The whole USA Gymnastics assault case just keeps on growing. Today, a father of three girls that were abused lunged across the courtroom to try to get to the monster, Larry Nassar. He was subdued by the police and put in holding for a few hours. He apologized and won’t be charged. I can’t imagine the pain and anguish he has because he couldn’t protect his daughters.
I’ve been close to both of my parents my whole life. Sure, there were always times during my teenage angst years where I didn’t get along with my Mom (sorry about that), but overall we are a close knit family. When I told my parents about my assault I was sick to my stomach. I told them over the phone between Thanksgiving & Christmas in 2014. I wanted to tell them when I was home for Thanksgiving, but just couldn’t do it. I was still in shock because it had only been a month since the assault. But, I knew I needed to tell them. I’m an open book with my family, so I knew that I couldn’t hold it from them for long. I would explode. Fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law were there in person to help tell my parents and try to comfort them.
How do you prepare parents for the news that your daughter was assaulted? You don’t. You just go with honesty and grace.
I have talked to my parents, mainly my Mom, about the assault several times. I never went into specifics because I just couldn’t do it. Too ashamed and embarrassed. The one thing that I could talk to both of them about was the investigation and pending court case. That was something we could rally around. What was the investigator saying, did the DNA tests come back, do they know who it is?
My Mom came with me to my pre-trial court date in the autumn of 2016 and got to watch her daughter on the stand telling in detail what she remembers about the assault and being verbally bullied on cross-examination. No mother should have to go through that. She heard me say things that I have never said before and she found out more information about the assault. The pre-trial got fairly graphic because, well, it was a rape case. I was over being embarrassed by this point and I just wanted to attack the defense attorney. I stayed calm (for the most part) because my Mom was there in the front row.
I’m stubborn like my Mom and glared at that defense attorney like I had lasers shooting out of my eyes. We were basically in a staring match. Guess who looked away first? It wasn’t me. I stood my ground with him while the guy who assaulted me sat there hunched over looking at the floor. My attorney told me later on that they had never seen this defense attorney back down before like he did with me. That made me feel good. The fire was coming back.
After I got done on the stand I went into a holding room and did my mindfulness breathing. This quote popped up on my phone right away,
“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame”
Beautiful and perfect words. No more shame.
Mom asked if she could get me anything and I told her that I would love a bottle of iced tea or water. Easy enough. She was gone quite a while and I was wondering if something happened to her. She ended up having to search multiple floors to find a vending machine with any drinks in them. Most people would have given up on finding a vending machine, but not my Mom. It was one thing she could do for her daughter.
My Mom also came out several times when things got rough. The day I found out that the second detective wanted to close the case and basically didn’t believe me, I was beyond distraught. Who came out the next day? My Mom. I don’t care how old you get, sometimes you just need your Mom around for comfort. She made some of my favorite foods and we just hung out. I didn’t have to pretend that I was okay. I could sleep as much as I wanted and not have to feel bad about it.
I’m a Daddy’s girl. Most people who know me realize this fairly quickly. We talk about farming, sports, politics and craft beer. One of my favorite things to do is read the Sunday paper and drink coffee with my Dad. He’s always referring articles to me. For the five years when I wasn’t living in Minnesota he would send random newspaper clippings to me. Sometimes an inspirational quote, sometimes a friend made the news in the agriculture world. One time he sent the book ‘Oh The Places You Will Go’. I always looked forward to those random clippings and books.
We are a family that doesn’t talk about emotions much at all. If you are happy, great. If you are sad, you’ll get over it. This too shall pass. Well, the damage done to me from the aftermath of the assault was not passing quietly or quickly. I relied on my Mom to tell my Dad most things about the case. I just couldn’t look my Dad in the eyes and talk about being raped. No way, no how. Let’s just not talk about it and think of good things.
So, I was happy and somewhat surprised when my Dad and I were driving back to the farm one night and he said to me, “You know I am your biggest cheerleader, right? I will do absolutely anything that you need me to do. I will come out for sentencing if you want me to.”
I told him that I know he is my biggest cheerleader and that he didn’t have to come out for sentencing. He felt guilty about not being in DC for the pre-trial’s and hearings, but I told him not to feel guilty. I honestly didn’t want him there, or at least not in the court room. My Mom in the courtroom is one thing, My Dad a complete other.
My Dad is a very mild-mannered man. I’ve seen him mad a total of once in my life.
So, when he told me in no uncertain terms, “I can’t be in the courtroom because I would end up in jail. I would attack that man and go down swinging. We already have one court case, probably don’t need another.”
I remember laughing a little and saying that is probably a good idea. Let’s get one case under our belts.
So, when I saw the Dad lunging at Larry Nassar today I wasn’t surprised. I actually smiled to myself. Good for him, I thought. I think that is what almost all Dad’s would do. Protect their child and go after the predator.
I’m not advocating for violence at all, but you go after someone’s daughter, no matter the age, and papa bear is going to come out. I’m in my 40’s and happy that my papa bear & mama bear still have my back. They will always be my parents and I will always be their daughter. We stick together in good times and bad times. We’ve had a lot of bad times the past three years and we have somehow come through pretty well. We have been through hell and back but we are still standing.
Tonight, while watching the news my Dad saw the video of the man attacking Larry Nassar for the first time.
I said to my Dad, “See, you could have made the news.”
He shook his head and didn’t say a word.