Over the summer, Diva attended a youth church camp.
That sentence contains all the sacred this post will contain.
When we picked her up at after camp the first Friday in July, Diva began to tell us all about her “boyfriend” who we will call Lil John. Being that Diva is all of eleven, this prospect did not delight me, but I am also aware that this is a part of the growing up she must do. I took solace in the fact that Lil John lived some two hours away from us. This would be a long distance, short lived, complication free relationship in my book. I had no idea how wrong I would be.
The first thing that rubbed me wrong about Lil John was that he was asking her to use Snapchat and insisting that this was the only way in which he could talk to her. I, not being born yesterday, allowed her to download it only for the sole purpose of finding another way in which they could communicate. This was accomplished, Snapchat was deleted.
As part of the deal of my kids having technology available to them, they had to sign contracts agreeing to certain rules established by the husband and I. Rules such as, I will not show other people my private parts, I will not access pornography, I will not use social media accounts to bully others, etc, etc. These rules also allow for my husband and I to have the ability to review their phones at anytime without warning. This is not something we do unless we catch wind of a reason. I like my privacy, I want them to have their privacy as well. In an effort to not let this technology run amuck though, it is, dare I say, a necessary evil.
I caught wind of something. I asked Diva for her phone and lo and behold, Lil John was not very boyish, but certainly coy. He was asking my daughter to send pictures of herself that would make him “happy” and detailing lewd ideas he had about the two of them. Remember, my daughter is 11. As luck would have it, the phone rang as I was reviewing these messages and it was Lil John. Lil John and I had words. I was cordial and kept my wits about me despite wanting to say things that no adult should ever utter to or even around a child. Thinking back on my own adolensce, I thought hearing from me would put the fear of God in the boy and that there would be no additional issues. I was also comforted by the fact that my Diva did not appreciate the tone that he took with me and decided that they shold just be friends.
Fast forward…Septemeber. Diva spends the night with her BFF, Hepburn, and husband and I take a much needed break ALONE. A fun night out at a Black Keys concert, a pub or two and crashing at an upper scale, downtown hotel. Just as husband and I are getting into bed to “relax” my phone starts getting text message after text message. BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! BUZZ! right? This doesn’t happen. There is something going on and I must attend to it. Husband, having had a few drinks and not being accustomed to nights on the town, rolls over and falls asleep. I don’t fall asleep, but end up in a nightmare. It’s Diva. She’s upset. The texts details how her and Hepburn decided to prank Lil John. Of course they did. (eyeroll) He apparently went right into mission mode and asked for pictures again. So my genius Diva googles “boobs” and sends him the picture. And then the lewd idea commentary starts again. I ask her to send me the texts. They go like this.
LilJohn: Next year when we go to camp we should have sex
Diva: What? Arent we too young for that? What about the counselors?
LilJohn: We can sneak away. We won’t get caught.
Diva: My Mom would kill me. Besides I dont want a baby. I want to go to college first.
LilJohn: The p has sperm in it so the v can make a baby.
LilJohn: How about a blowjob
Diva: Whats that? I don’t know anything about it.
LilJohn: The p goes in your mouth
Diva: WHAT? Gross. Im not doing that!
LilJohn: No. The penis goes in your mouth. Only sperm comes out.
LilJohn: *picture down pants*
This is when Diva stopped talking to him and texted me. Of course, I’m livid at this point. So I send LilJohn a text message telling him that I had tried to extend him some grace and allow him to redeem himself by staying in contact with my daughter but that he had disrespected her and myself for the last time and “Do. Not. EVER. text my daughter again. Ever.”
I didn’t sleep that night. Not sleeping is a BIG no-no because of my autoimmune complications. It just sends my body into hyper-hositle mode. My mind is racing. It isn’t sitting right with me. I know boys will be boys, I have a couple myself, but THIS isn’t normal. So, why would a boy do this? Something in this situation is amiss. After not biting my nails for over a year, I gnaw them down. Thinking…stewing. My gut is turning over. This situation begins to make me think of all the child sex abuse issues I’ve come across. While I’m up, I see one of my friends is logged on Facebook at work. He happens to work for the sex crimes unit in a police department. I send him a text asking if I can talk to him about something and vaguely descrobe the situation and he calls me right away. He tells me to go with my gut. With no way to get ahold of the parents, he recommends that I file a report with the police department where we live. I instruct Diva to turn off her phone and give it to Hepburn’s mother after also explaining the situation to her because now her own daughter has been exposed to this mess.
