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‘Because I came back every summer’: the story of the sexual abuse of a girl that revolutionizes Argentina

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80% of sexual abuse of boys and girls occurs within the family. Belén López Peiró knows this very well. In his case, it was his uncle. In the house where he spent all the summers and school holidays. In the rooms where he played with his cousin. In the town where his grandmother lived. In a safe place”.

He was a little over 11 years old. He is from a middle class family and an abusive police officer. It took him more than 10 years to tell it. Thinking about whether they were going to believe her or not. She filed a complaint in 2014 and has been waiting for another six years for her trial to come out..

To be able to breathe, almost like catharsis, he wrote Why did you come back every summer? (Ed. The outskirts)a novel that has swept Argentina and which begins to do the same in Spain thanks to a choral story in which the drama of sexual abuse is shown but also the hell of the complaint.

The title seems like a mace that runs through each page of the story of Bethlehem. Why did you come back? Why did you come back? Because you came back… “I always say that more than a question, it’s a statement because you came back every summer it kept happening. I realized over time that this question had no answer and that ultimately the answer was the entire book. The reason because the one who returned every summer and the feeling of guilt, that if this violence happens, the first person responsible is always the victim, is what I try to represent,” he denounces the author to MagasIN from Buenos Aires.

One of the most striking aspects of this novel is the intimacy with which it narrates the events, but also with which it presents the reactions of those around her: her mother, her aunt, her cousins, her brother, her father. .. his fear, his anger, his silence.

The abuse could not be narrated solely by my voice, the voice of the victim. But it needed all the voices that make it possiblebeyond the abuse, which can be a moment where only the perpetrator and the victim are present, the context that makes 10 years of silence possible.

The sexual abuser in Belén’s case is the husband of her aunt, her mother’s little sister. A commissioner. And reporting for her meant, as in most cases, facing her own family, the fear of not being believed, and even her own awareness of her abuse.

The most difficult thing when you are a minor is knowing that what is happening is wrong. It is a moment in which we are shaping the limits of the bodyconsent, how far it goes and how far it doesn’t… For me the most difficult thing was understanding the limits of my body and that what was happening was not right. That care could not be paid with a body, that love was another. That was the main thing“, remember.

Therefore, she insists that It is not a book that challenges only the women who experienced these episodes of violence, but it challenges the entire that we understand the role that each of us has in these situations of abuse.

The ‘I do believe you’ is fundamental. It would have been very difficult for me if my mother had not believed me. 80% of childhood abuse occurs indoors, many times those involved are part of the family and this leads to disbelief in the family. I have known people who denounce their father and their mother does not believe them. And we must not only act in the afterward but also in prevention. Putting it into words, talking about consent, sexual relations, enjoyment, jouissance… are all issues that make these doors open to dialogue.“insists López Peiró.

The complaint

The book also includes her judicial ordeal, that of any woman who reports a situation like this. It includes the transcription of the statements in legal language that completely strips away the entire case. It is evaluated whether the tear caused by the fingers is rape or not. If the touching and abuse caused psychological consequences in her. How far do the consequences go? What did the relatives see? What were they silent…

“When time passed and I was able to put this situation into words, I realized that the seriousness was in the consequences. There was no difference in whether it had been penetration with fingers, rape… those very technical issues were a more judicial language that had nothing to do with one’s own language.. That’s why I try to reproduce it, as a language so foreign and difficult for me that it seemed to me that it was necessary for readers to encounter that text that does not circulate in front of everyone.”

At 13 years old, she went to the pediatrician for a vaginal tear. Nobody raised the alarm. Nobody asked him. No one tried to break her internal confinement imposed by an abuser who had to “take care of” and “baby” her. Until she was 21 years old, when she decided to speak and re-enter her second hell: revictimization due to a system that is not designed for abused girls and women but for cold legal procedures that talk about fingers, centimeters and times of abuse.

“It is one of the big debts. Only a very small percentage complain and not only because of the years it can take for the trial to come out. But to report you have to have support, psychological and monetary, and there is still no effective system so that the woman has to speak only once.. Between statements, ratifications, expert reports, writings, you have to repeat the abuse many times and it ends up affecting you more with that repetition. You are trying to repair yourself and you end up becoming even more damaged“.

He recognizes that, in his case, the reparation came almost more from writing the book than from denouncing it, but he also knows that he could not have written it if he had not denounced it. If he had not broken that prison that is silence and secrecy.

“I was in a writing workshop and they asked me to write based on my identity. I kept that word in my head and When I sat down with a sheet, the last scene of the abuse came out. I realized that I needed to name it and write it down so I could integrate it into my life because that was part of my identity too. Accept it, understand it, work on it to be able to leave the victim’s place once and for all.“.

However, when he began to read fragments of his book in literary circles, he realized that Her desperate cry, written from the pain of silent years, had become the strongest voice of many women who wanted to speak.. “I realized that the book caused other women to talk, to feel accompanied.”

A revolution in a complex, transversal problem that causes suffering in all countries. Belén López Peiró already has her second book ready. It will be released in March in Argentina but I am sure that in Spain that perfect way in which an always multifaceted reality fits together will triumph again.

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