Friday, July 4, 2014

My Personal Declaration of Freedom

I have published this blog for almost two years under a pseudonymn.  I needed to write as an outlet of healing and recovery but I was very concerned with my privacy and that of my children.  We were fragile and needed time to recover from the devastation of my ex-husband's arrest.  

I am an activist and an advocate so always knew that the day would come when I would need to step out of the shadows of my safe hiding place, particularly if I wanted to work authentically for change.  In light of so many scandals and arrests of predators, both inside and outside of organized religion, I feel the time has come and I want to use whatever influence I have to effect change.

So on this day when we celebrate our nation's independence and freedom, I am waving my flag of personal identity and self-disclosure.  Hi, my name is Brenda Ratcliff.  I was married to a professor who was arrested for possession of child pornography.

One of the ways we can make meaning of tragedy is to channel our grief into working for change.  Most great initiatives in our country came from stunning loss--The Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Mothers Against Drunk Driving--are two that immediately come to mind.  I'm not happy that the man I married and who fathered my children turned out to be a pedophile--no one would willingly embrace that story.  But it is my story and I cannot change that.  

I have believed for a very long time that the partner of a pedophile is our first line of defense in our efforts to protect children from predators.  But that partner probably does not know that her spouse is a predator--I certainly didn't.  If by authentically and transparently sharing my story, even the parts that are still very painful, I can turn a light bulb on for a woman who is puzzled by things she is seeing in her spouse, then it is worth it.  

I still feel great compassion for that young 21-year-old that was me.  She was confronted with a set of circumstances that nothing in life had prepared her for.  She lived in an era when there was not much public awareness of pedophilia and child sexual abuse.  She was isolated, confused and devastated.  Even with all of the public awareness and outrage that we currently see, there are still women just as isolated, confused and devastated.  That must change.

There is much work to be done but I sense that change is in the air.  Today we celebrate our nation's fight for freedom from tyranny.  So today in making my personal declaration of freedom, I am reporting for duty in a more upfront way.  Let's do all we can to insure freedom from predators for all the victims in our land including our children and the spouses of pedophiles.


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