What happens to the victims of abuse, sexual or otherwise, when we turn our backs on it, or worse, cover up the abuse, invalidate the victim’s pain because we “don’t want to cause a scene?”
In my own family, our family abuser when I was young was my mother’s brother, that I will call “uncle Monster.” Monster was age 7 when my mother was born a premature tiny baby delivered at home who probably weighed less than three pounds in 1922. They didn’t fully bathe her for a month because they were afraid to chill her, and she slept in a shoe box placed in a dresser drawer.
Monster was jealous of this tiny newborn taking all the attention away from him, and not too long after she was born, Monster smothered her, but fortunately their mother caught him before she died. My grandmother had grown up in a family of enablers and so she protected Monster, and didn’t tell his father. She tried her best to keep my mother close to her and “safe” without telling on Monster. Her reason was “Well, his daddy would have spanked him and he might have run away from home.”
The smothering continued until my mother was seven, and he would choke her unconscious repeatedly, until one day when Mom was 7 and Monster 14, my grandfather caught him and indeed, did “wale the tar out of Monster” and at that point the smotherings stopped.
I can’t even imagine what my mother suffered as a small child from the offenses and abuse of her brother because their mother didn’t “tell” and stop the abuse.
Covering up for offenders goes on every day. Not just the Catholic church covering up for pedophile priests, but wives calling their husband’s boss and telling him “Joe is sick and won’t be in today, ” when in reality Joe got drunk last night and beat her up and he is so hung over he can’t get out of bed.
The following article is a first person account of the suffering of the victim, not just from his abuser but from the family and community when he came forward and “told” about what his cousin had done to him. What pain is it when those near and dear to us refuse to validate our suffering?
Chaim Levin tells in detail the suffering he endured, not only at the hands of his abuser, but from the people who should have protected and validated him.
I “covered up” my son’s crimes by not telling people that he was in prison, by denying that he was what he is, a thief and a killer. I did it out of a kind of shame and told myself, like my grandmother told herself, “it will protect him and I can stop the abuse by keeping my daughter close to me.” But of course my grandmother couldn’t protect her daughter and keep her eye on the baby 24/7, she had fields to work, a garden to grow and food to preserve, a house to keep and a family to feed, so Monster found opportunities to abuse his sister.
Monster grew up to be an alcoholic who beat his wife, tortured his children and girlfriends when the wife finally left. He had no remorse for what he did. He hated women and felt entitled to do what he did for his own entertainment. I was over 30 when I found out about his abuses. Because the family kept the secrets, even from me.
My mother grew up to be a hard core enabler, protecting the family bad boy, even after Monster’s death, she then started protecting my son Patrick and punishing me for trying to make him take the consequences. Even after she saw evidence that he had tried to have me killed, she chose to support him at the loss of the rest of her family, me and my two other sons.
Mom did her best to invalidate my fears and that hurt, then turned to anger, but eventually I learned that I can validate myself. I don’t need anyone else to validate what I know is truth. When Columbus thought the world was round and the rest of the population thought it was flat, it did not change the shape of the earth. Right is right. Truth is truth. But when we cover up for an offender, we injure their victims.