The following story is fictitious. The names are made up and do not refer to any real people. While the story is fictitious, the dynamics and attitudes, while caricatures, are, unfortunately, all too real.
It came to light that Peggy Sue Brown, who is 15, is being sexually molested by her step father. Apparently this has been going on for about three years and Peggy told a girlfriend at school who told a teacher who called Child Protective services who called the police who came to visit Mr. Singletary who is Peggy Sue's step father.
It seems that Mr. Singletary has a drinking problem and when he was "feeling better than any human being should" as he would put it, he would wander into Peggy Sue's bedroom in the middle of the night and force himself on her saying he wanted to "cuddle".
Peggy Sue had tried to refuse him, but then instead of being nice he would quickly turn belligerent and tell her to be nice and shut her mouth or she'd be sorry because he would take care of her, her mother, and her younger brother, if she caught his drift. Peggy Sue was disgusted, terrified, confused, and had no idea where to turn.
Mr. Singletary resented it if Peggy Sue brought a boy home, or asked if she could go out on a date, or even mentioned friends. He quickly would forbid her to go out, or would find some fault and "ground her". Peggy Sue's mother, Bobby Joe, would look timid and perplexed and would shout at Peggy Sue that she should behave herself and not cause so much trouble and get Mr. Singletary upset.
Peggy Sue's friend, who told the teacher who called Child Protective that set off a whole chain of events, told me that she felt guilty for causing so much trouble for this family. She said that Peggy Sue refused to talk to her saying that everything now is her fault. The friend was crying and said she felt guilty and confused and wondered if she had done the right thing in telling the teacher what Peggy Sue had told her.
I asked around to try to get some advice from some folks in the community.
Elmer Sandbagger said, " Well, I've known Gene Singletary for years and he always seemed liked a nice fellow to me. I can't believe what that young filly accused him of. Maybe she's mad at him for disciplining her and wants to get even. I can't believe he'd do such a thing. Why that wife of his is a real looker. You don't stray when there's a good thing at home, if you know what I mean. As far as the gossip goes, once you get those County folks involved you've got problems. People should mind their own business and stick to their own concerns."
Jennifer Goldigger said, " I know just how Peggy Sue feels. I was molested myself by my grandpa and my older cousin. I finally told them to buzz off or I'd go the route of Lorena Bobbitt and I'd Bob it for them. Well, they simmered down, although I've noticed that they are spoiling my 11 year old niece lately and I wonder if they've got the same eyes on her they used to have on me. I should sue them for damages, but some lawyer told me I probably couldn't get compensatory damages unless I could show that I was financially damaged. I could file criminal charges though. Well, I don't want to be responsible for putting anybody in jail, so I just dealt with it myself."
Roy Christian said, "Sexual perversion is the path to hell. It's the pornography and the titillating movies, TV, songs that stimulate and get people going. I mean if you can't gratify, you shouldn't stimulate, you know what I mean? I think Peggy Sue's friend did the right thing, but she should have gone to her pastor not her teacher and the government. Mr. Singletary needs to repent his wickedness and turn his life over to the Lord. I do wonder though what Peggy Sue did to seduce him. I've seen that girl walking around town in her seductive clothing that is not modest. You do reap what you sow. Our community is going the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. It's terrible! Those liberals want every body in therapy. That’s what’s wrong with this country. People need to lay their burdens at the foot of the cross and turn their lives over to Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. It works for us Protestants, but, well, those Catholics have a whole bunch of problems all their own. Of course, they’re not real Christians anyway. Not like us.
I wondered about poor Peggy Sue, and poor Gene Singletary, and poor Mrs. Singletary, and Peggy Sue's little brother, and her friend. Sexual abuse is such a tragedy for the whole family. It is easy to blame the perpetrator who is ultimately responsible, but I wonder how this was going on for so long under Mrs. Singletary's nose and she didn't know about it and had a blind spot for it. I wonder how Gene Singletary has come to have such a poor sense of boundaries that he cannot control his own impulses and breaks a basic human taboo. I wonder how Peggy Sue will deal with her self esteem and self concept when she feels dirty having been molested and responsible for the family crisis that occurred when she spilled the beans and the cat got out of the bag.
First, Peggy Sue deserves protection and reassurance. Secondly, this whole family needs therapy individually, group, and as a family to better understand their own dysfunctional behaviors and that of their family. Perhaps, Gene Singletary needs punishment by the criminal justice system first to protect the community, secondly to make the point with him that he can't behave this way and needs to get himself on a better track, and third as a vehicle for redemption of not only Gene but for the whole family.
And that's how it's been here in Anytown, USA, where Elmer thinks Gene Singletary is a great guy, Jennifer talks tough while her niece and God only knows how many other vulnerable young women are being molested, Roy thinks the worst sin in the world is sex, and we at Markham’s Behavioral Health thank God that Jennifer's friend had the courage to make that call for help so that the first step on the long road of redemption could begin.