Today is August 10th, 38250 is my number. Or, if you prefer, 403251. I'm not going anywhere else.
Today is my niece's birthday. She's 37. I have to admit, there were times I wondered if she'd make that. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, but apparently has beaten it. She is a survivor.
Two of my aunts were also diagnosed with cancer, years ago. They have beaten it. They are survivors.
My father died from cancer. So did my maternal grandfather.
When people hear that term "Survivor," they generally think of cancer. But there are other types. I fit into one of them. Yes, it affected me greatly. My wife also fits into the same category of survivor. We were victims of sex crimes. I was a child. My wife was not. We've both been affected by the crimes. But we don't let it stop us. We are survivors.
We survivors struggle to live normal lives. We don't generally let on to what has happened. Disease survivors are another matter. They've beaten something, they shout it from the roof tops. But survivors of sex crimes, molestation, sex abuse, rape, incest....we don't. We're ashamed of the past, even when it wasn't our fault. We somehow feel responsible for what has occurred. As time passes, we realize it wasn't us. But we don't speak out. It's a taboo to speak of such things.
It is time we learn to speak out. We all must learn the difference between "Good touch" and "Bad touch", but we must be able to keep perspective. Not all "Bad touch" is meant that way.
We have to be careful, too, of false memories being implanted, obvious suggestions of wrong -- but that's what some lawyers do.
Survivors don't give up. But sex-crime survivors don't speak out.
It's hard to admit something like this has occurred. You are osctracized. You become an outcast in your own family, in your neighborhood, sometimes even in your church. People claim to be open and understanding. But the prejudices are there, deeply embedded. The hardest part is not speaking out, but being treated as a leper.
Many survivors have united. Many more have not. But until we can cast off the prejudices, and push the shame away, we suffer in silence. And the silence is sometimes even more damaging than the humiliation we underwent, and the pain of being dismissed as loonies.
We can say "I won't let it affect me." But it will. Believe it or not, it will. And that's the reason we, as survivors, must speak out -- As I see it.