Reflections,  Reflections & Advocacy,  Women's Issues & Feminism

I Beg You to Look: An Open Letter to David Becker's Parents

David Becker, a white, 18-year-old man from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, raped two of his classmates. He stuck his fingers in their vaginas while they were sleeping.  The outcome? The final disposition of the case has been continued for two years by Palmer District Court Judge, Thomas Estes, pending the outcome of Becker’s 2-year probation. Throughout his 2-year probation Becker must undergo an evaluation for sex-offender treatment, remain drug and alcohol free, have no contact with his victims, and not re-offend. If he complies, then the charges will be dismissed. 

To David Becker’s Parents:
Your son has done a horrible thing. I’m not a parent. I can’t imagine what you must be thinking, but as much as I want to demand answers from your son who casually raped two young women with his fingers, I also want answers from you.
I want to know how you raised your son. I want to know why he thought it was acceptable to act on the impulse to rape two sleeping classmates. Don’t get me wrong. He is ultimately responsible for his behavior, but I also think you have some level of accountability. He learned his behavior somewhere. Your son’s complete disregard for another person’s right to decide what happens to their own body had to be nurtured in some way, because you know what?  Kids don’t just sexually assault each other, drunk or high or completely sober. Thousands of teenagers a year get rocked off their faces on Boones Farm and manage not to rape people. I want to know what made your son different and, based on my experience as a social worker and a human being, I believe that starts with you.
Here come some ugly words.
I am a rape survivor. Those are ugly words. They are ugly stories and my experiences with rape are not all that I am, just as I am sure that your son is not just a man who raped two sleeping women.  I’m also a writer, a social worker, a wife, an atheist, a dog lover, and I make one hell of a gluten-free apple pie. It is the rape survivor part though, that defined over two decades of my life. I struggled with a case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder so severe that I screamed myself awake nightly throughout my twenties and into my thirties.  I would wake up convinced that my rapist was in the room with me and be unable to move. Imagine that, being piss-scared in the dark, knowing that while it is physically impossible for that person to be standing beside your bed, you are utterly convinced that they have found you and snuck into your room.
It took me a decade of treatment to work through my shit. Want to know something? When I met my husband, I wouldn’t let him touch my neck. Again, put yourself there, so in love that it makes you dizzy, and I couldn’t let him touch my neck because it triggered intense flashbacks.
Ugly words.
That’s what your son has done to these two young women. He’s brought ugly words and ugly stories into their lives. He’s taken a part of their peace and given them memories that could steal away those glorious parts of their lives as they live them.
I want to know how that happened.
I want you to question yourselves as parents and as human beings. I want you to look your son in the face and tell him that as much as you love him, what he did to those girls was repugnant. I want you to look in the mirror and search for the monster that you created, then I want you to go out into the world and educate other parents about the mistakes you made, the places you failed.
Because this cannot keep happening.
When it happened to me it was the 1970s and 1980s. We didn’t have language for rape and child sexual abuse like we do now. Social Workers and therapists specializing in helping sexually abused children weren’t even a thing or if they were, they were highly specialized and out of the reach of most people. It took me decades to develop a language for my experiences. You don’t have to wait for the words to catch up with you, those ugly words are out there to be spoken and learned from and I beg you, I beg you…Please, look at your son and at yourselves and figure out what the hell happened. Then talk about it to anyone who will listen, because this has got to stop.
I beg you.
You have an opportunity here to be better than you are now, to make something good come from the horrible, life-altering experience your son subjected two young women to when he stuck his fingers in their vaginas.
I beg you.
We can be better than this, but we need to know how and you are uniquely qualified to explore what that means and how to start making it happen.
I beg you.
If not for these two young women, then for your son, who is not lost yet, but without adequate help, which includes understanding where his impulses and his lack of control came from, he will be lost. Whether he has been labeled so or not, he is a sex offender and sex offenders have remarkably high recidivism rates. If you don’t do it for the girls he’s harmed already, do it for the ones he may harm in the future.

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