It’s been quite a week. I was having a twitter conversation with an Iowan advocate. She talked about reporting and how it was important. I told her I believed it was as well but that people need to be prepared for the process. Last fall I filed a complaint against my parent’s therapists because, even though the victim that they were also seeing was a minor, they didn’t report the abuse. FAIL. So I hadn’t heard anything and I decided to check in a couple of months ago. Apparently they forwarded the info to the county attorney and as far as I can tell that’s where it sat. For a year. More than one family member has now reported the incidents to the police but because there is not a minor living in the home and no victim has come forward there is nothing they can do.
Let me preface all of this by saying that I don’t know what the right thing to do in my case is. Do I think facing charges is necessary for my father? I don’t know. What I do know is none of that is in my hands and that’s perfectly fine with me. However, that being said, let me speak as an outsider to this (and many, many other) cases. What in the world!? There have been multiple reports of abuse to the police department, a failure of mandatory reporters to report, a report to the state and a report to the county attorney. Nothing has happened. It really is disheartening that this is the way the system is set up. It’s been a year and 3 months and nothing has happened. I know of survivors that are in the criminal investigation stage of this kind of abuse and let me tell you, it does not look fun and it does not look rewarding. It looks like re-victimization and shame. What it doesn’t look like is justice. I know how incredibly hard it is to walk away from your family, no matter how dysfunctional. I know the pain of looking at my children and knowing they won’t ever see grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins from my family. As someone who grew up with a lot of extended family, it breaks my heart. But I know I’m strong enough to do what’s right by me and my kids, even if it hurts at times. There are people out there who are not as supported as I am. There are a lot of survivors that believe staying is the lesser evil. They can stay in the known-no matter how unhealthy or they can venture off on their own – which is really, really scary. How would those unsupported survivors ever report? They wouldn’t.
I wouldn’t be healing from all of this right this minute if someone else didn’t speak out first about my father. I’d still be living in denial, still spending holidays with them and pretending nothing had happened. My father would still be hugging and kissing my kids and coming to visit. It truly sickens me now to know that I ever allowed that and that I put my children at risk but believing it didn’t happen was better than walking away from the only family I knew. Don’t get me wrong, I had a pretty “normal” happy childhood with the exception of the abuse. I can still find happiness in my childhood amongst the dysfunction but it doesn’t feel nearly as good as what happy feels like now.
There was an incident this week with my twitter account. A family member read the conversation I had with the advocate about reporting. It launched in to her calling my mom and then my mom calling a family member I still have contact with and then she called me. It was like the game of telephone. There were exaggerations and some major assumptions. I locked down my twitter account. It was the last place that I felt like I could express myself in a somewhat open way. I still censored myself, after all I know it’s a public forum but I felt stalked a little. I know that may be a harsh word but there also is multiple hits a day from my twitter account to my blog by the same IP address. I know who it is but the fact that they check my blog several times a day is kind of haunting and makes me uncomfortable. Plus I know they are a pipeline to my parents and then we have these games of telephone where other members of my family are sucked in to the craziness as well.
It was a situation that brought back all the anxiety and uneasiness that I used to have constantly when dealing with my family. Even with direct ties cut there are all these secondary ties that I have to manage. It’s exhausting sometimes but there is a light in all this. I am free of the daily craziness. This the first incident in a long time that has made me anxious instead of drowning in it day after day. Although I have a feeling I will be dealing with this for the foreseeable future, there is a peacefulness in knowing that I’m “doing me.” This little game of telephone only solidifies the fact that if I hadn’t cut ties, I’d still be immersed in this drama. I’m not stalking twitter accounts and blogs. I’m not constantly afraid of who will find out next or who is coming after me. I can just do me and doing me feels pretty darn good – loving on my kids and husband, being the bets teacher I can be to my little kiddos at school, and speaking up and out about childhood sexual abuse whenever I get the chance. I can work on me wholeheartedly, no need to keep quiet to protect anyone else or be afraid of what my healing means for others. The incident in Connecticut on Friday was another reminder that life is short and it made me joyful to know that I’m living life for all things good these days.
It makes me sad (angry?) to know that there are survivors out there that are stuck in a situation where homeostasis feels better than standing up and validating their experiences and their Little One. I get it. I was there too. All I can do in this moment (and you can do it too!) is to keep talking about childhood sexual abuse. Be a driving force in eliminating the stigma for survivors and keep speaking out for those too little (or too scared) to have their own voice…..yet.
Until next time…