Jumping Off

Love her or hate her, Oprah has been one of the most outspoken and informative about the grooming process of child molestation. One thing she always talks about is how the molester builds trust in the child and uses it to control them. This is yet another example of that control.

My grandmothers house was rather large and it had a swamp cooler on the roof. Every year the pads in the cooler would need to be replaced for the upcoming summer and since it was an older cooler there were times during the year that it would need to be looked at. The roof on that house was peaked on the side and the back but was flat toward the front of the house. My step grandfather (Bill) would always do the maintenance and take care of any issues that would come up. Bill would put a ladder up in the backyard and climb up the steep part of the roof to the cooler. At a very young age (7 or 8 yrs old), Bill would make me climb up the ladder and get on the roof with him. Of course I was scared because I knew that one slip would mean an awful fall that I would probably not survive. I would crawl up to the top and straddle the peak while Bill worked on the cooler. Once he was finished he would make me crawl down the other side of the peak to the flat part of the roof. Bill would take my hands and swing me out over the edge of the roof several times until I would start crying. I remember being so scared because I always felt like my hands were going to slip out of his and I would fall unto the sidewalk below. Bill seemed to enjoy this very much and would laugh even harder when I started crying. After we came back down from the roof he would always give me a treat like a candy bar or soda or tell me we would go somewhere fun.

In addition to the roof, there was a playhouse in the backyard that looked more like what many people have in their backyards as storage buildings. It was probably 10 feet high and Bill would put me on the roof and make me jump into his arms. There were times that I was afraid and didn’t want to jump, he would tell me he was going to leave me up there. I remember once that he actually did leave me on the roof for what seemed like hours but I think it was about 20 minutes. I was crying and calling for someone to help me. Bill walked very calmly out of the room that he lived in behind the house and put his arms up and said “you have to jump or you will never get down”. I was crying so hard but finally jumped knowing that he would leave me there alone again if I didn’t. As usual, he hugged me, gave me a treat and sent me back into the house.

I think about this and know that neighbors must have seen him swinging me off the roof but back then (early 70’s) it just wasn’t a big thing and people didn’t get involved in other people’s business.

They say “it takes a village” and this is one of those times that I wish the village would have stepped in.

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~ by Isis on June 8, 2011.

2 Responses to “Jumping Off”

  1. I wonder – how did you feel after he gave you the treat? Did you hate him, or forgive him?

    • Hmmm, this is a complicated question and my answer has changed many times based on my age and where I was in my life. At the time I was so young that I didn’t really put the two together. As an adult, it became very difficult not to blame myself for taking the “pay off”. I have constantly reminded myself that I was a child and I cannot blame myself for the actions and mind games of an adult. Yes, for years it was easy to reflect back on many of the instances that occurred and not blame myself, but it is not fair to hold a child responsible for seeing through the bad intentions of an adult. I have made peace with it and believe that it is the path and the lessons that I chose for this lifetime. Of course, this is strictly what I personally believe for myself based on my spiritual belief system.

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