Sunday, September 19, 2010

Time to SPEAK up

There's a lot of chatter on the internet today about Laurie Halse Anderson's book SPEAK and the suggestion it be considered a banned book for being 'soft porn.' There are numerous posts about this. Janet Reid’s got a few links on her post, and the author has some words about the suggestion in her post here: Laurie Halse Anderson

What I want to speak about is the post I read written by CJ Redwine.

Those who have followed my blog for a while might understand how important the topic is to me because I'm using honest to goodness links instead of just writing out an address in my usual lazy way. CJ's courage has given me a drop of my own.

Back in April, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I posted a couple works of fiction to help spread awareness.

And yet, there is truth in that fiction.

It's not an easy thing to talk about. It's certainly not the sort of small talk you have at a bar or a party. Most people who know me are aware of what I've been through. Why? Because I'm not ashamed. I don't blame myself for what happened. I was young, small, weak, and far too ignorant about the evils of this world when I had my experiences.

Yes. Experiences.

When I read CJ's blog post, it was like reading my own diary entry. I was molested by the son of a family minister for four years, beginning when I was five. When I say 'minister,' I don't mean your typical minister. This man had his own small 'flock' of which a family member was a part of, and I was taken to this man's home and left alone for hours with his son who -I assume- was trusted. The truth is, the whole lot of them were a weird bunch of people, and I was saved from a continuation of such 'attention' by my father's decision to move us as far away as possible from those lunatics as he could.

I tried to speak up once. I suspected what the son was doing to me was wrong. Unfortunately, another young girl in 'the flock' had accused her father of the same thing, and it was decided that I was 'just looking for attention.' I was punished for my sinful lies, and I never mentioned it again.

I 'wasn't right in the head' for years. I didn't know how to socialize with boys. I didn't know how to accept affection from my family or friends. When I was eleven I met my best friend. She was the sweetest person I have ever met, and I think about her every day, even though I have not seen her in twenty years.

We shared our secrets, and hers was far more sinister than mine. She actually made me feel lucky for what I'd been through. Her mother would give her as payment to men for drugs. Yes, that's no typo. From the time since before she could remember, her mother would let grown men sexually assault her own daughter in exchange for cocaine, crack, meth, or whatever they had.

We lived in a small town in Colorado with no more than 5,000 souls. A beautiful tourist trap town predominantly German and Italian in descent. This was not a high crime inner city or 'the scary part of town,' and yet the very same evil lurked in the shadows of majestic mountains and slithered along fresh streams. Her family was not poor. Her mother just didn't want her father to know she was doing drugs so offered my friend's tiny body in lieu of payment. It was proof, for me, that evil really was everywhere. I had not escaped it when my father had moved us so far away from the scary nutjobs.

I won't go into any details of what my four years in the private company of a young man was like, but I will say that I somehow escaped with my virginity in tact. A small mercy, especially compared to what my friend suffered. I managed to cling to my virginity until I was thirteen. One month and twelve days after my thirteenth birthday, to be exact. I remember it every year. It's a pretty hard thing to forget. I had been out with my friends, and a 'friend of a friend' offered to drive me home. Instead, he drove me out into the country where no one could hear me scream as he... well, you can guess the rest.

I was afraid to tell anyone, especially my parents. I thought I deserved it for being so stupid. I thought no one would believe me because he was so popular and widely loved in our community. As time passed, it festered in me. I let myself believe I was destined to know nothing but suffering. I had more abusive relationships than I care to go into.

I found my strength again about a decade ago. Sometimes it all seems so far away, and I know that dwelling on the past serves no purpose. But learning from it - yes. I'm open with my daughters about my experiences. I'm probably even a little annoying at my frequent reminders of how they can tell me anything. They need to know what dangers there are in the world, and they need to know they can talk about them.

They need books like SPEAK. Every girl and boy does. Please click on the links at the beginning of my post. We cannot sit idly by while some ignorant (and frankly a bit demented) man calls rape 'mild porn' and lose a chance to maybe save some poor child's life. They need to know they are not alone. Even if they don't have the strength or courage to speak about it, they need to know they are not to blame, and they can find their strength again.

I am a sexual assault survivor, and I am not ashamed.

12 comments:

Mia said...

*hugs*

Very powerful post. Man. I'm so close to writing one too but can I add anything? Hmmm.

Books should never be banned.

Terry Towery said...

Incredibly powerful post, Christi. I agree with every word you wrote. I'm also glad you have the courage to write about what happened to you.

Your daughters are lucky to have you for a mom.

Alleged Author said...

This made me tear up. No wonder you are so strong. I agree that we need books like Speak. Books like this should never be banned!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

There will always be predators in sheep's clothing. To cling to the denial of that fact is human and self-defeating.

I applaud your courage in telling your and your friend's grim pasts.

Civilization is just an illusion cast by lights and fear of getting caught.

We ignore the darkness lurking behind smiling faces at our peril.

It is why movies like HOSTEL, SAW, and THE HILLS RUN RED do so well at the box office. It was why the gladiator games, the burning of Christians, the hanging of thieves in public squares were so popular.

Mankind is not kind.

Only Nazis ban or burn books. I pray your children never suffer as you suffered.

Again, I applaud your courage, Roland

Jemi Fraser said...

You made me cry and cheer. I can't imagine the horrors. I love your courage, your attitude and your determination.

Books like this need to be written, need to be available in libraries in every school and need to be read.

Silence is not an option.

Hannah Kincade said...

I admire your strength and your candor. I am glad you were one of the lucky ones who grew stronger from your horrific experience.

aspiring_x said...

i'm sorry that you've seen so much evil christy, and your friend. my mother and sister were both raped as teens by boys they thought were friends. neither of them could bring themselves to speak out against the boys.

sexual assault isn't just something that hurts when it happens. the pain returns and returns. the more silent you become, the more power the perpetrator has over you.

i've never read speak, but the premise sounds like a book that should be made available to all teens. because they need to know they are not alone.

speak indeed.

Tahereh said...

i love you so hard. i'm hugging you so hard. and i'm cheering for you, forever.

you are an inspiration.

Piedmont Writer said...

He was my father's best friend. I was fourteen. And then he passed me around to his brother and another friend. It took gallons of alcohol to forget and two years of sobriety before I remembered.

We all need to be heard. We all need to SPEAK. Shit like this just shouldn't happen.

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Much, much love, Christi. This is so important to talk about, and my heart goes out to you and your friend. Thank you for speaking out.

Ann Marie Gamble said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you and I'm so glad you're doing well now.

What makes me doubly angry about the book banner's comment is the idea that when the target of such attacks speaks, we are the ones sullying the community. Children are supposed to protect themselves from attackers and then protect the sensibilities of the community that didn't protect them.

Lisa Gail Green said...

I have tears in my eyes. You are so amazing. This whole damned community is amazing. I finished SPEAK last night and was even MORE disturbed (if that's possible) by this creep's comments. How he could even think that...