By ANTON MWEWA
The only monsters children are supposed to be scared of are the ones they think are under their beds, the fictional bogeymen that linger in the dark corners of a child’s mind.
Unfortunately, not all children have the privilege of having their imaginary monsters.
Susan Mason was once such a child. Now an aspiring novelist with two manuscripts under her belt, Mason, 50, resides in Welland with her husband of 30 years and her two sons.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Mason’s life wasn’t always quite as happy and picturesque as it is seems to be.
Only 18 years ago, she was still living in her personal nightmare, being able to function from day to day only by suppressing one horrifying secret: she had been sexually abused as a child by her stepfather.
“I grew up feeling hunted,” she says. “He made sure there was no safe place to hide, no one to tell and nowhere to run away to.”
The man who was supposed to be one of the people she could always trust was instead the one she could never trust.
After losing her biological father to cancer in 1968, Mason’s mother found her five children – Susan and her four siblings – a new “father.” However, it didn’t take long for him to become the opposite of what he was supposed to be, not the protector the children would love and revere, but a destroyer.
“He came into my room at night and made me cry,” explains Mason in the simplest way she can. “He told me that if I told our secret to anyone, my mother would die just like my daddy did.”
Three or four times a week for 11 years, he would make his nightly visits.
Mason says she even developed a sort of ritual, one in which she’d place all of her dolls around at the edges of her bed in a protective circle and settle herself in the centre, waiting and knowing that she would soon be hearing his footsteps on the stairs.
After it was over she would cry in her bed, at times for hours on end. Sometimes, her mother would come into her room afterwards, hitting her with a wooden brush and telling her the “Bad Lady” would come through the window and get her if she didn’t stop crying.
It was only much later that Mason would find out her mother had always known.
During the 11 years this abuse lasted, Mason says her stepfather’s control over her grew stronger.
“I knew that in the end, he always won,” she says.
After attempting suicide at the age of 14, Mason’s belief her real-life monster would always emerge victorious was only reinforced. She had taken an overdose of pills, left a note and gone to sleep, only to awaken in the hospital with her family by her side, crying and asking why she had done it.
“I looked up at my stepfather and saw that he was crying too, but more than that, he looked scared.
“Our eyes locked and he seemed to be pleading for forgiveness. I wondered if he was crying because he knew this was his fault.”
It turned out later that he had been crying for himself, for fear of the hideous truth coming out.
Just two days after she had been released from the hospital, he came after her again, picking her up from a school dance at 10 p.m. and driving her to an abandoned factory.
“I fought him, but as always my tears and pleading meant nothing,” recalls Mason.
Despite their turbulent history, Mason managed to stand up to her stepfather after she met her husband. She moved out of her parents’ house when she was 18 and what followed were endless nights and days of depression and self-loathing.
In 1993, 25 years after the abuse had begun, Mason finally shared her secret with her family. She went on to talk to the police and later in a court of law.
“To this day, I can’t put into words the shame I felt in telling, or how filthy the secrets were when spoken out loud.”
Her stepfather was charged and arrested, with her mother standing by him the whole time. He pled guilty in court and was sentenced to four years in prison, of which he served only 18 months.
Justice had been served in the eyes of the law, and in the eyes of the law only.
“After the court, I went through a crippling depression,” Mason says. “I did a lot of writing. I remember writing, ‘Never have I felt so loved, and never have I felt so alone.’”
After nearly two years of barricading herself in her own house, locking all the doors and drawing all the blinds, Mason says she came to a crossroads when her son’s school called her about a family tree project he had refused to do.
“I felt like a failure as a mother and I knew I had to make a choice. I would die or I would choose to rise above the hurt and live.
“I was afraid because I had stopped talking about dying and had begun to think of ways to die.”
Having regained her strength, Mason has made attempts to reconcile with her mother, but none of them came to fruition.
She says learning that her mother was aware of what was happening “very nearly destroyed me.” After all, she had endured the abuse in order to protect her mother after her stepfather’s threats.
Although her mother passed away in 2000, Mason says she does not miss her but sometimes “wish[es] she had been a different woman and a different mother.”
As for her stepfather, Mason says she has forgiven him, not for his sake but her own.
“I was able to cut the ties that bound me to him,” she says. “In letting go of the anger, shame, sadness and hatred, I was able to love.”
As would be expected, Mason’s experiences have not gone unnoticed.
She and her family were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show in a segment called Remembering Your Spirit in 2000.
The appearance has empowered her to speak at churches to adult audiences and in schools and classrooms to children.
“For each class, I had a ‘Secret Box’ where children could write their questions and ask advice. I still have the notes … some made me cry.”
Abuse is still a prevalent problem in today’s society, evident by the questions the children asked: “How do I get someone to stop hurting my little sister?” and “My friend told me a really bad secret about her Dad. If I tell, she will be mad at me. What do I do?”
Mason says that her message for someone who is being or has been sexually abused is to let it out.
“Talk to someone: a family member, a friend, your teacher or your minister. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. and you don’t have to do it alone.
“I never told about the abuse until I was 32. That’s how great the fear of him [her stepfather] was. Someone who wants to hurt a child will say anything and do anything to keep that child quiet.”
Mason says she shares her story because it needs to be told.
“People need to understand what it’s like to be a victim of sexual abuse, or this will continue to be a secret that is swept under the rug. I share it so that victims who have remained silent can know that it wasn’t their fault. We were children.”
For those facing abuse, organisations such as the Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre and Women’s Place of South Niagara offer services such as 24-hour crisis lines and counselling.
To reach the Niagara Region Sexual Assault Centre Crisis Line, call 905-682-4584. To reach Women’s Place, call 905-788-0113 from Welland, Port Colborne, Wainfleet and surrounding areas, or 905-356-5800 from Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and surrounding areas.
Я только убежден в том, "Федеральные законы скачать"что старик Пойндекстер подъедет сюда на одной "Транс видео скачать"из двух лошадей, которые были свидетелями преступления,-на "Музыка флейты скачать"американской лошади.
Да, примерно "Песню группы кино скачать"ваша ровесница, мисс Пойндекстер.
Не нравится мне что-то эта спешка.
Ведь я хорошо "Ассасин крид игры на андроид"знаю, что они нужны в хозяйстве.