******************This post involves abuse, physical and sexual, and may be disturbing to some. ************************
As I sit here, with all kinds of emotions rolling through my mind and body because I’m bipolar and can’t cope with feelings like normal people, I thought it would be a good time to write about the one who probably contributed the most to who I am today. Let’s talk about Michael Duggan. Mikey is one of five siblings on my mom’s side. There are two brothers and three sisters – Rita, Brenda, Teresa, Mikey, and Stevie. Out of the five, only one managed to stay out of jail and off of drugs: Stevie. The three sisters fell into drugs in their 20s and continued into their 50s until Brenda and Rita died of illnesses caused by constant drug use and the lifestyle. Teresa, Mikey, and Stevie are still living and are all very close. The relationship between the three has remained one of tolerance and closeness despite the lifestyles they have all chosen. Unfortunately, that tolerance and acceptance extends much further than drugs, crime, and prostitution. Mikey has a history that the entire family knows about, ignores, and even tried to cover-up at one point.
Let’s go back to the early 1980s. Just about 40 years, give or take a year or two. I was very young. If you haven’t read any of the other posts about my childhood, now would be a good time to read “Mom”. This will help you understand my mom’s family dynamic a little better and how they and I grew up.
Throughout my younger years, Mamaw lived in many different houses in the ghettos and white trash neighborhoods of Orlando. Wherever she went, Mikey, Stevie, and my cousin Larry went with her. I don’t remember which house she lived in at which time but I remember three specific houses from those years. There are memory fragments of other houses but these three stand out in my mind the most. The layout, the yard, the dirtiness, and the events that happened there. I’ve nicknamed them based on their defining characteristic. First, there is the dirty house then, the cinderblock house, and lastly, the little white house.
The dirty house has a lot to do with how I feel about roaches, abandonment, and abuse. When you pull up to this house, you see dirty screens and windows, a ripped screen door, and a feeling of complete poverty. Anyone who lives in this house is not living their best life. You can feel it. I can still see it. When you walk into the front door there is a small living room filled with old and decrepit furniture. The bathroom and bedrooms are off to the side of the living room down a small hallway. The kitchen is behind the living room, straight in from the front door. In the bathroom you will find dirt and grime, dirty socks on the floor that are used to wipe with because there was never toilet paper. One of the bedrooms belongs to Mikey and the other is Stevie’s. Mamaw has her own room with a fan constantly running. Back in the living room, the coffee table is adorned with at least one overflowing ashtray, beer cans, a pack of cigarettes or a can of bugler tobacco, rolling papers, and a lighter. There’s a small television and Mamaw is planted in the center cushion of the couch, wearing her polyester pants with the sewn in crease down the front and a short-sleeved polyester shirt with some type of flowers or similar design. Her hair is pinned back in a loose bun of sorts held by a long barrette. Her fingernails are yellowed by the constant smoking she does, lighting one cigarette from another and her feet are naked and filthy. Her toenails are long and thick, caked with dirt and grossness. She doesn’t bathe more than once a month because she has a fear of falling in the bathtub. My mom has to force her to bathe when she visits. Mamaw also has a prescription of Valium which is always being raided by her own children.
This is the house where I remember being left for days at a time while my mom went out to do whatever she did back then. I think I was somewhere between five and seven years old but I can’t be sure. I know I was very young and had some serious issues with being left alone there. This is also the house where my fear of cockroaches became unbearable. In this house, I would be left to sleep on the couch in the living room where the roaches were the worst. The kitchen and living room were so infested that the roaches didn’t even care if you were moving around, they would crawl on you at night. When I would get up to go to the bathroom, I would have to move my feet around on the floor or throw something just to clear a path and not crunch on them when I walked.
In addition to the filth, drugs, and alcohol, there was another danger for little girls like me: Mikey. I don’t remember the very first time. I don’t remember why or what happened that made it possible for Mikey to have a level of comfort that would lead to him acting on his impulses but I do remember it happening. Mikey was always nice to me and always invited me to come hang out with him in his room. Our thing was for me to pop his knuckles by pulling on each of his fingers. I thought this was the coolest thing and I always did it as soon as I saw him. Since I would seek him out to crack his knuckles, he would eventually use this to make his advances. It started with the touching over the clothes, never under or on bare skin. I imagine, based on what I have learned of molesters, that he was just venturing into his urges and seeing what he could get away with and I was an easy target. One of the worst feelings I have as an adult is the fact that I let him do it. I knew it would happen when I went to his room but I still went there. I didn’t know it was wrong and I didn’t understand the physical sensations. It happened every so often, in this house, over the clothes, and always in his room. It wasn’t until the cinderblock house that I would see just how bold he could get.
The cinderblock house had a big front yard and was located very close to some of our other family members like Mamaw’s sister and some cousins of Mom and her siblings. This house was bigger but not much cleaner. The difference in this house was that all the boys shared a room. Larry, Mikey, and Stevie all shared a room and Mikey slept on the top of a set of bunk beds. This was also the first time I experimented with my cousin Larry in the “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” game. Curious about each other’s private parts and how different they looked, we stood in that bedroom and exposed ourselves just to exclaim how gross the other’s junk looked.
