my aunt texted me a link to an article that was published in a long island news source. the state of ny recently enacted the child victims act, extending the statute of limitations for a survivor of child sexual abuse in criminal and civil cases.
the article she sent was about a woman, now 58, who alleges sexual abuse by a music teacher in her middle school years that extended into her high school years, a young woman whose first sexual experience was forced upon her by a man twice her age.
i just re-read the article online, which had 70 comments by readers, a mixed bag of revulsion, outright indignation and seething condemnation. people who claimed this woman was lax in her non-reporting way-back-when and was now after the money in a civil suit. people who knew that this music teacher had been assaulting young girls for years and years, whose pedophilia was ignored by the administration and who were now cheering for the uncloaking of the mantle of silence, a journey to possible justice. people who were sickened.
i alternatively sobbed and couldn’t breathe trying to click on this article on my phone when i got the text. i needed to download an app, couldn’t think straight to remember my apple sign-in; i was not at home and was anxious to get there and read in the safety of our kitchen. i was sure that i knew who this un-named alleged perpetrator/rapist/pedophile was.
when we got home, i was able to download the app and read the article aloud. no name was mentioned of the man-who-was-accused-of-heinous-acts-with-little-girls, but a school location was and it was then i realized that – in two different towns, side-by-side, in the late 70s – there were at least two men who made it their mission to prey, to take the virginity of young women and forever change those young women’s lives. the man who stole my innocence and the innocence of girls i tried in vain to protect was a different man than the one in this article.
there was no victim-witness division in the prosecutor’s office back then. in an all-too-common story, not one of the assaulted pressed charges. as far as i know, both of these men walk freely about, wherever they live. the smallest among us may still be suffering their disgusting acts. i can vouch for the fact that the fallout of the act does not end; this breach of trust, this contemptible forcing of will, the abhorrent power-wielding by another leaves fossils in every cell.
we stumble into small-but-profound acts of impact. people donating used mascara wands to aid in the cleansing, and thus, healing, of small wild animals in need of care. donations of suitcases to foster care agencies to give children a place, besides a plastic bag, to keep their tiny collection of belongings.
it may not balance out the atrocities, but these gestures, these initiatives help. we are responsible for each other.
protecting the smallest among us. the children. the creatures. why can’t this be the most important?