How it happened (The second time)

I was nine years old and my mother and I were living with my grandparents in Arkansas. My aunt and her son lived next door. This was a different aunt, my mom's younger sister. My parents were still married but separated at the time. My mother did not drink as much (at least not around me) anymore but she would go next door for long periods of time and get high. I knew the difference between mariajuana and regular cigarette smoke.

This cousin was almost six years older than me but we got along really well. He let me play with all his old toys, he let me tag along most of the time, and sometimes I would watch him and his friends practice in the band they were trying to create. I remember once a kid from down the street was threatening him and wanted to fight. I picked up a long piece of a board and almost hit the kid with it but my cousin stopped me. He was very impressed though and told the story of what I did to his friends who all laughed and commended me. I remember feeling very proud.

That summer my aunt got a very large above ground pool. Everyone enjoyed it from time to time, but my cousin and I were in it almost every day. When he was swimming with me there were usually no adults around because they felt he was old enough to keep an eye on me. One day while in the pool he swam very close past me and brushed his hips against mine. I don't know if it was an accident or on purpose, but after that first time he continued to find ways for our bodies to touch while swimming. I was to apprehensive to question him about it so I tried to stay away from him in the pool. This didn't really work, he was a better swimmer than me and could always get close. Whenever it happened he would act as though nothing had happened.

This continued for a while, each day we swam he would do this. He never did anything any other time and he never talked about it. It made me think that it was all accidental and maybe what I thought was happening really wasn't, so I never talked about it either. I don't remember exactly how long it was before he took it a little bit further, but one day while swimming past me he reached out and touched me through my swim trunks with his hand. I was not confused at this point, I knew there was something wrong in what he did and I was angry. I still did not say anything though because I didn't want to get in trouble, and I didn't want him to be upset with me. There was also a certain extent of embarassment.

I can remember dreading swimming after that. My grandparent's house was separated by my aunts by a small field, and I prayed the whole way across that field from the house to the pool. We weren't even very religious, but I remember asking god to please not let it happen again. It always did. My cousin turned it into a game and called it 'circus'. He said we were just doing different tricks in the water and we had to practice to get them just right. I went along reluctantly. All of our circus tricks involved us being very close, our bodies touching, and usually he would find a way to get his hands between my legs.

Once my aunt came out to the pool while we were swimming. I told her that we were playing circus and did she want to see one of our tricks. My cousin acted like he had no idea what I was talking about. I felt very bad after that, because although I was pretty sure what we were doing was wrong, I still had a little denial up until this point. By refusing to show my aunt the tricks, it was confirmed that these things were bad. Sometimes I would get out of swimming by simply saying I didn't feel like it, but other times my cousin or even other family members would tell me to go on anyways. (Probably just to get the kids out of the house for a little while.)

This lasted all summer until the weather started to turn too cool for swimming. After that it stopped for a little while, but my cousin soon found other ways. There was a barn behind my grandmother's house that was used mostly for storage and band practice if the weather wasn't to hot/cold. One day we were in there and played a game of 'I'll show you mine if you show me yours'. It progressed further then just showing though. He touched me and for the first time I touched him by his request.

He tried to make it seem like this was a secret game that I should feel privileged to be a part of. At first I was willing to go along out of curiosity, but over time (and especially as our activity intensified) I objected. He reminded me often that if anyone ever found out, I would be in big trouble. I began to distance myself from him,and whenever possible I would try not to be alone with him. I never knew when he might want to go to the barn again. It happened more times then I know. In the beginning we only ever touched each other with our hands. Eventually it went further, but I am not going to go into any more detail. If I told him that I didn't want to do it, he would pressure me into it (not physically, but through persuasion) and promise that we could do something fun afterwards. Usually we played video games afterwards.

It went on until right after I turned eleven when my mother, father and I moved to Tennessee. I still saw this cousin from time to time, especially around holidays, but nothing ever happened with him again. We have never talked about it and really don't talk at all besides the 'hello how are you' kind of thing. He is living with his girlfriend now and they have a baby.

I wish that it would never have happened, but I don't hate him. I don't want to confront him about it, or forgive him, or dwell on this anymore then I have to. I would love to just erase it from my memory. There was a time when I let this memory effect me in a negative way, but I'm working through that now. I understand that I can't let this one bad experience hold so much dominance over the rest of my life, and I have to let it go.

I've talked with counselors about this, and two close friends. My mom knows about it through a counselor, but I've never talked to her about it independently.