To those who abuse: the sin is yours, the crime is yours, and the shame is yours. To those who protect the perpetrators: blaming the victims only masks the evil within, making you as guilty as those who abuse. Stand up for the innocent or go down with the rest.” These are the words of author, abuse survivor, and child advocate, Flora Jessop.
Have you ever thought to yourself that there must be more to the depravity and violence (toward others and self-inflicted) which pervade our society? That beyond the obvious motivations which typically inform our remedial efforts, there must be deeper connective causes? There must be a reason for the prevalence of incest, statutory rape, and other forms of sexual assault in our society. What makes so many of our young people consider death rather than persist beyond their momentary darkness to the awaiting dawn; to choose oblivion over the sweet complexity of life? What motivated a married minister of government and former STAR Person of the Year to allegedly sext with an 18-year-old girl? Why did a seemingly sane combatant in the lunchtime political spin wars feel compelled to brag about masturbating in a public toilet? Why do so many bus drivers betray the responsibility entrusted to them by offering special rides (wink wink) to underage fares? This is obviously not normal behaviour! Or is it? Why are we so damn screwed up?
Over the past ten years we’ve had an average of 147 reported cases of rape per year, including 80 cases of statutory rape, fifteen involving children under the age of twelve. Beyond the reported cases of sexual assault, there are endless whispers of sexual impropriety, from homes to schools. We record an average of forty murders annually.
Psychoanalytic theory suggests that these perverted proclivities are conceived from stolen innocence and born of the resultant mental illness. Psychoanalysis aims to resolve this mental illness by investigating how subconscious thoughts and motivations inform conscious actions and inclinations. It is only by truly understanding the underlying reasons for a problem that one can hope to resolve it. Thus, though it is necessary to commit time and resources to the symptoms of said problem, the focus should be on eradicating the disease.
The subconscious mind is like an infinite memory bank where we permanently store our experiences. Even those experiences we cannot readily recount are securely tucked away in this latent depository. Every time our flesh is blistered by things better suited supporting fruit or supplying energy to appliances. Every act of castration of our individualism. Every disappointment. Every wish realized. They are all saved.
Over time this mental account accrues emotional and psychological interest: insecurities, confidence, diffidence, distrust, hope, cholericness, timidity etc.
Before every decision we make and every action we take we unwittingly withdraw from this accrued interest for investment in our cognitive process. Insecurities predispose us to ostentation, abusive behaviour and hesitancy in taking difficult principled stances, while hope, confidence, and humility foster reception to new ideas and self-reflection.
If you are unconvinced by the conclusions of psychotherapy – no matter how well researched or widely accepted – consider the findings of a science which specializes in studying the physical properties of the nervous system (the brain included): neurology. Neurologists have identified a mutated variance of a gene on the X chromosome which influences behavioural responses, called the warrior gene. They have determined that carriers of this gene are predisposed to aggression and risk-taking. In addition, they discovered that a part of the brain, called the right amygdala, is responsible for sexual urges.
Now, let’s be clear: merely possessing the warrior gene and a right amygdala does not mean criminal deviance and perversion are inevitable. The predisposition to aggression and risk-taking could instead be channelled to protect the weak or champion the disenfranchised.
How you are raised is a vital amplifying determinant of the path you ultimately take. It is worth noting, since women have two X chromosomes (men just one), they are more likely to have a warrior gene-free X chromosome, hence are less likely to be affected. This helps to explain, in part, why women typically only make up less than 5% of the occupancy of the Bordelais Correctional Facility.
Countless studies confirm that on average one in every three children who grow up experiencing (directly or indirectly) sexual, physical, verbal and/or psychological abuse go on to abuse others. The studies went on to indicate that 100% of these children of abuse grow into otherwise maladjusted adults. They seek out unhealthy relationships. Suffer from debilitating depression. Struggle with anger management and conflict resolution.
While there is no shortage of studies on the effects of abuse, there have not been many focussing on how acute the problem is in Saint Lucia. The few which have been done paint a tragic picture.
A study carried out by Basilyous and Durgampudi of the Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, St. George’s University, Grenada focussed exclusively on the prevalence of abuse – particularly sexual abuse – in Saint Lucia. In the survey 1,526 primary and secondary school children were asked about their sexual activity – uninvited sexual activity in particular. Of the surveyed, 62% of the girls and 24% of the boys reported that their first sexual experience was against their will. The findings went further to disclose that 56% of the girls and 77% of the boys who admitted to uninvited and unwanted sexual attention did not believe they were sexually abused.
The first thing which needs to be pointed out is that people are generally unwilling to volunteer such personal and potentially embarrassing information. Thus, the problem is likely even far greater than the bleak statistics indicate. Secondly, the abused are often in denial about the abuse. In many cases they believe that they were in some way complicit in the abusive acts. They didn’t say no loudly enough – or maybe not at all. They indirectly asked for it in some way. That irrespective of the difference in age, maturity, and clearly defined moral and legal situational responsibility, what they experienced was not abuse.
I am certain that you have at least one friend who is abusive to his or her partners. Perhaps you’ve witnessed the abuse. Did you attempt to stop it? Did you even admonish the behaviour?
How many of you know men who are in sexual relationships with underage girls? Can you say, truthfully, your own hands are not dirty with the smut of lewd impropriety? The sad truth is, we don’t castigate this abhorrent behaviour with appropriate passion because subconsciously we identify with it. We instead turn a blind eye or cowardly retreat
to our respective private enclaves uncomfortably to laugh. If we didn’t identify with it, would the wanjman henomenon be so prevalent? We routinely partake in financial wanjman by accepting compensation for the innocence of our children and enjoy wanjman of the conscience by the normalization of this repugnant behaviour through our collective indifference.
Perhaps the tag line simply sinful was as apropos as it was ill-advised. After all, our society is an unapologetic paradise for perverts. We select our masters based on the hue of their ideology instead of the content of their character; repeatedly rewarding the ability of some in their ranks to be in touch with the fairer sex, despite how unwelcomed or illicit the touch.
We wholeheartedly embrace and celebrate the legacy of the sugar daddy of the nation – immortalizing him with busts, statues, and as an eponym of structures of import.
Predatory wolves clothed in piety such as the now deceased convicted child molester, Fr. William Hodgson Marshall, and alleged sodomite, Fr. Stephen Quinlan, are the ones we have traditionally turned to for spiritual guidance.
Gomorrah burning! This time I fear that the destruction will be inescapable. Not from the hellfire of righteous retribution, but rather from the self-ignited social and economic wildfire of neglect and abuse. There will be no Zoar for there are no innocent among us. Those who started the blaze; those of us who have abandoned the victims through our cowardly resignation to the woeful reality – temporarily comforted by the fact that the fire is not yet at our doorsteps; and those who maleficently fan the flames, will burn all the same.
How I wish I could have told you that everything will be OK. But alas, like our unassuming health minister, I was forced
to be the bearer of bad news. However, while it may be too late for us, future generations need not share our fate. We need a functioning department of human services. Victims of all ages need to be encouraged to speak their truth. Moreover, it is imperative that we have an engaged minister of health who does more than merely read prepared speeches at perfunctory media events. An unambiguous and emphatic message needs to be sent to those who would defile our children: the legal and social tolerance for despoilment of the innocence of our youth will be zero!