by Marie Duquette
God, why must we move so slowly? Why must the arc of justice be so long?
When did we decide it was a good idea to encourage children to distrust their own gut feeling?
When did we give adults permission to gaslight children who told the truth about their caregivers who made the children uneasy.
We are weary of hearing of those we trust to help shape our children, defiling that trust by acting out their own perverse desires with people so young they fear non-compliance. We are enraged by revelations always found too late.
And the truth is: we know.
We know when the children tell one another, in earshot of teachers, parents, and coaches: “he’s creepy,” and “don’t be alone with him – if you can help it,” and “I wish he’d just quit…or something.”
We know when the littles stiffen in the presence of these untrustworthy giants.
We know when the tweens and teens become defiant and aggressive and uncharacteristically quiet when predator-teachers enter the classroom.
We know when seniors walk away from their school, their hometown even, and vow to never return.
We know and yet we respond again and again and again, as if moving under water. Slowly. Quietly. Creating forgettable waves that leave no wake.
A composer; music teacher. A coach. A teacher.
Clergy forming faith in schools with detailed student handbooks, including a dress code to enforce modesty and encourage chastity. “The polo/oxford may be opened two buttons from the neckline and must be tucked in at the waist, not turned under. You may purchase them in the bookstore.”
My God! Those who are abused bear the scars of these betrayals seven times seven times as long as they were children. Those who were near the abuse, and said nothing, suffer insomnia at the hands of the demon whose name is: What If.
And who can count the trusting souls who walk away from you entirely once their trust has been broken by the one who first lead them to you?
Forgive us, Good Lord. Forgive us for choosing superficial peace over truth; for dismissing the truth because it comes from those not long upon the earth; for choosing to believe again and again and again that the whispered stories can’t possibly be true. When the truth is, we always knew.
“I’m not surprised.”
“I could have told you that.”
“This is why I don’t go to church.”
Forgive us, Good Lord. For too often choosing silence over safety. Help us to remove the stumbling blocks that harm your children, and cause them to distrust you because we did not take seriously their stories of trust-abused that lead to bodies, broken.
Forgive us, Good Lord. For leaving systems alone that foster the same sin over and over and over.
Strengthen us to do the work of speaking up again and again and again.