I Thank God for You…
A serious post for those of you who have followed and supported me through the past year.
This is an update to the post “One Cha-Cha Step at a Time”…
Remember how I was waiting for the decision to be made as to whether the case moved forward to actual charges or not? Well, the decision was made a few weeks ago. The Assistant DA notified us (the sheriff’s investigator and I) that the statute of limitations has passed and no charges will be filed.
This has not been an easy pill to swallow. Thus the reason for not writing about it earlier.
At first I questioned how all these survivors of sexual abuse by priests could be coming forward and charges are being filed…and mine can’t? His response was ‘the decision is based on what year (time period) the offense occurred and what the law was then. Which means when this happened to me, the law was that it had to be reported within 3 years of the incident.
As I shake my head, I realize just how far the justice system has come in recognizing the reality for child survivors. Research now shows that most children don’t tell their parents or others – for various reasons: they have been threatened by the abuser, the abuser threatens their family if they tell, or because they feel shame. The research also goes on to talk about how the victims:survivors are more likely to come forward many years later when they’re adults. The decision to come forward may be triggered by a current event – whether it’s hearing that the abuser has abused again (in my case), hearing that the abuser has moved to a new parish, or position of leadership (a man came forward for this very reason – against a priest). Or also like me, they may not have even realized that they should come forward because (and here’s the kicker)…a) he’s my brother John, and b) I thought it was an awful thing he did only to me and no one else. …So when I look back to the law only allowing 3 years for the survivor to come forward – it’s absolutely ludicrous.
Another hard pill to swallow…the fact that he is a free man again. Free to walk the streets, whether it’s beside adults or children. Free to use computers again (how could they restrict/enforce that?). And free to be who he is…a pedophile. Will he need to check in once a year? Yes (big whoop). Is he listed as a pedophile on the state registry? Yes. Will he be getting ‘help’? I don’t know. I do hope so, however, I believe he ‘got help’ while he was in prison the first time…look what good it did. There is always talk about how to fix ‘them’ so they won’t do it again…whether it’s more therapy, castrating them (I just read an article about a country making this their law), or locking them away. Do I know the right answer? No. This brings me to the belief I’ve held for years…the belief that pedophiles cannot be rehabilitated. As far as the second idea – castration – it won’t stop them…they’ll find other ways to abuse. Lock them up? Well…so far that sounds like it’s the best option, doesn’t it?
Do pedophiles feel guilt? Or are they sociopaths who don’t see that what they’re doing is wrong? My brother is quite the manipulator – he can convince people/children that they’re special – he can convince people that he’s changed – found God again. He certainly did with my parents (God rest their souls). But who as parents wants to believe they have a troubled (evil) son?
He may be free from jail, but I feel in one way he’ll never be free…the memories of what he’s done to all these children…I hope, will haunt him forever. Those of you who know me, know that I’m a very forgiving and loving soul. But there is a part of me that wants him to be haunted for the rest of his life…and there’s a part of me that hopes he will go to hell when he dies. This is the part that I need to work on…for my peace of mind. And for my heart and my soul.
There’s forgiveness…and there’s hate. I actually had asked God to forgive him for me, because I just couldn’t do it myself, after which, I felt a sense of peace and calm. A priest once told me and the rest of the congregation this concept at a ‘Forgiveness Service’ – he said “If the person that wronged you did something so horrible to you that you can’t get yourself to forgive them, give it to God. Ask God to forgive them for you…it’s ok…God understands and will help you through.” This, obviously, was a very profound statement for me as this service was 13 years ago and I still remember his words to this day. So through this process, I felt I had forgiven him.
But you see, in my eye, I thought I was the only victim:survivor. So asking God to forgive him for me was something that I could do. But now there are others that he has abused. Some physically and some mentally (via the internet)…whatever the way, these children will have scars. If you remember in the earlier post I told you how a policewoman posed as a 13-year-old girl and he, thinking it was a 13-year-old girl, posted pictures of himself, built what he thought was a relationship with her, told her he loved her and made plans to meet her at a motel. And this was how he was caught. However, when the police questioned him, he denied it…until they produced copies of the entire conversation. It was at this point that he admitted it and then admitted to being in other chat rooms with other young girls.
I thank God that he was caught, and I pray – fiercely – that the parents of the children he was having conversations with will get their child the help they need. Because whether the parent realizes it or not, their girls could wind up battling ghosts until they are adults…ghosts that affect not only their mental health, but also their physical health.
You see some children don’t feel (and/or aren’t) as loved, accepted, or protected as other children…they may have a blind trust for mankind and feel the abuser is a confidant who loves them. Then what happens when the children are hit by the memories…the PTSD…the realization that the nightmares they’ve dealt with all these years isn’t normal? There’s shame, there’s anger, and yes a feeling of worthlessness that they may deal with…all…of…their…lives. Some turn to alcohol. Some turn to drugs. Some follow the same path and abuse others. Some turn to perfectionism – to prove to the world that they’re normal. And some are older than their years, having made the unconscious decision to act grown up. The last two were what I turned to…all while battling the feelings I’ve described above.
I’m doing much better than I was all those years, and especially better than I was last fall when I was told of his continued abuse. That’s when I truly unraveled. Those of you who know me, know that I have a fierce love and protectiveness for children. So yes, this struck me to the core.
Many professionals are taught to now watch for signs that children are being abused, whether it’s teachers, doctors, or nurses. I pray this system works so that children can get help soon after abuse, instead of 20-30+ years later. Parents, whether your child has been physically, sexually or mentally abused…please get them the help they need. Don’t let them go through life feeling like they never fit in or that they’re never good enough.
If you are a victim, know that you are not alone. Not by a long shot. There were things that happened to me that I thought had only happened to me and no one else. I was wrong, very wrong. And although I wish I had been the only one to have gone through it (so others wouldn’t have had to experience it), there is a sense of relief, acceptance and community that comes with knowing that you are not alone.
But please stop telling yourself you can handle it on your own, because you don’t need to. And I don’t think you can truly be free from the past without help. I’m not saying someone else can magically heal you, your healing needs to come from within. However, most of us don’t have the correct tools or training to successfully overcome these ghosts.
Of course there are many kinds of help you can seek. Medications can help with anxiety and depression, a good therapist can help you work through your feelings, PTSD, and help retrain your thought process from shame to strength or from victim to survivor. Your healing will take work – it’s not an easy road – but it’s definitely a freeing experience.
I’m discovering a real feeling of self-confidence for the first time in my life…not the façade of self-confidence that I’ve shown for years with the quivering victim hiding inside. It’s an incredible feeling. I know that I still have a lot of work to do, but already, I know I am coming through all of this stronger than before.
One last piece of advice…don’t close the door to your friends. Let them help, let them be there for you with a listening ear or a distracting funny story, or just let them be there, sitting beside you while you fall apart.
Which brings me to the most important part of this post: It is with an incredibly grateful heart, that I say thank you.
Thank you to all of you, new friends and old, who have taken a moment for me. Whether you chose to send a note, call, say a prayer, or share a hug to show your caring support – you are all so very much appreciated.
To those of you who have shared the story of their own past, I am encouraged by your strength and touched that you confided in me.
And to my family and loved ones, there are not enough words to express how much I appreciate your love, support and patience.
The beauty of this thing we call the internet is family and friends who can’t physically reach out to help because of distance, can still have their presence felt electronically.
These sentiments from you, whether near or far, are blessings in my life.
And I thank God for you.