What was it about this story that made me head to Barnes & Noble shortly after it opened, pluck down twenty-plus dollars and crack the spine the minute I got home? Just reading the introduction caused me anxiety; then the description of the moment she was stolen was too much and I had to put the book down to collect myself. Hours later I tackled it again, only to feel such an overwhelming sense of anxiety and outrage, I had to stop.
Why do I need to read this tale when I refuse to watch television news or read beyond the sensational headlines of newspapers? Why subject myself to what I am pretty sure will be a sleepless night as I ponder what that brave, innocent, frightened child endured? Why? Because her story matters, and because her bravery in telling it deserves to be acknowledged. And, most of all, because of what she is saying, in all of its gory detail, will shine the light on a practice that has happened to countless little girls and boys the world over; not in as horrific a fashion, but so much so that no child is safe from the predators out there.
I know I wasn’t.
When I began this blog two years ago I set out to tell my story. Over the course of that time I have shared many, some poignantly revealing, some funny, all of them sharing with my readers the journey I’ve taken to survive a life filled with trauma and loss. On one occasion I attempted to write about my own experience with sexual abuse. I titled it “The House on Kraus.” I posted the blog but after less than an hour, I removed it. I saw that in that span of time, one person had accessed the story and that was one more than I was comfortable with.
For all of my ability to reveal the heartache and pain I experienced at the loss of my parents when I was a year old, there was this one story I was unable to tell. I know it’s because I feel shame. I know it’s because to tell the story right, I need to tell it in detail and I just can’t do it. To tell the story I would have to unlock feelings that I have shoved deep down inside of me, telling myself that sexual abuse of that young girl that was me is nothing compared to the bigger story of my life.
But I know I don’t really believe that. I know because when my girls were little, I never let them out of my sight. I know because I have a warped draw sometimes to sexual fantasies that revisit those moments with my abusers. I know because Jaycee Dugard’s story has tapped into something inside of me that has awakened what happened to me over forty years ago. I know because I want to castrate Jaycee’s abuser and every other one I see reported on in the news.
I will continue to read Jaycee’s story. Just as it was difficult for her write it: “I want to not be afraid of letting people know what really happened to me all those long years ago.” “When I was first found I was adamant that there would be no book, no one would ever know what happened” (pg. 49), it will be difficult for me to read her words.
Jaycee, you will be heard. You will be seen, after not being seen for eighteen years. And, sweetheart, if you are able to give me and so many others an ounce of the courage you possess, we can finally, once and for all, expose these monsters and banish them forever. After reading your book, perhaps I, too, can release the feelings of shame and begin to tell my own story.