zaterdag, september 19, 2015

The proceedings continue that afternoon and also the morning hours of the next day. Then, half a week later, the verdict: imprisonment for 13 years, 9 months, preventive detention after that. Does the verdict give me satisfaction, I’m asked. No. It gave me satisfaction that he looked away. But I didn’t say that to the journalist. It’s over. Everyone leaves. Files are closed. Only he sits there, handcuffed and surrounded by police. I stay. I want to see him being led away. I want to see him shuffle away one last time. He looks at me and I suspect what’s coming. He tried twice to apologize. Each time I said I wouldn’t listen to that crap. He addresses me, stammering, as is his way: “Mrs. Bergmann, I …” I hold my husband’s hand. My son stands next to us. Big. His voice is deep, very clear, firm. No wavering, no trace of uncertainty. Directed at the police officers: “Sirs, may I ask you to make sure that this criminal doesn’t speak to my mother?” They take him away, the criminal. The criminal who lied for four years about how sorry he was for everything. And all at once my son is grown up. I am very proud of him.  

My decision to speak out in public had consequences of which I was completely unaware that day in the hallway of the courthouse, hidden behind a protective wall of love. If it had been different, would I have made a different decision? I hardly think so. Suddenly there was media attention. And it was intense. Criminal offenses are exciting, and that very special mixture of ‘sex and crime’ that I had to offer, even more so. Who should be reproached for it? Journalists are just doing their job. And I can tell you: they did it well. I met lively, interesting, intelligent women like Birgit Fürst from the Bayerischer Rundfunk and Petra Hollweg of Focus magazine. I met a very likeable newspaper photographer from Berlin who takes wonderful pictures and from whom I learned a lot about Asia and bowling groups. I also denied the requests of some journalists because I didn’t like the media they represented. And because at some point it was simply enough. Everything that could be said on the subject of safety in my former workplace from my perspective and out of my experience had been said. Or, as a former boss of mine probably would have stated it: the problem has been sufficiently described. May other people take care of solving the problems. Which they won’t, but that’s another story that might be told in a different form.

My decision to go public has met with criticism. Publicity seeking, urged by the husband, throwing stones, professional victim – these are all opinions that I’ve heard. There are certainly others as well, but I don’t know about them and don’t want or need to know them.

 It’s enough for me to know that these critiques come from people who in their own personal idylls might be shattered by much smaller problems; who would be thrown off course by a much lesser centrifugal force.

 Victims are ashamed, victims act as if everything were normal and like always, victims are the ultimate disturbing factor, victims unsettle their antagonists, victims make one helpless, victims are packed in padding. And victims should be ashamed, victims should lower their heads and victims should act as if everything were normal and just like always. Victims most definitely should behave like victims: quiet, inconspicuous and thankful for any kind of sympathy and support. And, let us not forget, victims should please at all costs refrain from disturbing the circle of not-victims. Why else are there psychiatrists, therapists, hairdressers or taxi drivers that a victim can unburden themselves to? A victim should go under at some point. And if they drown in the process, well … The beauty of precise language: one falls victim to a crime. One falls in order to become a victim. One falls into an abyss. That’s true. And it’s all the more important to get up again. And with one’s head held high. Transformed.
foto  Bernd Bohm Trouw 31-05-2015 

Susanne  Preusker

Seven Hours in April
My Story of Survival

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