Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Misunderstood Bagel Thief or "just" a Convicted Sex Offender, an innocent Husband,or even my own Father, a Billionaire Banker, Bill Cosby or a Charming Prince,

The fire storm of disbelief and condemnation that greeted Lena Dunham's revelation of rape ( which she also talked about in her own memoir)  brings up, for me a related issue:  Dunham's detractors especially questioned  "how exactly to Define Rape" questioned whether she  actually  was raped or was NOT actually raped in the light of  their definition.)

The "fire storm"  brings up a related issue for me and most mothers like me caught up in the mailstrom that results when  our own child reports being molested. (never mind the legal definition of molest or the neighbors or the families "definition" of our child's pain filled experience)

What mother and wives run into is the buzz saw of  who and how they   
choose to define  Mother.  As in She was right there, how could she NOT know etc etc ad nauseum.) and then the judging and the self judging until we find a place like Not the Life where we must come to our own conclusions about what it means to be a mother to a molested child and/wife (or grand,mother mother related to the molester) Religious, or legal or social Definitions don't suffice.

Lately there seems to be a lot of discussion about whether to believe children who report sexual abuse or wait, redefine, allow an uncertain justice and expensive lawyers to define just "what happened." Mothers wonder which words to use to characterize those accused  (we also have to come to terms with who we are or thought we were before the knock on the door.) thus what to term the "crime" if they committed it, and if it is proven and.. Anyway,  what words, by whose definitions  DO we   explain "it"  to the neighbors, to our other kids,  never mind what words do we find  to explain "this" betrayal to  ourselves? Do we even define "it" as a betrayal of ourselves?)

This  question of definition and condemnation is what we all deal with as Wives and Mothers and Victims  commenting on Not the Life I Chose.  How we chose to define this problem  largely decides what we do about solving our future. What words do we use?  Of course we probably would not marry a known convicted sexual predator but if we our husband was accused and we were already married  couldn't the crime be  other-wise defined? Couldn't we just rely on the religious definition of Good wife? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We dread labeling and perhaps condemning ourselves even in our own minds no matter the definition we "choose" others will certainly define us as failures and condemn us. By definition, no mother allows this to "happen" to a child she is sworn to protect. No omniscient loving mother could NOT know. Could she?

We tell ourselves that we are the Not-criminals but we're getting  treated like criminals.  Such crimes (and such re-definition) is not only confined to our own neighborhoods, not only to our own betrayed and misunderstood and grieving families. Some of us just choose to deny and  smile right along with our "I'm innocent" husband. W hat ever you decide about Bill, Camille Cosby has a wonderful smile and she has been smiling for Bill for going on 50 years.

As I began to edit the manuscript of  my own "incest" memoir  questions about language arose. I also asked myself over and over "Why didn't I just know?" After all I grew up in an incest family. Yet, I chose to marry a man strangely like my own Father who incested my children. (did you know that there is no such blunt word as incested? Nor does the  word "incester" exist to cleanly describe a father who incests his small son or daughter? I know, even incests does not exist, you must go around the bush and refer to someone who "commits incest.")

And notice sexual language becomes murkier (and more impersonal / third person  ) yet when you enter into the realms of religion and law and Polite Society. The language of Stranger Danger intrudes: Pedophile priest, Pedophile Coach or Scout master...but is a father or grandfather who has long preferred sex with his own underage family also a Pedophile or a serial/ generational incester? If a Child Pornographer only sells imaged of sex trafficked children to middle class surfers, does that mean that Daddy's who surf are only exercising their right to Free Speech?

Yet I followed scrupulously followed  directions in the same religious script laid down by church and society and by my mother and grandmother. How could I not have just known? Trained in dependency I happily put my trust in my husband. I would have said our marriage was "Happy." Given the words I knew how could I have even  imagined a Disney movie like Frozen in which my Prince Charming was actually the bad guy. My script said Cinderella married her hero husband  and they "Rode off into the Sunset"  They "Lived Happily Ever After." He was Prince Charming after all.

