The Biggest Secret Ever Told
We are on the edge of a slippery moral precipice. The politics of today has had the, albeit unintended, effect of bringing to the forefront of our collective consciousness the hidden taboos we keep secret within the walls of our hearts and minds. Something to be accepted as normal. Boys will be boys. And surprising to many, girls will be girls. Often these become self-sustaining and self-prophesying events. Something to be expected as a rite of passage.
The question which should be posed and honestly addressed is, why now? What had been the true catalyst to cause such an outcry? More importantly, will this supposed indignation fade to black as “old news” or something we can discretely move away from when a shiny new object catches our eye?
In order to truly find meaning behind what is happening today, we must be willing to have open, honest and dynamic conversations.
Then we must move toward making significant impacts on how sexual assaults and rapes are addressed.
Although I appreciate the media’s attention, the unfortunate truth is, they are easily distracted by the “next big thing.” Survivors and the people who love them are left to pick up the pieces.
Is it the countless told and untold stories of so-called powerful people who have been accused of sexual assaults that which makes this so newsworthy? Is it because of the presumed power the accused possesses? Is it because he/she is not a very likable person?
Would the response be different if he/she were likable?
Truth is, we have become comfortable with rape. We expect as a matter of life, that a priest might rape a child. We are not surprised by the idea of a “dirty old man or the creepy uncle.” Where is the outcry for victims of sexual assault by an assailant who is an “everyday” thief? A thief who violates or steals that which is not his nor hers to take.
Perhaps it is the long ritual of burying secrets and re-victimizing the accuser while giving a pass to the accused. After all, if one secret gets out, the entire contents of the compacted closet may tumble out. Then, you who are guardians of such closets, may be held accountable.
We are too quick to assume ulterior motives, when the claim is not made in a “sufficient” timeframe. Who decides that if such a case is not brought forth or at least shared with another, it has no validity? After all, no one in their right mind would keep silent about such a horrific violation. If you were truly raped, you should have said something.
We would have believed you-until you said something.
We want you to tell your story; we just want to verify that you have no skeletons in your closet.
We want to prosecute, but you waited too long. Unfortunately you took too long to build up the psychological, emotional and spiritual strength you needed in order to speak up.
Who decides that the pain suffered in silence is of no consequence?
Much of society has been misled into visualizing a victim of rape or sexual assault as one with cuts and bruises. Perhaps that is the cause of such passivity. After all, if you didn’t get beat up, it could not have been so bad. Possibly just a misunderstanding.
What about the interior scars that don’t heal? What about scabs that are savagely stripped away when a victim has to look in the face of their assailant on a daily basis? Do those scars count?
Does not seeing visible proof help you sleep at night? When you admonish a victim’s decision to come forth, when you shame them into silence, you then become another assailant.
You then become that which allows such actions to move in secret and darkness, and through generations.
When you know something wrong is happening and choose to stand in silence, you then are the one who shares blame for the unceasing violations against the hearts and minds of victims.
There are countries where a woman is stoned to death because she had the audacity to cause herself to be raped. When you hurl slurs and nasty accusations at a rape or sexual assault victim, you are no better than the people throwing the death stones. Words can cut deeper than stones.
Sadly, when I tell my story of almost daily rape beginning in the third grade, so many other people reach out to me and want to tell me their story. I am continuously astounded by the fact that this is the biggest secret ever told. How in the world can variations of the same story that is repeated for hundreds of years, still be a secret?!
We will all at some point in our lives, be called to answer for our contribution to this indignity. There is no option to straddle the fence.
You must pick a side… come down on the side that your conscious allows you to rest your head peacefully at night.
We are at a moral crossroad. How will history remember you?
Swimsuit Body Image
Recently I visited a water park with my grandkids. I'd purchased a few absolutely gorgeous swimsuits some months ago. I already owned a couple of coverups. I saw men and women in various shapes and sizes in bathing suits that I looked at in complete astonishment.
Oh my goodness! How could you wear that in public? Did you not look in the mirror? You know, a coverup would have been a great option. Dimples, muffin tops, wrinkles, and big bellies were everywhere!
These folks were walking around "pretty-as-you-please" without a care. I was dumbstruck!
I mean, really-didn't they care what they looked like?
Then, The Penny Dropped.
My issues with the swimsuits were a direct reflection of my own body insecurities. I was the one ashamed to show my flabby legs, belly and rolls. I was the one intimated by what others would think of how I looked in my beautiful swimsuit. You know, the one I put a coverup over. These people were not the problem-I was.
