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Blog: Statutes of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse- a survivor's perspective-part 2  

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.    


 
Posted: Jun 25, 2011 5:41am | (2) | () |  
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Blog: Statutes of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse- a survivor's perspective-part 1  


I think most people whose lives have never been affected by child sexual abuse think it is rare. They think it will never happen to their children. They think they don't need to worry about it because they pay their school taxes, they obey the law, and… it just couldn’t’! And if, by some disastrous misfortune, it happens to their child, their child will tell them that day, they will scoop that child up in their arms, call the police, and eventually all will be well. Unfortunately, the truth is much uglier.

Many studies using several different sources of data conclude that 25% of girls and 15% of boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Well over 90% of them are sexually abused by someone they and/or their parents trust, and a significant percent of the time, that someone is the child's parent, step-parent or guardian. This is a statistic you see a lot, but I don’t think most people with no connection to the crime of child sexual abuse actually think about what it means. It means that this person who is so trusted by the child and their family is a big part of the child’s life. The child likely has intense, complex feelings towards this person. The offender has likely spent lots of time being very kind and indulgent to the child, and sometimes is the only person in that child’s life who has been.  Just like batterers rarely beat a woman on their first date, a sex offender is rarely going to do anything sexual to a child they are “grooming” until they have had many, many contacts with them.  Eventually, some of those contacts are likely to test how well a child keeps secrets. And some of them are likely to test a child’s response to the trappings of adult sexuality. Eventually, the adult sexually victimizes the child, once they are sure the child will keep their secret. They usually sexually victimize the child in a way that doesn’t cause any physical pain, but may cause arousal, which further confuses the child and reinforces to the offender that what they are doing is harmless and consensual. And throughout all of this, they maintain a relationship with the child that is still largely kind and indulgent.  To keep the child’s silence, threats and manipulations may be thrown into the mix, but the relationship is still largely positive.

Maintaining the child’s silence often isn’t that hard. Very young children may not realize that there is anything wrong or abnormal about being sexually victimized, they may lack a vocabulary to describe it, and older children who do understand what is being done to them often are so ashamed of the victimization they want it kept a secret. In about ten percent of all cases of CSA, most often in incest, there is a non-offending adult who is aware of the abuse and choses to do nothing. There is also a percentage of non-offending adults who will do something, usually talk to the offender, tell them never to abuse again, but who don’t report the case to appropriate authorities. I’ve never seen a statistic about how common this is, especially since these aren’t the cases that get counted.  In situations like these, the child has been shown that no one cares enough to help them, and telling more people about their victimization is only going to show how many people out there don’t care.  

So now we have a slightly different understanding of the toll child sexual abuse takes on its victims- they usually are victimized more than once by the same person, a person who they have deep, complicated feelings for, a person who has been manipulating them, and they may have reason to believe that no one is going to believe or help them if they seek help. This is largely why 80-90% of children don’t reveal their sexual abuse until they reach adulthood.

Statistically speaking, adolescence and adulthood are pretty ugly for CSA survivors. CSA survivors are more likely to experience academic failure, to drop out of school, to suffer from mental illness, drug abuse, suicide attempts, obesity, sexual precociousness, STI’s and unintended pregnancy or parenthood than their non-abused peers. Think about what these facts mean- these survivors are likely to enter the adult world on very shaky foundation, one in which self-sufficiency is hard to reach. And the process of parenting an adolescent coping with mental illness, substance abuse, sexual precociousness, parenthood, or any combination thereof is not easy. We don't provide a lot of resources for parents in this culture, and we provide next to nothing for the parents of troubled teenagers.  So this means your average young adult who has survived CSA is likely to be ill-equipped to survive on their own and is likely to have a strained relationship with their family of origin, even if their family of origin wasn’t directly involved in their abuse. And young adults with strained relationships with their family of origin but major obstacles to independence are often unlikely to do something that will stress or shatter that family, such as reveal their past sexual abuse. And the revelation usually does shake, if not shatter most families. No one wants to hear that their sibling, parent, etc., hurt their child. All the stereotypical tensions about the in-laws become magnified a thousand-fold. And if the young adult reveals that their parent’s spouse molested them, the situation becomes even more intense, and the non-offending parent’s decision to not believe the child, further hurting them, is even more appealing. But hopefully, the young adult survivor at some point accesses some help for some of the problems plaguing them, and at this point, they are likely to start confronting their victimization.

“Confronting your victimization”- that’s a pretty big and abstract term, and can mean many different things to different people. But at some point it means coming to terms with the fact that someone with power over you betrayed you, hurt you and damaged you. It means casting off the shame of the sexual abuse, and seeing your role as a victim as a blameless one. Sometimes this comes in short epiphanies, sometimes it takes years. But after it happens, survivors are left with the question of what “what next?” both in terms of their abuser and their family of origin.

 
Posted: Jun 25, 2011 5:34am | (0) | () |  
Tags:               
{ else }   Alert: Stop Child Welfare Agencies From Profiting From Our Kids  
Focus:Children
Action Request:Think About
Location:United States

We need to take action to protect our children.


By definition of Abuse, DCFS is interrogating, cohorsing, leading our children.
They are denying our children the right to receive an education by pulling them out of required academic classes for questioning on matters that should be classified as "adult only".


By definition of Neglect, DCFS is not providing help to families unless they are investigated or indited for abuse or neglect.


Please Join:
http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/CHANGE_REFORM


Please Sign:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/Children-And-Family-Rights
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/Save-Our-Family




 
Posted: Mar 3, 2009 5:08pm | comment (1) | discuss () | permalink  
Tags: help   children   abuse   rights   protect   education   neglect   reform   cps   adult   dcfs  
{ else }   Blog: I must ask....  

I don't understand why it is so hard to get signatures on petitions that will benefit kids, our future, our blessings, and our life.  


I understand that this law has some slightly confusing aspects (e.g. where will the money come from). Hopefully the money will come straight from the offenders. Maybe the whole prison sysytem can be redesigned to suite a prgram for offenders that victimize children (I am going to have a fund raiser that will pay for the research of looking into this, but that will take years). On the other hand, if we, America, will stand up and take care of these children today, WE WILL REAP the Benefits tomorrow.


I have dealt with so many addicts, institutionalized woman, and dysfunctional families that were victims of abuse when they were children.  Most of the adults that lead dysfunctional lives today were victims of abuse. If we do our best to help child victims heal today our society will thank us for it tomorrow by having healthy citizens to work, guide, and run our country.


Please look at www.myspace.com/cierraslaw  for more information, research, and statistics of abuse.


Please read, forward, and spread the news....our future needs us NOW!


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/victims-turnedsurviviors-ensure-a-brighterAmerica


Thank you, Candace


 



 
Posted: Oct 20, 2008 8:23pm | comment (1) | discuss () | permalink  
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