As a child of a violent crime, I was silent for thirty eight years. We become targets, as victims and children without a voice. Growing up as the daughter of a minister, the sexual abuse began when I was a little child. The “secret” of my grandfather incesting me while treating me to ice cream was unthinkable! He took me alone with him in his car where he asked for sexual favors and molested me. Favors are given to the victim holding power over us, downplaying the abuser’s part and hoping the innocent child won’t tell. He told me not to. I was too little to understand anyway.
I discovered the truth when I faced the minister who had molested as a preteen at a church camp and as an adult forgave him. He told me not to tell while he gave into his uncontrollable urge to molest me singling me out, as if picking the sweetest, ripest, freshest, undefiled oranges at the supermarket. He fondled me underneath my bathing suit while he laughed and joked at the swimming hole. What I now know is those secrets shut me down with post traumatic stress disorder much like amnesia. As a child there was a lot of hidden pain in my face and a voice that couldn’t speak about what was happening to me.
Like a deaf mute, I became silent about it for decades, desperately wanting to tell someone what was happening in my world of horrible memories, but unable to do so. Like the silent falling of the snowflakes, no words came out; no voice was heard and there were only tears late at night falling on my pillow. What I know now is that when we fail to protect children, we ultimately fail to protect ourselves. Children are being molested in the very safest places they should be protected. . . . in our homes, in our schools and in our churches. The statistics are horrifying! One out of three women and one out of five men have been abused. It is as common as shop lifting. Children need to be taught that there are OK secrets (keeping a surprise birthday party a secret) and “go and tell” secrets (when someone who you might love and know touches you inappropriately.) What I now know is that forgiveness set me free!
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