“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin
There is no right or wrong way to tell your story, and the telling of it can never be “perfect” because perfect does not exist. As you read the letter from the Pingry Survivors, know that there is a universal pain that is shared by so many.
The experiences that bond me to the other Pingry Survivors leave me also sharing this pain. After so many years, I know now that my world won’t end because this hideous thing became part of my story. As time has gone on it feels better — I live with the trauma as part of me, rather than live with it as a life-shattering dream that lives in secrecy. As I confront this pain my outsides become more my own, rather than a coat of protection; my skin begins to feel safer to be in. Somehow, it feels better to read this chapter of my life aloud, rather than leaving it unread.
The thought of sharing this with others leaves me feeling vulnerable; as a man, that is very scary proposition indeed. Although, as the vulnerable part of me presents itself — openly, in its true form — I’m now allowing myself to be the whole of me; to see the whole of me.
The abuse is hideous, gross, and utterly horrible. But it doesn’t need to be scary anymore. I am realizing that “abuse” is a word that can be hand-delivered onto a palm of understanding, rather than a word buried deep in secret. While I still sometimes struggle to accept that it happened to me – and somedays I still want to pretend that it didn’t – I am sobered by remembering that there are others who continue to suffer. Worse than remembering what I suffered is the pain of knowing that unsuspecting children today could still join our number.
I chose to speak out about the abuse I suffered because I care.
As a group of 18 men we are united in our concern that what we suffered must not be repeated. We hope to draw out the truth from the greater Pingry community about what was known by the school, when it was known and what was done about it. We know it’s hard for many to accept what happened, but it’s important to acknowledge it and make changes at the school to eliminate the culture that allowed this horrific abuse.
By raising awareness, we can encourage other survivors to come forward, and we can help other communities to recognize similar patterns they might see and take action to protect children.
Please share this post to spread the word!
Howard Wells Penney