Remember how it felt as a kid with a scraped knee when it was time to replace the Band-Aid? Did your mom gently remove the Band-Aid or rip it off quickly? Which hurt more? As I recall, it was painful either way; the choice was to have the pain come gradually, prolonging the process or to get it over with quickly.
I have been thinking of this illustration because of several conversations I have had recently with partners of child predators. Their world exploded with the disclosure that their partner had sexually molested a child/ren when the Department of Children and Family Services opened investigations into the allegations. Many of these men are involved in the helping professions, some of them serving on church staffs.
In one partner's case, in the short time since the devastating discovery, charges have been filed against her husband and he has been removed from their household. But he has not yet been arrested and her house has not yet been searched. So, while the pain of discovery is intense and the repercussions of her husband's criminal behavior have begun, she is in this period of limbo--not sure when the unnamed what will happen.
In my case, the raid on my house was like a kamikaze attack--quick and brutal. Before we had even begun to process our new reality, the police came and carted my ex-husband away in handcuffs. The Band-Aid of our supposedly idyllic life was brutally and quickly yanked off. Our pain was severe and we were impressively traumatized, but it was over (well almost) before we even realized we had a Band-Aid to remove.
My friends, on the other hand, wait and wonder. I imagine the waiting is excruciating. The repercussions have already begun--their marriages have been torn asunder, their kids are reeling with the disclosures, friends have dropped them like they are leprous, their family finances have suffered fatal blows but yet they still wait.
When will the police come?
When will their partner be arrested?
When will the announcement be made to the media?
How big will the media circus be?
Will there be news trucks outside her house?
Will the kids be impacted at school? At church?
What will happen next?
When will it happen?
How can she prepare?
There is no controlling the situation and there will be no warning. The next events in their catastrophic situations will happen as they will. The waiting has to be torturous. I think if I had to choose, I would choose the kamikaze attack instead of the prolonged agony.
But then, we are never offered that choice.
And my mind goes to all the other women like my friends and I. How did their worlds end? Was it quick and brutal or slow and torturous? Either way it hurts like hell. Either way, her world will never be the same. Either way, she is left with a decimated life--just the shell of what once was, or what she thought she once had.
My heart hurts for my new friends and all the others out there. This is an epidemic and there are so many victims of each perpetrator. These victims absolutely include the partners and families of the perpetrator and we don't have Band-Aids big enough for their broken hearts.