Monday 1 July 2019

A survivor does not owe you a convincing story

A sex story
In the main, I have kept my counsel on a developing story in Nigeria because the commentary covers the spectrum from the totally agreeable to the utterly reprehensible, so much so that one engagement can leave you mired in the completely incomprehensible.
She was twice his age when she called him into the toilet, closed the door and crouched down, then she pulled down his shorts and handled his member, brought him down, centred him to her exposed self and asked him to move in on her. That is all he can remember of that event. Like so many crazily eerie moments that litter over half a century of life, this one still plays back like a slow-motion replay in the inner recesses of the mind.
That was the only instance with her, probably she decided she should look for someone else, but in that seemingly insignificant moment, the seeds of an outrageous scandal had been sown whilst at the same time the treasure of innocence had been plundered by an act of senselessness that you probably would not impute on either party.
Other sex stories
However, beyond that day, there were other instances where those presumably entrusted with the care of minors whilst the parents pursued their careers in the confidence that their wards were safe completely unaware that were being fast-tracked into irresponsible adulthood for the personal pleasure of their male servants.
You wonder why the kids said nothing to those they trusted then because trust by proxy now went through the servants, not that the parents were too busy to engage the children, the parents just naively thought everything was fine on the home front and by inference, fine with the children.
Eventually, a report of one of the servants interfering with the kids got to the notice of the parents, they did all the motions, a hospital visit and a sacking of the servant without involving the police. It would have been too scandalous for such a respectable family. This was three years after that other episode, they had moved to another city by now.
Can’t forget sex
Little did they know that the report came at the instigation of another child, who found that they could easily confide in another child than go to their parents. Without the prompting of the other child, nothing would have happened, and the abuse would probably have continued. The parents were completely caught up in the trauma of the event, that first, they did not bother to inquire whether others might have been abused when one other was previously the plaything of that abuser.
I guess they thought with time childhood memories would be erased and forgotten, if only. If one were to add to this a greater indictment, it is after the servant was sacked the kids were told to watch out for his return, no adult with them as they were terrified of what might happen next, all they had for safety was the instruction to scream, a boy of 10 being the eldest against the servant, 29 years old.
The scars of child sexual abuse run deep and only a few survivors of such events go on to live in healthy relationships with a complete blank on the past. Sexual innocence once lost can never be replaced, but there is a lot parents can do in caring, in nurturing, in showing unusual affection and doing everything to regain the trust and confidence of their children being readily able to report any violation of their bodies.
Earn sex trust
Whilst some parents might find this strange, the trust a child can have in their parents to report sexual abuse has to be earned, earned beyond the standard of just being a parent and expecting every child to worship you from the day they were born. Parental provision is a responsibility on the shoulders of the parent, the child does not have to be thankful for that, but the child would be more exceedingly thankful for the opportunity to open their hearts to their parents long before the problems come.
Yet, what parents concentrate on is ensuring they are respected and obeyed at the cost of everything else. They lament about being disrespected, get out the whip to lash out at every opportunity, make all physical and economic provisions and have no concept of emotional engagement, then later in life think the child owes them everything.
That was lost on the day the child lost their sexual innocence when all the parents did was ignore, scold, treat the child as a commodity and leave to chance the healing of time. In most cases, the child never forgot, that today becomes a day of reckoning.
Unconvincing sex stories
This is a story told, personal and raw, there was a conversation where the legalism of a child became a matter of dispute, and though recent events need attention, past events are no less significant because the seeds sown then mature in the person affected from that time, they have just learnt to cope better with the hurt.
I wrote this because, within the commentary that followed the developing story on Facebook, someone said everything that matters to every victim, every victim of child sexual abuse whether you hear that story immediately after the abuse or decades after that it all seems incredible, implausible or even unbelievable, “A survivor does not owe you a convincing story.” 
To that, I would say, neither does a victim owe you a convincing story. There are liars and blackmailers out there, but to allow those few to determine your view every other story is a grave injustice and too many of these stories cannot be tested to their limits in court, you only need a good lawyer to get a murderer off the charge. What two sides of a story you are not convinced of that would allow you to side with the perpetrator against the victim, victimising them a second time, because the victim can't tell you a convincing story?
There are many stories left untold because the victim and survivor are left second-guessing themselves unsure of whether they would be believed about what was done to them, be it child sexual abuse or rape, they are heinous crimes against the person, to which there are rarely any corroborating witnesses. The victims internalise their trauma and their fate, there is courage in keeping silent and there is unusual courage in speaking out.
Tell your story
The many victims of child sexual abuse I have watched being told to shut up, they have a story they cannot tell about what happened to them, because they cannot make their story dramatic enough, fantastic enough, or convincing enough to the majority who think child sexual abuse or rape must follow a rational course of action by the perpetrator.
One can almost say a murder scene almost definitely yields more forensic evidence than a child sexual abuse or rape event, why that is the case when the victim is a witness to their own violation continues to baffle me.
In that story is a boy, an aunt, a sister, many houseboys, some distant relations and no strangers, all before he was 11.

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