In his new autobiography Whenever I Wind Up, Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey revealed that he was sexually abused as a child by his teenage babysitter and an older teenage boy:
In the book, “Wherever I Wind Up,” Dickey says he was 8 years old when a 13-year-old female babysitter began sexually abusing him.
”The babysitter chucks the pillows and stuffed animals out of the way,” Dickey wrote. “She looks at me and says, ‘Get in the bed.’ I am confused and afraid. I am trembling. The babysitter has her way with me four or five more times that summer, and into the fall, and each time feels more wicked than the time before.
“Every time that I know I’m going back over there, the sweat starts to come back. I sit in the front seat of the car, next to my mother, anxiety surging. I never tell her why I am so afraid. I never tell anyone until I am 31 years old.”
In a separate incident, Dickey says a teenage male also sexually assaulted him. Dickey was 8 years old and alone playing a game with a tennis ball in a secluded area.
“There is just submission and so much sadness,” Dickey wrote. “I can’t do anything. I close my eyes and wait for it to be over.”
He went on to say:
“Part of being sexually abused is you feel like you’re damaged,” Dickey said yesterday. “You feel like if people knew the truth you would be looked at in a certain light or you would be broken and fractured, so you don’t risk it, and that’s one of the things I wish I would have done better.
“But I just didn’t possess the equipment or the vocabulary to do that well with [Anne] and it cost me. It was tough on our marriage for a long time, so when I told her, and she loved me despite the ugliest parts of my life, it really did a lot for our relationship.”
When people tell victims of sexual abuse to get over it, they do not realize how much sexual abuse impacts a person’s life. Getting over it is about as easy as removing a scar. It might fade with time, maybe even physically disappear, but the person always knows it is there.
Abuse changes how people not only view others, but how they view themselves. Even if the abuser does not play with the person’s head, the person may think there was something about them that made them a target, that they deserved it, or that they are permanently broken.
Those fears work their way through people’s lives and relationships, and that is the true tragedy. It is not just the one or handful of events, but the underlying distrust and betrayal that keeps people stuck in that pain.
It was very brave of Dickey to share his experiences. The sports community is not known for its compassion for others, and this sort of vulnerability could easily be thrown back in Dickey’s face. However, by coming forward, particularly as a sports star, this may help others to break their silence, even if it is only telling a close friend or relative.