Dear Diary, 28 April 2011
I am writing to you in secret because Mommy will be angry if I am awake after bedtime. But I can’t sleep. Mommy’s man friend comes to tuck me in after her and my brother Jeremy are sleeping. I ask Mr. Man Friend why he can’t tuck me in when Mommy does, and he says that I need to be loved in a very special way because I am a very special boy. I keep it secret from Mommy and Jeremy so they don’t feel left out. Mr. Man Friend does not always love in a nice way. Sometimes I hurt so much from his rough hands on my skin. He takes my hand and puts it on his skin too. I do not like this at all. He is too hair I hate it most when he takes off his pants. He takes off mine too and says, “You are my special friend, Timothy.” He just sits and watches me as he says this. I don’t understand why his love hurts so much. I don’t feel the nice love from him like I do from Mommy. Mr. Man Friend whispers, “Shhh,” and puts his finger on his lips before he leaves my room. He tells me the special love will run out if I tell. I first felt the special love when I was five. I am six now and still feel it. I have to stop talking, Diary. I hear footsteps and I have to go to sleep.
Dear Diary, 4 May 2011
I had a great day today because I got a 100 on my spelling test and Mommy said I can spend the night with Mathew tomorrow night. I am so happy because I have never spent the night away from home. Mr. Man Friend says it is not safe because I am so young, but Mommy doesn’t listen to him. She says I have been sad and need a friend to play with. Mr. Man Friend took me to the barn for some special love today. He says he wants some more time with me because he will not see me tomorrow. I still wonder why his love hurts so much. I have to go, Diary. I hear footsteps. Mr. Man Friend says I must have extra special love tonight.
Dear Diary, 6 May 2011
I had so much fun at Mathew’s house yesterday. We played video games, basketball, baseball, and swam in the pool. Mathew has a really nice mommy and daddy. They swam with us too and made us snacks. His mommy and daddy tucked us in at bedtime and read us a story. But his daddy never came back in our room after bedtime. I wonder why. I slept really good that night. I like Mathew and his family a lot. I have to go, Diary. Mr. Man Friend is very angry with me tonight. I don’t think I will be able to sleep.
Dear Diary, 7 May 2011
I asked my teacher, Mrs. Appleton, this morning why my Mommy’s man friend comes in my room and Mathew’s daddy doesn’t. She told me to come to the office with her because there was someone there who could answer my question. After a few minutes, my mommy came in the office. I was so happy to see her and gave her a big hug. This love is a good love. She smiled when she saw me, but I saw water on her face. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she just loved me so much. This made me happy. A few minutes later, a strange man and woman came into the office to talk to me. They said they go around to schools to make sure children are safe. They told me that tomorrow they are going to take me to a safe place called Harbor House where I can talk about what Mr. Man Friend does. I was scared at first, but Mommy told me it would be okay. Me, Mommy, and Jeremy are staying in a hotel tonight. I feel safe here. I will get good sleep tonight.
Dear Diary, 8 May 2011
I went to the Harbor House place today. I was nervous at first, but they had a play room with all kinds of toys. Mommy went in another room and talked to the grown-ups while I played with the helper in the play room. She was really nice to me and we played with stuffed animals, cars, and watched TV. Then a nice man came in the room and said that we would go to a safe place and talk. The man took me to a room with a drawing board and a table with markers to color with. The room had a couch with bright paintings on the wall. I was so happy because it looked like my room at home. This made me feel much better. The man said his name was Ted. I felt safe here. At first Ted asked me about my school and what I liked to do. I told him about me writing in my diary every night. I told him I have to write under my covers with a flashlight so Mommy won’t know I am awake after bedtime. I was coloring and felt o.k. with Ted.
We talked about safety and times when I felt hurt or scared. He showed me a picture and we talked about different parts of the body and touches that are OK and touches that are not OK. I felt weird talking about this. He told me it is okay, that nothing I say is wrong. I am in a safe place. I felt a little better, but I kept moving around because I was still scared. What happens when Mr. Man Friend knows what I am saying? His love hurts worse when he is angry at me. I told Ted all about what Mr. Man Friend did to me. After the talk, I went back to the play room to play with the helper some more. I saw Mommy and I ran to give her a big hug. I was so happy to see her. Ted told me thanks for coming in and it was very nice to meet me. I liked Ted. Me, Mommy, and Jeremy are staying in the hotel again. Mommy said we will be staying here for a long time. This makes me happy. I get a good night sleep and nice love from Mommy and Jeremy. Mommy promises that I will not see Mr. Man Friend ever again. I believe her. She says she is so sorry she did not know about Mr. Man Friend. She gives me big hugs all the time and tells me I am so brave for telling her. I feel so much better, Diary, and I am not as sad anymore.
Dear Diary, 25 April 2013
I know it has been a while since I have talked to you, but I am eight now and want to tell you about my new group of friends. Harbor House calls it the HEROES program. I get to go play for five hours on a Saturday with children who are just like me. The best part is that my brother Jeremy gets to come with me. Mom said I was invited to join the special group because I was brave for telling about Mr. Man Friend. We play games together, do arts-and-crafts, play music, and watch puppet shows. The grown-ups tell us how brave we are for speaking up. They tell us that we are heroes for our family and other children like us. We get to make posters about our feelings. The grown-ups tell us that “bad things can’t stop the best things.” We are all happy, laughing and playing, and feel good. This will be the last time I write you, Diary. I have more love than ever before from Mom, Jeremy, and the HEROES group, so I don’t really need you anymore. I feel so much better. Bad things can’t stop the best things, and bad things will never, ever stop me.
*Disclaimer: In order to protect the identity of all of the children served by Harbor House, the above story is fictional, but is an accurate representation of the many feelings the children may experience.
This story originally appeared in Facing Hope, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Georgia Highlands College, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, and Berry College in Rome, Georgia.