Remembering my sisters escape…and what it felt like afterwards…
It was like she was in a constant state of punishment. Some mornings my father would come in and laugh and make a joke with us…but she would still not leave her post in the corner. Other days he would come in angry and pull Teresa out of the room, into their room. The screams and cries would soon be heard.
When Teresa was locked in the closet – my parents locked the door with a pad-lock. They used to keep the key on top of their dresser.
One day my parents had company over – they we occupied in the living room, drinking and laughing with their friends. I was coloring in my bedroom alone, when for some reason I went into my parents room to talk with my sister. I remember that it was sunny that day. In my flashbacks – I’m always surrounded by the light of sunshine.
I don’t know why I went in there, maybe she called me in – or maybe it was our plan all along. I can’t remember what made me go in there. It was absolutely forbidden, I knew I would receive a beating if I was caught. I usually tried not to do anything that was going to cause violence.
I can remember reaching up to grab the key from the top of my parents dresser – listening carefully for my parents to be sure they weren’t coming down the hall. I unlocked the door…
Next I remember she was standing in front of me asking me if I wanted to go with her? I see myself looking down at my feet. I was four – to me that was too scary of a thought. I said no by shaking my head. I remember thinking how much trouble I would be in if I were to get caught, and where would we go?
Before Teresa left she asked me to go into mom and dad’s room again (right across the hall) and grab her something to wear. Teresa was naked, that’s how my parents kept her in the closet. They used to say it was easier to beat the shit out of her if she didn’t have the clothes on. In fact, each time we received a beating we usually had to be undressed. It was almost a part of the ritual.
When my sister and I reunited years later she was so full of anger towards me. She had told me once she left it was easy for me. Apparently she was under the delusion that once she left my parents learned their lesson and stopped beating, neglecting and torturing us. Easy is not the way I would have described it though.. Who the hell does she think got it next? And, why was she so blind to our mothers deception after her first hand knowledge. And we both knew our brother would not receive the same fate as us. He was treated differently from us. He was still considered a human, a person…someone worth putting their love and effort into. My brother rarely received corporal punishment. Although, he was still a victim of my parents. He was tortured in other ways. However, even my brother was welcome to eat at the table for dinner. Even he was allowed to eat food and eat with mom and dad.
My sisters belief that I had it easy when she left; is just simply not true. I had to stay. She got too leave, too what I thought at the time was going to be a safe, loving home. I could never have imagined what was in store for her. In my eyes – she was saved. She got out! Having my sister gone just meant it was now my turn.
Just think – at the age of four I already knew that I was going to have to fight to survive. I knew what was happening and I believed there was only a slim chance that I too could be saved. If people let me stay after what they saw happen to my seven year old sister – them knowing just how bad it was for her… and still returning my brother and I back? How bad did it have to get? This was a terrifying truth that I had to face for many years ahead.
Before my dad would start the beating phase – he would torture the crap out of us by asking us millions of questions, over and over about the bad thing we had done. He would ask us why? Why did we do that? And, we would answer. At least I know in the beginning with me I would always tell my dad the truth, even if it meant I was going to get a beating over it. At least it was the truth, and I think I believed my dad would some how catch me a break if I told the truth. Not the case. Even though it was the truth – there had to be more to it. This is what my father would say.
Once Teresa left us and was permantly removed – the police and Ministry of Children and Families decided to allow my parents to continue caring for Jason and I. In fact – my mom was charged with the abuse on Teresa but the court system gave her weekend jail time, that way she could still care for us. Oh – and they said my parents had to go to Parenting classes. Guess those didn’t pan out.
I don’t remember what happened – or exactly where we went from there. We were in Prince George I believe when Teresa was removed. Either way this is when we I’m sure this is when we moved down to Mission, BC. We stayed at a friends house; we slept a couple of nights on her living room floor. I remember one morning before my mom and dad were awake, Jason started poking me…teasing me. It went like this; Dad, Mom, Jason, then me. All laying on the floor. All of a sudden I saw my fathers fist come down on my face. My dad was just reaching over my mom AND my brother to get to me a beat my face in. He beat the whole left side of my face for what seemed hours – couldn’t have been more than a few moments though – otherwise I guess he would have killed me. While he punched me he kept saying – “Yah, you fucking like that, you fucking loud mouth…” My mom and brother didn’t say a word.
What I remember the most about that beating was actually post-attack. My dad always thought of me as a rat. He called me a “fucking rat” daily for years. The thing is – I guess technically I was a rat. I could understand even then that every time I would tell someone about what was happening to me at home and anywhere else something awful did occur; I told the first person I felt remotely safe to do so. But this day I was making my dad proud. My father said that he would be proud of me if I made sure no one could see my face.
We ended up moving up to Kamloops after this – and while we were moving there was this moment when I was inside the trailer that we were moving into – and my father was outside. When I went to talk to him out the window I made sure that my bruised side of my face was not showing. My dad was so proud of me. He even called me “boo-boo” that day.
See, now Teresa always said that once she left it was easy for me. Easy is not the word. Who the hell does she think got it next? Certainly was not going to be Jason; he was the golden boy. Even Jason was allowed to eat food with mom and dad.
Once Teresa left – it was my turn. All the rage was aimed at me. And, honestly it wasn’t because my parents found out that I was the one that helped my sister escape – in fact I don’t even know if they know that I did at all…they were just angry at me for being alive.
So…how did she get too leave, but not me? How could the Ministry of Children and Families drop the ball so badly?