screaming. Before he climaxed, he quickly jumped off the bed, fixing his clothes. My father walked into my room and asked, "Are you cooking something on the stove? It's burning."
Chester said, "Yes," and simply walked out of my room.
I lay there waiting and trying to hear my father's voice. But I heard nothing. Then, I heard the door closing to my parent's bedroom. Sitting up in bed, I was amazed that he never asked Chester, 'Why the hell are you in my daughter's bedroom at this time of night?' Never did I hear those words from my father. Why? Did he not just see what happened? He was in here and I'm not imaging this, he just left. To me I begin to think that I was a sacrifice or a debt my parent's couldn't pay. I lay on my bed crying with my face in my hand hurting, thinking; can these people really not care about me? Is he that naïve? What did I do to my dad for him to ignore me this way?
The thought of dying ran through my mind and I needed to find away to do it.
I had heard about a girl in my middle school that tried it. But did I really want to die or just draw enough attention to myself so that my parents could see that something was not right with me.
"Smile, because it confuses people. Smile, because it's easier than explaining what is killing you inside." — Anonymous
Smiling was something I knew how to do without prompts. It became so easy to hide my hurt because there was never a follow-up question when people saw you smiling. I had become a master of disguise.
Smiling gave people the sense that I was approachable; my face said I was, but my heart was cold. As far as I was concerned, smiling was a conduit that gave people the impression that I was that oh-such-a-sweet- and-nice-girl, whilst I had this fire and rage smoldering deep inside of me. If anyone ever dared to say anything wrong to me, I chewed them up like there was no tomorrow.
But I had no idea how to stand up against Chester. I was this tough mean girl to others but could not fight him off. I was so angry with myself for not being strong enough to deal with him like everyone else. Then, the angry, defiant, anti-social girl came out. I got into fights at school and around the neighborhood. I disrespected authority figures and hated everyone. While in school, I walked with my head down because I was afraid that teachers and staff would see what was behind my eyes. So I kept smiling. That drew many teachers and staff closer to me but I never let them in.
Despite all of that, I had an outlet.
My passion and love for basketball kept me sane and was the sole silver lining on an otherwise incredibly dark cloud. It was my ticket to freedom. Reading not so much, I stopped reading because when it was quiet it allowed my mind to drift off and it became hard to focus on the words. Instead, I relived what Chester was doing to me. It played in my mind like a the rerun of a movie.
I barely was making my grades at school and was firmly convinced that there would come a day in my life when I would play professional basketball. There were talks that there would be a WNBA soon and my game was getting better everyday. I walked everyday to the basketball courts in Nicetown, but one day there was a portable court on the corner of my street in Philadelphia. Not a crate but a real court. I'm not sure who basketball court it was, but it was always there and everyone around the way came to play on it. On that court was where my game elevated with the help of Brian and a few other guys.
Brian was a friend of Derrick's. He was six-years-older than me, out of high school, and working on becoming a nurse. Brian was a typical boy next door — charming, popular, and well respected. No one suspected that he indulged in a life of smoking, drinking, and partying. He had a great personality and a smile that all the girls loved. He was a ladies man that wanted all of the girls. And he never hid it.
I had a crush on Brian. He didn't mind that I was younger than he was. He lived across the street from us and he enjoyed playing basketball too. We clicked immediately as friends first. He taught me the mental toughness and emotional piece of the game. We played rough-house together all the time and he never took it easy on me. Oh, I'm girl talk, didn't work on him. He was determined to help me be great. We played on teams together and won a few games for money. Basketball was my way out of this. Little did I realize, basketball would provide Chester the opportunity he needed!
One hot, dreadful day, I was playing basketball at Hunting Park near my grandmother's home. When I was done playing, I realized that I had lost all track of time. My heart sank. In a panic I ran with weak legs to my grandma's house and called my mom to let her know that I was about to start walking home. She insisted that I wait for Chester to come pick me up because it was dark. I took the phone from my ear and looked at it, as I didn't want to hear those words come out her mouth.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Scrapes and Scars: No Secrets"
Copyright © 2018 Chavonne Hurdle.
Excerpted by permission of Let's Not Forget, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 | Restrospection,
2 | The Unexpected "P",
3 | I Thought My Dad Knew,
4 | Unstable "Help",
5 | Letters to My Parents,
6 | Self-harm,
7 | Freshman Year,
8 | It Got Worse Before It Got Better,
9 | Graduation Day,
10 | When It Became Real for H E R,
11 | Stranded,
12 | Rock Bottom,
13 | R E w i n d,
14 | Lasting Effects,
A Final Note,
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Further Reading: Restoring: Me and Only Me,
About the Author,