This was originally posted on April 5, 2013 on a blog I created specifically to house this story. There, you can find hundreds of replies and a few follow up posts as this story went viral due to Clare's role as a school teacher.
This is my attempt at finding some justice in a system that makes it near impossible for an adult child of a child abuser to seek recourse against her perpetrator.
Clare Hreschak’s (my mother) mugshot for her Domestic Battery Arrest in 2000. She slammed her husband’s arm repeatedly in a door.
I Am Clare Hreschak’s Daughter
In the aftermath of the most horrific mass shooting our country has ever seen, a courageous woman wrote about her own nightmare and burden, comparing herself to the slain mother of a mass murderer. The article, entitled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” blew a hole through our fractured mental health system. Her intent, as I understood it, was to show the world that, despite all of her attempts to seek help, the “system” continues to fail her and she is frightened – very frightened – of her own son. And she wants help.
Monsters really do live in closets.
I am Clare Hreschak’s daughter. I, too, have sought help. My first therapy session was at age 13. By 35, I had seen over a dozen psychotherapists and psychiatrists. I’ve had more diagnoses than fingers. But there is one constant diagnosis with regards to my ill functioning brain – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I once begged to be checked in to a psychiatric hospital. In 2012, I was eligible to participate in a drug trial at The National Institute for Mental Health in DC, where I stayed as an inpatient for four months. Why? Because as a child, I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused at the hands of a woman – my mother.
For the sake of this story, I am referring to my mother by her current married name. Before Hreschak, she was Mallino, and before Mallino, she was Agnolucci. My mother is a public school teacher, currently teaching middle school children at Palm Springs Community Middle School (formerly, Jefferson Davis Middle School) in West Palm Beach, Florida. Yes, I’m outing her. Because, despite the crimes of which she made me a victim, she also had sex with a sixteen year old boy when I was fifteen years old, in our home. I was there, with my boyfriend at the time. There was an investigation, but nothing ever came of it. She continued to teach and still does to this day.
I was abused on a daily basis, but because this is not a book, I will stick to the most damaging atrocities. Between the ages of eight and ten, every weekend, my mother forced me to visit her pool- hall junkie boyfriend, a man by the name of Jimmy Reid, whose living situation consisted of various cheap motel rooms. During those visits, I was forced to watch Jimmy and my mother have sex. In fact, that’s all they did. It was a curious situation – every motel room Jimmy rented only had one bed. I had few options: either sit on the same bed where they were having sex, sit in a chair that faced the bed where they were having sex, or hide in the bathroom. I can remember instances while hiding in the bathroom, my mother calling out, “what are you doing in there” – as if to say, “Why aren’t you out here watching us fuck?” Beyond the sex, their interactions were always sexually gratuitous – it was normal for Jimmy to grab my mother’s vagina while kissing her good-bye.
On the car ride home from several of these sexual exploits, my mother would find a reason to scream at me, I had engaged in some imaginary wrong doing that would cause her to become irate. My punishment was my mother flooring the gas pedal as we traveled down a busy road and her threatening to “slam the car into a brick wall and kill us both”. I believed, without a doubt, that my own mother was going to murder me.
What makes this situation a purposeful crime against my innocence is that during these years, my mother and I lived with my grandparents. There was no logical reason I had to join my mother to these motel rooms and watch her have sex. She could have easily left me with my grandparents. This is sexual abuse – at the hands of a woman.
Along with the sexual abuse, my mother was violently physically abusive. She has punched me in the face and blackened my eyes – to which I was instructed to go to school and tell people that I accidentally “ran into the stationary bicycle”. I was strangled on a number of occasions and once again, instructed to lie when I went to school. This time, it was a “sun rash”. Many times my mother publicly dragged me by my hair down the street as I screamed for help, but no one ever came. I was beaten more times than I can count with wooden salad spoons and told that if I cried, she would beat me more. I was slapped, back-handed, knuckles protruding, on a regular basis. Her knuckle bones seemed as round as globes. I was forced to sit on my knees, facing a corner, for hours. I am embarrassed to admit that I was beaten numerous times for not being able to have a bowel movement every day when I was a little girl.
As for the emotional abuse, she spewed it out as if she were vomiting up spoiled food. I am my father, I will grow up to be nothing, I am useless and ugly. One Christmas, she refused to purchase a Christmas tree or presents, but offered to pay for a nose job. This was her way, once again, to beat down and crush my already fragile self esteem. If I made an A- on a test, I was berated because it wasn’t an A+. As punishment, she took scissors to all of the clothes in my closet. She cut and cut until there was nothing left. She cut until there was nothing left of me.
My final beating occurred when I was fifteen. My mother leapt from a chair, grabbed me by my hair, tossed me to the ground face-first, forced her knee into the small of my back and proceeded to slam my face numerous times against the floor. As she did this, she screamed, “I’m going to kill you”. I was fifteen and thought, finally, my life is over. Finally.
