[trigger warning: child sexual abuse and rape, murder]
Yesterday, I watched The Silence, a Frontline documentary on the catholic priest abuse in one Alaskan village. For decades, one priest sexually abused the town’s children, almost daily, and no one said anything about it. One boy talked about it, but he was silenced for it. His father murdered his brother for trying.
When you’re a child, no one believes an accusation against someone like a priest. How could a man of god do that?
This went on for so long that, according to the documentary, that “80% of the town’s children— literally, an entire generation— were molested”.
There is something about child sexual abuse, something so horrible and so evil, that it marks us for the rest of our lives. The children of this village, now grownups, were depressive, suicidal, abusive and violent to one another, and most of all, they felt as if something had been taken away from them— forever.
I have never seen so many women and men cry, or had my heart broken so much. This was a ghost town— a village of people who were destroyed.
You could say that this was an exception to the rule, that it was just one man who “lived and breathed to molest children”, but this one man was supported by an entire church that gave no system for accountability; when people first started coming out with their abuse, the Fairbanks bishop in charge simply denied it as impossible. It took 130 people to convince them otherwise…and then they found church documents that revealed previous knowledge of it.
People do not abuse children alone. People abuse children in concert with police, principals, teachers, doctors, mentors, priests, siblings, and adults who refuse to believe it, simply writing it off as fantasy or lie. People abuse children alongside juries that accuse us of promiscuity, of “asking for it”, or of not being safe enough— never mind the people who actually did it. People abuse children when we decide that just because a man or a woman does good things, or just because they hold a certain authority, that they are immune to all question. People abuse children when, instead of deciding to listen, we decide to look away.
People abuse children because there is a culture that allows them to.
You can watch the documentary online here (serious TRIGGER WARNING). Everyone should see this.