So in this blog post I talk about sexual assault and I do swear more than I normally do.  Fair warning if that is not for you. 

When we lived in Nebraska, many moons ago, one day as I was walking to work, a young kid, maybe in his twenties? Ran up to me, slammed his body into mine, grabbed my crotch through my clothes, yelled something in my year, and then ran off.

I immediately burst into tears, and then I walked home, and then I cried some more.  Mr. E was out of town, so I was all alone, and I didn’t know what to do.  I just didn’t know what to do.

It wasn’t the worst thing to ever happen to me, for sure, but I don’t know if I can describe to you the violation that it felt like. To know that anyone could walk up to me and do whatever they wanted, and that little more than common decency and societal mores were what was protecting any one of us as we walked down the street, well.  It was pretty traumatizing and awful and I felt so ashamed, and I didn’t want to talk about it.  I did tell Mr. E in the end and I could barely get it out, but I never told the police. I never told my parents. I didn’t know what that would even accomplish. I had no idea what the person looked like, and I didn’t want to talk about it, really, any more than I already had.

But it was pretty awful, and it was the tiniest thing in the world, it was NOTHING, it was absolutely nothing, compared to being a ten year old and being anally raped in the shower by a grown up that has been entrusted with your care.  NOTHING.

I am not doing well with this Penn State thing, you guys.  Like, I think I kind of may need an emergency therapy session, and I cried in the car on the way home from preschool and I am just not doing well.

Because the thing is I am the mother of a four year old son, and this boy of mine , this blond  haired light of my life, he loves black widows and Star Wars and dinosaurs and he turns back and smiles and says “I love you too Mama” when I drop him off at preschool and if anyone ever did anything like that to this child, MY CHILD, I would hunt them down and kill them with my bare hands. My bare hands.  I should probably not be admitting this on the internet but I swear to god I would.

I send this child out into the world every day and I trust that world with my baby, because what else can you do?  You trust the world with your child and then you find out that PEOPLE KNEW that children were being abused and they let it happen while they stood by.  It’s not that someone did this that gets me, because this is the work of evil or insanity.  That happens every day, horrifying as it is, and I do not excuse it OF COURSE DEAR GOD but I don’t know, it’s not what keeping me up at night.  Because the world is full of evil but I have always believed there is good some out there too, that when someone like me or you discovers something this rotten, they will do the right thing.  They tell.  They put a stop to it, no matter what, despite football or coaches or money or what else.

Because other people knew.  PEOPLE KNEW.  Grad students and college presidents and football coaches LET THE RAPING OF TEN YEAR OLDS GO ON WHILE THEY KNEW.  I want to throw up. I seriously felt the world rock under me as I discovered this and maybe I am naive and maybe not but I swear to god I woke up this morning a different person and now I want to go back.

The world failed these children.  CHILDREN.  FORTY CHILDREN.  I just…I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop crying. I want to scrub out these images from my brain with soap and I can’t.  Because the world failed these children and this is the same world I send my child out into and I can’t even believe that this happened.  TO LITTLE BOYS JUST LIKE MINE.  Oh god.  Oh god. Oh god.

What do you do? What do you even do?

We read books and we talk to our children and we try as hard as we can to  be as careful as we can.  I don’t know what else to do.

And don’t even get me started on the football players or the football culture or the 70 million dollar Penn football program or stupid fucking Joe Paterno or Ashton Fucking Kutcher.  Is football more important than a CHILD?  No.  Is the college career of a football player more important than a CHILD?   No.  Is 70 million dollars more important than a CHILD?  YOUR CHILD?  No.  FUCK NO IT IS NOT.


28 Responses

  1. Thank you for articulating what has been stuck in my brain and choking my voice for the last few days. It’s been keeping me up at night and waking me with nightmares.

  2. I know, I just…ugh. I think about those boys and I just feel so scared for my own. I couldn’t even listen to the news about Penn State. I don’t want to know any more. I don’t want to know that this is a total everyday occurrence and these boys are hurt for life and ugh ugh ugh what do you do?

