Yoel Diaz Barzaga*
HAVANA TIMES — Yusei was sexually abused when she was thirteen. At that age, she already had a statuesque, voluptuous body. Charged with a sensuality that had been awakened prematurely, the child turned the heads of every man who walked past her.
As is often the case, the man who abused her was someone close to the family: a neighbor over 30 who pretended to have an interest in the mother but who had actually set his sights on the daughter. With gifts, deceit and false fatherly love, he was able to avoid the suspicions of the mother and the community.
He made a habit of picking her up at school and helping her with her most intimate problems. She and her brother thought they had found an exemplary step-father.
Though he didn’t move in with the mother (because of how small the tenement apartment was), he was often in the house – warming up lunch and even washing the clothes of his new-found family.
The way he got worked up by any flirtatious comments addressed to the girl or any attempts to court her by her classmates and others began to raise concerns and suspicions in everyone – save the mother.
She began to spend less and less time with her father, whom she would see only because the mother would put her on a bus and send her off to his house on weekends, once a month. The stepfather cleverly stepped in to replace the father in his role.
As often happens, the mother left work early one day and caught the two in the act. The most shameful part of the story is that the person the mother confronted was her daughter Yusei, who threatened to kill herself if she pressed charges against the step father with the police. Of course, she didn’t. She lacked the courage to do so. No one knows for certain if the abuse continued afterwards or not.
Cuban legislation is fairly strict in these cases, handing down long prison sentences for rapists. Even if the perpetrator offers to marry the minor to restore the family’s honor, if the parents do not consent to this, he will go to prison. Inmates serving time for such repulsive crimes tend to have a hard time in prison as well.
The rapist went unpunished. Today, he walks the streets freely and may be stalking a new prey. The girl, who lost all prestige in the neighborhood, continued at school. The mother was so traumatized by the incident that she never again remarried. Today, she languishes in the same tenement apartment, sad and crestfallen.
In time, Yusei made a career for herself. Today, she is married and lives in a different neighborhood. Next to no one remembers the incident that caused so much shock in the neighborhood for many weeks, save for the oldest. The neighborhood has changed a lot, as has the country.
We recently talked and she seems happy in her relationship, which she claims to love and take care of with all her strength. She is now 27. Her husband is 58.
The man who abused her must have left some unconscious mark in her, something which makes her seek older men.
Many women say they like mature men. They insist they have no patience for the foolishness of young, inexperienced men.
I am no psychologist, but something must have happened to this girl. According to people who know more about the incident, she had been involved with her step-father for nearly a year. How much of an impact could this have had on her?
Evidently, she didn’t trust her mother enough to confide in her and avoid what happened. We parents must make our children trust us fully so that they will be able to avoid Yusei’s fate. The fact it happened with the girl’s consent makes it no less terrible.
(*) Yoel Diaz Barzaga, 45, lives in Havana and is the chief financial officer of a research center.