At the moment I am reading a book by Karin Bloemen called ‘My True Story’ or in Dutch (Mijn Ware Verhaal). Maybe not a lot of you reading this blog know or have heard of Karin Bloemen. She is one of the funniest, happy, most joyful people in the Dutch theatre world and tells wonderful stories, which have you in fits of laughter within minutes. She is quite a generous-sized person but this does not in any way deter her from making fun of herself on stage.
Recently she underwent a double knee replacement operation. Now you have to one ‘tough cookie’ to do both knees at the same time!
In her book Karin tells in her own words all about her youth in Schagen, the north of Holland with her mother, father and sisters. She has three in fact, Karin is the youngest. Her parents divorce and a new ‘father figure’ comes into her life Ben Kuijt. I am typing his name openly in this blog, as I think he does not in any way deserve anominity, or other members of his family either.
The book tells stories of how life was in the late 50’s early 60’s in a small village in Holland. But the underlying theme of the book is about the sexual abuse,
Karin and her elder sister are subjected to by their stepfather.
It is quite disgusting the means and ways he snares them into his dirty little world of smutty sex with minors. And disgusting is putting it mildly.
Now I know unfortunately, this whole issue and the me-too subject is almost a trending topic at the moment and enormous respect for those who dare to speak out about it.
I don’t think anyone can make any judgement about how a person either feels or deals when they have been sexually abused.. It makes a scar on their soul and the damage lasts for life. So great respect for anyone who finally dares to tell their story, like Karin does in her book.
Other comedians here in The Netherlands were aghast as they read through her book. They have been friends with her for many years but never knew the terrible secret she had been hiding for so long. It is a book that you want, (no have to read), if you too have been abused.
As I read on, with horror from page to page, it made me very sad. Almost tearful that a man could behave like that. But anger came into the equation to, because my only thought was, God I hope someone finds out and deals with him in the end.
The thing that always amazes me is that the mother figure never seems to notice. Why? Surely there must be signs? Or do they just ignore, afraid for their own position? Whatever the case may be, is there ever an excuse?
Of course each and every situation is different, and I have often asked myself this question when stories like Karin’s come to the surface. What would her biological father have done if he had known? Probably something quite dramatic to Ben Kuijt. And rightly so.
The painful thing in these stories is that the victims, like Karin, are terrified about telling anyone. Even slight hints to other siblings are really scary things to discuss.
There may be many of you out there, who have found yourself in a similar situation. Personally I cannot comprehend in any way that a grown up person does this to a child, but I am sorry to say it happened and is still happening. Maybe we should take a leaf out of the laws of Ancient Egypt, when men were eunuchs. Perhaps that is the punishment for offenders?
In other words, when there is no desire, then no abuse will take place?
I know this is a very sensitive subject and perhaps one that not a lot of people would dare to write about, but having read Karin’s book, realising that she, like me, was a child growing up in the 50-60’s and why were things like this swept under the carpet? One thing that made my blood nearly reach boiling point was the part where other members of the Kruit family (her step grandfather and uncles) tried to sexually abuse her too, because they had heard stories from her stepfather, how much she enjoyed the escapades she had with him. Oh come on, seriously. How low can you go?
I am not at the end of the book just yet, but with the turn of every page, I just hope that Ben Kuijt gets what is coming to him in the end. That is one of the laws of the universe – ‘what goes around comes around’.
I salute you Karin Bloemen who I would describe as one of the happiest, funniest people is who graces our stages. Thank you for speaking out, I think like me, people will have enormous respect for you and justly so!
I have finished the book in the meantime and I will not spoil either the rest or the end of the story for you. A highly recommended read for those of you who may have unfortunately been subject to this too.
Take a leaf out of Karin’s words: ‘when people ask me why don’t you leave the past behind you, I reply I cannot as long as the past doesn’t leave me in peace’.
No matter how ashamed or how much judgement you think there will be: speak out! It is not your fault.
Images: Karin Bloemen, Google.
Acknowledging all copyright in the book Mijn Ware Verhaal