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Mixed Messages

April 20, 2010

I watched Oprah’s show yesterday where Mo’Nique’s brother came forward as her molester.   It is said Mo’Nique did a phenomenal job in the movie Precious which is evidenced by all her awards including the Oscar… but I wouldn’t know firsthand because I still haven’t seen the movie.

There was no way I was watching this movie in a theater with a bunch of strangers and since then, there’s never been the ‘right time’ to watch it.  There may never be the right time and I’m ok with that.

But my curiosity was more than piqued by her brother wanting to tell his side of the story on the Oprah show (which I presume was his motivation).  This motivation (which he in as much said was his reason for coming on Oprah) is what kills me about molesters and those that enable molesters- did he think telling his ‘side of the story’ would make him any less of the monster that Mo’Nique said he was to her?

It was clear after that hour of Oprah that Mo’Nique is estranged from her family.  Her mother, father and other brother were all there to support her oldest brother who molested her.  To be clear to those who didn’t watch it or will not be watching, none of them absolved him of his actions technically.  But they have all ‘moved on’ and can’t understand why Mo’Nique hasn’t ‘moved on’.

Her other brother who was sitting out in the audience with their mom and dad was the one that drove me to pick up my laptop, turn it back on and start typing this post… after I screamed some choice words at the tv in his direction.

There is nothing that drives me more crazy that people who are arrogant about their ignorance.  And this man exuded an arrogant ignorance.  Finally, Oprah called him out because I guess he had been smirking after a clip of a Mo’Nique interview on the subject was played.  Oprah asked him why the smirk.

The non molesting brother continued to smirk and said that he can’t understand why Mo’Nique is painting their brother as a monster… as if that is all he is or all that he has been to her.  He goes on to say that long after the molestation and for years, Mo’Nique was close to her brother that molested her, that she showed love for him and depended on him.  He went as far as to say that Mo’Nique’s molester was a good brother to her (outside of molesting her that is).  And instead of sharing “all sides” of him with the world, she’s just sharing this ‘monster’.

I will say, I honestly feel bad for Mo’Nique’s parents.  They seemed genuinely confused by it all.  Mo’Nique told them about the molestation a few years after it had ended (she was about 15).  Her mom asked her if she (Mo’Nique) needed to talk to anybody about it.  Mo’Nique said she was fine.  Mo’Nique’s mom had her eldest son, the molester, leave the house and live with his grandmother for two weeks (which must have been painful as a mother, because although this guy is Mo’Nique’s monster- he is this woman’s son).  After a couple weeks, he came home for a visit and as the mother said on Oprah, “everything seemed to be ok and everyone seemed to be back to normal.”  So the molester moved back into the home that Mo’Nique lived in.

Mo’Nique’s mom (and dad) didn’t understand why she would “air their dirty laundry” so publicly without first talking about it within the family.  Mo’Nique’s parents (and clearly her arrogant but ignorant brother) thought that “she was over it.”   Mo’Nique’s mom said that although she was hurt by Mo’Nique’s actions (in recent interviews), she hopes that it helped to “cleanse” her daughter of what happened to her (ie, she hopes that she’s ‘over it’ now).

Oh dear Lord, I could cut somebody right now I’m so heated.  Oprah (as someone who also had been molested) tried to school these people but it was clear that no one got it during Oprah’s attempted lesson, which made me even more angry.  Mo’Nique’s family was confused because of her mixed messages through the years- seemingly having a good loving relationship with her brother, the molester… alright, I get that.

Oprah tried to explain to these fools the following but they just never seemed to get it so I’m gonna go on a little tirade here and extrapolate on what Oprah said…

When you (as a child) get molested by someone you love and trust, your world is shaken to its core.  This shit ain’t hyperbole.  Your world literally turns upside down.  There’s a lot of traumatic things that can happen in a child’s life, like a death in the family, but I guarantee you- this kind of pain is different.  At the end of the day, death is a natural part of life… we’re built to be able to deal with death (even if it doesn’t feel that way).  This shit is a whole other ball of wax… this isn’t supposed to happen.

You have just been physically violated by someone you loved and although you probably don’t know anything about sex (since you are a C-H-I-L-D), you know this is wrong… it feels wrong and you feel dirty and ugly and ashamed… let alone betrayed in the most visceral sense.

But when a child is molested, one of two things will happen.  The child tells a parent or adult in their life OR they keep the secret.

And if you keep the secret- you go through something so much worse than the physical violation of your body.  You lose your God given ability to feel pain.  It’s the only way to survive the weight of the secret, to see your molester day in and day out and possibly live under the same roof with him.   If you’re going to live with this secret and survive, you’re going to have to lie to yourself and convince yourself that you are not in pain and that everything is ok.

Do you know what kind of energy and work it takes to convince yourself that you’re ok when you’ve just been molested by a loved one?  Do you know what kind of manipulation of the mind it takes to convince yourself to treat your molester like nothing has ever happened?  To show him respect (as he is most likely your elder), to hug him and interact with him at social functions?   I’m talking a brainwash job that makes the Manchurian Candidate look like child’s play… and again, this isn’t hyperbole.   This stealth brainwashing is the only way to keep such a secret while keeping your sanity.