  3. You have captured something here that until now, I didn’t realize was the reason I have watched or listened to exactly NONE of the coverage about this Penn State thing. I can’t do it. I can’t. I can’t put myself in the position of those parents and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle the anger I would feel at the people who knew and didn’t do a g-damn thing. It’s just so … disgusting and I can’t even comprehend it.

  4. Also this is a very respected institution – one that parents probably had to work hard to get their kids into the program. Imagine how those parents feel. Their kids would have been better off playing video games at home. It’s so awful. The only good thing to come of it as I see it is learning a little more what this kind of stuff looks like so if you do happen upon it, you can do something to stop it.
    And sorry about the loony grabbing your crotch thing. So weird. It’s totally about control, personal space, all that. Rape is a power grab and that’s what happened to you – this person stole from you.

  5. Not saying you were raped – I mean something was taken from you.

  6. I know. I can’t even. I feel like puking when I think about it. And when I think about all those quasi-adults getting pissed that (so little) action has been taken against adults who knew and ignored. I’m not doing so hot with it, either.

  7. I’m so angry. I’m so very fucking angry.

  8. YES. This is why it makes me so angry. So so angrier than I have been in a long time. I want to know how any of these men who knew something was happening can live with themselves. Or maybe I don’t. How do you witness child rape and just walk away? I want everyone who knew to be fired, banned from football for life, disgraced, and shunned. And/or imprisoned.

    Ashton Kutcher?

  9. Welcome to the reality of big time Division I NCAA football, a behemoth so bloated and rife with undeserving hero worship that something this this debacle was made possible, because football was more important than reporting the ongoing sexual abuse of children, because that dried up fossil of a coach enjoyed Christ-like status, because rich alumni donors keep the money flowing.

    I wanted heads to roll SO badly over this, and they finally did. What a bunch of fucking gutless spineless assholes. I wish their heads had rolled literally, not figuratively.

  10. Disgusting. JoePa fed those babies to that monster.
    How do you hear about something like that and NOT follow-up? Really? How can you work that closely with a person (I use the term loosely) and NOT bring up the subject? “Hey, so yeah….what ever happened with that whole sodomy thing? You got caught in the act and nothing happened?? Here, why don’t you get a couple more kids to join your program?”
    There is a guy here who is staunchly DEFENDING Paterno. He’s just a coach, he wasnt there, who knows how much of the story he was told, blah blah. I said, “DUDE!! If someone came to YOU and told you that there was a kid being RAPED in the shower by your defensive coordinator, wouldn’t you go check that shit out? Wouldnt you pull that pig off that boy and beat the living snot out of him? I certainly would.”
    I then smartly tuned on my heel and walked away.
    “He didn’t know”, my ass.

  11. AMEN. This is one my biggest fears, and to know that dozens of people KNEW about it and LET IT GO ON FOR YEARS is….there are no words horrible enough. I would kill, and I do mean kill violently, any person who laid a hand on my kid with that intent. Anyone’s kid.

    I am really just incoherent with rage at this. And I can’t imagine what these dumbass college kids are thinking.

  12. Yep! To all you wrote.

    I am quite surprised there is not more vigilante action when it comes to children. I am actually quite afraid of why my own reaction would be if someone hurt my child.

  13. You’re so right about all of this.

  14. This tweet said it all for me: I would write more about the Penn State thing but it’s really hard because I keep rage vomiting all over my keyboard.

  15. So sad. I just don’t understand how it wasn’t a huge red flag that 10 year olds were on a college campus at all. Sick, sick, sick.

  16. I’m not yet a parent but I’ve survived sexual assault, and the thought of that happening to a child makes me physically ill. I don’t understand these people who stood by and let it happen. I just cannot comprehend it. There is no amount of money or football or whatever the actual hell that would make it okay. I can’t go there in my mind. I bawled my eyes out reading that grand jury report. I just…I don’t know.

