The Shed Events
During the years of our childhood we would spend many nights and weekends staying at our grandparents' home. They lived about a block away from our house and it was convenient for my parents to drop me off there. Unlike a lot of people I don't have happy memories of time spent my with my grandparents, they weren't nice people, at least not to me. The time spent with our grandparents was often more difficult to deal with than the time at home. At home there was a routine about it, a way of living that became normal. But my grandparents desires were always more twisted, and their games were the most sadistic and terrifying. I have always seen my grandmother as the instigator the power behind the abuse that occurred in the house. My grandfather was more the willing participant, along for the ride and enjoying every moment of it. He may not have been abusive if she hadn't started on the road, but once there he was as equally involved in the actual events. But there were times it would appear that he was hit with guilt and wanted the abuse to stop. I say appear because when I look closer at those events I see there was little truth in his words, and his actions showed something quite removed from personal responsibility.
There were the nights he would come quietly into our bedroom and wake us up. We had to be quiet he would say as he lead us from the house out into the work-shed he had. Once in that shed he would change us into a long white cotton nightie. They had a lot of those, because that is also what the cult liked the children dressed in. And we would stand quietly as he filled up a metal tub with cold water from the outside hose. He told us it all needed to stop, that what we were doing was wrong and it shouldn't continue. I know there was always this hope deep down that he meant it and the abuse would end. We were only young when this started, probably around five years of age, so we truly believed everything he said, we were still willing to put our faith and belief into people that didn't deserve it. Once placed into the tub, the cold water up to our knees he would start to clean us. He said that all the bad stuff that was on us needed to be washed away, and that this cleaning would wipe away all the abuse and all the ways it tainted us. He would often use a wire brush used for scrubbing floors, the bristles would scratch away at our skin, making it raw and painful. He would have us answer his questions, telling him we no longer wanted to have sex with people, that we no longer wanted to be beaten and do the awful things we had been doing. He would constantly ask us, make us tell him how we wanted to be good, and be like a normal little girl. We would have to try to prove to him we anted it to stop as much as he did. The coldness of the water and the night air, as well as the pain from the scrubbing would make us numb and slow. If we didn't answer quick enough or with enough vigour he would get angry saying he was trying to help us, to save us from being hurt and we were making things hard, and not really wanting it as much as he was. There was something frantic about it all, his own almost maniac need to get us clean and "normal" and our need to do it right in the hope that everything would finally stop.
But no matter what we did it always ended in the same way. He would become annoyed with us, and grabbing us by the hair he would pull us out of the tub and throw us down on the dirty floor. As he would rape us he would always tell us that this was our doing. We had either not wanted it to stop strongly enough, or we were a slut, and had seduced him back into having sex with us. The whole point was that we could have been saved but we didn't want it. To him, at least the way he spoke about it, he had tried the best any man could do not to have sex with us, but we had not let him be free from it. This was what we wanted, this was what we made him do. We had seduced him, perverted him, turned him into something that was wrong and horrid. And we took the blame for that, we believed him at the moment. We could have been free, but we didn't really want to, what we wanted was this, what we wanted was to have sex with our grandfather, or any person, there on the dirty floor of the shed in the middle of the night. We weren't a normal little girl, we were the slut and whore he told us we were. And the fact that he was raping us only went to prove that, because it wasn't something he wanted to do, but rather something we were making him do. We, those that were involved in these incidents carried that guilt for a long time. We believed we had ruined our chance because wee didn't truly want a good life. And of all that happened in the shed, the pain, the cold, the terror and the rape, I think the most damaging has always been the messages we took onboard and believed without question.
As I grew up I started to see the lies in what he was saying, and yet I admit that I still think of those events as times when my grandfather was remorseful. Do I really think he had any remorse in him? I struggle to answer that one. I do not believe he would have not continued raping us no matter what the children that were there did or did not do. I think he needed to have sex with us, to hurt us. I think his abuse of us became like a drug to him. But like so many addicts I think he hated the drug as much as he loved and craved it. I think part of him would have liked to stop but he was too weak to ever really consider doing so. I do believe in the quiet moments in his head, probably those dark lonely hours of the early morning he felt abhorrence at what he had done. Without our grandmother to feed of, to reinforce the power of it he might have felt a lot of remorse. And maybe as he lead us out into the shed he may have been able to delude himself into thinking he was going to stop the abuse. But what happened in the shed had nothing to do with forgiveness and remorse. What happened in that shed was about him getting his next fix, and maybe in his mind he truly believed we were the ones responsible for his addiction. Don't most addicts find a way to blame anything and everything but themselves for their addiction? If it wasn't for us he could be free of this need he had and therefore he was able to justify what he was continuing to do. He didn't have to face the truth that as a grown man he was solely responsible for his actions and that allowed him the numbness and the excuse he needed to continue.
The children that endured his abuse in that shed still struggle with the messages he gave them. Their sense of responsibility haunts them and brings with it a sense of immense guilt. After disastrous attempts to have outside adults help them understand what happened and where that blame lies, I now try to work with them alone. I hope to get them to see that they can't and shouldn't be responsible for the actions of a grown adult. I try to teach Shade that sexuality isn't something to be feared, and that it can not force another person to act out of their control. She still believes there is this thing, her sexuality that forced her grandfather to rape her and she is terrified of the power of that. And Pin with her almost silent desperation to get it right, whatever the it now is, in the hope it will save her. It is a terrible responsibility to place on a child. To make them feel they are the ones with the power to affect how other people treat them, and therefore when those adults chose to do harm the sole blame for that is placed on the child. The five children that sit either with or near me as I write this have all be so damaged by this man and his need to fulfil his desire to abuse us. Even the youngest, the one that wants desperately to hold onto the belief of a caring fun grandfather, although maybe not as obviously as the others still carries the wounds. And I think that is what makes me the angriest. None of us walked out of that shed unscathed by what happened, and yet he was able to use those same events to justify his actions and place all the responsibility onto a little child that should have been able to feel free to grow and explore. He was able to continue his life and we still struggle to find a way to free ourselves from his words.
What happened in the shed, I have learned, was just one event amongst countless other ones. All of them as traumatic and damaging as the next. I know there was no remorse in our grandfather, because real remorse is followed with action, real remorse makes a person want and try to change. He may have had the words, he may have even been able to convince himself he didn't want it to continue. But where it really counted, in his actions on those nights and the days that followed them, he was not remorseful, he enjoyed the high it gave him too much. They were empty words used to justify his continuing behaviour and the cost it brought us children was not even a consideration to him.