When I was in my early 20’s, there weren’t nearly the on-line resources for CSA survivors that there are today. And I was much, much too ashamed and guilty to tell a word about the abuse to a real, live human being who could possibly make eye contact with me. I kept finding websites telling stories like this- “I was sexually abused by my __, it was horrible, but I forgave him, we’re close now, and life is peachy”. For me, this meant that both forgiveness and closeness to the father who abused me (the uncle who also abused me was thankfully already dead) were prerequisites to mental health. I could not wrap my mind around the concept of ever being able to do either. I oscillated between believing my life was doomed to be full of the intense self-loathing, anger, grief and general misery I was experiencing, to believing if I could do something that seemed akin to a do-it-yourself lobotomy I would be alright. One day when the lobotomy fantasy wasn’t appealing, I looked up the statute of limitations on CSA in my home state of New York. By my 23rd birthday I would be unable to press civil or criminal charges on my father. And on that day, in the spirit of what I believed to be forgiveness, I breathed a deep breath, knowing that my parents would never be troubled by a policeman knocking at their door.In the spirit of what I believed to be forgiveness, I tried to maintain an emotionally useful relationship with my parents. “Maintain” isn’t really the word, “start from scratch for the first time in my life” is more like it. And as I was having more contact with my mother than I had in years, she started telling me about finding child pornography on my father’s computer, again and again. And then there was the policeman knocking on the door- knocking on behalf of a little girl my father had “befriended”. I soon learned that having a child say that someone abused them doesn’t accomplish much. For an indictment to happen, you need a credible disclosure from the child, coupled with evidence (photographic or medical), a confession from the abuser or collaboration from another victim. Long gone are the days where a child’s tearful courtroom testimony was bound to lock someone up- the pendulum has swung so far away from where it was in the 1980’s. No police officer called me or sought information from me in any way. Now I knew my father was on the prowl again, looking for new victims, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop him. Nothing came of the accusations from the little girl. I put enormous emotional distance between myself and my family of origin. Even though my mental health had improved, my life circumstances had deteriorated. I was minimally aware of what was going on under the roof I grew up under. Eventually, my life circumstances improved, I had more emotional energy, and I had become very committed to fighting for children’s issues. My role as a children’s advocate was extremely incompatible with the role of someone who was facilitating a pedophile, even in the slightest way. I made myself a few promises- I would stay close enough to my family of origin to keep tabs on my father, I would not allow myself to get wrapped up in any circumstances that could distract me from my mission, and I would keep in mind that nothing I was doing was going to undo what had been done to me. This wasn’t revenge, it was something more important. Eventually I learned the name of a girl who had become a huge part of my father’s life. I called the police in the county the girl lived in. They told me to call the police in the county my father lived in. The same county I grew up in. Although I was dreading that phone call, and dreading someone who I graduated high school with picking up the phone, I made it. And as far as I know, nothing happened. You can’t arrest someone for spending time with a child. Even if the amount of time, and their devotion to this child is truly creepy. Recently one of my cousins revealed that she was sexually abused by my father. She’s 21 now. She’s in the throes of mental illness, substance abuse and interpersonal crisis. She hasn’t told her parents about the abuse, and her parents and mine are very close. She loves my mother, and will be loath to hurt her. She is 21 years old. I hope that in the next two years, she will find the peace, strength and perspective to realize she has been wronged by someone who has similarly wronged others, and who is still wronging others. I hope she will see that she has a chance to stop the trail of destruction that he has made. I hope I’ll be able to communicate clearly to her, to help her understand this. And I also hope that the law will change, to give her time to heal and think as she decides what to do.This year there is a chance the law will change. The bill A5488 has passed the NYS Assembly, and it needs a sponsor in the NYS Senate. A petition asking NYS Senator McDonald to sponsor it (Senator McDonald has indicated an interest in sponsoring it) is available for signing at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/support-a5488-the-assemblys-child-victim-act/.Every time I see something about extending or eliminating that statute of limitations against Child Sexual Abusers, the term “justice” is always bandied around. I have absolutely no conception of what “justice” would mean to me, in this context. My father twisted my mind and soul in directions souls and minds shouldn’t be twisted in. But I’m alive and healthy, and I live a life filled with peace and joy. A life that is beyond the comprehension of someone like my father. I can look back at my life and see some mistakes that I almost certainly wouldn’t have made if I hadn’t been sexually abused. But I can’t look at where I am and be too unhappy, either. What I want to see now is damage control. I want to see my father in prison simply because it is the only way I can be sure he won’t be molesting more children. And while I’m happy with my life, I also know I’m exceptionally lucky. And luck isn’t something that you can bet on when deciding which injustices need to be fixed when. Child sexual abuse is an enormous wrong, which is perpetuated by individuals, and often facilitated by families and institutions. The state has a chance to decide whose side it’s on with this piece of legislation, and if it chooses to be on the side of the perpetrators, truly, we have reached the point of moral bankruptcy.
Please join this cause I started on behalf of my son and kids like him. His attacker is walking freely while my son lived with terror and fear daily. The legal system failed my son even with medical proof of the assualt. Due to my son's inability to accurately describe the years of attacks, the legal system felt as though he was not telling the truth and did not want to risk a trial against his biological father. Please join the fight in raising our voices to change the system and obtain the assistance these children need and DESERVE.Please pass the word along to anyone with children or anyone who might benefit from this knowledge: According to the United States Department of Justice's guidelines for forensic interviewing children with cognitive or behavioral disabilities, these children are allowed to have the proper interviewer in the room. The interviewers should possess the proper behavioral degree, usually a masters degree in behavioral psychology. Also the children are allowed to have a Behavorial Pyschologist or Pyshcrist in the room to assist in the interviewing process. This is to eliminate cognitive/behavorial mis-understanding between interviewer and child. There is to be audio and visual taping of the interviews, due to complexity of the cases and delay in the court system. This information is agreed upon with the Child Advocate Center's guidelines. However, each Child Advocate Center individual policy on who is allowed in the interview process and how it is recorded in regard to these children are left to the discretion of the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the Sex Crimes Division within your individual counties. Just because the interviewer is in the room with your child, the police are on the other side of the glass leading the interviewer and the questions asked. DO NOT LET ANYONE QUESTION YOUR CHILD WITHOUT YOU BEING PRESENT OR HAVING YOUR CHILD'S MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER PRESENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is an organization called KidsVoice, their mission states,"KidsVoice: Protecting Children's Rights Founded in 1908 as the Legal Aid Society of Pittsburgh, KidsVoice provides the full-service advocacy that every abused, abandoned, voiceless and vulnerable child deserves. Many of the children KidsVoice represents, in addition to being neglected or abused, must overcome significant physical and mental disabilities. Their conditions range from developmental delays, neonatal drug addiction and AIDS to severe brain damage, suicidal depression and critical organ failure." Within the first sentence it says "every child" however when I called them to seek help in bringing my son's attacker to justice they turned him away. Their reason was because he was not "court-active." When asked what this meant, they stated he has not been removed from the home from CYF and therefore they were unable to assist my mentally disabled son. Even after contacting the ACLU's local chapter my son's legal rights were over looked. The ACLU didnt feel as though a mentally disabled sexually abused child was worth representing since it did not represent a majority to benefit from. I think the ACLU needs to re-examine the statistics of the sexually abused mentally disabled. I know my son's biological father will never be brought to justice due to the lapse in time and the neglect of the legal system and those who swore to uphold it; I am trying to stop this from happening to someone else before it is too late. Another child or another family should NEVER have to go through this. Please spread the word about this cause and help make a difference.