i paint i write

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Believe your children

I have one baby shoe. It is gray. The paint is chipping off of the toe. The shoe use to be white. I think it is made of leather, but I can’t read the label as it is covered in gray spray paint. My mother told me, “I asked your father to get your baby shoes bronzed, and he sprayed them with gray paint.”

I can imagine my father thinking, “I am not going to spend money on bronze baby shoes when I have a can of gray spray paint in the basement.”  My father never bought something at the store if he could make it himself.  If I showed my father a bookcase I wanted him to buy for my room, my father would say, “I can make that.” And then he made it.

I can’t ask my father why he didn’t mail my first pair of shoes to  a bronzing company, because he is dead. He died on March 17th, 1998.

I can’t ask my father why he didn’t believe me when my mother told him I was molested.

My mother wrote a letter to my father after the man we called Uncle Carl left the house. She told my father Carl had exposed himself to me.  I wish I had a copy of the letter my father wrote back to my mother. I want to hold it,  read it, and photograph it. A document of the truth. The letter is gone. The words remain.

I can’t ask my father, “Why did you make excuses for Carl. I don’t care that his wife left him. I can not ask my father, “Why didn’t you talk to me, about what happened behind a closed-door, after you came home from your business trip?  Why did you say it was probably nothing?”

I have not written about this story for weeks because it is hard for me to write that my father didn’t believe me.

The picture I want to portray of my father is one of perfection.  But, my father wasn’t perfect.  He made mistakes.

People have asked me why I am writing about something that happened years ago. Why would I want to write about being molested? I feel compelled to share my story. I don’t write because I want to. I write because I have to. The words need to be spoken. The words need to see the light.

The story of abuse I carried inside of me has felt like a growth inside my brain. There are files in my memory, files labeled: child abuse, worthless, shame, my fault. The files were mislabeled. I am valuable. The abuse was not my fault. I am not guilty.

Psalm 139:14

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

I didn’t tell my mother about the abuse until weeks after it happened. I wonder what I was thinking that kept me from telling my mother immediately. I had been told to keep it a secret.  I tell my children there are no secrets from me and their father. I try to protect them from harm.

 “Would My Child Tell? Teaching Kids About Reporting Inappropriate Touching” ,written by Jill Starishevsky, is the  best article I have  read about protecting children from abuse.  Jill is an Assistant District Attorney in New York City. She prosecutes child abuse and sex crimes.  She also lists Ten Tips To Keep A Child Body Safe in her article.

I have kept my one baby shoe to remind me of my father. I lost the other shoe years ago.

I like that my father sprayed the shoe with a can of silver spray paint.   If my children show me a bookcase in the store they want me to buy, I say, “I can make that.” And then I make it.

I wish my father had believed me.

“Dad, I forgive you for not believing me. I love you.”

 

Disclaimer:

These writings refer to Carl Shaack, a Canadian man who died in the early 1990’s. Any resemblance to the name or likeness of any other person using the name Carl, Carl Shaack, or Uncle Carl, is purely coincidental.

 The nest post in the series is

17 Ways I try and protect my children from perverts.

 

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • samantha

    Pamela,
    thank you for sharing your story but reporting it is a bag of crap my mom didn’t even belive me when I told her I’ve been in and out of hospitals trying to kill myself because I was so ashamed so convinced than my life wasn’t worth living even when I was at the hospital I tried to tell them but no one would listen to me, they even thretend to send me to jail they always belived my mom never me but it doesn’t matter anymore because I learnd to live with it I learnd that no matter how much you want it to it will never change

  • Janet Rhea

    I believe with all my heart that the majority of child sex abuse happens in the childs OWN home and not by a stranger in a strange place. I know this isn’t true in every case. But more than not. It seems as though it usually happens right in the place where the child SHOULD feel the safest. So very sad…..soooo very sad.

    • Hello Janet,
      Yes, the one place a child should feel safe, and often they don’t feel safe, or are not safe.
      Hopefully parents will become more aware and childhood abuse can be prevented.
      That is why I shared my story.

  • Jennifer Higney

    Pamela,
    Thank you so much for sharing this incredibly painful, and powerful story. Your writing captivated me, and drew me in so close to you. I commend you on the courage that it must have taken to write this, but I imagine the release when you finally did must have been like a breath of fresh air. I clicked on your name threw The Write Practice daily newsletter I receive and was interested in what your blog looked like, and I got wrapped up in your writings all day today! I have really enjoyed reading your stories. Thank you again! Love, Jennifer

    • Good Morning Jennifer,
      I have thought about your kind words for several days. Well, to be exact five days. Thank you for reading my stories and encouraging me. I hope you have a day today filled with joy.
      xo
      Pamela

      • Jennifer Higney

        Xoxo

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  • Pam- I hear you. I hear your heart, your voice. You are courageous- and forgiving. I want to be one more person who encourages you to keep writing, keep telling the story only you can tell!

    • pamelahodges

      Hello Janet, thank you so much for your encouragement. I appreciate your support. Really. A lot. All the best, Pamela.

  • I am crying. I , too, had a father who made mistakes. Different than yours…but, I am crying. Thank you for being brave enough to write this. I am glad you love and forgive your father. Our Father’s love is big enough so we can.

    • pamelahodges

      Diane, I pray for you for comfort. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I am sorry your father made mistakes. I wouldn’t be able to forgive without or Father’s love.

  • I hope your being able to forgive your father gives you healing. Your story breaks my heart.

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Lori. Writing about my father and forgiving him has brought peace, real peace.

  • Judy C.

    Pamela, my heart goes out to you for the pain that you have suffered. Thank you for sharing and by sharing, I hope that it helps you to heal and that it will help others. May you continue to find peace and comfort in our Lord and Savior.

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Judy. Thank you for your concern.

  • Heather

    Pamela,

    This was just so good. Good writing, of course – you’re very talented in communication. But the really good part to me is the part about bringing light and truth to a matter that gets distorted when left to itself. Needless to say, I think you are very beautiful through and through. THANK you for speaking up and out, even if it’s years later. May the peace of Christ, our ultimate Healer, continue to rule in your heart. Keep writing!!

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Heather. Jesus is my best friend, and my healer.

  • nanc

    This is painful, but also has hope. By letting your story and your words out into the world healing will occur and the hope that we all have that many will understand, our stories. You are a treasured child of the most high God. XO nanc

    • pamelahodges

      Nanc, thank you for the reminder that I am a treasured child of God. I pray that my story will help someone who has a similar story.

  • This one is just too painful. lmc

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you for reading even if it was painful.