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  • Speak Safe

The Truth Comes Out

By: Kathryn Padmos

I was 18 when I had the realization that what was happening to me wasn’t right. That it was not how a relationship between a father and daughter should ever be, nor was it legal. I was recently engaged and had been reading through a premartial book on questions to ask your future spouse. It was a weekend, and I was eating brunch. The moment finally came and the dreaded question stared into my soul from the pages in the book. I could no longer hide, I could no longer stay silent. The truth was about to come out. “Has there ever been sexual abuse in your family?” The question seemed foreign and scary. I looked up to my fiance and said, “Well, this is a loaded question.” For the next two hours I was silent as I quietly sat in my seat, terrified of even speaking the words. I wanted to speak the truth but it had been shoved down inside me for so long that forcing the words out of my mouth felt as though someone had sewn my mouth shut, and I was forcing them open for the first time.

The words finally were spoken. It was terrifying and emotionally draining and I suddenly felt the life seep out of my body. All I wanted was for people to know what had happened, and that he was not a safe person to be around. He wasn’t a good father. In fact, I no longer believe he ever knew what a father was supposed to be. He was the person who took away my innocence before I even knew it existed. He robbed me of my childhood and forced me into a life of surviving.

Unlike many survivors I know and love, their abusers don’t see justice. They don’t see the inside of a jail cell. They often never even see the inside of a courtroom. I am grateful that my story ended differently. In 2013, my father was given an agreement of two 15 year sentences to be completed consecutively and the agreed dismissal of 18 other counts, which included, “...13 more counts of committing a lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 years of age (§ 288, subd. (a)); three counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child under 14 years of age (§ 269); one count of oral copulation with a minor (§ 288a, subd. (b)(1)); and one count of forcible rape (§261, subd. (a)(2).” The day in court where the sentencing occured, I remember vividly. He was avoiding all eye contact with the many family members I was sitting with. He didn’t dare look up. I remember wanting to look him in the eyes. As the court session ended, I stood up and did just that. I gave him a solemn, half smile. One filled with pity, sadness, anger, and most importantly relief. He would no longer have the power to harm another child. He would no longer have power over my life. He would no longer have power. My days in a court room were over. The next stage of my life was beginning. It was terrifying. Yet the most powerful thing I have ever experienced.

Stories like mine are not uncommon. It is a sad fact that I have had so many women come to me sharing their pain and suffering in hopes of finding a kindred spirit who know the pain they have/are going through. But alas, it brings us together to remind each of us that we are not defined by our abusers. We are not forced to live a life of surviving and that with a little help and support we can put the pain and suffering of someone else’s transgressions behind us.

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