When no one comes to save us

More than 10 years ago I decided to write a book almost no one reads after 2 years of fighting for consequences for Charles.

He had dodged mandatory sentencing when the local DA chose to not charge him with any of the more serious allegations against him—multiple, aggravated sexual assaults.

We had been lied to and our victims’ impact statements disappeared.

Only one of dozens of public officials I contacted tried to “look into” our case.

We moved and I told myself I should just expect no help the next time.

I wrote a book so that the story would be there for others. I warned people it was not a fun book to read.

A year ago a friend called me and told me her young daughter had been brutally and repeatedly raped by a former MLB player who began coaching children when he retired from baseball.

The victim told a clear story of assault, abuse, and video recordings of abuse. She has always struck me as a very truthful person. The story she tells is cogent and strongly suggests she was not the only victim and that other young girls were raped and their rapes were recorded and shared.

The local law enforcement never arrested the alleged assailant. He was never charged with a single crime.

The local FBI cautioned the victim’s mother that she should not bother the local police with the story.

Here was an outcry which strongly suggested multiple minors had been raped and those rapes had been filmed and disseminated.

Nothing happened. The alleged rapist still coaches children.

After Uvalde I called the head of DPS and his receptionist sent me to a voicemail of the Texas Rangers. I have had no success in trying to help this family. They moved to another state but the trauma and threat remain.

And what about all the other potential victims? What about the possible footage of the rapes?

What should we all do

When no one comes to save us?

One in what?!?

I see this statistic so often I have it memorized–one in four girls are sexually abused, one in six boys. That is 25% of girls and 16% of boys.

Only the statistics are ridiculously low and therefore misleading and therefore very wrong.

There is NO reason to believe that the statistics for Norfolk or Pitcairn Island wouldn’t apply to the rest of us. There is little reason to think that pervasive abuse of boys by a man like Jerry Sandusky would not factor into raising the stats for boys.

Let me offer a counter example–1 in 4 girls eats cereal for breakfast, 1 in 6 boys has some kind of tomato in his diet.

I bet if you read that statistic you would have one of two responses–

Boy,those numbers are off!
Or
Sure, but that cannot be all of the kids eating cereal and tomatoes.

The most scientific response to those statistics would be to dig deeper to find out why the kids were not having their diet accurately reported.

It would actually be a relief if the answer were in the children–they lied or felt ashamed of their cereal and tomatoes?

But the ugly truth is this: our society systematically pressures victims and their families to suppress stories of abuse. Our numbers are grossly inaccurate because no one wants to face the real numbers.

And by numbers I mean people
And by people I mean children
And by children I mean rape victims…who deserve our help, our assistance, our dismay.

The second day

I remember people exclaiming that I had lost weight. When I told them why I had lost weight they would look stricken. It was a striking story.

But the truth was worse than I ever could explain.

I could get past the discomfort of being punched, kicked, and bitten by my adopted daughter. I could mitigate her curses..and her violent imaginary friend.

I could push through the shock and discomfort others felt when I told them our children had been abused by her brother, my adopted son.

I could live beneath the heavy weight of the years my children spent in the company of a child abuser.

But I could never adequately describe the devastation created by our own family and others we had known for years.

Family was the worst. They made excuses. Coddled the perps, lashed out at young, very young victims.

Some were dismissive. Some skeptical. Some cruel.

Even after years and deliberate distance, their reactions still shock me.

I can still describe the diet.

It is simple:

Eat sorrow where once there was bread

Eat loss where there used to be community

Eat anger in the place where the family should stand

In a circle around their littlest victim
Dogs for children.

Dogs. For. Children. Indeed.

Answers for hard questions

I force myself to ask a mixture of hard and easy answers–
Do you like scary movies?
Do you do puzzles
Mixed with
Where is your anger
He has a self-effacing way of saying he used to “act up”
This is a little like saying Mussolini used to be into public oratory
So I ask
How is your anger (anyway)?
He says his psychologist
Tells him he is letting it out
(like a Jack Russell terrier roaming the cul-de-sac?)
…When he does ordinary things

It is gone now
the subtext
I am always reading the subtext

Why revenge is not sweet

For at least. a few months after I found out my children had been hurt by their adopted brother I would admit to other people that I had a desire to take him to a roadhouse down the street, announce his crimes and then close the door on him. I do not admit this with any pride, I tell this story because it is one step toward forgiveness.

There are things he could have done and can still do that are worse.

There are things he did which keep me up at night searching for answers.

And all humans are a rum bunch. Let’s be honest.

I am tired of reading about children being hurt. The more prolonged and grievous the hurt, the less I want to face it. But I do and I pray.

And I understand the wild and violent response people have toward the disembodied child abuser. The only problem is our wild cries for blood are not effective. And our response to real abusers is often muted and myopic.

My first question is–why not shut down NASA?

I know, you worry about all the unemployed astronauts, I would too if I did not already have a plan. Let’s take these extremely smart people preoccupied with the elusive quest for martian scat and put them onto the task of keeping children safe–ending child abuse.

You know–like the repair scene in Apollo 13 only with children not tubes.

Stop telling me you want some hairy inmate to put a beat down on those who harm children, call your congressman and tell him you want infanticide eradicated. Call your pastor and tell him you want to start a parenting group. Call the police if you hear a baby crying in a way that suggests abuse, not gas.

Do something to change the world. Because if you are leaving all this to the lawless to sort out, well don’t be surprised when all that is left is the wreckage of a country that might once have been safe for children.

The Hell of Words

Once
When you were still a boy
I walked with you
Into cool water in a dying light
No deeper than your waist
Although the gulf itself
Stretched for miles
Out forever

When I draw words for hell
I get them from Sartre
Not Jesus
Or Dante
Like lighting a match
To draw fire

This room is airless enough
The faces of it’s inhabitants
Never vary/a rictus of pain

I wonder…
Are you as afraid as I am
Of the little things
That last
Forever?
And the possibility
That there will be
No way out.

Forgiveness

Definitions of forgiveness
1. The Man on the Cross bleeding love out in each dying breath
2. The little girl abused until she was five who is so afraid of hell (thanks to Dante Alighieri) who says:

Even though it still hurts
To know what Charles
Did to me
I don’t want him
To go to hell

The pain of it all
Never ebbing
From her beautiful
Face.

Give me a new country

Uncock the gun

Release the bullets

Into the palm of your hand

Put the weapon down

Smash it into pieces

Sown into earth

Like the teeth of the mythical

Dragon

Pull down the walls

Release the lions

They will feed now

On grass like the Lamb

Who has tamed them

Undo all  the damage

Unleashed by thIs savage

Heart  next to

A river, next to a Tree

At the center of this new country