March 13, 1998
20 years ago, today it was a Friday. Friday the 13th. I was 13 years old. I had just gotten home from school when my aunt called asking if there was any way I could come over in two hours and babysit her other babysitter had canceled on her. My immediate response was what about her two older sons. She informed me they both had hockey games and were sleeping over with friends. I had no plans and told her I would watch them. My cousins were 4 and 7 years old. I had a pizza with them that night. We played hide and seek, Nintendo, and eventually I sat in their room and read them a few books. After turning off their light I went down the hall to my aunt and uncle’s bedroom where my aunt asked if I could stay the rest of the night and watch TV in there since the 4-year-old had been getting out of bed frequently and ending up in bed with them. They were not expected to be home until midnight it was 9pm. Fifteen minutes into watching TV I began hearing noises coming from outside the bedroom. I looked at the door a few times wondering if one of the boys got out of bed. Each time I looked I saw nothing. I continued to hear noises so I turned the television up and convinced myself it was the furnace turning on. From the corner of my eye I saw the bedroom door move and standing there coming into the room was my older cousin Brian. I jumped up so fast and my heart was now pounding. As I jumped to the other side of the bed Brian closed the door and I asked him what was he doing home. He told me he decided to come home after his hockey game instead of staying the night at his friends. With fear in my voice I said, “That is because you knew I was here.” He smiled at me as he was coming around the corner towards me. I turned to climb across the bed to get the door opened and run but he grabbed my ankle and tackled me on the bed. He rolled me over like a rag doll and was sitting on top of me hold my hands above my head. He had this big grin on his face as I struggled with him telling him to get the hell off me. He laughed at me and said, “Hey little psycho.” Eventually I was able to pull one of my hands free and immediately punched him in the balls. He instantly fell off me as I made my escape and ran downstairs. I now stood in the kitchen panicking not knowing what to do next as I paced back and forth fearing he was going to come downstairs and kill me. My imagination started to go that he was going to rape and kill me and hide my body in the marsh directly behind his house and nobody would ever find me.
Suddenly I heard him coming down the stairs and I was terrified. I positioned myself between both entrances of the kitchen not knowing where he would appear from. Suddenly there he was with a look of anger across his face as he began to chase me from the kitchen, dining room, family room, and foyer. I eventually ran back upstairs as he was right behind me. I ran for my little cousins fast asleep in their room. I was going to wake up the youngest and hold on to him to keep Brian from abusing me. Just as I opened the door and could see the boys peacefully sleeping Brian grabbed me and whispered in a demanding voice, “Close the door.” I wanted to collapse on floor right there and curl up in a ball. His strength was so much stronger than mine. He dragged me back into his parent’s bedroom and locked the door. He forced me back onto their bed where once again I pleaded with him to let me go. He completely ignored me and pulled my pants and underwear down. I didn’t have the energy to fight him off. I knew I wouldn’t win. I looked at the clock wondering how long it would be until my aunt and uncle would come home fearing what he would do to me. It was almost 10pm and they were not expected home until midnight. Since I couldn’t get him off me I decided to close my eyes so I didn’t have to see the joy across his face. Unfortunately, I couldn’t block out the things he was saying to me, his moaning, or whispering in my ear with his hot breath against my neck. Then there was the physical pain I began crying but that didn’t change anything. He didn’t care at all what his actions were doing to me. All that mattered to him was the power he had over me and pleasure he was getting from it. 20 years ago, today I can clearly remember every detail from that night. From the color shirt he had on to the emotions running through me of fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, and panic over those 2 ½ hours. Every minute on the clock seem to go by so slowly. The sexual assault continued for an hour until the sound of the garage door opening and he jumped off me and told me, “Don’t you tell anyone. No one will believe you.” Something he had told me so many times. I watched him disappear down the hallway to his bedroom as I wiped away the tears and went to face my aunt and uncle.
6 weeks later I sat in a small room across from this woman I had just met. She was a forensic interviewer whose job was to talk to kids who had been sexually abused. I had been with her an hour telling her all the abuse I suffered from the ages of 11-13 by this cousin. While I told her one story after another of abuse I experienced a police detective and DCFS worker listened from a two-way mirror. It was all part of the investigation. I was at a place called, “The Children’s Advocacy Center.” When I got to the point in the interview of the last time my cousin had ever abused me March 13, 1998 I was asked to act out with two naked dolls that were laying on the table what exactly he did. I broke down and started crying. I had already acted out other scenes of abuse but this was different this assault was much more severe than the dozens of other times. The forensic interviewer stopped the interview reached across the table and held my hand. She told me what amazing courage I have shown her for the past hour and told me we can put the dolls away. As I continued to cry I looked at her and said, “I gave up I didn’t stop him. I wasn’t strong enough.” She heard me blaming myself. She immediately told me this was not my fault. That my cousin is a lot bigger than me and I was brave to be able to tell her as much as I had told her because she knew it was not easy to relive those painful moments. I took comfort in her words. It would be a place I would end up doing a lot of healing over a year and a half with therapy at the CAC. April 30th will mark 20 years when I broke my silence and reclaimed my voice at the CAC. April is also child abuse prevention month. I am trying to raise $20,000 for the CAC a 501c3 non-profit by April 30th. A place that doesn’t charge anything for the services they give to children and their families. They rely on what little they get from the government, donations from the public, and fundraisers. Would you please make a donation? $10.00 $20.00 $50.00 dollars would really help me get that much closer to my goal. I have currently raised $6,425 with the help of 67 people. Your donation is tax deductible
Donate Here: https://www.gofundme.com/Childrenadvocacycenter
I can’t change the past so I focus on what I can change the future.-Erin Merryn