Just Say No Doesn’t Work On Those Who Refuse To Hear It

11 02 2010

I’m not a fan of Oprah, never have been.  That’s not to say I dislike her or her show or don’t respect her and her accomplishments.  I’m just not a talk show fan; to be honest I don’t particularly care for television shows in general excepting American Idol, Law & Order and the History Channel (odd combination – I know).  But for perhaps the fourth time in my life, this week I stumbled across her show and caught most of the special on Inside a Child Molester’s Mind.  And as my ex is a pedophile/molester and I am a mother and a survivor, I felt compelled to watch.

While I applaud her intent of showing parents from the child molester’s point of view what signs to look for, what red flags not to miss – I was particularly offended by the portrayal of the offenders.  One man on the panel had spent several years molesting a girl, beginning when she was five.  Another was a step-father who had molested his teenage step-daughter.  Another had raped and molested his younger cousin, beginning when he was an adult and she was not yet a teenager and continuing on for over twelve years.  I didn’t catch the back story on the other two men – but these are men who have not and never will pay their debt to society because of their theft of livelihood of a young child.  Yet, there they sat, portrayed as apologetic and their crimes were almost downplayed it seemed to me as Oprah urged them on and they shared how they did it to make their victims feel special, loved, good.  But the most offending moment for me was when she asked what could the victim have done to make them not go on with their crime.  They each answered tell me no.

Speaking from the standpoint of a person who endured sexual abuse from the age of five through thirteen and then during my first marriage, no doesn’t work – at least not with my abusers, nor with abusers of other survivors that I have met in counseling and support groups.  And how dare she even prompt for a potential fault to place onto the shoulders of the victim.  For years during my childhood, prior to reporting the abuse, I spent night after night telling myself what I did wrong, wondering what I could have done differently.  I was an adult before I finally came to terms with the fact that it wasn’t my fault.

The first incident in my life I was almost six, about four months shy.  We had just moved to the United States and were staying with cousins on my father’s side.  My abuser was a seventeen year old boy, a third cousin or some such, who was babysitting me while his parents and mine were busy working on finding a house and school and so forth.  Mork and Mindy was on television and I still remember I was wearing light blue panties under my green corduroy pants and he held me down while he examined me.  I cried and said no and peed on his hand.  He spanked me and made me sit in my soiled panties until my parents came back and I remember he told me that if I told them, he would come in my room while I slept and do worse.  I couldn’t fathom what could be worse and I didn’t want to find out.  Each night when Mork and Mindy came on he would repeat the routine.  I remember trying to find any excuse to stay in the living room with the adults, but I was always sent off to go watch tv with him.  The weekend before we moved out of their house and into our new home, he gave me a lunch box as a gift for my new school, it had Mork and Mindy on it – with a bright yellow handle.  I hated that lunch box and each time I saw it it made me remember his actions.  Over time, he would be invited over to babysit me while my parents were out and the abuse got worse, his actions more daring.  And finally he was eighteen and thankfully no longer available to babysit.

Then my mother began to have affairs.

Her first was with a man who had a daughter my age.  He would come over and with my mother’s blessing, touch me and prod me.  The first time, he had came over to take pictures of her, posing nude on our balcony.  I had walked in her room out of curiosity I suppose and saw the two of them out in the sun, he was clothed and she wasn’t.  She explained quickly that he was taking pictures for my father as a gift and her boyfriend wanted me to have my picture taken too.  She helped pose me on the yellow blanket and then went back in the house while he pushed his fingers into me.

He wouldn’t be the last.  Her boyfriends would toy with my body, testing out objects and responses like I was a warm up toy or such.  And I remember I cried to her to make them stop.  She said if I didn’t like it so much they would stop.  I was eight then and I hated every moment of it and I couldn’t figure out how any of them got the idea I was enjoying any of it.   I often would wonder if my other friends went through this type of hurt from men.  And I wondered why my dad seemed to be the only man who we knew who didn’t do these things to me.

It continued on for years.

The last incident of my childhood was when I was thirteen we hosted a Christmas party and one of the men my mom had as a lover pushed me against a wall and fondled me roughly through my sweater and pushed me against the stairs to get at my crotch.  I went to my room afterwards and pushed my bed in front of my door, then climbed out my window and onto the roof of our shed to sit in the cold.  I puffed on stolen cigarettes for hours that night.

After that incident, I went to my father.  Not about the abuse.  According to my mother, he knew about it and that he thought I was a little slut who hit on all of their friends.  I told him about my mom’s affairs though.  How many different men came by while he was off to work and out of town.  I named names and gave him dates.

She was angry with me after that, I think part of her still is.  I began living with a twenty year old friend who lived about a mile away.  On weekends I would spend most of my time either at her house or sleeping over at my best friend’s house.  That continued until I was about sixteen and my mom had ran away with one of her boyfriends.

It wasn’t until I was almost eighteen that I finally told my dad about the abuse and his reaction told me he never had known.  I finally got counseling for it and began to understand that it wasn’t me and that nothing I did invited it.  These were grown men, who knew right from wrong and didn’t care either way.

And Miss Oprah, let me say that they didn’t do it to make me feel good, because my tears were evidence enough that it didn’t feel good.  And telling them no didn’t stop their actions and telling my mother didn’t either.  I am sure there were other people I could have told, but at the time I didn’t know they would react any differently than my mother.

If these sex offenders want to console themselves and justify their actions with thoughts of if I’d only known she didn’t want it they are lying to themselves and to everyone around them.  It sickened me to hear them try to quantify their crimes with ignorance of the pain they would cause!



One response

11 02 2010
Marcille Wallis

Oprah needs to read this.

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