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On Monday, I shared my own story here.  The Herman Cain, and especially the Jerry Sandusky charges both prompted me to write a more detailed account of the sexual abuse I experienced in childhood.  The accusers in both cases all have something in common, that beyond some aspect or another of unwanted, non-consensual sexual acts.  The accused are alive and able to face the allegations.

The man who molested me is dead.  He has been deceased for many years.  I don’t think he was ever formally charged with anything, since the family never publicly acknowledged the abuse.  In an effort to try to speak to the part of me that cries out for justice, I’ve considered many options.  I’ve even wondered whether confronting the other party who was himself abused might provide further answers and needed context.  However, no person-to-person interaction could be potentially more awkward and emotionally combustible.  He may not want to recall or to remember, and I don’t want to impinge upon his privacy.

In the context of some retroactive legal proceeding, of course, requesting information in this fashion might make some sense.  However, he and I have not talked in over a decade.  We were never friends.  Being that we were both innocent participants in a coerced act, silence and evasiveness typified our behavior towards each other.  At the ballpark, at school, or around town, we avoided each other consciously.  Should our paths ever cross by coincidence, we never made eye contact.  The two of us harbored a terrible secret, one I think he could not help but remember more fully because of his proximity to the source.  His own father was the abuser.  

My post of Monday did not spell out specifics because I don’t want to be seen as adding any element of needless sensation to what was already horrific enough.  Here, for the sake of comprehension, I will be a little more specific.  If you want to get technical about it, the exact term is called child-on-child sexual abuse.  The two of us were forced, or at least emotionally manipulated into performing a sex act on each other.  There was more to it than that, but this is enough for now.  Factor in an aspect of inter-sibling incest, itself its own abuse, this between older and younger brother.  Knowing this, one can now see the complexities.  

The patterns and particulars of abuse involving an older adult perpetrator and a dysfunctional family are never simple.  I’ve since read that these things are, depressingly enough, both extremely common and among the least reported.  Should a stranger be involved, we have no emotional connection to the assailant.  So we’re more comfortable with breaking our complicit silence in that circumstance.  With family members, however, this is not quite so easily accomplished.

In the end, who started it is important, but is only one part of achieving some resolution.  The direction that child sexual abuse takes afterward is also crucial.  Children often mimic and act out on other kids what has been done to them.  Should they be under the age of twelve or so, as I was, they are not old enough in their own sexual maturation to make sense of what happened.  For me, personally, my brain decided to use disassociation to forcibly block out much of what happened.  I think the other boy involved, who was also my age, may have had so many other experiences that he remembers more than I do.  After all, I lived three or four houses down.  He had to live with it on a daily basis.        

In my last post on this topic, I was critical of how we submerge and leave criminal acts like these unreported.  Yet, it was once much worse.  Second-wave feminists of the 1960’s and 1970’s are to be commended for providing a safe space for women to talk about rape and sexual assault.  Their work has made it possible for both men and women to feel comfortable telling their stories.  What we may see now is the beginning of a generational shift for the better.  It may be further possible to confront these details, which still retain their ability to shock, disgust, anger, and sicken.  Nothing may be sacred anymore, but perhaps fewer things are too taboo to even be discussed.

Originally posted to cabaretic on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 07:25 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for your courage (23+ / 0-)

    in speaking out.

    In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

    by vcmvo2 on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 08:29:13 AM PST

  •  asdf (14+ / 0-)
    I was critical of how we submerge and leave criminal acts like these unreported.

    We must never blame victims of horrendous crimes for their reactions .... never was the phrase "before you criticise someone, walk a mile in their shoes" more pertinent.

    It is equally arguable that direct witnesses to such a crime are "victims" too.

    I am surprised that, in the current Penn State investigation, that the Grad. Student was criticised for calling his parents. It's exactly what I would have done first.

    Thank you for the honest Diary.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:33:12 AM PST

    •  The grad student was not a victim. (13+ / 0-)

      He was a 28 year old man who saw a child being raped and did nothing to stop it. He is not criticized for calling his dad after he witnessed a child being anally raped, he is criticized, and rightfully so, for not calling the police too.

      I find the 28 year old grad student a repugnant human being, along with the rest of them.  I hope he enjoys the coaching job he earned for his silence.  I hope his dad got some really cool sideline passes. They both make me sick.

      Can you imagine being that 10 year old boy and knowing that an adult saw this action and nothing happened to help you?  Did he feel like no one was ever going to care about him? That it was all ok? My heart breaks for this child.  

