Peggy’s Hope 4U is a blog about hope, but far too many women and children find it difficult to maintain an attitude of hope. They are afraid because they’ve experienced life with a predator, and they feel unnecessary shame.
We need to have the talk. I’m going to lay it all out for you.
My Predator Was My Biological Father
My father was a man who many hated, yet all found him to have admirable qualities.
- He was one of the ten largest contributors to his church.
- The assets he owned before his downfall had a value of three million dollars.
- His expertise with finances left even his banker in the dust.
- With such a formidable size, he intimidated even the bravest of the brave.
- Many of his successes stemmed from two stints with the U.S. Army as a First Sergeant where he learned to “command” others.
- When it looked like life was over for a local farmer’s son, he raised the money for one of the first kidney transplants ever done in the U.S.
I was nearly forty before I was able to forgive myself for the abuse that began when I was only seven. It was impossible for me to stop thinking about the fact that I must have done something to trigger the sexual attacks.
How many women in this world feel the same shame I experienced for the majority of my life?
Life became a constant marathon to be the best I could be. He groomed me to believe no one could ever care for me if I didn’t do better than I was currently capable of doing.
Don’t misunderstand my words here. I’ve never competed with others to beat them at anything. My goal was always to meet the expectations of me so the hurt would end.
My purpose was simply to be finally “good enough” to end the hurt.
The primary goal was to make my father proud of me. It was critical for me to do whatever it would take to make him stop abusing me. What does a seven-year-old know?
- I was told, “This is what daddies are supposed to do for their daughters.”
- His words: “Don’t ever tell your mommy.”
- He put his hand over my mouth and told me not to make any noise. I couldn’t breathe and thought I was going to die.
The abuse continued until I was a teen. I”m not the only one who has suffered this same fate.
He Was A Community Leader
You may look at his admirable traits and wonder how such an accomplished man could do something like this.
No one ever saw his faults. He kept them well-hidden. As the ultimate master of deceit, no one saw his dark side – not even his wife.
If someone didn’t agree with him, they were instantly denied access to the circle of wealthy friends in the community he and my mother partied with and entertained.
It Was My Fault
I confronted my father when I reached the age of eighteen. There was absolutely no hesitation when I explained that I contacted his attorney hours earlier and told him everything about my abuse. No emotion was evoked in my voice. I remember speaking slowly, in a rather monotone voice.
Without much thought, I chastised him for his most recent affair and told him he had fifteen minutes to retrieve whatever he wanted from the house. He was asked to leave the house for good.
Mom’s Friend Had New Proof of Another Infidelity
My mother was up in her bed sobbing about his numerous infidelities as I had my conversation with him in the kitchen.
He’d just returned from a weekend with his newest girlfriend (a widow) and her young son and teenaged daughter.
When he was gone, I finally told Mom for the first time what he did to me.
I thought it would make her angry and bring her out of her depression.
Eighteen isn’t nearly mature enough to make the right decisions. My honesty that day had just the opposite affect; Mom could barely get out of bed the next day.
Months passed, and her depression didn’t improve.
It was time to make another sacrifice of my integrity to try to give her back the life she’d loved.
Forgiveness May Not Be The Answer
Father was on Main Street one evening. It was time to confront him as he was coming out of the local beer parlor.
I actually apologized for kicking him out of the house and told him I would forgive him for what he did to me if he would only come home to my mother. He was silent as I explained I had no idea she loved him so much. I told him I was willing to disappear from their lives forever if he would only come home to her.
His eyes were cold and filled with hatred as he looked at me.
“Forgive me? You’re the one who wanted it.”
What I will tell you about that moment was that my heart stopped.
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that level of rage before or after that moment.
All I could see in my mind was this little seven-year-old child with pigtails who cried herself to sleep each night.
Look at that face. The only way you can see anything in that face to warrant what happened to me is if you are also a pedophile. That’s not the case!
Tears stung my eyes for the very last time as I faced him. “You sick, sorry (expletive)!” were my words, and I walked away forever.
I am not alone. So many of you have suffered as I suffered. You have tried to resolve the issues and remove the pain.
It would take me another twenty years to realize I had nothing to do with my abuse. I was a victim. It was time to forgive myself.
You Need to Recognize the Predators!
My father was incredibly charismatic. Most everyone in the community interacted with him in a positive way.
