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    Yesterday, I went to Barnes & Noble to look for books about adult children of alcoholics. I was pleased to find a very good book called, "Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics." I read the first two chapters of this book and was very pleased with it. I would have bought it, if only I had any money right now. It'll have to wait, unfortunately. While I was looking for books on this topic though, I also came across the book, "A Child Called It" by Dave Pelzer. I had heard about this book before but had never read it. I took one from the shelf and added it to the pile I planned to sit down and flip through. Once I got to the book, I opened to a random page and began reading. I was immediately shocked and enthralled. I read a small part in the David's ("it's") mother forced him to swallow a spoonful of ammonia. It was horrid; I couldn't believe what I was reading.
    I decided after reading that short excerpt that I needed to start again at the beginning. Before flipped back to the beginning though, a memory from my childhood came back to me. I don't know exactly what it was about reading the excerpt from the book that triggered it. Perhaps I was looking to find some event from my childhood that I could relate to what I had just. Granted, my childhood was no where near as horrific as David's was. I remembered the time that I was swinging outside on our swing-set with my brother. I was in second grade at the time and my brother and I were having some sort of argument. It was sort of a play argument; we weren't really mad at one another. We we were just debating about something I like. But for some reason I wasn't wearing any shoes at the time. I was completely barefoot and so it hurt when I tried to stop the swing and get off. I did overreact; I will admit but it was my father who would have the biggest overreaction of all to this. As soon as I screamed, he stormed out of the house, headed straight toward me and picked me up by the neck. He proceeded to strangle me while yelling at me for not wearing shoes outside. I figured that he must have been sleeping. He slept all the time and at strange hours when he was home because he was a truck driver and he drove long distances all over the country. I never saw him angrier as a child than when someone had woken him from his sleep.
    There is something strange about this memory though. There was more to it. It occurred on a weekend and on the Friday before, I had received a note home from school about my bad behavior. This happened to me quite frequently in second grade. This time though, when the teacher gave me the note, it was the end of the day and I just sat down at my desk and began to cry. All of the other students were already lined up and ready to go home when the teacher noticed me still sitting at my desk with tears rolling down my cheeks. She asked me why I was crying. Without thinking, I blurted out, "My father said that if I get another note sent home he is gonna break one of my bones!" I was shocked at what I had did. I had never told a sole before about the abuse or the threats. The teacher froze and it was clear that she was shocked too. It was true. The last time I received a note home from school, my father told me that if I ever received another one that he was going to break one of my bones. The teacher hurried me off to my bus without asking anymore questions. At the time of the strangling incident, my parents did not yet know about the note. I always hid them under my dresser for a few days before my teacher would call my parents to ask if they had gotten it. I was then yelled by my parents to get the note and then screamed at by my father for my bad behavior in school as well as for the hiding the note. I don't remember how the strangling incident ended though. I just remember dangling in the air, not being able to breathe. The next thing I remember was being in my parents' bathroom the following Monday morning before school. My mother was putting make-up on me because I had cuts and bruises all over my face. She told me to tell anyone that asked that I had gotten the cuts and bruises by falling off my bike. I couldn't understand what motivation she had for telling me to do this. I remember feeling relieved though that I had an excuse, endorsed by my mother, for what had happened to me. I didn't want to feel the shame and embarrassment of telling people that my father had hurt me. I also knew that it would be disastrous if my father ever found out that I had told someone.
    That day in school, my teacher called me over to her desk while the class was working quietly. She asked me where the cuts and bruises came from on my face. I told what my mother had told me to say, that I fell off of my bike. She then asked me if my parents had ever hurt me. I lied. In a timid voice I said, "Umm, no." The upward infliction I put on the word no made it sound more like a question. In a way, it was. I was asking her if she believed my answer. She did. She told me to go sit back down. She never asked me about it again. No teacher before or since did either.
    No one ever knew what was going on in my household. After I successfully lied to my second grade teacher, I realized that I could lie to anyone. All I had to do was lie and no one would ever have to find out. I was always in fear that someone would find out and either my father would go to jail or I would be taken away from my family. I wanted to be taken away from my father but I loved my mother dearly and wanted to stay with her. Though even at that age, somehow I knew that my mother would never leave my father. She still hasn't and it has been eleven years since I was in second grade. It was either he go to jail and our family be torn apart and it all be blamed on me for telling, or I would be taken away from my family and sent to live with someone I didn't know. I was equally afraid of either option. None of my friends ever knew and they still don't. No one outside of my immediate family knows other than my therapist. I still feel somewhat embarrassed and ashamed of it but I a little part of me also wants everyone to find out so that my father will be shamed. He deserves to finally bear the consequences of his own actions for once instead of the rest of the family doing it for him.
    I feel incredibly sad when I think about this whole series of events. I realize the extent to which my mother helped to cover-up, quite literally, all signs of abuse. I realize how bad the abuse really was. I don't remember how I got the cuts and bruises that were on my face but I know they were from my father. I clearly remember the strangling from which I got bruises on my neck. I also remember clearly how I so easily fooled my second grade teacher into believing that nothing was wrong. I think she too readily wanted to believe this so she willingly accepted my answer immediately when I lied to her. I am almost in disbelief now when I think about the course of events. I cried when I received a note from the teacher. I told my teacher that my father had threatened me with violence. The next school day I came with visible signs of abuse. And she accepted that nothing was wrong. What a shame. She could have put an end to it, or at least tried. I remember feeling so scared when she asked me those questions. My body was shaking and my voice was too. One more question and I probably would have cracked. But she didn't ask anymore questions. She just heard the answers she wanted to her and then let it go. It was the closest I had ever been to getting help from outside my family. Part of my wanted to tell because I wanted that help but the other part of me was too afraid of my father.
    Thankfully, I no longer feel this way. I am no longer so afraid of my father. There is still some of that fear in me. My father did his best to carve it into me permanently. He succeeded to an extent. But now the desire to get help has become stronger than that fear. I recently reached out and I am now in therapy. The process is painfully slow but at least I am beginning the process early in my adult life. That's how I see it.

Sara J.