No Caller ID.
This morning 6:00 am I was walking along the beach, sun rising, soft breeze, and my phone rang. NO CALLER ID came up on the screen. No caller ID in my experience is never a pleasant call. No caller ID has showed up on my phone many times over the last few years, more frequent since Rene’s death, but I received them before. Every time the conversation that follows is one I would rather not be having, but I answer because I understand that whether I have it now or later, I am going to have to deal, so now is as good of a time as any. These calls first started about three years ago. That's when I told my parents I was sexually abused as a child. A secret I had kept my whole life. From there we went to the police. There were statements given, a police investigation, a court case, a trial, 9 victims, and an abuser that plead guilty. There was sentencing and jail time. Since then there has been a paroled release, and now, victims services calling from a blocked number as they have many times with an update. 'Chelsea, I am calling to inform you that your abuser is now free in the community, do you have any questions?' She said. Yes, but none for the lady on the other end of the phone. I have so many questions; how does this happen? How does this happen to so many little kids over the course of 20 years? 9 came forward, but I know there were many more. How do we change the way we speak to kids so they speak up, not endure silently for years? What happened to him to make him do what he did? What has jail and parole done for him? Is he somehow now reformed, did that bullshit year in jail and year on parole, 'cause he is so old now, change anything? Does it really matter? How did his wife sit by and let it happen, I know she knew. What happened to her to make her stay by his side, to this fucking day? See, I have so many questions but none that the person on the other end of the blocked number can answer. 'Chelsea there is a restraining order would you like more details on that?' 'No, I'm actually in Australia, and fine thanks.' I just wanted to wrap up the call thinking about the minutes I was using. Is that what it has come down to, this is wasting my long distance minutes? The restraining order not worth much now, I am a grown woman and he is an old cowardly man. I'm not scared of him, he holds no power over me now. Well none in real time, probably still some from what I haven't worked through from when I was young. Still, I am more concerned with how this happens. Every one of the victims came from good families. I had amazing parents, a stay at home Mom, a super involved Dad, I had close relationships with teachers and coaches, yet never uttered a word. I had every opportunity to tell them, but didn't, not one of us did. The thing is I think that is the norm, that the abuse is reported much later, or not at all. Why? How can we better communicate with kids, how can we be there for them in a more effective manner? I kept this to myself for so long, lived like it didn't happen. Till my sister had a baby girl and there was no bloody way that was going to happen to her. My coming forward was for her, however there were many older victims and they never came forward to protect me. Why not? It is time to ask these questions. There is no undoing what happened to us, but through exploration of victim's experiences can we be better for the babies of today and tomorrow? Can we end generational trauma, and heal a global wound? The thing is, my abuser was probably abused. It can be hard to look at the person behind the heinous behavior, but that is the way to create change. Simple disgust is easy, but ineffective. What happened to him, and why was there no help for him? Then, how did this happen to us, and how does being abused manifest in the lives of his victims? Is it a coincidence that I am scared to have kids of my own, or that I am hyper protective of my nieces? The problem with the secret is bigger than the pain it causes the keeper, which is not to be overlooked. Keeping abuse a secret stops the flow of conversation, making it hard to disrupt the cycle. Silence gives the illusion that there is nothing to be concerned about, when there absolutely is. It seems that this is my year of honest conversation. The year that things have aligned for me to stand up not only for my healing but a bigger healing. The secret, in my experience will mess us up. The worst thing about it is in cases like abuse it is not even our secret to keep. We become the holders of other people's shit. They are too cowardly to deal with themselves, so we end up holding their problems as ours. No more.
He is 'free in the community' but will he ever be free? Having really worked through nothing, having no more understanding of himself than he did before, he is not free. Sure, he can go to the grocery store or on a road trip, but isn't he still imprisoned by his behavior? I believe we have a responsibility to create a safer environment. As we heal ourselves we simultaneously heal others. As we take a stand, we protect others.
What would I be like if I were not abused? I will never know, but by coming forward my nieces won't ask themselves the same question. I don't know how to do it better. But if you have kids, talk to them. Talk to them so honestly and openly, at least try. My abuser was family, trusted, and always around. I have no answers, but urge you to ask direct questions. It cannot be easy as a parent, but I guarantee you it was devastating for my parents to sit there as their 27 year old baby girl told them about all the years she was abused as a child. Talk to your kids, maybe you can protect them from future NO CALLER ID calls. ~with love.