April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. I bet a lot of people didn’t know that. But still, I didn’t raise awareness. I intentionally didn’t post. Here’s why:
No one should be under any impression that we should only talk about preventing child abuse for one month.
(Side Note: I feel similarly about the months that celebrate Black, Hispanic, and Women’s History. Black people, Hispanic people, and women (as well as Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans) are people, all of whom contributed to the history of our nation.)
Children exist in America on a DAILY basis–in fact, more are born every second–not just during the month of April. Their safety should be a top priority every month.
Remember Larry Nassar? The doctor who raped some of America’s most treasured Olympians? Remember Rio 2016 when everyone was in love with Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman? Larry Nassar is the guy who raped them and a bunch of other American gymnasts when they were between the ages of 12 and 15. We Americans talked about him for a little bit. Then we stopped talking about him. He’s going to jail forever, and that’s good. But it needs to be brought up that these girls complained about him to other doctors, to their coaches, to their own parents…and no one did anything.
Remember the Turpin family? The family with THIRTEEN children help prisoner in their basement? The family whose neighbors decided to ignore, rather than act on the gut instinct that something was wrong? They were a little blip in the news cycle. We don’t think about them anymore. Here’s the latest development: Oxygen recently produced a documentary about the Turpin family, in which the mother’s sister revealed that she and her siblings were sexually abused as children, which is awful. They were trained to keep abuse secret, with which I can relate. And then these women grew up, and become adults who are responsible for their actions. One of them became a child abuser, perpetuating the cycle, which unfortunately is common. The other woman continued to keep secrets. Teresa Robinette (the sister) claims she had no idea what Louise Turpin was doing to her children. I have a hard time believing that. And maybe that’s harsh; maybe she couldn’t have deduced the truth from the few meetings and video chats she had with her nieces and nephews. But, as I discussed in my mandated reporting post, when in doubt, you should always make a call. It’s easy and it’s protected. However, survivors of child abuse do learn to keep secrets, which is why we never or rarely talk about our experiences. And that’s something else we should be discussing.
April is 30 days. It’s not even one of the longest months. So I took those 30 days to meditate, go on a road trip with my husband, work hard at my job, and pay attention to my dog. I also talked about my own experiences growing up in person, face to face. Which I will continue to do, because my voice is not limited to a single month.