I was sexually abused by my biological father from a very young age. I was 13 when he went to jail (for something unrelated to SA) and my brother and I went to foster care. My foster father was as abusive as my father, but in a different way - the abuse from his was mostly verbal/emotional, and occasionally physical. But he was on a mission to dominate every member of his household, and was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish that.

Years of abuse had taught me to shut down when he became violent, enabling me to appear unaffected by his displays of dominance - I would just stand there and take whatever he threw at me. No one knew that it was actually just my body standing there, that I would simply "leave". At other times, I would be defiant, almost daring him to do something to me. In my mind it was war, and making even the smallest concession (such as being civil to him), would mean that I lost.

This story happened when I was 16 - after almost three years with him. By then I was already hopelessly addicted to heroin, and deeply in self-injury.

Although this isn't their real names:
Jeff was my foster father
Jason was my drug dealer
Anne was my foster mother


The story:

I should have known, when I saw the look in Jeff's face that night, that he had thought of another plan to break me. I have often wondered if I would have acted in a different way that night, had I known. That fact is, I didn't know and I acted the way I always did around him - disrespectful, rebellious and belligerent. I went out of my way to be rude to him. I did everything in my power to irritate him.

When he left the room in the middle of an argument, I assumed that he had gone to fetch some whiskey, so it surprised me when he came back into the room empty handed and ordered the rest of the family out. I stared at him for a moment, unsure of what was about to happen.

He stuck his hand under his worn-out sweater, and pulled a pistol out of his jeans. I froze, staring at the pistol in terror. There was no doubt in my mind that he would kill me. I started to dissociate, but something - fear, perhaps, or shock - kept pulling me back to reality. This was too big. I couldn't abandon my body to a loaded pistol.

He walked up to me, grabbed my hand and put it on his crotch. I jerked my hand back. I received a slap in the face for my attempt to resist. He cocked the pistol and put my hand back on his crotch, telling me to open the zip. I opened it without taking my eyes off the pistol in his other hand. When I tried to step back, he grabbed my arm again. For perhaps the first time since I met him, I fought. I pulled and twisted, clawing at his hand with my free hand, trying to loosen his grip on my wrist, but I was only 16 year old kid, small for my age, up against a tall, muscular man. He was simply too strong.

Suddenly, I felt the cold metal of the pistol's barrel on my cheekbone. I froze again. "You're always a cheeky one", he said. "You've defied me enough. Tonight, you will obey or die."

I felt cold. My mouth was too dry to speak.

Keeping the pistol pressed against my head, he pulled my head down towards his crotch, forcing me to go down on my knees...

I was only the fear of death that kept me from vomiting before he left the room. When he finally did, I rushed to the bathroom and locked myself in. I spent the rest of the night alternately vomiting and crouching down in the shower, trying in vain to wash his filth off my body, off my soul, and out of my consciousness. I never wanted to come out of that bathroom again. I searched through all the cabinets for something I could use to kill myself, but drinking shampoo only made me vomit more. The only razor I could find barely managed to break my skin. I used it to cut my arms and legs to shreds anyway. Why? I don't know. Perhaps I believed that I could somehow cleanse my inside if I bled enough.

In the early morning hours, I finally came out of the bathroom. I walked into our bedroom, my wet clothes leaving a trail of water down the hall and up to my bed, and got under the covers. I didn't care or even notice that I was soaking the mattress. John tried to ask me what had happened, but I couldn't tell him. I had retreated deeper into myself than ever before. I was determined that no one would ever come near me again. I lay there, my mind blank, until the rest of the family started getting up. When I heard his footsteps going past our bedroom, I was ceased by a sudden panic. He mustn't see what he did to me! I jumped out of bed and pulled off my wet clothes, shivering with the cold. I swallowed a hand full of painkillers to take off the edge, dressed in my school uniform, brushed my hair and my teeth, and went to the kitchen as if nothing had happened.

The only thing I could think of was getting to Jason's flat. Sitting down at the breakfast table, I closed my eyes and imagined the cool metal of the needle tip slipping over my skin, the sharp prick as it sank into the vein, and warmth and comfort when the drugs engulfed my brain. Forgetting. Above all else, I wanted to forget the previous night and the only way I knew how, was to bombard the memories with heroin. In my minds eye I saw a field of vivid red poppies - the color of my blood, but breathtakingly beautiful - all the flowers seemed to smile at me and beckon, "come to us, our juices will ease your pain..."


After that night, everything changed.

I couldn't sleep. When I did, I woke up drenched in sweat, with my heart pounding in my throat. I heard my father's voice behind me, telling me that I'd never be anything other than a sex-toy for older me. I heard him call me a faggot. At times the voice sounded so real that I turned around, expecting to see him behind me, but he was never there. Other times I felt his hands on my body, holding me down so I couldn't move. The memories were so vivid that the spots where he had held on to me physically hurt for hours afterwards. I learnt quickly that cutting would make even the most intrusive memories disappear the moment the blood started flowing. I learnt to give myself stitches when I accidentally cut too deep.

I couldn't eat. The thought of swallowing made me sick. Everything tasted the same, as if my taste-buds were frozen in the that one, horrible moment. When I did eat, I would throw it all up afterwards.

I couldn't look in the mirror. The face staring back at me filled me with revulsion. It was the face of a boy who allowed a man to intimidate him into giving him a blow job. Sometimes, the face in the mirror looked like a stranger - a hated stranger.

When Jeff was present, my defiance gave way to fear. He had finally broken down my defenses. He needed only to look at me to make me dissociate, even days that disappeared without me having any memory of what had happened. My body moved through my life without feeling, without emotion, without direction, without me.

One afternoon I saw a knife lying around Jason's flat. It was nothing special - a black plastic handle, just long enough to fit comfortably in my hand. But the blade was beautiful - serrated, slightly bent, with a very sharp tip. It looked murderous. It was murderous.

If I had a knife like that, no one could make me do anything.

But he had a gun. You can't fight a gun with a knife.

A knife will give me half a chance. That's all I need. If it fails, I die. That won't be much of a loss.

I stole it. I also stole a piece of broad elastic from Anne's sewing cupboard, tied it around my leg, and slipped the knife inside. I loved the feeling of its weight against my leg. It made me feel safe. I knew that if Jeff tried to molest me again, one of us would die. I didn't really care which one.

Of course, Jeff did it again. He had found a way to get to me. One couldn't expect him to give it up.

I remember going for the knife strapped to my leg.

I remember a lot of blood.

I remember running through dark, quiet streets, the sound of my own racing breath deafening in my ears.

I remember knocking on my friend's bedroom window, and asking him to lend me a clean shirt. He was understandably shocked to see me at that time of night, covered in blood and wanted to know what had happened. I can't remember what I told him, but he lent me clean clothes in the end.

From there, I went to Jason's, picked up a bundle and walked East, into the city. I don't think I had a very clear idea of what I had done at that stage, but I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of dread. I definitely knew I had done something terrible. I sat down in a bus-shelter, and prepared my fix.

The next morning I started walking South, towards the neighboring city. I had a vague idea of vanishing into the crowds of criminals and losers in the notorious streets of its most notorious neighborhood.
I guess what I'm trying to say
Is whose life is it anyway because livin'
Living is the best revenge
You can play
-- Def Leppard

My Story, Part 2

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