It was at that moment I was able to escape. I ran away and lived on the streets of Florida for six months. I’ll spare you the sad stories of what a fifteen year old girl sometimes has to do in order to not sleep in a park bathroom. (Something I’ve actually done.) But I lived. And at sixteen, the father I never knew flew to Florida and put me on a plane to Pittsburgh, where I lived until I was eighteen.
As for my mother, I have never spoken to her again. During the years she abused me, I was summoned to the school office once and asked about my home life situation. I lied. I lied because I was terrified of what my mother would do if she found out I told them the truth. During those years, not a single family member stepped in to rescue me. Now that I’m older, and no longer under my mother’s thumb, I have no way of prosecuting her for her crimes. The justice system surrounding adult children of child abusers is a fractured system. The statute of limitations removes the possibility of prosecution once an adult is willing and able to confront the crimes caused by our perpetrators. The bruises are gone. All that remains is a brain injury. Adult children of child abusers are the only group of victims told to “forgive” their perpetrators without any real justice served. My mother will never see the inside of a jail cell. She continues on with her life, now remarried and with a son who is about to graduate high school. I’ve made several attempts to contact him and make him aware that if he ever needs a place to run, that my door is always open to him.
Unfortunately, my life has not continued. I am still my mother’s prisoner. I am Clare Hreschak’s daughter. I do not leave the confines of my bedroom. I have tried and taken more psychotropics than I can count. I’ve been to therapy. I’ve seen the bleached white walls of psychiatric institutions. I don’t sleep. I am unable to properly convey to the best man in the world, my husband, just how much I love him. I am emotionally absent yet filled to the brim with resentment toward a system that does not acknowledge the crimes that were made against me, crimes that severed part of me and now I stumble around as if I have a phantom limb. I can feel that part of me that is missing. I am a phantom person. But now I’m ready for as many people to know who this phantom person is: I am Clare Hreschak’s Daughter.
I do not want anyone’s pity. I want, what I believe many adult children of child abusers want – acknowledgement. I can no longer carry this abuse around in silence. If the current justice system is unable to acknowledge the fact that I have been a victim of numerous crimes at the hands of my own mother, then I feel that I’ve been forced to create my own justice. That justice, for me, is to OUT the sadistic and dangerous criminal slithering about her community, working at your public schools, and still abusing.
My mother is Clare Hreschak. Clare Mallino. Clare Agnolucci. And I am her daughter.
I am also including a Q & A I posted to the blog and my personal FB account, from a skeptic who seemed to want clarification regarding *why* I posted such accusations for the world to see. However, I am no longer answering these types of questions. I do not need to defend my actions. I am an abuse survivor – the proof of this lies in a brain injury I now have called PTSD. Although I, and many other respectable doctors, adopt the more appropriate diagnosis of Complex PTSD- a term coined by Dr. Judith Herman. My diagnosis is recognized by the many doctors I’ve seen, The National Institute of Mental Health where I was an inpatient for four months, and the Federal Government who issues me a monthly Disability check.
While I can applaud her bravery for coming forth with her story I have to question why she waited so many years to do it, especially since she seems so set on outing her now to the public and so concerned about the emails from past students. Don’t you think if she had done this many years ago it would have spared the students who have had her as a teacher in the past 20 years or anyone else she may have had an inappropriate relationship with since then?? I fully understand that people who have suffered any kind of abuse such as what she went through need time to heal and be able to share their story, but I’ve also read where she said the justice system fails adult victims like her but I have to wonder how that applies here and whether she ever tried to take any action against her mother before now and if so what and why wasn’t anything done. Sure, it is a hard story to prove now that she is an adult, but back then?? If she was seeing therapists from the age of 13 who took her to the visits? Her pedophile mother? Did she disclose any of what was really going on in her life with her therapist and if so why didn’t they take any action against this woman who was allowed access to different children year after year being a teacher. I don’t know how as a mother herself, she could have slept peacefully all these years knowing that someone like that got off scott-free and could be repeating the same stomach wrenching story all over again with her new son. I admit I was beyond disgusted when I read her story, and I too had her for 7th grade English and have negative memories of her class, but unlike everybody who was quick to share the story all over the place I was uneasy at the thought of it, and I question the motives behind why her daughter felt the need all of a sudden to out her 59 year old mother in the manner that she did….unless she is as she said just seeking her own form of justice now. I’m sure her mother was pretty close to retiring and this is her karma for what she put her through all of those years. I just feel like something should have been done way before now. Like when she moved away with her dad at the age of 15 why weren’t charges filed way back then?? If anyone knows more than I do about all of it I would love to know, Rachel seems to be on top of replying to comments people have made concerning her story. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to know more details and she is pretty much obliged to answer after posting something of that nature. I am not in any way against Rachel I would just like to know more details before I share.
Rachel Mallino says:
I’m going to do my best to answer your questions, one by one. I have put your statements in quotation marks. My replies are indicated with ~
“I have to question why she waited so many years to do it, especially since she seems so set on outing her now to the public and so concerned about the emails from past students.”
