THIS IS DEDICATED TO MY PARENTS, ESPECIALLY MY BEAUTIFUL, TORTURED, ADDICTIVE AND LONG-SUFFERING MOTHER
Apologies to the more sensitive for going semi public on taboo subjects…the squeamish may look away.
My large family was polarised recently over a court case prosecuting an in law for molesting my niece as a 13 year old. She was in the care of my parents at the time here in Ireland. Although only found guilty in court of a fraction of the alleged (and totally believed by me ) assaults, the three counts Hopkins pleaded guilty on were deemed serious enough by the judge to sentence 2 years on each one. The sentence was sadly suspended but this is more of a reflection on the shortcomings of the legal system and the misguidedness of my family still in heavy denial and shockingly speaking on behalf of the paedophile in court, and sitting in his corner for post sentencing hurrahs.
As Hopkins flung his arms around my mother’s neck and shook my father’s hand rejoicing at the outcome (is he insane?) of not going to jail, I lost my composure and screamed obscenities not just at him but at my elderly beloved parents too (and I do love them enormously). Under the influence of nothing but righteous anger, I said the following:
You fucking bastard. I hope you burn in hell. You fucking lying bastard. How dare you throw your arms around my mother’s neck after abusing her grand daughter? Let me catch that for the cameras the papers would fucking love that…
and to my parents in despair and anger
You just lost me for a daughter and my children for grandchildren.
I APOLOGISE TO MY ELDERLY PARENTS FOR CURSING AND SCREAMING AT THEM IN PUBLIC OR AT ALL, IT WAS DISRESPECTFUL OF ME. I LOVE THEM, AND THEY ARE MISGUIDED NOT MALICIOUS, AT LEAST I HOPE SO.
I had gone to my parents a few weeks after the court case and said the above face to face in the family kitchen, asking forgiveness as well as forgiving them, although I will never approve of their handling of or sweeping under the carpet the sexual abuse which has run through our family for 3 generations unabated…
My mother had been instantly gracious, talked about maternal love being unconditional, and she and I clicked into a precious life long bond borne out of mutual suffering and joy. My father meanwhile humph’d and made remark about my smoking.
A week later I received a Saint Patrick’s Day greeting card, with Dad saying his forgiveness of me was conditional on my apologising to him and Mum ‘publicly’ to all family members who had read my first circulation of the newspaper coverage and my editorial of the court case. HE SAID THE ABSENCE OF AN APOLOGY WOULD RESULT IN MY BEING GIVEN THE NEVER DARKEN OUR DOORSTEP AGAIN TREATMENT. This may well seal that treatment, but I will never retract the truth even if it costs me everything including my adored family. It already cost me everything in terms of my sanity health and love over the past 40 years. I’ve paid my dues and the tortured anguished silence is over.
Our family on my Dad’s side is a large, close-knit clan. I have many happy memories of childhood gatherings, and adore my uncles, aunts and cousins. I adored my paternal grandmother especially, she was a noble, devout, majestic woman and nothing was more important to her than her family of 16 children, although only 11 lived past childhood. My paternal grandfather worked hard to support his family, he was a railwayman, in the days when they stood and blew a whistle to dispatch the ancient trains. He cobbled shoes, fixed watches, made bits of hay, kept goats and turned his hand to anything in his spare time to support his family And most of the 11 children did the thing that was done back then which was emigrate to England or America and send money home.
Grandad Power had a darker side to him however, which is known in pockets of the family, yet never discussed. In our culture it is disrespectful to talk ill of the dead, especially when they can’t defend themself.
WELL I’M SORRY, I HAVE BEEN WALKING DEAD MOST OF MY LIFE BECAUSE OF THE SILENCE, MY MOTHER TOO, AND NOBODY PLEADED OUR CASE….
My grandfather molested me aged 11, in front of a cousin who seemed distraught but not surprised. I ran away in total shock and disbelief but as mentioned in another note, not before I had had the authoritarian finger wagged at me “No telling tales out of school, missy”
When I told my mother a few years later, she was sadly in the throes of active alcoholism and betrayed my confidence telling my father, who burst into the bathroom where I was taking a bath and an awkward shy troubled teenager…I was horrified and he was hysterical begging me to tell him it wasn’t true. He wanted me to join the consensus of opinion that my mother was a sad insane alcoholic and not to be believed. In shock and horror I didn’t totally deny I just totally minimised in more concern for my father crying than my own confusion and pain. “It’s ok, Daddy, it only happened once,”
IT’S NOT OK!
My mother went on to tell me how my Grandad, her father-in-law had molested her daily for a year or more when she was a young newly-wed with babies and no concept whatsoever of sexual assault and abuse. She had tried in vain to repel his degrading gropings and molestation, and in desperation broke silence and told my Dad on his visit home from his Air Force posting in Germany.
