How To Navigate Sexual Abuse

A Personal Reflection On My Grandpa’s Transgression

John Driggs


Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Well, I come to you today with a heavy heart. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, my dad revealed to me that my grandpa had raped and, for 30 years, sexually abused his oldest daughter, my aunt Julie. Sadly, my aunt tried to bring this to her family in the 1980s, when she was in her 30s, but received essentially no support. So, for nearly 40 more years, Julie suffered her traumas without love and support from her mother and nine siblings. It was not until Spring of this year, 2023, that she finally revealed the true extent of the abuse to her siblings.

Sadly, even after my aunt shared this information with her siblings in the Spring of 2023, essentially none of them decided to share with their adult children the truth about our grandpa, who for many of us had been held up as an idol our entire lives. It was not until a couple weeks before Thanksgiving that another aunt of mine, an in-law, released a letter that tactfully and compassionately exposed my grandpa’s behaviors, thankfully forcing the conversation into our homes by stating that this knowledge is no longer private.

The catalyst of this letter was my cousin Mikayla, the youngest daughter of Julie. Mikayla and her siblings, having known the truth about my grandpa for many years, were understandably tired of the Driggs family’s silence and praiseful narrative of my grandpa. So, with great courage, Mikayla and one of her sisters, with the support of my aunt to draft the letter, exposed not only my aunt Julie’s abuse but also that my grandpa had abused one of her daughters. They also stressed how important it is to discuss this openly, to shine the light, so that we can protect the children and grandchildren in the family.

(I have posted a link to the letter in the introduction to this podcast episode for those of you who are interested. I think it was beautifully crafted and has the potential to offer support and guidance to any of you who may be facing sexual abuse within your family.)

Anyway, this news has caused the trauma from my own sexual abuse to resurface. I have been flooded with a renewed rage, fear, sadness, and deep distrust. So, I want to take this opportunity to borrow some courage from my cousins, to stand on their…