Savage Love Mar 13, 2019 at 4:00 am

The Sins of the Grandfather

Joe Newton



Still hard disagree with the advice to watch Finding Neverland. There are other, less potentially damaging ways for the LW to discover that she's not alone.


@1: Go back to your pigpen and stay there.

WOE, I am so sorry that your grandfather was sexually abusive to you, your mother, and female relatives (you had also mentioned some aunts). What he did was inexcusable. Good for you for having the courage to speak out about it, however painful for you. I survived an abusive marital relationship, and one effective way I found to cope and heal after my divorce was to find some healthy way of release. What works for you in a creative channel can be very therapeutic.
As a musician and composer, I scored my first ever symphony for chamber orchestra while earning my BA of Music degree. The work itself was the single most difficult music I have ever written because it retells my own traumatic experience. My music has since its world premiere moved many people, helped me heal, and move on. I hope you and your mother find peace.


One letter, and a repeat of a LOTD at that?


@4 DonnyKlicious: Good grief, Charlie Brown (or should I say Bill the Cat?)! This is another repeat? This is the first I've read of WOE's letter and Dan's response.


Wow, Dan! So powerful!! Sadly, I couldn't agree with you more. My personal feelings, re: the whole M.J. tragedy, are so convoluted, but truth is truth. Although I wasn't exactly a big Fan, as a fellow musician/performer, I held him in the highest esteem. He was a phenomenal talent. Now, I don't know how I can ever watch or listen to him again. His secrets are too overwhelming. I don't believe his actions can ever be reconciled in a manner to make it "okay".

Thanks for such clear insight and explanation. You didn't actually say anything I hadn't already been thinking about, but it was very encouraging to see it in print. My heart goes out to ALL the victims of this sad, sad tale.


Powerful letter + response, and I understand the benefit of re-publishing for the weekly syndicate. However, when it was run last week it created a robust discussion that sadly isn't referred to here.

I wonder if there's a way to include this and other future SLLOTDs--perhaps as a teaser + link to the original Stranger discussion--in the weekly column without an entire repeat for your loyal Stranger fans. That way, there's room left for fresh letters, and fresh, new discussions can continue to ensue...

Of course, many if not all of the syndicate publications have their own comment sections, so maybe similarly robust discussions are occurring there.

Just a thought. Some Stranger loyalists seem a bit exasperated with so many repeats.


It's a good one, and topical as hell so I can see why they might repeat it for the wider audience.


Really Dan? Why use your entire weekly column to reprint a letter of the day? And one that even had bonus follow-up from the writer in the weekly roundup? I'm always disappointed when I see recycled material.


To all the people bemoaning the re-run, gtf over it. This is such an important topic and there is so much ignorance about what victims of sexual abuse go through. Thank you Dan for sharing this widely, for telling your audience about this hugely important doc, and also revising this version to remove the "repressed memories" stuff. Those charlatans in the 80s damaged not only those they planted false memories in, but also those who have real memories that do surface later. The current science has determined that traumatic memories are stored differently. Because of the intense denial survivors go through, it can take many years before they can face what happened to them and it is possible for them to "forget" for a time and for their own survival.


The whining! Savage Love is syndicated in lots of other places and many if not most of them do not carry letters of the day. So for many, probably most, of Dan's readers this is not a repeat! Think of LOTD as a nice treat where you get to see the letters before most of the rest of the country.


Is the art an homage to Laura Palmer?


"Leaving Neverland demonstrates that sexual abuse plants a ticking time bomb inside a person—shit, sorry, no passive language."

That wasn't passive. This would be: "a ticking time bomb is placed inside a person by sexual abuse."


Y'all whining about the rerun know that Savage Love goes out nationally via syndication, right? Most people aren't seeing SLLOTDs.

This definitely seems like a column that should be elevated to the national level, IMHO.


Oops. What @11 said. Should've reloaded the page before commenting.


kitschnsync @15: INTERnationally syndicated. I wish they'd fix that in Dan's byline, because CANADA!


It’s the nuclear family structure which allows this illness and sickness to fester. Isolated groups of people, which the rest of us know nothing about because we all have our public faces. And they know nothing about us.
We need to get beyond the repulsion at individual men indulging themselves at their female family members expense, and ask why. These fuckers know it’s wrong. Or do they? How prevalent is this.
This is part of #metoo, except so many women hide it, because it was their father. Or their grandfather. Or their brother. They protect or go thru the heart wrenching decision to smash what is left of the family, and take the sick fuck to court.


Yes, one letter and a repeat. Sorry about two weeks in a row with repeats — but I thought this letter and response was important, as was/is Leaving Neverland, and I wanted it to run in all the papers that carry Savage Love.


