TRIGGER WARNING: DISCUSSION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
This is how it feels when your word means nothing at all.
~ This Is How It Feels, Inspiral Carpets
Writers write because they must. The never-ending whirring of words in the head; a need, an addiction to fill pages with shades of grey. I have previously written about my childhood sexual abuse and destroyed all of it. I know that the act of writing about my childhood was distressing to many people. I’m not sorry I did it. I found my voice. I’ll leave this post here for a week, and then destroy it, because while what happened is part of me, it is not the whole. This is my lived experience, but I’m not the only one with a cleft in my heart. I also did it out of fear that it separates me from you, from ‘normal’. That I’m marked ‘damaged goods’. That you see me as a hapless victim.
You need to trust me that although this left me on the bathroom floor this morning, dizzy with adrenalin mixed with bile, terrorised by my own body, this is not my life every day. It’s part of who I am, as part of me as the great love of my life, my work & travels. I won’t be boycotting any Woody Allen movies, just as I don’t boycott my own family, but I believe Dylan Farrow. I believe she lives this. I believe whatever the circumstances, she has a right to speak about her life whenever, wherever and to whoever she damned well pleases. I believe that responses like this from novelist Stephen King are the surface of a scab on society, a rarely acknowledged but prevailing view that certain types of people are ‘worthy’ victims, people whose testimony against monsters (even if the decision to speak out, like Dylan Farrow’s, stretches back decades) are judged unimpeachable. They fit an ideal of who or what makes you comfortable when you see news reports about child sexual abuse. I’m sorry that it’s difficult to contemplate the evidence which makes plain that most people who sexually assault children are related to them.
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology, September 2011
I’m sorry that it’s unthinkable someone you know, or are related to, or admire, could do this to a child. I’m sorry that this is not tied up in a little bow for you, that you can’t always hurl anger and accusal at serial perverts & paedophiles. I’m sorry that this is confronting for you, that sometimes all people have is their adult voice, that not all of us speak as seven-year-olds; that you think there are types of credible witnesses; that ‘he/she or he said’ only applies if you judge some people to be ‘true victims’ and others “palpable bitches” because we don’t all act alike, or get our traumatic stories straight all of the time for you.
I’m mostly sorry that some of us never speak at all, because I believe it is never too late.
If you or anyone you know who is experiencing a crisis relating to experiences of child sexual abuse, contact the following organisations listed here.
If you suspect a child is being abused, do not walk by. Some occupations (such as doctors, teachers) are bound by law to report suspected cases of child abuse, but you can call these authorities if you suspect a child is at risk of maltreatment, you may call the authority to discuss your concerns and they will decide whether an investigation is required. Remember: you do not need to be absolutely certain that abuse or neglect of a child has occurred to call these authorities.