Content Warning: Sexual abuse/trauma
When I was 16 years old my parents let my uncle Ed move into our backyard. He lived in an RV camper while we lived in the 3 bedroom trailer house. I lived there with my two younger sisters.
My uncle took to me instantly. He would invite me to go to the flea market with him. He used to make planter boxes for house plants and gardens out of wood. We would build them together. They came in two varieties, the first was a simple wooden box you would put flowers in. The other one was a large wishing well that would house a bush or small tree.
We would go to the flea market and sell his junk as well as those homemade planter boxes. He paid me a commission on sales and a flat fee for helping out. While there he bought me lunch as well as toys plus comic books and video games. He spoiled me. At first he quickly became my favorite uncle.
The spoiling continued. He would take me to the mall to go shopping at the video game store. Sometimes he would take me out to eat at restaurants or we’d go to the movies. It felt like I had an uncle that I could really bond with. It sure as hell didn’t feel anything like grooming at the time, yet that is exactly what it was.
I remember my mom got him a job volunteering as an assistant youth minister at our church. There were two boys that he became quit fond of. I won’t share their names it’s not important to the story. What I will share is they were best friends, they did everything together.
My uncle soon began taking the three of us to places. Some days he would hire them to come over and do chores around the house, including yard work. He was disabled. He had polio as a kid so he couldn’t turn his neck. He also walked with a cane and was unable to bend over. Eventually he would get in a wheelchair. Before that he began the grooming process of those two boys also.
Then things got real all of a sudden.
One day I was invited over to his house to help him fix his new laptop computer. It wasn’t brand new it was a used one he picked up at a flea market somewhere. I think he said he wanted to use it for email and stuff like that. It was the late 90s so the internet was still fairly new.
Often times I would walk into his camper he would be sitting there in his underwear watching an action movie on VHS. Sometimes he would invite me into his house to sit and watch a movie with him. I never asked him why he was in his underwear, I just pushed it out of my mind and watched the film he invited me to watch. This happened a lot until that day I mentioned with his computer.
There I was working on his computer trying to get it connected to the dial up modem he purchased. He had a dial up internet account from the local phone company. That was when he made his move. Sitting on the chair next to me I felt his hands move across my thigh.
Eventually he made his way further inward while patting me on my bottom. I immediately became uncomfortable and walked out. He grabbed me and said sit down. He asked what I was afraid of then proceeded to tell me a story about his first blow job. I became repulsed and said I wasn’t into that kind of stuff. He said what are you a faggot or something? He said that while trying to rub my shoulders allegedly to help me relax. I had enough. I walked out for good this time. I left his house and promptly went home.
A few weeks went by I started to piece together the events in my mind. As I lay in bed wondering what I did to lead him on, questioning if maybe I was gay, I recalled all the times we would hang out sorting through my mind looking for clues.
We moved to right on the border of Southern Idaho and Nevada. One day I was sitting in my living room watching TV when my dad called me on the phone. “Yeah?” I asked.
“You remember your friend, B.” dad said.
“Yes what about him?” I asked.
“Well, He’s a goner. They found his body at the bottom of the river last night. I guess he jumped in they said. He’s dead.”
I fell to the floor in tears. Over the course of the next few weeks I would learn he had in deed taken his life allegedly as a result of his girlfriend breaking up with him. It was at his funeral that other friend of his, the one from earlier in the story, told me in a cryptic manner it was my Uncles fault.
It didn’t take long for me to piece together what that meant. He had been grooming them the same as he had done me. I wondered what he could have tried, or worse, with either of them. During the course of the death investigation allegations came out from other boys from the church. It was ruled as hearsay and thus nothing was done about it. He was asked to resign his position from the church and died a lonely old man a few years later.
I don’t like to talk about how when he was rubbing my private parts he was in his underwear fully erect. The image of his underwear burned into my brain forever haunting me. I never confirmed to anyone what he did all I ever said was “I believed the allegations” and left it at that.
I didn’t even tell my mom about this until several years after his death. It was after I began transitioning she told me how he spent time in jail for being a pervert. I asked if she knew he was a perv why did she let him live in our backyard. She said something about rehabilitation and you take care of family no matter what. She told me she was so concerned with protecting her daughters she never thought about protecting her son. I told her flat out he did molest one of your daughters, it was me. I never told her the details. Even now there may be things I have suppressed as I have spent most of my life trying to bury the events of that time in my life.
Looking back on it I 100 percent believe my friend took his life as a result of what my uncle did to him. I sift through my trauma-scarred memories looking for clues I may have missed of my own grooming. Once I knew what that word meant everything he did for me suddenly made perfect sense. He wasn’t my favorite uncle, he was a monster trying to get me to do things I was no willing to do.
Unfortunately I am convinced he got to my other friends instead. What I am certain of is what he said to me that day. I will never forget the way he accused me of being gay because I didn’t like him rubbing my privates.
I wish I could sit here and tell you that was the only instance of sexual abuse and sexual trauma I experienced in my life. I won’t go into specifics but I had a girlfriend once attempt to lure me into bed and when I refused she proceeded to do something to me she thought would change my mind. When I further refused her she broke up with me. I didn’t like to tell my friends what happened because I was ashamed. I also hearkened back to what my uncle tried. I felt guilt and shame so I withdrew from girls and friends. I stopped dating for a long time.
There are a couple other instances I won’t go into here. One was the woman I had become engaged to that one time. Same story she wanted sex, I said no so she took something from me instead hoping it would lure me into bed. When I refused she accused me of being gay as well. I explained how I was ultra religious and not ready as I wanted to wait till we were married.
In all three of those instances someone tried touching me in a way I was not comfortable being touched. In all three of those instances I felt guilt and shame. I felt like there must be something wrong with me. I felt like I was a freak who needed to get over it and do the thing the girls wanted me to do.
All of my sexual encounters in my lifetime were events that left me traumatized. None of them were consensual. None of them were pleasurable experiences. All of them left me scarred.
I don’t like to talk about this stuff because it is triggering for me. I know as I write this it is likely to be triggering to others who perhaps have gone through worse. I don’t share it to bring attention to myself. I recall it simply as a matter-of-fact. Something that happened in my life I have largely suppressed.
I never told a living soul any of these events before tonight. The first person I opened up to was my loving, kind and understanding girlfriend. I knew opening up to her I was in a safe space. Now I write this here hoping maybe my story will help others face their own demons.
Sexual trauma is nothing to laugh at nor is it something we should hide from. It is difficult to talk about. It should be difficult to talk about. Our most private moments should only be shared with others whom we choose, not selfish individuals who violate our trust.