Category Archives: Me Too

Arrested for Alleged Sexual Abuse

This startling headline appeared in my local newspaper last week:

Arrested for Alleged Sexual Abuse

Now, most emotional triggers hit me like a ton of angsty bricks, so before I even got to the lede, my heart was pounding, but shockingly, in a good way.

The article was about a 41-year-old volunteer male paramedic for our local Fire Department who was charged with second-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to the story, the police investigation resulted in the paramedic’s arrest for inappropriately touching a 13-year-old boy.

I felt pity for the child, but I was relieved that his abuser was exposed for the pedophile that he is. I imagined the young boy had a family who loved and believed in him and that they would do everything in their power to make him whole again.

I closed my eyes and asked God to help that poor kid to forget.

And then I wrote a note next to the article, asking my husband to save it for me.

When he warily handed me the paper, I immediately cut out the five-paragraph article and displayed it on my desk.

A short while later, my husband wanted to know why I cut it out. I just shrugged.

After a day had passed, he wanted to know why I would torture myself by placing the article front row and center on my desk.

Later that evening, my husband was still asking me why.

Why. Why. Why.

Please, don’t think me insane, but the article was a salve.  Honestly, I would frame it, but I don’t want to alarm or upset my family.

Why?

Because the article is validation, that’s why.

Because the predator inappropriately touched a thirteen-year-old child, and he got arrested, that’s why.

Because this deviant will serve time in jail, that’s why.

Because Mr. Molester was publicly humiliated and exposed, that’s why.

Because the innocent little boy will never have to be sexually assaulted by that sicko again, that’s why.

At the end of the article, the detectives requested that if anyone thinks they might have been a victim of a similar incident to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-7477 or 911. All calls are confidential.

Too late for me, but not too late for others, that’s why.

Say His Name

This past Sunday, Kat O’Brien, a former journalist and baseball writer for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Newsday, broke her silence about a major league baseball player who raped her eighteen years ago, when she was 22 years old.

Kat’s words cut through me, and it was a tough essay to read.

I wanted to reach out to her, but I wasn’t sure how, so this blog post is the best I can do. I hope Kat reads it one day.

What I found most heartbreaking about her trauma was that she didn’t name the player because she felt it “would only open me up to the possibility of having dirt thrown on my reputation.”

Eighteen years later, she’s still afraid to say his name. For good reason.

And so, eighteen years later, this unnamed despicable rapist still has her under his powerful thumb.

I get it.

I’ve been afraid to say his name for 54 years.

After this MLB player raped Kat, she went back to her apartment and drank a bottle of red wine in a desperate attempt to numb her sadness and rage.

I can’t even begin to count the number of bottles of wine I drank to numb myself. I’m still numbing myself.

As I read Kat’s heartbreaking essay, I wondered if she had ever said his name to anyone close to her. I hope she did because it does help somewhat.

I only know that because I’ve said my abuser’s name to a select group of people over the past 54 years. “Select,” being the operative word.  And what I discovered is “select” doesn’t mean I always chose the right people to tell.

When Kat was finally able to talk about “it,” she was asked, “But you really couldn’t get away?”

More than twenty years ago, when I finally mustered up the courage to elaborate on the unspeakable gory details to someone I thought was the closest to me, she  asked: “Are you still talking about that?”

My heart throbbed out of my chest as I read Kat’s words. It was beating so hard that my shirt was moving. I warily looked around at my family gathered together by the pool for fear that one of them would notice.

The rape followed Kat for the rest of her life. She didn’t trust intimacy. She felt unsafe. And she quietly and courageously dealt with the small daily assaults that came and went.

Since Mid-January, Kat’s been having nightmares. She’s been crying on and off every day. She hyperventilates, and her chest pounds in fight or flight.

I feel like I know Kat.

I get her, and I feel her pain.

Because she’s me. She’s a lot of us. Too damn many of us.

She also wrote that her fear of losing her job in sports journalism is long gone and that she’s found her voice.

But in my opinion, Kat’s voice is infinitesimal compared to what it could be—because she still can’t say his name.