Writing my memoir,  made me  examine the language I was taught by religion and society and by the women and men in my family. I realized the denial of descriptors and action words and the alternate selection of "appropriate" words-to-describe or even characterize what my father did to me and what my husband did to my children made the pain  vague  and never-specific and above all my fault. How could I have reported  virtually, nothing in forbidden "words " I did not know? Children are taught NOT to say "No" to adults. The words we were taught allowed/ protected/ covered up /silenced even the knowledge of incest and sexual abuse rampant in my family (and in society) My father told me he was  "Giving me a good spanking " when he took me into the bedroom  and molested and hit. What was there to report? That my father spanked me because I had been naughty?  It was a spare the rod spoil the child world and the words came straight from the Bible. "God says..."

Our words demonize "them" too, as Stranger Danger (never as Fathers) they are blood thirsty Strangers Serial killers who could not be the upstanding husbands and fathers who only touched us down there while we slept or brought us up in the way we should go with an occasional "good spanking"  "They" are Not defined as fathers Surfing the internet who only watched pornography (or took trophy pictures of us) since pornography also is widely defined as a victim-less video crime (much as our permitted words would have us believe that whatever  our fathers "may have done" in the night was also victim-less because we had no words to describe our victimization and thus we should  erase ourselves and our inexplicable pain. ) "Don't think about "it." "Forget and forgive." "Be quiet, you will only embarrass yourself." So, you got-yourself-pregnant?" By our words or absence of words we participate in Un-defining even ourselves. Thus we also Un-define our children as having human rights as human beings worthy of the  protections owed all this world's children.

It gets so confusing. No wonder our heads swim.  But the Re-definition goes on.  For example Jonathan Turley ( jonathanturley ) in his blog about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein (Billionaire Banker, procurer and videographer of underage girls performing sexual acts with the world's rich and famous, Turley (read the entire post at  jonathanturley )  indicates that:

"Shortly after his release from prison, he (Epstein) was quoted as denying that he is a real criminal and said “I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender’. It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”).   Apparently, by Epstien's definition, a rose by any other name is simly a bagel thief?

In religious circles and nice neighborhoods, sexual predators are defined only as "Stranger Danger." Nice Girls living at home are at least technically safe,  Virginal in mind and body (or at least by reputation) Nice Girls do not know nor do they speak  aloud "dirty" words for sexual activities whic do not actually occur down there. Only Bad little Girls even imagine there might be something going on down there or posses/speak aloud  descriptive words to complain (in this society all descriptive words are considered dirty: cunt, butt-f**, suck, blow,  any service the famous F-word in any of it's manifestations might describe are proof-positive the Nice Girl is gone Bad.) Such f-words constitute all the descriptions any resident Bagel Thief might use to tell us exactly how to service them after mom leaves for church)

The very fact that we "imagined" Bagel Thief words only proved (according to the Bagel Thief himself that we were Bad boys and girls fantasizing rape to  seduce even our own upstanding father or coach or grandfather or....  Such a Bad Girl (or Boy) might certainly be dismissed as confused or crazy. Bad girls are subject to slut-shaming by good girls and silenced by their worried mothers.  We were supposed just say No, just to point to down there. And if the incest report were believed  WE were the children removed from our own home just as the bagel Thief had often warned would happen to us if were were bad and "told on" our father...   (Removal was Proof Enough that We were the Bad little Seeds, the rebellious ones who "got ourselves" pregnant, the liars, the crazy ones.) and therefore should never be believed or taken seriously. (even though the bagel Thief had told us that if we told he would kill our younger brother)

Then their are the Mothers (like my mother, like me  ) who taught me and taught our own children that the Bagel Thief's were indeed right. Mothers like my mother and mothers like me who shush up our own little boys and girls.. Mothers who teach Bagel thief words to the next generation. Mothers who warn over and over, "Now! Be Nice.)  We are the people who marry the Bagel Thief's who mother them and believe them and pass on the virus embedded in language, We are charmed, or engulfed or we were in childhood.  When Real Language demands we call a Rose a Rose and a spade a spade we go along with the rest of Nice Society and agree to redefine offenders and take pity upon the poor Bagel Thiefs   We forget and forgive and vague out language  Before we decide whether to stay or to go. Before we decide whether to believe the Bagel Thief or the child, Whether to "mother" our  resident sex offender. or chose to put ourselves and our child first.

