In June, I went public with my molestation. It was a bit earlier than I had planned, because someone made an announcement that included part of my story. A couple weeks earlier than I had hoped, I gave a snapshot of my journey. It had to be done. It was part of my healing. I wanted other people in similar situations to know that they are worth that police report…no matter what our statutes of limitations say. And I wanted to tell my story on my terms, before anyone learned from public records or hearsay.
And it was pretty easy to write a quick post at 3 am in a castle. It was silent, other than Dave’s breathing and sleep mumbling. No air conditioning. No televisions. Just the sounds of the animals at Garden of the Gods. And the occasional toilet flushing in one of the other guest rooms.
It didn’t take too much bravery to hit publish. I wouldn’t be sitting next to her when she opened her email. Or sitting across from him while he scrolled through his newsfeed. Even though 5,000 people saw it, it still felt intimate. Small. Support poured in through messages, comments, and texts.
But then I returned to real life. Home from the hearing and our mini-getaway. And seeing people eye to eye was difficult.
Someone who would normally greet with me with a hug, abstained. Friends who knew I was going to the hearing, but didn’t know as a victim, wouldn’t look in my eyes. It was not what I had expected, but what I should’ve assumed.
One person told me she was there to talk if I needed it. Ironically, she hadn’t even read the post. She doesn’t follow this blog or use Facebook. And she was one of the few who reached out to me in that uncomfortable silence in the real world. Face to face. Never looking away.
So maybe going public was a mistake. I thought it would be the best way to communicate such an enormous part of my life, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was a mistake to hope that my story might also give someone a boost of bravery.
Yet dozens of strangers contacted me to share their stories. Some even said I had given them the courage to go public with their own pasts. But when real life acquaintances avert their eyes, I don’t know what to do with that.
It’s the struggle of sharing. I can’t control how people will react. And everyone processes differently. I was the victim. I am the survivor. But I quickly realized that people aren’t just dealing with my situation. My molestation doesn’t really affect them all that much.
They are dealing with the truth of my molester. That we had a wolf in our midst. And maybe that’s why they can’t look me in the eyes. Maybe they are trying to embrace a truth I’ve known for 18 months. That my suppressed memories knew for decades.
Either way, ‘real life’ is hard. I share things here that I couldn’t possibly share one-on-one. Not enough time. Not enough coffee.
But I threw something so incredibly difficult out into the internet. I thought I did it to help others, but maybe I was selfish. Scared to have the conversation and the eye contact and the awkward body language. Instead, I typed it out in the dark and published it in the calm and then waited for it to explode. And I may have damaged friendships, as she opened her email with no warning and he scrolled through his newsfeed to stumble upon the news.
I want to thank everyone who has supported me through all of this. It can’t be easy. I had to keep so many things vague and quiet until after all the court proceedings. I think I hurt people who thought they should’ve known earlier. And I’m sure I’ve alienated people who wished they would’ve never learned.
I don’t really know how these things should be handled. But if it keeps one person from being tricked by him when he is paroled in six years, then I feel like it is worth all the awkward interactions. Because he’s good at lying. But I’m better at telling the truth. For whatever that’s worth.
My victim’s advocate had warned me more than once, but nothing prepares you for that moment when people stop looking at you.