THEN IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO ABUSE A CHILD
No, don’t go away. Stay.
This is important. This is crucial.
We all need to know this in order to become conscious …
in order to solve the problem.
Too many of us say we love our children, yet abuse them consciously or beneath our awareness,
in secret or right out in the open,
under the guise of some supposedly high principle or just plain willfully.
So many of us say we love our children yet abuse them . . . physically, sexually, emotionally, mentally, energetically, and spiritually.
We may not want to know this. We may not want anyone else to know this.
We may normalize it, deny it, outright justify it.
Far too many of us say we love our children and are doing these things for their own good* … lying to others and ourselves, as we make these high-minded claims.
And the problem is not just those of us who actually abuse our children.
It’s the other parent who doesn’t protect them. It’s the other supposedly adult members of the extended family who don’t protect them. It’s the neighbors who don’t protect them. It’s the institutions that don’t protect them. It’s the law that doesn’t protect them.
It’s those who are afraid and don’t protect our children.
It’s those who were abused themselves and don’t protect our children.
It’s those who were abused themselves and don’t do their own healing work to the roots of their being and therefore don’t protect our children.
It’s those who have some issue within themselves that blocks their seeing and taking protective and preventative action.
It’s those who are somehow acting out something from their own lives as children long, long ago.
It’s those who are blind, deaf, and numb, who don’t recognize what is occurring.
We are all somehow part of the problem.
We all somehow contribute to the problem.
If we just pay attention right now to the sexual abuse of children …
Just for starters …
Think of all the gymnasts who were sexually violated by gymnastic doctors, in a culture where people knew and kept their mouths shut.
Think of all the athletes who were sexually violated by coaches, in a culture where people knew and kept the secret.
Think of all the children who were allegedly sexually abused by scout leaders or volunteers in the Boy Scouts. Over 12,000 alleged instances by over 7800 alleged abusers. Data was kept by The Boy Scout organization since 1944 – “perversion files” about these violations – and these people were removed from scouting. But the Boy Scouts organization did not inform the community that these people were known to be abusers of children. They did not protect the children.
Think of all the children sexually violated by Catholic priests, children who wouldn’t have been abused if others in the Catholic culture who knew – not only at the level of priest, but upward in the hierarchy – had stepped up to protect the children.
The courageous and impactful movie, Spotlight, told the story of the Boston Globe revealing the layers and layers of child molestation by priests and the silence and lack of protection of the children by the Catholic chain of command. Also revealed was the neglect of others in the community to pay attention, take action, and reveal the tragic abuse long before it was actually done by the Globe. Among them, lawyers, journalists, and more …
Victim’s advocate Phil Saviano met with the reporters on the Spotlight team at the Globe, giving them an in depth understanding about the clergy abuse that was occurring. He is known to have told them … “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.”
As a depth psychotherapist and Midwife to the Soul, I have been writing and teaching about this for years. There have been events occurring recently that brought it to the foreground again in my mind, heart and soul, calling me to speak out about it once more.
Mind you, this is a mirror to us not only of how we react to the sexual abuse of children, but also of how we react to other serious problems in our lives – in our families, in our institutions and organizations, in our countries and in our world.
Stay tuned for the next in this series … just as compelling as this installment …
perhaps even more.
*See Alice Miller’s profound book, For Your Own Good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence, original version, in German, 1980. Translation 1983, by Hildegarde and Hunter Hannum, published by Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York.
© Judith Barr, 2019.