And I disagree with Kat that being a rape survivor is only a tiny part of her story. I don’t see how that can be true, given everything she has had to endure.

At the end of her essay, Kat writes that she has finally found the sunlight. I sure hope that she has. She deserves some light, some respite.

Since reading Kat’s essay on Sunday, I can’t stop thinking about her.

And I’m thinking about her rapist too, because maybe—just maybe, he’s afraid.

Because maybe—just maybe, Kat’s the one with all the power.

And if she ever reads this blog post, I only have one thing to say to Kat:

SAY HIS NAME.

My Elephant

A Republican guy friend recently asked me: Does everything in your life lead back to Me Too?

Now in the old days, I would never define my friends as Democrats or Republicans.

But that was waaay back when, before you-know-who.

Plus, my friend’s question was laced with thinly veiled skepticism, while shoving in some other hurtful rhetoric about protecting men and boys, with poor Judge Kavanaugh thrown in.

I felt anger, frustration, sadness, and madness. But I kept my mouth shut.

I regret that I did not answer him, but I was afraid that if I did, something vitriolic would pour out of my mouth, and that I might later regret my words.

Regret vs. regret.

Yesterday I saw a movie trailer about Dumbo, directed by Tim Burton, to be released March 29, 2019.

As I watched Dumbo soar over the crowd, I got full body goosebumps.

Good for you, Dumbo.

And then just like that, those sicko images crept into my brain.

[Push em out push em out.]

My elephant.

As a kid, I loved Dumbo. He was so relatable. He was an only child, no father (although his name was Jumbo Jr.), with a fiercely protective mother. I would often wonder what happened to his dad, and rationalized in my head that if Jumbo Sr. was in the picture, he would have saved his kid.

Poor Jumbo was taunted and bullied for his big ears—and given the cruel name of Dumbo.

He was ridiculed and treated poorly, but he was sincere, naïve, kind, and truly magical.

Sure, he had big ears, but oh my how he could soar and fly.

Aside from his mom, his only friend was a mouse named Timothy, who believed in him.

And then there was that crow, named Jim Crow, who first made fun of Dumbo, but then convinced him that he could fly with a magic crow feather. (And yes, his name was indeed Jim Crow.)

My favorite part in the movie was when Dumbo was getting ready to fly off the platform in the circus act and prove himself as worthy of love and respect.

I can so vividly recall that first time I watched in horror as Dumbo stumbled off that platform.

I was young, but I will never forget how I silently rooted and prayed that Dumbo would prove all of his tormentors wrong, change his life, and live happily ever after with his mom.

“Lord have mercy,” I will never forget praying to myself, parroting what my grandmother always said.

[Okay, so I can’t remember actual dates, and times, or when it started, or how I got there, or why I was alone, or lots of it, so how can I remember Dumbo and Lord have mercy?]

And then there was that happy ending; that memorable and joyous part when the feather falls out of Dumbo’s trunk, and he realizes that his greatness comes not from the magic feather, but from within himself.

The feather wasn’t his savior; he was his savior. It was up to Dumbo to save Jumbo.

And at that last final moment, Dumbo opened up his ears and soared over the incredulous crowd, proving to them that he was special.

Dumbo, the maligned, became Jumbo, the respected; the hero of the circus.

Why all this talk of Dumbo/Jumbo?

Because watching that trailer about Dumbo triggered Me Too.

Why? I have no clue.

But it triggered something that I had forgotten. One small nagging thing that for years I couldn’t remember.

But now I know.

Before Me Too I referred to my “issues” as “the elephant in the room.”

Unlike Disney Dumbo my elephant was dark and menacing, popping up here and there, in the unlikeliest and often inopportune of times.

Anywhere and everywhere, any occasion, every movie, any song, any anything, or, or, or.

Those despicable visions creeping up and in.

Despicable me and my despicable elephant.

“The elephant in the room” has been in that damn room with me for my entire life.

Actually, “the elephant in the room” has been with me in every room, in every corner, for every second, of every day, no matter where I go or who I’m with, or, or, or.

