What holds grief? What furrow deep inside, what red canal, hoards the debris, the leavings, the cut-away parts of my original form? Is there enough left? Can my true form be recovered?
Once upon a time I was a boy, not especially happy, destined for ordinary incompleteness, and the daubed, crudely-molded, and spruced character with which we makeshift, once conflagrations are doused and youth's megrims give way.
Three boys took my cocked hat, my hope for a natural death, my healthy color in good company. They corrupted me. They made me think they knew me, better than anyone, before or since. They removed the boy I was and crawled in, to fester in the raw empty, and became ghouls in my oily corners, squatting on crumbled concrete. Thieves. Monsters.
Those boys who stole my soul inhabit me. They condemn all I am and do, dismantle me every night, reduce me to my essence of panic and sick and desperate. Scorched, a mongrel cur, not a man.
But the worst part of writing this book? It’s not the reliving of those last three days of brutality and pain, after I tried to fight back. It’s not the shame of the far crueler first two days, or the first night, the actual theft when I was forced to participate. To ‘like’ it.
It’s reviving the last of real me, before jail; re-inhabiting the lost, childish, 13-year-old boy I was, and the young man I was becoming, in the months leading up to jail. Every foolish choice was at least mine, and the hopeless momentum of my unloved life was nonetheless me, taking shape, burnishing, annealing, finding and fitting new parts.
I can’t go back, and I have so far to go. I have but named my emptiness, just started to face the fullness of what they destroyed. They took my sex. They took my innocence.
My grief is ever-present now, a hot pour from its hidey-hole. It’s a better friend than terror, or numb, because grief shows me everything that’s left, and it is me, is mine.
I’ve been writing without pause for years, through everything and anything, because I only feel safe when I write. With number two ticonderoga teeth I gnaw my bones to find marrow, to find the dark, red truth that might replenish me, might be me, before those boys.
Number of physically abused/neglected children each year in US:
Over 6 million (reported; 3 million reports).
—Estimated actual number of children: 15 million.
(Boys: 48%, girls: 51%; 2012).
Number who die:
1,593 officially (2012);
estimates of actual number vary wildly; perhaps 3,000.
—Over 70% were under three years of age.
(More likely to be boys: 57.6%; 2012).
Number of children incarcerated in juvenile facilities in the US:
70,800 + 100,000 in “private” facilities, on any given day
(annually: over 500,000).
Number of children incarcerated in adult lockup:
10,000 on any given day.
Number of sexual assaults on incarcerated children, per year:
—Percent reported, confirmed, and where action is taken: Under 1,200.
—Percentage of children in juvenile facilities who report being raped: 9.5%;
estimated actual: over 20%.
—Percentage of children in adult facilities who report being raped: over 50%;
estimated actual: over 70%
Total number of rapes, all ages, committed in jails and prison, 2015:
estimated actual: over 200,000
Number of years in a row this has increased since the 2003 PREA act: