Saturday, January 21, 2023

I am a survivor of child rape

It is exactly two hundred miles from the driveway of my home near Spartanburg to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department office in Wentworth, North Carolina.  That was the distance I drove one morning three years ago this winter.

I went back to where I grew up.  Because I was finally ready to give a statement to members of law enforcement about my being raped at age twelve.

For well over three decades I had kept the agony and the shame close to me, sharing it only with a few people I absolutely trusted.  As if that would be enough to stop the hurt.  But at last it became too much to bear, this far into my life.

Why didn’t I go to the authorities years earlier?  It’s hard to explain.  Partly, it’s because on a primal level I didn’t want to have to face my abuser again.  Anything sexual creates a bond between two people: something that had I treasured in the marriage that complications from my wounds eventually destroyed.

I guess, I can’t really fully offer up an explanation for why I waited for so long.  You have to go through something like this to understand why.

I went to the sheriff’s office and spoke with two detectives.  I knew going in that it was a long shot.  That after thirty-four years the odds of seeing anything happen in the way of justice were against me.  But I gave my statement, and the two officers gained my confidence.  I don’t know if anything will ever come about from my going in, but they still have it.  I’ve no doubt that they have pursued this with all due passion and diligence.

But it’s been nearly forty years.  People move around.  Many die in that period.  Memories fade.

My own memory is a funny thing.  Some things I don’t remember well at all (a quality that to some extent is rooted in the meds I take to manage bipolar disorder).  Other things, I remember all too well.

May 16, 1986 is a date burned into my mind.  That was the day that the remaining vestiges of childhood innocence were ripped away from me.

I can even tell you the shirt that I wore that day, to Community Baptist School in Reidsville, North Carolina.  A place I had been a student at since kindergarten.

Maybe it was my size.  Maybe it was because I was the “nerdy kid” of the school.  Whatever.  I was regularly bullied, by boys as well as girls.  On this day I got into an altercation with someone.

A male faculty member accused me of doing something that I had not.  Of uttering a forbidden word.

I protested that I had not.  I would have never dared use that word toward anyone.

In later years I would find using it all too easy.  Well, why not?  I sure paid for the right to say it.  But I digress.

The faculty member said I had to be punished.

The two of us were alone.  I was told to drop my pants, exposing my underwear-clad behind.

And then he put his hands all over my genitals.  He did worse than that even.

I was sent home.  Too shocked and confused to fully comprehend what happened to me.  I was still dazed by the accusation that I had used that word to describe my classmate.  Too hurt by being punished for it.

That night the movie Godzilla 1985 came on television.  I desperately tried watching it to make the feelings go away and be forgotten.  It did nothing.

That night I had very bad dreams.

I felt violated.  Dirty.  Ashamed.  And you want to know why?

Twelve is the cusp of something that can feel either very wonderful or very terrible.  A person’s body is changing at that age, beginning to become a full fledged entity.  Sensations are starting to come about, that delight or bewilder or both.

God forgive me.  For one horrible moment when he had his hands on me, my body liked it.

And even then, I knew that that was wrong.  That it violated the natural order of things.

That day altered whatever trajectory my life would have taken, toward something polluted and twisted.

Sixth grade had been a hell year for me at Community Baptist.  So much went wrong.  The one bright spot was those fleeting months that Halley’s Comet came, and the astronomer in me was excited to see it.

After that day in May, even a once-in-a-lifetime visit by the comet didn’t make me feel anything.  I was just too overwhelmed.

I didn’t tell anyone what the man did to me soon after it happened.  It was four years before I told someone.  That person didn’t believe me until many years later when the fractures became too grave to deny that I had been violated when I was young.

Three and a half months later my sister and I were in public school.  A place that we were told at Community Baptist was filled with godless heathens who didn’t pray.  I was at once thankful to be away from Community Baptist and also intimidated.  I was bullied a lot.  I cried a few times.  I felt thrown to the cold cold world and there was nobody to help me.

But I also remember seventh grade as the first time I was attracted to the opposite sex.

And I felt dirty because of it.

I will never forget the first moment I found myself wanting to look at a pretty girl in my class.  She had a beautiful smile and she was wearing a nice outfit and it was driving me CRAZY.

I had to turn my head and look away.  I was too ashamed of my feelings.  Felt too much like I had with him.

It was a shame that persisted well into adulthood.  Counseling has helped.  But by that point it was too late.  Among other things I thought that being married would make things better.  But it didn’t.  Marriage doesn’t solve problems, it only brings what is wrong to the surface.  And that’s what happened and I will forever be damning myself for hurting the most wonderful person God ever put into my life.

But again, I digress.

God, I hate that man.

Yes, let’s talk about God.  Because of all that came about from what happened, my relationship with God was impacted worst of all.

I’ve never doubted that God is there.  There have been many times that I have been accused of being an atheist.  My own mother was one person.  There were some who believed her.  Who believe her still, though she has been dead for eleven years.

No, I have never been an atheist.

But I have had my faith in God destroyed.

It was a man who I had respected and trusted and looked to as a Christian example.  And God let him hurt me.

Wasn’t God angry at that?  Wasn’t God going to mete out justice?

But He didn’t.

God let me be abused and violated and betrayed.  And I felt betrayed by God in turn.

No, I never stopped believing in God.  But I hated Him with every ounce of my being.