      Republicans need people to be stupid

      by strengthof10kmen on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 05:39:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have evidence of this?: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sturunner
        I hope he enjoys the coaching job he earned for his silence.  I hope his dad got some really cool sideline passes.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 08:08:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's only the time lines. (6+ / 0-)

          And as I'm not a court of law, or acting on behalf of the government, and with no ability to limit anyone's freedom, I'm really not required to provide "evidence." for my opinions.  I only voiced my hopes.  You're free to voice different hopes--even if your hopes are as snarky and mean spirited as mine.  

          If you want to nit pick for child rape protectors, go ahead, that is your free speech/ free expression rights. Report me to who ever you report your hurt feelings to... I'm not going to stop you... I'm just going to think poorly of your choices.  

          ps...my daughter was the victim of a sexual predator.  We reported him vigorously, immediately, and he went to jail. He was a popular and esteemed member of our community. He was our neighbor and friend. Our lives were heavy and challenging for a long while after it.   And I admit,  I have no understanding of people who could make a different decision.

          but hey, you do what you need to do...I'll be fine.

          Republicans need people to be stupid

          by strengthof10kmen on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:19:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So .... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sturunner

            No evidence then.

            There is so much that is wrong with your comment that I won't even try to dissect it.

            ps ... I truly am sorry to hear what happened to your daughter.

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            by twigg on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 09:53:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  ummm ... after the event he went from (7+ / 0-)

          grad assistant to assistant coach.  Quid pro quo for silence? not necessarily, but hardly likely had he rocked the boat.

          My mother walked in on my father raping me a turned around and walked out when told to do so.  Never doing or saying anything to me.  And people ask, "why didn't you tell?"  What point was there to telling?  An adult witness did nothing, therefore nothing could/should be done, right?

          The grad assistant gave his tacit approval to the act.  The janitor with PTSD might be cut some slack, his friends should have helped him call the cops, but PTSD can interfere with the ability to do the right thing.  The 28 year old male?  No sympathy for him from this quarter.

          And the kid, well all the kids, I hope they have found good therapists.

    •  I can't imagine not stopping the rape. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      congenitalefty, Matt Z, Jbeaudill

      That's my first, primary judgment against McQueary, the grad student, and I judge him harshly for that.

      If McQueary was never interviewed by police about what he'd seen, then he should have followed up to ensure a report was filed.

      Daughter and I just talked about this and agreed about stopping the rape, no matter if the rapist is boss, father, son, brother, spouse. The only valid reason for not immediately stopping the rape would be the likelihood of great, immediate personal danger -- a gang rape, for example, or the rapist having a dangerous weapon.

      I'm a 5'3" female who would most certainly have done something to stop that rape.

      The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. -FDR

      by SoCalSal on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 09:47:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't be so sure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal

        until you find yourself in that situation. We humans are not as good at making the right decision "in the moment" as we like to think we are.

        He should have called the police. He absolutely should have called the police. I'm willing to give him a pass on calling his dad first, on reporting it to the AD the next morning, on trusting the administration to handle it. But as the weeks went on and he got the feeling that people weren't taking him seriously and nothing was being done and Sandusky still had access to kids, he should have called the cops. That dereliction is inexcusable.

        But as for what he did "in the moment" - look, I'd like to think that my automatic reaction would have been to run up, rip the guy off the kid, and punch his face in. But I know that that reaction is only one side of the 50/50 fight-or-flight coinflip. There's an equally good chance I would have frozen, had a flashback, panicked, run away, and called my dad. Neither of those is a sign of a bad person or someone who doesn't care.

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 01:51:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Self knowledge (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril

          I'm the one who acts in a crisis. Now I'm a gray-haired granny who moves slowly... but I'd still act. It's what I do. Way back in my thirties a man tried to break into my house about 11 pm. I hollered, rushed the door and chased him half a block before realizing that wasn't the wisest move. But it worked, he didn't get past taking a window apart and he never came back. Before that, I was the one who saved a child's life. Twice. Others froze, not me. I'm one of those who stops to help in a traffic accident.

          In recent months I stopped a physical altercation between two young men, just me and my dishtowel, and stopped a neighbor from beating up his girlfriend by yelling and pounding on the door until he let her go and she opened the door so I could grab her and get her out of there. Broke a bone in my hand.

          On the other hand, I can be struck dumb by intense conversations and only think of the best thing to say when it's too late. So I understand the freeze, in a way.

