Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Trigger Warning: Rape and Child Abuse

Me, Age 6-ish
May I write truth
Even if it's not your truth

Trigger Warning: 
Rape and Child Abuse
May I offend Everybody.

A note: Women AND men, girls AND boys experience rape and assault. Trans folk experience rape and violence at higher rates than the rest of us. I write today about my experiences, knowing they are not all-inclusive.

I've been following along the latest blog posts, tweets, facebook whatevers, and articles about Dylan Farrow. Accusations of child sexual assault against Woody Allen have been around a long time, and a lot has been written over the years. Woody Allen received an award at the Golden Globes on January 12, and Mia and Ronan Farrow tweeted concise but scathing remarks on the subject. Various media outlets have revisited the accusations with excitement bordering on lust.

Blogposts, letters, tweets, facebook. More importantly, a letter from Dylan staking her claim to what
happened. More blogposts. Denials. Counter accusations. Various Hollywood whoevers saying it ain't their beeswax. 

I've heard these stories my whole life. Not Dylan Farrow's story, but tales of sexual abuse, assault, rape, non-consensual married sex, drunken drugged out foggy memories of things that happened, you think. I've lived these stories. Some of them are mine.

When I was 16, I went to a leadership conference, and was placed in a group with 7 other girls. Of the 8 of us, 7 young women had horrific stories of rape and abuse from fathers, uncles, boyfriends, neighbors. I had 2 separate stories: one a stranger and one story of long-term abuse. At 16, you see. We
were all 16. That poor 8th girl was horrified and left in tears. The rest of us were...resigned.

I've been playing with those stories lately--and there have been more of my own in the 25 years since that conference. I have stories layered upon stories. And I'm a pastor, so I have so many more of your stories too. We live in a world where sexual assault is a norm, which terrifies women and confuses men. Flat out, women and men do not define sexual assault in the same way.

I've been playing with my stories, with memory lately. And it feels dangerous to do so. Like Dylan Farrow my stories have been unconvincing to many. I've been called crazy. I've clung to those memories like a lifeboat--as if remembering the exact Truth of each piece of my story will preserve and prove my sanity, the righteousness of my anger.

But those memories are hazy. And they have always been hazy. Especially the old old stories from when I was young. 

I made a police report, I did. When I was 13, at least 3 years from the last time I'd been assaulted. Three years because that's how long it had been since we'd moved away from the man who raped me. I had to make the report because he'd come visiting again and wanted a kiss. How do you stop these things? You bring them to light. You shout it out.

But what happens when you do? Crazy girl. Nasty girl. Dangerous girl. You are kept away for His protection, which suits your purposes just fine, but destroys your narrative. You now, are the perpetrator of violence against the poor man who only ever wanted good things for you. Wicked girl.

I sat across the dining room table from a police officer who came to take my statement. They sent a man. I sat across the table from a man I didn't know to make a statement about what had happened to me. My parents sat nearby. I told my stories, one by one. What I could remember. Those hazy hazy memories that started when I was 6 (or was it 7). No dates. No reference. Details of specific sexual activity, but no order, no rhyme, no reason. I could not pin the time I was sick and He was the only one who answered the phone to pick me up from school--I could not pin that date down. I didn't know what grade, but I knew what school. But it had been more than 5 years. That date, however approximate, was not helpful.

When was the last time? I don't know, I just tried for it not to happen again. Did he kiss you at thanksgiving? Well yes, but I just wanted to not have to to do more. Silence. Shame. The creeping doubt at 13 years old of what was my part in this?

Details, details, more details. What exactly was done. What exactly did I do. Did I say no? Did I say yes? Was I forced? Did I cry? My parents right there. A man across the table.

Did you ever tell anyone? Yes. And a teacher knew. Did she tell anyone? No, she skipped me a grade. The officer stared. What did that have to do with anything? But I think it's what she knew to do. Skip 3rd grade and leaving the house comes sooner. Go to college and get away from it all. 10 years down the line, but it's what she could do. My best friend knew, and then she used it to perpetrate more. Who knows who did what to her? 

Get her counseling, the officer said. I went twice. The therapist wanted me to shout out horrible names against my rapist. I didn't shout at authority. It was absurd. I didn't use those kinds of words. Not then. I went twice. I said I was fine. Everyone was fairly relieved. More than a decade before I went back to talk to someone again.

I  never bothered reporting the other assaults. One in Mexico. One in college. Other more nebulous, hazy situations, characterized by lack of consent and shame. What is there to report? What is the damage done? Legally, I mean. To make a case for rape is a legal nightmare that leads most times to just about nowhere. How many successful rape and child assault convictions are there? It's a low number.

Would I report today? Yeah. Probably. Depends on the circumstances. Not everything is...reportable.

But in the haziness of playing with these memories, as I watch Dylan Farrow bandied about like so much news porn on the internet, I wonder if we as victims have any sense of what we really want in terms of reparations?

Arrest
Prosecution
Conviction
Prison Time
?

Therapy
For us
For the rapist
For every one around us
?

I know what I wanted at age 13.
I wanted to never see Him again.
I wanted to never talk to Him again.
I wanted to go away to college and never think about it again.
I wanted Him to never look at another child.
I wanted to be heard and believed.
I wanted to not be crazy.

I got some of that.
I saw him again. Twice.
At family things.
Once a family member switched our nametags at a wedding
So I would be forced to sit next to Him.
My grandfather reminded me at my grandmother's funeral:
"Life is short.
We must forgive."

Like I've ever been compliant.

Except that I was. A long time ago, in hazy memories I almost recall.

What I want now? 
I pray
Often
That someday He will know
That he will know what He has done.
I pray that He will know what He has done
To me.
And that He will feel the shame and horror of that.
I pray He comes face to face with Himself and sees fully.

No legal system could ever give me that.

But perhaps this prayer
Might stop you
In your tracks.
Perhaps you might come face to face with yourself
and see fully
And as you gaze at that little girl or boy
Perhaps you might
Pull yourself back
And remember my words
And stop.

Because the only thing that can stop this
Is you.
And you.
And you.

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