Thursday, May 20, 2004

Stalking the Bogeyman

A year ago David Holthouse was going to kill a man - he had a gun, a silencer, a well-developed plan, and the pain he'd carried for the 25 years since he was raped at the age of seven. He had decided that murder was just one more shameful secret he would take to his grave, that the horrors of any act on his part could never be as bad as the shame he had dealt with daily for most of his life. But chance and circumstance, the most random of events, saw to it that things didn't work out as he had planned. His story is a tough read; if you think it might upset you too much, do not read it.

After testing the gun and silencer in the desert, I stored them in Phoenix and flew home to keep scheming. It seems a little insane to me now that I was actually going to kill a man instead of just bringing what he had done to me out in the open. But that's how kiddie rapers get away with it. They depend upon shame and fear and embarrassment to keep their victims quiet. And there are so many victims. The commonly accepted estimate among law enforcement and sexual-abuse treatment specialists in Colorado is that one in four women and one in six men who live in this state were either molested or raped before the age of eighteen, most of them by a man or teenage boy they knew.

We live in a culture where late-night television looks on the possible molestation of children by a famous music star as joke material, where near-weekly revelations of priestly malfeasance have blurred into background noise, but for people who have been abused there is nothing funny about this, and it remains in sharp shameful focus. Read David's story, if you can - there is no sensationalism, no dramatization, no holds barred. There is just one man staring The Bogeyman in the eye, and asking "why?".