So this last week has left our community reeling.
Devastated. Shocked. Horrified. Stunned.
There was a huge child sex sting where 26 local men were arrested for child sex crimes.
The community, I suspect, is not so much reeling from the fact that it happens...we all know that. But who the perpetrators were. Ouch.
People we know. Loved. Respected. People in positions of authority...even with at risk youth.
No...they don't fit the profile we had formed in our minds.
In all of this...I've heard little about the victims of sexual abuse. Now in this case since it was all a set up by law enforcement, there were no actual victims. But ... we don't really need to fill in the gaps do we? There were victims. The night before. The week before. The month before. The year before. There were so many victims. Thankfully, this night...there were not.
This left us reeling for a different reason. We are the parents of children...who have been sexually abused.
We know first hand the long, grueling, horrific, hard, heart wrenching road that lies ahead for these children. Only hoping they get the help they actually need.
Will they have a voice? Will they have people that love them stand up and speak? Will they have people who will fight for them with every breath? Will people hide the awkward news articles that come out about perpetrators? Will people deflect and talk about how sin is sin (as if consequences of our choices are equal not matter the severity of the offense...)? Or will people take the heat and speak? Will they speak up and give a voice to these children?
Because that...? That is what it takes. And time doesn't heal with sexual abuse. No...time frees their little spirits up to feel safe enough to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk some more.
Our journey has been hard. So...very...hard. And so very hard that we had to fight for them to heal. Fight for their safety. Fight for their protection.
Perhaps it was my own naiveté...but I thought the world was on their side. People would rally around them and us to fight for them.
I saw, firsthand, differently. The victim's voice is hushed. Shushed, even.
In moments of despair...I have cried out to God saying this road was too hard. That we weren't strong enough for this. So very tired of having to fight for basic human rights. And then...Dean would remind me that no one would fight harder to protect our children...than us. That we would do whatever it took. And that small flicker of a flame would be fanned again with new resolve.
The hours we have spent and ... will spend...in therapy. The falling on the floor at the end of the day in sobs for what these precious children have endured...only to be reminded that they survived. They...survived. The longing to see them overcome and thrive in their lives...knowing God gave them...and us...a microphone in this horror. So many are hurting. Hushed into silence. No...it's time for us to rise up and speak. Give them a voice. No more sweeping it under the carpet. No more putting 'shame' on those who have been victimized. No. It's time to empower them to overcome. They are more...so much more. As our counsellor says..."they are not victims...they were victimized."
Not a statistic. Not a nameless number. No. They are children. With futures. With hearts...albeit broken ones. They have families who love them. They need a village to fight for them.