I know this house was part of a time when Mom and Rick were having issues. We must have spent some time here because I remember getting and recovering from chicken pox at this house. I remember sleeping in that room with the boys more than one night. I also remember Mikey volunteering to let me sleep with him. One night, I laid in the bed in front of Mikey and felt something between my legs. I think it started with his finger or fingers. He wasn’t outside of my clothes anymore. He was touching bare skin and using his fingers to penetrate. He would rub around my vaginal opening and between my lips. Then he slid his penis between my legs and put my hand on it from the front. He slid it between my legs, not penetrating but just moving between and against my vagina. I was getting older at this time so there was a physical reaction that I couldn’t control. Still too young to understand what was going on and why my body was reacting this way, I didn’t stop him or say anything. This happened several times and resulted in spotting on my underwear at one point. I think he knew he had gone too far and told me not to tell anyone what happened. He took a break after that and I was kicked out of his bunk bed to another spot in the house. I found out that this had damaged my cervix that left a scar that would be seen by my gynecologist years later. The doctor had been curious about the very old scar there but I didn’t tell them my suspicion.
It wasn’t until Mamaw moved into the little white house that the molestation took a turn that I couldn’t deal with anymore. When you walked into this little house from the steep steps that led to the front door, Mikey’s room was just off to the right of the living room. I didn’t visit Mikey as much as I used to but I still loved my uncle and would go see him and pop his knuckles when we were at their house. I didn’t hang out in his room much in the little white house, that I can remember. At this point, Mikey was even molesting me at my own house when he visited and the feelings of shame and fear had increased for me. I was getting older and I knew it was not right to have an adult touch you in that way but when it did happen, I could not control the sensations my body felt. Knowing it was bad but felt good tortured me, mentally, and still does to this day.
Anyway, one night I was left alone with Mikey. Just him and me. Mikey told me that its bath time. He filled up the tub with water and told me to get in but refused to leave the room. I told him that I didn’t want to get naked in front of him so he let me take a bath with my bathing suit on while he sat in the bathroom with me. I got in, wearing my little bikini bathing suit thinking I would be okay. Then Mikey asked me to take off my bottoms. I got nervous and a little scared and tried to tell him no but he persisted. He told me he would close his eyes and that I could leave my top on if I wanted. After persistent demands, I caved and took off my bottoms. I stood there, naked from the waist down and saw that he had opened his eyes. I was not happy and asked him to leave me alone. He would not leave and took it even further. He pulled out his penis and asked me to touch it. I kept telling him no and asking if I could get out. I didn’t want to take a bath anymore. He told me that if I touched it he would leave me alone. So, I did. I wanted the whole situation to be over and if it took me touching his ugly penis to get him to leave the room then I would. The pleasure on his face will never leave my mind. I will remember that look forever. He grabbed my hand and made me stroke it once or twice before I pulled my hand back against his will. He left the bathroom and went to his room while I put on my bottoms and got out of the tub. I put on my nightgown and went to bed on the couch. I didn’t go into Mikey’s room ever again after that. I didn’t want to be left alone with him ever again.
Around the same time, my cousin and I got caught standing naked in the closet together. I think the early exposure to sexual contact made me more curious about boys so I began to act out on my curiosities at a very early age. My mom must have told her brothers and sisters because Mikey knew about it. After the bathtub incident, Mikey knew I was not going to let him touch me anymore. One day, Mikey was at our house for some reason and I was sitting at the table eating. He had come over to me acting like nothing happened. That’s when I told him. “I don’t want you to touch me anymore.” I don’t remember where Mom was during this interaction or if she was even home but, it was just him standing at the table with me. Later that day, Mikey caught me in my bedroom and blocked the doorway to leave. He closed the door and told me that he knew about the closet incident with my cousin and would tell all of my friends at school about it if I ever told anyone about him touching me. He made it clear that everyone would laugh at me and make fun of me and I wouldn’t have any more friends if they knew I was naked with my cousin. I promised him I wouldn’t say anything because I didn’t want anyone to know about it either. Fear and embarrassment kept my naïve mind from doing what I should have done for almost two years. Moving to Dad’s house was the best thing that could have ever happened to me and its what allowed me to feel safe enough to tell someone about the abuse.
The truck ride with my dad that day was mostly uneventful. I was home for a visit from the children’s home. I’m not sure why the topic was brought up but my dad just asked me if anyone had ever touched me down there. I was caught off guard and paused for a very long time. I was 12 years old at this point. It had been two years since the last conversation with Mikey. I thought for a long time about what Mikey had said to me. I didn’t live with Mom anymore so Mikey didn’t know any of my friends now. I was in the children’s home at this point too so Mikey couldn’t hurt me at all. I decided it was time to speak up. I was honest with my dad and told him about the years of molestation with Uncle Mikey. Dad asked more questions and I answered them timidly and shamefully. Dad made assured me that I had done nothing wrong and tried to make me feel better but, you could see the anger and murder in his eyes. I think he even asked me if I would be okay if he told the police about it because what Mikey had done was illegal and he needed to be punished. I was hesitant but agreed that I would tell my story to the police if they came.
