Emily jumped up onto Noah and threw her legs around him; he supported her weight effortlessly. We all smiled. Laughed a little. They were adorable.
My nephew Noah was a freshman football player. Emily, a family friend, was 6 years old.
I envied the simple, straightforward innocence. Emily looked up to Noah. He probably thought nothing of it; she’s just a little kid. But it meant the world to her, getting attention from a cool, older kid. His intentions were pure, and she was naive, as she should be.
I observed this, knowing how special it was for her and wishing it had been for me. I wouldn’t say anything to her mother, my family, or our friends. I didn’t want my memory to interrupt their day, too. So I got up and walked out of the room, smiling.
“I need to talk to you,” I said to my husband in the middle of a perfectly beautiful Easter afternoon while he was sitting on the couch relaxing and watching sports with his brother-in-law and friends. (The fact that he immediately got up and came with me is admirable beyond belief, but that’s another story.)
My husband followed me into our bedroom, and I told him what I had observed. He already knew, but I said, “I was about Emily’s age. Watching Noah, the handsome, popular freshman, while she jumped on him, brought back my memories of being abused. I can’t say anything to anyone out there, so I had to tell you.” He hugged me and understood.
My innocence was stolen by someone who was supposed to be taking care of me while my parents were away. He was about Noah’s age. I looked up to him. He was a handsome football player, as well. I trusted him, as did my parents. And more than 30 years later, I still cannot forget. Beautiful, relaxing, family and friend-filled days like Easter Sunday are forever punctuated by my sad memories.
~Please talk to your kids to protect them from abuse.
~Please take care of yourself and talk to someone if it happened to you.
Barbara Larson is a mom to two boys aged 16 and 19. She is a native Midwesterner but has family in the Providence area and strong ties to Southern New England. Barb is a Safety, Health, & Environmental Manager for Nestle. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Miami University and Master of Science from Northern Illinois University. Barb is a survivor of child sexual abuse and believes “the shame is not ours.” According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), a child is sexually assaulted every 8 minutes! If you or someone you know has suffered, as well, please contact any number of organizations for help now. There is hope, and we do not need to feel ashamed.