As a condition for my “allowance” I had to come into his room once a week, usually ended up being once ever 2 weeks, and clean out his entire room while he sat on the other side of the room eyeballing me and rubbing himself . It was one of the most uncomfortable situations a 13 year old could be in. Having to go through piles of papers, stacks of old dishes and subject myself to being gawked at by an old perverted fat Black man who was suppose to be my caregiver for a measly little $40 to buy CD’s and go to McD’s after school.
Having to perform domestic duties for “Roscoe” while being lusted after in exchange for money that would not have been coming into the household had it not be for me was the price to pay for a little change. I learned at the early age of 13 that nothing in this world was free, not even that which belonged to me.
When I moved to live with my Grandmother back in ’99 she was awarded about $600 a month to care after me by the state. From the very beginning my Grandmother made it clear to me that the money was “mine” and that I was entitled to a portion of it. Honestly, my Grandmother was more concerned with the food stamps than she was with the cash. As long as she had money to bet on a horse or scratch off once a week she didn’t require much in terms of monies. The first few months I was lived there my Grandmother would slide $300 under my door for me to keep and do whatever it was that I wanted to do. She told me to be sure to keep it between the two of us because she didn’t want Roscoe to find out that she was giving me money. I promised.
Roscoe was a tight wad. He was a thorn in my back side. He was selfish, fueled by ego and run by control. Even though he didn’t do much outside of sit his sloppy ass on the bed all day and bark at people, he still believed he ran the show. While he sat on the bed all day and barked about being hungry (as if he really needed more to eat) my Grandmother would be out running through the city collecting cans and any other recyclable items hoping to get a big cash in to bring back to the house (because he relied heavily on her to bring home the bacon due to his "VA" disabled status). It was through these moments of her absence that Roscoe began to sink his teeth into me and do his work.
He found out about her giving me money. I don’t know how. I’m not sure. But I am positive it had something to do with the fact that my Grandmother could no longer lie her way out of how half of “my money” that he ate up came up missing every month. Eventually she had to break down and tell him to kill the argument. I never asked if that is what happened, but I’ve been running with it for years so that’s my story and I am sticking to it. All I know is that he found out and I was immediately cut off. His reasoning? I was “too old to be given anything”. Everything I did required some kind of “work” or even exchange of services. At 13, it was impossible for me to get a job and I needed the money because we lived in a pretty small town between Lancaster and Mojave. Anyone familiar with Rosamond will tell you that traveling between cities is a beast and back in the early 2000’s there wasn’t much out there so in order to have fun you had to travel to Lancaster. You can’t go to Lancaster without money. Hence my dilemma.
He came up with the idea of me being his “personal maid” which he masked as a “chore” since I didn’t have normal chores around the house thanks to my Grandmothers compulsive need to clean. His room was the only room of the house that was a mess thus, the only room in the house where I could “work”. His suggestion was that I come in once or twice a week to clean and organize. Every week it felt like I was throwing out the same garbage over and over again. I couldn’t understand how one person could amass so much junk in one week’s time but I didn’t complain because I needed the money and I was in no position to complain.
As the months went by rules became stricter in the house. He had already taken away my little stream of income, the next thing he attacked was my accessibility to the house phone. We only had one and it was cordless. Because it was cordless I was able to go to my room and enjoy some privacy while I chit chatted on the phone with my girls about the latest article or quiz in Cosmo. That all changed abruptly and without warning after he falsely accused me of running up a phone bill to $500 talking to someone in Stockton, CA. I didn’t even know anyone in Stockton. My “punishment” was losing access to the cordless phone and being restricted to using a phone with a cord. The catch: The cordless phone was in his room, sitting by his night stand with a cord that was only long enough for me to awkwardly fit inside the ensuite bathroom separating his room and the master bathroom. It was a total invasion of privacy but again, what could I do.
For a while, I dealt with it. When I needed to use the phone I would ask if I could use it, he would hand me the phone and I’d go crawl into a corner and try to talk low. I didn’t start off going in his closet. I had nothing to hide and we weren't doing anything but gossiping about school and Nelly anyway.
I got forced into the closet after I realized one night while on the phone that Roscoe was getting off by watching me talk on the phone.
I had no reason to expect that he was a creep. I had no reason to expect that he was a pervert or a pedophile. Prior to, I had never heard of a pedophile and I was under the impression that in order to be a pedophile you had to actually sleep with little girls. I wasn’t a little kid. I was a teenager. I was completely blind and viciously ignorant to the fact that most girls are abused and molested by men in their own homes. He was my “acting grandfather”. I had no reason to feel uncomfortable around him or uneasy in his presence. Like most teen girls, my household attire consisted of cheerleading shorts (or sweats/leggings) and a tank top. I’ve always been a fan of spaghetti straps so most of shirts hung low to show off the only sign of puberty I had. My breasts. But again, who would think that covering up would be something a girl has to do in her own home?
