It’s been quite a year. I have witnessed and watched countless acts of molestation, inappropriate sexual behaviors and come to the realization after about forty years – if you see something say something. I watched, Code of Silence, where a man finally comes forward to his family and tight-knit orthodox Jewish community about years of sexual abuse by a security guard at school. Unfortunately, the man and his family are shunned and treated as a lepers. Eventually, they are forced to move out of the community as if the victim did something wrong. I watched as a clear predator was elected President of the United States. Bill Cosby, and supports, who tried to make over fifty female accusers look as if they’re insane, money grubbing losers who have nothing better to do. The years in which Harvey Weinstein raped and molested women, who were only trying to make it in a cut throat industry. In reading Jodi Kantor and Megan Twoey’s book, She Said, I realized society has made women ashamed of not giving over their bodies willfully. Why were you wearing that short skirt, if you didn’t want something to happen? Why did you go to his apartment, if you didn’t know there was a possibility of sex? The questions can go on and on. I’ve heard so many comments on Twitter and other social media platforms, which demand to know, “If _______ attacked her, why did she wait so long to say something?” I’ve read and listened to enough. I feel compelled to explain this in my own story.
I was about ten years old, ready to head off to another year of sleep away camp. I was excited and home from school, while my parents worked. A family friend was staying with us, at the time or he may have just been at our apartment hanging out, those details are blurry. I lived in Manhattan on the upper east side. A magical place to grow up. Although our apartment was small, it had a bit of charm and I happily hung out with him in the tiny kitchen making small talk. Playing games was a common thing in my family. We loved a marathon of Monopoly, played backgammon with a fervor, and could be counted on to have a deck of cards in the drawer. The man’s name was Randy and he possessed a funny charm and childish wit. He was a peddler for a living, one of those guys who sold sunglasses in the summer, but had umbrellas handy in the event of a storm. He would change up to scarves in the winter and always had a section of cool novelties.
Looking back, I really wasn’t sure why Randy was not at work and hanging out with a child in a warm New York City apartment in June, but his intentions became very clear to me. Randy suggested we play cards. “Sure,” I said eagerly. Randy had spent holidays with us, was my step-dad’s best friend and could always be counted on for a laugh. Up until that moment, I had no idea he was a child molester. “Hey,” he said. “Do you want to have some fun?” What child would say no? “Let’s play strip poker!” I didn’t even know how to play poker and in truth, I have never fully learned the rules (probably as a salve?). Randy quickly taught me the rules and we set off to play a hand. I was scared and didn’t know what to do. A ten, I was confused about why this would be fun and was also known to wear a tee-shirt in the pool over my bathing suit. My body wasn’t even developed but it was clearly enough to entice a thirty-year-old man.
The rounds went quickly, by the end I had everything off and so did he. He most likely lost hands on purpose, but I didn’t know that then. I was ashamed sitting there on my familiar yellow kitchen chairs, surrounded by a scene that was completely abnormal. Upon losing one of the hands, a cartwheel was to be preformed so he could really get a look at the young rawness of a child’s body. Randy and I ended up in my bedroom, which was tight and a bit dark. I must have lost that hand of cards. His penis was erect and ready to touched by the hands of a baby. I was told to caress him and then an image I will never forget – to take my two hands and roll. “Faster, faster!” Randy cried. He ejaculated in little dribs and drabs. I was stunned and mortified. “It’s okay,” he said. “It’s just a game.” I’m not sure when he left but I was a changed girl. I DID NOT tell my parents. The next week I got on the bus with my friends and lumbered on to eight weeks of sleep away camp. Far away from Randy and having to tell the truth to mom. I was forced to be sexually awakened by a man my parents trusted and loved. I pretended it never happened.
When I got home that summer, Randy continued to be a fixture in my life, although he never touched me again to my knowledge. I refused to acknowledge him and he acted surprised and hurt. My parents discovered EST a couple of years later and typically, Randy went along with them. It was allegedly a self-help four-day training, where the possibility of self-actualization and transformation lay at your feet, if you were willing to succumb. I can’t blame my parents, it was the “in thing”, and they fell for it. They even sent me! After Randy completed EST, he wanted to talk to me about what he’d done. “Get away from me,” I said. This man had turned up again, when my parents weren’t home and I was scared of him and vulnerable. “Leave,” I told him. “But Sydney,” he whined. “I want to tell you why I did those things to you. Through EST I understand that I’m not a well person and someone did the same thing to me as a kid, so I did it to you.” Randy actually wanted me to say, “Yeah okay, all is forgiven, your EST training really paid off!” “Leave,” I said once more and he did.
EST didn’t really pay off as much as it should have, as my step-father, always the social climber managed to meet a perky red-head who could take him to the next level and left my mom. I must confess, I wasn’t sorry to see him go. He was a pretentious fuck, who bullied my mom, his kids and me. He did the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink, and thought that made him a badass. Dude, if you don’t sit down somewhere! So who was there to comfort mom? Their old friend, Randy! My mom is such a beautiful wonderful soul, who really worked her ass off to give me an amazing life and honestly, in my mind the worst thing I could EVER do was upset her.
I didn’t say a word for years, I was embarrassed. What was was my part in this? Did I entice Randy, was I dirty? Somehow I thought, no one would believe me anyway. That’s why I now know what a number society does on women. At ten years-old, I knew not to tell. Randy didn’t threaten me with words, but I really knew no one would believe me. At the time, step-dad was BIG on lying. He believed kids never told the truth and could be counted on to literally not let you go to sleep until you confessed. It was like living in Game of Thrones. I know I confessed to many things I did not do, just because I was scared of him and I wanted to go to bed! I was not about to tell him his best friend molested me.
However, once step-dad was out of the picture, it was mom and I against the world. One day, I decided I couldn’t keep this secret any longer. I told her. She believed me and went nuts. She called step-dad, and much to my surprise he believed her. Mom told me he confronted Randy and whether there was a physical altercation, I’ll never know but it felt good to tell. To my knowledge Randy was ex-communicado. He didn’t dare ever show up again. I now ask myself why didn’t we go to the police? My family handled it internally. Perhaps they didn’t want to put me through more pain, or they thought no one would believe me, or who really knows? It was a different time. In New York, there is a new law going into effect, which lifts the statute of limitation for child sex abuse. I will tell you I have searched for Randy and he really has disappeared. Perhaps he’s dead? Well good riddance.
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