In my own experience, Bagel Thieves manage pretty well and if we fail to define ourselves as the sort of loving wife who steps up and put her husband  first, there is always someone  else waiting to define them as "innocent" and us as the ex-, the bad mother we ourselves often fear we were.  You know the mother who believed her child's story instead of redefining  "it"  as just inappropriate... well, maybe there was some inappropriate touching but surely there must have been some misunderstanding of the definition of whatever...


Monday, January 5, 2015

Discovering Courage to Claim (past, present or "possible") Membership in The Discredited Wives Club...and move on unafraid of "What People will think" ...

As the Wives, ex-wives, girlfriends and mother's with current or former family members accused, adjudicated, imprisoned or on probation, parole or "On the Registry" we have precious few ways to "connect" with each other either in person or even on the internet. We are divided by our own Shame and Denial and by the injustices imposed upon us as family member by  the "Justice System."

 Many of us will spend the rest of our lives trying  to outrun the stigma and the pain. We deny our own experience. We say "our Offender" did not committed the crime. We rail against the unfairness of the discrimination and prejudice we and our children face. We silence and hide and re-marry in hopes of Putting "it" all behind us. We internalize their prejudice and then ask ourselves how WE could have been so stupid?  As though we were at fault. We are indeed The Discredited Wives Club. But, in our shame, we deny ourselves the support,, the strength, the camaraderie of others because we want to return to our own prejudice against "Those Women" We do not want to ever, be one of those deeply discredited women.  You know one of Those women like they show on Netflix  you know one of those"Prisoner's Wives" as pre-defined by whoever made a bundle filming Those women.

 Recently I was talking to a woman heavily involved in "prisoners rights" per se.

When I mentioned the issues faced by women living with parolees...after release, (not even sex offenders) just simply parolees and dealing with parole restrictions (and Parole Officers) and the chilling effect that has on the lives of the women (and children) on women's lives, the Woman, Activist was indeed  amazed> She  said she had never even heard of the issue  (and she made it pretty clear that she still  wasn't at all interested in an issue involving  those women )

She quickly advised " just search the internet"...she was sure WE could find each other somewhere. 

I pointed out that wives and mother's with a family member "On the Registry" or "just" on Parole have no way to connect or discuss the effects of "association with stigma" on families and future... The "prisoner's rights" activist turned off, tuned out...ust went back to obsessing about  prisoners..
Prisoners Rights as an issue  is a  much more .acceptable "injustice" than the rights (or wrongs) experienced by the Discredited Wives Club.

Sex Offenders are required by Parole and Probation Departments in every State to attend Group / Individual Therapy programs...ever heard of a Discredited Wives Support Group?  Even a Discredited Wives Sewing circle?  Nope

The real problem is that unless we get to know one another, unless we "Share" as they say in or out of we are all too likely to just marry quickly and run right back into the same "strangely familiar" territory that allowed us to become the Betrayed Wives eligible for repeat membership in the Discredited Wives Club...  Child sexual abuse, incest, child pornography, is part and parcel of Generational child sexual abuse running through far too many middle class families. How else explain how the perpetrator became a perpetrator the Perpetrators Family kept the secret we all deny is hiding there.

Failure to acknowledge and deal with our membership (however blamelessly acquired) bleeds directly into the next generation of Family Secrecy and destruction..

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Elizabeth: "I chose."

