I am a father and I don't think any of this is funny. Child abuse isn't funny.
Trigger warning – please be careful with this post – it is deliberately provocative.The child and mother are the victims and they have my support for the henious abuse of trust that they have to endure. Kia kaha.
Imagine this. You’re a woman. You live with your partner and your daughter. One night, your partner has gone out to a Christmas party by himself. When he comes home, it’s late, he’s drunk, he fancies a shag, you don’t.
You say “no, thanks” and go to sleep.
In the wee hours of the morning, you wake up. Something’s not quite right. You open your eyes properly and look around. Your beautiful little girl, all of four years old, has jumped into bed with you.
Your partner has pulled down her pyjama pants. He was removed her night-time nappy. He has his mouth where her tiny, four year old genitals are.
You probably shout or scream. You probably grab your daughter and pull her away from him. You probably can’t quite believe what you’ve just seen, and desperately wish you hadn’t. You probably try to control what you want to say and do to him, because you have a little, confused girl in your arms who needs a cuddle, who needs help to put her nappy and pyjamas back on properly.
He says “I was confused, I thought it was you.”
You don’t believe this. You don’t wear nappies to bed. And you had already told him, that night, that you didn’t want to have sex.
Who knows how much you talk about it that night – but you decide you have to report this to the Police. You’re not sure why your partner would lie about trying to do adult sexual things with your daughter, but you don’t want her to be at risk. You don’t know what to believe. Could this happen again? Has he done this before? You don’t know. But you can’t risk your little four year old girl. You talk to people. No one else wants to believe it either.
When you tell the Police, he is furious. He made a mistake, he was drunk, it could happen to anyone. Don’t you care about him? What about his career, he’s a comedian, he makes people laugh, this will ruin everything. He just wants a chance to show you and your daughter how much he loves you. But he has to get a lawyer, because the Police investigate.
It’s in the papers. He tells people that whoever told the Police did it out of spite, to get back at him. It was a genuine mistake, and the report to the Police was malicious, but he’s distancing himself from that bad person now.
The case drags on and on. Even though the court tells reporters they can’t say who you are, who your daughter is, you know everyone knows. Everyone in your lives. They all have opinions about what you should do. Most of them don’t think it’s that big a deal. You don’t want to tell them the details of what you saw, and anyway, you’re not supposed to talk about it.
You might never want to see him again, or you might beg him to go talk to someone professional. Your daughter is behaving differently, crying at night and being very clingy. She doesn’t want to take off her nappy. She wants to see her dad, but she doesn’t want to be alone with him.
You see, over and over again, what you woke up to that night. Flashbacks, other people call it. You feel like you’re there.
The trial is called off for now, because they say they can find no evidence. You don’t understand, doesn’t what you saw count? Doesn’t what your daughter says count?
He tries again. So does his family. Why do we have to do this? Come on now, let’s just forget it and things can get back to normal. Stop making a fuss. He loves you. He loves your daughter. He will never do anything like that again.
You stay strong. Your lawyers stay strong. The trial goes ahead, fifteen months later. The lawyers talk. He doesn’t want to go to prison, and he knows he will if the court believes you and your daughter, if you get to tell them what happened that night.
Your lawyers do a deal. He says he did it, he did try to do sexual adult things with your four year old daughter. He says he is guilty. You don’t have to talk in court after all.
You go back for sentencing. The judge says your partner needs to get back to making people laugh as soon as possible. She said what happened wasn’t so bad, and he had suffered enough, and anyway it wasn’t like real child abuse, because that happens in secret. He doesn’t have to go to prison, or have counselling, or do community work. He is free.
Your life has changed forever. So has your daughter’s. None of this was funny.
Hat tip - The Hand Mirror