Getting Better

Getting Better

From Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul

Getting Better

I was a nine-year-old girl beginning a journey to a whole new place. My mother and I were saying good-bye to our family, and were on our way to Kent, Washington, where we were going to live. My sisters, brother and dad were staying in Billings because my parents were divorced. My parents divorced when I was around two, and my dad remarried when I was four years old.

My mother and I were moving to Seattle because she had been offered a job as a special ed teacher. The only reason that I went with my mother was because she had told me so many bad things about my father, and I was too scared to live with him. I didn’t even really want to leave because I wanted to stay with my sisters, but I didn’t know what to do about my dad.

Let me tell you, it was incredibly scary to be all of a sudden moving to a whole new place, where I didn’t know anybody. My mother and I moved into an apartment. Just after we arrived and we were unloading our things, a somewhat nice-looking guy came walking down the stairs. He introduced himself as John and offered to help us unload our belongings. He seemed quite nice, so we said yes and just kept on unloading. We finally finished unloading so we began to unpack our things.

Pretty soon, my mother and John began to date, and after about three months, John would come over to our apartment all the time. To me it began to feel like they were married. He would stay until really late, and he loved to tuck me into bed. I was not sure how to deal with all of this because something about him scared me really badly. My mother and John decided to get married. I didn’t get excited about it.

After the wedding, John started to come into my room more and more, and would stay for a long time. He began to touch me in very uncomfortable ways and I would get extremely scared. I didn’t say anything, because I was too scared. Sometimes I would put my hands over my chest and roll over so that my back was facing him. During this particular time, my mother would usually be in her room watching TV, and I did not want to scream. I knew that if I did he would immediately stop and pretend to be innocent, and my mother would think that I was crazy.

A few months after the wedding, my mother and John found a new house. I was given the opportunity to live with my dad again, and based on what was going on with John, I decided to move back to Billings.

My family in Billings was extremely excited to have me back, but when I got home it was hard for me to get close to them. I found myself having a hard time showing any physical affection toward my dad and stepmom. John had confused me as to what was normal and what was appropriate. Any physical contact made me pull away.

My sister and I would go see my mother during every vacation. Sometimes neither of us wanted to, but we were expected to. I used to cry and beg my parents not to make me go. Every time I was there, John would touch me and I would get more scared about what was happening and whether or not anyone would believe me if I told.

At one point, I told my best friend Lindsey what was happening and she told me to tell my parents. I didn’t think that they would believe me so I made her swear to keep quiet, and I didn’t take her advice.

My dad and stepmom began to wonder if there was something going on that I just wasn’t able to talk about. Then one day, my stepmom decided to have a school counselor come to the house to see if she could help me break through the awkward silence. Rather than tell a stranger what had been happening, I finally burst out and told my stepmom the truth.

At last, I had the courage to tell my family what John had been doing to me. My stepmom, Jean, pulled me close to her and we cried for a long time together.

Soon after that, we contacted an attorney who got in touch with the police in Washington. John was arrested, but it took nine months before we actually went to court. It was really hard on me to face my mother during the trial, but I got through it. All that I have to say is that it was one of the hardest times of my life.

John was found guilty and went to jail, but immediately he hired a new lawyer to appeal the case. Just before he was to be sentenced, he was granted a new trial. He decided to accept a plea bargain and was freed from jail after only five months. As unbelievable as it sounds, he was able to return to his job with the government and is living with my mother. As I suspected, she didn’t believe me, even after a jury of twelve adults found John guilty. The family has not had any contact with her in nearly three years.

After the trial, I felt that the attorneys had taken such care with my case and treated me so wonderfully, I wanted to become a lawyer. I want to defend little kids, or anyone else, who is unfortunate enough to be in the same situation that I was.

I always have hope that one day my mom will see how much she has missed and get back in touch with us kids. There are days when it saddens me and I cry and get furious. I will always love my mother no matter what, and hopefully someday I will be able to accept the choices she has made and the person that she is.

I now live my life the best way that I possibly can. I know who I am inside, and that took a lot of counseling. I also don’t think that I would be who I am right now if it weren’t for my stepmom and dad and their intuition that something was terribly wrong in my life back then. I can’t imagine what my future would have held. Now, it’s better than it’s ever been, and getting better.

Tiffany Jacques, fifteen

[EDITORS’ NOTE: To get help with child abuse issues of any kind, call Childhelp USA at 800-4-A-CHILD.]

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