Taking Leave from Him


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This is from one of my journal entries...

Will I am.
I'll make this simple and to the point.

I’m an only child, my parents named me William, and they loved me. However, they had careers that competed with me for attention like baby birds in a nest. If hindsight is 20/20, then we’ve all gained some clarity through the years. My father traveled the world for his career so he could make the deal. To that end, my parents moved from deep family roots in Georgia to Southern California.

Turning 13 on a June Thursday, we had a party on Friday. The next day, I was sent a thousand miles away to camp while my parents moved. I returned to them in mid-late August on the opposite coast in a house I’d never seen. My sentence began.

Camp was supposed to keep me occupied while the unpleasant task of packing up three lives and shipping them due west was undertaken. I never wanted to move. I had my friends, my woods, my house, my swim team, my life. None of those paid a salary. I flew to camp on the first of two one-way tickets. I arrived knowing I'd never live in *my* house again. A camp cabin was my "home" until mid-August.

He knew. They always do. At least he offered to lend a hand. The counselor helped me get used to the new cabin. He was so helpful, he arranged to have my bed moved closer to his in case I he needed something during the night. He gave me privileges the other boys didn't get even though I knew he skimmed the Ritalin prescribed for my ADHD. I got to go on the best hiking and canoe trips. I was fearless. He liked that. He cheered me on when I swam in the camp race in the cold lake. He even took a victory picture while I was still dripping wet in a Speedo. He picked me to help with "special" chores. He gave me a Sony Walkman with an AM/FM receiver. He knew I liked music. What a guy!

Taking Leave
Since a corporeal escape wasn't possible, the Walkman served as a diversion while time passed. By mid-July, I was deep in debt to him, but the Walkman kept me company on the nights when he didn't. Since I didn't have my own mix-tape, the radio tuner opened a portal to a parallel world. "Big Stick" FM stations a hundred miles away with 100,000 watts of power traveled through the ether to the Walkman receiver and into my ears.

I heard songs that reminded me of better times. I heard songs that became the soundtrack of my summer in captivity. I heard songs that inspired hope, and songs that induced despair. The summer of 1985's music is indelibly imprinted on my body and my brain. As he completed his mission, the music played on. I remember it clearly.

Shout, shout, let it all out, these are the things I can do without
Come on, I'm talking to you, come on!
In violent times, you shouldn't have to sell your soul
In black and white, they really really ought to know
Those one track minds that took you for a working boy
Come on!

I set my sights on you (and no one else will do)
And I, I've got to have my way now, baby
All I know is that to me
You look like you're having fun
Open up your lovin' arms
Watch out here I come
You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round round round

I wanted to impress you and earn your approval, but somehow I threatened you. You hated something in yourself, and you wanted what I had. I swam, I hiked, climbed and I paddled. YOU paddled me. You hurt me. You stole from me. One night, when everyone else was in town for movie night, I refused your order, so you stole my very being instead.

I remember the words you growled in my right ear as you reached through my pubic hair just so you could grab my balls and squeeze them like silly putty. You pulled my foreskin until I yelped. Your knee pressing on my spine sent electric shocks down my legs, followed by numbness. That's right. Yeah, yeah, nobody turns you down and tells you to fuck off. You showed me. You left your mark in my body and on my spirit.

You made me bleed.
You instilled fear in me.

You didn't care how I explained leaving for camp with seven pairs of underwear, but coming home with only six. You probably enjoyed hearing me cry in the shower until the water turned cold. You didn’t care that I worried for the next two years that you had given me a deadly disease.

You wanted my life. You wanted to be me. To be me, you had to take it from me. You thought you could choke the life and the will from me, but try as you did, you failed. I was thirteen, and you were nineteen, you son of a bitch. You outweighed me and overpowered me. I was a kid, and you were an adult. Without your default advantage, you were nothing and you knew it.

I left your care immediately following the last shot you had at me. Remember that? Remember pulling over in the strip mall parking lot early that morning?
I do.
We weren't quite to the airport. You pulled down my blue soccer shorts and got your way until I came and then laughed at the way my body shuddered in the moment. You then dared to call us even somehow. Just because you made my body do that means nothing.

We're not even.

