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Jeremy McDowell

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Hello:   My name is Jeremy McDowell.

I am an abuse survivor and I would like to tell you a story.

    I was born January 17th, 1972 and for the first 3 years of my life I lived with my mother and father. 6 months after my 2nd birthday my younger brother was born. 6 months after that I was living with my grandparents. My parents had gone their separate ways.

    Christmas of 1978 my father returned to see me. He brought with him a new wife and a daughter. Franny being his new wife and Jennifer being her daughter. Jennifer was only a few months younger than I was. My father had an agenda that year. He can back into my life after 3 years to bring me home with him. At the age of 6 years seeing my father again and him wanting me of course I’m going to go. What kid wouldn’t? Just after Christmas we left the city of Sarnia, heading for Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. That was a very long trip by car. Especially with 2 young kids that are just getting to know each other. Needless to say it didn’t take long before Jennifer and I started to get on my father and Franny’s nerves.

    Now let’s get one straight before I go on. Franny didn’t like me right from the start. She wanted to have her daughter to be the one getting all the attention. Not to mention herself. Me being there was taking my father’s attention away from the 2 of them. So moving in was not such a good thing.

    Well it didn’t take long before things went to hell in a hand basket. My father being an aircraft mechanic and the only aircraft investigator in the area meant long trips into the bush to investigate an aircraft the crashed. So I was left in the house sometimes for a week sometimes for 3 weeks. It depended on how serious the crash was and how long it took my father to find the cause of the crash.

    I remember the first place we lived when we got to Prince Albert. It was a nice little 3 bedroom apartment in a large building. It was still being developed. The courtyard which was supposed to be a swimming pool was a huge hole in the ground. Really muddy when the spring came in. Franny didn’t like that idea because it made a lot of dirty laundry for her to wash. 2 kids age 6 years, big muddy hole in the ground. Of course we’re playing in it. I started spending a lot of time in my room being put in there with no toys or anything else. Had to sit on my bed after being hit for acting up.

    While my father was away Franny took full advantage of dealing out discipline (as she called it) when I was acting up. Being spanked for me doing something wrong was sometime I could handle. When I started being punished for the things Jennifer was doing I started acting up even more. Jennifer had this habit that when I was doing something wrong she would tell on me. When I did the same thing to her I got punished for being a tattletale. This was starting to confuse me greatly. What was I to do?

    It didn’t help things very much when I was refusing to let Franny bath me. Every time she would I felt really weird and didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t until I started school and was being taught about being touched and the weird feelings that come with those actions that I finally understood that my stepmother was sexually molesting me. I was really confused at this point. All I could do was ask myself “why she was doing this?” “Why do this to me?”

    My personal hygiene took a haul. I didn’t want to go and have a bath anymore. My sleeping patterns got really messed up as well. I remember the feelings that came over me while my stepmother would fondle me. It happened in the bath and in my bed.  You see my father hadn’t stopped drinking. So he would take off to the bar once and a while and leave me home to deal with Franny and Jennifer. I was scared as hell. I never wanted to go t bed on the nights my father went out. Franny scared me. The threats and the physical abuse I was already taking every day was enough. I tried every day to do everything I was told. To no avail. Nothing changed! The beatings continued, the lies continued, and my head getting messed up continued.

    I decided to just stay in my room and played with my toys. This worked for a couple days. Then Jennifer started coming in my room wanting my toys. This was unacceptable to me. There was no way I was giving up my toys to this girl. Until she would run to her mother and tell her I wasn’t playing nice. Oh my, did I get spanked for that one. Franny got me a good one.

    What I haven’t told you about yet was my bedroom situation. When I was put in my bedroom for punishment I was in there. Franny would remove all my toys and other things. Most of the time for more time then I was being punished for. Franny had a latch put on the outside of the door so that she could lock me in during my punishment. What I didn’t know is that when she would lock me in there she would take off out of the apartment with Jennifer for hours on end. Almost every day I was locked in my room. Not allowed to use the bathroom, not allowed to eat or drink. I just stayed in there crying. I had nothing in my bedroom but my bed and my dresser full of clothing. No toys, no stuffed animals, nothing.

    One day this all changed though. I was in my room crying one afternoon and I heard my bedroom door being unlocked. I thought Franny had come to hit me some more. It was my dad. I ran to him and hugged him because he was letting me out.

    Not long after this started, I decided I wanted to go back to my grandmothers. So I left. 6 years old and I’m going to find my way back to Sarnia, Ontario. It didn’t take long before the police had me. I sat in the police department for a few hours waiting for them to get a hold of my father. Boy he wasn’t impressed with me. He spanked me with his belt when we got home that night.

   That was the first time I asked to go home. My father said I was home and I said no I wanted to go back to my grandmother’s. I didn’t want to be there anymore. My father asked my why. I told him about what was happening when he wasn’t home. He went to asked Franny and Jennifer about what I said and they said I was lying. I had my mouth washed out with soap for lying.

    I remember the house we lived in. It was a nice little 2 story off yellow house with dark brown shutters. Had a 2 bedroom apartment on the main floor with the basement and a 2 bedroom apartment on the top floor. I remember because the guy that rented the apartment upstairs had a bunch of puppets. When I couldn’t get away from Jennifer in our house I use to run up there. He would always entertain me with his puppets.

    By now there was a lot of hatred going on in the house. Franny and Jennifer hated me and I hated them. My bedroom was in the basement. That was my refuge from the 2 of them temporarily. It didn’t take very long before things got so bad that I ran away for the second time. Like the first time it didn’t take long before the police had me in the station house. This time I told the police why I didn’t want to go back. They spoke to my father because of what I had said about Franny and Jennifer. When my father finally showed up at the police station he was alone. We went for a long drive just the 2 of us and I told him everything. Why I wanted to return to my Grandmother’s and everything the Franny and Jennifer were doing.

    About a week later I was on a plane from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario to finally be returned to the only real home I knew. I was going back to grandma’s house. Unknowingly to me I was returning to a place where other forms of abuse were continuing to set me on my path of living on the streets.

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