To be clear, Roscoe never touched me. He never put his hands on me.
But him not touching me doesn’t take away the images I have in my mind of his pulling his dick out, stroking it while rubbing his nipples and eyeballing me in the corner. Him not touching me doesn’t take away the disgust I felt for years thinking I had done something to turn him on or make him think it was okay to get his “nut” fantasizing about his 13 year old “grand-daughter”. Him not physically touching me didn’t make it any easier for me cope when I was gang-raped just a year and a half later nor to did it make it easier for me to understand that none of it was my fault.
I had to have done something to deserve it. I told no one. Not even my grandmother. I knew the trauma my grandmother had already endured and had heard stories about the life-changing, catastrophic events that ultimately made my grandmother the mess she had become. I loved my Grandmother and the last thing I wanted to do was “hurt” her. So I remained silent.
I remained silent for years. I remained silent all through high school. Never making mention that the reason I hated being at home was because I hated being around him. I made the streets my home. I joined a gang. I behaved recklessly and I really had very little that I cared about. When it came to boys and the topic of sex, it was whatever was hot at the moment. In my mind, all I was good for was sex and a nut anyway. This was proven. Why not let the boys have their fun? Sure, they attraction to me would be purely based off the premise of me being one to “put out” but at least for that moment I felt important and when you do things that men want you to do, they are nice to you and give you rewards. Similar to the relationship I had with Roscoe.
I pretend to not notice his dick practically hitting the floor every time he stroked himself. He rewards me with a little extra pocket change to keep me quiet and coming back.
I remained silent for years about the abuse I endured by the ruling hands of Roscoe. I never told a soul about the time he told me the only way he was going to drive me to Cal State Northridge to do my walk-through was if I “cleaned his room” which I already knew was code for let him watch me so he could jack off. I was 17. Why would you need a 17 year old to “clean your room”? And why would you use that as a bargaining tool to take me to view a COLLEGE that I was seriously interested in attending and was on the verge of being accepted to.
Needless to say, I didn’t end up going to Northridge.
I remained silent when he followed my Grandmother to Baltimore years later after an invitation from my mother to stay with her was offered. I probably should have at that point seeing as how I had sisters who were around the age I was when I moved in with him. I probably should have, but I didn’t because at that point I was still unsure if there was even a problem. Again, there must have been some explanation or reason as to way he treated me that way. There was a reason:
He was a pedophile. He was sick. He was perverted. He was trash and he should have been put down.
I still haven’t told my Grandmother. I opted to never tell her out of fear that she would either call me a liar and deny me my healing or, she would believe me and go on a rampage shooting up all of Baltimore trying to find him. Neither is a trauma I care to endure, so the words have never slipped from my mouth in her direction. My Granny, who I am convinced suffers from severe untreated bi-polar disorder, is one of those people that you don’t set off unless you are fully ready for the foolery that will ensue directly after. On a regular smegular day, I can barely deal with my Granny’s mood swings and outbursts. If there ever was a real life Madea, my Granny is she and with her, it's either a hit or a miss. I'm not a betting woman and never have been.
I told my mom, though. Sitting right across from her dressed in a white gown at a small round table in the middle of the Sinai Hospital’s psychiatric care center. That was the first time that I actually spoke the words and acknowledged out loud what had happened to me. It was the first time I spoke my truth without fear of judgement or being called a liar. It was the first time I felt completely free and in control over myself. Could have been the drugs. I don’t remember much from that conversation, honestly. I was medicated and tired. I know there was crying and lots of questions that I did not have answers for.
By the time I revealed this information to my mother Roscoe was long gone. He and my grandmother ended up moving out of my mother’s house not too long before taking refuge in a local Baltimore housing shelter where he left my grandmother alone and by herself once his “housing voucher” got approved. Rumor has it he was messing with some crackhead at the shelter and ended up moving her in with him leaving my granny there along for months with not so much as a word to anyone. No one knew she was there. Honestly, that was probably for the best. I am sure if he had been at the house or had ever shown his face again my mother, brother or someone would have done him some serious physical harm. One of my sisters ran into him on the subway one day a few years ago and he attempted to speak to her. He touched her in an attempt to get her attention when she was ignoring him and almost got railroaded by a group of dudes who thought this “old ass creepy man” was trying to assault a young girl. She stopped it. She should have let it happen. But I understand why she did.
As traumatic as the experience, I can see the silver lining (for me). Because of what I went through I am able to identify problem situations like that before they begin. The experience has made me more protective of my home and the space that I have created for myself and my daughter. I was never the type to have people in and out of my home, but I am even more careful about those that I allow to have access to me and through me my daughter.
I am grateful. Acknowledging this allowed me to walk outside of my victimhood and start the journey to healing so that I can be the best version of myself that “I” can allow myself to be. Today. Tomorrow I might be trash so just remember that today, I was good.
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