This is a story that was emailed to me. I love it. She made wise choices to protect her children and let them speak. ~ Evie

An email from Elizabeth:
It was four years ago today when I was changing my sick infants diaper that my oldest age 6 told me that her and Daddy had a secret.  My response was that we don’t keep secrets in this family. I guess I should have said I don’t keep secrets in this family. Trusting child that she was she told me her secret and I froze. That’s when Kurt came home; he had been at the store getting medicine for the baby before he had to go to work. He came up stairs handed me the medicine, got dressed for work kissed my forehead and said I love you and walked out the door, I was silent the entire time. Those were the last words he ever spoke to me.  For an hour I stumbled around the house.  I loaded the dishwasher, folded some clothes, and contemplated packing bags for me and my kids and driving from Ga to Wa. Instead I called a local friend and told her that she had to come over or I had to come see her. She said to come over, she later told me that she thought I had found out Kurt had cheated on me, that detail didn’t sink in til almost a year later. The first thing she asked after I got the courage to spit out the words was “are you going to stay?” Honestly that thought never crossed my mind. I fought hard to keep my oldest alive as a premature infant. I lost all but one of my friends and a few role models when I choose to keep her instead of giving her up for adoption. I was NOT going to tell her when she grew up that my love for her Daddy was more important than her safety. My friend contacted CPS, they talked to me over the phone and an hour or so later I found out Kurt had been arrested. 3 hours later they had a written confession from him. He went to jail that very night. I gave the police everything they asked for, coming in and writing down what happened that day, going to CPS to have my oldest and her almost 3 year old sister video recorded interviews so that they could get any evidence they could. I hid at my friends house for a month, god bless her for taking us in like that.  I never spent another night in the house we had shared. I moved my and the kids stuff out and into a new apartment. We were divorced within 3 months and when the school year was over we moved to CA and in with my parents. It took a year from his arrest to the trial. My daughter and I both had to testify. I wasn’t allowed to be in the court room when she had to testify. Kurt’s parents came to support him. They asked for liency after he was found guilty. I told them that they could have contact with Kurt OR the children not both. I haven’t talked to either one since that day. Even if the judge wanted to be lienet the minimum sentence was 25 years with no chance of early parole. I am grateful for this for a few reasons. One because by the time he gets out my children will be 31, 27 and 25 year old adults. They will have established their personalities and have done a lot of growing without him and if he chooses to try and contact them, they will be at the point where they can make that decision from an adults prospective rather than a child who wants a father or a teen who is searching for identity. Another reason I am grateful is because it gives me no opportunity to rethink my decision. Because even though I didn’t even think about staying and I have had absolutely no contact with him, I still love him and that is so hard for me. Some days I wish for the life I had before the secret. I had an involved parent in my children’s life, I had an understanding partner who helped around the house and helped me find my self-respect. I had some one who loved me and listened to me. We had dreams of a future. We rarely fought. And now all that is gone. I lived 3 years with my parents who after a while weren’t so quiet about not liking that there were 3 children in the house. My mom and I have a fragile relationship and living with her again torn at me. I am not allowed to talk about feeling or even show sadness. So trying to make sense of this situation was impossible for I had to push everything into a box and tape it shut. I am currently living with a friend as they are going through a divorce but it’s hard, because some days all I can see was the life I was suppose to have, the one we planned, and how it’s not the one I am living.  Now I have to decide each year if I tell my children’s teachers at the beginning of the year or wait for something to be said (so far every year something has been said). I have to explain to adults that my children are allowed to talk about what happened and they are not to shame or make my kids feel guilty for talking about it. I’ve had to explain to my oldest that when you tell people personal stuff that you have to trust that person to keep it to them-selves or risk them telling everyone (which has also happened). I have to trust that the teachers won’t look at my daughter any differently after they find out (which has not always happened).  I’ve had to figure out a way to explain to my younger two where their Daddy is, and why it’s a good thing that he’s there in a way that is age appropriate and without going into detail and still respecting my daughters privacy. I’ve had to deal with people getting offended when I won’t tell them why my ex is no longer in our lives.  I’ve had to deal with well-intentioned therapist who just didn’t know how to connect to my daughter. This isn’t the life I choose. No, that’s not true. I could have stayed, I could have told my daughter she was lying, or just ignored what she said or confronted Kurt and “worked it out”, I could have left with out reporting it and then wonder if I would ever go back.  I chose to report him. I chose to work with the police. I chose to let my daughters make video interviews so that when the caseworker was a victim of a DUI murder, there was still hard evidence that could be used to convict Kurt. I chose to testify. I chose not to contact Kurt. I chose not to have contact with his family if they were going to contact him. I chose. I chose my children. That’s a choice I would make again.