Sometimes when your own life is not defined by horror, the only way to understand what it’s like is through books and movies.
I have long observed that people never get over child sexual abuse, or that it takes a lifetime, at any rate. Seems to me there are two kinds of sexual abuse… abuse by stranger or family acquaintance, and abuse by a parent or other caregiver whom you should be able to trust. I haven’t figured out yet which is worst.
Either way, survivors of child sexual abuse find it very difficult to establish bonds of trust with others. And when it happens, it’s not necessarily forever. At least with books and movies, you can keep returning whenever you want—that is, if you want to.
But I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. This is pretty challenging stuff.
I have already written about Inherited Rage, a book by my friend Lone Heron. But I’ll mention it again—it’s that good. Plus you may find it easier to keep an essential distance from the content because it’s a book.
It is the true story of a little girl who was subjected to the most unspeakable abuse, exploding into parricide. I talk with Lone Heron on the phone at least weekly, and she believes after 20 years she is a cured or redeemed person. And to a great degree she is (she has come so far). Yet she has so much further to go. Lone Heron is one of the angriest people I know. She’s in her 40s.
Mysterious Skin is a 2004 movie by director Gregg Araki, who also wrote the screenplay based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Scott Heim. It tells the story of two pre-adolescent boys who are sexually abused by their baseball coach, and how it affects their lives in different ways into their young adulthood. One boy becomes a reckless, sexually adventurous hustler, while the other retreats into a fantasy of alien abduction. It implies that the lives of both characters will be incredibly difficult for years to come.
The film has an excellent cast including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brady Corbet, Michelle Trachtenberg, Elizabeth Shue, and Bill Sage, and creates a convincing, memorable illusion of what it’s like growing up in Hutchinson KS. Made on a low budget and with production lasting only three weeks, the cast and crew had no possibility of doing retakes. Yet it is a nearly perfect film. Ebert and Roeper gave it two thumbs up. I’d give it a third.
Inherited Rage is a great but disturbing book, too.
Like all true art, you will have trouble shaking either the book or the movie, and may even develop a deeper sense of compassion for anyone who has experienced the horror of childhood sexual abuse.
Both are worth the investment.
Groove of the Day
The Wright County jury deciding the fate of Noah Crooks has ended a second day of deliberations without a verdict. Jurors were dismissed at 4 pm Thursday after seven hours of deliberations.
The jury only made one request Thursday and that was for water and soda pop.
Lawyers for the prosecution and the defense spent the day waiting for a decision. Noah’s father William Crooks was at the courthouse late Thursday in anticipation of a verdict.
The jury will begin a third day of deliberations at 9 am Friday.