Chanel Miller, The Survivor
My father didn’t want to ruin the reputation of the doctor at children’s hospital in Detroit who sexually assaulted me. Can you imagine the betrayal this young lady, Chanel Miller, Brock Tutner’s victim, felt at the hands of our justice system, who’s sole purpose it is to protect the innocent?
I thought, perhaps someday I might read it, when I’m feeling a little stronger. But sure enough, when I went to get the link above, like a dope, I started reading, not realizing I could read the whole damn thing, right then and there, for free on Amazon. I had to stop myself around page 28. I’ll go back to it, like a bug to light, when I’m prepared. I hope you will too. And of course, as expected, it triggered me.
. . . it is this unspoken truth that also must be spoken
Abuse Changes Us
There is no way to explain the fundamental changes CSA produces in one’s psyche. I realize it effects everyone in different ways. I think I am probably more sensitive than others. Others may be more heroic. Others less. But then I have to remind myself never to compare my degree of suffering with that of others. All abuse is destructive, and effects everyone differently and shows up in many forms. Perpetrators can be men, women, even other children.* There is no correlation between the type or degree of abuse, and the amount of suffering. I noted, reading Ms. Miller’s account, she was surrounded by caregivers in the immediate aftermath. I was totally and utterly alone. No one came to my rescue. Nobody cared. Wait, didn’t I just say, every story is different? In my book, The Fishly, the victim account comes at the end. Her’s is in the beginning. I wasn’t prepared. Neither was she.
“ I know there is nothing that can be said to give you back your peace of mind regarding your trauma. I do appreciate your bravery and honesty maneuvering through the aftermath of the physical and emotional abuse you are continuously surviving” Linda Morrissey“Rob, I admire your courage and decency in facing something that’s so hush-hush and far more pervasive than anyone would imagine. My respect for you only increases as you open up about your past. I’m sure you help others but doing so. Your kindness, compassion and empathy shine through in what you write. Hats off to you, my friend.”Terri Jenkins Bryce“Rob, I am so very sorry for your experience, and that you must deal with these constant triggers. While I can’t “fix” it for you, know that I admire your strength and courage in advocacy…and am always here with an ear if you need, my friend. ” Sue Jaissle Williams
While I always appreciate kind words of support, such as these, for some reason I feel it important to mention that I am not an innocent when it comes to abuse. Of course, I certainly was innocent when I was fourteen. But now, as an adult, struggling with my ubiquitous CSA for so many years, for some reason I feel the need to confess that I have at times, to one degree or another, been abusive of others.
Guilt cannot be the driver of our life’s journey
My Own Culpability
Naively, I thought I had broken the cycle. I convinced myself that I “was good enough,” which wrongly translated to me that I could basically justify being a jerk. I understand now that I am basically a good, loving person. But over time, I also have become keenly aware that I must take responsibility for my own bad actions, ranging from slight, almost innocent comments and innuendos, to behaviors just shy of criminal. I refer mostly to behaviors occurring in my younger days. I could write them off to youthful ignorance. But that too is a slippery slope. There are always justifications for bad behavior, if you are looking. My story of neglect and abuse is no excuse to treat others badly. Sure, I have made amends whenever I’ve had the opportunity. But it must be said that CSA changes the thinking process of the survivor. There is no cure, per se. And it requires years of intensive therapy to find one’s center and to break the cycle of abuse, of which I unwittingly, became a part when I was fourteen.
When people use the word survivor, it is shorthand for those who have found healthy and sometimes not-so-healthy ways to cope with the incomprehensible. It is very common for those who have been abused to become abusers themselves. Maybe not monsters, like “the amazing athlete,” Brock, but in smaller, sometimes forgettable ways. That is the sad legacy of abuse. It is the guilt that clouds our judgement. That is why CSA is still with us. This vicious cycle is the double edge sword that is the dark underbelly of abuse, cutting its victims twice. It is the unspoken truth that also must be spoken.
It is that guilt all survivors carry with them, that perpetuates the scourge of abuse. Guilt traps us in so many ways. It paralyses us. Makes us forget what’s right and wrong. Small and not so small transgression you don’t even realize you’re making, creep into your story. Guilt can consume us. My surrogate mom once called guilt, “a wasted emotion.” We must work to be sure guilt is not the driver of our life’s journey. On the other hand, guilt is also there for a reason. Sometimes it is a call to action. We must develop a healthy relationship with guilt, as part of the process of recovery. Therapy helps. But for me, it took throwing myself at the mercy of Christ for me to know I am forgiven. And even then, I’ve had my doubts.
. . . we all must nonetheless speak out whenever we can, even when we are too ashamed to. Because we must. Otherwise, abuse will win the war.
Coming at abuse from the position of self righteousness, as so many do, only makes things worse. Winning pity has never been my goal. In fact it makes me uncomfortable. Because I’ve come to realize that speaking out about abuse in no way absolves me of my own improprieties. And even though I am forgiven by God, that does not excuse my own sins. They live on in those I have hurt or offended throughout their life. Sadly, pity leads to guilt.
Abuse Thrives in Silence
“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.” Maya Angelou