Taking it Day by Day
by Loralee Elliot
I was working with CCLOW on a grant when I heard that they were doing a special issue on violence against women and how it affects their education. I am in my late twenties and only have a grade ten education because of the violence in my home, so I thought I could write an article about my past.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I lived alone with my biological father. Because we moved around a lot and I wasn't allowed friends over or to go to their house, I didn't get much support or even acknowledgment that what was going on at my house was wrong.
I've never spent an entire year in one, let alone two, schools. I would miss three or four days at a time and then return with bruises, but no one ever cautioned my father about it. I always found it hard to keep up with the class; between moving from province to province and missing time, I was lost. I know now I missed important parts of my education. My seven year old son can spell better than I can.
I always found it hard to think in class. I was a very shy and distant child, always in a world of my own; I would be worrying about what I forgot to do at home and if Leonard (my biological father) would be pulling a surprise inspection when he got home. I don't remember him ever caring about my marks or how I did in school, all he cared about was that the house was clean and that his supper was on the table as soon as he walked in the door. He would never look at my report cards, he would just sign them.
At nine, I took my first overdose. Two more would follow when I was 11 and 13. The doctors would put me on anti-depressants, because all I would tell them is that I didn't ask to be born and that I didn't want to live. We would always move after I spent any time in a hospital. I can't remember ever seeing any social workers at the places we lived.
By the time I started high school, I was spending most of my time stoned, not really caring what happened to me or who was doing it. I skipped most of my classes, but there was one class I would go to--my graphic arts class. My teacher was Mr. Berry. He was an alcoholic and would drink in class but he was different, not like Leonard; he would trust me to work on some of his paying jobs (my school would do work for outside businesses).
I liked working in the darkroom all by myself, there I could be alone. In there, I could forget about my real life and imagine that I was living in my own house with no one around me. I wouldn't be scared and no one would touch me any more.
I also remember my grade ten math teacher; he was a sick man. At the time my last name was Macdonald and he would always make references about Big Mac's and my breasts.