If you are looking for sordid details of my family’s ordeal over the sexual offences against my son, you will have to go to my personal FB page or ask the Investigating Officer for the statement I had given. I cannot go through telling it one more time. You will just have to kill yourself slowly reading it to know how much more dies in me. The reason I write things out whether it was initially to the NGOs or police, is so I don’t have to re-tell and live the energy again and again.
I had just gotten back from a national discourse on Sexual Crimes against children in Malaysia. And a lot of what I will say about moving forward from this day on has its context rooted in the last post I had published here, over a year ago. You will have to read that post and come back to this one between tabs to put together a picture, hopefully a more or less accurate one, about what it means to be me saying what I do now.
I hope that sounding detached doesn’t distract you from the immense amount of energy I have invested as a result of what had happened to my 2 year old son at his nursery in the vicinity of Reservoir Garden, Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang.
In re-reading my post here, I realized that I haven’t been skeptical enough about people, and haven’t been taking my own advice seriously enough. In this FB post on how I blame myself, I need to add this one in context with this post : I was greedy.
I quote my self in my previous post : “If someone dangled a carrot in front of you and told you, against your own better judgment, that you can own this carrot via means that seem dodgy or fraudulent, how long can you last before succumbing to it?” “What is wrong is the DISCONNECT between value creation and lifestyle upgrade.”
Putting this into context, I will be honest with you that I wanted a decent school, with a decent distance from home so I could get some rest and focus on the baby. The schools around where I lived were either too crowded, too academic or not up to par. The kind of school I can accept ranges in the four-figure category and is a distance from the neighborhood I live in. I couldn’t manage the commute back and forth.
I made a huge mistake miscalculating what it would take to handle 2 babies. I over-estimated what I could do and manage with 2 “extraordinary children who clash with each other” – because they were at different ends of how the spectrum shows up! And I am not talking about the baby yet – the baby was pretty incredible at screaming and not wanting anyone else. I made a lot of logistical mis-steps in wanting to balance both career and personal life and having a working family life and a kept home.
I wanted a lifestyle upgrade – whether you see it as having two more children or you see it as contracting out my toddler to have his learning and socializing needs met. There was just no way i could do homeschooling and playgroups this time around. My lifestyle is too “upgraded” to go back into all that DIY torture. There was a disconnect between me wanting to have well-brought up children and maintaining my time and freedom and space to do my own thing and make money.
There wasn’t enough foresight and I screwed up. Had I been more connected, I would’ve done a lot of things differently before I had both boys so that I could mother well plus have a lifestyle upgrade. My impulsivity really costs me this time.
Whenever I think about whether I’d rather know what I do now or go back further in the timeline and planned better for my future, I always choose the Barry Allen hemorrhage the Speed Force option.
But I’m in this timeline. And my tears are starting to flow because I know without a doubt I would’ve sacrificed everyone else’s future in this Timeline of what I have become to go back to a past and fix that decision I made about putting Gabriel in that nursery. I am that selfish. I would rather not be a force for good or social change and have back a pure memory of my child.
So I can’t go back to the past and I am stuck in this Timeline where the plot is I have to make sense of my suffering. And in this Timeline, our First Lady Rosmah Mansor together with our MP Azalina Othman organized a Child Sexual Abuse seminar, a national discourse that I decided to go only 3 days before it started because I experienced the impotency of agencies as a result of their doubts about over-stepping into one another’s territory.
Having experienced some kind of tragedy changes a person’s trajectory in life and understanding of people.
Before the seminar I was still largely focused on finding out why do they make it so hard on those who want to come forward and why they make children go around a criminal justice system built on logic and adult defenses. I was focused on trying to understand why wouldn’t a school accept something has happened.
After the seminar I understand now that if you take action on one person or institution today, they will just reopen under another name and the perpetrator will continue to offend. It crystallized for me what I had come across just a couple of weeks before going to the seminar :
“It’s not an issue we can arrest and prosecute our way out of. It’s only through a multi-disciplined approach involving investigations, prosecution, victim advocacy, treatment and professional care, parents and communities as a whole where we can make a difference,” Thomas Ravenelle of the FBI added.
