Sunday, August 10, 2008



Healing may be like lancing a boil. We have to clear out the poison so that the flesh and skin can heal. It is a very painful process.

Healing sexual abuse can be like that. If the abusers are respected people in our communities, it hurts as if they are a part of our own family.

We have been praying for the healing of women and girls that have been sexually abused. Statistics say that 3 out of 4 Native women have been abused as women or girls.

That means out of every four Native women you know three have been abused.

When the abusers are respected members of our communities and families our first impulse will be to protect them. We may even say the child is lying.

What if he or she is not lying? What happens to the body, mind and soul of the child if we cover up the situation?

We have told them that they are not worth protecting. They will think that they have no sovereignty over their own bodies. They will have no healthy boundaries to protect themselves.

A child may begin to think of themselves as dirty or ugly. They may assume that something is wrong with them. Their life has been ruined.

We may have protected the accused one. We have done so at the price of a child.

The horror of child sexual abuse cuts across every political, economic and cultural line in our communities. We find ministers, medicine people, political leaders, parents, family members etc that are child molesters.

When a child makes an accusation of sexual abuse, they are usually telling the truth. If the accusation is false it is still an indicator that something is wrong.

Our communities are out of balance. We can trace the introduction of child sexual abuse back to residential schools and boarding schools. We can place blame directly into the hands of the Catholic Church.

Healing will come from us. We are the ones that must say “This sickness stops here and now.” No one will do that for us. No one can do that for us.

It will be like an amputation to lose a respected community member and family member if they are found guilty of child sexual abuse.
If we are to survive as a healthy People once again we must allow this part of the healing process. We can only love the perpetrator and allow him or her to go through his healing.

That may mean that he or she will go to prison. They won’t be allowed around young children. That will hurt them and us. It is necessary for the healing of our community.

For a long time we have turned a blind eye to this issue. If knowledge surfaces that someone has molested a child we say, “That’s the way he is.” We have allowed our future to be abused.

The introduction of child sexual abuse was a part of genocide as much as small pox and alcohol. It has been the longest reaching and created the most turmoil in our lives.

We must send out the message that child sexual abuse will no longer be tolerated in our communities. We will no longer allow the beating and rape of our future. Our children are our future.

The amputation of a loved one from our communities is a sacrifice we must make to stop this atrocity. It is a process we must go through for our healing.

Alcohol and drugs have been a balm for sexual abuse. Many prostitutes were abused. Many abusers were abused.

We have carried this secret far too long. It has festered for generations. The only way to begin the healing is to acknowledge its existence.

Our children are worth protecting. Our future deserves a chance. We must allow the process to run its course.

We must make sure that our children know we still love them. That what happened wasn’t their fault. There is nothing inherently wrong with them. Counseling is a good idea for the child and perpetrator. We need to change our thinking.

Cecelia Fire Thunder of Pine Ridge says that incidents of domestic violence, rape, and child sexual abuse fell once arrests and convictions were instated. Men realized that there would be consequences for their transgressions of women and children.

Violence, rape, and abuse of children are signs that our world is way out of balance. No one will right it but us.

May we bring healing to our communities with love, kindness, understanding and the Creator’s help. All of our people deserve healing. We are one people.


Talapus Pete said...

Thanks for telling the truth about the devastation of sexual abuse. There's an old saying that "we're only as sick as our secrets," and the more secret we keep the facts of sexual abuse, the sicker we all are.

Monica said...

Thanks Peter. We have been becoming more and more sick. It is time to face what is wrong and eradicate it. Too many people have suffered. It is a problem we can cure. We have to change the way we think. This can no longer be acceptable behavior. We have to see our children and ourselves as sacred once more. We won't survive much longer unless we do this.


TouchArt said...

Thanks, Monica, for your wise words about the deep damage child abuse and domestic abuse causes in our souls and communities.
I was especially moved by what you wrote about the importance of believing children who are abused. When I wrote my book IT STOPS WITH ME: MEMOIR OF A CANNUCK GIRL, I was called a liar, my book was challenged and banned in my hometown library, and my college president Leon Botstein wrote that my book "does not deserve First Amendment Protection." The book ban was a reminder that society protects the perpertrators of violence against women and children and ostracizes those who speak up and tell the truth. Telling my story came with a great price including the loss of my relationships with my sisters and parents. But it also brought gifts from those women and children throughout our communities who have gained strength from my words to tell their own stories and work to heal from their own abuse. Telling our stories is only the first step. It is difficult and painful to remember those experiences that we have buried, but once we tell our stories, we become powerful beyond our expectations. And we give inspiration by our example to those who just need to know that their stories matter and that they have the right to tell what happened to them and demand that women and children are protected, loved and believed. The wounds in our families and communities go deep and way back generations. We can choose to continue to bury our pain and continue the cycle of hurt and secrecy, or we can choose to say, "It stops with me" and insist that our children will have a better legacy to hand down to our grandchildren to the Seventh Generation. It is not easy, but, we owe it to future generations to heal from the past and give them the knowledge and security to reject the past of abuse, anger, hate and depression and choose a path of love, family, respect and sharing.
Charleen Touchette
New Mexico Coordinator for Martin Luther King III's Realizing the Dream Poverty in America Initiative