  17. Every time I think about this I have to force myself to stop. Its just so incredibly awful. I keep wondering what was going through that child’s head when McQueary walked in. He must have thought he was going to be saved. Then the guy WALKED OUT. He told that child no one cares about him. He told him what was happening was OK. That no one would stop it. If that kid’s life wasn’t completely ruined already, he ruined it right that second. Out of everyone in this entire scandal, McQueary is the one whose head I’d like to rip off. I can see not wanting to rush in and confrunt Sandusky (sort of. I would hope that anyone in that situation WOULD. They certainly SHOULD), but why not call 911????

    • I’m with you, Jesabes. That guy is some kind of brainless, heartless, spineless I-don’t-have-words-for-the-kind-of-jerk-he-is. I too have thought about what that poor child must have been thinking … and was then taught in that instant – “I am not safe…and adults can’t and won’t protect me.” I keep wondering what any of these people’s responses would have been had it been their child. Walked away, didn’t take action, didn’t stop this person? I highly doubt it. We are ALL responsible for keeping children safe…ALL children.

  18. You can’t hear me but I’m clapping over here and adding my voice to the cursing chorus.

    I can barely stand to look at the Penn State story sideways, with my hands over my eyes.

    I’m guessing that the people who saw what they saw, probably couldn’t believe their eyes. They probably convinced themselves that what they thought they saw couldn’t possibly be right. That maybe they were crazy.

    What other explanation can there be? I cannot fathom how anyone could see that and NOT DO ANYTHING.

  19. I have already been unfriended on FB and had it out with several people IRL over this…every word you wrote resonated with me. These children were abused, raped, and now word comes out that they were trafficked?? I have cried over this for days… Thank you, for your honesty.

  20. I don’t think I can add to anything that you’ve already said, except that I think you’re right – and I can’t understand let alone imagine this world we live in, that this happens, and all everyone seems to be talking about is someone’s football career.

    I hold my baby close, and I hope that we can make the world safer for her – and for your kids – and for all those kids out there who should be able to trust it.

  21. Slow clap. Well said. Let’s just say that I’ve increased my “bad touching” talks with my girls this week. I say, “and if ANYONE ever tells you they will hurt me or daddy or anyone else if you tell a secret-don’t believe that. You know that daddy and I will take his guns and hunt them down don’t you? You never be scared about someone hurting us. You tell me right away.” Because HELL NO.

  22. I have been shaken to the core about this whole appalling situation. Paterno and the rest? they should be in JAIL. Not just Sandusky, that fucker. And Sandusky? They’re saying he’ll be in protective, segregated custody. Oh hell no. Put him in with the general prison population, not in some country club corrections facility. Put him in with drug dealers and murderers and hardened criminals and make sure those dudes know what Sandusky did and who he is. They’ll mete out prison justice specially reserved for child molesters.

    I consider myself a civilized person, but this whole horrifying situation brings out the primal and violent animal in me. I want to see immediate and painful justice for those who let this happen.

  23. Totally agree. And I just keep thinking that I woulda cracked a chair over that sommabitch’s head. Or at least bounced him off the wall.

  24. Amen! It is horrific. Thank you for voicing your outrage, and I’m sorry for your own violating experience.

    Have you ever looked into EMDR, sounds a bit hokey but is supposed to work like 99% of the time.

  25. Well said. I have felt physically ill over this whole thing and outraged that people could KNOW and not do anything. Children…we’re talking about children here. People who hurt children are monsters, but what kind of coward knowingly lets this happen?

  26. OMG Elizabeth, I can’t believe something so terrible happened to you. That is awful.
    I am so outraged by this whole penn state mess. I hope eventually everyone can move forward and focus on how to prevent this from happening again. I think penn state owes our entire country therapy sessions and programs to educate people what to do if someone does something inappropriate to you. I think Penn State should have to pay big $ to flood every media outlet with programs and info for adults, children…whomever regarding sexual abuse. Perhaps more awareness of this taboo topic will decrease the incidence. We also need a better system in place that enables people to feel more comfortable coming forward if abuse is even suspected, let alone happens. Oh I am mad…

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