A displaced little girl wept years in silence. She pressed on night and day to keep on living and tried too many ways to keep her soul alive.
This was the recent Facebook status of my cousin “M”, who was abused for 12+ years by my uncle “Benj”, though he doesn’t deserve that endearing nickname. I’m tempted to plaster his full name on this blog, but it wouldn’t do any good. He’s served his prison sentence and the family that should be wary of him has accepted him with open arms, much like the Prodigal son, while the victims, plural, because there are multiple victims in his wake, including my sweet daughter who, had “Benj” done what he was meant to do, would not have been victimized herself. I responded to Mary’s post with this:
I wish everyday those that were supposed to protect you, had.
I wish that too but I guess bad things happen to good people. The only thing we can do is deal with it and move on, but Thank you Emily.
A few others commented, including my grandmother (who I am not speaking to). She said:
This life is full of times when we learn to press on! I’m ssooo thankful that you have that ability.
Come see us sometime!
Interesting. Some would say this comment is meant to be encouraging, but it wasn’t. Especially based on the context of my grandmother’s behavior around sexual abuse occurring in our family, this comment says to me that it’s a special skill to be able to move on. Special, as in, it’s more comfortable for her and everyone else involved if those who are victimized by sexual abuse can move on, because then it makes it so they don’t have to think about or even ask if it’s appropriate to:
- Invite a convicted sexual abuser to family reunions or any other family gatherings.
- Take a family picture with the convicted sexual abuser and his wife (who stayed with him throughout all of this), and photo shop “M” in because she didn’t want to see her abuser.
- Work around the needs of the abuser instead of banishing him from functions so that the abused can feel protected, let alone any other children that would be around him.
But he’s changed, he’s forgiven, he has repented. He was never a pedophile.
Says my grandma.
I was trying to teach her, so that she didn’t learn these things elsewhere.
From his own mouth in an “apology” letter.
I’m having a hard time writing all of this out, but since my ultimate plan is to create a website that revolves around victims of sexual abuse, I need to become comfortable talking about my own story including how mine was affected by others previous stories. All of these stories interconnect. Sexual abuse often starts and spreads like a disease because people allow it to. Those that speak up are sometimes outcast, shunned, alienated, or just not believed altogether. It’s an epidemic that has to stop, but it starts with those who have faced it feeling safe enough to speak up. I’m not exactly sure how my website will turn out, I’m only in the very beginning phases, and if I had no full-time job and was not going to school, I could devote my life to it, but for now I’ll just have to keep thinking of ideas, brainstorming about what my ultimate goals are, and writing.
Some basic facts about Benj and my family:
- Benj is my mother’s younger brother.
- My mom comes from a family of 9 children.
- One of those children is Chuck, M’s biological father.
- Chuck has many children from different women.
- M is the product of his marriage with a woman named Carmelita.
- Carmelita had 5 children with Chuck: J, R, M, JJ, and Michael.
- Carmelita’s father was a sexual abuser, and in the first few years of their life, all five children were sexually abused by this man, at very young ages.
- Carmelita and Chuck eventually had the children taken away due to neglect/abuse.
- J, R, and M were placed with Benj and his wife Connie (they already had 4 biological children at home).
- JJ and Michael were placed with my mother’s other brother and his wife.
Benj, who knew about the abuse that the children had already suffered, made the abominable choice to use M as a sexual outlet for whatever reason he justified. Connie, who I’m positive knew something was going on, chose to ignore or look the other way, and not only verbally abuse M, but physically abuse her and all of her siblings on a consistent basis, many times that I witnessed.
M finally gained the courage to say something when she was approximately 16-years-old. The abuse had been going on for over a decade. Benj’s son took the confession seriously and reported his father to the police. He was tried and sentenced to 5-Life, but ended up being released from prison two years ago.
In that time, I have been witness to multiple workarounds the family has attempted to use to brush his crimes under the rug, to act like he is reformed, to push upon those that do not want to forget the idea that they should. It’s too inconvenient to face trauma, though they’re not really the ones that experienced it. M did, and as a result of M experiencing it, she acted out on her siblings, one of which was Michael, who acted out on a little girl that I love more than life itself – My daughter.
So, grandma, the ability to press on is not something to be grateful for just because you wish it upon others for your own comfort. It is something that has to be worked on through the hellish chiseling of time, energy, counseling, and consistency. This idea of “moving on” does not work with sexual abuse anyway. Healing is possible, but obliterating the memory of something so foul is not.
You think moving on is an event, a state of mind, a choice. It’s none of these. It’s a farce, when the abuse caused infiltrates every part of a person’s being. I should know, since I’ve seen how it has affected my daughter and continues to. You think PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety are diseases that are brought about by someone’s choice not to move on? No, they’re brought on by a body’s need to find some way to cope with the trauma inflicted upon its mind and soul.
Let alone the mind and soul of this woman, this mother of a child victimized, who cannot fathom why my extended family would act in such an absurd, reckless, and infuriating way as to imply that they are “grateful” to someone for not putting in front of their face what should be every moment of every day until they accept full responsibility for their part in this toxic sexual abuse cycle. Until they protect the victimized and not attempt to make the perpetrator some reformed hero.
That is why I don’t talk to you, that is why I don’t want to see you when I’m in Utah. That is why I have moved on in the only way I know how: By leaving you all behind.
Photo Credit: 1960’s Sad Little Girl… – H. Armstrong Roberts