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Friday, July 5, 2013

Child Abuse is Hell. See Something? Do Something. For the Sake of Your Own Soul.

I just drove, alone, through my hometown. I don't often do that.

As soon as I crossed the border into my hometown, I felt a wave of incalculable agony and inconsolable grief.

At this point in my life, I can see that my hometown is actually rather picturesque. There are whirligigs on lawns, rolling hills, groves of trees I once rested under – much taller now – and family businesses that were there when I was a kid, somehow resisting competition from chain stores.

There is the colonial post office where a bemused postal clerk weighed and priced my writing as I sent it off to big city publishers, dwellers on alien planets, who would only ever reject anything I wrote. There are kids playing in the street. Blue skies; fluffy white clouds; lilacs, daylilies, dogs on leashes, rose of Sharon.

Why do these homey, almost bucolic visions overwhelm me with a sadness as dark and profound as anything I've ever felt, any joy, any hope, any elation when I finally did get my writing published?

I was an abused kid. I was abused by a primary abuser and several others. I was hated. I was told I was a loser, an idiot, that I'd end up in the gutter. I am dyslexic, a word I did not know when I was a kid, and I was slow to learn to read, to tie my shoes, to operate a key in a lock, to tell time. I was assured I was the ugliest, stupidest, most worthless entity on earth.

Kids would line up in school to ogle my bruises. My primary abuser went after me in public.

It was obvious. The hate, the beatings, the neglect.

No one ever did anything. No one. Not one teacher or priest or nun or doctor or neighbor or friend. Nobody. Everybody saw. Nobody said a word.

Years. And years and years and years and years and years. Years when I might have been happy. Years when I might have been healthy. Years when I might have learned to play a musical instrument. Years when I might have realized that I really wasn't an idiot and began to prepare for my future. Years when I might have had friends. Years when I might not have been afraid of walking down the hallway in my own house. Not my house. It was never my house. The house in which I lived.

Years of hell in that picturesque town full of churchgoing people who never saw, never spoke, never intervened.

In "Save Send Delete" I talk about why I believe in God. The book is a conversation I had with a prominent atheist I saw on television.

I believe in God because I survived my own childhood.

My belief in God is challenging because I lived that childhood.

An atheist attempted to contradict me recently.

"No," she insisted. "You survived your childhood because one person reached out to you. That's what scientific research shows. If an abused child has one person who believes in him or her, they can survive."

I told this atheist to stop trying to take over my own life story.

There was no one person who reached out to me.

I survived because of God. My survival was a miracle.

Being small, being defenseless, being malnourished, being unkempt, being inquisitive, being eager, being tender as children are – how could I otherwise have survived? I talk about it a bit in "Save Send Delete." It was hard enough to talk about it there. I don't want even to try here. I just got in from the ride through my hometown.

But, yes. Many people who have suffered do believe in God, and for many of us that belief is more of a vexation, a challenge, than the comfort snotty atheists insist that belief is.


No one spoke up for me. No one challenged my abusers. I do speak up. I speak up against wrong. I've been politically active all my life. I name perpetrators. I name victims. I name victimization.

If a student comes to me in tears and describes a boyfriend who needles her about being fat, or a mother who says she has to quit school to take care of abuelita because that student has no future, anyway, I say, "That boyfriend is abusing you. That mother is abusing you."

Just saying that is a big deal.

Recently, John, a Facebook friend, posted a story about two Pakistani girls, Noor Basra, 16, and Noor Sheza, 15, who were killed by family members for dancing in the rain. John and his Facebook friends, all good "liberals," tsk-tsked about these killings. Then they blamed Christianity. And Capitalism. And Mediterranean culture. Really. REALLY.

I said, "Honor killing. A custom in Islam." And they called me a bigot and just kept insisting it was Christianity and Capitalism and the Mediterranean.

Speaking up when you see someone hurt is dangerous.

The victimizer is powerful. The victim is weak. That is why one is a victimizer, and the other is a victim.

I am so put off by grievance mongering industries. I am so unwilling to participate when someone announces to me that he or she is a victim deserving special funds or treatment simply because of identity. So many of these people have never suffered. I know. People who have suffered wear it. It precedes them, like the scent of a perfume.

I wish we had a grievance industry dedicated to abused kids. It's happening right now. Some kid – millions of kids – are being abused right now. And they will never enter the halo of any grievance industry.

As much as I support gay rights, and I do, I was nauseated when Facebook friends changed their profile pictures to equal signs to celebrate gay marriage. All well and good, I want to say, you CAN speak up and be visible when it is trendy, when it is easy.

Will you speak up when it is not trendy? Because real speaking up is always risky.

I just googled the phrase, "If you witness child abuse." I found a website, and it looks good. Please read it. Please speak up. If you witness child abuse read this.


  1. The problem is though - What to do?

    Take two (of many) dreadful cases in the UK, for example - the torture and murder of the tiny children Victoria Climbie and Peter Connelly - you can look them up on the internet, but its unbearable reading.

    In both cases the "care" system was involved. As were medical professionals. So the children were tortured to death in plain sight. .

    There does seem to have been a strong element of Political Correctness in Victoria's case, but not in Peter's case. Yet the outcome was tragedy both times.

    The other problem is this. If the children are taken away from the abusers and put into the Care system, are they then safe?

    I don't know about the U.S.A. but we have had some horror stories in the Brit "care" system. (Very Orwellian terminology, it now seems.) It seems children are as likely to be abused there as anywhere else.

    What do you do? Clearly, if a child is being abused, there must be something. You must do something. But what?

    What would and could have helped you, for example?

    And I am glad you managed to hold on to a belief in God and his goodness - and not have that beaten out of you.

    The Inspired Word warns us that the whole world is run by Satan, "the father of the lie", and "a manslayer". So maybe it should not surprise us that sometimes it is the very institutions set up to protect children from abuse that abuse them.

    Isn't this why we pray for God's Kingdom to come, and for his will to be done upon the earth?

    We want these horrors to end.

    1. Sue, you asked what might have helped me.

      If someone had spoken up to my primary abuser's face.

      No one ever did.

      Everyone who saw and said nothing is complicit.