          The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. -FDR

          by SoCalSal on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 03:45:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Brave and so helpful! (6+ / 0-)

    To speak out. I wrote a long diary here about a lot of details in all this, but healing from childhood abuse I didn't get into much. While help and resources are miniscule in a lot of ways as compared to what is available for women, there is still a lot you can make use of.

    Books, movies, documentaries, therapists, support groups, on-line forums, people to contact as peers, various organizations for self-help and services, ...

    I tell men a lot that while it's a lot of painful work to heal and change, everyone tends to say it is really very, very worth the effort. Let me know if I can be of help to you. I've been at this quite a long time.

    Insanity is a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world... -R D Laing

    by crazyamerican on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 12:30:44 PM PST

    •  Far more help & resources are readily available (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, kyril

      for free or at a very affordable rates for incarcerated & post-release perpetrators that have ever been available for survivors.

      I don't know the current research, especially on post-release & diverted  first- offenders, but 5 or 6 year ago the research on the impact of  treatment for incarcerated offenders  was dismal--no impact to even a negative impact on recidivism rates.  I sure the treatment folks meant well, but they  were so invested, emotionally even, that many saw evidence-based studies as an attack on the concept of & expenditures for treatment of perps.  

      Fear is a habit. I am not afraid." Daw Aung San Suu Kyi * * * * " [we]. . . refuse to let fear change the way we build our society." Jo Nesbo

      by sturunner on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 03:55:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The (13+ / 0-)

    aim of a sexual abuser, is the same as that of a rapist.

    To subvert the autonomy of the victim, their right to choose, as the underlying message of any sexual attack, is "How dare you not want me?"

    As awful as it is that there are people who would rather I be tortured by people who shouldn't matter to me now,I really don't think about it much. I found my sexual self, the one they wanted to deprive my actual mate of, without any help. I've since encountered many other men who feel a woman has no right to be disinterested in them sexually.  

    My advice to anyone who has been abused is that it's not about forgiveness.
    Get away from the abusers, get away from the enablers, and don't look back.

    one iota (sig apparently subject to interpretation, and attack, by those who wish to destroy individuality).

    by Maori on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 02:48:10 PM PST

    •  Agreed (10+ / 0-)

      Anytime I hear someone touting forgiveness of one's abuser as a method of healing, I wonder to myself what skeletons are lurking in their closet.  The National Organization for Women was one of the feminist groups that helped to validate the experience of sex abuse victims.  At one workshop, I recall one woman telling her story and adding a quote at the end.  Incest isn't taboo, talking about it is.

      Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

      by arlene on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 03:05:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not just forgiveness (9+ / 0-)

        of sex abuse, but people preaching the necessity of "forgiveness," generally, sets off alarms all over my body.

        Authoritarian ideologies, religions in particular, hard-sell unconditional "forgiveness" because they don't want believers focused on their discontents. Might threaten the status quo.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 04:58:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree a 1000 percent! (7+ / 0-)

          There is big difference between letting go of rage and forgiveness.  I would never leave my kids with anyone who preached forgiveness.  

          Republicans need people to be stupid

          by strengthof10kmen on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 05:51:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've let go of rage many times, (0+ / 0-)

            without necessarily forgiving, or condoning somebody else's rotten behavior. While "universal forgiveness" isn't a personal ethic of mine, an understanding of the context of the other person's hurtful actions, certainly is. This pursuit of understanding, generally marks my own readiness to close out accounts where this particular issue is concerned, to let go, to move on.

            "When you're 18, you don't know it, but 30 really is young. When you're 45, you really get, for the first time, just how legitimately inexperienced and wet-behind-the-ears that 'asshole' was. He was, after all, doing the very best he could see to do--not that that was at all adequate for somebody in my position, unfortunately."

            "You know what she was? You know what made her so judgmental? For reasons that had nothing to do with me, she was flat-out terrified. She was completely isolated in her terror. It was like she wasn't thinking clearly, and couldn't even see straight. Of course she could not fathom her words' consequences."

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 06:44:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I absolutely will NEVER forgive. I merely let (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          karmsy, EclecticCrafter, sargoth, Larin, Matt Z

          what happened become something evil that I will never forget but will not let it rule my life and my mind. What has hurt the most is family who have chosen to side with my abuser in solidarity and punish me for the pain I suffered and still on occassion have flare up. This recent story about the 10 year old boy being raped and the school helping the perpertrator hide his acts aroused an almost painful memory of betrayal by not only my stepfather but my mother who knew (she told me so as an adult) and the acceptance of his right to use me by my siblings. I speak to not one of them and I barely can talk to my son who sees that he must sing the family tune of "aren't we absolutely loving & fabulous".

