So, who was doing the tapping? What was the tapper going to say?? Hold your horses a minute. First, I’m going to tell you about a second source of hope that I’ve discovered since my conversation with Maria.
Last week, I stumbled upon a book called “Stolen Tomorrows: Understanding and Treating Women’s Childhood Sexual Abuse” by Steven Levenkron. It was 99¢! (Oh, Macklemore, how you ring in my head.) Let’s be honest here, this is not your typical fodder for summer reading. But will you think me completely off my rocker if I gush for a moment about just how good this book is?
1. You do not have to have your PhD in Psychology to understand what he’s saying.
2. Intricately woven throughout these stories of adults taking advantage of children they were supposed to protect, and the havoc their actions have wreaked upon the lives of these girls (now women), are remarks that make it clear that after decades of counseling women who have been sexually abused, the author is positive that every person can heal and form positive relationships. (After lots of hard work…)
I thought about Maria as I read this:
“Father – daughter incest is probably the most destructive form of the sexual abuses in terms of the extent of psychological damage – often lasting throughout the daughter’s life and producing the greatest number of psychological disorders and behaviors.”
Therefore let’s throw in the towel and give up since she has experienced the very worst type of an unspeakable abuse.
Thankfully, she seems to disagree.
Levenkron talks at length about the secrecy that surrounds sexual abuse. The longer the victim remains silent, the more damaging the abuse becomes, even years after the abuse has stopped. Its effects are not something that simply fade away over time. A monster that has not been acknowledged or dealt with has the tendency to grow until this unwieldy weight becomes unmanageable.
I have hope for Maria because she is engaging in the difficult work of refusing to remain silent.
A second theme throughout Stolen Tomorrow’s is the debilitating power of shame. So many of those who have been sexually abused feel that it was somehow their fault. Feeling like they have caused it even though they didn’t want it or like it makes them feel as though they are powerless to prevent it from happening in the future and that they clearly deserved what has happened. But if she is able to believe that she was not at fault, restoration becomes more attainable. In one testimony Levenkron shares, “On some intuitive level as a child she understood that her uncle was being sneaky and that he was the one at fault… Because she had allowed her feelings of anger to emerge at the time of the assault by her uncle, recovery for her was quicker than for most survivors.”
I have hope for Maria because without any prompting from me, she voiced the fact that she had been mistreated by her father.
Even as she was being blamed by her grandmother, she knew that something was off and she wasn’t being supported in the way that she should be. I wonder if she has any idea how much strength she has?
Back to that tap.
I was sitting next to her feeling like she is headed down a painful and destructive path. The only way she can overcome and have a life free of abuse and violence is if she has some hidden superpower of overcoming all odds in the face of extreme adversity. Defeated, deflated, discouraged and overwhelmed would best describe my mood.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
I turned to see the Director of another non-profit.
“Hey, I saw you over here talking to Maria and assume that you’re a bit dismayed. I wanted to let you know that the Director has told us that if we get a house and one employee to oversee things, we can take some of the girls out of here. So that she can be with her son, Maria is one of the girls that would come.”
And the angels began to sing.
This would be incredible. She still has so much recovery work to do. (And this home still needs to be opened.) But the opportunity is available. A few major details need to fall into place. But there’s a very real chance that instead of being thrown to the wind to fend for herself, she will have a supportive and safe place to live as she fights against these demons. She has already shown so much natural strength and tenacity, I so want someone(s) to come alongside her and give her a chance to catch her breath.
I have no idea what the timeline is for this home. Or if it’s much more than a really good idea at this point. In the meantime, we’ll continue to encourage her in any way that we can. Can we all together pray vehemently that this will happen? That this will be in their future? We can do nothing to prevent what has happened to her in the past, but we can fight for and believe in her future.