This post deals with abuse and might be triggering for some readers.
I have lived with my mum, stepdad and sister since I was nine years old.
Despite the obvious cracks, everything felt quite normal in our blended family, until I was 15. My stepdad began to overstep boundaries and make me feel uncomfortable. It would happen when my mum and sister were out of the house.
Whenever he and I would cross paths at home, he would pull me in for a hug for what felt like an excruciatingly long time. When I was finally let go off, we’d both walk away like nothing strange had just happened.
A long hug doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but I couldn’t help feeling weird about it. We weren’t a touchy-feely family. In fact, I don’t remember ever hugging my stepdad willingly. It just wasn’t our dynamic.
I remember it happening maybe three or four times. It didn’t happen often, but the fear and discomfort I felt was constant. When I was alone with him at home, I went into alert mode. One time we hugged and fell on my bed together, but I didn’t bother to tell anyone because it was ‘just a hug’.
I blamed his behaviour on the fact that he hadn’t seen his daughter for years and maybe didn’t understand the boundaries between a parent and a child. We also fought a lot. I was an angry teen and thought he did it because he was trying to say, “I forgive you”. I didn’t think too much of it until August 11, 2017.
My mum was overseas for my cousin’s wedding. My sister was at her boyfriend’s. My stepdad had gone out with friends and I had the house to myself. I loved an empty house. My night was filled with movies, junk food and some good tunes to end the night on a good note.
I went to bed. Then I remember waking up, feeling something in my hair. I opened my eyes and adjusted to the dark. I saw my stepdad sitting on my bed, staring at me, with his fingers combing through my hair. I closed my eyes, trying to process what was happening, hoping that he would leave. But he didn’t.
I reached for my phone and saw that it was a little past midnight. “It’s nearly one. What are you doing?”
I remember trying to make my voice quiet, so I wouldn’t sound rude. I waited. He finally spoke and asked me if I wanted him to leave. “Mmm” is the sound that came out, but on the inside, I was screaming “get out” repeatedly. He said “okay” and left. I don’t remember what it was like falling back asleep that night.