Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You don't want to read this post

This is what a sex offender looks like
But not as badly as I don't want to write it.  But I have to, having read the disgusting details of the charges against Sandusky in today's Maureen Dowd column.  I sort of wish I hadn't read it - you never get over this stuff.  Having been an abused child is like having a war wound that aches from time to time.

I am talking about the huge sexual-abuse scandals topping the news today.  You know who they are, the football coaches, the political candidate who is trying to get you to believe eight women are conspiring against him.  Two different kinds of abuse, but both about men in positions of power forcing themselves upon the younger and weaker - the child in the locker room, the female job candidate.  Men above them in the heirarchy protecting them, dropping the ball, letting it slide.  Catholic church.  Penn State.  Politics.

As long as we valorize high testoserone, this is going to happen.  As long as we let men build masculine forts in which they all protect one another, this is going to happen.

Okay, but I'm not here to write the theory but just to say one thing I wish each reader would listen to:  there are probably children in your life.  Your own, your grandkids, your nieces and nephews.  Your younger brothers and sisters.  Protect them. They are powerless to protect themselves.

How?  When you see a child change, a behavior change that doesn't quite make sense, get interested.  A child should not suddenly develop insomnia or night terrors, should not suddenly get dark circles under her eyes or become listless or misbehave at school or take up drugs.  Don't see these things as "discipline problems" and lower the boom.  Talk to that kid.  The closer you are to them, the more important that you listen to them deeply.  If you just don't know what's happening, set that kid up with a counselor they might feel free to talk to.

I'll tell you just one little story and then I can't stand this.  When I was 11, I stood with my mother in their bedroom and said to her softly, with great embarassment, "Daddy has bad breath."

Believe me, my mother could not possibly go where that should have gone.  It could have gone to Why honey?  When did you notice that?  Not a chance.  She could not imagine a father violating his daughter.  Dependent on her husband as she was, caught in romantic illusions, she couldn't have any distance from him, couldn't see him as he was.  She lived in a sort of dream. And we do.

So she said, "I don't understand that.  If his breath gets bad, I say to him, 'Ed, I think your pyorrhea is acting up again."  (This was called trenchmouth in the war.)  And it was never mentioned again. 

My father was a scoutmaster, in fact rose to be a regional director in Boy Scouts of America.  He was a white-collar worker, a defense engineer.  We went to a high-class Congregational Church, where they contributed to the building campaign.  My parents kept a nice house, he painted it, mowed the lawn.  He wore nice suits and good shoes.  Him?  Abuse his daughter?  Never.

Your own husband can do it to his own children.  So can the kids' stepfather or your boyfriend.  The kid's grandfather or grandmother, sad to say, the coach, the priest, the teacher, the guy at the candy store or pizza shop.  A neighbor.  Take care of your children and the children you know, be watchful.  They can't protect themselves.  You don't want to think you live in a world like that.  Neither do I.  But we do.

It is upsetting me to even have this guy's face on my blog.  But I think it's important to look at him, look hard.  Believe it.


  1. Your courage is huge, just to even post this because obviously it was very difficult. But you are so right to shine a light on this horrible darkness that too many people accept because of their own fears. That the child is sacrificed to the adult's unwillingness to face the truth is by itself a crime.

  2. I protect my kids with ferocity, and I'm glad I do. If you were my daughter, your father would have had his skull cracked with a cast iron frying pan.