I was raised in a professing home. We went to every Sunday and Wednesday night meetings, all the special meetings and conventions.
I professed in 1979 when I was 12 at the Buttonwillow, California convention. Looking back, I only professed because I knew it was expected of me. After I professed, I remember hating to take part in meetings because I didn’t like everyone looking at me, I was very shy back then.
I remember when I was young, I was so afraid to talk to anyone at school about my religion because I didn’t know what to say. I never felt like I was a part of it, and I never agreed with all the rules.
When I was 12, we moved to Oregon and I continued to profess, but it was hard because there were no professing girls my age to hang around with and hanging with school kids was a very big no-no. I finally graduated from high school.
I met my first husband when I was 19. We dated for about 6 months and were married three weeks after my 20th birthday. In 1989, my son was born. I knew at that time that my marriage was pretty much over. My daughter was born in 1992, and by that time I knew it was over for sure. We moved to Hawaii in 1993, and that is when I finally told myself that I was done with meetings and with my marriage.
I left my husband in 1995 and we divorced in 1997. I am the first and only child in my family to be divorced. During this same time period I met and married my second husband. That was hard for my family to digest—the fact that I was getting married again. We divorced in 2003.
I was 4 years old the first time I remember the sexual abuse starting. As most little kids do, my siblings and I would crawl into bed with our parents in the early mornings and have some snuggles. It is at this time in my memory that my dad, Terry Walton, made me lay next to him. He would spoon my back, and I remember feeling so uncomfortable and not liking the feeling of his body pressed up next to mine. I would try to move away, and he would pull me closer. To this day, I can’t stand the feeling of anyone spooning me when I am in a relationship.
When I was between the ages of 6 and 12, he would molest me in the swimming pool where my grandmother lived. He would take me into the hot tub and molest me under my swimsuit. I remember hating what he was doing to me and being so afraid to say anything. To this day, I can’t stand to wear swimsuits or go into the water. I live in Hawaii and have not been into the water in many years. When I take my kids, I sit under a shade tree with my shorts and tank top on. I have missed out on the joys of the beach.
Also, during this time, he would scare me when I was walking down the hall. He would turn off all the lights and then jump out at me from the bathroom doorway. To this day, I am afraid of the dark.
When I was 12, we moved to Oregon. I was so hoping that things would stop. I was so wrong—it only got worse. If I was sick on a Sunday, he would volunteer to stay home with me. I dreaded this, as I knew what was coming. Sure enough, once everyone left the house, he would crawl in bed with me and molest me under my nightclothes. I remember lying so stiff and pretending to be asleep. It was the only way I got through it.
Between the ages of 12 and 16, he would insist that I go with him to town. I would try to get into the back seat, and he would get angry. He wanted me in the front seat. Then he would rub his hands all up and down my thighs and touch places he never should have.
I know folks are probably wondering why I never told anyone. Our home life was not a nice place to live. He was full of anger and would take it out on me if I told him to stop. The times I did resist him, he would then yell at me at dinner time so much that I hated sitting down at the table. My poor mom endured a lot living with him. He was just a horrible man, and yet he put on a good face for all who saw him outside the home.
My abuse stopped finally when I was 16, and I was able to drive. I began babysitting and took every babysitting job that came my way. He didn’t have access to me any longer. My brother and sister were not molested.
Because of my abuse, my mom and siblings have not had a relationship with my kids because I refused to let them be around him. He died in 2017, and it has only been since then that I have finally been able to have a relationship with my mom.
I refuse to call myself a victim as that puts the power back into my abuser’s hands. I am a survivor, and I am in control of my life.