**Trigger warning: references to sexual assault, trauma, and suicide**
My childhood sexual perpetrator hung himself before facing a courtroom for child molestation charges, served by someone else.
I was nine when he sexually assaulted me. I lacked the foresight, the ability to understand the burden he had placed upon me. It wasn’t a brutal, intrusive attack by a stranger. I was mentally manipulated by my mother’s boyfriend, who we lived with. After the assault I felt abused by his presence. But I didn’t understand what was happening to me, or why I was feeling constantly repulsed by a person who slept in the room across the hallway.
My father was emotionally unavailable to me and my mother died when I was twelve. My extended family on both my maternal and paternal sides were not a part of my life. The family tree was disjointed and dysfunctional, littered too with many deaths. Only I knew of my sickening experience, until I was bombarded with an onslaught of anxiety and panic attacks ten years later. It was then that I shared my traumatic abuse with one woman who had worked endlessly to gain my trust, and eventually a psychologist.
The anxiety and panic condition, and the abuse, led me to seek help at group counselling sessions and in one-on-one therapy. I had never considered reporting the perpetrator until this time. I had lived in the same small town as him for all those years after my mother’s death. I knew where he lived, and where he worked. But I had hidden it from the world, and from myself, and therefore it didn’t feel as though it was real. Dealing with my experiences and emotions in counselling helped me realise that what he did was a criminal offence. But was I strong enough to take him to court? I had no support, and more crucially, no evidence. It was ten years later, how was I going to prove anything? The uncertainties swarmed my mind and deterred me from taking any action.
I’m 31 years old now. It has been over 20 years since he abused me. Days ago, my closest friend told me that he was due in court, facing “alleged” child molestation charges. I was sickened – how many children had he traumatised? My friend continued on with the news, ‘he hung himself before trial. He’s dead.’
Flashbacks of sexual abuse instantaneously became replaced by visions of him struggling for his last breathes, swaying from a self-made apparatus. His pain, his shame, his loneliness became my validation. The brutality of him hanging himself proved that what he did actually happened, that it was wrong, that he knew it was wrong and that he suffered, if only in his final moments. My mind cast itself to the innocent person who had had enough strength and courage to compile a legal case against him. How must they feel? Were they female or male? An adult, or a child with their parents? My heart ached for them, and for me, no justice can be had, his “alleged” criminal offences will always be only that.
The aftermath of sexual abuse is relentless. The suffering is incessant. His death is not absolution. Death is final. He doesn’t have to live. I do.
To read more about my experiences with anxiety and panic disorder, and the impact the abuse has had on my life head to this recent article. We Don’t Talk About
Image credit: Sasha Freemind
Madison – anonymous writer.