Amidst the latest in our nation’s ongoing political turmoil, supporters of an Alabama Senate candidate pose the question: “Why have these allegations of child sexual abuse only now come to light?” I don’t know the timeline of the Washington Post reporters who broke the story, nor do I know the circumstances of the woman whose story of child sexual abuse at the hands of the candidate enraged the turmoil.
But I do know a truth common among many survivors of child sexual abuse — we don’t tell. Some of us not until late in life. Some of us never. Instead, many of us live lives of quiet struggle — a variety of possible feelings: confusion, sadness, pain, fear, shame. For some, life events may unfold which shake loose the memories and shake out the story. For others, the struggle never ends.
I can only speak from my experience as a man. The sexual abuse I suffered occurred when I was 8 and I didn’t tell until I was 52. It’s a common theme among men (bristleconeproject.org). I don’t pretend to understand the experience of women, nor do I know the experience of this particular woman.
But I do feel a jolt of pain in my heart, every time I hear the question asked: “Why have these allegations only now come to light?” Regardless of one’s political leanings, we owe survivors of child sexual abuse our compassion and respect. There is no politics in it. It’s simply an act of decency and grace.
Corvallis (Nov. 13)