From attending the seminar I understood that people without honesty and integrity don’t care what happens to others as a result of their greed and ambition. And that is what the Senior Pastor, Pastor Palan Ramasamy, represents. Again, read my post here for context on why I have come to accept shit that I don’t agree with, that I can accept what took place without having to accept that it will continue to take place.
I wonder how I could’ve forgotten my own teachings and became confused about the Pastor’s actions, or rather, inaction. Somehow, the idea that they are a church really pulled wool over my eyes. Aku kena pukau.
Returning from the seminar I became even more clear on why I hurt so much. I still hurt a lot but there is now a second dimension to my pain. The rage and vengeance of an erupting volcano has given way to a new calm and acceptance. And that is a very dangerous thing for me when I am calm. I am talking about non-medicated calm.
The Pain has birthed a calm that comes with clarity, deeper perception and purpose. You see, I hurt so much because I was so tired from mothering, I needed support, and I had put my trust in a Masculine Structure that was lacking in integrity in the first place. I hurt so much because I had depended on a False Masculine, the idea of the Church, for protection and support. Somehow, the Church and Taska represented a secondary support system for me. And, rightly, it ought to. We don’t raise children alone. We raise them as a village.
I was confused because I still hadn’t fully removed the initial belief I had put in my mind that the Taska or Church represented integrity and faith and support. Cognitive dissonance! I was still asking myself, why doesn’t the Senior Pastor care what’s happened to me and Gabriel? I’ve made my intentions clear I am not hostile – even when I have the right to be – that my primary intention was sharing awareness.
Oh,blimey – I forget me ownself. The seminar showed me how people with commitment and integrity behave as opposed to those who bury their head in the sand. It reminded me of somethings I forgot about the world, about myself, when I remained isolated as a mom. The women leaders in that room remind me of my own potential and that you don’t have to keep waiting for the Prime Minister to do everything even if you are the First Lady, that we can get things done on our own.
I came back clearer about myself – that I can be both simultaneously deeply pained by the child sexual abuse happening in this country and not become paralyzed by sadness, fears and anger. Tragedy changes the Timeline and who I become into my future.
I am more calm, returning from the seminar, about how the Church, “under strict instructions from Pastor Palan not to speak to you”, has treated me and turned me away. I am not the Pariah they make me to be. I truly went in peace. I was advised my Madeline Yong of PS The Children and Loh Cheng Kooi of WCC that there is nothing wrong in going to the school and having a chat with the Pastor to let him know what happened and to let him know that the reason I am sharing information is to prevent it from happening to other children. I already felt that shame and fear of being rejected and turned away and true enough that was the treatment prepared for me.
I am more calm because I am starting to realize that their hostility is intentional, that they are not operating in ignorance. They are operating with clear knowledge it is not a safe place for children including doing things such as deferring the process of applying for a permit from JKM, stating they don’t intend to send teachers for the Permata training on school and child safety and pretending to be under the jurisdiction of Tadika when they haven’t yet obtained a Tadika permit.
Also, everything the Principal has been taught to say to deflect my questions on child safety when I first enrolled shows that they are aware of child sexual abuse but put the responsibility on the child and parent/ family environment. By framing it in the context of “as long as the child comes from a loving home and gets attention, as long as the child knows their private parts” they have prepared to shift the entire blame on the family environment and leaving it up to the child to defend himself from an adult playing “games with him and his friends”. At first I couldn’t figure out how the male teacher managed to get my son to some corner until my son said it happens as a game – and I get it that the teacher brought down their inhibitions with “if so and so can do it, why won’t you?”.
The circumstantial evidence in my case – from avoiding me, to controlling the narrative, points to the fact that they intentionally don’t want to take responsibility if their plan on blaming the family home environment and child didn’t work out. What will they blame next? Extended breastfeeding? Or supernatural beings, as was their first excuse. What they didn’t count on was that a special needs child under 3 years old can actually articulate and demonstrate what happened to him because not only does he have a photographic type of memory (you can ask his class teacher there, Eng Cheng, to testify to this, that she tells a story once and he can retell with details and the first to raise his hand to answer her questions even before the kids 1 year old can process what to answer) – not only because of the unique nature of his mind to photograph details but his emotional closeness and trust in his family. Perhaps they were counting on an overburdened, busy mom and a chaotic home to let things slip. But moms like me sacrifice our careers and bank account balance for a reason – to mother with conscious presence and to create an environment of multiple, attentive caregivers.