He was a “self-made man” in his words.
One of his favorite stories described the day he quit school during the Junior High period. The Parish Priest came around the corner and heard a conversation he was having with his brother who was going to be confirmed in the church the following Sunday.
“I thought I’d have at least one brother who wasn’t going to join the (expletive) Catholic Church!”
My father told us of the incredible beating he received for those words from the Priest. He never returned to school after that fateful day.
I’m sixty-eight years old, and for the past year I’ve tried to analyze his hatred for the Catholic religion. I keep coming back to only one explanation that makes any sense: He was an altar boy who was abused by his priest. It’s the only thing that makes sense.
His brothers and sisters were remarkable people. Their children convinced me their parents never hurt them. So, my father was the only one who was abusive to his children.
Father’s mother was a saint; many others shared stories of her compassion through the years. One of the characters in my newest release is named Gracie in her honor.
His father? An animal, too. He was a country doctor who raped and impregnated a sixteen-year-old patient while performing surgery.
What a miserable excuse for a human being!
My grandfather was also a raging alcoholic. His wife, my grandmother, left him and took the kids years before that incident.
I’m thankful he died before I was born, so I never had to meet him. The odds are quite high I would have been prey to him too.
What do you look for in a predator?
My father possessed all the wisdom, power, and prestige to impress an entire community.
I gave hints about my abuse but was afraid to tell anyone. Who would have believed me?
I heard my mother tell the story of his father’s escapades in a hushed voice to her friend once. They were talking about the young woman who was his victim. She had done a beautiful job of raising her son, but the conversation convinced me “we don’t talk about these things openly.”
Without knowing it, we groom our children not to talk about abuse or the dirty things our society condemns outwardly but condones with their silence.
A Predator Exhibits a Sense of Entitlement
My father was an expert at this one.
He believed the church owed him because he “kept it alive.” It couldn’t exist without his hefty contributions each year.
Every minister became wrapped around his little finger with the assistance he provided whenever they exhibited a need for anything.
The local banker hated him, and my father reacted in kind by kiting checks and floating loans at banks throughout Iowa. He moved money quickly before the Midnight Rule of Banking passed as law. Today, those same actions would produce a hefty jail sentence.
My father expected people to do his bidding, including Mom. Typically, they did whatever he asked or demanded.
He was the smart one, and anyone who questioned him was an idiot.
A Predator Is A Master of Control
He knew Mom’s schedule and even when she didn’t feel like attending her choir practice, TTT meetings, Eastern Star, etc., he urged her to go so she wouldn’t be in the house.
I was an easy target for this predator. I was too little to fight back and too terrified to try to find someone to help me.
He groomed me to believe he was helping me to become a woman. Everything was about making me a better daughter. The message I understood? I wasn’t good enough…I was never good enough to make the abuse stop.
During those early years, I went to bed at night with my hand grasping a big lamp on the table next to my bed. I tried to convince myself I was brave enough and strong enough to pick it up and hit him over the head to kill him. It never happened.
His weapons against me were ridicule, intimidation, and shame. I still wasn’t good enough.
Little Miss ‘Touch Me Not.’
One of the biggest signals you can receive from a child of possible abuse is when they shrink away from their predator.
Anytime my father touched me in front of others; I would shrink away. He began calling me ‘My little Miss Touch Me Not’ and Mother would just laugh as would friends and other members of the family.
Didn’t anyone question why I couldn’t stand for him to put his hands on me?
Were they convinced my aversion was because that huge hand against my cheek could knock me across a room? It did several times as I was growing up because I talked back to him.
He Demanded Control of Every Situation
His tool box of ways to control me was never empty.
- Father made fun of me when I showed fear in a public place.
- The man always compared me to my brother who was so much smarter than I.
- He threatened to hurt my mother if I ever told anyone ‘our secret.’
- There was never any hesitation to hit me where the mark wouldn’t show if I defied him.
- He made me feel guilty for not being good enough.
- His personality displayed most of the hallmarks of narcissistic behavior.
I remember a time in high school when I talked back to him at the dinner table. As I stood up to leave the table, and he knocked his chair back into the refrigerator in his haste to stop me.
He held that brick of a hand up, ready to strike my face again.
