Exhibit: A Dress Speaks
Exposiciůn: Un Vestido Habla

Victoria's Secret

A collaboration between two mothers of sexually abused daughters


* My stepdaughter was molested during a physical examination. The attending physician was a friend of her mother. My stepdaughter kept silent, began to exercise, stopped eating, and developed anorexia. I felt powerless to help her. Both of her parents had been sexually abused as children. Their parents didnít press charges against their daughterís perpetrator. I still feel angry and outraged. I have wondered if her parentsí abuse is connected to my stepdaughter being placed in a dangerous situation. If they had dealt more effectively with their own issues, could they have seen signs? I still ask "Why?"

* My perspective on this piece is that of mother. I am the mother of a little girl who was molested by her grandfather and then further betrayed by her father when he just couldnít handle it. Our lives changed completely after that.

She was five when her big brother brought her to our bed one morning, still in her jammies, and made her tell us what had happened the night before. I donít know how long or how often it had been going on. The grandparents had been coming to visit us for about six weeks every year since long before she was born.

Her grandfather said he thought she was interested in penises because she had a doll that had a penis.

Her grandmother said she couldnít stand to lose everyone and asked us not to tell her other son, who had a daughter a few years older than ours.

Her father said I was creating a scene and coming between his parents and their grandchildren.

She said she dreaded the sound of his footsteps coming down the hall. She never wanted to talk about it. She had nightmares about sailors with sharp teeth for years.

Now she asks why her father doesnít believe her. She says she canít stand the sight of old white men. She says she is not attracted to young white men.

Her brother doesnít remember it. Her grandmother died of stomach cancer. Her father and I are divorced many years. Her grandfather sends her cards on special occasions with checks in them. She cashes them.

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