I have friends who cannot believe my openness here on Facebook. One of the things that I respect most about our country is the Freedom of Speech. We all have the right to speak about the issues in our life or not–depending on what is best for each of us and our conscious.
There is a role that I took up years ago. I took the ‘role’ consciously and I did it publicly in that at that time, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Review, a paper that reports to my hometown of Newark, California. The editor called me personally, to let me know that my name would be withheld and why, (to protect my minor child), and he also let me know that the letter was very well written.
Before I go on to tell you about my ‘role’ let me just say that on my father’s side of the family there is a history of people who willingly take a stand on issues, who take up the torch and speak the way that they know how. The most recent example that I know if is with my dad’s baby sister. She caught a school bus driver in the act of raping a mentally disabled girl in the back of the bus, on the end of her street. She held the man at gun point until the sheriff arrived. And yes, she got an award for that, but no one asked her to do this, she took it upon herself. My own father gave time and his talents to the City of Newark, and Newark Unified School District. At some point he decided to campaign for a person who was running for mayor or city council. He took me around with him from house to house, and with this small act got me interested in politics, the bottom line is that he was involved in his community. I have a cousin who died way too young, at 15 years of age from trying to huff gasoline. One of my father’s younger brothers went to high schools and parents groups to educate about huffing and it’s deadly consequences. These are just three examples, but I take on my role with the history of example before me. I am not doing anything new or contrary to what I have learned from those who have gone before me.
When I took up the role the goal was that if I helped one child, or one parent help and support said child then I have succeeded. So far, I have not consciously shirked that which I feel is a responsibility. I have written letters over the years to editors of newspapers, to sheriffs of counties, to congressmen, state representatives, and to judges. I have absolutely made more than one trip to the state capital to get through to law makers to get laws passed that would help the ‘victim’ of certain crimes. I write essays and I post them to my blog and to Facebook.
Today’s essay is about a betrayal and silence. I’m writing about a betrayal to me, and I’m writing a public correction. When I betrayed myself, I also betrayed every parent out there who was doing their absolute best to emotionally support a child hurting from a violent crime: childhood sexual abuse. It was never intentional, but keep in my mind that when I write, I write with a goal of support, or of correction, of education, and above all the goal of prevention.
In 1992 or so, I signed legal papers where I agreed to not speak about certain issues pertaining to a crime perpetrated against my daughter.
That is a pretty strong statement to make. So, let me restate my ‘role’ so that it is really clear. I made myself a voice for children and their parents. I made myself an ADVOCATE for children and women who have been a victim of a violent crime, keep in mind that by its very nature and definition includes all acts perpetrated against them such as childhood sexual abuse, and rape. I don’t really exclude speaking for men in this role, it’s just that far more little girls and women are hurt by violence.
Writing is something that I am particularly good at. It is my gift. It is how I spread ‘the word’ whatever that is each day, or week. Everything that I post on Facebook is a sanitized version of what goes onto my blog. For example, when I post this to the blog, I’ll probably be also be uploading some supporting documents. Having said all of this, IF at any time reading this becomes too much for you then by all means, close the window, turn off the computer, walk away, or unfriend me. If anyone understands what the reaction can be, it is me. Do what you need to do, do what is good for you!
Just know that I will not be silent. I cannot, because I gave myself a job a long time ago, to speak for the helpless, to help those who had no voice, to speak for them if need be, to speak and support them until they found their own voice. This means speaking about things that are really hard to hear, and things that are really hard to say.
Part of what makes my writing particularly powerful is that I write from MY own experiences. I share more today, than I did in my past because now, I can say that to some degree I have learned to overcome.
