Tiny, little girl.

Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.

Albus Dumbledore (by way of JK Rowling)

In the Harry Potter series, Harry is the only character- other than the glorious Dumbledore- who refers to Lord Voldemort by his name.  Everyone else calls him He Who Must Not Be Named.  The very mention of his name makes powerful witches and wizards flinch, and look over their shoulders.

Harry uses his proper name, because he was raised outside the wizarding world, and so it hasn’t been ingrained in him not to do so.  He is constantly being warned and chastised about using it.  When he encounters Professor Dumbledore, the only person unafraid of Voldemort, he is encouraged to use it.   Dumbledore understands that using something other than Voldemort’s name increases his power, and reinforces the legend.

Not using his name betrays their deep fear.  The vice-like hold he has over them.  The power he still wields in their everyday lives.

Today I read an article by a man about his abuser.  He was raped when he was seven years old.  His rapist was a local teenager- a high school football star.  As an adult, he found out the man was living nearby and decided to kill him.  For real.

You can read his incredible story here.

In his article, he named his abuser.  He said:

I am going to destroy a man and I want you to bear witness. It’s important that I have witnesses. Because I am writing on behalf of a little boy who long ago suffered in secret. He grew up to become a writer who is about to destroy a man with two words and one letter.

First name. Last name. Middle initial.

I read it.  I bore witness, as so many of you have borne witness for me.  I read it several times, in fact- I even went so far as to track down his contact information so that I could send him a message.  That first paragraph played on a loop in my head all day.

Something occurred to me that really shook me.  And then, I couldn’t fathom that it had never occurred to me before.

It never once crossed my mind to use my abuser’s name.  Not once.  Not for a second.

In my initial essay about my abuse, I referred to him as The Thief.  When I wrote about reporting him, I referred to him only as my grandfather.

Why is that?  I could hardly ruin his life, even if I did use his name.  He’s already dead. That side of the family wrote us off after we told, it’s not as though it could harm my relationship with them, it doesn’t exist.

My father will likely never speak to me again- regardless of what moniker I used.

So why the reticence?

I remember being that little girl.  I remember being that tiny, little girl.  I remember my father’s anger.  I remember losing half of my family in one fell swoop.  I remember losing my grandmother, who I loved, and on whose birthday I was born.

I remember, as hard as it is to believe, being upset at the idea of my grandfather being angry at me.

As much as I was terrified at the thought of seeing him again, I remember finding the notion of him not liking me anymore really painful.

I remember attending my grandmother’s funeral- all of us clinging to my mother, our protective male cousin outside waiting to take us home, and keep us safe. We talked to no one, no one talked to us.  I remember being hurt that no one was happy to see me.

It’s so sick, really, but it’s true.

My cousin’s husband gives everyone nicknames.  He’s really good at it.  For instance, Mary’s is Sparkle.  That is perfection.  She is as sparkly as they come.

I wondered, when I met him, what mine would be.

Mine is F’all.  It is not because I am a klutz, though that is certainly true.  It is not because I love the autumn, although I do.  It is a contraction, of sorts.  I apologize to my more delicate readers who are offended by cursing.  I am decidedly not.

It stands for Fuck all y’all.

I like it.  A lot.

The funny thing is, the not caring what people think, the fearlessness that nickname refers to is a fairly recent development.  And it isn’t entirely true.  I still have fear.  I still care more than I should, sometimes.  I wonder if that isn’t why I was coy about using titles and nicknames.

On behalf of that tiny little girl, I should have just said these two words, and this one letter.

Francis J. Parrott.

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24 Comments on “Tiny, little girl.

    • Michele- I approved your comment, then wanted to be sure you are sure. My abuser is dead and there can’t be any repercussions for me. Are you certain? I took the comment off for the time being. If you are sure, and have thought it through, I will re-post it. If not, I will read that name. I will know who he is. I will bear witness, brave friend. Let me know.

      Like

      • I’m sure. He was my father (he died almost 20 years ago), and I have the blessings of my brother and sisters, husband and sons, to name him. My mother is gone (they’d been divorced since 1977), so she can’t be hurt any more. I have extended family on my mother’s side who don’t want to hear about it, but that would be their problem, not mine. (Isn’t that our mantra?)

        Thank you for your blog. You and your cousin are amazing examples of survival.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. This post of yours gave me chills, neck shivers even. It is so well-worded and powerful. I never suffered through what you have. However, I have been a foster parent to children that did, and I do have friends that have. I hope they all have an opportunity to read what you’ve written.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura, I just wanted to echo the prior comments: gave me chills. Powerful. Good for you. Brave.

    Love the Harry Potter reference; also, another book that comes to mind that highlights the power of naming: Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water.

    Sending love your way.

    PS – My nickname was Glitter, so I feel like I’d get along well with Sparkle/ Mary…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My half-sisters went through this as teenagers. The eldest was thirteen, the second was eleven, if I am not mistaken. They’re in their mid-30s now, but are not very open about it even though we all know who he is. I understand why though, but it also hurts me when the wound is still there, sealed but raw whenever they see him. And to make things worse, the eldest wants him at her wedding, but my father doesn’t approve of it. And because that man is going, my father will not attend the wedding, because he can never forgive him, and he doesn’t understand his eldest daughter. I’m not on speaking terms with either of them, but I might send this to them to at least enlighten them. Thank you for this post. It made my heart sink lower than possible, but it gives me hope that someday, we could all be open about our problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s hopelessly complicated. I know it makes no sense for her to want him at her wedding- from the outside. That’s what’s so insidious about sexual abuse, the way it manipulates children and messes with their sense of boundaries and propriety. Be patient with her. And I COMPLETELy understand your father feeling as though he can’t be around him, but maybe have HIM read this. He still won’t understand- but it didn’t make sense that I was upset at the thought of my grandfather not liking me anymore, even as I was terrified of him. It’s hard. It’s ALL hard. Praying for you all.

      Liked by 3 people

      • It is complicated, as what Laura said, and it is difficult. I did say I wasn’t in speaking terms with them, only because I’ve only met them once and it was a brief moment, so there has never really been a bond. And they’re living some other place and I’ve never been able to reach them because they’ve closed themselves to me. Still, I try. But yes, complicated and difficult. Thank you for your concern, Meredith.

        Like

  4. I read the name at the end. I saw it. I cried. But I saw it. Such power and emotion in this remarkable post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been working on a blog post about my abuse and the shame that comes permanently attached. Talking openly about the abuse is not easy for any of us. I am so thankful you are here, speaking your truth, telling your story, singing your heart for all of us to hear.

    Like

  6. Also? I really like your cousin’s husband for picking out such a great nickname. I’m glad some of your family is awesome.

    I’m sorry you had to go through this.

    Like

  7. Pingback: pauseRReport: June 2015 | thepauser

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