I’m the husband of a childhood sexual abuse survivor . I am the support, the clean up crew. But…
“My wife is my hero.”
I take all of my cues from her. She doesn’t know it, but I do. We’ve only been married for 5 years (this year) but we’ve crammed what feels like 20 years of life in there somehow. We started dating when we were 23/24 (which explains a LOT. One thing that slaps me in the face over and OVER throughout life is that you are never as old or as mature as you might like to think you were, so when you think about some of the things that we try to guilt ourselves into thinking we should have accomplished by [insert age here] NO WONDER it was so fucking hard!) Somewhere in that 5 years I went from worrying about what EVERYONE thinks of me (I’m bipolar, have a body dysmorphic mind and have bi-annual paranoia induced bouts of crippling depression… go team!) to now only really caring about one set of opinions. Those opinions belong to my wife and my kids (a tough crowd, especially when you periodically hate yourself and are convinced you fail at… everything). I’m heaps better at this gig these days though, I know when to take my cues now. If the wife and kids are smiling at me, then I must be doing ok today.
I knew about my wife’s abuse very early in our relationship. I was so impressed with how well she coped with it (especially considering she endured six-fucking-years of what [in my imagination] sounded like a daily occurrence).
She joked about it, all her close friends knew and her family were told a couple of years before I arrived on the scene. I had all of your typical reactions. Mostly I was just mad. I grew up knowing a few other friends and ex’s who had similar childhood scars. I was angry. Angry because it happened and angry at the villain for doing it and even ANGRIER that he’ll get away with abusing a sweet little girl for 6-fucking-years. One thing I wasn’t? Was sad. I wasn’t sad for my wife. Why would I be? She wasn’t sad. Sure, she’d have the occasional nightmare and they would shake her up a bit, but as far as I could tell she was still ok (and who DOESN’T have nightmares, right?)
Then one day my wife broke. It was about a year ago in the midst of me having my bi-annual jealous, irrational, paranoid and manic breakdown #58b and she just broke. She would cry in the shower, in bed, in the kitchen, on the lounge, during a movie, in the middle of the night, after sessy times and day-after-day! Me being Mr. Clinically Selfish my natural thought on the matter was that I was a horrible person to live with (I can often be!) and that I was to blame. We decided to max out on support with couples counselling, meditation, exercise, transpersonal counsellors and that’s when my wife started writing THIS blog (somewhere in the heat of all this she also decided that she wanted to take the abuse to the police and get some justice for what had happened to her [but that’s another story that i’m feeling waaaay to calm and collected to attempt spewing out the rage and disdain I have for the South Australian historical sexual crimes procedures]).
She writes so beautifully (it’s funny how things work out sometimes, most of the time i’ve known her she has always said “you’re a musician and that’s your thing! I don’t have a thing, i’ll never have a thing, i’m just mum.”) She wrote a couple of introductory posts about herself and what this blog was going to be for and then she wrote Betrayed by my Own Mind. The kids had just been put to bed and we were about to settle in for an evening of Netflix (and chill?… Well, no, not tonight) when she handed me this grubby, beat-up laptop (that we all tolerate).
I wasn’t prepared, maybe I can’t read this? Was she prepared? Maybe she didn’t want the villain to enter her room at night, but he did and me not reading her blog won’t change that. So I read it. And I read it. The words were like knives, I wanted to hide it, I wanted to keep some kind of resolve, you know? Be the rock I decided she needed.
Reading it, it was like I was THERE. She took me there. It was like I was in the room, in that bath, watching the look in her eyes while some disgusting prick got in the bath with her, putting his legs down beside her small innocent body, hearing his voice [that i’ll never know] saying disgusting things to her. It was like being plugged into a small part of her mind and downloading the memories, smells and the knot in her stomach. The penny dropped and all of a sudden I realised that my calm, cool and collected abuse surviving wife WASN’T ok. She wasn’t ok then and she wasn’t ok when she wrote the blog that transcended time and space. For the first time I realised that being mad at him is barely the tip of the ice-berg. I was mad at the injustice, the disgusting nature of the disease he carries and the thought of him continuing to live his grand little life of harassing phone sex workers from the comfort of his mothers house he’ll never pay to live in and without the inconvenience of a job he’s never had, SURROUNDED by other offspring who defend him (really? what the fuck, guys? He’s not Humphry fucking bear, it’s your dad, you know? The one who frequents the playgrounds of caravan parks in our area?!). All of that though? Doesn’t matter. Not now. I’ll never “get it”, but I got it. This horrible thing happened to her for 6 years. SIX-FUCKING-YEARS. And what has been the most important thing why wife has tried to do about it? Protect me, protect her parents, her family and her friends. She made jokes at her own expense, if it came up in conversation and a friend or family member would look worried or concerned my wife would console THEM… ME!
IT HAPPENED TO HER and we got the jokes, while she kept 6 years of torment locked in a mental and spiritual prison. From the moment I knew she was abused as a child my ego told me to be strong, to be a good listener and to offer whatever support she’d need.
Little did I know that after 17 years of keeping it all to herself, that even when she felt like it was time to let people in, she felt like she STILL had to protect them.. me.. US from the truth.
I’m not mad anymore. I’m sad. It’s sad. It’s sad to me that a 5 year old girl is stuck inside of my wife and she’s screaming. Screaming to come out, screaming for comfort, screaming for help and screaming for justice. But my wife being the selfless and amazing person she is has been keeping that little girl contained, not because she’s scary, not because she should be ashamed of her, but because in her head, no one in her life has time for my wife to allow herself to BE that little girl who was wronged. Fuck that breaks my heart, it should break anyone’s heart. Anyone with a soul. Even now, with all of a technological and social advances, with all of the knowledge we share at the press of a button, people still tell that little girl inside of my wife “that was a long time ago though, right?”. Yeah it was. But tell that to the little kid (kids actually, 1 in 3… let that sink in) in your neighbourhood who had a villain in their room last night, who probably wont tell anyone about it for 20 years… or at all, who will have people question the truth, question their motive and eventually get tired of hearing about it and suggest they move on.
Sure. Be angry, these villains are pieces of shit. But they’re not going away. Do think they care that we’re mad? Do you think they’re learning their lesson? Do you think they take ANY responsibility for the fucking grenades they let off in people’s hearts? They’re not going away.
We will NEVER stop this from happening. These creatures exist. They exist in families, in our youth services, schools, sporting clubs, parliament, churches, mosques, family TV programmes and any one of them can permanently damage the lives of around 250 children EACH. They aren’t going away. Ever. That’s a hard fucking pill to swallow. Not just as a father, a husband, a friend or family member, just as a person of this EARTH.
There is no ultimate answer to stop pedophiles from existing and infiltrating our communities and casting their dark, soulless shadows on our children.
What are we meant to do? When you have a relationship with someone who has had their innocence stolen from them the first thing you want to do is take it all away for them. But is that really to help them? I know that reaction now was only to help me,
As a species we generally don’t want to face any challenge that doesn’t have a logical resolution. Checkmate.
My wife took me into her world and I went in their armed to the teeth with my utility belt, a puffed up chest and a giant cape. This time I came back out as a traumatised witness to a history that won’t budge, alter and demands I acknowledge the truth in it all. But that’s ok.
Being her husband and support person, doesn’t mean that I have to save the day. It means that if she goes down, I go down with her. When she comes back, whether i’m in tears with her or just have her held tightly to my chest. It doesn’t matter. As long as I’m ready to acknowledge her pain. As long as i’m just t h e r e .
That’s what i’ll be.