A video post, paragraphs in a memoir, confidences of friends and I resisted considering to think about it. Memories of others’ secrets and my own suppressed recollections were sunrays breaching my psyche’s black-out curtain. I allowed the memories of unwanted advances and inappropriate conversations by family friends and others and thought it is not as bad as… Is a touch on the face better than a touch on the bum or the breasts? Subconscious subscription to a scandalous scale. The keeping of the secrets exacerbates the suffering and protects perpetrators everywhere.
Confronting one’s own demons is challenging. Added to the demands of parenting and most fears are magnified. I can shrug and say I am the mother of two boys but that would be ignorance of the fact that these acts are committed against boys as well. And of course I have relatives and friends who have daughters.
Is it time to question practices in cultures like mine and my husband’s where all adults are called aunty and uncle; potential perpetrators who can self-conceal in plain sight and trust as kids are warned of stranger danger? One friend’s alternative is that all adults are called by their first name and Mr. or Ms. prefixed for respect and aunty and uncle are reserved for blood relatives or rule-breaking friends like me.
And what about pet names for body parts? flower, petal, front bottom and down there…
My parents and a special aunt encouraged discussion of topics that they would never have dreamt of discussing with their parents. They explained the reasoning behind some of their prohibitions and sometimes expressed that their concern over others’ motivation was more of a driver of their actions than their trust in me. This didn’t prevent the approaches nor my keeping some secret but it did empower me to make life-changing decisions including challenging unwarranted behaviour.
This is my legacy and my husband and I are trying to pass it on to our sons. We are trying to equip them with the intangible and the practical: self-sense and problem solving skills. I also try to be like my special aunt taking time to listen to the kids around me, hoping that they might be able to consider me that adult they could trust. Sharing our experiences is crucial for self-healing and for prevention and protection of others. I believe our actions and interactions can also be powerful paths to redemption from the pains of our past.