Now that the realization of self devaluation has sunk in, I am now more aware of my judgements both internal and external and choose to be proactive in pausing to reevaluate my responses to things that make me uncomfortable due to my own insecurities.
I've learned that I am blessed with the ability to even put on a swimsuit and share those memories with my grandkids. All they cared about was having fun with their grandma.
And that's way more important than what I feel others might think of my swimsuits.
It's Not You-It's Me!
Growing up the eldest of 12, it became second nature to always put the wellbeing and feelings of others before my own. To be the mommy figure in many situations.
I am usually the person to promote and encourage others. I am the one rallying around keeping the peace in disruptive situations. My daughter thinks that I let people take advantage of me. She might be right.
I willingly share my knowledge. When I learn new information or skill, I am easily excited that others should know as well. My husband says that I tell everything I know!
I started a couple of businesses and would often get discouraged because I do not receive the same or similar support I try my best to show and give others. This includes family and friends.
I often would sit around in my hurt feelings wondering why the support wasn't reciprocal. Were my works not good enough? Perhaps (hopefully) they just were not aware of what I'm doing.
The Penny Dropped! It's Not You-It's Me!
I made common assumption! The ill-fated assumption of expecting the same of others. Expecting that others feel the same as I do. Expecting that others have the same sense of urgency to help others shine. To endeavor to elevate the works of personal and business acquaintances.
I have learned that whenever our works are not supported does not mean that they are devalued. We place value on how we view things through the lenses we have developed over our lifetime.
I have learned that our behaviors and practices may not be a perfect fit for everyone but for a great many it fits perfectly.
I have also learned that over time, the preferences of my expanding audiences change and my priorities and expectations of them should evolve as well.
So too must I, in my thought processes both personally and professionally.
Consequently, I have learned, the perceived difficulties and barriers were never yours, they have always been mine.
Rape vs Molestation
In today’s environment of self-righteous indignation when it comes to the
treatment of animals, our nation should be astonished by the lack of outrage
concerning the mistreatment of our most valuable resources. The human animal. Our
For years, we have taught our children to be afraid of the dark character in the
black coat and hat lurking in the shadows, offering candy and other enticements.
We never took the time to teach our children about the dark hearts of the people we call family,
friends, and acquaintances. Oh, we may have whispered, “Tell me if
someone ‘touches’ or ‘bothers’ you”. When told, this information usually falls
upon the deaf ears of those responsible for protecting and ensuring the safety
of the child. Mostly for the sake of keeping the family together or to smother
the supposed shame brought upon the family.
The laws of the land are written as to accommodate this by minimizing the true
heinousness of the crimes against children. One way of accomplishing this is to slap the brand of Child Molester on the perpetrator, which can lead one with the misguided perception of a person who simply fondles, or had a casual inappropriate occurrence with a child. Meaning he/she placed some part of his/her body on, or in a child’s body.
Maybe it’s because there are in most instances no physical bruising to catch the eye.
Maybe it’s because children change their stories especially when the perpetrator lives in the home or has easy access to the child. We mistakenly consider that a child can essentially influence whether or not they will be raped.
In recent months, a special has been airing on the television show Dateline. On this show, episodes have aired showing sting operations used to catch and humiliate cyber predicators. The fact that the men portrayed on the show are being caught attempting to have sex with a minor does not appall, as one would expect. Instead we shake our heads, and yes sometimes laugh at the absurdity of the sad excuses provided to the host. What really amazes me is the fact that these men are often repeat offenders whose sentences for their crime may last months at most and in some instances, there is no jail time.
Put before you is the idea that if these persons have not been charged with rape, there would be no record of having raped multiple women and being let out on the street with what amounts to a slap on the wrist. Serial rapist would be the brand placed upon this criminal. Have we not reached the point of calling a spade a spade?
This is our fault.
Our society has also come to believe that women, especially those deemed by some to be of exceptional beauty, are incapable of committing the crime of rape. How is this possible? Have we made physical appearance criteria for determining the level of depravity of the mind and heart?
A young girl is the eldest of what would eventually become twelve children. In her early years, she and her sisters and brother were raised primarily by their grandmother. Her mother went out, found and brought home the man of her dreams.
This man was quite handsome and gave the appearance of being worldly and all knowing while in fact he was a cruel, divisive and formidable foe. Eventually, this person would rock the very foundation of this young girl’s beliefs in all things deemed Godly.
By the time, the little girl was in the third grade she was separated from her siblings with the exception of one sister. This separation came in the form of being placed in a “private” school. Separation is a usual and effective tactic.
