Victims are not alone
Sir -- Usually, on arriving home with my Sunday Independent on a Saturday night, I make a decision as to which order I am going to read it in.
If I'm feeling good, I'll head straight to the 'heavy stuff' but, if I'm feeling a bit maudlin, for example, I'll start with Declan Lynch because, regardless of what he's writing about, I am guaranteed a laugh. And, in my opinion, he's usually spot on with all of his observations. You see, reading Declan (with respect) kind of steels me for the stuff that many of his fine colleagues report upon. Like how the (mostly) men we elect, and have elected, to represent us have played a significant role in destroying our country and how last week's Budget is going to affect us in order that we can save the banks.
But the one constant is always my desire to get to the Letters page ASAP because, for me, it kind of reveals the mood of the nation. I look to see if Robert from Bantry will win another three bottles of Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey for his very fine contributions. And I look to see if Ger from Castletroy (who has also enjoyed the drop of Tyrconnell) has been in touch but, alas, we haven't heard from him in a while. Even Kathleen in Cootehill has been quiet of late.
But, today, I felt compelled to write about your Letter of the Week (Sunday Independent, December 4, 2011), entitled 'Abuse still haunts me'. And, by doing so, I want to try to use your newspaper to reach out to that man who is clearly in great pain. I want him to know that he need not suffer alone and I dearly hope that he can hang on. For he is a hero and there are many, I'm sure, who love him.
I, too, remember the first night I was raped. I remember that, when I tried to tell my father, I was given a clatter and sent to my room when what I really needed was a doctor or a nurse. That was 1982 and it was never spoken of again in that house. Later, my escape from the desperate reality of my life manifested itself in compulsive gambling and an addiction to alcohol. I spent six months in prison. I contemplated suicide on at least four occasions that I can vividly recall. In the midst of all this agony, I held down a job and survived bullying at work.
On the positive side, I somehow managed to persuade a wonderful woman to marry me and I got sober. I built a business and created meaningful employments that endure to this day. I have beautiful children and my only 'addiction' today is to them and their wonderful mother. As Declan Lynch might say, 'I am high on the improbability of it all.'
I survived the monsters' best efforts to destroy me to satisfy their own urges, but the writer of your Letter of the Week is correct when he writes so eloquently about how the memory of the abuse never goes away.
But we must survive. We have to learn to become functional again and we must continue to survive so that we can watch out for our children and our children's children and our neighbours' children.
Meanwhile, we must never harbour expectations of special treatment from any quarter and we must always be responsible for our own actions. We, most certainly, cannot use past tragedies to excuse current behaviour. We are the same as everyone else even if our lives are not.
It has been my experience that survivors of sexual abuse can sniff out a sex deviant at a hundred paces and spot a victim of that sex deviant from a mile away. Therefore, we do need to get on with our lives because, maybe, just maybe, we will be lucky enough to be there to support others. What joy it brings to be lucky enough to be told that you've made someone's day.
Indeed, if it is true that the best classroom in the world lies at the feet of an older and wiser man, then, at well less than 50 years of age, I hope to be that older and wiser man some day. In the meantime, all the very best to the writer of your Letter of the Week. If the late (and truly remarkable) Patricia Redlich were still with us, I'm sure she would have far finer advice for you than I could ever hope to offer. All I can say is, 'Hang on in there, my anonymous friend.'
Name and address with Editor
Note: The decision to withhold the name and address of the writer of last week's Letter of the Week was an editorial one and was not requested by the writer -- Letters editor