Not to discount boys being violated and mothers and grandmothers and sisters being perpetrators.
Proximity and isolation, and probably generational abuse, so it becomes some twisted ‘norm.’


I feel sad about Michael, he was such a disturbed man.
These new revelations are not new, in the sense it was in plain sight who he was. These men lied as kids and now they have thrown it off. I hope they know most of us believe them. And wish them well in their healing.


@ 13
Looks like it to me as well, both the picture and the plot.
That said, sometimes the owls, and the pussycats, are not what they seem.


Dan @ 19
Thanks for clarifying this in person, same to the others who did so in the past couple of months.
I understand the importance of this specific letter, the issues that arise, and the articulate way it is discussed by LW, yourself, and the vast majority of us commenters.

Yet admittedly I am indeed a whiner, something I suspect you and few others must have noticed over the years. So while acknowledging this week’s repeat I also noticed a recent pattern of daily letters appearing in that same week weekly column and vice versa. It may be only me, but it seems like we’ve seen an unusual spike of those in recent weeks.

I know this is a business, I know you built it from scratch, I know it’s all yours. Yet think of us, those like myself who have been following SL and responded for years, as “the base.” We have supported you for years, many of us sent you letters, some were even published, we tell our friends and lovers about you, and we force our children to follow you once they graduate from high school.

Thanks for your consideration!


@23... I don't have time to do a count... but I'm pretty sure that fewer than 5% of SL columns over the last year+ have featured SLLOTD repeats. I appreciate your support and I know that the repeats stick out because you want all the SL goodness I can crank out!


I've already commented on the original SLLOTD and the weekly roundup with WOE's reply. In case she's still reading, I'll just repeat that I think she's doing it all exactly right. Process. Don't rush. And hopefully, ask your mother the questions you need to ask.


yequalsy @11: "Think of LOTD as a nice treat where you get to see the letters before most of the rest of the country." Before the rest of the WORLD. Please help eliminate the CANADA erasure!

Dan @19: Agreed. This needs to appear in the papers - international papers - that carry Savage Love INTERNATIONALLY.

LavaGirl @21: Yes, it was in plain sight who MJ was, just as it was with countless men who couldn't be found guilty because their crimes occurred in private and their victims were groomed and/or traumatized at the time. Somehow, back then, MJ was able to walk away from the acquittal and not be thought of as culpable. It feels like times are changing, even if Kavanaugh is now a member of the Supremes.

CMD @23: As a long time reader, I have to say I don't want to be part of anyone's "base". That shit leads to mental degeneration, Fox News watching and, eventually, to wall building. Nothing good comes from being a follower.On the other hand, if Dan were to run for Prime Minister of Canada, I might sign up. We desperately need a new PM.


Dan @24: This is the first column in my memory, which admittedly is addled/pickled, that is a 100% repeat of a SLLOTD (plus LW followup). But this topic is important, and you have a lovely heart. It feels like it's time, despite the Trump problem, to change the way things were.


This issue is too important and too timely to not get a shot at the internationally syndicated column. So even though my appetite for novelty isn't satisfied this week, I am not complaining. (Now if the letter about the "debris" covered dildo shows up in next week's column, that's a different story . . .)

But some of the comments were insightful and helpful, not just perhaps to the OP who showed up in the comments thread as well, but also to other people who unfortunately have to deal with the very complicated slew of emotions that situations like this stir up. Is there any way that the tech-savvy, at-risk, no-way-could-they-possibly-still-be-youth could link to the comments from when it was the SLLOTD or copy and paste them into this comment thread? It would be a shame for them not be read, and perhaps especially due to the emotional toll I'm sure it took to engage and write them, I doubt all the commenters are going to take the time and trouble to copy and paste their original comments here.


@19 & @24 Dan the Man: Thank you for joining in the comment thread. YESsssss!!!! Savage Love should indeed become an international column.
@26 fubar: Agreed and seconded.


Yay! I got the lucky 30!
But yeah, that’s weird about WOE’s grandad- another creepy ol’ man playing nice n fun but screwing up everyone around him with his crazy perversions- the dude was ruthless.

Kinda wish he were still alive so we could all kick his ass!


Thanks to Ms Lava for #20.

It's getting very depressing seeing how politicized these cases are becoming. The "Leftists are the REAL Racists!" crowd is already trying to spin the documentary as a smear campaign. It makes me think back to "Rumpole and the Honourable Member" again, not just for the forerunner to the BelieveWomen debate between Rumpole and Nick's fiancee Erica, but now for the way Rumpole tells Hilda he's defending an MP accused of rape, to which Hilda's first response is to ask which side he's on. Hearing the MP is Labour, she shrugs it off as No Wonder.


