The movies play fairly continually. Images flashing across my brain, dancing in front of my eyes. Flickering in and out of focus. I can’t help but watch, though I frequently avert my eyes so I’m seeing the film only with my peripheral vision. The pictures are too horrid if viewed directly. The things that happen to the little girl on the screen are ugly, degrading, demeaning. Even when viewed indirectly, they fill me with shame and disgust. The film clips are short, fading to black at odd moments. I think, perhaps, this is good…that they don’t play from beginning to end. The bits and pieces I do see are more than enough to overwhelm me. She is a little thing, the little girl in the images. Defenseless. The man who is abusing her is so much bigger, so much stronger, so demanding. So uncaring. He forces her to do awful things. Ugly, degrading things. I used to be mad at her for letting him get away with it. I used to be angry with her for being so weak. But I’m beginning to see a little more clearly, I think. I am starting to understand she didn’t have choices. She was just a little girl. He had all the power. There are times when she whimpered before him. Times when she begged and pleaded with him to stop. But her words and tears lacked the ability to move him or to have an impact. They couldn’t change the course of events. The man always finished what he started. He always got what he wanted. She was completely alone in the nightmare. Alone in the horror movie, trapped in the haunted house. At the mercy of her parents. There was no one to turn to. No one to protect her. No one to wipe away her tears or comfort her once the father-man was finished with her. She couldn’t tell and she couldn’t let her pain show. It was her awful secret. Hers to bear alone. Little girl secrets should be about crushes on boys or who likes who, not about fathers who sexually abuse them. They should not have to be the protectors of their family. All the burdens of the survival of the family should not fall on a child. I want to save her, but I can’t. I want to be there for her, to hold her in the night when she is in agony and terrorized and abused. I want to tell her it will be okay. That it will get better. But the truth is, it isn’t okay and it doesn’t get better. I would be lying to her if I uttered these empty promises. The things she suffers in the events that play in my memory will haunt her for the rest of her life. I don’t want to be the one to tell her that she may never recover. Even though she tries hard. The damage is massive and not easily overcome or repaired. Her suffering continues decade after decade. The ripples of the abuse continue to impact her destiny long after the abuse itself has ended. I am so weary of watching these movies play over and over again. The same sick images. The same horrid scenes. Nothing I can do will change the ending. I am helpless to do anything but observe what happened to this child. I can’t turn the movie off. I can’t watch. I can’t stop watching. I can’t save her; little blonde girl, left broken and lost. I cannot save either one of us. Ultimately, we both have to crawl out of the rubble and try to rebuild what is left of our soul. We remain forever haunted by those cataclysmic events recorded so very many years ago. We both pay the price and serve the life sentence…while our abuser goes free.