3. Is There Someone He Just Doesn’t Want to Be Around?
I heard the dull pain of guilt and regret in Melissa’s voice, as she spoke of her son’s abuse when he was only seven.
Mick didn’t want to go to Joey’s house and play anymore.
Melissa couldn’t understand the sudden change. The boys had always played together after church. She knew Joey’s parents. He was a professor and she was a homeschooling mom. They both loved their adopted son.
Early one morning Melissa had made arrangements to drop her two boys off at Joey’s house for the day. Mick protested, begging to go with his mother.
Melissa knew that Joey’s parents were very strict so she chalked up the boy’s resistance to not wanting to spend the day in such a rigid household. But when Mick’s pleas became more persistent, Melissa became concerned.
She took her concerns to her husband and suggested they just take Mick along. He promptly dismissed her fears and told Mick to straighten up, behave, and play nice. Just stay out of Joey’s mom’s way.
Mick never spoke of that day until his late 20s. Only then did he feel safe enough to explain that it wasn’t the mom, or even the dad, that terrified him. It was Joey.
The back-story here wasn’t common knowledge, even in their small community. Joey was adopted out of a sexually abusive home — diapers were removed. The mother’s strictness, once dismissed as overzealous parenting by Melissa, was really an attempt to protect the other children from potential abuse. This ultimately failed.
On the surface, all the pieces fit. Smiling faces. Watchful, loving parents from church. It never occurred to Melissa that sexual predators aren’t always adults. In telling her story, sometimes it’s hard to tell which is harder for her to cope with — her son’s ordeal, or the sign she missed.