Archive for October 2016

Sexual abuse is not a joke

I kept sitting and looking at my screen wondering how I was going to start this. There is just no good way to start a post that’s going to expose a family skeleton. But I cannot sit silently by while otherwise good people excuse and normalize Donald Trump’s lewd and crass statements, which weren’t surprising to me given the totality of his reprehensible character which he has displayed since early in the primaries. It is a testimony to the condition of his heart, and not a good testimony.

And for the record, my rejection of Trump is NOT an endorsement of Hillary.

Shortly after I turned 15, my dad was caught engaging in beastiality. He would go to our church on Saturdays and clean the building, and as if it wasn’t bad enough what he did, it happened on church grounds. I heard the original phone call. I heard the plea not to tell anyone. But the membership of our church was told, and that was the end of Daddy’s membership there, and also his service as a deacon. This prompted a hasty move which would have me transfer to a new school and thereby give me some protection from any trickle-down effects of that news reaching the ears of other kids.

No one outside of my parents ever spoke of that incident around me, so I have no idea who outside of that church and the reporter of the incident knew about it. I’m not entirely sure who in the family knows besides those who also went to church there. To be honest, I could have largely convinced myself that nothing ever happened had my dad not brought it up from time to time. He never truly acknowledged the deviancy of his behavior, but never failed to paint himself as the victim.

Nearly 5 years later, he was arrested for rape of two 12-year-old boys. I was 19. This was not an incident that was covered up. His arrest was announced on the local radio station’s news. It was reported on the front page of the local newspaper. I still remember like it was yesterday when my best friend called me because she had heard about it from someone who heard it on the radio. She could not believe it, and was ready to set the record straight. I had to tell her, “Yes, the report is true.” Meanwhile, my mom was beside me saying “No, it’s not true.” I was confirming that Daddy really had been arrested for rape. She was denying rape had occurred.

But I would later read his written statement. Written by his own hand, he gave his account, and he was guilty. Yet he maintained for years and years that what he did wasn’t wrong. My mom stood beside him and supported him. A friend of theirs came to offer support and called those boys “just trash.”

Daddy plead guilty to avoid what would have been an ugly trial. The judge gave him the minimum sentence, but that was still 7 years. It would be another year after sentencing before there was a bed available in one of the state penitentiaries. He went to prison shortly after I turned 21, and served 5 years before being granted parole.

To give a little more perspective to this, the beastiality event occurred when he was 61 years old. The rape incident shortly before his 66th birthday. He was by no means a young man. We were Landmark Missionary Baptists – a sect that considered (and probably still does, to an extent) Southern Baptists too liberal.

I listened to him as time went on from the arrest, conviction, and incarceration make himself out to be the victim. He claimed he was “set up” because he was speaking out about the drugs in our neighborhood. By “speaking out” I mean talking loudly. He never assumed full responsibility for his actions, and absolutely never repented. Once I had children, especially a son, I had to watch him like a hawk because I knew he could not be trusted not to molest him.

Because I read the statement and listened to him make himself the victim instead of the perpetrator.

I have looked back at his behavior in the years leading up to the rape, and I can see the predatory signs in retrospect. The grooming. I have often wondered how many more victims there are. I carried guilt and shame that I was unable to stop him. Unable to protect those boys. Unable to protect any of them. I didn’t know how to recognize the signs beforehand. But to be honest, at that age, particularly given the fear I had of my dad’s wrath, I was powerless. Because I had been beaten and berated into submission my whole life. “Honor thy father…” And with the skewed view of sex I was raised with, it is no wonder that I have always been able to sexualize anything.

dirtymind

Aside from being collateral damage from my dad’s sexual deviancy and abuse, I have been the recipient of unwanted and unwelcome lewd comments, touching, kissing, and propositions. As a married woman, I have had married men who not only knew I was married but also knew I knew were married try to pursue sex with me. I remember hearing a group of guys I was stationed with talking about Faith Hill. “She has legs all the way up to her ass!” I knew what that meant. And I also knew that as a tall, slim woman with long legs, that I also had “legs all the way up to my ass.”

“Locker room talk” is demeaning, degrading, and disrespectful. It shows at best a seared conscience and at worst a lack of conscience to treat another human being in this manner. It is not simply a “potty mouth.” I have a potty mouth (which I learned primarily at home growing up), and there is a big difference between dropping the s-bomb, d-bomb, or even f-bomb as an expletive and bragging about or fantasizing aloud about forcing yourself onto another person. Sexual abuse is not a joke. Sexual abuse is evil. To dismiss it as less than that is to condone and enable evil – no matter which wing you identify with.

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. Luke 6:45 NASB