DAD SAID HE DIDN’T BELIEVE HER AND IF ANYTHING DID HAPPEN SHE MUST HAVE ASKED FOR IT, GIVEN OUT WRONG SIGNALS, OR FAILED TO REPEL THE ADVANCES APPROPRIATELY….
anyone drawing parallels with Louise yet?
Dad did ‘have a quiet word’ with his father, no doubt belittling and apologising for his hysterical English wife, but nonetheless apparently asking his father to stop whatever IT was. To no avail. His father apparently sneered in delight as he recommenced his torture of my mother, telling her, ” I told you he wouldn’t believe you!”
So Mum soldiered on with the stoicism familiar to her British culture, and buried her pain. She resolved never to leave any of her daughters alone around her father-in-law, but as her life descended into addictions and horror, her protection abilities became impaired and one of my sisters and I fell prey to the same monstrous behaviour at the hands of Grandad Power.
I have spoken to cousins…some have admitted similar experiences to mine at the hands of Irish Grandad. One was cavalier and much more secure than I in dealing with it…”I just thought that must be what Irish Grandads do, and I made sure I was never alone with him again”
I believe there are many more of my Grandad’s victims still alive in our extended family, and still limping through the emotional consequences in their adult lives…I believe at least one was raped as well as repeatedly molested. I believe many girl cousins have kept their own secret out of ‘respect’ for the adored family and the revered parents and grandparents.
FOR THEIR SAKE AND MINE…IN HONOUR OF MY MOTHER WHOSE CRY WAS IGNORED…I THINK REVERENCE FOR THE DEAD OR ONE’S PUBLIC REPUTATION SHOULD BE SET TO ONE SIDE???
Mum wrote a letter around the family some 30 years ago, telling them, the 10 brothers and sisters, what their father had done to her and me and…..
Like my letters, it went ignored. No surprises to me there.
I told my Auntie the nun, face to face. She is trained in counselling, and was a Mother Superior and Mother Provincial in her day, an educated woman….
she said she believed me…she said she had no clue and had nothing but wonderful memories of her father…she apologised to me on his behalf AND THEN ASKED ME TO SWEAR TO SECRECY…TO NEVER EVER EVER MENTION IT TO ANYONE AGAIN.
No can do Auntie Mary. I love you, honour you, respect you for the sacrifice your life has been. Remember fondly all the books of saints and rosary beads and trinkets you sent us as children, never forgetting a birthday, Christmas, First Communion, Confirmation whatever. I love you…but
NO CAN DO. No more secrets. No more silence. No more victims cast aside like my mother, myself and my niece. No more alcoholics and depressed tortured souls in the family who cannot tell their tragedy. No can do.
I urge others to get help. I long for us to speak and cry and forgive and heal and move on. I long for a family reunion where there are NO MORE SECRETS.
I have been having recurrent dreams where beloved uncles weep and ask me why…but no more with contempt and condemnation in their eyes. With love and pain. I love my Grandad. I forgive him. I don’t hate him. I hate the secrecy and the alienation and the excommunication from the clan at the hands of my father. I don’t hate them or anyone.
But ultimately I can only walk my own path and fight for my own healing. And those that come after me, to whom I can extend a helping hand, an understanding ear, and a rageful defence. JESUS OVERTURNED THE TABLES OUTSIDE THE CHURCH IN RIGHTEOUS ANGER…HE CALLED THE PHARISEES AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS A BROOD OF VIPERS A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES…
I am ashamed at the treatment meted out to Louise and Kathy by the family over this brave court case. Kathy has changed her phone number of the past 20 years in feeble protest at the horror of her parents and sister defending the brother in law that molested her precious only child. The reason more accurately is she like me adores her family, especially her parents, and it is just too hard to remain stiff faced against sinning parents who are ageing and worthy of honour in many other ways.
We are told to hate sin but love sinners. We are told to forgive if we want to be forgiven. We are told to honour our parents that we might live long and well, the first commandment with a promise.
I love Jesus more than justice on this earth and I want to do the above, and do to the best of my ability.
But we are also told YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE.
Thank God for the promises of protection in Psalm 91. I still experience profound fear around men, even my father as he shouted and railed at me the other evening in my house in front of my son on his 15th birthday. My father is 82, but his rage and domination and my memories of past brutality borne out of ignorance and his own history still reduce me to fear and intimidation.
But Jesus. But Jesus… But Jesus!
I AM NO LONGER AFRAID. I was saved by the ‘blood of the lamb’, by the word of my testimony, and that I AM NOT AFRAID EVEN UNTO DEATH.