A Father’s Right

Saturday afternoon. I am sixteen. Taking a shower in our downstairs bathroom, door locked. Content. Thinking my typical teenage thoughts. I hear a noise, see the lock turning on the door. I yell – hey, I am in the shower! The door opens and in comes my dad.

“Dad! What are you doing?”

“I need to wash my hands.”

Shampoo is running in my eyes, stinging and blinding me. I am horrified, embarrassed, shocked that he would come into the bathroom.

I can’t see, but I can hear him pulling back the shower curtain.

“Dad!”

“It’s a father’s right to see his daughter naked,” he says. I protest and try to cover myself with the shower curtain.

He turns, finishes washing his hands, and then leaves.

My heart is racing, panicking, I am in shock.

What the hell just happened?

Feelings of deep anger, powerlessness, violation wash over me. I am not safe, not anywhere.

I finish my shower, dress and walk out. I don’t remember what happened next, what I said, who I spoke with, where I went. I don’t remember.

I don’t remember.

Perhaps this not remembering is a mercy. At sixteen I was powerless. Schooled in the experience of abuse, I wasn’t yet conscious of the fact that I had no power, no voice, no option but to live in that house with that man. I was surviving and doing it well. What choice did I have? None.

Fast forward to today. Another young woman remembers her abuse. Her feelings of powerlessness, of violation, of surviving – sometimes doing it well and sometimes barely breathing. She doesn’t remember, and then, she does.

The depth of her abuse is stunning, heartbreaking, overwhelming, horrifying.

I have no words for this. Not today.

But I will.

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