A Conclusion:

A non-linear background:  Close to four years ago, in the midst of recovery but already emotionally stable, I reached out to the woman Ed raped when she was a child.  I had no idea if she would return my call, and I certainly didn’t want to cause her emotional pain or distress, but I needed answers only she could provide.

And provide them she did.

By this point, I had had three psychiatrists and three therapists – including those who treated me during a brief out-patient hospitalization – all share with me their belief that I was sexually abused as a child …

To this day I don’t remember being sexually abused … but I do recognize that beatings given in the way my parents, particularly Ed, gave them are a form of ritualized sexual abuse, and that only a sadist could actually do what Ed did to me time and time again; the beatings were perverse and I’ve come to believe, in large part due to admissions he made in our email correspondence, they were sexually gratifying for him to give.

Diagnostically, my medical team also took into consideration Ed’s conviction of Lewd and Lascivious Acts With a Minor, and my sister and mother’s allegations that Ed had molested both Elizabeth and Janet when suggesting I had endured sexual abuse …

and they stated there were probably more I didn’t know about; sexual abusers do not usually have a single victim – (Bill Cosby, anyone?) which I learned was true when I began speaking to my aunt Bev again.  Secrets in abusive families are dark, deep, tangled and common.

And I could not ignore the fact that my illness is consistent with sexual abuse in childhood …

So I reached out to the woman Ed raped when she was a child.  She is pretty amazing.  She was honest and forthright as she shared with me the details of what was the worst moment of her life.  Speaking to me was difficult for her on many levels, but she was gentle, and as kind as she could be, in telling me what a monster my father is.  She believed she had to speak to me – had to answer my questions because I had to know what Ed was capable of doing to a child just in case there were children in his life currently.  She asked how Elizabeth was, and wished her well, and she was very glad to learn Ed had no contact with his grandchildren.  She spoke with complete emotional candor that reduced us both to tears …

When Ed and I began speaking (emailing) he was reluctant to share with me the details of his depraved act against this innocent young girl, claiming this incident had no impact on my life – my growing up or my childhood.  (yes, he really said this) When I finally insisted he speak to me about it, he told the story from a very cold and sterile perspective, a  perspective that considered ONLY his feelings — what she must have felt wasn’t even a mention in his narrative.  His facts were similar to hers, but only to a point; he raped her; he took something from her that was not his to take.  She was victimized and sexually violated, and she has lived with the consequences of his actions every day since then.

In conclusion:

I believe in fact, evidence and science.  The case against Ed is pretty damning, and there has been no redemption, no change in heart or soul that I have witnessed.

I remain fearful for the young children now in his life, but I am thankful Elizabeth and I weren’t foolish enough to allow him a place in the lives of our own children.

I understand now that Pat’s motivation – making me hate my father – does not mean that what she said about Ed isn’t true.

I will never know all of what happened to me, or my sisters, when we were children;  I’m strangely OK with that, for now; however, I would still welcome the answers to questions no child should ever have to ask.

There will likely never be a complete conclusion.

Out Loud Thoughts

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My childhood memories are dark, and they play in my head like a horror movie matinee on a grey, stormy day – they can leave me feeling haunted and unsettled.

Ed’s brief return to the fringes of my life has given me pause, and much to consider and reconcile with all I had previously processed and concluded.

To begin with, because I once again have a close relationship with my aunt Bev, I have information about Ed I didn’t have before, information that causes me to rethink much of my position on Ed’s ability to sexually abuse a child.  My aunt was very young (10ish) when she told Pat (her sister) and my grandmother (her mother) that Ed would watch (read, leer at) her take a bath when she was staying at our house; they didn’t believe her, so she didn’t tell my grandfather … so much would likely be different if she had; I suspect he would have believed her unequivocally.  Children DO NOT make up sexual impropriety on the part of an adult …

Ed would send my mother out of the house and then force Bev to take a bath; this happened several times.

