Claire stood before me shaking, tears streaming down her face as she screamed, “He touched me, and I didn’t want him to! I was 13 years old! He told me he loved me, that he would never hurt me, but he touched me when I didn’t want him to. ‘It’s not sex,’ he said. ‘Relax,’ he said. I just lay there and cried. It was awful, Mom! On the dock, late at night. I didn’t know what to do.”
I sat there, still. Tears filling my eyes, while question crashed through every corner of my mind. Where was I? When was this? How could this have happened? Why wasn’t I paying closer attention? What should I say? What could I say that would make this hurt go away?
Claire continued between sobs, snot running from her already red nose, blotches gathering on her smooth, clear skin. I was dumbstruck. “Finally, he finished and I went home. I saw you that night. You asked me about being out so late. I said I was fine and you believed me!”
Why wouldn’t I believe her? She and Tim had been inseparable since she was nine years old. He worshipped her and she seemed to worship him right back. I truly believed that he would lay down his life for Claire. Why on earth would I think that he could hurt her? I tried, in vain, to muster a response, but I had nothing. Nothing but shock, denial, and guilt. How could I have let this happen?