          Fear is the Mind Killer

          by boophus on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 06:58:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Elizabeth Smart recently said (15+ / 0-)

    calling children priceless is another way of saying since we can’t put a price tag on their safety and well-being, then we will not allocate any money to protect them.

    I do think people are more willing to talk about this stuff, and I was sexually abused by my grandfather for most of my childhood. I know the family dynamics of ignoring the behavior out of shame.

    But we still aren't doing everything we could to protect our kids.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 02:59:10 PM PST

  •  Thank you. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, sargoth, Larin, Matt Z

    for sharing what many of us can't bring ourselves to share.

  •  In a diary on a similar theme, (4+ / 0-)

    perhaps even by the same diarist, I commented recently that the lid is only just coming off this stuff. The Catholic sex abuse scandal? Just the tip of the iceberg, folks. So much more is going to come to light.

    These people who have been so busy since the 80s, frantically denouncing child sex-abuse survivors as "hysterical" and "liars"? Theirs is already a tougher and tougher row to hoe.

    Again, the shit is only just hitting the fan.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 04:21:45 PM PST

  •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, devis1, Matt Z

    You've brought a perspective to this that few can.

    Hopefully, the current iteration of this story will kick the door open a little further on this horrific crime perpetrated against children. Perhaps more eyes will pay closer attention and more people will do more than just what is legally required.

    Thanks again for your coming forward. And, your courage.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Wed Nov 09, 2011 at 05:59:10 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the open & honest diary. I truly do (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larin, Matt Z

    understand some of the deep pain you have lived with being a young victim of this, myself. God bless you.

    Republicans only care about themselves, their money, & their power.

    by jdmorg on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 05:09:24 AM PST

  •  On who does and doesn't dissociate... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, sargoth, Larin, Matt Z

    My father, his brother, and their father abused all the girl cousins in my family.  My sibs and I were the only one who repressed the memories and dissociated completely.  My uncle's girls were his step daughters, they had experienced a loving father (died in 'Nam) before they were subjected to the abuse.  My other cousins didn't live with any of their abusers, only saw them on visits.

    My therapist's theory on why my sibs and I were the only ones who repressed completely is that we needed to in order to survive.  When the betrayal comes from the person/people who are supposed to protect you, supposed to love you unconditionally, the cognitive dissonance is huge.  The requirement that you act like a loving family during the day, after horrific events at night, is such that not remembering the night makes it easier to get through the day.

    My uncle's girls didn't tell to protect their mother.  She had been so sad after their dad died, and now she was happy again.  I've no doubt my uncle played on that.  The cognitive dissonance was less, because there are horrible stories about step-fathers.

    There's a phrase, "so bratty only a mother could love", well, if you are so bad that even your mother/father hate you and hurt you, it is easy to believe in the messages of worthlessness that typically accompany incest.  Dissociation is a defense mechanism that gets many kids through.

    I say all this because it is actually likely that you have more/clearer memories of these events than the person who lived with the abuser 24/7.  Survival may have made dissociation even more important to him.  And if he was dissociating completely and repressing memories, anything more than an uneasiness around you may be beyond his reach without therapy.

    I'm not saying that everyone who lives with the abuser dissociates; really, I'm not, there are plenty of counter examples.  I'm just saying that your reasoning to why he must have clearer memories than you do, doesn't necessarily hold.

    Closure is tough to find with the abuser dead.  Some have created rituals, others have had the conversation/confrontation they want to have with a stand-in; it is tough.  I'd recommend the book The Courage to Heal wholeheartedly if you were female; I just don't know how well they include male victims.  I know they try, so I'll still recommend it, but YMMV.

  •  Brave Post (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sargoth, Larin, Matt Z

    Thank you for your eloquent writing on a very difficult subject. You've helped many by doing so.  Early childhood sexual abuse robs children of self determination. Speaking out and telling the truth is one powerful way of getting it back. Florence Rush wrote an excellent book on the subject of  childhood sexual abuse. It's called, The Best Kept Secret: Sexual Abuse of Children. She's published many papers on the subject and has many lectures on the web. Check her out.

    Don't think for a moment that power concedes. Obama

    by weegeeone on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 06:56:14 AM PST

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