I was so relieved after Dad kicked Mike and his wife off the property. Mike had been caught peeping in my window while I changed my clothes. I felt like Dad would defend me from now on, maybe. I started to feel a little empowered and brave.
The church never called it “Halloween” but they always had a “Harvest Festival” for the community. During the festival there would be games and candy. The Harvest Festival would usually take place a few days before Halloween, so we would go trick or treating also; as long as we weren’t in trouble. I had been avoiding Mike, but we were crossing paths in the hall during the festival. He was dressed as a “punk” and I do not remember how I was dressed. I was annoyed by him because I felt like he probably truly wished that he could dress like a punk, but that he would get in trouble if he did, so he waited until Halloween. I was also still very upset about him looking in my window, and I felt righteous in my anger. I wanted him to know this, so I said something awful and ignorant. I said sarcastically as I passed “What are you, a … punk?” He turned quickly and before I knew it he was holding me up against the wall by my neck, with my toes unable to touch the ground. He was much taller and stronger than I, which I hadn’t realized until this point. While looking me in the eye he said, “don’t you ever call me that again.” Then he let me go and walked away.
I ran to the bathroom and stifled hyperventilating. When I finally went back upstairs I didn’t tell Dad or anyone about this experience. As I grew into the teenage years, the physical control became more prevalent. I was not as scared by their words, now physical force was being implemented. Their force did hold me back physically and mentally. I was afraid to run, because if they could catch me or get me back…I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew it would be painful.
I now feel strong enough to defend myself in many ways. I am my own advocate. This experience taught me a valuable lesson in compassion and self-awareness. At the time I did not know why I was lashing out at Mike. I had so many emotions, and felt out of control. No one was listening to me about Ted, he was doing things I didn’t want, and Mike was a “safe” one to lash out towards because he had already gotten in trouble for what he did to me. He also wasn’t a pastor’s son. In the following years I would find a friend in Mike, and he would become a defender of mine. We are not friends today, but I don’t feel this experience has caused irreparable damage within me. It is hard to forget how it felt to be held dangling against a wall by my neck, but the memory reminds me to never put myself in that situation again.