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An Incomplete List of Ways That Reporting My Childhood Sex Abuse Could Go Poorly

Defamation lawsuits against survivors of intimate violence are on the rise globally—and in July I walked into a police station and filed a report.

Update: You can read about the resolution to my fight with the state of Ohio here.

“Is your dad famous?” my agent asked when the globe’s largest publisher wouldn’t publish the memoir they bought for $175,000 without censoring out of it that he raped me—unless I could “prove it.”

He’s not. He’s just a man. He’s a man with an established history of felony activity and elaborate deception, even. I’m a man who built a career on an obsession with fact-checking and then spent six years working with psychologists and specialists who would testify all day that my memories of what he did have been processed through evidence-supported therapeutic modalities. But never mind. My word against his was not a bet the publisher would take in court in the event he sued, and the case maybe wasn’t thrown out, which were gambles Random House wouldn’t take.

In July, I walked into a police station in the small northeastern Ohio city where I grew up and told them I needed to file a report for child sex abuse. The woman behind the counter, who hadn’t been especially friendly up till then, made her tone both softer and more serious. She took out a pen and a small piece of paper. The victim was me, I told her when she asked. I’m not a child anymore, I pointed out needlessly as I stood 70 inches tall and bearded in front of her. When she asked me the address, my mother and I looked at one another with mutually wide eyes; she thought I’d know those first two street numbers we lived at, and I’d thought she would. Another one I did. The others, we successfully tracked down (fact-checking!) as we sat in the lobby where the woman had directed us to wait for an officer.

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