Henry Scott Tuke
How common is it?
Yesterday I was talking to one of my relatives and found out he and a couple of his sibling had been sexually abused by neighbors. Different perpetrators at different times. The same happened in my family, different perpetrators at different ages.
A couple of my siblings repressed memories of what happened to them. Two knew something happened but had no recollection of who or what. I knew for sure my younger brother had been molested by a neighbor, because my mother told me and because there was a court case. It's a complicated story but the court case was dropped because my parents blamed my brother for 'cooperating' with the perpetrator, and they in turn felt sorry for the perpetrator. My dad beat my brother as a punishment. Evidently my brother suppressed the memory and it only came out many years later when he was undergoing therapy. He wrote to ask me if I knew anything about what happened to him.
Long story short, I told him what I knew, shared my abuse stories with him, and told him all that our mother told me. I also shared a story of a guy who wanted my brother and I to come to his house. I knew what the man wanted and I wanted to protect my brother. So I scurried him away and we escaped the man. I explained to my brother that I did everything I could to always protect him from anything like that. I told him how I had taken him to church when he was a toddler and consecrated him to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. He never knew that.
Denial is a powerful thing.
My sister still has never recalled what happened to her. I knew about it because my dad told me what he had done. I also heard her screams in the room next to mine. We all came through these things and to my knowledge, not one of us engaged in or repeated that behavior. None of us have any sexual attraction to kids or teenagers. Quite the opposite. Thus molested kids don't always turn into molesters. Maybe some do, but in my experience, victims would go out of their way to protect others from that kind of soul-destroying abuse.
Kids often believe they invited the abuse because they experience sexual pleasure or excitement for the very first time. Little boys experience erections. It is a great crime, a tremendous evil to awaken or arouse sexual excitement in a child.
How and why has this happened to so many kids?
My dad told me his dad did things to him that he could never talk about. Is it generational? My grandfather came over on the boat from Sweden. Was he molested on the boat? Did he see things in steerage kids shouldn't see? Or was this part of his heritage as a farm boy in Sweden?
My cousin didn't mention any details about what happened to him, he just said it probably has happened to more people than we know. Probably.
I was of course molested by neighbors, beginning at a very early age. I kept it secret, except to confess it in confession. Once or twice I got yelled at about it by the confessor, but I did my penance, and of course I accepted responsibility for it. Intellectually I know kids aren't responsible, but emotionally and spiritually I experience the guilt differently. The sense of mortal sin - the fear of it - influenced me since my first confession, hence my concern to protect my siblings from any such harm. Once in Junior High my sister came home, followed by a man - I saw her running towards the house and when the guy saw me, he turned and walked away. I followed him as my mother called the police. Followed him downtown, and he was arrested after going into a women's restroom. I'm not sure what I could have or would have done if I cornered him, but I was determined to somehow protect my sister.
You are not what happened to you.
Some kids who were molested turn out to be gay, but not all of them. My mother told me when my dad was beating my brother he kept shouting, 'you're not going to turn out like Terry!' (And they wonder why I left home and never went back.)
Joe Sciambra writes about how many men he knows who were sexually abused as kids, a fact which coincides with my experience. Most every gay person I have ever known had an experience of sexual abused - but mostly as teen boys. Authorities and activists now regard that as paedophilia, but it's not. It is technically called ephebophilia. When it is male on male, it is gay. Frequently boys who were victims were made more vulnerable because they needed a 'father' figure, or sought the affection/approval of an older, more virile male. If they remain homosexual, the attraction to older men usually remains constant. That would eliminate any attraction for younger boys or men as an adult.
So what is wrong that these things happen, over and over?
What happened to you? That's a question that we might ask ourselves.
No one knows.
Song for this post here.