Friday, February 25, 2011

Not for children

I love listening to This American Life, and while on a plane heading home from Florida yesterday, I plugged in and started listening to a recent episode. The theme was people who delay doing things, which sounded innocuous enough, although there was an odd warning before the first piece. Don't play this in front of your children. Okay, I wasn't playing it in front of children. And then the piece started.

It was about a reporter who decided to kill the man that, as a teenager, had raped him at age 7. Not fondled him, not touched him inappropriately: raped him. Then threatened him, and he never told anyone. Until now. You can read the piece in full here, if you'd like. Or maybe you'd rather not.

The piece was fascinating and horrifying. And somehow familiar. Oh, yeah. Scott Brown.

Last week, our illustrious senator started promoting his new book by appearing on TV shows. Turns out that he was molested by a camp counselor when he was 10. He never told anyone about this, until now. Didn't even tell his wife. Didn't even tell his mother.

And then, in today's paper, a vivid article about a physician at Boston Children's Hospital who apparently molested young boys for years under the guise of providing medical care to them. He was about to be charged. He killed himself.

In the This American Life story, the mother reads an old childhood diary and finds out about the rape years later. She actually calls and confronts the family of the rapist. I guess this was the part of the story that spoke to me: what would I do if I found out that this happened to my child? And how do I make sure this never happens to my child?

But the other mothers -- Scott Brown's, the mothers of the boys molested by the physician -- never had a chance to do anything. The boys didn't tell them what had happened. They were too ashamed, too confused. They didn't have the words. They didn't feel that they had any power.

As frustrating as I find my son some days, I am glad that he has a strong sense of self, and is able to express when someone does something to him that seems unfair or unjust. I hope that if something terrible like this happens to him, that he will come to me and let me help him. But really, I hope something like this never happens.


Mommy Cat said...

I love TAL and I listened to this episode at work while doing a mundane task - it was so horrific and I had similar thoughts to yours. I think what makes it so scary is that they were visiting their best friends--something we all do. I can't imagine my children keeping something like this from me, but you never know how a child that feels safe and protected will react to a monstrous person and monstrous act. Like you, I hope I never, ever have to find out. I enjoy your blog--thank you. BTW--if you like TAL--try listening to the Moth, it is awesome as well.

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