Natural Justice and #MeToo

The following was sent to me to publish on the condition the author remain anonymous. I post it in full and without comment.

I’m going to share my own ‘me too’ story with you.  I don’t want to do this.  I’ve remained mostly silent about it for decades and would happily have died with the words yet unspoken, but there is no better time than now.  In fact, it’s almost a moral imperative now.  Yes, right now.  Why?  Because given the current climate in which we are receiving a constant and steady stream of accusations and allegations coming from the Hollywood set and spreading quickly into every possible arena, something terribly important is being ignored and I would like to sound the call for the return of calm—of rational thinking.   This is a difficult thing to talk about so forgive the awkwardness as best you can.  I’ll be as brief and as delicate as I possibly can.

When I was eleven years old one of my older sisters had a first date with this man.  There was a terrible snowstorm that night, and it was decided that it would be safer for him to spend the night rather than make the long drive home.  We were a large family, living in a small house, and naturally, he wasn’t going to be sleeping in my sister’s bed, but for some ungodly and inexplicable reason, they decided he should bunk with me.  I was just a kid, right?  Nothing was going to happen there, right?  Except they were completely, horribly mistaken.  I was eleven years old and woke up to the odd feeling of strange hands inside my flannel pajamas.  I had zero concept of what was even happening other than the fact that I did not like it.  I ended up squeezing myself between the edge of the mattress and the wall to get away from him, and that’s where I spent the remainder of the night.  The following morning I asked them why they put a man in my bed and they poked fun at me for even suggesting that this could be a problem.

It was the first of many such trials.  My sister married this man, and my father hired him to work at our family business, a business that was run out of our home.  For the next seven years, he was in our home every day, all day long.  You can imagine how much opportunity he found there.  What may be difficult to imagine is how creative one can become given all of that opportunity.  For instance, there were the times he tackled myself and my younger sister to the floor and ‘checked us for breast cancer.’  That’s for you own good, you know?  Or the time he took me down and threatened to rape me with a frozen hot dog.  Times he tore my clothing off, times he stood in the middle of a house full of relatives and waited until no one was looking and then mouthed foul suggestions, times he… well, you get the picture.  He was relentless.  And it wasn’t all sexual either.  I’ll never forget the time he and my brother tied a noose around my little sister’s neck, strung it up over the rafters in the shop, tied it to the bumper of a motor home and started the engine.  Pure.  Fucking. Terror.

When my parents went on vacation for two weeks, they left us in the care of my sister and him.  The first night they were gone he entered the bedroom that my little sister and I shared and informed us that he had given his wife a sleeping pill and would be in to rape us as soon as she dropped off.  How he laughed!  He did not come in that night, but we lay awake, fearful, until the wee hours.

When I was in my teens, I finally went to my parents.  They told me that it was my own fault, that I wore clothing that was too revealing.  They told me that I could not tell my sister because she was in a fragile state and this would cause her to have a nervous breakdown.  Oddly, they did not fire him, nor even confront him as far as I know.  Secrets must be kept at all costs, I guess.  (I’m still bitter about that.)

Another year of this passed, I was in my own nervous frenzy, and one night I told her anyway.

She did not have a nervous breakdown.  Instead, she called me a whore and said I was lying.

I’ve left a whole lot of blanks here.  You can fill them in yourself.  Like I said, I really don’t want to talk about it, but it was seven years, roughly 2500 days during which he had unfettered access, unlimited opportunity, and a rich imagination with which to work, and I, plain and simple, had nowhere else to go.  Needless to say, we suffered–my little sister and me.  And it’s the ‘gift’ that keeps on giving, so we both still do.  My family has been torn apart and never mended, subsequent relationship problems, irrational fears and phobias, night terrors, and a host of other ills, but yes, we survived.

The last time I saw this man, he climbed out of my closet, where he’d been hiding in the dark, waiting for God knows how long for me to climb into bed.  I was eighteen by then.  I left the following morning.  Packed my bags and left town for good.

I apologize for having to share all of that with you, but I had to tell that part to get to this part:  In my opinion, the world has gone mad!  Absolutely ape-shit bonkers!  Aside from the fact that this constant barrage of news articles is a painful reminder and all but drives me to the floor in a fetal position begging anyone within hearing distance to just make it stop, I find myself in the awkward and unenviable position of actually speaking out for the accused and getting my figurative internet ass handed to me over it.  Why would I defend these creeps?  I know!  I’m somewhat shocked by this myself!  Who better than me to tell you that sexual abuse and rape are real things?  That people who perpetrate these crimes are some of the worst of men?

But the operative word here is ‘accused.’  And it’s too easy to accuse, particularly, I think, in Hollywood and in the current climate.  And before you misunderstand, I’m not calling anyone a liar.  Not ANYONE.  Not a single one.  What that means is that I don’t know any of these people; neither the accusers, nor the accused, and I have zero reasons to pass judgement given the fact that even as the accusations fly there’s been very little in the way of evidence offered.  Nor would I want to see any evidence that exists.  It all makes for sensational news if you’re into that kind of thing, but I hold the sincere conviction that all of it belongs in a court of law rather than the daily headlines.  Trust me, if I were sitting in the jury box at one of these trials and saw the proof that any of these acts had happened, I’d be the first to convict and pray that the judge sent this person away for the maximum allowable number of years, after which I’d personally pray to God that this bastard burned in hell for all of eternity.

But there’s something beyond that, something important, and something that has nurtured me through my own hell through the years, and I think we’ve forgotten it.  Sure, there are bad men in the world.  Awful ones!  But there are good men too.  So many out there who are good men—good husbands, good fathers, good sons.  Men who provide and protect, and who help to love those hurts away.  And in a world where no proof is required to ruin a man’s life in this way, using nothing more than a pointed finger and a hysterical shriek, every man is vulnerable.  So I ask for a return of calm to the world and the demand for at least a modicum of proof, not for the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, but for the good men, who I earnestly hope far outnumber the bad.

And I think Brendan O’Neill said it far better than I when he wrote the following:

“Sixty-two years ago a woman called Carolyn Bryant Donham accused a young man of sexual harassment. He grabbed her by the wrist and said ‘How about it baby?’, she said. He wolf-whistled at her, she claimed.
Everyone in her local community believed her, uncritically, and instantly. ‘I believe.’ They went after her harasser, tied him to the back of a truck, and then beat him to death in a barn. His name was Emmet Till.
He was a victim of uncritical belief in people who make accusations of sexual harassment. Crying ‘I believe’ in response to every accusation of a sexual crime isn’t progressive; it’s a species of savagery.”
In my own case, there never was any justice.  But I need to believe that there still is justice in the world, not only for myself but for all people.  ALL of them, accusers and the accused.  Every. Single. One.

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