Mike Hoffman, Co-Founder
On the 6pm national newscast for several nights, the story of the brave women confronting Larry Nassar in court, affected me deeply. During this time, my 20 year old daughter was home from college. My wife, my daughter and I listened to the stories in silence. The brave women recounted a culture of silence, adults who didn’t heed the warning signs, parents whose trust was betrayed, painful physical and emotional trauma, and a litany of tragic consequences of how all of that has affected their lives as children and as they have grown into adulthood.
The story is all too familiar for me. My abuse was facilitated by a very bad man who groomed me, and my parents into trusting him, much like Dr. Nassar did. A culture of silence was the norm as no one dared to speak up. None of the other priests, staff or other adults heeded any of the warning signs for many years. As a result, I was sexually abused by my abuser and I am left with emotional scars which have broken my heart and caused anxiety and stress in my life.
Still listening in silence to the newscast, I gazed at my daughter, hoping, wishing, praying that nothing like that would ever happen to her. When the story finished, my daughter opened up, asking aloud why someone didn’t help those girls. She felt that nurses, coaches, parents, other medical staff, or other school staff could have and should have seen that something was wrong and intervened. She went on to say how wrong it was for those bad things to happen to all of those girls. She asked aloud, how could this happen?
At our kitchen table, I answered her excellent question by briefly recounting my experience of how this happened in my life. She listened. I hope she understood. I think so. Our conversation expanded to how we all relate to our family and friends. My wife, my daughter and I talked about actually listening, hearing and believing people and responding to them in a compassionate way. We went on to agree that it is healthy to tell one’s story to trusted adults, no matter what happened. At our kitchen table, this experience helped me to reconcile myself to my own story, and how that continues to affect me and my family today.
In 2018, Mike Hoffman, Co-Founder of The Healing Voices Magazine, was appointed as Vice President of Prevent Child Abuse — Illinois Board of Directors. More about Mike here. This article first appeared in March 2018 as part of The Healing Voices Magazine third annual Special Edition on Child Abuse Prevention. The second Special Edition on Child Abuse Prevention is here. The first Special Edition on Child Abuse Prevention is here.