This was the beginning of a life filled with hurt, lies, and betrayal. This was a lot to deal with for anyone. Let alone a child. Eventually, the children’s only protector was driven out and forbidden to have access to the children sometimes for as long as a year. With grandma essentially out of the picture, it was open season.
In time the child, less than one month after turning 12 years old would give birth to her stepfather’s child, without interference from anyone within or outside of the family. Teachers, family nor doctors raised any red flags. There were whispers. People knew. No one came to her aid. Not even her mother.
This is our fault.
In our mind’s eye, when a man or woman is raped, it’s often a brutal attack such that would leave bruising and physical scarring. In most cases, this attack lasts only for the brief period available to the attacker. Although the victim is hurting both mentally and physically for all intense and purposes, the attack is over save for the aftershock and its lasting affects. In the situation where a child is raped in what should be the comfort of their home, daycare, camp, church or school these rapes are constant, real, and more brutal. This is because the repeated attacks are not on the body alone. The mind, body and spirit are all victims of this savagery. The assailant does not run away. More often than not, he or she merely retreats to the next room until a later date. The rapist, more often than not, greets the victim, over morning breakfast.
This is not an attempt to diminish the damage caused by rape from a stranger or associate on an adult. A child, however, is placed in the situation of having to suffer the continual attacks of the perpetrator. Diminished is the will to fight, the opinion of self-worth and sometimes the will to survive. The crimes of the attacker become the shame they carry in secret places of their hearts.
Not long ago, there was outrage expressed regarding the treatment of prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay. Where is this same outcry against the brutal attacks on our children?
This is our fault.
Even with the overwhelming reports in the news about the kidnapping and rapes of children we, as a society, still live with the false comfort of thinking this could never happen to “my” child. We point fingers and ask where the parents are. We point fingers at our politicians and ask what they will do to protect our children. The question that begs to be asked is what we will do to protect our children. Politicians are not born into office. We vote them into and out of positions. This is accomplished by choosing to either cast or not to cast a vote. Children don’t vote.
We are at an impasse. The continuance of idle discussion about the changes that must be made is of no benefit. There is the blood of cruelty and deceit and hopelessness on the hands of those who choose to look the other way. How can we look into the faces of our children and know within our hearts that we do nothing to protect them? How do we look into the face of the person in the mirror with the knowledge that we cower from the prospect of standing up-sometimes alone, against the masses?
When we do nothing, we are a part of this quiet conspiracy.
When we do nothing, we are co-defendants in these crimes.
An even greater cause for concern surrounds the issue of the statute of limitations. As you may be aware, most assaults begin when a child is of such a young age that when they have reached adulthood, and are supposedly empowered to address the crime, the assailant is protected under this veil of injustice.
These crimes are of such degradation as to kill the spirit, hopes and dreams of children. The time limitation in place renders the victim of these vile crimes as helpless as when the assaults were taking place. The idea that the victim’s youth is being wielded, as a weapon to fend off prosecution is ludicrous.
This crime is responsible for killing and cutting short a childhood that as in physical death cannot be restored. This loophole cannot be made available to these criminals.
The term “molestation” can leave one with the misguided notion that the crime is not as “severe” as a rape. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The severity of repeated rape is incalculable. The devastation is more profound when the rapist is the caregiver or someone of authority.
If we were to strike the label “molester” from the vocabulary of laws, and name the crimes as they truly are: rapes, then perhaps we can begin to deal with this growing epidemic and stunt the cancer that steals our children’s innocence.
I write all of the above to offer that we must begin the healing process somewhere. Remove the binds of the statute of limitations for molestation, to make persons responsible for committing these crimes against children criminally liable for their actions long after the crime is committed.
If we do nothing to protect our children, then it is our fault.
That One Time I Falsely Accused Someone of Rape
“Place your hand on this bible.”
“Now you know what will happen if you swear on the bible and do the opposite, right?”
“Yes, Sir. I will go to Hell.”
“Now, if anybody asks if someone
messed with you, tell them it was your Uncle “Ted”.”
I was dismissed back to my room.
Shortly thereafter, I was sitting at the kitchen table eating, when suddenly; I felt the flutter of what reminded me of butterflies in my belly. Call it intuition, but I knew. Strangely, as quickly as the realization came to me, it went away just as quickly. I never put any thought into it again. I was not yet able to appreciate the magnitude of change the butterflies represented.
A few months passed and I began to gain weight, specifically in my belly.
