First - go here
Snips And Snails And The Unbearable Heaviness Of Roman Polanski
and read her post. Then come back. I'll wait.
Back? Good. You, of course agree with everything Bad Mother wrote, as do I. He's a bad man who should be punished.
Now let me tell you my story.
My mother was raised by an abusive father. He would lock her in a closet for days on end to keep her from eating because she was too fat. When she accidentally shut her little sister's finger in the car door, he did the same to hers - and left her there for an hour. Her nail grows with a split in it to this day. There are many many stories like these that I know, and undoubtedly even more I don't. She was also sexually abused by him, but I don't know any of those details. She has never shared them with me, and I have never asked.
My father was raised by his father, and step-mother. His mother was certifiably insane. She ended up having a lobotomy later in life, actually. His step-mother never liked him much, he wasn't even allowed to sit on the furniture. He was only 16 when he and my mother met, although he lied and told her he was 18 to her 21. They were married just weeks later.
He had a temper. And seemed to have inherited a good bit of his mothers psychological issues. And my mother had victim written all over her. I was born when he was 17. He rarely worked, and never consistently - leaving my mother to be the one to keep our family afloat. He was physically violent to my mother for the entire length of their marriage, although I only rarely saw the actual abuse. I was about 18 months old when my mom came home from work to find me passed out drunk in the corner - his excuse? I'd wanted the beer, and he'd thought it was cute. And I was only 2 the first time he threatened to have sex with me. My mother had said no to him. His words? "if you don't, she will" pointing to me. She did. I was safe. That time.
But I didn't stay safe. I don't actually remember when it started. I was very young. I'm not sure I ever remember a time when he wasn't touching me. I do know that for a long time I thought nothing of it. When I was in 2nd grade I had two close friends and we started talking one day, and the subject somehow came up. What my father was doing to me, J's brother was doing to her, and D's step-brother was doing to her. When you're 7, if something is happening to you and your friends, why would you think it's NOT normal? r at least convince yourself it must be okay?
I do specifically remember the first rape - I was 9. He held a pillow over my face to keep me quiet because my 3 year old sister was asleep in her bed just a few feet away. That was just the first time. I remember one night my mother opening the bedroom door while he was on top of me, turning around and walking out. It broke my heart. I found out later that she has absolutely no memory of this. I believe her. At some point it got to be too much for me and I stopped remembering it myself. I have huge gaps in my memory. Massive pieces of my childhood are just not there. Mostly I'm okay with that. The things that I do remember are bad enough. But sometimes it's really frustrating.
My parents divorced when I was 11. The abuse didn't stop, it just had to wait for visitation. I saw him give my mom a black eye one night when she had to bring my inhaler to his house because I forgot it. I vowed not to forget things anymore. This went on for a few years. I had managed to put away all memory of the abuse, even while it was going on at this point, so things just kind of flowed, on the surface. But really - things were bad. I was hyper-sexual, chasing after boys and doing things other girls my age were NOT doing - heck that the BOYS my age weren't doing. All the guys I ended up with were years older than me. Then, just a month or so after turning 13 - my first suicide attempt. I took 100 tylenol and some other random medications I found in my mom's medicine cabinet. Paramedics told my mother if she had been an hour later getting home, she would have found me dead. Landed me in the hospital for a few days, then in therapy. First thing I was asked - have you been abused? I honestly said no, because I didn't remember it.
Things continued from there. More and more promiscuity. Lost my virginity (willingly - totally different thing) at 13. Discovered pot and alcohol, the only things available on the island where I lived. Another suicide attempt. Still in therapy, still having court ordered visitation with my father. Until I was about 15. I started having nightmares. Horrible, detailed nightmares. I was taking so many No-Doz to avoid sleep, to avoid knowing, I started throwing up blood. One night, when the pills had worn off and I'd fallen asleep against my will, I started yelling in my sleep, loud enough to wake my mom. She came in and listened. And in listening learned things she'd never seen. The next morning, when I woke up she was sitting in her chair, looking so sad. She looked at me, and asked "Jen - has your father ever hurt you?" after the months of nightmares, and the look on my mom's face, I couldn't deny it anymore, even to myself, and I burst into tears. Within hours, we were at the police station making a report.
This is really long, so let's skip to the chase...
You want to know what happened to him? The man who stole my entire childhood? The one who taught me that the only thing I was good for was to fuck? That the only way I could ever hope to be loved was on back, or my knees? He was allowed a plea bargain. One count of attempted molestation. He lived in a halfway house for a couple of years, and had some therapy. No actual jail time. That's it. Think it's a fair trade?
So as much as the situation with Roman Polanski INFURIATES me, in the long run, it's not going to matter until the laws in this country are changed. We need to stop treating these men as though it's okay, it's no big deal. It a really big deal. Stop slapping them on the wrists and treat our children's innocence and childhood as though they are actually worth something, okay? Actually punish the people who do wrong and maybe there won't be as many Polanski's who think it's okay to do this.