Saturday, March 30, 2013

Migas about violence, sexual and physical abuse

The topic seems to be in the news a lot more lately. I consider them to be one topic, interrelate and often coexisting. Their specific characteristics matter less than their shared aspects of violent control and power.

It's also a literary question that has and will make its way into our fiction, as it should. Unfortunately, there's too many non-fiction facts and history that will never see the light of print.

Some people cringe at the topic, don't want to read about it, and wouldn't ever want to talk about it. But if you've ever been on the receiving end, you might feel it hasn't been covered enough. I don't think it has been.

La Bloga's pages have also featured it. I've written about my young nephew's suicide resulting from priestal abuse, when you was very young.

Dan Olivas's article, The Priest That Preyed, concerns Assumption, a fictionalized piece based on an abusive Califas priest.

LatinoPOV's Jimmy Franco Sr. covered a piece, The Catholic Church: A Trail of Shattered Young Lives, about 500 victims who filed suit over priest molestation in Califas.

Survivors network of those Abused by Priests
There's even a national organization devoted to exposing priestal abuse. Unfortunately, I know at least one member. 

Of course, this isn't simply a Chicano topics, it's a worldwide travesty that mainstream Americans are discussing. For a powerful piece on that, go here.

Claudia D. Hernandez
Yesterday, Melinda Palacio featured Claudia D. Hernandez, "a revolutionary woman with her project, Today's Revolutionary Woman of Color." In that piece, Melinda wrote of women's powerful stories of resilience that need to be told. About the project, Hernandez said: "Not only am I helping myself, but I’m helping others as well, especially young women who sometimes experience certain situations in life and find themselves alone in the world. Not knowing how to cope and overcome such obstacles in life."

Hernandez's project is a part of closure and healing, in that it aims to empower young girls.

Equally important is talking about our individual experience, discussing, writing or painting it. Such cancers don't go away without diagnosis and prognosis.

To my knowledge, there was no sexual abuse in my immediate family. Only physical. Beatings. Slappings. "Spankings." The last one is a joke among my siblings because those of us who got "spanked" by our father carried visible scars for some time and invisible ones that in some cases might never heal.

I also once heard about a Chicano grandfather's funeral that no children were allowed to attend, no distant family members nor friends of the family either. A decision had been made by the molested children of the deceased. They would share/expose the knowledge of how he sexually abused them when they were young. I'd never heard of such dramatic action being taken by a Chicano family. But maybe it's happened.

How other Chicano families deal with such abuse is not for me to judge or condemn. What's important is that something is done because of the unhealed scars. To me, la verbüenza latinidad seems more inclined to conceal such family shame than other cultures do, although that may not be true. It's just my impression.

In any event, the following contribution by ex-oficio-bloguera Lisa Alvarado is a contribution to that discourse of healing:

Lisa's memoir

I am seven years old. It is somewhere in the middle of the night, the time where little girls should be dreaming. I am in my bunk bed, the lower one, since I am the oldest. I am awake, listening. My sister Cookie, three years younger, sleeps above me. Lori, the youngest, is in a small twin bed across from us.

It starts like it always starts, like the buzz of the storm before the hurricane hits, when the air feels electric, when the roar gets slowly louder until there is nothing else. My father is yelling, swearing at my mother. I can hear them move from their bedroom down the hall, across the wooden floor to the kitchen. It's always the same, I hear them, he screams, she screams, he curses her, us, the day we were born. Sometimes he hits her.

Tonight is different. Tonight the yelling rolls through the house like thunder. His voice comes closer, closer still—now he's in our room. I squeeze my eyes shut, hold myself stiff, pray. I prayed a lot as a little girl, but there was never an answer.

"Get up," he yells, "Get the fuck up now."

When I open my eyes, he's already dragged my youngest sister, Lori, from her bed. Lori is still half-asleep rubbing her eyes. She knows not to speak. Cookie climbs down as fast as she can. She is little, frail, pale skin and big eyes. I get out of bed and we look at each other, look at Lori. I am big for my age, "big-boned" was what they called it then, my two sisters both seem so much tinier. We know not to look at my father.

He pushes us all into my parent's bedroom. My mother stays in the kitchen. The yelling that had pelted us constantly all of a sudden stopped. It was quiet, like the inside of a hurricane. I remembered learning that in school. He lines us up by size against his dresser with me the first one, then Cookie, then Lori.

He goes to the closet, tossing things out. I can hear him cursing softly now. He finally emerged and I see green greenish-blue metal in his hand. I blink and look again. What he has in his hand is a gun.

The three of us are still, so very still. I am squeezing Cookie's hand and I am praying Lori is holding hers. I don't pray for God to save us, because it hadn't happened any other time I did.

My father takes me by the shoulders, pulls me close to him. I can see the gun coming toward my head. I say nothing, but I am cold, very cold, but I can feel a hot tear roll down my cheek. I feel the barrel against my head, cold, too, my father pressing it against my head.

I hear a click, but nothing. I tell myself, the green blue thing is a fish, a fish that will swim away. Click again. Nothing. My sister's hand loosens and falls away. "Maybe she swam away," I think, "swam far, far, away."

One more click. Nothing no one moves, not even my father.

Finally, he says, "All of you go to fucking bed, I'm sick of you all." I take my sisters and quickly get them back into bed, try to cover them, touch their hair, their faces, try to tell them it will be OK. Then I get into bed, but I don't sleep well.

I've always been a light sleeper.

Es todo hoy, pero no terminó,


Anonymous said...

Thank you RubyG for the honest and fearless blog. I was thinking about idioms that writers often use and I was struck when I read "La Verbuenza". I recall now decades later how it was used to "Keep us at bay" when as kids we wanted to speak about any family issues. May just be a human condition of living in avoidance. Ironically, I married into an Irish family who lived with the idiom, "If you don't speak about it, it doesn't exist."
Blessings to you and Lisa and all writers who don't avoid their

Anonymous said...

Sorry Rudy. I admit I typed it wrong!
My nervous editing!

Lisa Alvarado said...

I love you, carnal and La Familia La Bloga for the time and the space to publish this. My goal is to take this and make art, make life.