That day


My mom & stepdad used to entertain a fair amount when I was still at school. This night there was one friend of theirs visiting. Charles was probably in his late 40’s? He was interesting. He was a great artist. I always wanted to learn to draw and he invited me to his house for lessons, but I never went.

None of the rooms in our house had locks.

I think it was winter, our family has a bit of a bath culture. We all read in the bath.

I told my mom I was going to take a bath, so that Charles would know to go to the other bathroom if he needed to.

I was reading in the bath when the door opened. He was drunk. He fumbled with his zipper and lurched in my direction. I shot up halfway, pulled my knees to my chest, my book covering what it could. He lurched back towards the toilet. I told him to get out. He turned his back to me. He said something to me. And pissed a strong, rank stream into the toilet. He stumbled back out of the bathroom.

I was frozen. I got my towel, and my things and went to my room. I got dressed and told myself he was drunk and just didn’t realise or forgot that I said I was going to be in that bathroom. I was shaking, but I got into bed, I pulled my duvet close up over my shoulders and kept reading on my stomach. Escaping into whatever it was I was reading.

The door to my room opened and closed behind him. He sat down on my bed. Half trapping me under the duvet. He put his hand on me, started stroking me and telling me what he wanted to do with me.

I was safe in my own bed, and then I wasn’t safe anymore. I managed to get up and out and I ran to my mom where she was sleeping already. I can’t remember anything other than shaking and crying in her arms.


* I started this part late last year *

It was the first time we talked about it. We had to figure out how many years it had been We know I was around 15-17, so 15 to 17 years ago. I’m turning 32 in 5 weeks you see.

It was wine that got us there. My sister and her boys were here. My stepfather sleeps on the West Coast on some nights for work and then sometimes we get together – without him – and eat steak and mom’s famous potato pap. We finished a bottle or 2. My sister and the boys went home and mom and I finished the wine.

We love talking. We talk for hours about everything. We talked about the stepfather who got a reduced sentence because his stepdaughter didn’t try to stop him from raping her. My Mom was so outraged that a child couldn’t just go to her mom right there and then.

And I said “imagine you didn’t believe me when I told you what Charles S. did.” For the first time in many years, for the first time in all the years I said this to my mother. I could feel the tears. I held them back. I could feel myself shake my head side to side. Trying to hold on, to not let it get me. She told me how guilty she felt for not confronting him that night.

I remembered blaming her in the past for not chasing him out of the house. And she says:

Maybe it was God who held me back, because I would have shot him between the eyes. But I couldn’t leave you alone at that point.

And the one thing I remember clearly is holding on to my mom for dear life. She couldn’t have left me me for a second, I couldn’t be alone.

She tells me things I had forgotten beause I ask her for the details. I forgot so much. She remembers every single details. That he took my hat and my contact lenses. I had to make an effort to remember.

I hope this is the last time I have to remember.


He lived in Wellington for many years after. I would see him as I cycled to school. His house was next to one of the main roads leading into town. Seeing him repeatedly triggered some of the worst fear I’ve ever encountered.

A few years ago his house was demolished. The orange rubble is slowly being covered by black eyed susans.

It’s beautiful now.

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