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What My Abuser Grandfather’s Obituary Should Have Said


Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I don’t remember our grandfather firsthand; I wasn’t around then. All of my memories of the time he was alive and hurting us are secondhand from others inside. I have dissociative identity disorder (DID) and the dissociative barriers we have built between each of us inside have kept us safe from remembering too much before we could handle the truth. As those barriers come down and I learn more about the reality of childhood, I see that the truth hurts much more than I thought it would.

What hurts, even more, is the shame I feel surrounding the abuse. Somehow, the child we were believed (and still believes) that we somehow caused all the abuse that happened to us and believes it would have stopped had we asked that it did. We never asked for anything. We never said a word. I don’t talk about the past to anybody because of that shame and I definitely don’t talk to my family about it. They don’t understand, they don’t know, or they don’t want to know the truth of what life was like growing up for this body.

Our grandfather died abruptly in 1989 and it was one of the few times our grandmother cried — she knew about the abuse, but didn’t stop it. Deep down, she loved him though their relationship was strained because of what he and my cousin were doing to me. He died of a heart attack at 71. When he died, the family published an obituary that painted the picture that my grandfather was a stand-up guy, good for the community, when in reality it was quite the opposite.

As an adult, I tried to pay to republish the obituary in its more accurate form and was told that the obituary section of the local newspaper was not the appropriate place for the obituary I wanted to be published.

Here is the obituary as it should have read:

Vic died July 30, 1989 in Santa Monica, California. Vic was in Pearl Harbor, on the U.S.S. Medusa (naval repair ship) when it was bombed December 7th, 1941 as a Quartermaster petty officer. Vic was an auto mechanic and gas station owner, and always had a love of cars and the mechanical ability to fix them.

It is here that his positive attributes end. He loved his grandchildren, but especially his granddaughter, a bit too much.  His place in her life created terror. It is unclear when his actions became abusive, but they continued until his death in July.

Vic was always loving towards his granddaughter and spent a lot of time with her, teaching her things, some things a child should never be taught. She paid for these lessons with her childhood, though he paid her in cash. Vic was always kind and gentle, even in the most promiscuous situations, causing his granddaughter to be confused and torn between her love for him and hate for his actions. His escapades were not bound by location and many times she was careful to lie about his actions and where she was going in order to please him. She seemed to be pleased with her grandfather’s love and never told, even when asked, about the times she spent with her grandfather alone, primarily out of the desire for his love. There was no place that she was safe from his grasp.

Vic was not opposed to sharing his love for his granddaughter and showed her cousin how to also strip her of a chance of a healthy childhood. Vic’s special kind of love and his insistence on sharing this love with others marked the beginning of an adolescence also ruined by his passion. His behavior resulted in his granddaughter never understanding the power of the word “no.”

Vic was taken from us before his actions could be communicated and his death marks his ability to, again, stealthily evade consequences. May he never rest in peace.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Getty Images photo via LittleBee80