My dad was one of six kids. He had four brothers and one sister. My mom was an only child who married into this huge family. They all accepted her with open arms, and through them she found the siblings she did not have growing up.

There was one particular uncle, a large man, loud, spontaneous, ego driven, and a liar. He was living out of the country… living a rich life. As a small child I saw him touch my mother when my dad was not around. I did not know then if it was right or wrong. All I did know was deep inside me that his time with her made me feel uncomfortable. He was, in the world’s view, a wealthy man with lots of money to toss around. When he came to visit, he gave my mom expensive gifts my dad could not afford to give to her like sweet perfumes and jewelry from far away places.

One afternoon he and my mom were sitting inside a small house trailer my folks owned as we did lots of camping when I was growing up. They were seated next to each other. I saw his arm on her shoulder. She was not cuddling into his embrace but just sitting there next to him. I next saw him slide his hand up and down all over her back for what seemed like several long minutes to this child of nine or ten years of age. After some conversation, she got up and returned to the house to prepare dinner.

As was his habit with his nieces and nephews, he said he had something to give to me too. His specialty during the Christmas holiday was to have us sit in his lap where he would make a big scene pulling at the hair on our heads and ending it by “pulling quarters” out of our messed up hair. We thought he was magical, like a tooth fairy, to do this trick. My sitting on his lap before did not make me feel strange, so sitting on his lap this time was no different, except we were not in a family gathering; we were in a small house trailer and all alone.

He placed his hand over my shoulder, squeezing my leg with his other hand. Then he slipped a hand underneath my blouse, rubbing my back up and down just like I had seen him do to my mom. Then all of the sudden his hands were everywhere. I got scared real fast and tried to get off his lap but he stopped me. He acted as if this was just teasing and perfectly okay to do. I squirmed and fought until I broke free from his grasp and ran out of the house trailer into my room, shutting the door. I leaped onto my bed and cried. Even though safe in my room I could still feel his hands all over me. I felt so dirty. I never did get that quarter that he was to have found in my hair!

I did not speak of his actions to anyone, not even my mom. After all it seemed normal and accepted behavior for her.

I never found myself alone with him again. I did not know at so young an age he was likely a pedophile. Yet this memory has never left me. I hope my story will help others break their silence through the AVA ministry.

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