I was taken back to the children’s home after this visit with my dad and I didn’t think anything would happen and had forgotten about the possibility of police. However, a week or two later the police showed up at the children’s home and asked the caregivers if I could be isolated and spoken with in private. Aunt Brenda, as the kids at the home called the female caregiver, stayed in the room with me while police detectives asked questions about the when, where, how, and what’s of the report. I answered to the best of my memory. After they left, Aunt Brenda told me everything would be okay and I was sent on my way back to whatever class or activity the other kids were doing.
Afterward, the police contacted my mom’s side of the family for information regarding the report. My mom, aunts, uncles, and Mamaw all told police that I was a habitual liar and that nothing I said was true. They denied the possibility of me ever being molested by Mikey and told the police that they shouldn’t believe the lies of an overactive imagination and lying little girl. The entire family was angry with me and refused to acknowledge my claims or consider that Mikey might have done something wrong. This was a turning point for me and my relationship with my mom’s family. It has never recovered.
The police concluded their investigation and notified my dad that the statute of limitations had passed on child molestation and that there was nothing they could do. If I had come forward sooner, just months sooner, they could have prosecuted him. Nothing ever happened to Mikey for what he did to me. He received no punishment and because he wasn’t charged or prosecuted, it justified my mom’s family in their belief that he had done nothing wrong.
The worst part of it all is that, over all those years and after, Mikey dated women with young daughters. One of those women, Maria, had a daughter named Danielle. Danielle and I became friends and I spent the night at her house often. One of the sleepovers uncovered the fact that Mikey had also touched her in a bad way. We bonded over that knowledge and never told our mothers even though we knew it was wrong. He had made us both fearful of revealing the truth. If we had come forward, maybe he would be in jail. Maybe they would have believed me when I told my dad.
When I was 16 or 17, Mikey came to my house in Orlando. I was married to my first husband and was pregnant with my first child. Out of the blue, Mikey showed up in my driveway asking me to buy some piece of shit car stereo he had probably stolen. He needed money and was desperate enough to come to the niece he had wronged on so many levels all those years ago. He started off his sales pitch with a “good to see you” followed by an apology for what he had done to me as if that would make things alright. After telling him I wasn’t going to buy his shitty, stolen stereo and that I had no love to give him, he left and never returned.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20s with three kids that I finally got support from anyone on my mom’s side of the family. I was visiting Rick in Florida one weekend while my husband and I were living in Georgia and serving in the military. My Aunt Rita was visiting Rick as well so we all got to talk about things from long ago. Somehow the topic of Mikey’s molesting came up and I told her, face-to-face, what he had done to me and that I was not lying all those years ago. She admitted that she believed me and that they had found out he had done it to more girls, daughters of girlfriends, and that he was sick in the head. That was vindication for the younger me but did nothing for the older me who had already been permanently damaged by it all. The fact that the whole family still spoke to him and didn’t treat him as the child molester he is angered me and hurt my soul. He was free and living his life without remorse or consequence while I had to deal with the emotional and mental damage he had done.
Fast forward to the present and you’ll find Mikey living free and without remorse, still. He lives with Stevie and Mom still talks to him. She claims she is upset with him for what he did to me and that she believes me now but its too late. I will never forgive any of them for not believing me, accusing me of lying, and for not supporting me and the rest of those little girls by kicking him out of their lives. If I speak to my mom on the phone, Mikey has the nerve to yell “hello” and “love ya” at me as if I’m supposed to chime back like he isn’t a sick fuck who deserves to be in prison. Mom acts like she understands what I feel and claims she hates him for it but still she relies on him for rides and even moved to another state with him and Stevie.
None of mom’s family will ever, really, acknowledge and treat him as the child molester he is nor will they do what’s necessary to prevent him from doing it again. My younger cousin has young children and allows Mikey to be around them despite knowing what he has done in the past. My mom claims she keeps an eye on him when he’s around kids but its not enough. You don’t let child molesters near children, period. He lives his happy life, drinking and doing drugs, fighting and acting as if he has some moral high ground over others all while hiding the fact that he is a serial child molester. The family admits that they found out about all of the other girls over the years and still allows this sick fuck to be in their lives. I hate this man with every fiber of my being. I hate that he is allowed to be free while all of his victims suffer from his actions against us when we were defenseless, ignorant, and innocent. The mental and emotional scars of sexual abuse are long lasting and permanent. His life will go on as if nothing happened and his family will continue to do the same. That’s the saddest part.
***The pictures included in this post were obtained from the public profile of Michael Duggan. I am not friends with him on Facebook and have no access to anything he has not already made public.