He wrote it down.

Our intention was to dance on his grave.

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My beautiful cousin, who I’d not seen in 35 years, and I set out to dance on our grandfather’s grave. Our first dilemma was, of course, song choice. You have to have the right song. We bandied a few song titles about, Alanis Morrisette was a front runner.

Obviously.

We drove to the town where he lived, and where he is buried. We drove to the town where we were abused. Driving down the picturesque New England roads, I felt a little faint. Mary felt a little barfy. We pulled into a store parking lot, and Mary spent some quality time behind a dumpster, hurling. It happens.

We weren’t entirely sure where the cemetery was, so we pulled into a police station to ask for directions. I said, jokingly, We should go in and file a police report. Mary said, What would happen if we went inside and filed a police report?

I said, Let’s do it.

We walked in, after Mary barfed again, and there was a darling older police officer behind the glass window. Mary told him we were looking for the cemetery- and I had a moment of, We’re probably not REALLY going to do this. Then my beautiful cousin, who is the bravest person I know, said- And we would like to report a crime.

That got his attention.

She said, Our grandfather sexually molested us 35 years ago, and we want to report him.

We were ushered into a conference room, where a young officer came in to talk to us. He handles all of their sexual assault and rape cases. He introduced himself, sat down and proceeded to ask us questions about what happened. Names, addresses, dates. I called my sister, and put her on speakerphone. We were all crying.

Sweetie, I said, He’s writing it down.

He wrote it down.

We said, This happened to us, and he listened. He WROTE IT DOWN.

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I cannot begin to tell you how powerful that was.

He said several times, I don’t want to open any wounds, so if you don’t want to answer this, that’s okay. Finally I said, The wounds are all still open. Obviously. What do you want to know?

I found myself saying, to a police officer, I was raped. I never thought that would happen.

Then Mary asked a question I would not have thought to ask, but the answer to which I really needed. She said, What would have happened to him, if someone had reported it? The officer told us the procedural things, he said he would have interviewed us, he would have interviewed our grandfather, he would have corroborated what he could. And then, he said-

I would have driven down the street and arrested him.

That is what should have happened.

We know there is nothing to be done. We know there will be no consequences, and no justice. Life is staggeringly unfair, sometimes.

But there is a record. We walked into that police station holding the jagged shards of our story, of our childhood, and said, LOOK. THIS HAPPENED. And Officer Paul Smith bore witness. He wrote it down.

In few days, the police report will be available, and Mary will go get three copies. Or, if she makes good on her threat to send it out in lieu of a Christmas card next year, maybe many more. But, at least three. We will each have a copy.

We asked Officer Smith if anyone else ever comes forward about our grandfather- because we know with absolute certainty there are MANY more victims- to please give them our information. We want to meet them.

At that point we thought we were still going to go to the cemetery. Officer Paul offered us a police escort.

I think it is important to note, in the face of so much awfulness, that people really are mostly very good. He was so kind. He took it so seriously. He honored our loss.

Mary decided she’s not quite ready to dance on his grave. That’s okay. We’ve found each other again. We’ve got nothing but time.

That’s where this was supposed to end.

Then I got a call this morning, from Officer Paul. He said, Can you come in? I have something I want to tell you guys.

So.

Mary and I just got back.  We were at the police station for hours.  Talking to a mama.  About her daughter.  She told us what happened. Officer Paul wrote it down.

Guys, I don’t quite know what to do with any of this.  It’s a LOT.  I have a crushing headache, and Mary and I have made an agreement that we will spend the rest of the night talking about Adam Levine’s abs.  That’s it.  That’s all we’ve got.  BUT- my world is lighter than it was yesterday.

1,064 Comments on “He wrote it down.

  1. After I disclosed, I met with a police officer who traveled 8 hours to write down my story. My abuser was still alive at that point and no one had ever outed him. I had very little to share with that officer and felt very unprepared and inadequate. I have since learned it’s hard to verbalize things that happened before you were able to talk – I still struggle with that. But also, I disassociated in such a way that most of what happened to me is still dark. I typically shy away from things like this because I don’t like being pulled back down into the feelings, the regret and the memories. Sometimes it seems I feel too much for other’s stories. Having heard the podcast you were on with the Practical Minimalists, I admire the strength you have to be of service to so many. I have so much respect and gratitude for what you are doing – for your bravery and your empathy. ‘Thank you’ seems far too inadequate.

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    • It is always a challenge to process trauma that occurred before you had the vocabulary to express it or the perspective to understand what it was when you were in it. Hopefully, the officer you dealt with explained to you that more often than not, survivors of child sexual abuse do not disclose in a linear, cohesive way. Trauma memories, especially those from childhood, are disjointed and have blank spaces.

      Our brains are miraculous- they protect us in a myriad of ways. I am proud of you for telling your story in the best way you could. You showed up and told the truth- that is an amazing act of courage. Please check out the Say It, Survivor community on FB. We’re trying to create a safe space for survivors to process and tell their stories. xo

      Laura

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  2. My grandfather fondled me when I was in middle school. I will never have the guts to tell. His memory is that he was perfect. My mom still treasures him. He was abusive to her and her brothers growing up and yet she treasures and married a man who is the real oerfect gentleman. I have told my story to friends. But never will to family. I know I won’t be believed and prob will be disowned. I am so proud of you making a police report. Maybe i will after my grandma and parents are gone. I have an amazing support group of friends who let me vent about it when something triggers it. And the kicker is I now live in his house where the incident occured. Taking care of my grandmother, his wife who has Alzheimer’s.

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  3. You write brilliantly. No maudlin undertone – just pure truth. It left me sobbing, more out of elation than sadness.

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  4. I read this story two years ago. After twenty years of silence, you inspired my voice. I marched into the police station down the street and they too wrote it down. My abuser wasn’t prosecuted but I found my voice. I could never thank you enough in a million years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In tears. I am so incredibly proud of you for standing up for your younger self. That quote “Be who you needed when you were young” just came to mind. Sometimes traditional ‘justice’ can’t be found. I don’t even like using that word because there IS no justice, even when someone goes to jail. Justice would be never having been harmed in the first place. In lieu of punishment, though, there can be redemption. You warrior. If nothing else good had come out of that experience for me, Lacy, this would be enough. So grateful you shared this. I needed it this week. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pausing at the beginning of this day to hold space for that little girl. “You warrior,” Laura says. Damn straight. We–all these beautiful survivors—we see you, Lacy. We are FOR you. Keep speaking into that beautiful new voice you’ve taken possession of. Tell others your story…sing to them of what it means to recover and live in freedom, hope, and love. So so happy for you.

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