• Wed. Sep 28th, 2022

A man’s story of trauma and transformation

ByRandall B. Phelps

Aug 7, 2022

When a trusted adult abuses a child, the cumulative trauma of the decades of silence that often follow such an injury is clearly detrimental, because Gerry Georgatos knows firsthand.

*CONTENT DISCLAIMER: This article is about sexual assault

THREE YEARS ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Only one in about 300 Australians lives with Parkinson’s disease. Relatively, it is rare. I have unknowingly lived with Parkinson’s for twice as many years since diagnosis.

The diagnostic neurologist was surprised by my quiet calm. I heard a sea of ​​nameless words. I don’t get too sentimental or ruthless. I count the blessings, embarking on journeys without deep pessimism about the unpleasantness. It is useless to manufacture grief.

The sweet and brief claim of life calls me. Life’s heart wide open — I can’t close my mind’s eyes to its soul. It has been said that without shadows we have no light.

I have already written on Independent AAustralia, I was only nine years old when I was sexually assaulted by a man who obviously I should have been able to trust. The institutional setting was my primary school—the delinquent, a teacher.

According to Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, on average, men take 33 years to finally tell someone about such abuse. In my case, it was 47 years. Almost four years ago, I finally told my partner and then my only child. The story was traumatic.

My father who loved me dearly passed away on Easter Friday 2014 and if he was still alive I don’t know if I could have told anyone what I told my two dearest loved ones . In my opinion, I couldn’t break his heart and shatter the trust he had in the world – by showing that it could be so unfair and cruel.

In 1971, I had nowhere to go. It is because there has been nowhere to turn – not the institution of the school itself or the police. My early years were lived in a time, in the early 1970s, of impenetrable and hideous silences. There was hostility to such truth, as well as widespread disbelief in such events. Such indeed were the times, as the Royal Commission has indelibly depicted.

Nearly half a century will pass without my telling anyone else. For a little while, years ago, I hired a psychologist. However, even then, I did not divulge it. I have never forgotten the psychologist’s investigation, which he persevered with, as to the good of my strength and resilience. He commented that he couldn’t understand, knowing more of my life than others, from which I had drawn the endless strength and resilience he believed I had.

Sometimes I wondered if what sorely affected me at age nine and the cumulative trauma of the long silence contributed to the neurological degeneration that is Parkinson’s disease.

I don’t know how the story of my life will end, but nowhere in my story will it be read, ‘I dropped’.

The late American civil rights activist James Baldwin said:

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

For the betrayed nine-year-old, long were the days and nights of pain, loneliness, scattered thoughts. Too many children live in searing, dull pain.

I reasoned – hide. Years passed and I realized – stay at the foot of the hills or climb them.

I decided that no stranger or loved one should make someone helpless and overwhelmed at heart. No malice should be my determining memory or my mute shadow. I found refuge in tomorrows and in quests for the extreme.

Speak to me of love and I will follow you. Talk to me about beauty and I’ll ride. May these direct the course of my life. Do not bind me in hatred and wickedness. I want no revenge bar in this little claim, life.

Tell me about unity. Tell me about life and a good night’s sleep. Don’t talk to me about anger and its torrents. Don’t tell me about slow deaths and wild restless nights.

After I started writing and publishing what happened to me when I was just nine years old, I saw – eight times – another psychologist in the last year. I do not profess an absolute guarantee or guarantee, as universalisms, of my opinions. I have always resisted being held hostage by trauma. I wanted to understand if others found me dissociative. She found me contextualist, voluntary, even if the penis of the trauma was not spared.

I never wanted to be a survivor, bent down in prayer. I want to remember each day as the beginning.

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) showed my brain with unexplained flows of white matter. My body is slowing down prematurely. My right side is shaking. My right arm does not move. Rigidity set in. I can’t type with two hands anymore.

I’m slow to unlock a door or pay at the counter in stores—sometimes to the obvious impatience of cashiers. The graces with which I have been blessed are taken, their time is up. I speak of the pleasure of new worlds. I am grateful for the blessings I once experienced. I count new blessings and the dawning of new meanings.

I do not aspire to an extraordinary life but to an honorable life. Where we marvel at coming to life every day. Whenever possible, we support those who, without support, cannot achieve their best.

I’ve found some of the most “damaged” people to be the wisest and most empathetic advice. I found many of them the nicest. Some of them are ultra-empathetic and transform lives because they don’t want to see others suffer like they once did.

We stigmatize the poor, the homeless, the incarcerated and the parents. We live with absurd prejudices and criticisms of the poor.

The poor fill our prisons because we leave them behind

I’ve worked to change the lives of as many people in prison as possible, but for every inmate or ex-inmate, people like me who dedicate time to improving their lot, there is ultimately a tsunami of poverty issues. and draconian laws that overwhelm offenders. , filling the prisons.

Forgiveness is not an act of mercy but of empathy, compassion, virtue. According to a large body of research, forgiveness has many benefits. Forgiveness strengthens families, communities and societies. The most important discovery is obvious: forgiveness makes us happier.

Forgiveness improves the health of individuals and communities. Forgiveness sustains relationships. Forgiveness builds and rebuilds lives. Forgiveness connects people – and what better way to do that than kindness?

Australia has the financial resources to end all forms of homelessness, but governments lack the moral and political will.

If Australia were ready to release its mentally ill, whether into community care or other specialist care, around 10,000 would be released today. At all times, we should work closely, lovingly, and forgivingly with those on the inside and so bring them out of the prison experience not worse but better.

I spent a quarter of a century alongside the homeless on the streets. Nationally, I have estimated the annual death toll on the streets of homeless people at over 400 and, sadly, possibly well over 600. Their average age of death is around 40 year.

I wondered how long I was going to survive homeless on the streets with Parkinson’s disease.

Australia has the financial resources to end all forms of homelessness, but governments lack the moral and political will.

Australia’s most vulnerable children are in juvenile prisons across Australia. I galvanized a class action lawsuit against the brutal public spectacle of Banksia Hill Detention Center (BHDC) to force reforms.

Despite my Parkinson’s disease, I count my blessings. The call to end child prisons is worth every particle of strength I have left.

If you would like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chatting on the internet.

Gerry Georgatos is a suicide and poverty prevention researcher with an experiential focus on social justice. You can follow Gerry on Twitter @GerryGeorgatos.

Class action can reform laws for 'forgotten children'

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