I went to see the movie Spotlight at today’s matinee. Spotlight is a movie about how the Boston Globe blew the lid off the Catholic abuse scandal in Boston, Massachusetts. It was very well done. Anyone Catholic or who grew up Catholic will find it difficult to watch. Anyone who has been sexually abused will feel sad, hurt, vindicated, relieved, angry, and a slew of other emotions that can only be internally defined.
Because who cares? Because who wants to talk about that shit anyway. Who wants to dredge up all the sludge and re-inhale the stink that coats your organs in tar? Who wants to spend the time finding and paying someone to listen to sad stories? Who wants to be defined by their past? Who wants to talk about bad shit that irreparably harmed a piece of them?
Because while you have gone on with your life, there will always be a part of you stuck back there. The part of you that you couldn’t rescue and that no one else was able to save either – even those who were supposed to protect you.
It is worth saying that this is the day after the one where I’ve said how grateful I am for all I have and where I am in my life. You know – all the experiences that have made me who I am.
But some experiences just suck. Plain and simple. Child sexual abuse is one of those things. You can be thrilled about where you are in life and wish you could’ve gotten there without having to patch the gaping hole left in the walls of your psyche. Some thrive, but not everyone flourishes emotionally after they have been violated in such a devastating way.
If it was a stranger you try to figure out how you became a target. It messes with you in a different way when someone or an organization you believed in unconditionally failed you so miserably. To complicate matters, you hated someone you also loved. No –not everyone rebounds from that.
The next time you’re in a room of 10 women, think about the fact that at least 2 of them were probably sexually abused as children. Next sporting event know that it happened to every 1 in 20 men there. If it was a disease it would be considered an epidemic.
For the victims that were not believed, felt ashamed, blamed themselves, kept the secret – you are not alone. If you’re like me, that realization sickens you and ticks you off even more. I mean no one wants to know that someone else endured this. The club is a HUGE one in which every member wish their membership could be revoked.
That membership is an expensive one too.
For those who didn’t commit suicide and who haven’t worked their way productively through their truth, it manifests itself in negative behavior as adults. Self-sabotage, bravado, trust issues, aggression, depression, substance abuse, failed relationships, low self-esteem, and sometimes the abused becomes the abuser.
Spending time asking ‘why’ serves to be a futile exercise. No matter how many times it is asked, no answer will be sufficient or justifiable. In the absence of information, you may have created your own narrative about how ugly you are and how unworthy you are, because how else could something so horrible happen to you right?
Until you recognize the rationale doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. It’s a lie you’ve been telling yourself for so long that you believe it’s truth without question. So I’ll ask you these questions:
What if someone you loved shared the same horrible secret with you? Would you tell them they deserved it? Would you tell them that they were unlovable? Unclean? Worthless? Undeserving of all happiness? That there was no one who could help you?
No. You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t hate them. You would focus on their well-being. You would acknowledge how brave they were. You would be careful with their feelings. You would love them. You would get them help.
Stop lying to yourself.
If you’re still working your way back from sexual abuse, you are trying to help someone you love through their journey, or you want lo learn more, here is one place to start. http://www.bandbacktogether.com/.
My favorite line of the movie Spotlight was “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.” I believe that it takes a village to heal one. I am part of your village. There are others. And we love you.