14. Telling the Folks…
As mentioned in the beginning, we moved away from our family when Grace was born. This meant that we were able to keep things to ourselves a little, until we were more aware of what we were dealing with.
It is here that I need to tell you that I am a survivor of child abuse myself. I don’t need to go into the details because, as I said, I’m a survivor. However, the differences were that my mum reacted very differently to my disclosure than I did to Ruby’s. There are many reasons for this that don’t need to be rehashed and I made my peace with this a long time ago. I am aware of the lengths that these predators go to, so that it not just their victims, but their families that are groomed.
Despite this, I had fairly major reservations about letting my parents know the truth.
We did discuss not telling our parents at one point, but given that Jen was such an integral part of the girls’ lives, it was only a matter of time before the kids were asked how she was and given Ruby’s aforementioned lack of filter, we could only imagine what would come out!
So we made the trip home, sat my parents, Brad’s father, and my three siblings down and….said nothing.
I looked at Brad, he had his head down and looked like he could throw up. I tried to say the words, but they wouldn’t come out. It was as if saying them out loud in this forum would make it real.
Fortunately, my baby brother stepped up, as I had already confided in him, and told them for us.
I think that there was a real part of me that feared that our parents would not believe us. That had been my experience and I wasn’t sure how I would cope if I had to face that again.
Instead, what we got was shock, tears, grief and anger.
My youngest sister took the news particularly hard.
Firstly, she was devastated that it had happened at all- my kids have always been very close to her. She was then so angry with Jen, someone with whom she never particularly liked anyway as she found her “over the top” in her relationship with the kids.
The other part that was particularly difficult, was that her husband had never liked Leon from the start. He always thought that there was something a “bit off” about him and he found him to be arrogant and rude. That whole hindsight thing came back into play. So whilst they were both so sad about what had happened, it was like some puzzle pieces fell into place for them, and I was left again, feeling like a bit of an idiot, which was definitely not their intention.
Our parents wanted to know everything, and that was difficult. Brad and I felt that the details were not important for them to know. It would only hurt them to know the extent of what had happened. Fortunately, my brother agreed with us about that and acted as a bit of a conduit throughout the entire process from this point forward.
We were quite firm on the boundaries with our parents. We told them that they were not to bring it up with the girls. That the girls knew that they were being told, but were also told that they did not have to speak to them about it. We told our parents that if the kids did bring it up, they were to listen, without getting too emotional, and to tell them that they were proud of them for being brave and that they believed in them. I didn’t want the kids to feel that they had to tell their story to everyone.
The difficulty for our parents was that Jen and Leon had stepped in as pseudo-grandparents for many occasions. There was a bit of unwarranted guilt associated with that fact. My mum was particularly upset, at times outraged and incredibly disappointed in Jen, someone that she considered a friend and ally.
Something that was a sad reality of this whole situation was that the girls were distrustful of people, but most particularly men of Leon’s age group. Meaning our dad’s. And that was so totally unfair.
Brad was reluctant to talk to his sister about what was going on. She had children, younger than Ruby- so was in that busy time of mothering. She lived interstate and having “that” conversation over the phone was extremely difficult. As with the rest of the family, she was devastated, but proved to be a wonderful support as the process dragged out.