Sunday Storytime: “Is that why you left home?”

We are picking up where we left off with Fait Accompli. Still in Nadia’s POV.

***

I went to Claudia for counseling twice a week.

“Had you ever been sexually abused before the kidnapping?” she asked me early on.

“Yes.”

“Could you tell me about that?”

Family didn’t work out so well for Nadia.

“I had an uncle who molested me,” I began. “He started when I was nine, finally stopped when I was twelve. I don’t know what made him stop, I guess he just got bored.”

“Did he live with you?”

“No, but he spent a lot of time at our house. He made a lot of money, and sometimes helped out my parents, so he seemed to think he was entitled.”

“Did you tell your parents what he was doing?”

“Yes, I told them at least twice, but they didn’t believe me.”

“Did they really think you were making it up, or did they not want to believe you?”

“I think they were so determined not to believe it, they really thought I was lying.”

“Is that why you left home?”

“Not really, no. My uncle didn’t molest me for years before I ran away, and I didn’t think he was going to do it again. No, I ran away because I didn’t want to marry the guy my parents picked out for me, though I was glad not to see my uncle’s face again.”

“Did you tell your parents how you felt about the marriage?”

“Yeah, I did, and big surprise, they wouldn’t listen. They just said it’s too late, you can’t change your mind now. Like I had any say in the first place. I kept begging them to let me choose someone else, anyone else, just let me choose, and they said: a good daughter obeys her parents. And there was just no way his family was going to listen to me, either.”

“What exactly was it about this guy that bothered you so much?”

“He reminded me so much of my uncle,” I said. Claudia kept watching me with that therapist-face. It was supposed to be an expression of empathy and supportiveness, and I guess she was empathetic and supportive, but when you strike out alone to a big city after a lifetime spent in a hyper-conservative, isolated subculture where everyone knows everyone else, you need to be really observant of other people’s reactions. Claudia wanted me to say more. “He looked at me so much like my uncle did, the thought of being his wife scared the shit out of me. I had to get out.”

“How do you feel, now, about your decision to leave home?” Claudia asked. I guess I should have been offended, but I knew she was just pointing to the elephant in the room.

“I don’t regret it for a second,” I said. Claudia gave this microscopic, almost reflexive nod: she believed me, and was pleased. “It was the best decision I ever made.”

At another session, she asked about my family composition. I told her I had three brothers; two older, one younger. She’d already mentioned her two brothers, which didn’t surprise me. Most BG women had at least one brother. What she didn’t expect was when I told her how I got along with them.

“They always believed our parents over me. I couldn’t trust them with anything.”

This got an interesting face from Claudia. It was something she didn’t hear often. “Did they also hurt you?”

“They didn’t abuse me physically, if that’s what you mean. They didn’t do much of anything with me. It was like they always wondered why they had to have a sister.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

I wished we could have just talked about my earlier life at home with the family, but that wasn’t what brought me into Claudia’s office. Of course she wanted to hear about the kidnapping and how I dealt with it.