So it’s been about 3 days since I posted anything, which as you all know, isn’t normal for me. It has been a busy 3 days. The boyfriend and I needed to spend some quality time together and I met up with my biological mom to get something from her that I’ve wanted for years. As most of you know, I was abused as a child. I wrote about this in I Remember (The Nightmare). The man who did it is in jail for the rest of his life. The district attorney who represented myself and the state then is now Florida’s State Attorney. When I was a kid, for some reason or another that evades my memory, his office sent my mother copies of our testimonies in court from that day. I read these years ago but there seemed to be a lot missing. So, shortly about writing I Remember (The Nightmare) I asked her to request everything his office had on the case. It came and I picked it up from her on Saturday. I’ve spent the last few days reading through all of it. With the documents in a single stack it’s probably over a foot tall. There’s everything from the initial statement that my mother made to the Sheriffs, to everyone’s depositions (including counselors and doctors), to all the court transcripts, to my abuser’s appeal (which he lost, miserably). There’s so much information I didn’t know. For instance, he was officially charged with two counts of Attempted Capital Sexual Battery on a children under 16 and two counts of lewd, lascivious acts on a child under 12. However, he was found not guilty of two counts of Capital Sexual Battery, even though he was in fact guilty of it. In his appeal he stated that the jurors were sleeping during part of my testimony and that had they been awake they probably would’ve seen fit to charge him with the Capital Sexual Battery (and somehow that was supposed to prove he deserved a new trial even though he would’ve probably been found guilty of these things the second time around). So that pissed me off a little. But he was locked up forever regardless so I’m letting that go.
Along with that, I always kind of knew and heard of the fact that I drew pictures for my mother and a Child Protective Team member of what he had done to me to better explain what happened. However, what I drew I had long since forgotten. Well, two days into digging through this brown box of papers, I found them. And wow. Those of you who read A Clean Slate are probably aware that I’ve expressed feeling some guilt for not protecting myself and my sister better. You also know that I talked about not knowing what it is to feel compassion for myself and for the little girl that these things happened to. After seeing those pictures, I do now. The only thing I could say was “That poor baby. I feel so bad for her.” Just to be clear, yes, I was talking about myself. But that little girl that those things happened to has long since lived inside my mind, existing as me, but almost not. It’s as if we’re two separate people and I tucked her away to keep her safe. Who that little girl was went away after all of those things happened to her. And I just feel bad for her. I want to go back and protect her. It’s just such a sad story, it’s part of my story. If you read through these documents you would see that everyone in the house but myself and my sister was messed up on drugs (crack), there were a few warning signs that something was happening, and yet it was never found out until the day after my abuser moved out. He had told my mother that he exposed himself to me to “give me an anatomy lesson” because as a child I was curious what boys had because it wasn’t what I had. My curiosity was totally normal for a 5 year old; his “anatomy lesson” was not. Nor was the part of the story that he left out. So when he moved out my mother had come to me and told me that she “knew my secret”, I said “Really?”. She replied “Yeah, Daddy David told me”. She expected me to tell her about the anatomy lesson; I told her so much more. It was then 6 months before she reported it because my sister wouldn’t talk about it at all and she wanted to make sure that I was telling the truth. I was a 5 year old little girl who made up wild, imaginative stories all the time; although nothing like that. So she wasn’t sure and took awhile to report. I don’t know how I feel about this but I do agree it’s important to make sure you don’t ruin someone’s life without knowing what you’re reporting is the truth. It hurt my heart to see that my Uncle David (not my abuser) stated in his deposition that he thought something was happening to us but he couldn’t prove it. He said we weren’t eating or sleeping right, had started misbehaving more, and had crawled inside ourselves isolated and withdrawn. He said he wanted to kill David (the abuser) and that it made him sick. I’m happy to hear someone reacted as strongly as I feel. In a way, I wish I could thank him, but he died a few years ago so hopefully he hears it from above.
In the end, she did report it and 2-3 years later it finally made it to trial. My sister, mother, various doctors and counselors, my abuser and I all testified and were cross examined. My abuser’s lawyer kept trying to trip me up (pretty sick to do to an 8 year old if you ask me) and I kept sticking to my story. It was the truth and I told it. There are things that I remember now that I didn’t testify to at the time, for whatever reason; whether that be nerves, blocked memory, or something else, But he was sent away for the rest of his life regardless. And this box with all the answers shows all of that. It shows all the depositions and testimony that I remember having given but couldn’t remember the specifics of. There was a handful of times where reading this stuff turned a present yet blurry memory into a vivid flashback; but I expected that. There was also a lot of stuff that once I read, I could remember saying again. Memory is a fickle lover. So that is what I’ve been doing the last few days and as I get to the last 2-3 things in the box, all his brother’s depositions, I’m gaining a sense of closure. This has been a thing I’ve lived with for almost my entire life and I just feel like once I’ve read it all and know it all, it will be over. Completely over. And that’s a beautiful thing. So I’m sorry I haven’t been posting as much, I’ve been a bit busy. However, by tonight this whole process that I felt/feel was so necessary, will be over.
by Ashley Hebner
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