"You aren't responsible for what happened to your brother, Sebastian. You have to stop blaming yourself for a situation that was well out of your hands." My therapist, Jake, tells me. He doesn't realize that there were times when I could've done something to prevent my father from hurting Leroy, but chose not to.
To say that I was helpless is a boldfaced lie; I saw what was going on between the two of them, and yet I turned a blind eye. I told myself that because Leroy was older and more mature than me that he should be able to take care of himself. But he had been affected by the abuse in ways that I could only begin to imagine. I remember one time in particular. It was more recently and to this day, I still feel guilty for the way I acted.
He and Randy had been arguing earlier that day. Randy hit Leroy until he was badly bruised and his arms were too heavy to fight what was happening. He lie on the floor beneath Randy who, at a staggering 6'5", was three inches taller than Leroy and outweighed him by at least one hundred and fifty pounds. The pressure of Randy's body against his was too much for Leroy to handle. Randy unbuttoned his pants and he began desperately trying to break free, wriggling and writhing as much as his sore muscles would allow, but it was to no avail. Randy had him trapped.
He turned his head to face me in a desperate last attempt. "Help me." He begged. I couldn't. I stood there frozen, unsure of what to do. I was afraid of my father and what he would do to me if I came between him and Leroy. Even though I knew this had been going on for entirely too long, that the minutes had slowly ticked away into hours and, knowing my father, it would continue long into the night, I didn't want to risk him being mad at me. I shook my head and took a step toward the door. Leroy let out a strangled sob. He realized then that whatever else Randy had in store for him, he was going to suffer through it alone.
And I think, as much as it killed him, Leroy was fearful of Randy and what his advances would lead to. Not that he didn't already have a good idea; he had relived the same nightmare over and over but each time was worse than the time before it, a fact that I was well aware of myself. The pain became fresh in his mind and he had to force himself not to dwell on old memories, otherwise he would break down and the overwhelming surge of emotions would become unbearable.
I understood, and I felt sorry for him, but there was nothing I could do about it. I watched as Leroy struggled to hold his zipper closed and backed out of the room without uttering a single word. This wasn't my battle, I told myself. It wasn't my place to get involved.
But like every time before then I thought that if only I had done something, even if it was going to the police or another responsible adult, things would have turned out differently. Leroy wouldn't have hurt me or our brothers and sisters. He wouldn't have had a reason to. But he had and I was partially to blame. Ever since we were younger, I watched without saying anything as my father took advantage of him. I never offered to help Leroy when he had been beaten to a pulp or when Randy grabbed him roughly and touched him in inappropriate places. And that's what made me just as guilty as they were. I could've done something, but I didn't.
What Jake and everybody else failed to realize was that there was only a two year age difference between us. And for as grown up as he could be at times, Leroy really wasn't any older than I was. He needed somebody he could depend on. A brother or a friend. Neither of which I was.