An entry is missing...
I think I will just explain exactly what happened the way Jennifer told it to me. This missing entry is vital to understanding Jennifer's entries for years to come. So here we go. Remember, Jennifer has just turned fourteen years old. She's in Foster City, California visiting her dad and brother for summer vacation. She tells the story without emotion.
I changed tracks and worked on preserving my pride. He didn't need to know that my world was crashing down around me. He thinks I'm sixteen, I reminded myself, stay cool. I stuffed my fear and stared at the houses around the park. I couldn't believe people were inside watching TV while this was happening to me. I wished I was safe at home in my bedroom. Already, I blamed myself for sneaking out.
I changed. My white pants were ruined. I threw them away. I don't remember if I showered or not. I put myself to bed and cried into my pillow. I didn't want to wake up my dad. The thought of my family knowing sickened me. I almost told my brother a few days later but I couldn't. I had played with fire and gotten burned. I thought it was as simple as that. I was the one who had been bad. I was in no hurry to tattle on myself.
I know that secrets keep us sick. My acting out got worse. I thought my family would guess that something rotten had happened to me if I acted rotten. But it only got me into more trouble. I thought I was keeping my own secret all these years, but really, I was keeping his secret. I'm not keeping his secret anymore."
The following is the lesson here: Jennifer did not realize that she was raped that night until she was twenty-six years old! She focused on her part--sneaking, lying, kissing. She did not register his part--assault on a minor against her will.
Jennifer was twenty-six when the truth hit her. She was at a stable. A young girl walked by and the girl's mom mentioned that her daughter had just turned fourteen. This girl had always reminded Jennifer of herself. They were built the same--skinny! Jennifer looked at the girl and saw a child, not a woman. All the breath in her body left her.
She lived in this black pit for years without even seeing it. She marched on, getting good grades, continuing her search for the perfect boyfriend, trying to be a good daughter and wondering what was wrong with her.
Kids are immature, it's what makes them kids. They can be easily manipulated. Steve didn't act guilty which reinforced Jennifer's feeling that it was her fault. He wanted to do it again. It wasn't an awful experience for him. She guessed there must be something wrong with her. (This is not unlike Bella blaming herself for bleeding and causing a vampire to want to kill her...stupid lamb!)
Jennifer's plea is that you check in with your sons and daughters often. Offer time for them to share that is free of judgment (or punishment) from you. Ask a close friend or relative to check in with your child. Sometimes they need a confidant who isn't their parent.
Things that are clearly wrong in our eyes can be innocently excused by a child. Jennifer didn't tell her parents about Erik either. She also didn't tell them that the daycare lady locked all the kids in the backyard and made them pee out there!
Jennifer falters for the next three years in the diaries. But she never gives up, she never stops dreaming, she never stops hoping.
Even now she is hoping. She is hoping that someone who is reading these diaries will feel less alone, that someone will reach out to an angry child, that someone might realize that "the thing" that happened to them isn't their fault either.