One of my indulgent pieces today, written in the first person.
Today, I feel cheered up. This is because of two things I saw in the on-line media. The first was the articles quoting some of the leading activists. They gave succinct, coherent, and valid statements about what to expect from Pell on Monday. It is so reassuring to see them active in this way, even if I sometimes worry about them. You know – hope they don’t burn out, hope they are looking after their health, etc. Presumably, they are, since they are winning.
What makes them heroes is the Goliath and David nature of their struggles. Pell has power, wealth, prestige, and a good life. His lawyers are prominent, established people. His PR operatives are well-paid and experienced. He leads a million faithful.
And yet the dedicated activists have him on the run. This is what distinguishes them from the usual person held up by society as “heroes”. The media heroes include rich entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Gina Reinhart. They include politicians with little more going for them than having inherited their fathers’ seats in Parliament. They include athletes and sportspeople who were fortunate to have been born with some particular physical prowess.
At the risk of sounding a little maudlin, I changed from simply being cheered up to actually feeling happy when I saw the second example of David winning.
This was a comment in the “Readers’ comments” section from someone only identified as “JK of Ipswich” or something similar. I wanted to shake that person’s hand in gratitude. The comment was very good, and obviously came from a victim still in the throes of the early stages of coming to terms with his or her suffering. Yet, the step was taken to influence the public debate.
Now many think this is a very low level of involvement. Some think readers’ comments don’t have an influence. The political parties and public relations firms know otherwise. They routinely slip in comments to give the appearance that most people support their positions. This works if there are so few real comments that they can swamp the debate. ‘JK’, and people like him or her, spoil this tactic for them. When enough real people raise their voice, the fake comments are drowned out and become easier to identify. The collective David again wins.
For people like ‘JK’, this is an important and brave step which also entitles them to the status of hero. It means they are now on the path to overcoming the very handicap their abusers hoped they could never beat.
Yes, there is the sexual abuse itself. Then, there is the abuse designed to protect the abuser from discovery. If the victim has been intimidated, feels they are unimportant in relation to the abuser, is suicidal or otherwise self-destructive, then the abuser is safe. What they fear the most is the victims overcoming the injunctions deliberately forced upon them. Most take many years to report abuses. Some die before they can. The ultimate protection for the perpetrators is the principle that “dead men don’t tell tales”.
Usually, victims blame themselves for the effects of the secondary abuse. A simple thing like posting a reader comment is an indication that the person has begun the process of overcoming this handicap. Failed relationships, inability to hold down a job, panic attacks, and all of the other symptoms of secondary abuse, are the fault of the abuser, not of the victim.
The courage associated with taking this first step is what makes them true heroes. It is painful, admittedly, but it has the up-side in that it means they will eventually win, and have the chance to rescue what they can from life.
The two examples are different ends of the spectrum, but both are equally important and heroic. Many are at in-between points on the spectrum. They, too, are heroes in their own way. They tend to be those who provide David with the slingshot and the stones, then cheer him on.
I look forward to the next stage of my own personal path to peace of mind. This will occur when the comments from people like ‘JK’ swamp those of the apologists for people like Pell. Thank you for your indulgence of this self-indulgent posting.
TOMORROW: Exposed to the WORLD
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)