With eyes filled with hatred, I screamed at him, “Go ahead, hit me! You can’t hurt me any worse than you already have.” *
My brother and mother sat silently at the table.
Father was so stunned at my comment that he stood there unmoving with his hand raised. There was no response as I walked past him defiantly and left the room.
No one ever mentioned the incident again.
- (The sexual abuse had ended a few years earlier when I began having my monthly cycle. People have asked why he stopped, and I can only guess that back then he was afraid I’d become pregnant.)
A Predator Has Two Primary Emotions: Love & Hate
My father had an opinion about everyone.
We knew he was home when we heard the back door slam and his feet stomping into the kitchen. It was a daily ritual for him to curse whoever offended him during the day.
Dinner conversation included the dirty jokes the local Catholic Priest told him on the street during the day. He constantly talked about which farmer was dragging his feet on paying what he owed at the store. Every other word was a curse word.
To a young child hearing the jokes the Priest shared in private with my father and his retelling them to my mother, I thought I understood perfectly why he never joined the Catholic Church. I figured Catholics must all be people like my father.
It wouldn’t be until Junior High School when the Catholic kids finally transferred over to the public school that I realized how great these kids were. They were nothing like my father or their Priest.
My Predator gained the empathy of my mother on a daily basis when he described the people who offended him. A predator is a master at gaining sympathy from those around him/her.
Predator’s Blame Others
What I remember about my father is that everyone and everything caused his grief. He didn’t ever take the blame for anything:
- – Farmers were to blame for his cash flow problems.
- – His Pilots were to blame for not showing up on time due to the rains in Illinois.
- – Our Banker was to blame for him having to drive to Cedar Rapids to get a new loan.
- – The dog was to blame for tearing up bags of cattle food.
- – Our Minister was to blame for not bringing more money into the church.
- – A Neighbor was to blame for putting a rut at the end of the driveway.
This list went on and on.
A Predator is a Master of Flattery
Betty was my truest friend in high school.
She and her husband drove down to the Gulf Coast to spend a week with us two years ago. That was the first time I told her about my father’s abuse.
We spent a wonderful week together, but she made one comment that sent chills through me.
“Well, my sister said once that your dad was known as quite the ‘Ladies’ Man’ around town.
I often wondered why our housekeeper never said anything when my father came home during the middle of the afternoon with a dozen excuses, and the demand that it was my nap time, and I needed to go upstairs to my bedroom.
I was confused why she never questioned it.
When I finally told my mother’s best friend what had happened later in life, she made a comment about the housekeeper. The woman was helping in the kitchen during my wedding and made the comment, “If only people knew what went on in this house.”
(My wedding was at home instead of the church and my brother gave me away. I can only guess that mother didn’t believe God would approve of me getting married in the church.)
If the housekeeper knew what was happening to me, why didn’t she tell anyone? Because:
- He flattered her daily.
- She was paid much more than most housekeepers made anywhere in the area.
- It was common to hear him tease her that she didn’t know what she was talking about.
What Can You Do?
Kids simply aren’t capable of even knowing what a predator is. A child is groomed to do a predator’s bidding and never tell anyone.
- Watch for the traits I’ve listed above.
- Admit that you’re part of the problem because you have refused to talk about it. This one’s huge! We’re all guilty.
- Don’t automatically trust anyone; a predator is generally in a position of authority.
- If your child shrugs away from physical contact by an adult, question them in private in a non-threatening way.
Check out these ten tips to protect your child
Understand that only 2-3% of pedophiles get caught. Of a predator who is, the article above states they admit to an average of 120 contacts with children before the first arrest.
Click this link for another great article: How to Protect Your Child from Pedophiles
Learn to Recognize the Monsters of Your Child’s Dreams
I haven’t spent the last three years writing the Elle Burton series to make money. Quite the contrary, I’ve spent over $20,000 to bring these two books to market.
It was my desire to write a delightful fantasy to engage our children and inspire them to help each other. I wrote a book to empower kids to find someone to help them if someone tries to hurt them.
This series is written to give kids like me, hope for today and the future.
Do your part. Don’t leave your children alone with anyone. You can’t afford to take the chance with even the people you think you should be able to trust the most.
It’s time we restore hope to the thousands of women, men and young girls and boys who have suffered at the hands of a predator. Please use the comments below to confirm you will stand up to the abuses that plague countless unnamed victims.