For Robyn-Lynn’s discretion, names of family members and minor details have been changed.
Two weeks ago, I sat frozen in place after an all too familiar song found its way on my car radio. It had been a while since I last heard the song, at least a couple of years, but I do remember that there was a time in my life when this particular song was my favorite. A time I sometimes try to forget. I have never denied myself the memory of what happened to me when I was a child and I had always assumed that because I forced myself to remember that I would most likely be one of the few who would not have a trigger but somehow, I was wrong.
A brief introduction to me, because if I tried to explain in detail, I would be writing a book not a short piece for a new friend’s blog. I was born in sunny Cape Town, South Africa in March of ’92. I am the only child born to my parents as they separated shortly after. My adopted dad soon came into the picture, who although we no longer speak, I thank him for his role in my life. If not for him, I would not have my beautiful sister Violet. She was born just after my 8th birthday. She never knew it, but she was my birthday wish; having a little sister. When my mother was pregnant, I was already the overprotective big sister. I remember instructing my mother what she may and may not eat, informing her about chemicals, and not allowing her to use certain cleaning products as I was fearful that my sister would come out destined to be a toilet cleaner. You could say I had quite the vivid imagination, but I always had her best interest at heart. Our parents split shortly after her birth, and it was just us three girls on our own again. Although she was a single mother, we never felt as if we were missing out. We always knew she would find a way to provide and she did. We had moved into a nice new apartment and were ready to start our lives of an all-girls household where our mother played way too much Wilson Philips, but we never complained.
This is where the memories become somewhat vague as I still remember that day we met Mr. C, the man who would take something from me. He was our next-door neighbor who had two boys about my age. It started with casual hello’s over the wall, to the borrowing of condiments, to eventually cookouts. The next thing we knew, my mother had fallen for Mr. C. I was 10 years old when we moved in with him in our new house. His boys did not live with him but would visit on weekends. For a long time, we were a somewhat happy family. I use the word somewhat as Mr. C had quite the friendship with his vodka bottle. From what I can remember he was never mean, but occasionally a little too loud or a little too cuddly mainly with my mother. Violet was only 2 years old at the time, so, fortunately, she was out playing with the dogs or eating her favorite puffs and talking to the fairies and would take no notice to Mr. C’s behavior. Our mother would usher him to bed and then come back to tuck us in.
Our mother was going through a lot during this time. She was working hard to be able to provide for us and had decided to go into business with my aunt. She often would be away in the morning on the weekends. Sometimes we would accompany her, but other times we would ask to stay back so that we could have play dates with Mr. C’s boys when they came over.
One weekend it all seemed to change for us. The boys did not come over and Mr. C was not happy at all. He and his good buddy, the vodka bottle, shared many moments that morning while my mother was at work. He came and sat next to me on the couch whilst I watched Star Wars the second movie. Violet was outside playing with Lucky, our dog. He seemed fine at first. He had asked me for a hug, and I happily obliged as I had always been an affectionate child. Then he began tickling me on my legs, the most ticklish part of my body when suddenly, things were no longer innocent.
I will not go into those details besides answer the questions that everyone is thinking: Why not scream? We lived in a big house with lots of backyard space. No one would hear my screams. If I had screamed, the only person who might have heard me would have been my little sister. Why not fight back? I did at first until the words “maybe your sister won’t be as difficult” escaped his mouth. I froze out of fear and anger that he would actually do something like this to her, too. She was barely 2 years old. I was only 10 years old, but that did not seem to stop him. After it was over, Mr. C threatened that if I ever told anyone what happened, he would come after Violet. He knew as well as anyone that she would always be more important to me than my own safety. So I kept quiet. Unfortunately, it happened once more after this first encounter.
Something in the universe was looking out for me, because not even two weeks later, my mother and Mr. C had a huge blowout, and all I remember was leaving with my mother and Violet. I was overjoyed, but the joy slowly diminished after he pulled me aside before we left and told me to remember if I ever said a word about what happened, he would find Violet, and anything that happened to her would be my fault. As a child, you can’t help but assume that the adults were always right and that he would absolutely find a way to track us down and take the innocence of my little sister. I decided that I would keep quiet until we were at a “safe distance” from him, but even a 17-hour drive between us did not seem far enough. I made the decision that I would keep this secret to myself forever. Partly as protection for me, but also for Violet. He could not touch Violet if I kept my promise of staying silent. I only told one person, a best friend until I turned 18 when I thought that telling a boyfriend would help, but it did no such thing. It only left me feeling like “damaged goods”.
I walked around with this image of myself afterward, yet another boyfriend I had 6 years ago left me feeling like I did not deserve any better than the way they treated me. Over the last 6 years, I went through many stages from opening up to my mother and working on how to move forward for us. I believe our biggest struggle was that my mother could not seem to comprehend how I managed to handle it all when at the same time she barely held it together. She did what any mother would and blamed herself for what happened. I had to share my heart with her that day. She could have never done anything different as it was not her actions that caused any of this, as for my “handling it”; I honestly was not handling it all too well. The problem was not keeping the secret, in fact, that was the easy part, my silver lining was that as long as I kept quiet, I could ensure that my sister remained innocent and untainted by the ugly face that life had shared with me. Honestly, what older sibling would not do that? The hardest part was sharing my story, the breaking open to being regarded as “damaged” or pitied by “friends”. I had managed to remain true to myself for many years until I started revealing my story. After the negative responses, I receded back into my quiet, happy bubble. It took 6 long years of self-realization and filtering to allow only certain people to walk this journey with me, and changing my thinking to “I am not damaged goods”, but rather those who treat me as such, are too close-minded to accept me as I am.
It is now two weeks after the first trigger, and I have chosen to start a new Instagram to be more open about who I am and my story. More of a declaration of “take me as I am or do not take me at all”. I finish this story with my once favorite song blaring in the background, the song that started it all:
All The Things She Said by T.A.T.U.
Robyn-Lynn’s Instagram account is @robynlynnk25. She will be posting more about her story and her journey through healing on her Instagram. She would love to be another helping hand to survivors who need a friend or would need help getting through their healing process. Together we will survive!
If you would also like to share your story, you can send it to me in an email. I would love to hear from any survivors that are willing to share their stories.