At fourteen-years-old, my friend who I treated as my little sister started an inappropriate relationship with an old man. I'm not calling him an old man because I didn't like him back then. He was an old man. If I had to guess he was in his seventies, maybe late sixties, when my friend started a "relationship" with this man.
My school friends included siblings who were around the same age group. We all treated each other as family. The moment my young friend started walking onto a weird life path, I was powerless to help. Her family told me to keep my mouth shut.
In high school, I was ahead of the other students. Most of the students in my classes was a few years older than me. But there was one guy who was twenty-one years old.
He was that student who failed a few times and thought it was cool.
Seeing my friends lounging with the 21-year old man on their front porch was shocking. I was furious.
That was one time I wasn't going to keep my mouth shut.
Angry with me for speaking out, my friend's little sister became violent. She was fourteen at the time.
After our altercation, I stopped speaking to her and we were no longer friends, but I missed her. The fact that no one else spoke up that night was upsetting and showed me that we weren't family after all.
Not too long after the altercation, I saw my friend's sister walking down the street with an old man.
At first, I didn't think too much of it.
He could have been a relative that I'd never met before. Yet, I realized he wasn't a relative. My ex-friend was spending a lot of alone time with this old man.
I asked my best friend about it and she said they were friends. I talked to my boyfriend about it and he said there was nothing he could do if her mother didn't say anything.
I felt helpless.
I knew the situation was wrong but I was a kid myself; I didn't know what to do.
A few months later, my ex-friend was pregnant.
I cried for a long time the day I found out. My friend, who I'd known for years and cared for like my sister was pregnant. She was pregnant by a man old enough to be her grandfather, and I couldn't do anything about it.
Years later, she and I patched together the gaping hole in our relationship.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to put us back to being as close as we once were. Her daughter was an angry child and grew up to be an angry adult. I've always suspected her anger stemmed from her feeling unwanted as a child.
My friend always kept her daughter at an arm's length and I always felt like it was because she was a child of rape. After all, that's what it was. No fourteen-year-old child can consent to a relationship with an elderly man.
The old man died of natural causes, and the person I once cherished is now addicted to pills.
If an adult had stepped in to help my friend, her miserable life could've had a happier outcome.
I used to feel incredible guilt because I didn't do something to stop her, but I realized I was a child myself. My hope now is that my friend gets the help that she needs to heal her family.