@19 Dan Savage. I agree with the importance of this content. But since it sounds like SLLOD readers all see the weekly column, why not just save these most important items for the weekly? Continue to provide SLLOD readers with bonus content, not preruns/reruns!


Shut. The fuck. Up. About the reprint.

I don't get the letters of the day, I don't have access to them, and this is exactly what I needed to hear at exactly this time so fuck your selfish entitled media consumption preferences.


This is vitally important. This can save lives. Grow the hell up.


jane1115 @34: You have access to them now. Welcome to the fray.


Dan@ 24 b
By “recent weeks” I meant the last 2-3 months.

Fubar @ 26
Don’t be part of the mental degeneration, yet do consider a memory upgrade.

Jane @ 34
If you are legit, not really sure as you just joined and can be yet another unemployed freedom fighter “libertarian” still living in mom’s basement, then you should know that if you have an access to The Strangers’ site, which you obviously do, then even you can easily find the links to the daily letters.
This will enable you to hear more of what you need to hear and save quite a few more lives in the process, while the rest of us are happily fucking our selfish entitled media consumption preferences and growing the hell up.


Planting a ticking time bomb in someone's head. Pete Townshend wrote about this very thing probably 20 years ago or more after a friend and fellow AA(?) group member took her own life after realizing she had been abused as a child and realizing that all of her woes may have stemmed from the abuse. "A Different Bomb."


Jane@34. If you scroll down the page where the question is, you will come to Savage Blog, click on that and you will find the daily letters.
I agree Jane. Dan can print wtf he wants to print. He can run letters from ten yrs ago, still relevant today and lots of people had not read them the first time. We don’t pay for any of this and such arrogance to complain about it.


Yes MrVenn. A family I know comes to mind re mother abuse. Nothing physical happens, it’s the psycholocal damage this woman does. She and her husband don’t do sex anymore, sleep separately and her energy around her three sons is so distorting for their growth. IMO. Indulges then, barges into their rooms without knocking and these are boys fourteen plus. They have learnt to manipulate her so money flows, just shit shit parenting.


Re@39: Psycholocal? Could be a use for that sometime. Not here. ... it’s the Psychological damage..


LavaGirl @40: Psycholocal: the neighbourhood psychopath, perhaps.


Yes, fubar. I realised it was a Freudian slip. She is a psycho-local/ local-psycho, in terms of messing up her sons.


It’s a fraught road, this parenting gig. It’s such a big responsibility, rearing other humans, especially when they are babies and little people.
Grandmother is so much easier to do
and maintain decorum.


Damage begets damage, unless there’s circuit breakers.
Bringing abuse out in the open, not having to attach names, hopefully helps those who have been abused by relatives.
Therapy, a cathartic one. If such options are still available. Mental health appears to be only about pills now. Easier than helping a person, over time, to heal.


Sending love and strength to all in New Zealand.
You are our family, and we mourn with you.


No hot, sweaty Lucky @69 Award contenders this week? If we don't reach the highly coveted number this weekend, how about a @138 Double Whammy Award (Double @69!!) for next week's February 19, 2019 Savage Love installment?
Dan the Man? What do you think?


For all celebrating Saint Paddy's, have a green beer for Griz. :)


From time to time, someone (no names mentioned, but they are several) shuts down the commentary, with some weird, socially inept, passive-aggressive attempt at humour. Let's try again on Wednesday.


Was I the only one who spotted an insensitive ad next to this letter in the printed issue of the Stranger? It's an ad for a law firm who can "help remove sex offender registration requirement". What a disgrace! I was so appalled, I sent an email to on 05/14 and never heard back. Would like to know what Dan thinks about all this. How extremely appalling, making a mockery of someone's deepest, most painful trauma!!


@49 fubar: Did you mean my comment @46---"hot and sweaty Lucky @69 Award contenders"?
O.........kay. I will try again next week.


I don’t think fubar meant you Grizelda.
That is appalling moonjoy @50.
You mean 03/14, right? We’re not up to the fifth month yet.
I think Dan reads these threads, so hopefully he’ll see your post.


@50 moonjoy: I didn't see the ad from 03/14/19. I agree though, from what you have described, that is truly appalling. I'm surprised the Stranger editorial staff would run it. GOod for you for speaking out. I have blocked Google ads I'm not interested in, have seen multiple times, and / or find inappropriate.


@14 Dan Savage has repeatedly demonstrated he doesn't know what "passive voice" actually means.

To be fair, the infamous "Elements of Style" fucks this up, too. (At least in old editions--maybe they've corrected it.)

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