To read an interview exploring the roots of my recent NER essay “The Haunting of Byerly Hall: WC” follow the link below:
In solidarity with the compelling testimony of Dr. Blasey Ford before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018, I reprint below crucial sentences from River Bend Chronicle (page 12) detailing the specifics of sexual assaults I experienced in the 1970s beginning at the age of nine. The attacker was my mother, a lawyer. Forty years had to pass before I was able to write these words.
I had only rarely rebuffed her inappropriate touching in the dark upstairs bedroom as she talked about her marital problems and the famous murders she had read of, and described—in the most bizarre twist, while kneading the balls of my feet or applying salve to my buttocks—the various ways that a child could fend off an attack, either by being perfectly quiet and still (like the student nurse who had hid under the dorm bunk during the Speck massacre in Chicago) or by screaming and pissing and all else. On my tummy, spread-eagled, I chose the former. I listened to the leaves rustling outside the window and to her voice inside, also rustling. She requested permission before every infraction—“Can I rub…can I put on…?”—and I complied. She asked with such need and desperation that I sympathized with her more than myself. Her hurting me became me helping her, being with her in her darkest moments, or trying to be there—as the voice telling me what to do were I attacked was at least a hundred miles from the hands doing the squeezing. In those mad moments she offered her oldest son the mad choice either to believe in her as a protector or revile her as an enemy, and if I knew the best choice (I could not afford to lose a parent—not then!) and tried to make it, I also knew the truth.