Note: This is part of a four-part story about my childhood sexual abuse, please read through by starting here.
It was never my intention to go to the police and start the whole process of getting the court involved. I could never imagine going to the police to talk about my father sexually abusing me. Even the thought of it had made me feel anxious and fearful. I was about 4 years into my healing journey, and up until this point, there was only a handful of people who knew what I had been through. In fact, nobody knew all of the disgusting details, except for me; even my wife didn’t know. Telling a police officer what had happened to me seemed like a mountain that I knew I could never climb. As I was rebuilding my life, I saw that my old life was still continuing on. I was now seeing things from a different light, my father was no longer my idol, he was a sick man, and what I was witnessing between him an others in my life was making me lose sleep.
One of my friends was also a good friend of my father And while the friendship between my friend and I was somewhat complicated by my obliterated relationship with my father, I still kept in touch with him. Knowing that my friend was routinely visiting my father with his young son, I felt that I would have to tell him what had happened to me so he could make the decision to keep his son away or not. I struggled with the thought of telling him about my abuse. There is something so shameful about telling others about something so disgusting, but as each picture of my friend’s son and my father popped up on Facebook, I kept falling deeper into shame. I would have to tell my friend. So, one afternoon, out of the blue, I called my friend and asked him to come to my house, I had something to tell him. The stress of telling another soul what had happened to me was immense, but I knew my secret had to be said. As I began to talk to him, I felt more comfortable, I was doing the right thing. The meeting went well, he took my abuse story in check and assured me that he would not bring his son near my father, I left that conversation relieved. It hurt, but I did my deed.
It was all for nothing.
A month later I saw pictures on Facebook of my friend’s son hanging out with my father around a campfire. I was devastated, here I poured my heart out to this man in hopes to save him and his son from the pain I had been through. And here he is going on as if nothing ever happened. The next time we met, I quizzed him about the pictures that I had seen and asked him if he understood what I had told him about my abuse. He responded with a weak promise to never leave his son alone with my father, that he would never leave him alone overnight and he would definitely stay away if my father were drinking. I had no words for this guy anymore, I wanted to punch him. I had never been so hurt and bewildered. Why didn’t this guy believe me? Or is he just as sick as my father?
I did everything I could to save face and attend his son’s birthday party that was happening a couple of weeks after our last interaction. We were this kid’s Godparents, and although I struggled to attend, I knew I had to get over it for at least the day. It was at the birthday party that I finally broke, I saw a birthday card signed by my father and my mother with wording to the effect that they were his grandparents and that they loved him. Upon my drive home from the birthday party, I resolved to tell the police about my abuse, I cannot knowingly allow another child to become a victim!
It was August 2013, and I set up an appointment with a police officer to go in after hours to file my complaint. The office was quiet, and there were not many people around, I felt comfortable and at ease. The police officer was young, but he had a very empathetic way about him. It didn’t take me long to find my confidence, and in front of a camera, I spoke my truth and recounted everything that happened to me as a 10-year-old boy. I went through every detail that I could remember, ensuring that I forgot nothing. After leaving the police station that night, I felt a sense of calmness that I never felt before. While I had a few anxious thoughts of “what now?”, I generally felt like I had removed a tremendous weight from my shoulder.
My expectation after I told the police officer my story was that things would fall like a string of dominoes. First I talk to the police, second, I got to court immediately, third, I take the stand and fourth, a judgement. All of this would happen in a few months, or so I thought. In the weeks proceeding the filing of my complaint, I began preparing myself for the onslaught that the court process would bring. What would the press be like? Could I face my father in a courtroom setting? What if nobody believes me? What will my family think? I had so many questions, and the anxiety of it all drove me mad. While a part of me was relieved to have done what I could to save that kid, another part of me felt like I gave my secret to the devil. This really is out of my hands now, and I have no control over it!
It was a couple of months before I heard anything from that young officer. He told me that my father was interviewed, and now he was getting my complaint ready to be filed with the Crown in hopes it would be picked up for a trial. In the meantime, I gave the police officer every shred of knowledge that I could muster. I alerted him that my parents were foster parents in the mid-1980’s and while I was too young to know what had happened to cause them to stop being foster parents, I suggested to the police officer to try and find something there.
Two years passed and still nothing new. I had the odd call from the police officer in charge of my complaint just checking up and such, but overall there was no movement. My complaint was sitting in the hands of the Crown, and as far as that officer knew, that is where it stood. My anxiety grew stronger, and it crept into every area of my life. I was being held hostage from healing as I was getting no resolution to the most challenging thing I had ever done. My mental state was being challenged at every corner, and the emotional pain that was festering was continually poked by my father who refused to honour my request to leave me alone. Over the years he continually pestered me by sending me letters, cards and gifts to my son. Every holiday became a haunting reminder of the emotional pain that I just could never get over. In the mail would be a card and a letter begging me to talk to him, he would pay for counselling together, anything to get me back into his world. As much as I tried and convince myself that I didn’t need this court case to be my final healing salve, it just never worked. Regardless of the outcome of it, I needed to tell my story in court. I began to question why the hell I ever went to the police in the first place. While I was getting over the broken relationships and emotional trauma that reliving my sexual abuse brought on, I could never get that closure, it was out of my control.
Three and a half years passed and I finally got some movement on my complaint, but it was not the movement that I had expected. The Crown was not going to pick up my case, my complaint was merely a “he said versus he said.” There were no witnesses to back anyone up. My word was going against his, how could there ever be a prosecution made on an event that happened over 20 years prior. While my complaint was not being pursued in court, it would remain open but in some kind of dormant state until more evidence surfaced. I was devastated by this decision! I would never get a resolution to my complaint, I gave away the most guarded secret of my life, and it would not just be held in purgatory. Meanwhile, my father gets to roam through life as if nothing happened. My voice was now silenced with no timeline to get it back.
It took everything within me not to go off like a firecracker and overreact. By now, I had good habits that would serve me well, and I knew that I didn’t want to blame, I didn’t want to be angry, I just wanted this hell to be over with; I just wanted to go on with my life without abuse being the center of it. I didn’t want anyone dead, I didn’t want anyone harmed, I just wanted to use my voice and tell my truth: I just wanted to heal!
It was about 6 months after I had found out that my complaint wasn’t going to court, that I found out something that completely shocked the hell out of me: I was not alone! Enormous credit goes out to that police officer who initially took my complaint, he didn’t give up, and he dug around to find out that my father had a sexual assault complaint filed against him by 5 of his foster children back in the mid-1980’s. Holy shit! The police officer called in a favour and had a contact at the department of social services dig through thousands of records in some government archive to find my parent’s foster child file. In that file, he found the very dated complaint. Of course, this was from the 1980’s, and many of these foster boys that my parents took care of were not from the most reputable of homes. At the time these brave young men were never taken seriously and so, my father’s first brush with the law ended in his success. He ducked the complaint, the police officer and the social workers. So to the back of the filing cabinet, the complaint went never to be given a chance.
While I had an overwhelming feeling of relief that I was not alone, I was sickened to realize just what kind of man my father really is. While they were only complaints filed by 5 foster boys at the time and no charges were ever filed, I am a firm believer that where there is smoke, there is fire. People don’t go around accusing others of sexual abuse without some kind of cause. I was now 4 years on this legal journey, and finally, I felt as though we had some real traction. Surely, with my complaint and these new leads, we would have enough ammo to make a case! I mean it’s no longer just my word against my father’s!
Not so fast!
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