As I have stated before, my mother did not accuse Ed of sexually abusing my sister until after they divorced, and then I never heard the end of it.  My view: it was crystal clear that she wanted me to hate him, and this allegation was a way to discredit him in my eyes.  I knew my mother so well, even then, that I was determined not to personally consider the possibility that Ed had molested Elizabeth, and/or Janet …

but what if, in my stubborn and youthful determination to disbelieve Pat – someone whose motivations I had long since stopped trusting to be benevolent, I closed my eyes to the truth?

Pat, just before I left her house for good and all, had a private and tearful conversation with Rhonda – a conversation in which she made Rhonda promise if we ever got married and had children she would never, ever leave them alone with Ed. She told Rhonda that Ed had sexually abused Janet and Elizabeth, but that I didn’t believe this …

And I hear the words of medical professionals echoing in my head:

“I strongly believe, in addition to the physical and emotional abuse you clearly recall, you were also sexually abused in childhood, Mr.  Shockley, and these memories you have repressed.”  — every therapist and psychiatrist I have ever seen.

And Ed went to prison for Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor – she was fourteen.  This is a charge I call rape; any non-consensual sexual act is, to my way of thinking, rape.  Not only could she not legally consent at fourteen, she didn’t consent by his own admission.

My instincts tell me to be wary of him …

I feel gullible and naive, until I remember the film noir set my childhood was filmed on; I learned to block out as much as I could …

It kept me alive,

and sane.

Turn The Page

Ed has not changed.  Ed – has – not – changed.  Ed. Has. Not. Changed.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve pondered our email conversations spanning more than eight months, and I’ve considered our face to face conversations as well …

and it always, without fail, comes back to Ed.

He knows what he did – and there isn’t a shred of denial, but it is always about what he feels, and how he has suffered.  It’s really strange; he lacks the ability to connect on an emotional level with me at all.  He can discuss his feelings, even until eternity, but when it comes to my feelings, “there’s nothing I can do about that now,” is his response.

One of the things I did with my therapist several years ago was create a psychological profile of each of my parents based on their behavior when I was growing up.  These profiles aren’t meant to be diagnostic of abusive parents, but intended to help abuse survivors understand they weren’t bad children; they had bad and/or ill parents.

A lack of ability to connect emotionally with one’s own child is indicative of some serious deficits and character flaws. Combine that with cruelty, physical abuse and neglect, and you have the profile of an abuser.

Ed has a grandiose and false view of himself which is mind-boggling and deeply troubling.  He sees himself as a literary hero, caring for his sick child against all odds.   It isn’t about the truth – how he failed his children, it’s about his attachment – unhealthy attachment, for my poor sick sister who couldn’t tell Ed to go to hell as Elizabeth and I did.

He hides in today, pathetically shielded by people he has managed to manipulate, and fool.  People who do not understand that anything positive they get from Ed is only pretend; he is incapable of anything real or meaningful.

And so I am done.  I am wiser than  I was when I walked away thirty plus years ago, and wisdom is its own reward, but I’m not content with the final understanding that I was right:  people do not change.

Many of my questions were answered, the rest will likely go unaddressed forever …

every therapist and psychiatrist I have seen tells me that in addition to the physical and emotional abuse I suffered as a child, I was very likely sexually abused, too; I have no recollection of this, but I don’t doubt it either, not growing up in the house I grew up in.  My sister has said she remembers being sexually abused by our father, but she will not delve into it with me, or anyone …

so when my therapist again cautioned me to trust my instincts about Ed, and followed it up with the question: “If your children were little, would you leave them alone with Ed today?” …

I concluded that I don’t want him in my life, or the lives of my wife and children.

Final words to Ed:

I walked away from you thirty years ago in order to survive – I had NO choice, stop believing I did.  This is part of accepting responsibility for what you did.

You are a coward for not reaching out to Elizabeth; she has the right to spit in your face for what you’ve done to her.  I never told you not to contact Elizabeth – that was not my choice to make; I told you to be prepared for her wrath if you do. You are so afraid of rejection – rightful rejection on her part, that you won’t own what you did to her – and that is despicable.

You made your abusive parents my business the moment you used having been an abused child yourself as your excuse for beating and abusing me.

And, you are absolutely correct when you state that what I say about you is true.

Time to close the chapter, Reconciliation; it has come to an end.