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Thursday, April 03, 2008

You might want to look away... (38 Days Remaining...)

I had originally planned a very different kind of post - it was funny and light-hearted and, more importantly, it was mostly written.

Unfortunately something has come up and I'm not really sure what to say or do about it. A lot of people would probably just deal and move on - I know that's what I would normally do - but this is something that directly affected who I am today. I've chosen to share it. I hope... well, I'm not sure what I hope right now, I've just got stuff to get off my chest.

It's going to get pretty personal right now and if you're not cool with that, you should hit the back button.

Just fair warning.

My sister and I were pretty horribly abused as kids. My sister sexually, myself, physically. I just found out that James Robert Bateman, the man who did it, was released from jail and then almost instantly arrested again for threatening a bunch of kids.

Seeing his face again... I didn't take it very well.

I've dealt with a lot of anger and pain over the years and a good amount of the demons I've had to fight in my life have been as a direct result of him. Of the man who was once my step-father.

I'd worked through them though, I'd overcome them - or so I thought.

The moment I saw his face - now much older and hardened - I lost it. Rage and tears and... well, when you're sitting at your desk at work, it's not the best time to start sobbing.

And so I retreated to the one thing I know well, the thing that had saved my life, that got me through it all in the first place: my writing. I'd originally wanted to say something snarky, some sort of verbal punch in the face that'd be the ultimate 'fuck you' to the man who'd hurt us so much. I had my thesaurus at my side and I was going to unleash a torrent, a firestorm, a righteous fury... but it didn't come. What came out of me started as a simple reply - an attempt at a dialogue with those who'd inadvertently ripped open wounds I thought had been healed.

Yet, it was through that letter and the words that poured out of me that I've come to be made whole. And I understand now that this is why I sit here, posting about this on my oh-so-public blog. I don't do it because I seek pity or acceptance, I don't want sorrow or to share my pain - I do this now as my victory lap. My exclaimation and exultation to the world that at last, 18 years later, I truly feel free of that monster.

I survived.

WE survived.

It's time to put this to bed once and for all and in doing so I want those who have suffered or are suffering to know that it does have an end. It will get better. You can beat it. You will beat it. One breath at a time...

This is what I wrote:

That little girl back in 1991 was my little sister and the horrors that man perpetrated on my family, the things he did to me and the rest of my brothers and sisters - they are scars that have never fully healed.

For a long time I've wondered what I'd do if I saw his face again. I dealt with a lot of anger after what happened. It took me a long time to cope with it all, even longer for my sister. The others, the younger ones, well, luckily they don't remember much.

I just found out today that he'd been released then subsequently re-arrested and as I stare at his picture, the man who inflicted such grievous wounds on our childhoods, I can't help but find a loathsome sort of pity for the man I once feared.

The man who beat me - then a 10 year old boy - within an inch of my life; standing over top of me, choking the life from me while screaming "Do you want to live?!" – all because I was still limping from the beating he’d given me the day before.

The man who made my little sister come to me in fear, afraid to utter a word of what was being done to her; who made her cry out from that musty basement - cries heard over the convenient sounds of a tumbling dryer. Cries that haunt me even as I write this.

And yet, here I am, pitying this husk of a man; this man who was released time and again into the world to harm others. Another little boy and girl have felt his wrath now. They will have to live their lives touched by a darkness they did nothing to deserve.

I hope they handle it better than I did.

I'm an adult now, I've been through college and have a decent job - I'm in a stable relationship. My sister (the victim) is married now and has a child. She dealt with it in her own way, it took her a long time and lots of mistakes for her to sort it out but she has. We're better. For all intents and purposes, we are happy. We've moved on.

And yet, from my desk at work, the tears and ancient fears come rushing back the moment I see his sallow face; The rage and pain of an eldest son too young to protect his family from this beast.

I try to hide my face at work, at least until the redness in my eyes fade. I tell myself that he's institutionalized now, that the true threat is gone - and it helps. With that realization I can feel a sense of calmness, of justice. It’s why I find myself writing this letter - a certain part of me is healed today and so, for that, I thank those responsible. I will share this information with my sister and the rest of the family, maybe it'll help them as well.

As for Jim... well, Jim Bateman is back in jail where he belongs and I hope this time you forget where you put him.

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