Dear Select Board Members:
As difficult as it is to write this letter, I have never been compelled so much to do so. My only hope for sharing my story publicly is that it will help others, even if just one person (and hopefully in this case, two).
47 years ago, at age 8, I was sexually assaulted my babysitter. I have lived with the trauma, fear, guilt and shame of that event for most of those 47 years. And even though I have worked very hard for many years to overcome these feelings, and understand that I am not to blame, I still struggle. And as crazy as it sounds, I worry about what people will think of me. I was 8. It is not rational to think anyone would blame a child for what happened, yet I still struggle with that thought.
Until today, I have only shared my story with 5 people in the world. People of my choosing. People I trusted. I was in my early 20’s before I told my best friend and in my mid 30’s before I told my husband. It took courage and it took years of building relationships before I could do it. If any of those people had betrayed that trust, I would have been devastated.
I do not know Tim Brennan well – I have only met him a couple of times – and I do not know the Victim/Survivor. But I can tell you that she trusted him. And I can tell you that he understood the enormity of that trust and the bravery that it took for her to confide in him.
In my professional life, (and even in my personal life, to a degree), I am fairly black and white when it comes to rules. Standard operating procedures have a purpose and rules are meant to be followed. Until they’re not. I don’t even begin to pretend I know or understand all the rules pertaining to the reporting requirements of a sexual assault. But I’m sure Sgt. Brennan did. I’m positive that as a 22-year police veteran, Brennan fully understood the consequences for himself if he didn’t report. But more importantly, as a human, Brennan understood the potential consequences for the Victim/Survivor if he did. And he made his choice. He chose humanity over process.
Process has victimized the Survivor over and over in this case. There are not enough apologies in the world that will take away the pain and trauma that releasing the Survivor’s name into the public has caused. I can’t even imagine being in her shoes. This was her story to tell. On her terms. When she was ready. Tim Brennan knew that.
It feels insensitive for the Board to state “if they had only known…” I can tell you from experience that I constantly wonder “what if?” What if I had told someone sooner? What if I had been bigger, or stronger? What if I was responsible for it? What if I could have prevented it from happening to others? It haunts me to think that my abuser may have moved on to another family or gone on to have a family of his own. With daughters. Instead of being met with compassion and understanding, the Board has hammered home these doubts with their ongoing speculation. I can’t speak for her, but I imagine it has been very difficult for the Survivor to hear this again and again.
I implore you, Select Board, to reinstate Tim Brennan. To destroy his career over a policy infraction when someone’s life was at stake is indefensible. Regardless of today’s outcome, Sgt. Brennan is and always will be a hero to this town, to the Survivor and to me.