From attending the seminar I realized that a few factors have to work together to prevent a sexual predator from acting in the first place.
Donald Findlater (his Malaysian name is Donald Jumpa Kemudian) narrated a story of how , in the UK, a sexual offender who was eventually charged, offended at only one of the two schools he was teaching at because at the second school the teachers were trained to be vigilante and to watch for signs of distress and sexual abuse. That was when I asked to speak and totally broke down – because I didn’t see until upon hindsight that the school enabled the male teacher to offend. I’m glad I got that out coz I was grappling to find what gaps did I leave as a mother that allowed the offence to occur when I had to stand in the place between a gut instinct and not going all-out batshit crazy accusing someone without any evidence. I have done whatever it took short of becoming a psychobitch that can’t trust anyone. The school, especially Pastor Palan, knew exactly what he was setting up for parents in the event of such an allegation taking place – again. Why wouldn’t he when he has more experience deflecting people than I do walking into a daylight “Trap for Single Moms – we offer you subsidies and we are a high quality ECE setting.”
When I cross my experience with Principal Joanne and Pastor Palan and the multiple times the interactions didn’t seem right with why they didn’t want to attend the Permata training for teachers and other circumstantial evidence, such as deferring applying for a permit after 38 years in operation, among other things – it hit me like a ton of bricks. I initially thought the “weird communication” and signals i was getting was because Christians just are funny in how they respond to questions on accountability. Apparently, I was walking into the pretext they were creating – that they are great, and if anything goes wrong, it’s the family, QUOTE “don’t say bad things about teachers to your kids” UNQUOTE.
I get that a church has a culture of forgiveness, that even if there were incidences before or suspicions arose before, they would rather keep the offender there than cut him loose, which in a way, prevents him from offending just about anywhere else. But where the Church or the Pastor failed, if the culture of forgiveness were the case, is to put in place mechanisms or have clear communication with all teachers about the risk factor that exists among them.
Moving forward, litigation would comprise about 1% of my mental focus followed by therapy and healing my family. Gabriel is the primary victim, but my model of the implications of child sexual abuse is that there are secondary and tertiary victims too.
His sister hurts so much and it came out one day that she thinks I am not doing anything and just allowing the police to do their thing which is not going to amount to much. Then there are the tertiary victims, people who get to know my story and have to relive their own fears and abuse. I feel so bad that I made people cry and relive their own stories of helplessness, their inability to help other children the way they see the system failing me.
For every case that is reported, perhaps 1,000 more isn’t. For every 1 case that gets talked about, there’s a ripple effect across family members and communities.
So, OK, the Seminar Jenayah Seksual Kanak-Kanak makes it crystal clear the system is failing our children. But it opened my eyes, at least, that child sexual abuse is a lot more common than we are aware of.
I came home and told my daughter that my definition of child sexual offenders is now a lot clearer and shared with her some experiences and observations. I told her I am either very unlucky that I keep attracting child sexual offenders into my life, and that Gabriel had actually gotten away before twice, and Thea had gotten away before as well – or they are so much more common than we realize.
Thea said, they are a lot more common, and that I am actually lucky that I am aware enough and our family can move forward one step at a time.
And so, I think, I am going to make that a theme in my life for awhile – to tell you interesting stories about child sexual offenders.
Dan Tujuan saya membuat repot-repot yang akan datang adalah supaya you out there reading my story don’t become paranoid and afraid of everything and every penis between legs or become a homophobe. Dato Seri Dr Sharifah Zarah is passionate and clear, that if we can’t even talk about sex and the taboos around being sexually abused or witnessing a child sex offender “soliciting” and such, then we can’t find solutions in a bin of ignorance. (“bin of ignorance” my phrase.)
If you got to reading this far – I know what you’re thinking : Intro dah lah so panjang, wonder how much more content the repot-repot akan datangs will be.