Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Devon Dick | Legacy and lessons of sexual assault

Published:Thursday | January 26, 2017 | 1:00 AMDevon Dick

Recently, 63-year-old Barry related for the first time to his grandmother, Veronica Blake Carnegie, that he caught a roving evangelist having sex with an 11-year-old girl some 54 years ago (Gleaner January 21 page A5). This painful experience is etched in his memory.

One can just imagine that the victim could still be suffering from this awful and brutal incident. It is possible that she is suffering in silence and kept it a secret all these years. Secrecy and silence will allow the predators to get away with a crime against humanity and possibly to make more victims. It is good that there is no statute of limitation when it comes to carnal abuse and rape.

This recollection shows that time does not necessarily heal the wounds of sexual assault. In fact, time can make the memory linger and worsen with no release but just pain after pain. The victim can get caught up in depression, hopelessness, blaming one's self and be consumed with hatred. There has to be deliberate intervention to help the victim reclaim self-worth, self-dignity, self-understanding and self-esteem. It is wishful thinking to allow the incident to drift, thinking that it will resolve itself. There has to be professional help for the victim so that the victim perceives that the sexual predator is the one who is a scoundrel and who has low self-esteem and who has marred his dignity. No man with a sense of worth will engage in forced sex or buy sex. The victim of carnal abuse has to be helped to realise that being forced against one's will to have sexual intercourse is not a reflection on one's self-esteem, self-worth and self -dignity. In addition, there needs to be a supportive and sensitive environment by family members to help the victim.

The sexual deranged preacher was involved in a two-week evangelistic crusade and within such a short time he was ravishing an innocent child. Barry said he accepted Jesus during that evangelistic effort. I wondered whether Barry maintained his Christian faith in spite of a wicked preacher. The depraved action of a messenger can become a stumbling block to Christians staying in the faith and others entering the faith. In addition, were the elders of the church aware of the bastardly behaviour of the preacher? Furthermore, the evangelist engaged in this rape the day before he left. Did he pitch his tent somewhere else to carry out more sordid deeds on innocent girls? Was he a genuine preacher who was interested in the welfare of person's body, mind and soul or was he just a charlatan grabbing and assaulting women and using the church as a cover for his deviant actions?

Barry related that the victim was the prettiest girl in the world and he wanted to marry her when he grew up. However, he did not marry her. What changed his mind? Did he now see her as damaged and not worthy to be his wife? Did he blame her for the incident?

Barry is obviously a sweet soul and a saint. He, with his own money, has put 10 Boys' Town boys through university. He has helped those least able to afford tertiary education to get academic certification. Not many Jamaicans, as a percentage of the population, has a tertiary education and even fewer from inner cities. Therefore, this is a monumental action.

Sadly, the victim was victimised a second time. After the carnal abuse, Barry in childish misunderstanding said that 'whenever she came near me, I never looked at her'. She did not deserve scorn but rather solidarity with her suffering, affection as a human being, understanding of her pain and practical help to overcome her ordeal.

Adults must understand the legacy and lesson of sexual assault on underage girls and learn how to help the victims to recover and become victors.