I can tell victims of sexual assault it gets better, but it doesn’t go away. That’s how it is: We heal and we remember.
MY silence has been disturbing me. It’s a familiar reaction for survivors like me. But I can’t keep silent any longer. Silence keeps things in darkness and prevents us from seeing clearly in the light of day.
I don’t have the right to speak for or against Seattle Mayor Ed Murray or the man, Delvonn Heckard, who has accused the mayor of raping him as a teen. Nor do I want to. However, I do have the right and responsibility to speak for myself, as a survivor of sexual abuse, and possibly for other survivors who have been sexually violated.
I have to talk about this issue and write about it. I just can’t stuff it down. Sexual abuse, well, it’s been a big chunk of my life. I can tell victims and survivors it gets better, but it doesn’t go away. That’s how it is: We heal and we remember. Talking about it helps.
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There is, and always has been, so much silence and secrecy around issues of sex, sexuality and sex abuse. It’s a taboo topic for most of us — especially around the dinner table with family and friends. And yet predatory sexual abuse has no boundaries. It doesn’t matter. It knows no religion, race, color, gender, socio-economic bracket. It can affect us regardless of our social conditioning or whether we are gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
It’s so much easier to talk about politics or other matters than to discuss sex or sexual abuse. What we keep hidden can fester and spread. It holds power over us.
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- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigns after fifth child sex-abuse allegation
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- Murray's cousin accuses him of child molestation
- Man who sued Murray over alleged sex abuse wants millions from the city
- Lawsuit alleges Murray sexually abused troubled teen in 1980s
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The civil suit filed against the mayor has rocked me to my core. It’s awakened my own process of holding my abuser accountable. (I was 7 when my parish priest raped me in the auditorium of the Catholic school I attended in East Los Angeles.)
Reading The Seattle Times article, “Mayor Ed Murray’s lawyers want accuser questioned first in alleged sex-abuse lawsuit,” I stopped breathing. It was the word “interrogatories” that I choked on. No explanation of the word was needed. I remember this invasive process when I, for the first time, put on paper in graphic detail my abuse.
Because of this case, I, as a survivor, understand better the aspect of power in situations of sexual abuse. Abuse is always about a person with power and prestige versus a person without — like an adult or parent over a child, a man over a woman, an adult over a vulnerable teen, a priest over a child or congregant, a president over others, an important news commentator over a colleague, and so on and so on. And it is this imbalance of power that can keep survivors silent for years and years.
Does any of this make the mayor guilty and Heckard right? No, not necessarily. I simply want to shed light on the fact that this case is troubling to me and other survivors — possibly more so than to the general public. I want it to end, to go away. I don’t want it to be true about the accused or the accuser. Wanting this, of course, is denial — just another form of silence. The thought of truth on either side remains extremely disheartening to me.