I was nine years old when I realized I was not as happy as other kids. My best friend would come over and I’d often fall into these moods where I just couldn’t have fun. I would desperately need space to be alone and I would sit in the dark closet and shut the door. Over time she became used to it and would say “okay I’m gonna go home, call me when you feel better” and after a good cry, I would. I hated that I was that way but I couldn’t change it. I didn’t know how to escape this skin I was in. This person I had become after I was molested.
He was in his late thirties or early forties, I don’t remember. I just knew he was too old to be interested in me. His name was Danny. I say “was” because he’s dead now. But we’ll get there later. My mom, 2 of my sisters, and I lived in a 3 bedroom apartment in Marina Del Rey. Danny was a friend of a friend and my mom rented out one of the rooms to him. I was thrilled because while my father was away in prison, I longed for masculine energy. I’d knock on his door when I was bored and ask if I could sit in his room and play on his computer. Sometimes he’d play me Santana on the guitar. I still remember the long fingernails he’d grow out on his right hand for strumming.
One day I went to his room and he was in his boxer shorts. After some playful banter he grabbed me and pulled me on his bed. He was holding me tightly on top of him not letting me up. My backside was against his front side and as I looked down, his dick was coming out of his shorts. Then I got a little bit loud. And he let me go. But just before I walked out of the room he said, “Sarinia, don’t tell your mom about this.” I asked, “why?” “Because it’s none of her business. It’s between us.” I knew right then I should tell my mom but something inside me felt he was dangerous. So I kept my mouth shut and I stopped making visits to Danny’s room.
That’s when he started making visits to mine. He’d sneak in my room in the middle of the night while everyone was asleep and just stare at me or go through my things. When I felt his presence, I’d keep my eyes shut and just start making loud noises like I was having a nightmare, in hopes to wake up my older sister. I became terrified of him. Unpredictable people can really do that to you. The loud noises would scare him off but after the third time, I told my sister what was going on, and we told our mom, and she made him leave.
I was relieved.
Little did we know, Danny made a copy of the house key before he returned it to my mom. And so one night, I woke up to him sitting on my bed. He kept insisting that I give him a hug and after my persistent refusal, he got angry and grabbed me. Kicking and screaming he brought me into the bathroom and locked the door. My whole family (even my poor grandmother who was visiting from out of town) was now awake and banging on the door, crying and pleading with him. He pulled a knife out of his pocket and held it to my neck. I’ll never forget the words, “Call the cops and I’ll slit your daughter’s throat”.
I always went to bed in a big shirt and underwear. So that’s what I was wearing. He pulled down my underwear and lowered his face to my body, sticking out his tongue. That was the moment I started crying because that was the moment I lost any sense of reality. Why would he want to taste me there? Why me? A child? I’m not grown up. I’m not sexy. I don’t even have boobs. Did I provoke him by going to his room? Is this what happens when you talk to men that aren’t your father? I thought he was my friend. I thought he cared about me. Between my thoughts all I could hear was my mom sobbing, “Please let her go. I’m begging you. Take me instead.”
At the same moment I stopped believing in God, I watched the doorknob twist and unlock. I still don’t know how it happened but I’m pretty sure it was the force of a mother’s love. My mom rushed in and grabbed his arms while telling me to run and I did. She struggled with him for a while as he cut her across her back and arms with the knife. But my mom’s a goddamn strong woman so he ended up running. Meanwhile my sister see’s me in shock and grabs me a pair of underwear asking what he did to me. I told her, as I told my mom, as I told the cops, “Nothing.”
The cops found Danny that night at the hotel room he was staying in. He died in his jail cell the night before I was supposed to testify in court. I don’t know if he hung himself, or if one of the inmates did it. I hear some criminals have morals and don’t like sharing jail cells with pedophiles.
When my dad got out of prison, my mom told him what happened. He didn’t say much to me about it. Just this: Your mom told me about Danny. I’m glad he’s already dead because if I had to do it myself, I wouldn’t be able to see you so soon.”