"She was not afraid of dying, she was afraid of living."
A Stained Childhood
The most disgusting statistic I have ever read. At least 40% of adolescent females have endured some sort of sexual or physical abuse in their childhood. Not every little girl has a childhood filled with Barbie dolls and smiles. When it comes to child prostitution statistics, the numbers are so much worse. When I first started talking to Zandy, I would have never realized that her story was going to have me in such an emotional state. I will start by telling you the story of a ruined childhood.
The spring of 1983 began with the death of a mother. Not just any mother, she was the best and most loving mother of all time. The kind of mother that never let her little girls go to school without the perfect french braid and a flower in her hair. The kind that would sing her little girls to bed with the sweetest lullaby and devote her life to them. She was pretty too, before the cancer took over. By the time she passed away she looked so much older. And so frail, she looked as if she might fall apart just by hugging her too tight. By the time she passed away, everyone was pretty much expecting it. But no one in her family had accepted it. Not her 2 young daughters and definitely not her husband.
The father of these two girls was so broken by the loss of his wife that he couldn't stand to look at the girls. To him, they were just the leftovers of the woman he loved. Before his wife passed, he worked all the time. He was never really around because he was working. He came home late and left early. The younger of the two girls never even had a memory from before her mother died that included her father. It wasn't that he didn't want to be there. But a man had to work to pay the bills. Everyone knew that.
By the time the end of the year rolled around, the girls were 10 and 13. The oldest looked just like her mother. That was what did her in. Every time her father started to drink, he would hit her. He would hit her and kick her until she was just a broken pile of unconscious child. She lived the next year feeling like she was expendable. She was tossed around and yelled at almost daily. But that never stopped her from taking care of her younger sister. When her father’s car pulled in the driveway, she would send her up to bed and be waiting for him in the family room. Waiting for the pain. She always chose this room because it was the farthest from their bedroom. She didn't want her sister to hear, though she always did.
Finally June rolls around and her 14th birthday came. She got a homemade birthday card from her sister that said 'I love you' all over it. It was a small piece of paper folded in half and somehow she managed to write those words about a hundred times. The smile that appeared while opening the card was a memory that would last forever. What seemed like only minutes later her father came in and grabbed her by the back of her neck and brought her into her own bedroom. Then he brought in a scary looking man with black stains all over his clothes like he just came out from a garage. In the bedroom, she screamed, she cried, and then she was quiet. It seemed to last forever. Later that night she wouldn't talk. She didn't want to talk for a while after that, but it didn't stop the men from coming. Sometimes she would cry, but she still never talked about it. They all knew what was going on in that room. But what was the point of talking about it all. At least her father didn't hit her anymore. That was a good thing right?
When the girls were 14 and 17 they were pretty much used to everything that went on in the house. But something changed; the oldest child was practically an adult now. And she looked so much like her mother. She was almost a spitting image. Obviously a much younger, healthier version of what they all remembered, but she still had her mother’s face. Her father noticed this too. That is when the men stopped coming. For weeks it felt like they lived in an alternate universe, where the family is happy, and normal. The father didn't hit her, he didn't let the men come and take her in her room. He was actually nice to her. He bought her new clothing and even started to give her compliments. One night he even let her have some of the drink he was always drinking. That night, the oldest child took her mother’s place, in her fathers’ bed.
The oldest child no longer slept in the same room with her sister. No. She slept in her father’s room. She did all the things that her mother used to do. She slept with her father; she cleaned the house, took care of her sister and even wrote the checks for the bills. Until her father got laid off. There was no more work. The bills were going unpaid but he was still drinking. He drank and drank his days away until he finally snapped, again. And he went after the younger sister. He beat her, hard.
By now the oldest new exactly what was going to become of her baby sister. She knew this routine and where it led. She was not going to let this happen. She wouldn't let him ruin her. She told the little girl that before the father got back later that day, she was to run up the street and hide behind the school. She was to go there and stay there until there were a lot of lights at the house. She would know the lights when she saw them. The little girl was old enough to know what she was talking about; she was talking about police lights. She was going to kill him.
The afternoon was upon them and they knew it was time to go. They sat together for minutes not saying anything. Eventually the tears started flowing and they said their sad goodbyes. This day was going to turn out one of two ways. Either they would rid themselves of their terrible father. Or the oldest was sure to be killed. They knew someone was going to die. They just didn't know who. Until the lights started flashing outside.
Their father had gone off the road and crashed into a ditch. Finally their fathers drinking habit paid off for them. He was dead.
A New Beginning
That night they were taken to the hospital and when the police were done talking to them, and the doctors done running tests and taking pictures, they went to a group home to stay until the state could like up foster parents. The oldest child was finally free from the years of abuse. And the youngest slept the best she ever had, knowing that her sister was safe and that she wouldn't be the next victim of her fathers hatred. But when she woke up, she found out that it really was the end. Her sister was dead too. In the night her beloved sister had taken her own life. Though she didn't cry when she found out her father was dead, she couldn't help crying for her sister. She loved her sister and she wanted to be with her, especially now that they were free. But she knew that her big sister had nothing left, that she gave it all. She gave it all for her, to keep her safe. But now her father was gone. She would soon be in a new home. Her fight was over. She was ready to go be with her mother.
The youngest girl's name was Zandy. The oldest was Zoey. Growing up, Zandy's name was Sandy. Sandy knew that she would never have made it in this world without the protection and love of her sister. If her sister hadn't been there, it could have been her. She blamed it on the cancer for a long time. The cancer took her mother, which unleashed her father’s evil, which broke Zoey in every possible way. This left nothing left to rebuild of her. Because of this, Zoey had a very short life. 17 years was not a long time. She had a great life for the first 13 years. And if it hadn't been for the last 4, maybe Zoey would still be with us. Zoey lives on in Sandy. Sandy marked a new beginning, the days she accepted her past, by officially changing her name to Zandy. She has come to terms with her past, but she will never forget. Will you?
Zandy has grown to be an advocate for abused children. She is a foster mother who has 2 children in her care at the current time as well as 2 children of her own. Two girls, the oldest was named Zoey, after her sister. And though her children know that Zoey passed away as a child, they do not know why. Zandy is not sure when, or how, she is going to tell her girls about what Zoey did for her. But she knows that one day, they will know everything, and I am sure they will never forget.
Though Zoey is no longer able to speak out. Zandy has taken the chance to do it for her. The death of such a young child is never a good thing to hear about, or know. But it is easy to see that while Zoey was here on this earth, she stood for something. She made her mark. She protected her sister and did what she could to take care of her. Zoey is truly a hero. Thank you Zandy, for speaking out for your sister. For me, this story brought out so much emotion. I found myself in tears while talking to you as well as while I was writing it. You are such a strong woman, and so was your sister. I wish you and your family all the best.
As always, keep on the lookout for more articles for the Sex Workers Speak Out series coming soon from sex workers in all sectors. Ranging from Cam Girls, to Escorts, and more!