I was a senior in high school when it began to dawn on me that God didn’t hurt me.  That it was someone who only claimed to be sent by God.  I started to not hold that against God.

But by that point I thought my hatred toward Him made me irredeemable.  That God wouldn’t want me anymore.  Thankfully He put some people into my life a few years later in college who showed me what REAL love of God is.  That God isn’t the tyrannical legalistic despot Who we were taught at that church-run school that He was.  That wasn’t the real God of Christianity.  And so it was that in my second year at Elon, I was able to finally turn to Christ and commit to following Him.

But that still wasn’t enough to completely salve the wounds.

Well, it was a few confusing years more after that.  My faith teetered at times on the brink of destruction.  And then in early 2000 the first symptoms of manic depression began to manifest: one more element of chaos in my life.

My faith has been tried and tested and pushed to the breaking point by so much that has transpired since then.  I have at times shared my despair with others.  Sometimes very openly.

It has taken time, prayer, counseling, and the love and care of many true and wonderful friends.  But at last my faith has begun to become what it should have always been.  And I am thankful for that.

As for what happened when I was twelve…

I have spent much of my life wanting to destroy that man.  Even now there is the temptation to call him out by name and let the chips fall where they may.

But doing so would add many complications to matters.  It would literally be my word against his.  For now I have to trust the people I went to three years ago.  They have resources that I don’t.  They also bring an objective eye to the issue and that’s something that obviously I lack.

And if justice doesn’t come in this lifetime, I have to trust God that it will come in His time.  It is VERY hard to do that, I won’t deny it.  Just one more test of faith.

Why am I sharing this, now?

I am writing a book about my life, especially what has come about because of a condition that almost certainly has a medical component.  But that is only one aspect that has defined me.  If I’m going to be completely honest and forthcoming about my story, I have to write about EVERYTHING that has so impacted me.  Sexual abuse and PTSD are also elements of my life.  And it’s going to have to be confronted full-bore.

I have come to a place where I cannot further work on my book.  The feelings keep breaking through.  I am haunted by the thoughts of what could have been, had things gone otherwise.  Especially thoughts of my dreams of having a family.  Something that is a fleeting possibility with each passing day, it seems.

Maybe sharing what happened when I was a kid now, will help me expel the demons keeping me from writing.  It’s going to come out in the book anyway, if it ever gets published.  Why not tell it as it is?

If my book does get published?

I don’t know what I’ll do.  Maybe God will let me finally die, with my faith in Him intact.  I don’t see what the point would be in keeping going on.  I will have said everything that needs to be said.  My life will be complete.  There will be no need for a sequel.

Maybe if it is published, the people I’ve hurt most in my time on this earth will have some understanding of where I’ve been coming from and why I have done the things that I did.  Maybe there will be forgiveness and absolution that I can’t get in this life.  That’s something to hope for.  I could die believing that.

But for now, perhaps getting all of this out in the open will let me overcome that obstacle.  I want to write my book.  I need to write it.  It’s what God has put before me to do.

I can promise you, it won’t be all bad.  There are some pretty funny things that have taken place in my life.  I look forward to sharing those, too.

Thank you for reading all of this.  Please keep me in your prayers.  I would very much appreciate it.

 

11 comments:

Rachel said...

What do you do after your book is published? You keep living. You keep becoming the wonderful person who God made you to be. The world needs Chris Knight and more than ever. I read your articles on American Thinker and Western Journal. God has bestowed upon you the gifts of writing and leadership. He isn't going to let you make that go to waste.

Anonymous said...

Brave thing to write.

Is the man who raped you still alive?

Chris Knight said...

"Is the man who raped you still alive?"

Yes.

SGotGDS said...

Well I've been coming to your site for a long time and this is the most courageous thing you've posted. God's hand is upon you Christopher. I will be eagerly waiting for your book!

JeffY said...

A mental illness. Post traumatic stress. Childhood sex abuse. Some men would drink a glass of bourbon before blowing their brains out with a 38 if they had all that to live with.

You've beaten the odds, Chris.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I hope and pray that you see justice done. There is no time limit on rape and child molestation charges, just like murder charges. I can't begin to imagine the toll that this has taken on you for an entire lifetime. But don't let this destroy you too. Like one commenter said, you publish your book and go on living. Take back your life. And don't give up hope on having a family. I think any woman who puts Christ first in her life would be honored to call you her husband. But write your book! See what happens. Lifting you up brother.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

1st Samuel 2:30

Friend from Elon said...

I'm sure you know that the chances of something happening to bring this person to justice are exceedingly low. The time to have struck was soon after. But I also don't know what it's like to go through something like that. Man...

But anything's possible. They were bringing Nazis to justice 40 and 50 years after WWII. Praying you will be as fortunate in your own quest.

Ken, Greensboro said...

Reidsville's Community Baptist School is having problems with staff allegedly sexually abusing children.


https://myfox8.com/news/former-principal-at-community-baptist-church-in-reidsville-charged-with-taking-indecent-liberties-with-a-student/

The Flaming Flea said...

I believe the real story here, Chris, is how you kept faith for so long and even seeing it getting stronger. Many would surrender and give up. But you really haven't done that yet. I pray also that the person responsible is arrested, put on trial and put under the prison.

Eric said...

Hey Chris, will your book have your wife, Johnny Robertson, Ron Price in it?