"I promised I would never tell."
--Betsy Perez, incest surviror
Betsy's Monologue: Family Owned and Operated
At age nine, I was too much body for my age. I don't know if it was the platanos or the quest frito, but this girl was busting out of everything. And then I got my period. I swear I thought my mother was going to rush me to the emergency room but all she said was, “Mira muchacha, relax girl. You’re a woman now.” My mother and I hadn't had "the talk." The one about becoming a woman. About how to safeguard “my popolita.” Not let anyone touch that part of me. It was so confusing. Especially since everyone was touching my popolita but me.
At five, I opened up shop without even realizing. It was a family owned business, I guess. Cousins and a very involved Uncle Freddy took pride in my shop. Polished me up, every week... it happened so often and for so many years that it became normal. I thought this was how I was supposed to act, how I was supposed to show love. So I started to act this way toward other girls. To pass on what Freddy taught me. I thought that everyone’s first sexual experiences are supposed to be like this or with your cousins. Los primos se priman is what we call it in Latino culture. It’s a saying we have for incest. I don't know how true that is for you, but it was for me.
Every weekend, my family would get together religiously for dominoes, bingo and cards. I conveniently found myself scheming situations that involved touching one of my cousins, Lorena or Cynthia. Or my neighbor Violeta, who was only 8 years old, my age. The neighborhood’ very innocent, pride and joy.
Uncle Freddy taught me everything I knew. He asked my mother every weekend to let me come over to play…allegedly with cousin Lucy but she was rarely there. Uncle Freddy would ever so subtly trace the straps of my tank top. Then he’d ask me to come see something in his bedroom. Then touch me, have sex with me. He would catch me in the cuts. Those dark spaces in the house where no one sees a thing. Rub me down quickly, our “quickies” he called it.
He was my mentor. I learned the art of luring and manipulation. I learned to say "It's ok, no one is looking.” To reassure Lorena and Cynthia -- “ I won't tell. I promise." I hated it but loved the control, the only one I had. The control over someone else's body. Uncle Freddy taught me well. I promised I would never tell. I would never tell anyone.