Years after the sexual abuse in my childhood ended I was told a story that chilled me. It saddened me for the little girl I used to be. I can picture here sitting on the chair afraid to move. It also angered me toward the people who were involved.
The one who perpetrated the incident as well as the one who watched. And, did nothing. It enrages me to know the witness knew this story the entire time the women in my family were giving depositions against an uncle who molested us. She chose to remain quiet AND have a close sibling relationship with the man. She is complicit in my abuse and covering it up. To me, she is no better than my uncle.
I was around four years old when my pedophile uncle made me sit on a chair and drink water. He told me (the witness related to another family member) that if I got off the chair to go to the bathroom, I was going to have my pants pulled down and spanked. If I peed on the chair . . . the same thing would happen. The witness did nothing. Didn’t tell him to stop. Didn’t call for help. Didn’t tell my parents when they got home. Nothing. She kept it to herself for decades. I don’t know what prompted her to eventually share and I don’t care. She saw child sexual abuse happening and watched. To me, that is a pedophile as well.
This year I went to a family gathering on Christmas Eve for the first time in well over a decade. I’ve needed to keep a buffer between certain family members and myself. The time spent, over the years since my last attendance, was spent growing stronger and healthier. I had a lot of familial shit to work through. (Don’t we all.)
I was nervous that the witness would be there. How would I react when she rushed over to give me a hug? Would I let her? If I did, that would be a betrayal of the four year old me who no one stood up for. If I shoved her away then I would be “behaving irrationally” as this happened over fifty years ago. “Let it go,” I’d be told. “There goes Diane . . . troublemaker, ruining a perfectly nice time.” Again, no one would be standing up for me or the four year old me. And, would a small part of me feel guilty? Would that abuse survivor’s shame rise up? Even writing this may anger some in my family but that is not my problem.
Fortunately, she didn’t show up. My understanding is that her life is a mess and that’s fine with me. Sometimes, you actually reap what you sow.
This story brings me to the new year ahead of me.
I have a right to my boundaries. I have an obligation to explain them to someone who has crossed one when I am pushed. Theoretically, I will calmly define said boundary and let the individual know I am not going to accept their crossing it. In practice, however, I know it won’t go that smoothly. I’m just not that in control of myself. I wish I was but that went out the window when Becca was killed. Emotions are always close to the surface now.
If I am face to face with the “witness” and she attempts to engage in conversation I am going to stop her and say: “you watched me being abused. Mentally and physically, probably sexually, abused and did nothing. Go away”. Then I would turn and leave. Not caring about her reaction. Not concerned by how others will view me for my truth. She should be ashamed. Not me. They should feel guilt over their part in it all (if they had any) not me.
I am tired of being quiet because my words might upset someone.
I’ve gotten better over the past year. Standing up for those who are being harassed. Stating, loudly, when a situation is wrong and should be stopped. This year, I plan on doing this for myself more often. Isn’t it interesting, as women, we tend to fight for others more than we fight for ourselves? That has to change for me. I’m worth fighting for and I won’t let the little four year old inside of me down any longer.
I don’t like resolutions much. They never seem to stick for me. But I can make a change in how I interact with others and my surroundings. I deserve complete peace in my life.
So do you. Do what you need in order to attain it! Use your voice and set boundaries.