Warning: This post discusses childhood sexual trauma and may result in triggering other survivors of childhood sexual trauma. Please consult a local organization such as STAR (Anchorage Crisis Line: (907) 276-7273/Statewide Crisis Line: (800) 478-8999 ) or a personal counselor, or at least an understanding friend, if this blog post does so.
I recently found the man who had molested me when I was almost 9. I decided to confront him. Such an easy, sparse sentence to write, but at age 44, it wasn’t that easy. It took me years to be able to do this.
First, I found that I needed to get over the fear that kept me the same meek little girl I had been, that kept me from thinking I was deserving of good things, that had me eating too little, or drinking too much, or staying in relationships that weren’t really…relationships.
Second was the anger. For a number of years, I couldn’t have knives in my home (we made it a joke but there was truth in it) due to my proclivity of throwing them when I was angry. And I was angry a lot. I would drink or use whatever in order to dim the anger, drown out the hate I held onto tightly. Yes, the anger took much longer. Even I knew I wouldn’t be making the best decision and having a positive outcome if I was still harboring that seething anger.
Yes. I could have found him years ago. I half-heartedly did find a PO Box in the Spenard area of Anchorage, Alaska that his mail was sent to.
It wasn’t the right time.
I just had a baby, a darling girl. I dealt with post-partum depression by seeing a counselor, the same counselor that had assisted me in my journey to confront my dad that had never happened due to his death. Luckily I mentioned to my counselor what was going on in my head. I can honestly say in my first hundred versions back then “confronting” wasn’t apart of my plan. Telling my counselor the truth saved me from acting out and possibly facing years in prison.
I knew my dad felt horrible and what he did ate away at him. We had gotten close through the years and he was my biggest cheerleader. The one hole in our fractured relationship was on course to be mended when he died from heroin overdose. I had been fueled by more anger, fear and regret not following through and confronting my dad and was left with a person who had escaped culpability for all these years.
It was only once. When it had happened that morning and I was able to escape his bedroom I told my mom and her boyfriend, Joe, both in the very next room.
Maybe they were too hungover, regardless, they didn’t want to be bothered by a scared seven-year-old describing something even she wasn’t sure how to form the words for. So no one said or did anything. Because of that, I had thought the world didn’t care about little girls and kept inside myself more and more. Not even a year before this happened, something similar had happened between me and my dad, who I barely knew. It seemed as if some visible brokenness appeared that other predators could easily spot, like a landing beacon.
As I grew older, I pushed the memories further back and as more time went by, my walls grew thicker.
Eventually, I ended up in States custody. I ran away. I drank. More things happened. I grew up.
It was normal now in my world. Things happened and not much, if anything, was ever done. I saw this in my life and in the other kids around me. Foster homes. Group homes. Juvenile detention centers.
Still, I never forgot. Life went on and I stopped looking for fulfillment with alcohol. I went to counseling. I wrote things on pieces of paper and burnt them or tied them to balloons. I put a lot of time and effort into letting go, forgiving myself, learning ways to talk to myself in order to not be a victim. Yet there was a voice in me that said the final chapter would be confronting the one person I knew I could.
My dad had passed years before, at the time I was working on getting the balls to talk to him about things he had done. I was in counseling and had done so much work to talk to him, forgive him, and move on. Then he took a hot shot and I was unable to. Besides dealing with his untimely death, funeral and burial costs, I had to deal with the resentment that came along with doing all that inner work and the selfishness of him dying before we could talk. I have visited his grave a few times throughout the years and I believe we have both found our peace. But Maurice had still been in the back of my mind.
You don’t hear that name much anymore do you? The countless times I had sought him out, the searches had come up empty, or at the most, sparse. I knew that the emotional work I did wouldn’t disappear and that when it would be time, I would be strong enough to go through with it.
So every few years I would google his name.
And then one day there was this article, with his picture. And it listed his place of employment in the article. He was a manager, right here in Anchorage.
Right by where I paid my rent. Across town, where I never went.
Having found him finally I knew I needed to take some time and make sure I still wanted to confront him and check my expectations on the outcome. If I still felt strong enough and that it was important enough I would follow through. No rush.
It took me another month to walk into that building and confront him. My expectations were to walk out with my head held up high and self-esteem intact. I also decided I would record it. I have listened to the recording a few times, and each time I am brought back to the shaky feeling I had as I walked through that door, phone in my purse, recording, not knowing who I would find and not having any idea of how the conversation would go.
I stopped in to see if he was there working just after Halloween 2018. I parked and readied my phone to record. I had to ground myself before I walked in, as I knew if I went in on auto-pilot I could possibly react in anger rather than be proactive and keep myself safe. I had no idea what Maurice looked like, except for the picture in the article. A man I barely knew for a brief moment decades ago. I remembered shaggy blonde hair. Long fingernails. A sneering smile.
I walked in, casually looking around. It was drab, the shelves barely stocked, with nonsequential knickknacks everywhere. A man, shorter than I, appeared from behind the counter, pulling closed a heavy sheet separating the front from the back as he greeted me.
After some chit chat, mainly to decipher I had the right person, I calmly asked if he remembered molesting me. He was taken aback. He started getting agitated and was visibly shaken. He stopped making eye contact.
“I don’t even know your name,” he had said.
As I stood there while Maurice denied everything it brought me to the realization of the biggest fear I had in confronting my dad. The full denial. Which is what Maurice did. In his doing so, I was able to remove the one obstacle I had in my way, regardless of how much counseling I’ve had throughout the years.
That was the realization that I didn’t need an apology in order to complete this confrontation. I just needed to say: I remembered. You were wrong. With Maurice saying that it wasn’t true doesn’t excuse what was done. All I needed to do was say what I had to say: Here I am before you. And I remember. That’s what freed me. I walked out with my head held high and my self-esteem intact.
I was able to get the closure I was seeking from confronting Maurice. I had nothing riding on him apologizing or not apologizing. I knew regardless of what he said or did the inner work was always mine. I’ve made horrible choices in my life, based on what I wanted, out of selfish motives. But I knew this was something I owed the shy, quiet child hurt those many years before.
I think about other children that have been molested by people that were never held accountable, and how their predators probably didn’t remember their names either. And I wonder how we are able to continue in life, trusting, having relationships, going on with life, raising children, having jobs and bills and family problems. I wonder if others ever got a chance to confront their childhood predator that otherwise had no consequences. If they even wanted to. I don’t casually recommend confronting your molester. I would tell anyone to seek outside counseling before embarking. A friend recommended that I bring support. I didn’t believe I would be able to have to conversation I had if I had someone else with me, so I chose not to.
The recording of the whole interaction is posted below. If I had spent more time trying to figure it out, I am sure I could have transcribed it from some app out there. I wasn’t about to transcribe it myself. I may have dealt with this emotionally but I know when to tap out. I’m not a glutton for punishment.
I hope that anyone who has been hurt and feels lost remembers they have a voice. I’m grateful I found mine. I share this in case anyone else is out there wondering if it’s okay to confront what has us wounded. It is if you need it to be.
AUDIO OF CONFRONTATION