By Lavinia Masters
There was a movie that came out in theaters May 2004, entitled Van Helsing. It was an American action horror film and a great film if I may add. The synopsis of the movie was that Van Helsing was a notorious monster hunter sent to Transylvania to stop Count Dracula who is using Dr. Frankenstein’s research and a werewolf for his sinister purpose. However the disturbing thing about me enjoying this movie is that even as a child I have always had a crippling fear of werewolves.
My fear for this half human-half monster was so great that the thought of me being outside on a full moon after midnight…was not an option. I even remember the time when my son was only 3 years old and I purchased him paisley curtains and bed covers because I felt that it was time for his room to reflect the big boy that he was. Well about the third night he woke up screaming and hollering there were werewolves in his curtains and in his bedcovers as he pointed to the detailed designs of the burgundy and blue paisley that I once loved and could not sleep in his room for the rest of the night. Needless to say the next morning the curtains, covers and bed sheets all had to be returned the next day not just for his fears but mine. How in the world did this child know my hidden fears? I never expressed this to him or around him…mainly because I did not want him to see my weakness but especially because I did not want him to develop the same fears. Although I still wrestle with whether or not werewolves really exist…you will not find me outdoors, after midnight when there is a full moon.
Last night I watched this movie again...in its entirety… alone as I was preparing the details of my annual “balloon release” in my continued efforts of raising awareness, education and empowerment to victims of sexual violence. I then began to read this blog about these two young girls out of the Houston area that was gang raped and killed in the early 90’s. The gory details of how these gang members attacked these girls as they walked home… were very upsetting and disturbing to me. I later found myself going off to sleep but before I did…I prayed for two things…one was that it be revealed to me why I am so disturbed with the thought of werewolves and two that the families of these young girls have peace after such tragedies and that the deaths of these two young victims were not in vain.
I woke up in the middle of the night sweating and kicking because of the dream that I was having. In my dream I was being chased and attacked by a gang that was trying to rape me. I remember that no one heard my screams as if everyone had purposely turned a deaf ear to me. There were people all around but no one reached out to help me as if they refused to see my danger. They locked their doors…they turned their heads and they continued to move on as if they did not see or care about my distress or immediate danger. I was devastated…how could people be so heartless in my time of need. How can others not care about anyone else but themselves especially when they are in need? Then the last question I asked myself…why was it a gang of men that was chasing me and not werewolves?
I sat up in my bed and just like the dawn of a new morning it came to me so clearly why I had the fear of man eating werewolves. My mind went back to the night before my grandmother’s funeral in ’81…all the children were over at my cousin's house in Waco, Texas and we were watching “American Werewolf in London”. Note my grandmother never allowed me to watch any kind of horror movies and pretty much shielded me from anything gross, violent or “unnecessary foolishness” as she called it. However if my cousins or big brother did happen to let me sneak a movie that I was not suppose to see…I knew that my “Maam-Maw” would be right there to protect me because she was not afraid of anyone or anything…not even a werewolf. However, as I went off to bed that night in ’81 another reality had sunk in…my granny would no longer there for me. So here I am almost 40 years later…just now understanding that I am associating my grandmother’s death with the terror of werewolves.
This is how I was able to so easily place myself in the nightmare of being gang raped by these young women's attackers...the protection and comfort that I would normally find in my grandmothers arms was no longer there. I was able to identify with the sudden terror of being taken away from loved ones and being attacked and mutilated only for the midnight hour to hear your silent screams. I had personally been there when I begged and pleaded for mercy and for the pain to stop but it seemed to have no end. I wanted help but no one heard or understood my cries…their ears were like those born deaf and their eyes were as if they were given sight without vision…and no one knew the words to comfort me or would use their voice to speak for me. Rape had become my werewolf and my flesh was not all that it wanted to destroy.
Before I went back to sleep last night I was grateful that I was able to overcome and heal from my own personal trauma from sexual violence but I also made a decree that werewolves will no longer disturb me after midnight, because I have the power to slay these half man-half monsters. I also have the power to make sure that these two young victims’ deaths will never be in vain because I will continue to be the eyes to see when things are wrong and need change when it comes to bringing justice to sexual violence…ears to hears the cries and fear of the victims when they cry for help and assistance after sexual trauma… and the voice that will speak out and against all sexual violence.
My grandmother may not be here in body but her spirit lives on. She has taught me many things at such an early age…one thing was that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of peace and a sound mind. I have to be courageous so that I may continue to slay the “werewolves” that prey upon and violate the innocent. This calling is not designated for one month out of the year but for every second out of a minute…there is a full moon rising…its late in the evening and there is much work for us to do. We have got to ask God to give us back our hearing, sight and voices…we need them so we can rescue victims that fall into sexual trauma. These type of occurrences have to be disturbing to you…we have to say enough is enough! We can’t willingly and knowingly continue to allow our children to be sexually abused by those that they are suppose to trust…we can’t continue to let innocent lives be snatched away like a vapor…we must hear their silent screams…we have to see their hidden pain and fears but most importantly we have to give them back their voice by speaking up and out against sexual violence!
I’m not asking you to become Van Helsing but I am asking you to wake up…someone has to work the night shift.