When I was around nine years old, the Catholic school I attended marched all the kids to the steps of Parliament. There, they made us kneel on the cold concrete steps, bow our heads, and pray in silence. It was my first protest march - albeit a silent one. I didn't know anything about abortion but I thought if kneeling in front of the Beehive was going to stop babies being murdered, then so be it.
I don’t remember having to get a parent’s permission slip or, indeed, whether my participation in that silent protest was something I even wanted to do - it’s just the way nun’s roll I suppose. Besides, it was for a noble cause, right – saving babies, kids, our most vulnerable within Society? Who on Earth would have had the gumption to tell us to move right along?
Society seems to have hardened up these days. Those same nine year old kids are more than likely parents themselves. They never had the safety of some “Anti Smacking” law and probably spent a great deal of time drinking raspberry and lemonades in the back seat of a car while their parents got drunk at the local pub. There were no safety belts back then and drink-driving was a norm. Nor were there News items about child molesters, just weird stereotypical men who lurked in bushes, so as long as you stayed away from them, you were fine!
But statistically, one in four girls and one in ten boys were also being raped – that is the dark side of many people’s childhood, the not so noble one.
But where were the protests, the nuns, the people prepared to kneel, even in silence, on the steps of Parliament then? Nowhere.
has one of the highest levels of child abuse and yet, nothing…nothing but silence. Any why is that? Because the only people who seem prepared to speak out, to demand change are the victims themselves. That’s not an easy thing to do because Society doesn’t want to “own” this problem. Instead, it prefers to cloud child sex abuse, fog the issue with claims of false memory syndrome, lies, and deceit, and ultimately, turn the person who tried to make things better, into the person who only made matters worse. New Zealand
But let’s imagine even for a minute that someone, somewhere, was brave enough to take on this challenge, just what would that entail?
Anonymous said...“…I am inspired by you and your courage and have considered more fully whether to share my story with my siblings, and whether to report my abuser…”
Don’t people get it? Don’t people realize just what they’re asking? To not be able to even tell your story, let alone to your siblings, is like asking someone to never talk about their life. Who are we if we cannot even talk about our life? How does someone even begin to introduce themselves when they’re being asked (told!) not to reveal who they are? Is recovering from child sex abuse really as simple as ‘just getting over it’ or (my all time favorite) ‘just let it go, will you!’
Who here would dare say that to a nun kneeling on the steps of Parliament or a Veteran soldier suffering from PTSD or, God forbid, a Holocaust survivor? We hold these people up in high esteem. We respect their pain and their anguish. Child sex abuse survivors get re-victimized, put on trial, dragged through the mud. They loose jobs, relationships, and family. They’ve already endured the loss of trust which goes hand-in-hand with the ability to love. Now people want them to shut up too?
But…do I really want to encourage ‘Anonymous’ to speak out? Perhaps it’s not about whether he/she should speak out but more about whether he/she has the strength to endure all that speaking out entails. As someone once told me, you might win but you will also loose.
As for me… My freedom of speech is something I will never surrender. Some days, it’s all a survivor has left.