In 1970 my family went to see the Movie "Song of Norway" at the Greenwich Cinema on Greenwich Avenue. The movie was crowded with families coming to watch the Musical staring Florence Henderson, I was 10 years old. We couldn't find 6 seats together so my older sister, my best friend, and I sat across the isle from my Mom, Dad and little sister. They were sitting about 8 feet from us and slightly behind. After the movie had been going for about 15 - 20 minutes we notice a man sitting right across from us, a couple of rows in front of my parents. He was smiling, tapping his foot, and trying to get our attention with something he had in his lap. When we realized it wasn't a Popsicle he was playing with we froze. My older sister took off her shoe to use as a weapon in case he tried to grab us. At one point she threw her shoe towards our parents trying to get their attention. We sat their terrified with our parents a few feet away. Finally the pervert got tired, got up and left before the movie ended. My sister, my Friend and I all got up and ran to my parents and told them what the man in front of them had been doing while we watched the movie. An onlooker behind my parents heard what had happened and sprinted from the theater. I'm not really sure what happened but I do know detectives came to our house and we had to look at pictures.
My father kept asking us why we didn't get him. He was right there. But the perverted man was closer, and in my young mind could get us before we could be saved. It was more than just fear that made us freeze, it was humiliation and embarrassment, the shame that comes with being part of something disgusting. I guess that's part of a molesters thrill, the control, the fear, and the violation.
On the way home in the car my Dad made fun of the molester and some how got us all laughing at how pathetic and disgusting he was. He made off-colored jokes and references to the creeps unfortunate anatomy. It helped us all feel better.
This week Elizabeth Smart is testifying about her kidnapping. She was abducted at 14 and spent 9 month's being tied up, raped and abused. A few month's into her abduction a police officer approached Elizabeth in the public Library and asked her if she was Elizabeth Smart. With people all around and a Police Officer right there, she denied who she was. Even when she was finally found she wasn't able to admit who she was until she was at the police station.
Elizabeth Smart is not being silent anymore. She has spent 4 days on the witness stand explaining every detail of her 9 month's in Hell. Her parents are hearing some of these details for the first time. When I look at pictures of Elizabeth exiting the court house there is an air of strength and defiance in her face. She has taken back what her violators tried to steal from her. She is no longer a victim but a survivor and an advocate. I look forward to watching this amazing young women continue to take back her life and give strength to those who are still living in fear, humiliation, and shame.