Family secrets

Mariceu Erthal Garcia

2020 - Ongoing

On the same day of the birth of my sister, the youngest of my 5 sisters, another sister was sexually abused. 7 years later also that newborn was abused constantly for 5 years, we did not know of either abuse until many years later. Both attempted suicide as teenagers, one with rat poison and the other with pills.

I keep engraved in my memory the day that my high school friends and I formed a circle and sat on the grass and made a round of confessions, that afternoon they all said they had been sexually abused by one of their relatives, one of my best friends by her brother, another by her grandfather and another by a neighbor.

Another day that remained marked in my memories was when my sister was raped, and I only remember hiding under some iron sheets so they wouldn't abuse me too. I was 4 years old and my brain has doubted in many ways if my sister's abuser also managed to reach me, although the only thing I remember is that dark place and my scared mind hiding.

Mexico ranks first in child sexual abuse worldwide, according to the SOS Children's Villages organization, and 60% of these aggressions come from a family member or person close to the family. This is only an estimate because only 2 percent of the crimes are reported due to children's guilt and fear.

During the pandemic, calls requesting help for domestic violence and abuse increased 80%, since in most of these cases the abuser is at home, according to the same organization.

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  • My mother's hands holding a plant from her garden. When I asked her if she had ever been abused, even though I already had an intuitive answer. She said yes, but that she preferred to bury those memories.

  • "I'm hidden between sheets obscuring my dirty knees and cowering on the floor. "Don't make noise" my mind whispers to me. I hear footsteps outside, everything blurs. " Selfportrati.

  • "I spoke to my sister about the abuse for the first time, I told her that I wanted to portrait her and to ask about what happened. Out of shame or not knowing how to handle my words in the face of her injuries, I had never asked her. She told me how she felt at that time, when she couldn’t take it anymore and it exploded, my father told her that she would be paid by a psychologist, the next day he forgot it. My mom tearfully told her to bury him, to pretend it never happened."

  • "I went out to turn off the light on the terrace and observed the river in the distance, my eyes were slow to recognize it in its darkness, drowned in its loneliness and meaninglessness, that was his ending."

    Portrait to the river that is next to my house, after the drowning of a drug addict from my street.

  • "When I was a child everyone wanted to touch me, the first time I was abused I was 6 years old, it was my neighbor's son. When I was 8 years old my mother sent me to ask the neighbor for money when we had nothing to eat, when I went he told me that just for touching me he was well paid. When I was 15 years old I was kidnapped, to this day from time to time I meet my abuser, he lives a few streets away from my house, he put me to sleep and put me in a car when I was walking through a vacant lot, I woke up with him on top of me, I managed to run away, the authorities said they could not do anything against him because he did not penetrate me." Iara's words.

  • Portrait of Iara, during the time she was abused. Family file photo. “I’m going to insert a stick in you, it’s going to hurt a little bit, don’t scream”.

  • "I myself would go to the store for the piña colada yogurt, I don't remember/understand, why he always asked for the same flavor, otherwise he was the one who drank it. When he asked me to go buy it, it was a hidden message to me, it meant that when he came back he would spend the next few minutes in his room. Yogurt was his proposal to my excuse: "I don't like the way it tastes, it makes me sick". For many years I avoided piña colada because of all the memories it carried"
    Reyna was sexually abused by a close family member from the age of 7 to 12, at 16 she attempted suicide with rat poison.

  • Portrait of Reyna, during the time she was abused. Family file photo.

  • Self-portrait. "My cousin touched my breasts, they were like raisins. His touch woke me up, the discomfort of that touch made me get up. I went to the bathroom, when I came back I lay down on the other end of the bed. I said nothing, my mind was also of sweets and raisins.