I know many of you are thinking: Get over it.

Don’t you think I want to? Who would want to live like this?

The answer to my friend’s question should and could have been a simple one: Lord have mercy, yes.

 

#MeToo

I’ve been losing a ton of sleep over the Harvey Weinstein thing for a couple of weeks now.

Here’s the internal struggle.

Do I have the courage to share what’s in my tormented head?

Or not.

Putting this blog post together has been one of the most heart-wrenching and challenging things I’ve ever done.

And I’m not exaggerating.

Back and forth and forth and back. What should I say? How far should I go?

There were “things” I furiously typed out, but then fear took hold, and a flurry of backspaces wiped them all out.

I put the post aside for a while, tried to work, make like I was okay.

Even though I wasn’t.

And then I tried to write about it again. And again.

Save, delete, save, delete. Backspace. Take a break.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been flooded with tragic messages from women using #MeToo to acknowledge that they have been a victim.

The victimizing runs the gamut: Unwanted physical contact, lewd come-ons, catcalls, leers, nasty comments, inappropriate flirting, sexual harassment, molestation, abuse, assault, rape.

A plethora of unseemliness.

Reading through thousands of messages has shaken me to the core but also given me courage.

I’ve been terrified to admit that I’m a Me Too.

But there, I said it.

And people knew. “People” who were supposed to protect me.

They said things like:

“Are you still talking about this?”

I’ve been “talking about this” for my entire adult life.

Or:

“I think you’re confused.”

They know the truth. They know I’m not confused.

They chose to turn a blind eye, and make excuses, even when my abuser admitted it:

“That’s the way I was back then.”

The family member I trusted the most told me to “get over it.”

Unless you’ve been in “it” you can’t know how it scars and damages who you are.

You don’t think I want to get over it?

To be honest, as hard as this post has been to write, I’ve been writing it for most of my life.

Reams of words in all forms and formats written over decades and then carefully hidden away. I was never looking to reveal. I was looking to write it out of me.

With all this “Me Too” sharing, I felt like maybe, just maybe, I could finally exorcise it.

But it’s always been about protecting others, and not wanting to hurt anyone. And I don’t want to be judged, which is why I have always been so torn apart.

And yet, If I don’t speak up now, when will I?

So here it is.

A harrowing, heartbreaking, unforgivable, and unforgettable series of childhood “events” ruined my chances at any sort of Ozzie-and-Harriett life.

The memories and the continuing flashbacks are deeply and profoundly humiliating and searingly painful.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into the gory details.

But I will say that too early on I learned the hard way, that the world is a dangerous place to live.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying: The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

I live in a world in which I’m always on the lookout for weirdos.

They’re everywhere: On the streets, at work, on trains, subways, buses, airplanes.

And they run the gamut: Creepy construction workers, egotistical CEOs,  perverted professionals, sloppy drunk guys.

Too close, too touchy-feely, too familiar. Too everything.

Too damn much.

I might sound paranoid, but unsafe is everywhere.

You have your Hollywood, publishing, modeling, banking, advertising, government, and beauty pageant bigwigs…

…in places like restaurants, hotels, offices, schools, churches, daycare centers, and even home sweet home.

The list of suspects and unsafe locales is endless because abuse lurks everywhere.

“You know you want it.”

The careful mental calculations I drum up on a daily basis are exhausting. No matter where I go or what I do, I’m always on high alert.

Getting in and out of my car, walking down a quiet street, or an empty hotel corridor, getting into an elevator, choosing a seat at a bar, taking a cab or an Uber, or having service workers in my home.

The paranoia and possible bad choices are endless, exhausting, and heartbreakingly draining.

A psychologist once told me that children who have been physically or sexually abused often end up sabotaging their lives.

They are their own worst enemy because as children their little brains were overloaded with fear and stress hormones. So they tend to live out their lives in fight or flight mode.

Fight it out or flight it out. That’s me.

I’m done writing about “Me Too” for now.

One day I hope to say what I really want to say.

But not today.