Saturday, June 28, 2008

For some reason, it seems important to me to say that

My grandfather, David Henry Eaton Jr., who sexually abused my mother over a period of years when she was a child, and who is now 82 years old, lost his very last opportunity to ever apologize to her today. Here's what I hope for him. I hope that someone with more cunning and more gumption than me is able to ... love him in such a way that he becomes able to fully face the enormity of his crimes before he dies, and repent, and experience *real* restoration of relationship with his other victims. I know that's an insane level of hope. But there it is.


byron smith said...

Insane, but exactly right.

keeper said...

your mom as well as several other victims of your grandfathers abuse spent their entire lives working hard trying to grow past the physical abuse, and overcome the psychologigical damage caused by his behavior 50 years ago. And now they are forced through your hand to once again face the issues and long forgotten pain of their childhood.
If you have a personal issue with your grandfathers behavior of 50 years ago i would suggest that you confront him. In doing so, you might possibly help him to redeem himdelf or at least face his crimes. Which could very possibly be the death of him at the age of 82.
But of course Benjamin like any mordern day journalist, it's not necessary for you to accept responsibility for the events that occur as a result of your public postings. After all your just the messenger.

Benjamin Ady said...


It seems very ... easy for you to respond from the safe haven of your anonymity. BICBW.

They actually didn't work so hard trying to grow *past* it as trying to pretend it never happened. How do I know this? No one has ever chosen to prosecute him for his crimes, has ever taken any steps to ... effectively ... cause him to undergo treatment, or even so much as admit what he did. Not even to protect other possible victims, convincing themselves that he had stopped, that he wasn't still hurting others.

I'm pondering confronting him. It wouldn't really bother me too much if it killed him, to be perfectly honest. It seems to me that death would be better than the existence he currently leads as a sort of ... half man, unable and unwilling to confess, repent, or make amends.

My hope, of course, for my message is that it will, at the very least, help some of the other 300,000 annual victims of child sexual abuse in the U.S., as well as their perpetrators, realize that they don't have to end up like my grand dad--real help is available, and real change is possible, and even real reconciliation. It actually happens for many pedophiles across the country who undergo treatment and take awesome amazing positive steps to change and to make amends. And *so* many victims of sexual abuse are able to face the darkness of their victimization and harness the power unleashed in that victimization as part of their own stories to accomplish amazing good and glorious beauty, truly living out the astounding truth to which Joseph referred when he said "You meant it for evil, but God intended it for good", or as Dan Allender puts it, saying to Evil "When you chose my house, you chose wrong!"

Joe said...

I also think you should confront him, B. With your mum in glory, there doesn't seem much other course for any kind of justice.

keeper said...

I read somewhere that you have a 4 year degree in psychology. Perhaps you could write your doctorate thesis on the differences between a pedophile, which I think is a predatory crime against strangers, and a person who engages in incest, if there is one.
Possibly perform some groundbreaking research, which I'm sure would effect much greater change in society at large,then will a dispute with your grandfather and your extended family.

Benjamin Ady said...


I'm glad you brought it up, because a lot of people don't realize that by far the vast majority the 300,000 child sexual abuse victims in the U.S. every year are being molested by people they know and trust, most often family members, rather than by strangers. The criteria in the DSM have nothing to say about whether the victim is a stranger or not. The defining characteristic of the disorder is a sexual attraction toward children by an adult. *Acting* on the attraction is of course a crime in all 50 states, but *many* such crimes go undetected or unreported when they are detected.

Nevertheless, there is a lot of help and hope available to the pedophile, although of course the active pedophile is going to have to go through an awful lot of darkness, most likely, before they are able to experience that hope. The most dazzlyingly beautiful thing that can happen to such a person, it seems to me, is for steps to be taken so that the *can't* continue their criminal activities and they are forced to undergo treatment.

The thing the child victim needs most desperately, as I understand it, is the opportunity to tell someone who will both completely believe them and will immediately take steps to protect them from further violations. Unfortunately far too many victims never get either of these. Part of the reason for this is the way in which abusive family systems, wittingly or unwittingly to various extents, continue to protect the perpetrator and perpetuate the Don't Talk rule.

There's a word for exactly what should be done with the Don't Talk rule, but I'll refrain from using it as I'm currently in the process of learning to use language which will hopefully allow me to communicate effectively with a wider audience. I guess the military would say something like "Terminate with extreme prejudice". Or maybe that's just from some action movie I saw at some point.

I am in the process of breaking that rule in my extended family, and I'm catching some ... excrement over it. Which is only to be expected. Ideally I'm ... long termishly learning from the whole experience and will be more effective in terms of the sort of societal change to which you refer. In any case, I'm convinced destroying the Don't Talk rule, even if only in this one situation, is absolutely the best thing to do.

I see you are still sheltering in your anonymity. I kind of understand. It can be a bit scary out here. Thank you for engaging! =)