I'm way ahead of you. I've lapped you repeatedly. After a rough start at your job, I see you got a DUI, sold your townhouse outside of D.C. in the late 90s, and disappeared off the face of the planet. You've been under the radar for twenty years now. How is life now? Are you in some Thai prison? I don't really care. Without your default advantage, you are nothing.

I am Will.

Who the hell are you?



Wow! Very powerful. I give you so much credit for having the balls to stand up and say what he took from you. Be proud of yourself because he takes nothing now. You take everything back with what you wrote above. I can hear you stand up for me and so many of us who have been molested but haven't found our voices yet.

In 1983 I traveled to South Africa as a Rotary Exchange Student. I was 15 years old and very naive moving from the midwest. The second night there my supervisor violently raped me and did so regularly for the remainder of the next 8 months until I was able to find a way to get sent home.

I am so sorry you had to experience what you did, but I am impressed with how you have been able to derive a strength from it. I borrow that strength you have found to look back on my abuse. Thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you continued strength and self-empowerment.

Your friend,

C. E.

Staff member
This was very powerful. Certain things you said just jumped off the screen at me, electrical zaps of resonance that cut right to the core....



Thanks for posting this. It is powerful, moving, and empowering to read. What you describe about that last car ride with the camp counselor is so stunningly similar to what I experienced at one point from the priest who abused me, after one particularly horrific experience, that I don't even know what to say in response. I am responding nonetheless because something about what you wrote and how you wrote it is really moving me.

First, there are a lot of commonalities with my story, but rather than detailing those here, I'll move on.

Second, you reinforce and remind me of so many positive shifts in perspective I've had from time to time due to therapy. Thanks for that. Things like:
--"He knew. They always do." and seeing how thoroughly and expertly I was targeted enabled me to take a lot of the blame off of myself.
--"You hated something in yourself and you wanted what I had." and how I was targeted not because I was "pathetic," a "loser," and "weak," which I long believed, but because he saw and wanted talents and attributes I had, either to possess them, or destroy them, or both. That my situation was bad (very bad), but I myself was not: I was awesome (and still am). Your strong and positive declarations about who you are are a great example for me too.

Third, the growling, the whispering in the ear, the pain. Yes, plenty of overlap in those as well, but what I want to say is thanks for stating these details so specifically. I'm moving along well in therapy and recovery, but still find it to be a lifesaver when someone else expresses well a similar experience or difficulty. Hearing even details like these makes community all the more possible for me, as opposed to my usual isolation.

In any case, I've recently spent some time on issues surrounding the abuse from the priest (as opposed to other abusers). Dealing more with the trauma effects of it than the emotional effects, and moreso than with the narrative of what all took place. That work helped me to see how and why I can still freeze when faced with seemingly impossible choices - when I'm stuck between two bad alternatives. I was ultimately able to make the "bad" choice I had to make in the present and, to my surprise, much in the process of making that "bad" choice has been empowering.

Your post adds to that empowerment. I needed it today and sincerely appreciate it.

C. E.

Staff member
Suwanee said:
...I never know how I will feel when I write something out in detail...and I particularly never know what to expect when I post it publicly. Your support is vital--even if I don't always express it in so many words.
I couldn't let this go without saying how much this rings true with my own experience. Putting oneself out there is a significant exercise in vulnerability, and paradoxically the antithesis of what many of us have once been about. In my case, I share some things once so deeply locked up that I would have literally chosen death over divulging. If we are fortunate to find good listeners, the reward of resonance is truly incredible. Thank you, Will, for showing such courage with such class.

Free Radical

You make me cry to read this. It is so.....amazing that you can stand on your own and say I am Will, who are you? I envy you from the bottom of my heart. You are a good writer and a strong person.




Thank you Suwanee, I hope you celebrate your Birthday, so good wishes for the day...

I'm impressed again, it's the third time I've read this. Your birthday led me back to it. Thanks for this gift.
So sorry this happened to you, Will! What great courage it must have taken to share that. But somehow, the sharing helps us heal!


Staff member
Will!!! I know it's an old post. But WOW!!
Very hard to share. Very hard to have lived through. Frightening just isn't the word. Frightening and hard to live WITH.
Thank you for having the courage to share this. There's nothing easy about it.
Thank you for your strength and courage



Your post was very brave and your strength shines through as does your heart for all of us here. Thanks for sharing.