Put It To Rest
Published in

Put It To Rest

I Watched Boys Be Lured Into An Office At Temple

And I wondered what made them so special.

door in a library shelf to a hidden office
Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

I bet you think being observant is a good thing. I bet you think being intuitive and insightful has its advantages? What if I told you about how much of a disadvantage it is? What if I told you I see things that others don't? That I’ve seen things that others don’t. I’ve noticed things that others don't, and that I still do.

What if I told you that I witnessed young boys being lured into an office at our local temple?

And what if I told you that in my childhood innocence, I never would have thought for one moment that these boys were in trouble. The eye-opening realization that would come to haunt me later in life was that I was jealous of these boys. I wanted to know what made them so special. Why did they get to go in the office, and I didn’t? Boys get to do everything, I thought.

The services happened upstairs on the main floor. The temple would be crawling with unsupervised children. Many of these children were in fact cousins, or cousins of cousins, as it was a tight-knit community. But the truth was no one knew where any of us were. We certainly weren't in services.

We were running around outside. Or hanging out in the coat hangers. Or killing time by the bathrooms in the basement which was near “the office”. I didn’t know what was in the office but it looked important. The door was always closed and also locked. The few times I saw the door open, I noticed that there were a lot of books in there. There was a man who had the key and took some of the boys in and out of the office. He must have been important too I thought.

But the odd thing was that at this age, the first thought that came to my head was how special these boys were. They must have been so lucky, I thought, because they were “chosen.” Why wasn’t I ever the chosen one? I wasn’t the only girl to think this way. Some of my friends said the same thing.

Why is it always boys I wondered? And sometimes the girls would ask, why they couldn’t come into the office. I recall the man saying something to the effect of “well, the boys have to study”. I watched boys be broken.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that it was jealousy that I felt as I witnessed a man make young boys his prey.

That right there is what it’s like to witness something traumatic and yet not know it was traumatic. As a child, I didn’t know what was happening, and all I could think was that the boys were getting more attention than me. Any attention as a kid is good attention. That’s how vulnerable kids are.

But as an adult, when I look back on what happened to me, I know the truth…I know that a monster took boys into that office to destroy them, piece by piece, planting seeds of shame so deep inside that those seeds still live.

I watched boys being lured into the office. Some knew what was coming and hung their head in shame. Some had never been chosen, and so they looked all wide-eyed and excited to finally have the privilege of visiting the office. Some looked like they had already died a slow death. I saw all kinds.

I don’t think I ever mentioned it to the adults. Or if I ever did, they really didn’t read anything into it. Back then, in the 1980s, people were very naive when it came to matters of child sexual abuse. Little did they know that sexual predators lived amongst us.

I completely forgot that I had witnessed the comings and goings of “the office” at the temple. That was until the news traveled across the community when some of the boys grew up and broke the silence.

I want those little boys to know that I believe them.

I see you.

I am sorry I didn’t help you.

I am sorry I never kicked him in the shins for you.

I am sorry.

Unlisted

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Lindsay Soberano-Wilson

Lindsay Soberano-Wilson

Poet | Teacher | Feminist | Creator: Put It To Rest I Editor: iPoetry | Casa de mi Corazon: A Travel Journal of Poetry & Memoir. lindsaysoberano.com