Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
I hate to bring up assaults on children, especially at "the most wonderful time of the year," but it's not a wonderful time in the United States for the one in four girls and one in six boys who are molested. And those numbers only account for attacks that are reported. The Children's Assessment Center estimates that seventy-three percent of children keep their devastating secret to themselves. The same organization reports that children are victimized at a much higher rate than adults, but the rape of an adult receives far more attention than the rape of a child.
Knowledge is power, so I present two documentaries this week. They should not be watched by children, though you should certainly talk to your children about boundaries that no one should be allowed to cross.
The first movie is Awful Normal (2004, Available on DVD).
Director Celesta Davis documents her own and her sister Karen's confrontation with a man who molested them in 1978 when they were young children.
I'm amazed by the calm manner in which they meet with Allen, who obfuscates and claims not to remember many events, though he does not deny that the abuse occurred. He also does not apologize.
I suspect that in the awful normalcy that is the lives of Celesta and Karen that they continued to think of Allen as a friend in spite of the misery he caused them. When they told their parents about Allen, they did not report him to the police, nor did the friendship end. They continued to see Allen, his wife, and their children regularly. It was normal.
This documentary is brilliantly made. It doesn't sensationalize the events. Instead, we follow Celesta and Karen on a quest that leaves them with even more questions, especially about their late father.
Since the documentary is ten years old, I'd like to know how the sisters feel about their rapist now, and how their lives have changed--or perhaps stayed the same.
Our second documentary is Deliver Us From Evil (2006, Available On DVD).
Filmmaker Amy Berg tells the story of Father Oliver O'Grady who spent the 1970s molesting the children in his congregations as his superiors moved him from one church to another in a desperate attempt to cover up his crimes. A number of the now adult children and their parents are interviewed.
Berg also speaks with O'Grady, whose behavior in many ways reminds me of Allen in the first movie. O'Grady admits to his crimes to a certain extent, but somehow can't seem to remember many details. Like Allen, he doesn't seem to feel guilty. However, his crimes seem even more egregious than Allen's because he exploited so many children, and because I sensed that he enjoyed recounting what he is willing to reveal about his evil deeds. This is not a repentant sinner.
Because of the persistence of his victims and their parents, O'Grady eventually went to prison for seven years and was then deported to his home country of Ireland, where he mixed with children, unknown as a child molester.
These documentaries can be learning experiences. We glimpse the minds of two child molesters, and we learn how they "groomed" their victims before raping them. We also witness their complete lack of remorse and absence of concern for their victims. Awful Normal and Deliver Us From Evil earn the Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Sad Approval.
Watch these documentaries after your children are in bed. The next evening, bake cookies with the kids, watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, and do what you can to gently teach them about what some people do to children that is so terribly wrong.
And listen. Be sure to listen. Sometimes children can't tell their parents about molestation because they don't have the vocabulary. Listen for phrases such as "he touches me too much" and "he tickles me", seemingly innocuous descriptions that may indicate a problem.
Infinities of love,
Let's finish this post by talking about happy memories:
I've seen both of these documentaries and they are both disturbing and haunting.ReplyDelete
Agreed. I can't stop thinking about those men.Delete
I might watch, but my own background screams no. :)ReplyDelete
Then don't watch. Don't upset yourself over something you don't need to learn.Delete
Rape is awful and those of children are even more evil. Child rape is on the rise here in South Africa and it sickens me that people can do this. Thank you for spreading the word about those two documentaries. People should be aware and informed.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Murees. Do you think that child rape is actually on the rise in South Africa, or is it reported more often?Delete
I have a friend who wrote a successful book on the topic. It was fictional but I can't help believe she had first-hand knowledge about the topic.ReplyDelete
Fiction can be difficult to write without background knowledge.Delete
Great post, Janie. It's nearly impossible to protect children from unknown predators that seem to be 'normal', but it is important to let them know you are open to listening. Make sure the child is always the most important person, not a person with whom they might be in contact. Tough subject.ReplyDelete
Too many crimes against children are not acknowledged.Delete
Excellent post, dear Janie, and the stats are shocking and disturbing. People who exploit children always seem to find a way to rationalize or even justify their actions. Some men view children and women as objects to be used and manipulated for their own gratification. Some believe that molestation is an acceptable form of discipline or a way to command respect of adults. In their twisting manner of thinking, some offenders convince themselves they are doing their victims a favor by introducing them to activities of the adult world. Is it any wonder so few predators show remorse?ReplyDelete
Thank you for reviewing these important documentaries, dear friend Janie, and have a nice Thursday!
They always have some justification for their acts. Thank you, Sir Shady.Delete
Oooohhhhh, I can't do those this month. I'm up to my eyeballs in children and holiday cheer...I don't want to know the awful truth. I've seen the second documentary and it was disturbing. Somewhere out there is the next O'Grady and I have to ask the universe, "when will this stuff stop?"ReplyDelete
People are nuts.
Perhaps you'll recall that the documentary said that the sexual crimes of priests have cost the Catholic Church one billion dollars since 1950.Delete
Those must have been difficult films to view. It seems like child molesters never repent, which makes me wonder what goes on in their minds. Do they think this is normal, or what?ReplyDelete
It is normal for them, just as the two women in the first documentary thought their childhood was normal.Delete
When I was in social work, I was shocked by the number of parents who wanted to sweep abuse under the rug- thereby putting the feeling of blame on the child. I never understood that. If someone took a belt and assaulted their child, they'd want to file chargers, but if they were molested, well, let's just sweep that under the rug.ReplyDelete
That's so sad, Elizabeth. It's very hard to understand.Delete
Thanks for addressing such important topic.ReplyDelete
You're welcome, and thank you for visiting, Peaches.Delete
It's a sad and delicate subject but as a Nation we need to do a much better job of protecting our children.ReplyDelete
It really does take a village. We must all be vigilant. When I see a child at the neighborhood park in tears, I always stop to ask, Are you all right? Do you need help? I am not a stranger to the neighborhood children. Everyone knows Franklin and trusts him.Delete
Every time I hear about a child being molested (happens ALL TOO OFTEN), I want to hit the reprehensible scum over the head with a hammer.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reviews. I can read about this, but I don't think I could watch it on TV.ReplyDelete
The Kindness of Strangers is a fiction book that comes to mind. I also read the Jaycee Dugard book.
No need to watch the documentaries. I've been wondering if I can bring myself to read Elizabeth Smart's book. Is Jaycee's book really graphic? I want to know, but I don't want to know.Delete
It is indeed an old truck with the name of our town, Tehachapi, on a plate in front. Go figure. The things you see around here, you may not see in Florida.ReplyDelete
I have never, nor will I ever, understand why the church covered up and shuffled those priests around.ReplyDelete
You'd think that when the complaints started that someone would have figured out there was a problem. Well, the guy who was in charge of that became Pope Benedict. No wonder he retired instead of dying on the job.Delete
Janie, I have a blog hop request--for a tutorial. I am prepared to do everything except that html linky stuff. Can you write a short post on what to do where and then it will be so much easier next time. Thank you so much!ReplyDelete
I'll write the post in a few minutes, but I'm not an expert.Delete