Survivors’ Letters

A group of survivors of childhood sexual abuse at Horace Mann School wrote to The Board of Trustees and Dr. Kelly, Head of School, on June 21 2012.  The Board failed to respond as of July 21 2012 when a second letter was sent. On May 24 2013 a third letter was released after Horace Mann’s response.

Read all letters:

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  1. I don’t remember when the disconnection from my mother started. The wedding and my lack of involvement in it was typical and would continue. I would continue throughout my adult life. For the next 30 years I would focus on what my mother was not as opposed to what she was. In many ways I am as much to blame for my years in darkness as my parents. I started running at this point. I’m not even sure where or why. The past melts together in small frames.  Me as a 7 or 8 year old playing with bullets that my mom kept in a cigar box on the side of her bed. The metallic smell and taste which still ruminates under my tongie to this day. The other cigar box with the weed and rolling papers. I never actually saw her gun. Her 38 was stuff of legend She’d have big parties in our Hyde Park apartment. I was never allowed outside of my room during the parties. I could hear the music, Al Green, Bill Withers, Heatwave. I could smell the marijuana. I was never scared at the parties though. My mom actually dated a Chicago Police Captain who came to all her parties.  Him and all his buddies would actually make people leave their guns at the door. I would peek out and see the dark figures congregating like statues, The loud talk, arguments, laughter, dancing. I would stare down the hall at this then go back into my bedroom so that my mother wouldn’t see me 

    My mother was actually very present in my life. Her and my grandmother Emmaline Davis were my protectors. They were both fair skinned women. My mother was half white as was my grandmother. Sometimes I think back to me being 6 years old on the floor in my mothers room playing with her bullets. I didn’t know until years later that these were bullets that went into the gun that my mother pulled on my father the last time he tried to hit her. 

    My mother finally got an OK from my father for her to leave when I was about 2 or 3 years old. My father sold drugs and had a growing drug problem. He was physically and mentally abusive. I believe partially because of much of the horror he experienced growing up on the South Side of Chicago by alcoholic parents himself. My mother tolerated the abuse until I was about 2 years old. As the story goes I brought my mom a pill I found on the ground. The pills was LSD and the impact of LSD on a child that young is devastating. My mother had finally had enough. When my father came home she told him it was over. She gave him the pill and told him “this is what your son found on the floor and gave to me” , my father wept but knew that it was time for him to let my mother leave. He helped her find an apartment, completely furnished it for her, bought her a car, and made sure she got moved. When I think back to this I for some reason find a small bit of something yellow and blue. It feels like a sad moment that has a silver lining because it feels as though there is a twisted kind of honor in this. My mother told my father that he could come see my sister and I whenever he wanted. That lasted until one day he came over and expected my mother to be that same woman that he could control for so many years. They got into a big fight and my father threw a glass of wine in her face. My mother then calmly went to the bedroom to get the 38 that she’d gotten specifically for this moment. My father knew what was about to happen and raced to wake my sister up. He told her “your mothers gone crazy” and ran out the house. For the next few weeks my mother drove around with the 38 in her purse or tucked under the seat of her car. She would drive around my fathers normal stomping grounds looking for him. She was going to do away with him. She was finally done.  

    Her and my father had an uneasy truce. He stayed away when he was high or involved in drugs. His mother all but moved into the house to help take care of me. They tried ot keep me away from the drugs and bad things but they didn’t know that the monster they should have been protecting me from was already in the house 

    It started with my sister babysitting me while my mom was at work. She would black mail me and say that I couldn’t watch The Muppet show or Spider-Man unless I kissed her nipples or in between her legs. The tip of my tongue can almost still taste the couch. The brown and black cushions, the dark room, the glare of the television lighting the surroundings just enough so that I could see her brown skin and teeth. I don’t remember how many times it happened. It went on for years. There were also the late night pillow monster attacks where she would come into the bedroom and put a pillow over my head. The sound of my own voice muffled, my arms punching and scratching. Me being in a head lock. I was taught early in life that people are cruel. Even people that love you . It’;s actually OK for people that love you to be cruel I guess. This is the way I was raised. 

    I finally told my mother. At 43 years old I finally told her what happened. She told me she wished I’d had just said something. That she would never had let that happen. She said she would have handled that. It was good to hear. The shame and fear for these many years. I have a long way to go. Forgiveness is a tricky thing. It’s full of weird moments where here is no big bang letting you know that the movie is over. The abuse, neglect, and abandonment went beyond those early years. They grew into a series of events that finally brought me to a screeching hault. 

    I am blessed because I have an opportunity to get rid of this and move on. 

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