"A child that's being abused by its parents, doesn't stop loving its parents, it stops loving itself." Shahida Arabi
There are many moments in my life when I am privileged to share the lives of others.
I experienced one of these moments as I supported two young men who came to the end of a three-year emotional gruelling time in their lives. They found the courage that is needed to confront their perpetrator, and because of them other young men also spoke out. From feeling like living is the last thing we want to do as memories over take us — to contemplating suicide, because in a strange way, we think those closest to us would be better off. Through the challenges of telling police and counsellors what happened, sometimes in graphic detail — always wondering why we let it happen, why didn't we run away, hit back or tell someone all those years ago. But we didn't and now we are. Having got over this hurdle we then often wait years before the courts can bring the offender to be faced with the evidence of their abusiveness. Then even when "guilty" was the confession, further months to wait until sentencing could take place. During this time the victim lives in a suspended place, often unable to concentrate, hold down a job, manage family and normal ups and downs of life. Almost an impossible task. Taking time to see counsellors, doctors and police. Always wondering if it is all worth it.
But it is. Because so often those that have the courage to speak up are just the tip of the iceberg to the number of victims still out in the community. Access to children by abusers is huge and as a community we must be more vigilant. We must speak out and not turn our backs if we see things that concern us, things we witness that grate inside us. Too often we only realise we saw it when the newspaper headlines or television news blurts it out.
For two brave young men the court bit is over, their abuser took his own life just before sentencing. They now endeavour to be good fathers and partners helped by an amazing, little known group of people called Bikers Against Child Abuse.
The Angels and guides are with these committed people as they stand alongside children and their families. They are human angels, bike riding, leather clad, fist-pumping angels, fierce for the lives of our children. Their mission statement includes these words — " ... to create a safer environment for abused children; to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live ... to lend support to our wounded friends ... in conjunction with local and national officials who are already in place to protect children ... to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organisation, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence ... to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle." From the BACA website.
It is our responsibility that if we see something, to do something, check it out if you can, speak up, speak out.