Child abuse survivors, public perception and the persistence of the Force

Deep down in my soul, I know I am a Jedi. I look for the balance of the light and dark within. One of the hardest things I had to endure when I was seeking out other survivors of abuse was the ridicule I faced from adults within the community where I was abused. In small towns (both in population and in mentality) places such as ‘the church’ are centres of activity, pillars of the community, beacons for gathering. The clergy who are involved become woven within the community as well – they are the leaders of morality and are extended families for their congregations. After all, if Brother X is known for his amazing community work and leading the semi-annual bake sales with success, how could you say anything bad about him?

Victims are faced with the challenge of gathering courage to stand up and be heard. This means that they have to not only recount the horrors of what happened over and over, they also become the focus of the hatred of the community for “bringing up such nonsense”, etc, etc.

It was years ago that I had to go back to Hopeless and face one of my abusers in discovery. This is where both legal parties and their clients get together and discuss the case and go over details. This was the first time I say Brother X since I had been abused. He was by far the worst abuser to me, attempting anal penetration with me when I was only 9 years old, but because I was screaming too loud and the pain was so intense, he became frustrated with me, punching me in the back of my head before I was left to clean up the bloody mess from his attempts. He made his journey back from Florida to Hopeless for the discovery and had been hosted for many dinners by the catholic community – letters to the editor in the local paper about Brother X boasted him as a sort of “hero” and that it was so terrible that someone like me could put such an old frail man through such a terrible ordeal. Many of the followers of the church denounced me as some kind of monster – big, strong, and successful at my career – while brother X was frail, old, and a kind old man. I mean, I must have been a monster, right? Why should I dare speak out about the abuse that happened so long ago – it seems I had not really suffered too much or really at all. So, look at me now…….

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….I am over six feet tall, I have had some success within my career both academically and professionally. I like to think I am caring and respectful of others. And I carry on with the inner wounds from my abuse to this day. You can’t see that in any picture or tax return. I do not fit the stereotype of an abuse survivor. My own lawyer suggested that my case would be better if I was a drug addict, or an abusive male – but I was possibly “too well put together” for court. And this is the image of the man taking Brother X to task for his crimes against him.

That picture is my shell – it’s my external signifier to the world at large. The community did not think for one moment of the victim of the abuse – it was not me as pictured above – it was this person……

kindergarten pic This is who was abused – this child here. Not the stunt performer, fight director, martial artist, but this kid. A kid. Frail, weak, willing to learn and ever trusting of authority. This is the child whom I am endeared to fight for. Since the abuse happened and since my time served at that hell of a school, my focus has been healing – and every day I take my scars with me. You can’t see them from the outside. You can’t sense them in a picture. I still have wounds. I still have my “moments” where it’s hard for me to get up and face the day. I still wake up and a part of me wants to blame myself for what happened to me. I have my good and bad days. I still sometimes try and compensate for my lack of belief of me through eating a chocolate bar for some kind of immediate gratification. I am still struggling with what happened –

Some say I should forget – that I should move on. Others wonder what the hell I am on about with my story. That was so long ago. It’s not. It’s fresh every day. What happened to me has shaped my outlook on society and on community. I am very much a loner. I am afraid at times of people. I am shy. People that know me know that I am not out much at parties – I shy away from them – cutting myself off. The adult part of me attempting to continue to protect the child inside – after all those years. I may look put together on the outside – but lawyers, zealots, and the community at large needs to look beyond the superficial. I have been able to adjust, to cope and to develop as a human. I have not given up – my story is my way of sharing with all of you how I managed to heal, to carry on despite the odds. I am lucky in that I had the love and support of my family. My abuse happened outside my home. Every day I have to remind the child within that it’s ok, and that I will never let anything happen to him again. All I can do is find a way to let that little boy play without fear and without shame.

I am a Jedi unto myself. My cause is to protect and to give voice to those who have been silenced. As an adult I have really no fear about what I am doing, about sharing my story – it’s a way of having justice. But honestly, that child….

kindergarten pic…this child…..is terrified. This is why I am doing this – to give him strength – to take away his worries – to give him a safe place to play and to be heard. This is why I write. The force is strong within him. I know that. I can feel that. He is a survivor. He is my inner padawan. He is me.

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2 thoughts on “Child abuse survivors, public perception and the persistence of the Force

  1. Thank you for speaking and sharing with such grace and courage. With tears in my eyes I am so grateful and inspired … Sending love and support to you and all who are moved and affected by this. I hope this brings you more healing and can inspire others as I know it will. -Marla Waal

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