As best I can remember, the abuse started when I was around 5. My memories are still very unreliable, I believe that’s common in people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I didn’t fit in at school, because I grew up dirt poor, so the kids who lived next door to my grandmother were all I had to play with. I stayed at my granny’s house often because my parents both worked overtime. She had two jobs as well, so I was often sent to the neighbors during the day. They had a lot of kids, I don’t really remember how many. My little brother didn’t have to go because he was in an after school program.It started out fairly innocently. They had a son around my age and one a few years older. There was a shed in their backyard that we converted into our clubhouse. We defended it against invading forces, sailed it to deserted islands in search of buried treasure, flew it to mars, and held clandestine meetings in deep subterranean chambers beneath it. For the younger brother Alan and I, though, it eventually became Hell on Earth. The older brother, Michael, was the “boss” of our club. He decided where the ship sailed and what planets we flew to. We had to do what he said, otherwise there was beatings for insubordination.

Sometimes we had to take off our clothes. If we were injured in battle, we had to go to the doctor. If we required space suits, we had to change. It wasn’t a big deal at first. Some examinations required that he masturbate us. Eventually sexual activity became a major component of our games, but it was mutual and probably harmless at the beginning. One day, however, he penetrated me anally with his finger. I told him to stop because it hurt, but he kept going, insisting I would “die” if he didn’t. I told him I didn’t want to play anymore, and he became angry. He beat me up and forced me to allow him to continue.

The next day, at some point, he told me in so many words that he was going to have anal sex with me. I told him no because it would hurt. He got angry and laid me out with a single punch. I was dazed and on the concrete floor. He picked me up (he was much larger than I) and bent me over a tractor lawnmower. I felt his hand undo the front of my shorts, and all at once he was inside me. All I remember is that it hurt at first, and then it’s like this black cloud descends over my vision and I don’t remember anything except telling my mom that I was sick and being sent to my room for the night. I spent the next day home sick from school, sleeping at their house (Gran had to work). He attacked me while I was asleep and raped me in his little brother’s bed. His mother walked in on it. She just left and didn’t say anything.

My grandmother was no prize herself. She wasn’t a horrible person, she genuinely cared for my brother and I and typically would spoil us with presents every now and then. But she was also a very harsh woman. We had hours of chores before and after school, and we frequently took lashings for insolence. I was locked in the basement more than once as a punishment. One time, after being raped next door a few hours before, I was examining myself in my bedroom when my grandmother walked in. She accused me of masturbating and bent me over the bed. When she was really angry, she wouldn’t stop hitting you until you stopped crying. I think at some point I just shut down and stopped. My teacher laughed at me the next day when I asked to be allowed to stand during class.

I was also forced to do things with his younger brother, a few times I was even forced to rape him. I think the whole family was tied up in it. I have vague recollections of seeing their father with their younger sister, they were all afraid of him. I try not to dig at the memories, because they’re just going to upset me and it’s more problems than it’s worth.

It went on like that until I was about 12. Around that time, my mother found a new job that allowed her to be home in the mornings and I was judged old enough to be home by myself for a few hours a day. I didn’t tell anyone about any of it until I was about 19, and I still haven’t told my parents about my grandmother. I’m sure my parents saw some things that should have made them wonder. I’ve had nightmares and woken up screaming for as long as I can remember, but my parents never did anything about it. I’ve chalked it up to my father never really being there until I was 20, and my mother probably just didn’t want to face it. The family moved out of the house when I was 12 or 13 or so. I never saw them again. That was it.