~ I’m not sure how familiar you are with child abuse and furthermore, sexual child abuse. As you can see, my story is not “typical”. I was never “touched”. I was forced, for two years, to watch my mother have sex in cheap motel rooms. It wasn’t until I saw an amazing therapist in Boca Raton (at the age of 24) , the first to whom I actually admitted the abuse, who explained to me that this was “sexual abuse”. With regards to those who have suffered childhood sexual abuse, there is a lot of shame surrounding the instances. With myself, and I know with others who have experienced sexual abuse, one feels as if they were a “willing participant”. It sounds very strange, but that is the type of warped damage sexual abuse inflicts upon its victims. I was ashamed and embarrassed for years. My life has been filled with chronic depression and debilitating anxiety. My goal, during those years, was to simply “survive”. I have been in therapy for years, and even spent a four month stint last year at the National Institute for Mental Health, with the hopes that I may find a way to help heal and overcome my chronic PTSD and Depression. It has taken me this long to finally feel comfortable with my story and being able to share, not only with professionals, but with family, friends, and now the world.
~ As for emails from past students, I simply offered them a platform because I had received so many comments and emails on facebook from former and current students and parents, that I felt I was doing a good deed to these children by offering them a platform. Especially since the administration at PSMS seemed to have consistently failed them. I had no other MO. In fact, my story is not about my mother “the teacher”, my story is about my mother “the child abuser” and my search for acknowledgment, healing, closure, and my own form of justice.
“If she was seeing therapists from the age of 13 who took her to the visits? Her pedophile mother? Did she disclose any of what was really going on in her life with her therapist and if so why didn’t they take any action against this woman who was allowed access to different children year after year being a teacher.”
~ Yes, my pedophilic mother did. It seems like you are implying “why” – so I will answer. My mother took me to see a therapist at 13 because, and this is extremely embarrassing to admit, I was hiding blood stained panties under my mattresses. My mother used to scream and back-hand me, when I was menstruating, if I got blood on my panties by accident. In order to avoid her terror, I hid them beneath my mattress and she, of course, found them. That is when she decided to take me to a therapist. During those sessions, I barely spoke of anything due to the fear of my mother finding out that I had “told on her”. My mother was always invited into our sessions during the last 15 minutes in order to “review” what was talked about. I’m sure you can see why I never uttered a word, as I was extremely fearful of the consequences of her finding out that I had spoken up. It would have resulted in a severe beating, of her choice . That includes punching me in the face, back-handing me, being strangled, whipped with a wooden salad spoon or forced to sit on my knees in a corner for hours. And, as an aside – this same therapist requested that my mother start seeing her separately, at which point, my mother took me out of therapy.
“I don’t know how as a mother herself, she could have slept peacefully all these years knowing that someone like that got off scott-free and could be repeating the same stomach wrenching story all over again with her new son.”
~ Not only did I not sleep peacefully, I slept barely at all. I had and still have severe insomnia. I tried reaching out to my brother four years ago via facebook. I received a response that was very upsetting, accusing me of “being crazy” and “my mother was right about you”. I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital that same night because I was so destroyed by the response. I later found out, from my brother, that Clare had intercepted that communication and it was in fact her, who responded to me. Since then, I have reached out to him and told him that my door is ALWAYS open to him in case he needs a place to run.
“I question the motives behind why her daughter felt the need all of a sudden to out her 59 year old mother in the manner that she did….unless she is as she said just seeking her own form of justice now.”
~ My motives are exactly as I’ve outlined in my blog. This is my form of justice. The legal system makes it near impossible for adult children of child abusers to seek legal recourse. While it may be difficult for you to understand, it has taken me 20 years to finally be able to speak openly about what happened to me and I felt it was time to let the world know who this woman really is. She somehow evades prosecution at every turn, including the domestic battery charge in 2000.
“I just feel like something should have been done way before now. Like when she moved away with her dad at the age of 15 why weren’t charges filed way back then??”
~ I’m sorry that my healing process does not fit within your expected time-frame. When I moved with my father at 15, I had never met him before in my life. I was introduced to him in the airport! Again, I was ashamed and thought that I was somehow an accomplice to her sexual exploits, when in fact, I was a victim.
I am also a busy mother – and a good one at that. If there is one thing I’ve done right in my life, it has been to raise an amazing young woman. And I take full credit. =)
I feel I’ve answered your questions and more. I invite intelligent discourse, but I want everyone to know – I wrote this blog for ME. This is MY story. If, in the process, I can help others, I am going to do so and plan on doing so. But as for my story, it is mine and mine alone. I have received, literally, hundreds of emails from people who have suffered childhood abuse and I’ve answered almost every single one of them. My plan is to rally support for adult children of sexual child abusers in order to seek legal recourse against their perpetrators. I’m currently encouraging all parents and students to please make their own voices heard by contacting their school administration and school board. But I intend to continue to offer them a platform on my blog for such organizing.
This is going to be the last time I “defend” my actions to anyone. I suggest that those who are unaware of PTSD, especially Complex PTSD to please do some research.
They sicken of the calm who know the storm - Dorothy Parker
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