Back in 1992 I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I had been put through the wringer. I was not supported by my then husband. He was not involved in family life in any meaningful way. He came home from work, turned on the old 8086 and buried himself in what was then known as a “BBS”. Internet before there was one. I was being accused by family members of putting ideas in my daughters head, and of ‘obsessing’ on the subject of abuse. And just a little side note here, those are some of the first arguments a perpetrator will use against a victim– “how did you get those ideas in your pretty little head?” The truth of the matter was that I could not have made up the facts if I’d wanted to, my imagination was far too limited. And if you call wanting to learn everything I could about the family dynamics involved in the mess that hurt my child obsessing, then so be it. But know, I will never call that obsessing, I will call it cramming, because it was all coming too late to help my child.
I had just dropped a civil suit where I was involved in trying to collect a default judgement of 1.4 million dollars for damages, etc. on behalf of my daughter. This default judgement was made against my step-father. Since the only money that could be collected at that time would come from the homeowners insurance my mother had to be named on the suit. I never intended to take anything from her and that includes money, property, or anything else of any material worth. I wrote her and her attorney a letter saying so. I included these little details in my instructions to my attorney.
My mother hired an attorney out of San Francisco, one who advertised in the S. F. Chronicle whose specialty was to defend those charged with a sexual crime. Not only was it his specialty, he was a high end and well known attorney for those types of criminals. She went in with my step-father and filed papers to have the judgement thrown out. Because it was a default judgement, it was tossed. I continued on in the legal process because I felt I had to for my child’s sake. The judge in the criminal case had said in his closing remarks that the case had been the most under charged case he’d ever seen. Simply put the case was ugly and sick.
I dropped the civil suit over the long haul because I was exhausted. There is nothing more to say about that. Except there is. In order to do what is right by myself, my child, and all the other children and parents out there who are trying to just get through their own situation, I am choosing to not be silent anymore.
My mother filed papers for a restraining order against me. She cited happenings that I could not even remember, and at that time I doubted actually happened and I doubt it happened now. She also filed papers that said that I was a bad mother to my daughter, and that she wanted custody of her. By this time I had a baby boy. She never said I was a bad mother to him, nor did she seek custody of him. I was very naïve and uneducated in those days, and I believed she could succeed at this, and I prepared to take my children and run to Mexico.
Are you beginning to see why I might be exhausted? I dropped the civil case due to exhaustion. I dropped the civil suit because I was legally coerced in doing so. One might say, that it was a legal assault. Just because it was legal, one cannot say that it was right, not morally, not on any grounds whatsoever.
So I dropped the case, and in order to drop the case I had to sign papers saying I’d never speak of these things again. Do you see where the betrayal came in? A legal silencing. I agreed to forever remain silent about my mother and her place in the abuse of my daughter. Do you see how I betrayed myself and my child?
From that time until today I have remained relatively silent. I, would pick and choose who I spoke to because if it got back to my mother, I could end up back in court for breaking an agreement.
My husband has heard the story a few times. He has always felt that I was coerced into silence, but he never ever used the word coerced until today. Today, was the day that I realized that I was legally silenced, I had not yet realized that coercion had a thing to do with it. I now understand why I get so angry when I hear that my mother is (again) bragging about how she’s stayed out of legal trouble, and that she’s never been to jail, etc. etc. etc. It can be legal mom, but it does NOT necessarily make it right. You won’t rationalize your defense at my sake anymore.
This is ONE of MANY reasons I cannot remain silent. Silence protects perpetrators and allows them to continue their crime.
Perpetrators DEMAND silence. Perpetrators demand silence and coerce to get it. Coercion comes in many forms: violence, threats of violence, or by any other means available to them that will get them what they want. There seems to be no end to their imaginations.
In terms of my own mental health, I have been silent on too many issues for far too long. I am silent no more.
The dysfunction of my little family starts with me. The only demand I am making is that the cycle be broken, let it start with me. Helping that one child or that one parent is the goal. But to be 100% honest today it’s about why I am silent, and what I need to do for me.
So, you do what you need to do. Shut the browser window; turn off the computer, walk away, or unfriend me. It’s still my job to speak for those who cannot even if I am about 20 to 25 years late.
pars ~ 09 June 2016