. . . Things felt even more tense at home after that, if thatís even possible. The abuse perpetrated by my stepfather against my mother was no more intense; it maybe even lessened for a while. Something was different, though, I could feel it. A few weeks passed and during that time there were a lot of whispers and quiet discussion which I was not privy to. Discipline was still being doled out at every whim, however, and I bore the brunt of the paddle once more. This time it was not the homemade version which saw its demise in the depths of a murky swamp. No, this time it was a ďPaddle BallĒ paddle, which had its ball and rubber band removed. Iím not even sure where the thing came from, because I donít remember having such a toy at that point. It was only used once, and Iíll never forget every detail of that one time.
I had made plans to spend the night at a friendís house one Saturday night. I had fully intended to follow through with those plans until I woke up on Saturday morning feeling sick as a dog, with a fever to boot. I told my mother that I wasnít going to go, and asked her if she could call the girlís parents and tell them. She said she would, but my stepfather, hearing that I would not be gone for the evening, reminded her that they had plans. These plans, it seems, were not plans which could include me. They were going to host one of the Klan meetings at the house. I really didnít want to be there for that, but I really wasnít feeling well, either. I stood my ground, I didnít want to go. That was not well received by my stepfather. He told me in no uncertain terms that I would not break my commitment and I would go regardless of how I was feeling. I protested a bit too much, I guess, and he appeared in my bedroom where I was lying down, with paddle in hand.
He told me to bend over and pull my pants down. Huh? Pull my pants down? In all the times I had been paddled that had never been a demand. I looked at him, I told him no. His glare was even more menacing, and he repeated, ďPull your pants down!Ē I remember the humiliation more than the pain of the paddle. I donít think he did it to humiliate me, though. He stood there a little too long before he laid into me with that paddle. I was 12 (almost 13) at that time, and I had already started to blossom into a woman. The stepfather, it seemed, was attracted to that blossoming. After drying my tears I told my mother that he had demanded that I pull down my pants. I knew there was nothing she could really do about it. I think I just wanted to let her know that I saw the red flag, and maybe she should, too. That, of course, lead to another argument between my stepfather and her, though nothing physical, but the issue about the bare- bottomed spanking was never spoken of again. I went to spend the night with my friend. It was a long and feverish night, but I did survive. Survival was my forte. . . .
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