This I Believe

Robert - King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Entered on February 19, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in an end to violence.

Being on the receiving end of the most hideous of violence — childhood sexual abuse — I have long struggled with the question of why this violence was brought upon me? Why have I been asked to carry this burden throughout my life?

I was a young boy when she ordered me into the bathroom to do her thing. And as I have worked through years of therapy, most recently attending a retreat for sexual abuse survivors, I’ve realized that sexual abuse brought upon an innocent child is a horrific and violent act. It was the powerful wielding her weapon over the powerless little boy.

The violence of the sexual abuse act became clear at the weekend survivor’s retreat, when we were allowed to so some “bag work” with a heavy bag clamped to the wooden rafters of the farmhouse.

We had to first set the stage for the rest of the male sexual abuse survivors and do whatever we needed to do with the heavy bag and a baseball bat.

Before I took my turn another male survivor of childhood sexual abuse, set the stage. He had been molested by a priest at the age of 10. He started his heavy bag work by tapping the side of it with the bat, the end of the bat toying with the side of the bag. He tapped it a few more times with the end of the bat, then slamming it hard, his cursing echoing throughout the silent room. Repeatedly I heard the thud and whack of the bat hitting the bag and, at one point, had to close my eyes tightly…it was too painful to watch and hear his rage, anger, hurt, pain come flowing out.

When it was my turn I approached the bag, touching it with the fingers of my right hand. I felt the cool, rough canvas of the gray bag. I then grasped the bag and set the stage for the other survivors present to watch me struggle with my inner demons brought to me by my perpetrator, my mother. I then walked around the bag a few times, holding the bat in my right hand. I then got in touch with my anger and rage. I dug deep into my feelings and hammered away at the bag, much like a baseball player at batting practice, though there was much more release in this action than simply cracking a ball against the bat. This was for the years of abuse, both verbal and physical, that I had had to endure. This was for all the pain I’ve been through. This was for all the hurt and shame that I had carried for these 35 some-odd years. I pummeled the bag, as the sweat began to bead on my forehead and under my arms. Tears were flowing down my face as I swore obscenities at the woman who brought these violent acts upon me, and left me to deal with it.

People often wonder when someone commits an act of violence, how it can happen. Look into their past and you will be sure to find violence brought upon them.

As the Witch says in the earlier Broadway musical, Into the Woods said:

Careful the spell you cast,

not just on children.

Sometimes the spell will last

past what you can see

and turn against you…

So, I believe in an end to violence against children.