My Lakota friend’s daughter, my “godchild,” was raped again.
My friend called me this afternoon and I was surprised, since it was only 1:15 PM out in Rapid City and I know she works until 3 PM. So I knew this wasn’t going to be good news. When I heard her voice, filled with pain, my heartbeat quickened. I asked if she was okay, knowing the answer before I asked. She replied, “No, she was raped.”
At that point, my brain started racing to think of the right things to say. I’m not usually at a loss for words, but this time I couldn’t seem to focus. All I could do was ask questions and listen – but maybe that’s what I needed to do. There isn’t much else I can do, nearly 2000 miles away in Massachusetts.
So, here’s the story – My friend and her family moved to Rapid City again from Pine Ridge Rez a few weeks ago because she felt the rez was bad for her kids and she couldn’t find any work there. They had tried this move last fall, but could not make it financially. Still, she had high hopes. She got a job doing housekeeping at a hotel near their apartment. Her husband went back to day work. One of her daughters stayed on the rez with family. The other two moved to Rapid.
Things weren’t looking too bad. I had just sent a “Birthday Party in a Box” for the family, since my “godchild’s” birthday is next week and other family members birthdays come along soon after.
Then my friend won tickets to a show – T G Sheppard and Exile at the the Prairie Wind Casino down on the rez. She decided that she and her husband deserved a night out. So she left my “godchild” with someone she trusted, her own best friend. I haven’t yet figured out if this was in Rapid or on the rez, but it really doesn’t matter. She left her daughter with someone she believed would keep her safe, then went to the show.
Apparently her friend has a 20 year old son. He is the one who raped my “godchild.” It is very likely she knew this young man and trusted him. Now she is bruised and battered as well as having been sexually assaulted. The young man has been arrested and charged with first degree rape. That’s fine, though of course it means my “godchild” will have to relive this incident repeatedly as the judicial system plods along.
My friend is blaming herself, because she decided to do something for herself for a change. She feels she is being punished for wanting to enjoy herself. She feels she has failed her daughter again. She doesn’t know what to do and I have nothing to tell her. She thinks maybe she should have her daughter live with her aunt (her mother’s sister) on the rez. I told her I didn’t think she’d be any safer there – and she’d probably feel safer with her mom.
After we hung up, I cried, too. The pain of feeling helpless to help them weighed very heavy in my heart. It was only writing this that helped me. But that’s because I can make myself focus on the words and lift myself out of that deep pain to live in my brain for a while. I know my friend cannot do this. It is not her way.
I know there is no way I can solve all the problems that my friend and her family have. They have too much stacked against them for me to even try. I do pray and that has seemed to help at times – at least it helps me remember that I am not God and thus, not expected to be able to fix everything. But when I look at their lives, I can see that what they really need is a mentor.
They need someone who can “parent” them all, even the parents. They need guidance and they need to learn how to manage a household. And personally, I think they need to move. I don’t mean from Rapid back to the rez. I mean away from South Dakota. They need to live somewhere that is new, somewhere that does not have family and old friends making demands in their lives. I don’t think it needs to be permanent, but I think it needs to be soon. They need to find a way to put their own lives together.
If only I had tons of money and if only I didn’t have fibromyalgia and if only …….
Okay, that’s the part of me that wishes it could solve all the problems of the world – poverty, racism, mental illness, lack of education, poor health. Fortunately, I am grounded in reality and I know that I am not God – or even close. Of course, it’s that grounded in reality stuff that makes me realize how helpless I am and that makes me sad.
I guess I have lived a blessed life. Yes, my father died when I was 12. Yes, I have fibromyalgia. But I have had everything I’ve needed to cope with the problems in life, too. I’ve had education, love and the grace of God. I’ve never had to go hungry. I’ve never had to go to a mission for a meal. I’ve had proper health care. God has been good to me.
I wish He’d take care of my friends as well as He takes care of me!!