I watch a lot of documentaries. Recent ones of note are Phoenix Rising, Surviving R. Kelly, We Need to Talk About Cosby, Groomed, Allen vs. Farrow, Tell Me Who I Am, and Children of the Cult. And that’s just to name a few.
But what all these basically have in common is the documentation of victims going through the process of working up their nerve to seek justice against their perpetrators. And it’s a long fucking process.
Did you know that the average time for a victim of childhood sexual abuse to finally report is 52 years after the fact? No fucking joke! It’s called Delayed Disclosure. Yet, the statute of limitations, at least in California, are 20 years shy of that, and that’s an improvement in the law in recent years.
Back when I was 40, I got the nerve up to call a detective at the police station and asked what my options were. At the time, I was told that the statute had long run out. It was 20 years back then (for statutory rape). My only recourse was possibly being a witness in any current case that one of my abusers may have been on the hook for. But there was nothing there. Nothing they’d been caught for anyway. The detective asked if I wanted to file a report despite that. She said it was good to have it on file officially, just in case someone else ever came forward. But I felt scared and helpless. So, I didn’t. The fear is real.
Then, in 2019, a law was passed where victims were able to report these crimes up to the age they turned 40. But I was 51 by then. A lot of good that would do me. Of course, there are many people still working on changing these laws, but it’s not easy to fight bureaucracy.
As some of you might know, I then published a memoir that year (2019), which I have since taken out of distribution for a plethora of reasons. But I did write about what happened to me in this book using alias names. I have never publicly named these guys. I’ve been too afraid for various reasons. I’ve gone through the gamut of feelings: maybe I’m being unfair, maybe it was all my fault, maybe I shouldn’t ruin their lives, maybe they will come after me, and if I name them and the statute lifts, I might not have a case for reasons of liable and slander. The worries went on and on.
Well, I still haven’t named them publicly (YET). But I’m finally about to file a police report next week. That’s scary enough. I am nervous, but I’m proud of myself. It’s about time, right? It’s just a first step though, because there are multiple incidents and multiple perpetrators, and I’m only focusing on two people.
From ages 12-14, there was one guy in particular, and it was ongoing. When it stopped, someone else swooped in. So, I am reporting those two. But there was another besides. Why don’t I report him? I don’t know. One step at a time?
And when I was in my 20s, I was raped by someone who I thought was my best friend. Why am I not reporting him? Who’s going to believe this shit? Maybe reporting that last incident scares me the most. I have more mixed feelings about it because I was older then. Because he was such a good friend. Because he has a family now. Many parts of me still care about him as a person. I can’t help it. I can’t name him or report him. Not yet.
These other two guys are still unmarried, no kids, and I can give a shit about either of them, as they were adults when I was just a child. They groomed and manipulated me over months and years. It was relentless and premeditated. It was a very different situation. They were also good friends and in cahoots on the whole fucking thing. Pretty sickening.
It took me so many, many years to even become angry. All I did was blame myself 100%. I thought I was the loser. I thought I was the one who initiated it all, at least with the first guy—at twelve! Isn’t that ludicrous? But how would I know what grooming was?
I wasn’t aware of what that was until a few years ago. I think that’s when I started to get angry. Seeing how the manipulation works. Yet, before that, I would never blame any other child for this, only my own self. Hearing any other story about a twelve-year-old being messed with by an adult, or any other older person, would make me angry and have total empathy for that child. Yet never did I have that for myself. I always looked for how I had responsibility.
This is typical for most people, most survivors. I hate saying victims. Using the word victim just makes one feel vulnerable all over again. But you kinda feel that way no matter.
Because of this part of my life, the rest of it was ruined. Some might think that’s because I’ve “let” it ruin my life, but fuck those people who can’t understand trauma and all the multiple other traumas I’ve been through. These guys are not my only hurdles. In fact, it’s a giant wonder—a miracle—that I’m as sane as I am and still alive. I have been suicidal most of my life. I’ve been scared and self-hating. I mean deep self-hatred. That’s what becomes of people of trauma and abuse. Thank you, Mom. Thank you, rapists. But therapy has really helped me become self-aware and has sprinkled a bit of self-love and self-care upon me. Not as much as I probably need, but considering where a lot of other people end up, I think I’m doing okay for now.