After talking with a friend, Mama decided to take me to the doctor. That is an additional event, I will by no means forget. The nurse took me into the examination room and had me lay upon the examination table. The doctor came in and used the stethoscope to listen to my abdomen. She had a look of real concern on her face. She called another doctor over. His reaction was the same. They were quiet and spoke in whispers.
I was beginning to be very afraid. I was told to pee in a cup, get dressed and go back into the waiting room. I returned and sat next to my mother.
Sometime later, the female doctor came out to the waiting area and dropped a major bomb. Now remember, there we no such thing as privacy laws back then. So here we are in the reception room with all eyes on us!
First, she asked if I had had my period. The answer was no. She then calmly stated that I was pregnant! I can’t remember how far along she said I was. Then came the questions. Did I let someone touch me?
What had I been up to? At first, I vehemently denied everything. Then when I was full, I lied as instructed.
“Uncle “Ted”!” I blurted out.
“When was this?” My mama asked. “Did he make you?”
“Yes ma’am. He said if I didn’t, he would punch me in the face.” I cried. Honestly, this was the worst thing I could come up with. My uncle was always nice to us and I could not imagine him putting his hands on us-ever.
“Oh yeah-he must have. He is bigger than she is” my mom told the nurse.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“He told me not to.”
Dear God-they believed me! This all took place in the office waiting room in front of a bunch of strangers. I did not know enough to be ashamed.
While in the parking lot, on our way to the car, Mama was ranting and raving about what she was going to do to my uncle. I felt sick to my stomach. What had I done?
“What am I gonna tell your grandma, Aunt Alice and everybody else?” Mama ranted, not really asking a question. In my mind, I screamed, “Fuck them, what about me?”
Not once, did she console her daughter.
We arrived home after what seem to be an extremely long three-mile ride. As soon as we hit the door, Mama was yelling and cussing. She told Daddy everything that happened and she was vowing to find my uncle and kill him. She was looking for Daddy’s shotgun. Daddy called me into the kitchen and asked what I’d told mama. I assured him, his secret was safe. He smiled.
After Daddy put on the false front of trying to stop Mama, she put the gun and me in the car and we headed for St. Martinville. Supposedly, so Mama could shoot Uncle “Ted”.
The mere fact that he was okay with his brother being accused and threatened with certain death spoke to the rotted blackness of his soul.
We arrived there a few hours later. While at my step-grandma’s house, Ms. “Ann”, she carried on about how wrong it was for “Ted” to touch her child. After all, she was just a child.
Shortly after our arrival, my aunt “Tina”, Daddy’s sister, suggested Mama and me take a ride with her. Immediately, Aunt “Tina” started telling me that if her daughter were pregnant she would beat her between the legs with a two-by-four. She said I was lucky she wasn’t my mother. That she would beat me so badly, I would never have sex again. Then she graphically told of her wedding night and the fact that she was a virgin at the time. She spoke in detail of the pain and blood. I was horrified. Mama just sat there seconding the motion. Why were they so angry with me? I did nothing wrong. On the other hand, maybe I did. Was this really my fault?
Finally, we made it back to the house. Mama was walking up and down on the porch with her gun, waiting for my uncle. I knew I had to do something. I went on the porch and spoke to my mama.
“I’ve got something to tell you.” I said meekly.
“Uncle “Ted” didn’t touch me.”
“What?” she repeated.
“Daddy did it. He told me to say it was Uncle “Ted”.”
With that, she turned and went into the house and announced what I just told her. We both got into the car, shotgun included and left for home.
Upon our return, Mama informed Daddy of this new news. She yelled, cussed and threatened. Mama yelled so loudly, people were looking out of their windows. I was of course, shame faced.
I later learned that his punishment for raping and getting an eleven-year-old girl pregnant was a vasectomy.
Funny thing though, she never pulled the shotgun on him.
So now, God and I have a problem. What kind of god would place me in a position to be forced to place my hand on the Bible and lie? Then to save the life of another, I had to tell the truth-now I am doomed to Hell.
A couple of years later, I sat on the porch with Uncle “Tim” and another uncle. My entire body was constricted in absolute fear. I lied on him. I knew that he knew about the lie. I could barely hold a conversation.
Uncle “Tim” called me off the porch. He wanted to talk.
“Let me ask you a question.”
“Yes, Sir.” My stomach was clinched in terror.
I never touched you did I?”
“No Sir.” Head hung, mouth dry.
Your daddy told you to say that, didn’t he?”
“That’s what I thought. It’s okay, I’m not mad at you.”
I cried. I felt as light as a feather. As if the weight of the world were lifted from my shoulders. Forgiveness does that for a person.