America is still reeling from the tragedy in Newtown, CT. And now, as more and more information is revealed about the Steubenville rape case, it feels like a massacre of a completely different kind, but no less devastating.
In 2004, the nucleus of my own family was torn apart by a revelation that someone in my family had been sexually assaulted. For many different reasons, the case was never prosecuted: the age of the victim, the lack of evidence, the perpetrator was another family member. It was messy and ruinous and through the ordeal I lost members of my family who refused to accept the stance I took on the issue.
And while I don't agree with the actions my parents took, I do understand their reticence. As I read the news of each tragedy as it unfolds, its clear that parents are the number one scapegoat.
This is what always happens. We try to make sense of tragedy and understand "why" by clinging to what's firm -- facts, answers, reasons. But I can tell you right now, they won't be good enough to help you understand. Nothing ever is.
And in the national confusion, we are already doing what we do so well: blaming others. Blaming the parents. Blaming the movies. Blaming the video games. 've read books on crime. On criminal psychology. I've watched movies. Taken classes. Gone to therapy. Gone to church. Attended lectures. And yet, I still don't know why someone I love is still married to a child molester. I guarantee you, the reason you are clinging to and that thing you are blaming? It's just a red herring.
And I understand why we are so quick to blame. We want reasons and understanding. But we also want to separate ourselves from the situation. If we can blame this tragedy on bad parenting (parents who let their kids watch violent movies, play video games and shoot their friends with toy guns) then we can distance ourselves. Then, we are allowed to say I don't do that. I am safe. We want to judge others so we can exculpate ourselves.
The truth that I've learned is that you are never safe. Our lives are always petering on the edge of tragedy. You can do everything correctly and still wake up one day to learn that your son is in jail. Your daughter has been molested. Your sister is dead.
Parents are the easiest to blame. So are movies. So are guns. But in the end, those aren't the disease; they are just the symptoms of a sickness we all suffer from. The truth is this: Someone's soul was screaming out in pain to an indifferent and silent society and in the end, that person made the decision to make that pain manifest and take a victim.
And we all suffer.
Whatever the answer is, it is never good enough. I've spent years trying to understand the cycle of abuse. I have every answer, but they still don't help me heal. A friend of mine who's sister was murdered told me once, "I know why [the murderer] did it. He is in jail. But I still feel like something is missing. It took me years, but I know what it is now. That something is my sister."
That's how I feel too. That's how we all feel.
So, put down your blame and open your heart. Instead of flailing wildly for something, anything, to separate yourself from this, so you don't have to look down the ledge and see just how close we are to being both victim and perpetrator, just cry in relief and in fear and in sympathy and in kindness.
Read more from Lyz over on LyzLenz.com.