Iwas 6 when Don José surprised me with some cookies and milk before bed. I got so sleepy. The next day I woke up all bloody, with a cut on my ankle. Mami and my sister Valery washed me and bandaged my wound. It was not only my ankle that hurt. Everywhere, my body was sore. My back. Between my legs. But I couldn’t remember anything. Many years later, my therapist would explain.
This was in Tijuana, where I had moved with my mother and five sisters, in 1962, four years after I was born further south, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Our neighborhood, Colonia Veinte de Noviembre, was a mishmash of wooden houses and shacks along the Tijuana River. Mami was a stout, resourceful woman who built a three-room house out of wood from discarded pallets. Our bathroom was a latrine behind the house with a blanket for a door. At first, we didn’t have electricity or running water, but Mami and my stepfather, Don José, greatly improved the property over the years.
Don José (whose name, like mine and others in this story, has been changed to protect my identity) was a middle-aged laborer whose distinguishing feature was his yellow teeth. What Mami saw in him, I don’t know, maybe simply that he was a hard worker, not a drunk like my father, and he provided a much-needed second income. (to read more click here: https://narratively.com/the-secret-revenge-of-an-assault-survivor/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Story%20of%20the%20Month%20-%20October%202019&utm_content=Story%20of%20the%20Month%20-%20October%202019+CID_b91ced847e9e5aab86aeaeae9b5db861&utm_source=Narratively%20Campaign%20Monitor%20Emails&utm_term=Read%20More%20at%20Narratively)