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?

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