You are at home with all the things that are familiar to you. You have your family, your pets, your friends, and your belongings. Someone comes into the room and calls you by name, and you look up and answer. You are asked to run an errand with someone you love. You get in the passenger seat of the car. The one you love takes you on a drive to a place you have never seen before. You feel happy. Then you are told that you can never go back home. You may no longer use your name. Everything is lost to you. You will not see the rest of your family or your pets or your home ever again. All you have left is in the car with you. Everything else is gone. Everyone else is gone. This one moment changes your entire life.
“When I tell people that I was abducted as a child they put on a face of dread and concern. Then, when I tell them that my father was the abductor, I immediately hear a sigh of relief. But during any abduction, even if it is by a parent, a child is not just taken away from his parent(s)—the child is taken away from his entire life. A parent is supposed to look out for your best interest, care for you, and help you grow. A parent is supposed to teach you, nurture you, and put your safety first. It is not easy to put somebody else before you, but that is a job of a parent. But, when parents abduct their son or daughter, they forfeit their right as that child’s mother or father. They stop treating their child as a person, and instead, treat their child as a piece of property.
My father forfeited that right when he abducted me not only from my mother, but from my entire life. My father abducted me when I was 10 years old. My parents had been divorced for sometime. My mother had custody of me, and I was able to see my father on weekend visitations each month. From my parents’ divorce up until the time I was abducted, I struggled with deciding which parent was most important to me. At my young age, I didn’t understand what divorce was and thought that since my parents had separated, it made sense for me to choose who I liked the most. While living with my mother, I did chores, homework, ran errands, and had a bedtime. When I saw my Dad four times a month, I went to hockey games, played sports and video games, and watched all the TV I wanted. I had fun when I was with my father. To me, at age 10, it was an easy choice. I loved my father more than my mother. I never questioned whether my father loved me back just as much. A child is not supposed to question whether his parents love him or not.
When I was with my father, I didn’t have much to judge life on other than the presents I received and how much TV I got to watch. My father knew this. He also knew how to turn me against my mother. Subtly, my father would tell me that my mother didn’t want us to see each other and, more importantly, that my Dad would be put in jail if he didn’t pay child support. The only things I took away from this were that my mother was the bad guy, my Dad was the good guy, and that I needed to protect him from my mother. So, when my Dad came to me when I was 10 and told me he was going to run away because my Mom was having him put in jail, he asked me a very important question, “Do you want to come with me?” He told me that if I did not go with him that I would never get to see him again. So, I answered yes. And even though I thought I understood what was going on, I shortly learned that I didn’t.
My father paid for the abduction with money my parents saved for me to use for college. Once the money began to run out and the fun was waning, I realized something was wrong. Instead of going to hockey games, playing sports and video games, and watching all the TV I wanted, I was not in school and had no friends. I still got to play video games and watch TV in the apartment, but I wasn’t allowed to leave. At this point I realized that my reality was turned upside down and that my new reality was not one I wanted. This is when I realize that whether I chose to go with my father or if he took me, that what I was removed from was not just my mother, but my entire reality and life. I wasn’t allowed to use my real name any more. I had a life and a new past life that was full of lies that I had never witnessed before. The only thing I was in control of was the lies I could tell. I was not allowed to speak of my past. That included my mother, who I had to tell people was dead. Sam and his reality no longer existed. It was now Ben and his reality.
At one point, my father saw how scared I was and realized what was going on. He talked to me about it, asking me to tell him about how fearful I was of the situation and how much I missed being Sam and wanted to go back. His response was to give me money for a bus ticket and tell me that I could go home if I wanted to. I was 10 years old, in Sacramento,CA,while my home, Sam’s home, was in New Jersey. He knew I couldn’t leave. That is when I began to accept the fact that this was my new life,my new reality,and that I had no choice when I gave up my other life. When I went with my father, I didn’t know I was giving up everything. I thought I was going with my father. This is what was so devastating to me. I thought I was in a place being with a parent, but I wasn’t with my parent anymore. I was with somebody who took my life away from me and forced me to live a new one.
When I tell people that I was abducted by my father, after that sigh of relief, their next response is that they are thankful I was recovered and brought back to my mother. But just as quickly as I was taken from my life, my reality, and my mother, I was thrown right back into my life, my reality, and my mother. The problem was that when I was with my father, I had a new life and reality and did not have a mother. The recovery process felt like I was abducted for a second time. Even though during my abduction I finally felt like something was wrong and wanted to go back, once I returned, I could not go back to being the same person. The major change for my family and friends was that I was abducted and I was missing. Now that I was home, everything should have gone back to normal. That was far from the truth then and is still today. I may have been missing from my friends and family, but every single part of my life was also missing. I was separated from everything I knew and was forced to create a new life for myself. When I was missing, lying became my life, so naturally once I returned home that is all I did. My trust and love were abused by the one
person who I was supposed to trust to take care of me. And throughout this ordeal, I asked myself:
If my father didn’t care about me, why should anybody else? So, I shut down and didn’t trust anybody. My entire reality and support network was obliterated when my father decided to abduct me. So when I was home with my mother, my parent who I was brainwashed to hate, I experienced my loved parent’s deceit and felt alone. After 7 years of struggling to find out who I am, I realize I can’t. I can’t figure out who I am because I am not finished growing. There is so much more to a person than the music he likes or the clothing he wears. All I know is, for the first time in my life, I can respond with the confident answer of at least a name. I am Sam.”