April 29, 2011

The Weight of Silence

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. New Zealand 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.

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. 


  1. The analogy with the holocaust victims and old soldiers is spot on. Why are these stoic victims of a sick society treated like second class citizens.

    I sense a problem here with the justice system predominantly, and the fact that police by and large know there is a problem, even a huge problem, and they are aware of how hard it is to bring victims and perpetrators to court for a Fair hearing. It's a bit like CATT Teams not placing at risk people in mental health wards, there is simply not enough beds. What I think I am trying to say is that the courts are full and have been for some time and getting a case to court is just too difficult in many cases, so the matter is dealt at other levels (therapy, ACC [??], psychologists, etc).

    Now we can turn this around on it's ear. Lets say 90% of those teenagers and young adults that present at court for crimes they committed are also victims of child abuse (or poor parenting). If we instead channeled resources into training (at school) young teenagers on positive parenting and try to break the cycle that leads to kids going to court, and then freed up the justice system for those more serious cases of Child Abuse (including Child Sexual Abuse) then we are to be seen to be doing our job as a society.

    One way or another, this country needs to reprioritise the way families are operating. I feel one of the biggest problems here is alcohol and drugs. Why you ask? Simple a lot of young adults meet through alcohol or drugs, form relationships, and suddenly as parents they have to sober up (mostly the mother) and the relationship dynamic changes and single parent families are the result. And these dynamics laed to broken families and broken children and the whole thing perpetuates itself.

    Smoking might kill 5,000 (ASH's ballpark figure) a year, but how much damage to lives is committed every year through alcohol and drugs?

    Good post "Jax".

  2. couldnt have said it better myself.

  3. Thank you Jax. I am in awe and tears at the power of your words; the strength, the wisdom, the knowing, the hurt, the pain, the anguish..of the knowing that the 'greatest griefs are the silent ones'.

    Someone writes (can't remember name) that "To surrender yourself....is worse than death itself".

    Thank you for your inspiration and for not giving way to the 'surrender of yourself' to the will of others.

    'KIA KAHA' and may the weekend be all that you desire it to be, now matter what that desire is!!

    Sending you much love -"RACHEL".

  4. I too went to a catholic school and it was there that I was abused by my own grandfather/caretaker. He abused some other young girl also and she spoke out. But indeed she was the sinner, the liar, the troublemaker, the temptress. I really wish I spoke up too but after what she had been through...and the fact that he had full access to me...I gave up. The fact that no one wanted to know or help was enough to make my life worthless. I felt like scum. The priest who came to the school was teaching me to do confession. I confessed...well tried to in my childlike language...and was interrupted suddenly with "God forgives you of your sin". MY sin? ACC also make me feel like it's MY sin... Sometimes it seems like that's how everyone thinks. You are inspiring.

  5. Seems as if others are coming forward now too...

    There was another "victim" being sued by ACC that Carmel mentioned on the News and now this..


  6. Jax, you hit the nail on the head with this post. I am in awe of your courage and determination... always was, always will be.


  7. Thank you for making the world better for all of us.

  8. Hey it was me that thought that maybe I could share with my siblings..thankyou Jax; I have now told my ex husband and my children; I want to heal. I am scared that I won't have the endurance to take my abuser to court. It was my dad who raped me, but I don't wwant to go through the cross examination; hell my ex won;t even talk about it. he just goes on about our pitiful sex life..the legacy of abuse. I really admire your courage. Thankyou for speaking outxxxxx

  9. Hi Anon... not the the one just above who seems to have lost his teeth.... the other one.

    There is no rush... to disclose. This is YOUR life. YOUR story. Just make sure you tell it to safe people..... Shame your ex only thought to comment on his sex life with you but then, maybe, that's why he's your ex....

    Keep strong hun... and good on you. x

  10. You believe in freedom of speech?
    Yeah right!
    If you did there would be more comments on your blog from those of us who are survivors of child sexual abuse. instead you choose to openly rubbish us, without a right of reply!

  11. Am crying after reading your post Jax - read that article that Kyle had tweeted about PTSD from War Veterans and thinking along the lines of what you just wrote. For alot of last year I was so pissed off and felt like I would not and could not be silenced - now it just hurts to think or move, and am angry I'm not sure how to stand up for myself.
    Anyway! Not about me - you go girlfriend! At the end of the day your choices have to be for you, but inadvertently you are helping me too.
    Love x

  12. Go Jax! Glad your blog is here, I feel so alone.

  13. JustAGirl..... I will email you. This may help you more than you know. Message from my lawyers. I will forward to you hun. x

  14. From:
    Anonymous said...
    You believe in freedom of speech?
    Yeah right!
    If you did there would be more comments on your blog from those of us who are survivors of child sexual abuse. instead you choose to openly rubbish us, without a right of reply!

    You have a right of reply... I'm posting it. Where have I "rubbished" survivors again? Really, I missed that....

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Have you heard of the laws surrounding 'Intellectual Property'? Obviously not. I suggest you look up two words in the dictionary: slander and libel. When you understand what these words mean, I suggest that you take down this blog and start anew, with dignity and restraint. This type of sensational writing does you no favours, you might want to say what you like in a public forum but under the law you simply cannot. Your blog also casts a shadow over we survivors who choose to take our grievances through the correct channels.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Jax have you heard of the laws surrounding 'Intellectual Property'? Probably not. You might want to say what you want in a public forum but you simply cannot. I want you to look up two words in the dictioary: slander and libel, and then remove this blog and start anew with some legal advice. This kind of sensational writing does you no favours, it also casts a slight on we survivors of abuse who choose to take our grievances through the correct channels. sue wilson

  19. Sue,

    Thank you for you numerous and somewhat repetitive posts. I have taken my "grievances" through the correct channels. You might like to read more of the blog perhaps, or not - your choice.

    However, this is the route I have chosen. If you don't like it or it is not for you, or it is something you don't see yourself doing, then all in good. We're all entitled to our differences - me included.

    I will do what is right for me.

    But I thank you for your post.


  20. Wow, what is Sue on about? 'We suvivors' are all different and I wish I had your strength Jax. You go girl! Don't be discouraged by the one person in the crowd who thinks differently from "we suvivors".

  21. Thanks Anon

    ...and don't worry, if I listened to the minority as opposed to the growing number of people on here (and those who have messaged me privately), who think I am not only doing the right thing for me, but for them also...I'd have crawled under my rock a long time ago.

    Different strokes for different folks I guess.

    We all choose how to deal with child sex abuse.

    I've spent a long time doing the "victim" mentality which is to assume everyone knows what's best for me and God forbid, I tread on a few toes.... it just doesn't work for me and by all accounts, it doesn't seem to be working for a lot of people...

    So I say this... if it works for you, keep doing it..... but have some respect for your sisters and brothers who continue to fight for the rights you might (one day)not only enjoy but depend upon.


  22. And so you know.... we (and yes there is a group of us here Sue), we do our homework. Good luck with your book.


  23. Sue, I dont think this blog should be removed. It not only reflects the opinion of the blogger but of many of us who have been deeply affected by the New Clinical Pathways. Lets be clear, this is what the issue is about. The day we cannot have opinions about people in powerful positions making ill thought out changes to much needed services, is a day of great concern to me. Its is not slanderous or libel, it is opinion. Feel free to disagree with it....


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