Chaos erupted in a Michigan courtroom that highlighted high emotions during a three week hearing for gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who has pleaded guilty to abusing 10 girls but is accused by more than 250 others.
The father of three girls who say they were molested by Nassar “lost control” during a sentencing hearing Friday, charged at the defendant and was wrestled to the floor by sheriff’s deputies.
“Let me have that son of a bitch,” the father, Randall Margraves, shouted after he lunged at the table where Nassar was sitting. “Give me one minute with that bastard!” Margraves later apologized for the outburst, and the judge let him go without any punishment or charges, but not before making his feelings clear to the courtroom.
“I can only hope that when the day comes that Larry Nassar has ended his days on this earth that he will be escorted to one of the deepest, darkest, hottest pits in hell there is.”
I sat frozen watching the entire scene unfold. It was heart wrenching watching the father explain to the judge that he was there to support his daughters. Only to be emotionally blindsided by the words spoken in their letters to the judge. They hadn’t allowed him to read their statements prior to that moment. My eyes welled up with tears as I couldn’t fathom the pain and suffering this family shared in this moment.
Situations like these always triggers me. It sparks abusive memories which can include moments of being touched or helplessness or fear. The big ball of anguish and misery I fight to keep locked up has now been given the key to rear its ugly head. The abuse takes advantage of the opportunity and demands complete control over every inch of my existence.
How? Through depression, anger, restlessness, sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and more. It brings a deep desire to withdraw from others and the world around you. It can cause you to have a short fuse when speaking to others. It is difficult to see situations clearly or make rational decisions – or any decision for that matter.
Sadly I admit I’ve cocooned myself (countless times) under layers of blankets in my bed hiding from the rest of the world. I created a false sense of security and comfort that made it almost impossible to ever want to leave it. The soothing escape of my king size bed was still no match for feeling insignificant and desiring to altogether disappear.
Some of you may understand how triggers can lead to isolation but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Years of counseling, prayer, building a support system and plain ol’ fighting back has helped me. Every time I desire to run to my cocoon I choose to stay away from my bedroom. Believe me it isn’t easy, but I find something else to do. When I’m triggered I now take a moment to find a place of peace and then fill my head and heart with other things. It isn’t full-proof but it definitely helps. Now I walk to edge of the pit but I don’t fall in it.
Watching this family struggling to deal with years of sexual abuse, broken trust and betrayal – I’m triggered. I’m immediately saddened when I realize that I wish Mr. Margraves was my father. Or more accurately my father had been like Mr. Margraves. Watching him lunge towards Nassar trying with every ounce of his being to attempt to grab hold of him.
The father explained to the judge how painful it was listening to the words his girls spoke. How angry and devastated he was to learn what this doctor did to his children. He begged the judge to give him just 5 minutes alone with him – one minute even. As parents we hurt when our children hurt and there isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for them. Right?
Children should be heard and believed, and the truth should never be swept under the rug. They should never hear words like “just get over it” or “you’re making a big deal out of it”. Or even worse – watch as they continue to be in relationship with the very people repeatedly abused you.
I mean the thing is after many years my parents finally heard and believed me. They just refused to defend me. It isn’t as if they didn’t know how – I watched them throughout the years defend all the wrong people. Even until the end of my father’s life he defended his decision to never defend me.
It is important for children to be heard and believed AND defended.
Something happens inside them when they know someone will speak up when they don’t have a voice. Watching someone take action for them and demand justice. They say two wrongs don’t make a right, but I’m not gonna lie it felt good watching Mr. Margraves try to pulverize Dr. Nassar.
I think part of the reason I spent so much time hiding under my covers is because I felt the shame and pain of worthlessness. I tried to cut myself off from the world but I was actually hiding from myself. One day I gathered the courage to crawl out of my cocoon to finally allow my wings to sprout. You see that’s what a caterpillar does when it transforms. At first I looked at my isolation as my safe haven, but later learned it couldn’t heal me.
Just as there are many stages in a caterpillar changing into a butterfly – so is the same in healing (more important FREEDOM). Once my wings began to take shape so did my thinking. I realized that as much as I desired and needed to have my parents defend me it wasn’t ever going to happen. So I had a choice to make: either continue my familiar trips in and out of the cocoon or do something different.
Attempt to shed my old skin and the labels that attached itself to it: Damaged, Weak, Unlovable, Undefendable.
Some days are good and other days are difficult on this journey towards freedom. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. It was more than one person should ever have to endure – especially a little girl. I didn’t ask for it – or like it -or get what was coming to me. And although the abuse was all-consuming it never defined me. Once I refused to return to isolation I could see the truth:
I’m lovable and strong and resilient and treasured AND I am defendable.
So I did…