Recently, I had a conversation with someone that has been the fuel for my recent revelings and ponderances. During our discourse, the one thing that really caught my attention was that they mentioned how adult survivors do not speak about the things they have faced. They said that they wished that there was a way to get survivors to open up, but then, the public is often not prepared.
As a survivor, I know the reasons that we hide. I also know the reasons we should not. Yet, there is such a wide gap between what we need and what we receive that we quickly learn that it is much easier to live with the mess inside, rather than to open up – adding the extra burden of the mess outside as well.
For this reason, I have been deeply conflicted. I want survivors to feel safe and at home in their own environments. I want the rest of the world to know that the walking wounded are among them, and if they do not take notice and attempt to help, our wounds will only worsen, until there is nothing left but to bleed out all over the place.
It is time for us to speak. It is time to leave behind fear. If the world will not come to us, then we must go to them….
I know that it does not mean very much in the scope of things, but a couple of weeks ago, I called DFCS and spoke with them regarding my grandfather. It has been a long time since it all occurred, and the statute of limitations ran out long ago for me. However, knowing that he has been confirmed to have molested two children (including myself) and attempted to molest another – I had to try to do something to alert others of the danger that this man poses to the world.
Even though DFCS cannot open a case on the information I have given them, I hope that they can keep it in their minds should his name ever come up. Although I am sure he has never been pointed out in an investigation, I know that several children in his path have had open cases in the past. As far as I know, none of those cases centered around sexual abuse – or had anything to do with him, but I am hoping that the information will be put to good use should any case be reopened in the future.
It is not much, but it is what I can do for now. Anonymity is still necessary. However, it felt good to finally say, “[This man] is a child molester. He has molested at least two children and attempted to molest another. I know because he is my grandfather, and I was one of his victims. Please, if you ever have a case involving family members of [this man], watch for signs of molestation.”
And yes, I said his name. For the first time, I said “____ is a child molester,” and I felt proud to be able to call him what he truly is without feeling shame.
People say “the system” is flawed when they talk about social services. They say that social workers ignore abuse because they are sloppy, and lazy and don’t want to make an effort to do something about it. They ask the question, why report child abuse when nothing is going to be done about it anyway?
In recent days, I have come to understand that, yes the system is flawed. No, abuse is usually not found in initial investigations. Yes, it is frustrating when you know abuse is occuring, and nothing is done about it. But I have also learned that “the system” is only as good as the citizens of its community, and without solid reports of abuse that can be substantiated, social workers are often “working blind.”
Survivors of abuse know that abusive parents are very good at hiding abuse. We also know that abusers can stop abusive behaviors for 10 days (which is the length of an investigation), if they know they are being watched. Abuse is often not witnessed by social services for this very reason. People often turn their backs on social services when their initial referral does not result in the immediate removal of children from abusive homes. They do not take into consideration that the family may have been very compliant with the demands of social services, or very good at hiding the abuse.
One thing most people do not realize is that abusers will get sloppy ~ they will do something that cannot be hidden at some point. Yet, if there is no one to report it, social services cannot make an attempt to document it. The more reports that are made, and the more contact social services makes with a family, the more likely they are to catch abuse and the parents will be held responsible for their actions.
I am sick of hearing, “they won’t do anything.” Failure to report abuse is neglect. It is willfully turning your back on a child in need and creating an environment where abuse is tolerated. I think that we can either sit back and complain about “the system” and leave them to do the best they can with the small amount of information they can collect through family observation ~ or we can be their eyes and ears and watch for visible signs of abuse and neglect, make reports, and help them out by ensuring that they have enough information to make a case and protect the children who are being hurt.