Being a Man: Scattered Faces

Yesterday a person I know who works in a local federal office informed me that he saw pictures of me in alleged sex offender’s collection. I asked if I could see the pictures, at least to verify that it was me and not one of my brothers, however, the person would not allow me to do that. I asked if there was anyone else in the picture, but apparently there was only me. This person came from out of the city to ask me this in person rather than over the phone, which was very nice considering the drive. I am not sure what will come of this since there is nothing I can do without seeing the pictures, and to be honest I am not sure I could recall who took them or where they were taken at.

I spoke about it with my brother and older cousin. It made my brother nervous. My cousin said that unless asked to get involved I should leave it be. I do not think I would want to pursue charges any way, not that I could. Those pictures would have to be almost twenty years old. It is unlikely that whoever took them still had the originals, and I think I have missed the age limit for the child abuse statute in the state.

I knew there were pictures and videos of me likely getting traded. However, I never thought that anyone I knew would happen upon them.  I did not think it would bother me at all, but last night I dreamt about going to some convention for old magazines where I found some well-preserved books with pictures of me and my brothers in them. It was troubling enough to wake me up. That was not the first time I had a dream like that. I used to have them frequently when I first left my family’s home. I usually do not remember my dreams, but those were rather disturbing and I would wake up in panic. For a long time I wondered whether people who stared at me were just being rude or if they recognized me from the pictures.

It is a dirty feeling, like everyone knows what I am and what I did and they are judging me for it with their eyes. Obviously that was not the case, but paranoia has a way of making the improbable seem very real.

Other survivors have mentioned the same thing. I think what bothers me more is that once one person has the digital version of the images, essentially everybody has it. It will never cease to exist, so even if one person gets caught with the pictures, there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of other people with them.

I like to try to put a positive spin on this. I would rather someone look at twenty-year-old pictures of me than seek new pictures of kids or to act on their desires. What was done to me cannot be undone, but new abuse can be prevented. So in that sense I can take something positive from it. However, it is unlikely that anyone would only have my pictures. It is more likely that people who collect such images would have hundreds of them. So even if they get off on my pictures, they still get off on other kids pictures.

It is just irritating that I can do nothing about it.

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