For most of my life, I was in denial that my dad was a sick child molester, to say the least. He "groomed" me well and I played the role of "daddy's little girl" well into my adulthood. But as I have slowly but surely come to realize and accept that he did sexually violate me around the age of four*1, memories of his other obscenity that I've discounted keep surfacing. They seem to serve as evidence that my family was dysfunctional even before my first memory of my father's crime and that it was not just in my mind.
- My Naked Baby Photos
- Porn Magazines, Not Well Hidden
- Bootleg Porn Videos
- Penthouse Memorabilia in the Basement
- The Candid Trip to a Pornography Bookstore
- Invasive Visual Recording
- SNS Request from a "Pornographic Novelist"
My Naked Baby Photos
When I was a child, I could never point a finger at why I felt so uncomfortable looking at the thick heavy hard-cover album that was dedicated to my early childhood. Almost all of the photos were taken by my father who also curated them.
The first few pages included images of me right after birth, me crawling or sitting up with an innocent blissful smile, and close-up shots of my private parts while I was getting my diapers changed.
As a child looking at the photos, it was hard to believe that the blissful smiles once belonged to me. I understand now, that the images felt so foreign because, by that time, I had already been molested by my father. I was no longer innocent, and had deep confusion about happiness, even though I was in denial that it was just a nightmare. *2
The close-up shots of my exposed lower part of the body made me feel even more uncomfortable. I didn't want those photos in the album; it was embarrassing to look at. But I couldn't express my feelings and thought that there must be something wrong with me that I felt that way.
Now, taking photos of their own naked babies may be something normal parents do, but we are talking about my father here. He had heaps of porn magazines, videos, and other mediums; some hidden and some in plain sight, all over the house and beyond.
Porn Magazines, Not Well Hidden
I was four or five when I discovered his porn for the first time.
On the kitchen counter was a homemade cake with a whipped cream frosting and when my mother asked me sternly, "Did you stick your finger in it?" I lied for the first time in my life.
"I've never taught you to be a lier!" she yelled, slapped my face, and grounded me in a closet upstairs. I cried. It was dark inside and the door was unlocked but I was too afraid to come out. So I turned on the lights. On a shelf, I saw some images from beneath a cloth and found stacks of magazines with scantily-clad female figures with facial expressions that displayed excruciation. At that moment, my sobbing stopped, and I came to my senses.
So, dad gets away with these secret hobbies of his, and I get punished for lying, just as he did after molesting me? You couldn't protect me when I needed help the most, was gullible enough to be fooled by him*3, and now you assert the role of a responsible parent, with violence? You say you never taught me to be a liar, but your husband of choice did, and I saw it made you happy.
This deep sense of distrust toward my mother struck me hard although I didn't even know all the words to describe it back then.
The whole incident confirmed my father's lie but it didn't encourage me to tell the truth to my mother especially now after seeing how she might react and how it might affect the family. It was also easier to hate on my mother instead because she had a short temper and gave us corporal punishment in the name of discipline. There was also the risk that she wouldn't believe me anyway. The distrust ran deep.
As time went by, it was either that the father got more careless about where he left his pornography, or I became aware of them more as I grew up, or both.
He started leaving new editions of Japanese porn magazines on the floor under the toilet paper holder in the bathroom that everyone used. The bathroom was located between the master bedroom and the children's bedroom. This was the same bathroom I ran into to escape my father's molestation.
There were also heaps of porn magazines and sexually violent comic books inside the deep drawer of this work desk. One day, I noticed that the drawer was off the rail. I wondered if it got broken because he used it so often or if he broke it on purpose so that it was difficult to open, but the sight of it was ever so pitiful.
Bootleg Porn Videos
My father used to make copies of videos to rent out to his customers at the convenience store he owned and operated. Most were Japanese TV programs but some were porn. My parents had a tower of multiple VHS recorders in their bedroom and my mother made labels with a word processor. I don't know if she had to make the labels for porn too but I was aware that my father highlighted the porn video labels with a pink marker to differentiate them from the rest and displayed them on the lower left shelf of his store.
Penthouse Memorabilia in the Basement
There was a square, mirrored plate that leaned on a shelf in the dark damp basement boiler room. It had an image of only the breasts of a woman and capital letters that read "penthouse." I didn't need to know that it was some kind of memorabilia from the British porn magazine to get a strange feeling from its presence. I couldn't understand what purpose it was serving other than collecting dust. When I went down there, it was usually with my mother to hang our underwear for drying. I wondered what my mother thought of it, and couldn't understand why she didn't do anything about it.
One summer, I was startled when my mother suddenly scolded my father, "Ugh! I can't believe you're peeping into your daughter's shirt!" My father looked away sheepishly. I was still an elementary student, maybe fifth or sixth grade, and don't think my breasts were forming yet but I immediately felt embarrassed. It felt weird that my father was looking at me in a way that even made my mother react so repulsively.
The Candid Trip to a Pornography Bookstore
When I was a college student in my early to mid-twenties, I remember walking with my father in the Jimbocho area in Tokyo, which is known for various kinds of book stores. All of a sudden, without any warning, he led me inside an ascending elevator. When the door opened, he disappeared somewhere, and I found myself alone in the middle of a pornography bookstore. I just froze in confusion. Where did he go? Why are we here? What am I supposed to do? It wasn't that long before he came back, and he might have said that he needed to use the restroom or something like that, but I was too shocked to remember if he actually said anything. It was all just creepy descending on the elevator and I don't remember anything that happened afterward.
The only thing I sensed was that my father is a regular of that bookstore, doesn't think twice about taking his daughter to a place like that, and doesn't have the courtesy to give her an option to wait somewhere else.
Invasive Visual Recording
I was thirty when I visited my parents in their new home in Hawaii. When I looked into my father's camera as he was showing me photos that he took, there was a close-up photo of my butt when I was swimming on the nearby beach. In Japanese, he said something to the effect of "oops," which indicates that he was aware that it was wrong. However, he didn't apologize to me directly and acted as if it was an accident. But it was a close-up shot, it was not an accident. I felt disgusted.
SNS Request from a "Pornographic Novelist"
One day, I received a connection request on Linkedin from my father. His profile stated that he was a "Pornographic Novelist." It brought back memories when he had a clipboard of Japanese manuscript papers with erotic stories written on them, in plain sight. A glimpse of it was enough for me to know that it was erotic because it was mostly tilde or wave dashes, which he used to express panting and moaning. It was pathetic.
I had already been blocking him on my Facebook account for contaminating my pages with his photos and comments. Perhaps he thought he found a new avenue to get in touch with me, but without any hesitation, I ignored his request.