A special guest post from Mary C.
It’s Christmas time. The time of celebrations, of traditions, of family togetherness, of ushering in a New Year. All is merry, all is bright…except when it’s not. Imagine a house full of laughter, full of people who have known each other through the seasons of life’s many changes. Aunts and Uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins, all gathered for an annual sharing of the holiday season. In the kitchen, food laid out enough to feed the masses, enough to assure that nobody would go hungry or without a treat. In the dining room, a table with a punch bowl and wine, and of course, the whiskey that all good Irish ancestors still enjoy from time to time. In the basement, youngsters of many ages gathered and chatting, perhaps a game of cards underway. In the living room, the hum of voices engaged in story sharing, catching up on news, just being together again. Wouldn’t you want to be in that house on that night? Doesn’t it sound idyllic, wonderful, secure, festive?
Well, for one girl in the house that night, it was the beginning of a new and scary journey that would take a lifetime of learning to adjust. She thought she was safe too. In this home where so many happy times had been spent, where she was surrounded by extended family, where her parents were just down the hall. They were in the living room totally relaxed, safe in the knowledge that their children were all together in the heart of their family, off scattered happily throughout the house mingling with their aunts, uncles, and cousins. This girl would learn that night that people may be right down the hall but that doesn’t always keep you safe. And she would learn that even when someone was family and had been so nice to you all the times before, you could never know that they wouldn’t hurt you. So many ‘lessons’ were learned that night. That something was wrong with her because she was the one he picked. That she wasn’t very smart because she should have been able to figure it out, should have known something was wrong. She would learn that things are not what they seem and that she was not who everyone thought she was. As the music played, and the laughter provided the backdrop, his hands taught her that her innocence was ended and a world she could no longer figure out was where she lived. And she had no words to explain any of it. So after he was finished with her, she walked back down the hall and into the living room, and nobody noticed a thing. So she also learned that her pain was invisible and she thought she could hide that terrible, dirty secret, that had turned her whole world upside down. It was the beginning of a new year, of a new reality.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could open our eyes and see, really see, what is literally happening right around us? If we could look past what we want to believe to what is really happening? Child sexual abuse is epidemic. It happens inside warm houses, where trusted adults are present, in situations that are familiar. Abusers are often trusted individuals, well known to the family, or part of the extended family. If only someone had told me that then. If only someone had noticed.
Want to know the facts? Want to learn how to PREVENT this from happening to the children in your life and in your community? Here’s some information on Stewards of Children Program that is available from Voice Found in Ottawa, Canada: