Aristotle taught us that “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil”.
So why do I bring up fear? Because it’s a universal human emotion. And it’s one that survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) either still experience, or did at the time when we were being abused. I remember the pain of my fear. I remember with brutal clarity the shaking of my body, the angst, the sadness, the torture in my heart knowing as nighttime got closer, so also came “that time”. Aristotle’s words ring loud and clear to me. It was the anticipation of the abuse, the anticipation of Frankie Wiley‘s evil ways that I knew were coming that scared me to death. Me, an undersized, little 12 year old who knew the man I trusted as my spiritual leader and male role model, was about to torture me in ways I could never have conceived in my wildest nightmares. I would make excuses to stay up, to avoid the bed at all costs. But in the end, the result was always the same. And no matter which bed I was in, he would get what he wanted.
We’re told as children, “there’s no such thing as monsters”. But survivors of CSA know monsters are all too real, and they are cloaked in the skin of kindness, relatives, teachers, clergy and all manner of those we knew, trusted and loved. That’s what tears apart the lives of those who manage to make it through to adulthood. That’s why so many turn to narcotics, alcohol, promiscuity, or anything else to make us feel loved, or safe or that will give us some level of peace, if only for a moment.
That’s why if we seem, at times, disgusted and angered beyond control, by the disbelief or inaction of those who can do something about it and choose not to, understand this…”To attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood. It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be.” You see, as children we have seen falsehood at its worst and therefore know truth beyond what we should. So we have little tolerance for those who don’t or won’t see the same truth, the only truth, that the monsters are real and we MUST do something to prevent them from hurting more children.
Frank Herbert, the author of Dune, penned these words, “A world is supported by four things … the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing … without a ruler who knows the art of ruling.”
Right now we don’t see rulers, or should I say leaders, who have the learning, justice, righteousness or bravery to do what should be done. To step up and fight for these children now or for those of us then.
I was reminded not long ago about an animal trick. You’ve heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap? This same person said the difference between animals and humans is that a human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might evade the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.
And survivors of CSA know about this maneuver. You know what I’m talking about, that trick we would play to be able to endure the torture of sexual abuse. We would lay as still as we could, as quiet as we could, and wait until our “captor” was gone in the hopes of it never happening again, but it always did. And this is where our fear is rooted.
So when we begin to feel fear coming over us, remember this, “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I cited Herbert again to remind my fellow survivors of the strength we all have. That we have survived this long is amazing. This proves how much inner strength we have and what we are capable of achieving. Or as an unknown author stated, “On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%…and that’s pretty good.”
To quote one of my favorite shows, Downton Abbey, a character named Miss Baxter says to her new found friend Mr. Molseley, “There are things in my past that made me afraid, but I’m not afraid any more. I’m not sure what will happen, but whatever it is, it’s better than being afraid.”
And to those who’ve never been through what we have, we sigh a collective “thank God”. But now we need you to join us in this fight. Those who oppose us are many and powerful and without your help and numbers we won’t be able to get the results needed to protect the children of today and tomorrow.
So be the Dad, the Mom, the parent and the leaders you are all capable of being and help us to protect all children.
As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.