I don’t know how many of you have ever heard of Dr. Mel Levine. He was a very well-respected doctor who did groundbreaking research on children with learning disabilities. His research laid the foundation for helping numerous learning-disabled children find a way to be successful as students and in life. My own child is reaping the benefits of the Dr. Levine’s groundbreaking research.
Sadly, Dr. Mel Levine was also allegedly a pedophile. Multiple adults came forward both in North Carolina and Massachusetts accusing him of molesting them as boys. Dr. Levine surrendered his medical license in North Carolina after his former patients went to the State Board. According to this article, Dr. Levine was found dead and left a suicide note the day after former patients filed a lawsuit against him for sexual abuse in Massachusetts.
I am not looking to discuss whether or not Dr. Levine is guilty of child molestation. I shared this story as a public example of the dynamic faced by many child abuse survivors whose abusers were well-respected in the community. I, myself, was abused by the Vice President of a Fortune 100 company, so I know that being well-respected in the community does not mean that a person cannot also abuse a child.
I have had numerous readers contact me about their struggles with healing from child abuse when the abuser is a well-respected member of the community. One survivor’s abuser was a missionary who helped thousands of people. Another survivor’s abuser was her own father, who was a deacon in her church and very well-respected in the community for his charity work. We have all read the stories in the news about Catholic priests who have abused children. A child abuser can do wonderful things in the community and still be a “monster” to a helpless little boy or girl.
A big struggle is the fear that nobody will believe you when you speak out against someone who is well-known for doing good things in the community. Why would anyone believe this “messed up” kid when he is pointing his finger at a “saint?” Another big struggle is knowing that, to many people, the world is a better place because of the wonderful contributions that the abuser has made. It is very difficult to reconcile a person loved by hundreds or thousands of people with the “monster” who privately ripped your world apart.
I have many faults, but I do try to be authentic. I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. I try to be the same person at church that I am with my girlfriends. Of course, there is a certain amount of changing behavior out of respect for your environment, but I hope that anyone who meets someone else who knows me from a different circle would view me in basically the same way. Duplicity to the level of what some abusers accomplish is so disturbing to me. I think that one reason that the public has such a hard time believing that someone who does so much good can also be a child abuser is because it is hard to wrap your mind around duplicity to that level. However, I know it happens because it happened to me. S & L were very respected members of the community. They were also my most sadistic abusers.
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