Becoming a Child Sexual Abuse Victim at the Age of 55
I have changed the name of the ‘Boy’ involved.
John Smith wasn’t aware that he was a child abuse victim till he passed his 55th birthday. It’s really strange but I was never able to put the different pieces of the jigsaw together for myself until I was much older. Once we left the college we did other things and although we looked back it tended to be on the good side of it. We certainly didn’t do much analysis of what happened to us.
It was only when we went back for reunions that we talked and thought of old times. Previously we had only put the data of what happened to us through the minds of 11-14 year olds. It was amazing the difference it made to us when we fed the same data through the minds of adults.
On the second of our two day reunion weekend it was discovered that John Smith, who was in the year above me, lived locally. I don’t know how it was discovered, but discovered it was. On the final night he came along with his wife.
It’s very strange but we didn’t really talk about things when there were outsiders there (i.e. wives and kids). It was only when John’s wife went for a smoke that we started talking again about the priests.
I asked John if anything like that had happened to him. He said it hadn’t. ‘Nothing at all?’ I asked him.
You could see him looking far back into the past. “There was only one incident, perhaps”, he said.
We were all so amazed by what he said next that we all burst out into near hysterical laughter. I couldn’t help myself. The tears were streaming out of my eyes. John’s such a great guy that he didn’t take it badly. However, I hope this illustrates what I mean about re-inputting the same data through the ‘processor’ of an adult mind rather than an 11-14 year-old’s mind.
John told us that the only incident that would possibly qualify was when he had just finished playing football on a muddy day. In that part of the world it can get very muddy and you can often come off the football pitch absolutely caked in mud.
In the ‘only slightly suspicious’ incident, Pinkie told John to come round the back of the stage which was at the far end of the Junior Common room where the players got changed. It was out of sight of all the boys who would have been in the recreation room getting changed.
There Pinkie had set up two buckets of hot water. I said to Joe, slightly incredulously and not really believing that it could possibly be true “he didn’t make you take off your football strip and put one leg each in the two buckets of hot water and then clean the mud from you, did he?
It was the first thing that came to mind when he said it but I couldn’t possibly think it was true as John had said nothing of that kind of thing had ever happened to him and that there was just one possible slightly suspicious incident.
“Yeah” said John.
That was exactly what had happened. We laughed our asses off. We weren’t laughing at John or what had happened to him. We were laughing at the incongruity of Joe not realising what had actually happened. Of course we all instinctively knew the explanation.
John had only ever examined what had happened through the eyes of a trusting 13-year-old. Although he hadn’t forgotten about it he hadn’t given it any great thought since it had happened. Although probably embarrassing at the time, he would have concluded that the priest would have been doing it for his own good.
Through a New Lens
It’s strange but, although it was a 55-year-old talking, both the memory of the incident and the analysis of the incident (which he had stored in his memory) were the memory and analysis of a 13-year-old.
Part of what was so funny was that you could see, as he talked and we laughed, that he could suddenly see how obvious it was that he had had been abused in some kind of way.
His wife came back in then and asked what we were all laughing at. The ‘club’ closed up again and made some kind of explanation which she accepted. Whilst she was busy talking to someone else I asked John if he had ever told his wife of the incident.
He shook his head in a kind of ‘you’re joking’ way. I asked him if he ever would and he gave the same response. That part of his life will forever remain unknown to his wife and his grown up children.
I understand. I have never told anybody of these things – not my parents, not my brothers and sisters, not my friends, not my children and not my wife.
As this is the early stage of writing this I’m not sure if it will ever be known to anyone outside those that were there and experienced it.