Friday, March 12, 2010

Did He Touch You? - Breaking the Silence of Sexual Abuse

I am finding it hard to breathe as I attempt to work through the reality of what has happened in the last year. The support from people who have read my blog has been amazing but as I sit at my computer screen to begin this week’s writing I feel so utterly alone. I am learning to be ok with just me. I tell myself I am strong enough but abandonment seems to be a common thread with a comfortable seat in my life. It holds me down.

I sat beside my son on the couch. I began a tug of war with his blanket. Not a fun game like parents plays with their children at bedtime but an attempt to find my child hidden below his secrets. He was sobbing. My mind does not recall every question I asked but it went something like this:

“Are you afraid of getting in trouble?”

“No.”

“Do you feel ashamed?”

“Mmmhh”

“Honey, I love you. Do you know there is nothing you can ever tell me that would change that?”

“Mmmhh”

“Justin, can you tell me what happened?”

He groans.

“Honey talk to me so I can help you. Would it be easier if I asked you questions?”

I could barely make out his response, “Yes.”

“Does it have to do with another person?”

“Mmmhh”

“Does it have to do with your Dad?”

“No.”

“Does it have to do with Uncle Martin?

“No.”

“Does it have to do with Jerry?”

He groans, “Yes.”

My mind begins to race and yet stand still in that split second. Inside I was screaming NO but I couldn’t stop. This moment was about Justin and not about me. I didn’t have the option to stop. I couldn’t hide because I was too scared to deal with it. I was in automatic. I kept going.

“Did he touch you?”

I was startled when the blankets flew back and he sat straight up. With an utter look of terror he began to scream, “Mom I’m not gay! I’m not gay. I swear Mom I’m not gay.”

I grabbed him into my arms and wanted to pull him inside of me. I wanted to protect him with all that I had but I was too late. He fought my touch while he screamed, sobbed and gagged.

“Justin, this is not your fault. What someone else does to you does not make you gay or make you anything. Jerry was wrong and I am so sorry this happened to you. This is not your fault.”

He sobbed uncontrollably and gagged. I held him so tight. I couldn’t get him close enough. Now I was the one who wanted to hide him. I held him until I felt the fight in him go and he collapsed into my arms. It was just the two of us. It felt safe but it felt so raw. I wanted to stay there in that moment and keep both of us hidden away from the world. I kept repeating that it was not his fault, I loved him and he was going to be ok. I was brought back to the moment I held my helpless new born in my arms. It felt like it was just the two of us. Here we were the two of us again in this dark house and I held my helpless son.


He asked if he could go take a shower. We both got up and I got the shower started. I briefly excused myself to make a quick phone call. I called his dad, told him to get to the house as soon as possible and then I called my sister. I kept it brief because I needed to be with Justin. I explained it was worse than pot. I told her Jerry had touched Justin. I still don’t understand her response but she said, “Oh my God, I knew it.” I was in such a daze. I just left it. The words floated there in the unexplained. To this day I wonder was it just a moment when she recognized what we had all missed or was this just another well kept secret that she maintained for her child. I may never know the truth because what I am sure of is that the truth is of no value to her or her family. I told her I would call her tomorrow.

I walked back into the bathroom where Justin was showering and I found him sobbing. I asked if I could hold him. He couldn’t answer. I opened the shower door and stepped in with all my clothes. I scooped him up and let the water run over both of us. I held him in my arms. The water provided us a hiding place. I let myself cry. The streams running down my face were from the warm water of the shower, at least this is what I let myself believe. No mother should have to feel the tears of regret and heartbreak as she holds her abused child in her arms. Justin found strength in me as he clung to my saturated body. I told him it was going to be ok. He was ok.


I looked him square in the eyes and said, “I am so sorry. It was my job to protect you and I failed. If I had known I would have stopped it. I didn’t know.”

“I love you so much. I am so proud of you.”

The truth is I could never be more proud of anyone in my life. He broke the silence. My nine year old little boy did what some grown men and women are still not able to do. He fought to have a voice. He risked the rejection and judgments. He is amazing for what he did that night and for what he endured in the days to come.

7 comments:

Wendy said...

This is a very brave, very powerful post. My heart aches for you and breaks for your son. This crime is so horrible. I have a feeling your son will ultimately be okay because of your way of dealing with things. Keeping you in my thoughts.

Mom Who Hurts said...

Wendy,

Thank you so much for you support. It is a horrible crime. I am so sorry for all those who suffer because of someone elses selfishness.

MWH

Violetwrites said...

people don't understand. someone actually wrote me that I'm promoting sexual abuse because I am speaking out.
Speaking out is the only way to make others understand. If we all keep quiet - then we fail to educate others.

Mom Who Hurts said...

Violet

Well put! I have grown to realize that speaking out and exposing these secrets in our society only hurts the perpetrators. We expose their secrets!

MWH

Emily said...

Oh, god. I am so. so. sorry.

Ali said...

Hi there,
Have just found your blog and after reading this post I have tears streaming down my face.
What a courageous and inspirational pair you are! You are so very right - Your son is AMAZING for breaking the silence!! And you, too, are amazing for having the courage to deal with it head on. You are a person your son trusted enough to confide in, even though it must have been extraordinarily difficult and painful. That is amazing.

I'm so sorry that childhood sexual abuse has been part of your family's life experience. Wishing you strength, courage and peace as you walk this path.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your bravery, and your sons. My family and daughter have unfortunately fallen victim as well. I did not get disclosure....I got to see it first hand. 2 years later and still no real disclosure, but the perp is locked up - only just for now. after reading your posts I realize others do go through the same emotions & questioning. Sorry you are enduring the same. But it is nice to know I am not alone.

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I am an average mom who loves her kids. I never thought it could happen to us but it did. My son was abused. Words to live by: Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.