When Diva got home Sunday morning, husband and I decided that it was important to sit down and talk about what had happened before we did anything else. We needed all the details and I needed to check her phone. I immediately looked to see if the location services were on his texts and thankfully they were. This was the only way I was able to obtain his address and possibly track down the parents. I blocked LilJohn from contacting her and sent everything from her phone to my own and deleted it. Within about an hour, I get a message via Voxer from a number I don’t recognize and sure as shit, it’s LilJohn. This kid has cajohnes.
LilJohn: What did I do
Me: *forwards all text messages that he sent Diva the night before*
Me: Do not contact me and especially my daughter anymore.
I mean really? What is there to say at this point?
But, when I thought this nightmare was finally nearing it’s conclusion, it got worse. WAY worse.
When husband and I sat down with Diva it became painfully obvious that she was afraid. There was more to this story. When I explained that I was going to have to contact the police and that they may want to talk to her just to hear her said of the story she broke down crying and ran into my arms.
Diva: Mommy, what if they get mad at me and I get in trouble.
Me: Baby, this isn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. You tried to be his friend and he was very inappropriate. That is wrong.
Diva: But what if he lies and says I did do something.
Me: Hey. I believe you. We’re on your side. You don’t need to worry about anything, ok? Just make sure that you tell us anything that you can rememeber so that we know about it, ok?
Diva: I have to tell you something … *sobbing*
My heart dropped.
Diva: When I was at camp with Lil John and because I was his girlfriend he always wanted to touch.
Me: Well you told me about him always wanting to hold your hand. Did you guys kiss or something? Or did he ask to touch you somewhere else?
Diva: He asked me if he could touch my boobs, but I wouldn’t let him. I told him that was wrong.
Me: Well it’s not wrong but…
Diva: But for my age…
Me: Right. Exactly. You’re so smart.
Diva: But when we were in the pool, he grabbed my hand and put it in his swim trunks. I got away from him because the camp counselors saw him just with his hands near me and we’re not allowed to touch and grab in the pool so no one drowns or something, but as soon as they went away he tried to do it again and I had to get out of the pool and go back to my cabin to get away from him.
Me: Honey, why didn’t you tell Mommy?
Diva: Because they won’t let us make phone calls
Me: No, I mean, when you got home? When we picked you up from camp you were so happy and excited. Why didn’t you tell me then?
Diva: Because he apologized and I still wanted to be his girlfriend.
It really is amazing how many times your heart can be broken in a lifetime and yet … you survive.
At that point we decided we had no choice but to contact the police. I mean, my daughter is 11 and this is borderline assault. Regardless of the fact that the home address revealed no home number or connected names, it had to be done.
The police officer I spoke to didnt treat me like an overprotective parent. That was what I was expecting. In fact, he referred me to the sheriff’s office in the county where the camp had taken place to file a report there as well while he handled the phone harassment portion. I decided to contact the camp as well prior to contacting the sheriff in the hopes that they could provide me the parent’s contact information, but they couldn’t do that do to privacy laws. Then, after all of this, I filed a report with the sheriff’s department.
Today, I received an email from the sheriff’s department following up on this whole situation and also passing long LilJohn’s mother’s contact information. She was apologizing profusely and wanted to contact me, but … laws. Without wanting to overthink the situation into a frenzy I dialed the number and introduced myself. She broke down in tears. As I suspected, LilJohn had been exposed in the worst way. He was another child victim of sexual assault. The story is eerily similar to my Pickle. I knew this mother’s pain. I knew LilJohn’s pain. Then, we were crying together. Me apologizing for her pain and hurt. Her apologizing that her son had drawn my daughter into the mix. Every ill feeling I had for this boy was gone. All I wanted to do was take this mother into my arms and reassure her with solidarity that she would get through this.
I told her our story. I offered to make every resource I have had available to me, available to her and I told her I would be there for her…and I will.
Child sexual abuse is a silent epidemic in this country. It’s victims are shamed into silence and the supporters are too busy being of support to the victims to be advocates. Once your eyes are opened to it, you see it everywhere. Someone will start to tell you something about their childhood and you see the memories comes and the eyes gloss over. You know.
I don’t know why this happens. I can’t even begin to pretend to understand how it happens…how a grown person can look at a child in a sexualized way. I certainly look at little girl’s Halloween costumes and think we have some sort of mental deficit as a whole, but other than that, I can’t figure it out. I can’t understand.
I just survive.