I Am Clare Hreschak's Daughter - just one more story of childhood abuse
This was originally posted on April 5, 2013 on a blog I created specifically to house this story. There, you can find hundreds of replies and a few follow up posts as this story went viral due to Clare's role as a school teacher.
This is my attempt at finding some justice in a system that makes it near impossible for an adult child of a child abuser to seek recourse against her perpetrator.
I Am Clare Hreschak’s Daughter
In the aftermath of the most horrific mass shooting our country has ever seen, a courageous woman wrote about her own nightmare and burden, comparing herself to the slain mother of a mass murderer. The article, entitled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” blew a hole through our fractured mental health system. Her intent, as I understood it, was to show the world that, despite all of her attempts to seek help, the “system” continues to fail her and she is frightened – very frightened – of her own son. And she wants help.
Monsters really do live in closets.
I am Clare Hreschak’s daughter. I, too, have sought help. My first therapy session was at age 13. By 35, I had seen over a dozen psychotherapists and psychiatrists. I’ve had more diagnoses than fingers. But there is one constant diagnosis with regards to my ill functioning brain – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I once begged to be checked in to a psychiatric hospital. In 2012, I was eligible to participate in a drug trial at The National Institute for Mental Health in DC, where I stayed as an inpatient for four months. Why? Because as a child, I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused at the hands of a woman – my mother.
For the sake of this story, I am referring to my mother by her current married name. Before Hreschak, she was Mallino, and before Mallino, she was Agnolucci. My mother is a public school teacher, currently teaching middle school children at Palm Springs Community Middle School (formerly, Jefferson Davis Middle School) in West Palm Beach, Florida. Yes, I’m outing her. Because, despite the crimes of which she made me a victim, she also had sex with a sixteen year old boy when I was fifteen years old, in our home. I was there, with my boyfriend at the time. There was an investigation, but nothing ever came of it. She continued to teach and still does to this day.
I was abused on a daily basis, but because this is not a book, I will stick to the most damaging atrocities. Between the ages of eight and ten, every weekend, my mother forced me to visit her pool- hall junkie boyfriend, a man by the name of Jimmy Reid, whose living situation consisted of various cheap motel rooms. During those visits, I was forced to watch Jimmy and my mother have sex. In fact, that’s all they did. It was a curious situation – every motel room Jimmy rented only had one bed. I had few options: either sit on the same bed where they were having sex, sit in a chair that faced the bed where they were having sex, or hide in the bathroom. I can remember instances while hiding in the bathroom, my mother calling out, “what are you doing in there” – as if to say, “Why aren’t you out here watching us fuck?” Beyond the sex, their interactions were always sexually gratuitous – it was normal for Jimmy to grab my mother’s vagina while kissing her good-bye.
On the car ride home from several of these sexual exploits, my mother would find a reason to scream at me, I had engaged in some imaginary wrong doing that would cause her to become irate. My punishment was my mother flooring the gas pedal as we traveled down a busy road and her threatening to “slam the car into a brick wall and kill us both”. I believed, without a doubt, that my own mother was going to murder me.
What makes this situation a purposeful crime against my innocence is that during these years, my mother and I lived with my grandparents. There was no logical reason I had to join my mother to these motel rooms and watch her have sex. She could have easily left me with my grandparents. This is sexual abuse – at the hands of a woman.
Along with the sexual abuse, my mother was violently physically abusive. She has punched me in the face and blackened my eyes – to which I was instructed to go to school and tell people that I accidentally “ran into the stationary bicycle”. I was strangled on a number of occasions and once again, instructed to lie when I went to school. This time, it was a “sun rash”. Many times my mother publicly dragged me by my hair down the street as I screamed for help, but no one ever came. I was beaten more times than I can count with wooden salad spoons and told that if I cried, she would beat me more. I was slapped, back-handed, knuckles protruding, on a regular basis. Her knuckle bones seemed as round as globes. I was forced to sit on my knees, facing a corner, for hours. I am embarrassed to admit that I was beaten numerous times for not being able to have a bowel movement every day when I was a little girl.