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Melissa’s Story: My Very Own Boogy Monster

My abuser didn’t look like an abuser. He was an ex-cop of twenty years, he worked the D.A.R.E program with kids, he had a daughter and a good life established. He found my mom online through an online dating website. This was his first step into the abuse, hunt online for his desired family. His second step was earn the trust of my mom and then of my siblings and I. And third step was create a safe, loving, trusting environment that he would eventually shatter.

Looking in, we won the jackpot. We were a broken family healing from my mom and dad’s ugly divorce. My siblings and I pined for that loving father figure, and my mom wanted someone who would love and respect her and us. Mark filled that void and more. He was patient, loving, nurturing, kind, compassionate, and trustworthy. He remained respectful and polite through their relationship while dating and engagement. After they got married is where his mastermind plan began unfolding.

I was literally eight years old when he first asked me “Do you trust me?” Four words that I wonder constantly if I had rather said no, would it had changed my journey? Four words that to him, gave him permission to use me. Four small words that apparently held my innocence.

Of course I trusted him. He had come into our lives and instantly became a major role in everyday life.  He gave us a father figure that we so desired. He took care of us when we were sick. YHe showed up to school events, and was present in every aspect. He gave some of the best hugs, and mentally and emotionally made himself available so that we would trust you.

He tucked us in everynight and made sure to check for the boogy monster. Little did I know, HE was the boogy monster.

Grooming. You may have read about it, heard about it or just know what it is.  Mr. Boogy Monster was a champ at grooming. He was always three steps ahead and every decision was manipulated to some degree. Every move he made was all led up to one, very simple question.

Do you trust me?

He made a routine for yourself. He was strategic, smart and probably had been planning from the very beginning. He was tired after a long days work so his down time was surfing the web, online gambling and selling things online all of which took place downstairs until all hours of the night. No one would doubt this by the hoards of items he spent thousands on sitting in the garage. We would see the listings online, it was believable! This night was no different. We were all tucked in by you and mom. I went to the bathroom and saw mom reading in her bed, which she did as her downtime before falling asleep. And I could hear him downstairs typing on the computer. I went back to bed and drifted off, like any eight year old past bedtime would do.

I woke up to himtucking me in again. Weird since we already did this I thought. This time, he got really close to my face and whispered in my ear, “Do you trust me?”  I said “of course daddy”. Hethen untucked me and put your hand under the covers. He kept the first time PG-13, which was so gentleman-like. (If you can’t tell, that was complete sarcasm.) At eight, our bodies are still maturing and going through change. So when he was touching he kept saying “Stay calm, this is normal, let your body be explored, let your body feel what it’s supposed to feel”.

Looking back I wish I would have punched him in the face and said, “How does that feel?”

But I didn’t. I laid there and allowed a man I trusted and loved to completely take my innocence away. He got what he needed and tucked me back in. He told me goodnight, kissed me and said,  “Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. This is our secret.”

The sexual abuse would continue on for eight years in total. I was his sex slave and a prisoner of my own home. A home where I should have felt safe however safe is the furthest I felt. He always made sure there was an opportunity for abuse, whether we were on a family vacation, visiting family members for the holidays, or just a simple errand. I was his puppet and he was the Puppet Master. I wanted it to stop. I begged him for years to stop. He would say things like if we stopped and I told, I would end up in jail and never see my family again. Or tell me my siblings would get taken away from me and my mom and it would be all my fault. As an adult now, I can see clearly that I suffered extreme mental and emotional manipulation.

At the young age of 16,  I finally got up the courage to tell my mom. We were out grabbing pizza and a movie for family movie night. I blurted out the words, “Dad is touching me,” and my life forever changed.

That night I spent until 3:00am at the police station giving my testimony. It took the whole police force to arrest him. I wasn’t allowed to go back home until the arrest was complete, but my journey was far from over. We would spend the next year in and out of court rooms. In May 2011, we had a jury trial where I had to relive every single detail in front of him, a jury and a judge. Justice was served and he was found guilty on 17 felony counts and sentenced to prison on a 34 year to life sentence.

My journey has not been easy. I still have hard days. I still have hard moments. However, recovery is possible. Healing is possible. It takes a lot of work, but it is totally worth it.

I am now a wife, and a mother to three kids. I run a sexual abuse survivors support group to help local woman with their abuse. Please know you are not alone. Your voice is powerful and you are so strong.

I believe you.