A Message Of Hope
The following is not an easy story to read; it was harder to write. It’s certainly not the type of story you normally find here on United and yet, when I accidentally stumbled upon it, I felt compelled to see it through. If it gives one reader the courage to come forward, to understand that abuse of any kind is not normal and is certainly not something to be endured by anyone for any reason, then it will have served a very big purpose. My hat is off to Luz Garcia for stepping forward to share in hope of helping someone else.
I don’t even remember how the subject came up, but suddenly I heard, “I could write that story too,” whispered from the passenger seat of my vehicle as the air suddenly disappeared from the beautiful fall day. For a moment, I froze, not sure I had understood correctly and yet, knowing that I had. Teeny tiny, beautiful, little Luz who had been through so much was telling me that she had also endured what so many others have been forced to endure…sexual abuse…and I had no idea how to respond.
“Oh, Luz…” at least that is what I seem to remember saying. “I’m so sorry.”
We were returning from a trip to Texas Oncology, where Luz was undergoing radiology after months of horrible chemo treatments, and I must admit that this revelation on top of everything else made me wonder just how much it is that one woman is supposed to withstand before she cracks.
That was five months ago, and it wasn’t until today that Luz and I revisited the horrible subject, meeting over steak fingers on her lunch hour to clinically discuss that which defies understanding on any level…sexual abuse of a child. It was one of those stories that really needed a quieter, more private environment and yet, I was thankful for the noise, thankful for the public setting that kept us both from feeling too much as we dunked our steak fingers in gravy and talked as calmly as if we were discussing the rain dancing off of the Dairy Queen windows.
It took us a while to work our way into the subject at hand even at that, choosing instead to start with small talk, if one can call breast cancer, implants, and reconstructive surgery small talk. We started with the fact that the implants Luz has worn since her mastectomy are still very painful and that she is excited to be having reconstructive surgery on April 17.
“I’ll probably have to quit wearing the wig this week because my hair is outgrowing it, and that’s another stepping stone. I feel like I’m exposing myself, and I’m anxious about that. Isn’t that crazy? I have a lot of hair and it’s thick, but I’m scared to show it.
“It will be a boy cut, and I guess that’s scary since I’ve always had long hair. I’m too hung up on that. I know there are people who are bald and rockin’ it so I don’t know what I’m scared of!”
And then we could no longer make small talk. Small talk? Of course not. These were issues of great importance to the woman seated in front of me and yet I found myself using them to stall until I could force myself to open the conversation.
Her answer took me on a 33-year walk, back to the year that Luz Davila was in the second grade in Comanche Elementary School.
“My mom and my dad went out on a date and left us with a male family member who told me to lie down with him. Of course, I didn’t think anything about it. He was probably still in his teens. I don’t even remember what he said other than he made me touch him. I just went along with it, knowing that it was not right. But he told me not to tell.”
He did not rape Luz, and it was a one time thing.
When Luz was in the third grade, another member of the family (and we have chosen not to tell whom) began to touch Luz inappropriately. By the time she was in the fifth grade, he was coming to her bedroom after her mom was asleep with the door closed. Crawling into bed with her, the man would fondle and kiss the little girl.
“I pushed and pushed and screamed, but nothing would come out. Why is that? Do you know that feeling when you are terrified and nothing is coming out, when the man is telling you that you’d better not say anything and making you do “stuff” and you can’t do anything about it?
“This went on for years, and no one knew. In my head, I kept thinking that as long as it was me, it wasn’t my sister. It’s crazy, but I thought I was protecting her.”
It was also during Luz’s 5th grade year, while all of these horrible things were happening to her that things got even worse.
“My parents let one of my uncles stay with us, and I would have never dreamed that this uncle would have done the same thing to me, but he did. I remember crying and praying because I wondered where God was. I screamed and the knot in my throat didn’t let anything come out.”
Of course, she was a little girl in the fifth grade, and she never told a soul. In fact, I suppose it will be in the reading of this article that her family will learn of the first boy as well as of the uncle who molested her so long ago.
“A lot of my childhood is blocked. I don’t remember a lot of the good times. I just remember being scared a lot. I was a loner, locked up in myself, like I was trying to fight the demons and wondering why I was having to do it alone. I resented my mom, and yet, I I know it wasn’t her fault because she did not know, and I do know that she didn’t know.”
Luz did finally tell her mom right before she turned 15, right before her parents were planning her big party, the party that never happened. Unfortunately, her mom did not believe her, “and I was just lost. I went to her trusting that she was going to help me.”
Not knowing what else to do, Luz went to the school counselor and told her what was happening to her at home. Of course, CPS was called in immediately, and Luz was removed from the home and taken to an aunt’s home. The man was arrested.
“For a long time, the family was angry at me for a lot of reasons, but today they all feel differently.
Today, they feel differently, and believe it or not, today Luz has forgiven the man. She even can be civil to him, and I do not know that I could do that.
She also has told him exactly what I know I would have told him and that is that she will personally kill him if he should ever go near her daughter. I understand.
I also thank God that times in this country have changed. No longer do we live in a society that blames the female when these atrocities happen. No longer should our daughters have to live in fear, refusing to tell and worrying about what society might think. We have grown past that…way past that.
And the more those like Luz stand and tell their own stories, the more they add to the courage of others, to the strength that comes when we all stand together against a common enemy.