Some kids keep the secret for a lifetime, some for years (like Mo’Nique), and some for just months.  But if you kept the secret for any length of time- the damage is done.  You have lied to yourself for so long about your feelings that you’ve forgotten how to discern your true feelings.  That kind of instinctual truth now escapes you.

So when a parent after finding out about the molestation asks their child if everything is ok (like Mo’Nique’s mom did) and the child tells the parent everything is fine.  That child doesn’t know how to say anything else because even after you let go of the secret for whatever reason, all the mind games you played on yourself and lies you told yourself don’t magically disappear.

And here’s where the confusion sets in… the “mixed messages” as Mo’Nique’s family called it.

If you have never been molested, you don’t get what I just described.  You may be reading this and still thinking that my Manchurian Candidate comment was still some kind of exaggeration.   Mo’Nique’s family (like so many families) find out about something so horrific and they just want it to go away.  They may not say that and they may not be able to even acknowledge that, but it’s what they want… because the fact of the matter is that the molester is someone they are probably close to as well.  And so now, the adult in this child’s life feels betrayed too and they now have a choice… a choice eerily similar to the child’s choice when the molestation happened:  face this ugly truth head on and deal with it OR bury it as deep as you can.

It takes all the strength and courage a child has to tell the the parent about the molestation… and for the child, they are going against their “better judgment” … I mean, there’s a reason why they kept it a secret.  So all the child’s family needs to do is signal in the slightest way that they want to “move on from this” (as in inviting Mo’Nique’s brother over for family dinner two weeks after finding out-that’s a signal I would pick up on) and the child will quickly oblige (that was their initial reaction in the first place).  And for the kid who was victimized- shit, pretending everything is ok is like riding a bike… you know how to lie to yourself, how to bury the pain, and pretend everything is ok.

And parents, time and time again… take this act by the child (and let’s be clear, that’s all it is- an act) as a sign that all is well… that the child must be ok with the molester and the molestation… that everything can go back to normal.

And can I just say now to all parents and family members who do this: Really, parents?  Really?  I’m sorry, but your child didn’t get called a bad name in the playground.  He or she didn’t just get beat up in the school yard.  Or had their lunch money stolen.  Your child was MOLESTED as in someone that you and your child probably trusted implicitly touched your child in an inappropriate manner (maybe more than once).  Someone sexually abused your child.  Why the hell are you asking an asinine question like “are you ok?”????  You don’t just dust yourself off, pick yourself up and get over this kind of shit.  And more importantly, why are you believing that your child is ok?  Are you, the parent, ok with all of this?  I assume not hence why you want to act like it never happened… and if YOU’RE not ok, why the hell would the person who ACTUALLY got molested be ok???

Some kids can keep up the pretenses  (of being ok) 24/7 for years after the truth is revealed.  Some have moments where the facade will crack and they lash out at family members or the molester. From what Mo’Nique’s family said, it sounds like Mo’Nique never let the facade crack… which ain’t no easy feat.

These children grow up and become adults and for some, for one reason or another- they deal with all of it.  They deal with the betrayal of being molested.  They deal with the mind games they played on themselves in order to survive and keep the secret of the molestation.  They deal with having to sometimes keep up the pretenses after they worked up the courage to tell about the molestation.  They deal with family members that just don’t get it and blame them for why the molester stayed in their life (“You seemed so ok with him.”-please read my rant above again)

Mo’Nique’s family is so “confused” because for years, for decades after the molestation- Mo’Nique had convinced herself, Manchurian Candidate style, that everything was ok.  To convince yourself, you’ve got to be pretty damn convincing… so yeah, you usually do a bang up job of convincing those around you who want to forget this ever happened anyway.  The lies she told herself and the self brainwashing had become her normal.  And thus, it became everyone’s normal.  At some point (who knows when), Mo’Nique was able to wake up from her mind manipulation and warped sense of reality and see the truth for what it was.  This man, someone she trusted, molested her and there is nothing about it that is ok.

Her family wants her to forgive and move on.  But what her family doesn’t understand is that maybe she has forgiven and moved on.  Forgiveness and moving on doesn’t mean that her brother stops being the monster who molested her, the monster who robbed her of her innocence and her ability to feel and acknowledge pain for so many years.  What they can’t seem to get is that all those years of “mixed messages”  (when everything seemed so fine) was just an extension of the abuse.  Now that Mo’Nique has spoken her truth, now is when she has actually moved on and can truly forgive… that was never going to happen during those years of burying the truth with lies and mind games.

But since I don’t know Mo’Nique, who knows if I got her side of the story right or am even in the ballpark of her experience… but for many, what a family calls “mixed messages” is just the only way a victim knows how to survive. So to Mo’Nique’s family and all the families out there like hers, stop using this as an excuse for why you didn’t make the necessary choices to protect your child and give him or her a voice when they lost their own.  Mixed messages my ass.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. kris permalink
    April 20, 2010 2:54 am

    wow!!! well said

    • April 20, 2010 1:58 pm

      thanks @kris. It was one of those posts that I had to just get off of my chest… even if it kept me up WAY past my bed time. 🙂

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