Sophia’s Story by Susan McKay
When Sophia was six years old she was raped by her father. It wasn’t the only time it happened, in fact, it happened repeatedly for years. Sophia did not stop getting raped and beaten by her father until she went away to college, even then, Sophia still suffered emotional abuse from her father. Sophia wasn’t the only one. Her siblings and mother were all abused by her father.
On the outside, he looked like a normal guy, and was maybe perhaps charming, but behind closed doors, or when people turned their heads the other way, Sophia and her entire family were terrorized.
It wasn’t as if people didn’t know. Sophia told authorities and hospital workers that her father had broken her nose, when she was about nine. People heard it and some steps were made to do something about it, but nothing was ever followed through with. Sophia’s older brother, Gerry, ran away from home repeatedly and told people he had been abused by his father and that his sister Sophia was also being abused, but again, nobody stepped in.
Sophia’s mother could not speak up, and some blame her for what happened, but Sophia’s mother was emotionally and physically abused. She was a mental prisoner to her husband and couldn’t say anything.
It wasn’t until after Sophia graduated college that she was able to come forth and tell the world what had happened to her and her siblings. The court case that ensued was the largest court case of its type in Ireland. Sophia and her siblings were able to go after the local government for not stepping in. Her father was sentenced to some time, but not very much for what he did. Ultimately, Sophia left Ireland. She talks about her experiences and has made a life for herself, but many do not hold a lot of hope that a lot has changed in Ireland.
What I liked
There isn’t a lot to like about this book. It’s a story of caution. The system can, and does, fail. Children and women fall through the cracks. The laws and measures put in place to safe-guard them are sometimes not enough or not followed through with and this book is an excellent example of how that can happen.
What I didn’t like
I will never, never, never understand how someone could treat their own child like this. I don’t understand how anybody could treat anybody else like this, but your own kids? How in the world could you look at the child that you’re supposed to be protecting and be like, “I’m going to beat the crap out of you then I’m going to rape you, for the heck of it”? The cruelty of humanity is ever-surprising to me. What’s even worse is that people sometimes look the other way. People don’t want to rock the boat so they don’t say anything.
Oh, they know about what’s going on down the road, but it’s family business and they keep their mouths shut. You’re supposed to stay married and you’re supposed to honor your parents, so buttoned-lips for all around. This is so disgusting.
Recently, on my personal site, I wrote about the hypocritical idea that some supposed “Christians” espouse the idea that you’re supposed to stay married no matter what, even if there is emotional, physical, or sexual abuse going on because that person could repent. “Could repent” and “actually repenting” are two different things. In reality, people are not supposed to stay in dangerous situations because someone thinks “they’re supposed to.” If you’re standing next to a bomb, but you have plenty of time to move out of the way before it goes off, you should move out of the way; it’s only common sense. Why can’t this idea be taken up where abusive situations are concerned?
Why can’t it be as simple as, “Well, you’re being abused…you should leave.” It’s not complicated. It’s not rocket science. Why can’t we hear about a child being abused and then wheels be put into motion to get that child out of that situation in a speedy manner because abuse isn’t good for you. Why can’t we tell women who are being emotionally and physically abused by their husbands to leave and them not be criticized for leaving their marriage?
Everyone failed Sophia. Everyone. The agencies that should have helped her, didn’t. Her mother was too emotionally abused to be able to say anything. Her brother tried, but no one listened to him. Neighbors turned their eyes in a different direction. What the heck?
Ultimately, it doesn’t sound as if a lot has changed in Ireland for the betterment of abused children and women. People still have a pervading attitude that some things just aren’t talked about. No, let’s talk about those things. Let’s talk about how so-and-so was raped by her father or so-and-so is manipulated into submission by her husband. When you don’t talk about something, you make it taboo, and things that are labeled as taboo are seen as bad and rare, and as a result, even more people don’t want to talk about them. So we end up in an almost-never-ending spiral of making crap taboo and covering problems that should be out in the open.
I don’t know if there is a follow-up for this book or not, but I really hope that Sophia and her siblings have managed to have lives. I really wish them the best.
Is there a situation where you wished you would have said something, but didn’t?
Do you think we still have this attitude of “we don’t talk about that” in today’s society?