Pure grief. And my spirit is disquieted as I grapple with the most recent manifestation of a father having sex with his 11-year-old daughter; she now being pregnant with her brother or sister. The dichotomy is bewildering. I cannot wrap my mind around the combination of paediatrics, with obstetrics/gynaecology, getting permanent teeth, training bra, and labour pains, all at once. The thoughts have given me a numbing headache, while stagnating my memories of things pleasant. It’s not a good place to be: feeling pinned down; trapped in an unending, bad dream. Last week, Shane “Rizon” Gibson, an upstanding Christian artiste who’s been campaigning against such atrocities through his music, wrote this on his Facebook status: “How can a man allow himself to become sexually attracted to his own child? It’s these little temptations that go unchecked that evolve into destructive perversion… “Guard your thoughts,” he continued, “because they lead to actions that lead to habits that form character that lead to destiny. In other words, your thoughts could drag you straight to hell.” But it’s the living hell of an 11-year-old, whose violations may have come long before—the pregnancy leading to the exposure of Daddy’s dastardly actions—that terrifies me. I’m unhinged by the growing irresponsibility of adults who never consider the absolute destruction of the child in a child by their abusive conduct. Sexual attraction is a real possibility between any two humans. This one goes way beyond attraction. It is rape of a minor by her guardian.
The sociological aspects are of grave concern, but it’s the long-term psychological consequences for a child tormented under the neurosis of her father which remain the distressing issue for me. Margaret Sampson-Browne, head of the T&T Police Service Victim and Witness Support Unit, and the one who disclosed this situation, said: “The sexual organs of the child are not yet developed, but she is having a child.” I’m assessing casually that, as yet, the 11-year-old hasn’t used her mental capacity too far beyond “shop maths” and she’s fast-forwarding to ratios of water: formula: cereal, feeding a child every six hours, while studying for her Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA). Of this situation, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, head of the T&T Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said: “The pelvis of an 11-year-old is not yet developed to carry a baby full-term…And if her pelvis is developed and she survives this pregnancy, no one is certain she will survive motherhood at this age. How will she survive bringing up this child, going to school, growing up and leading a normal [life]?” I’m irritably thinking that at 11, the pelvis is not developed for a hardback man’s forceful entry either and this childbearing child would know nothing of a “normal life.” I also recall Mahabir-Wyatt speaking on the Children Bill earlier, saying: “The human brain is not fully formed until the person is in his/her 20s, and young girls do not know how to be proper mothers.”
Lies and secrets
Two perspectives occupy my mind, the first being that of the child as abused man/woman of the future and the second, the father as byproduct of his abusive past, with which I would treat subsequently. On the former, my occupation is with the insidiousness of incest/rape. The perpetrator, by holding him/her under threat of dire consequences if he/she were to speak out, compounds the shock and injury of the victim. This current incident may have been exposed only because of the child’s pregnancy, but who’s to know of the unwanted sexual activity, beyond that of penetration, that she has endured, and, for how long. For that “secrecy,” and the induction into the unending panoply of guilt, I remain concerned about this particular child, but more distressed at the thought of how many more are living silently in the anguish of abuse. There’s no way to determine how many of us, our daughters, sisters, sons, mothers, fathers and friends have been the victim of sexual violations, among other abuses, in this vicious cycle of hurt and despair. We’ve not been taught to work through and appropriately apportion the guilt of these infractions, or to speak out as victims. For those reasons, many cases of childhood sexual abuse never come to light, and the overall population of abused children may be significantly different from those detected. What we are discovering, however, is that while detection at the time of the crime may be minimal, studies have established abused children are “more likely to develop depression, anxiety, substance abuse, borderline personality disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicidal behaviour,” according to www.sciencedaily.com
. Daddy’s dirty little secret is more than likely to be exposed in the profound neurological, biological, psychological and social injury, as the effects of the trauma and violence set in on the child in his/her adult years.
• To be continued
Caroline C Ravello