Delray was a dirty, crime-ridden ghetto. Of course I was too young to know or
understand this at the time. We lived in a one family house on the corner of Burdeno
street, a few feet away from the junkyard, across the street from an open field that
once bedded a couple of houses that burned, and then were torn down. Abandoned or
burned houses were common in the city of Detroit. Most abandoned homes were claimed
by the cityís growing problem with gangs. Other criminals would use these homes for
their crimes, and I donít think examples of this is necessary, but if you know the
history of Detroit, then you would understand what I am talking about.
It was a small three-bedroom brick house, with six of us living in it. I was just a
baby then, but I do remember certain things about that house. We had a dog that
lived on the front porch, and my sister had a cat. The girls and the boys each
shared a room, and my mother had the third, which was rarely used, and again I was
young so I donít quite remember everything. My mother usually slept on the couch
though, at least thatís what I do remember, and Iím not really sure what the third
bedroom was for. I donít have many memories of either of my parents in the house on
Burdeno Street, but as I told you before, I was just a baby. Iím not sure how long
we lived in that house, but as a young child I do remember the next-door neighbors.
Mildred, Phil, and Bernard lived in the house next door. They were an older couple,
and Bernard was their only child. Bernard was really cool. He was the first handicap
I had ever seen or spent time with, so he amazed me. When Bernard was 13 years old,
he was walking home from school when he collapsed on the front porch, having a
seizure. He never walked again. He also had a horrible skin condition, Iím not quite
sure what the name of it was, but there were always blisters and open sores on his
face, and he rapidly lost his hair. I was young when I met Bernard. He had a high
IQ, and always played games with me. Heíd enjoy my company, and was a great
Aunt Mildred--no relation, thatís just what we called her, was amazing. She had a
lot of nieces and nephews my age that would visit. My brother and I would spend the
night every time theyíd come. Uncle Phil was still working at Michigan Bell at the
time, and was rarely around during the day. In the evenings he would come home and
drink cheap vodka until he went to sleep, but he adored having kids in the house,
and always found time to play with us even when he was exhausted. He was a Vietnam
Vet that fought for our country with honor, and an amazing man. I regarded him as a
hero. That was before.
Since both of my parents worked, I spent a lot of time with these people. They fed,
punished, played with, and generally took care of us. Struggling financially my
parents relied on the care of the community while they worked to feed us. I had an
older brother and sister who were going through their teens, and had their own
lives, so my younger brother and I spent time next door.
On this particular day it was hot outside, and my brother wasnít around. Aunt
Mildred had walked to the party store to play her lottery. She was obsessed with the
lottery. Bernard wasnít feeling very well and was in bed asleep when I arrived next
door. My sister had locked herself in our room, and my older brother was out in the
streets doing whatever it is teenage-boys did. Uncle Phil was sitting on the couch
and welcomed me in with open arms as he did so many other times. He had been
drinking and offered me a drink too. I accepted, I always did, and I always spit it
out, and heíd laugh, and after the horrible taste in my mouth had subsided Iíd
laugh. He asked me if I wanted to play a game, and of course I said yes.
He took me into the front bedroom. The small room had a twin bed in it, with clothes
piled up almost to the ceiling around it. Uncle Phil laid on the bed and sat me on
top of him. He bounced up and down for a while when Iíd noticed his pants growing.
Whatís that? I asked pointing to his pants. Immediately he unbuttoned them.
He proceeded to explain how the game was played. I remember telling him that I
didnít like that game, so he convinced me to play for just for a little while. So I
did. I remember crying because it hurt so much. I remember him telling me that it
wouldnít hurt, and I remember feeling completely betrayed. Afraid that I would say
something to Aunt Mildred upon her return, he calmed me. He gave me a piece of
candy, and a bath. I got over it, but then it started happening more often.
One day it happened with Aunt Mildred in the kitchen and Bernard sitting at the
table doing a crossword when uncle Phil called me into the living room. This time it
was a different game. I liked this game better because it didnít hurt. When he was
done heíd make sure that I knew that it was just our game, and no one should know
about it. I never told a soul, until now.
Whatís the reason now? Why do I feel the need to tell my story? Well because I
hadnít remembered it until now. I do know that by writing my memories down that I
would never be able to forget again. Memories like this some people might want to
forget, but just forgetting them doesnít mean that you are not subconsciously
feeling the side effects of them.
When I was sixteen-years-old I was date raped by a guy I thought loved me. I thought
he was a good guy, but just like when I was molested, I didnít say a word. When I
was younger I didnít quite understand the seriousness behind the situation, I
thought we were actually just playing a game. At sixteen I did know what rape was,
and I did know that I was raped, but I didnít have the guts to tell anyone. For some
reason, like many victims of rape I believed that I was at fault.
Memories of what happened when I was a child came flooding back recently when I woke
up in a cold sweat. I hadnít remembered anything from that time. Iíve spent a lot of
my life depressed, depressed to the point where thoughts of suicide were
all-consuming. But even with the rape at sixteen I still considered myself lucky
because some victims donít survive their attacks.
I have a wonderful family, and I never had to do much to find a helping hand through
life, but now at 27 years old, and with the recent flood of memories of my younger
years I have had recent bouts of depression, and by writing I find it therapeutic.
Iíve made mistakes in my life, and Iíve been the victim in a few situations. I donít
know if telling someone about what happened would have made things any better.
Uncle Phil had a heart attack not long after we moved to the Southwest Detroit area,
a step up from Delray. The guy, who raped me when I was sixteen, left the fast food
restaurant that we both were working at, and I never seen or heard from him again.
In all honesty I wished I had told someone of that incident because by not telling I
put others in danger. By not telling, I, the victim became an accessory to his
crimeÖ the one against me, and any that he might have committed thereafter.