Today, for Girlie, I sat in a room that was decorated with dolphins, and I was interrogated for an hour and a half. Because, I was the one who she chose to tell about her sexual assault. I was, in the kindest manner possible, asked to recount all the details, to retell the story, to describe the issues we had with my brother, to discuss Girlie’s behavior before and since.
It was exhausting. I wanted to remember every detail I could, I wanted to offer as much information as I could, because…that’s my little girl. My little, tiny, sweet, Girlie.
I only cried once- when they asked me to tell them all of the things she’d said had happened. I cried confessing I refused to ask more questions, because I just didn’t want to know. Admitting that made me feel guilty, like I was a bad mother for not wanting her to share these horrors with me. Through my tears, I stumbled to explain,
“I just couldn’t handle hearing any more. I just couldn’t. I’m sorry, that’s all she told me.”
The detective, sensing my distress, nodded and cut me off to tell me it was okay. It didn’t feel okay because I want her to know I want to be there, but I have limits occasionally. This is one of them, for now. Maybe in time I’ll be able to hear it, but for now, I can’t even begin to go there.
Both my kids were interviewed, and I suspect they gave limited information, if any. We won’t even know what they said until this process is deeper in because they want to keep it as “sterile” as possible. All I know is that my heart broke knowing my two kids were being put through a process that no child should ever have to endure.
The guilt I’m feeling is astronomical. As I was questioned for more and more details, I kept thinking, “Oh my god, why didn’t I notice this?” Even if I had noticed, I doubt that my mind would have even gone there. Who wants to think that a family member is capable of doing something like molestation? Even with all his issues, and I know he has many, this wasn’t something I figured he could do. And yet.
After my interview, as the kids watched Spiderman on the television in our holding room, I apologized to my husband.
“I’m sorry,” I murmured, my hand gripping his leg. I was afraid to face him for fear that I might cry.
“Why?” he asked, confusion lining his voice.
“Because. If I hadn’t have allowed my brother into our home….” my voice trailed off as tears spilled over.
“What? You were doing something nice for him. You shouldn’t apologize for that.”
“But, if I had said no…”
“You can’t live like that, Danielle. You just can’t.”
“I know. You know me. I feel bad. Our kids shouldn’t be going through this. I feel like I wasn’t
good enough. Protective enough.”
“You are a great mother. This wasn’t your doing. This was his. He did this to us. Not you, not your kindness, not your openness to him. It was all him.” There was an air of firmness in his voice that said I wasn’t to question this statement. So I didn’t.
At home, Girlie drifted in and out of her own world, it seemed. I scooped her up in my arms and told her she was safe. That I loved her. That she was brave, because, oh my god, she is so brave. Then, when I was sure I had her attention, I said what both her and I apparently needed to hear at the end of the day:
“Girlie, it’s not your fault. Do you hear me?” I whispered into her ear as I stroked her blonde hair.
Her head bobbed up to look at me, her stunning green eyes piercing my own, a sadness in them that no three year old should ever know.
I repeated myself,
“Girlie, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. You didn’t do a single thing wrong, and you are safe. It was never your fault.”
She sighed, and snuggled into my chest, her silent way of telling me it was time to stop talking, but that she had heard me.
Did I hear me? I’m not sure I have yet, so I guess I’ll just keep repeating myself.
It’s not our fault. We didn’t do anything wrong.
It’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong.