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_Survivors_
A safe space to share stories and ask questions
Prosecution 
14th-Dec-2005 09:36 pm
blue butterfly

I'm only asking this because I'm curious if I made the right decision or even a common decision. These thoughts were drug to the surface by a previous post made by __modernlove .

A little background that should have no triggers: Let's dive right into it. While I was a child, somewhere between the ages of 8 and 12, I was sexually assaulted almost nightly and raped a few times by my step-father at the time. The timeline isn't accurate because, honestly, I don't remember everything or hardly anything. My therapists have come to that approximate timeline based on factors I haven't asked about because it's something I don't care to ponder on. I hated this man. I was afraid of him. My mother found out because I wrote a letter to CPS (Child Protective Services), never intending to send it, and she found the letter hidden in a dresser drawer. I believe I may have been 12 or 13 at the time she confronted me, all the while not showing a sign of beleif, with the man who harmed me sitting in the same room while we had this conversation. She stayed married to him for some time. Again, not sure how long. But the abuse stopped, and I didn't care to speak with him. A few years later they divorced, ridding me of seeing him. He remarried and the only mention of him was for my little brother, who was his one and only child, who visited him at least twice a year.

I never spoke of it. I didn't care to. I don't think I even knew what to do at that time. I told my first serious boyfriend that I had been abused, but never in detail. I've also told my husband about it, but again, haven't gone into much except why I get uncomfortable with certain things. I have recently, because of this group, started to get couseling for it and trying to deal with it. In all other sessions my previous therapists only know that it happend, not what or how. Either way, on to the current thought.

The issue: My most recent therapist brought up something I never thought about. What if this guy continues to harm other people? I never pressed charges because I had no support, my own mother didn't beleive me and my father couldn't be found. It just got swept under the rug. Then he was gone. Then he had a life, he had another wife, a dog and a house. Who was I to drudge all this crap up that no one would beleive just to do what justice couldn't. To ruin him. I know he never touched my sister. She told me of some abuse that I already knew of, and I asked her. She said he never did anything like it. And then there's my youner brother, the son of this man. He's a happy kid and enjoys seeing is father. I doubt anything is happening. But I never did anything. It's been a long time. I'm 21 in a two months. 8+ years have gone by. But since I'm finally taking steps to rectify myself due to the situation, shouldn't I prevent it from happening?

My decision: I've chosen to do nothing. I don't think I should ruin this guys life for my petty emotions nearly 10 years after the act. I don't even know all of what happend. How am I supposed to supply dates or times, to re-live this if I can't do it in a secure location already? I always thought I made the right choice in not doing anything because then I was too messed up to know any better, and now I think it's too late and I'd just look like the bad person here. Plus, my younger brother is happy. I wouldn't be screwing with only one life here. Many are in the web. And now I wonder if it was the right choice, and if it still is?

How many of you have confronted the world and tried or succeeded to put someone away for thier crime? How'd you get through it? Would you now do something if it might make a difference? I'm frightend that I made a bad choice. That there is someone out there living through this nightmare because I was too selfish. But on the other hand I'm terrified of how this will affect my life if I change my mind. I have too many problems already to try and do legal issues. I don't think I could survive. Am I in the wrong? Am I the minority in this group?

Comments 
14th-Dec-2005 07:22 pm (UTC)
I am a rape survivor, and I was raped when I was 26. It may make a difference.

I did put the rapist away for what he did, and I would do it again, mostly for the reasons you cite. I thought "What if it were some other woman, not me? What if I didn't come forward, and he went and raped somebody else?"

So for the sake of the women he would therefore leave alone, I did it.
14th-Dec-2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
My decision: I've chosen to do nothing. I don't think I should ruin this guys life for my petty emotions nearly 10 years after the act.

What bothers me is that line right there. You called your emotions "petty". You have every right to have those emotions and those feelings. You having those feelings, I believe, further confirms that something did in fact happen. Don't doubt yourself and what you think happened to you as a child. Your brain is an amazing thing. I think that the reason you can't really recall much is because your brain is blocking it to prevent you from having to relive that trauma in your mind. But just the fact that you can recall a lil is enough to know that something probably did happen. You don't want to report it, and I understand that, but I think you shouldn't dismiss what you're feeling. I think it's worth exploring.
14th-Dec-2005 09:27 pm (UTC)
First, I will stand by whatever decision you make. There is no right or wrong answer. But there is a harmful and a healthy way to approach the answer.

What concerns me is that you say "I don't think I should ruin this guys life for my petty emotions nearly 10 years after the act."

One: any emotions you feel are NOT petty. They are real and they are yours and no matter what they are you are entitled to feel them.

Two: By wanting justice for what happened to you, if this is what you decide you want, you are not ruining his life. HE chose to do this to you and it would be him paying the consequences for his actions.

Three: I'm not sure what the statute of limitations is in your state, but I know here people do get prosecuted for things that happen years after the fact when people don't have dates, etc. There are different kinds of evidence that can be collected.

Ultimately the decision is yours. If you choose not to go through with it because it isn't something you want to do, that is totally okay. It will definitely change your life and only you can decide whether or not you want to do that. But realize that you have every right to do it, and you would be making him take resposibility for his actions, not ruining his life, if you decided to do it.

My case was very different from yours (it was my ex-fiance) and because I was living with him while it was happening and in a relationship with him, the prosecutor told me I had very little chance of him being charged. Instead I decided to write a book (a part of it will be my masters thesis), which I'm working on now. I'll have justice in my own way. :)

However, I do know someone who experienced something similar to yours and was able to send the person away for a long time. So don't be discouraged by my story. I just am telling you why I didn't prosecute.

*hugs*

15th-Dec-2005 12:08 am (UTC)
No one can tell you what to do. Just know that you have the right to expect justice for what happened to you. It wasn't your fault, and your feelings about it certainly aren't insignificant.

That said - there's a cost to prosecuting. I was abused and I couldn't do anything about it because the guy's dead. And if I could... I wouldn't. Because I wouldn't want to put myself through it. Because I wouldn't want to put MY family through it.

A very close friend of mine was seriously attacked in the street a few months back. Now - we reported it anonymously to the police but she adamently refused to make an official report, get DNA from her clothes (which she threw out) or really do anything much about it at all. This was a serious attack in the centre of town where there's CCTV. I tried to encourage her but eventually I saw why she wouldn't. It was that she felt that the trial would stop her being able to cope with what happened. And I couldn't honestly say she'd be ok going to trial and having to relive it all. And that's a serious flaw in our justice system
15th-Dec-2005 07:00 am (UTC)
I, too, was sexually abused as a child, by my father. At age 17, I pressed charges against him. Sadly, since it had happened *so* often, I couldn't think of any specific dates, etc. and so the district attorney (I'm up in Massachusetts) said I would have a teeny chance of actually getting the charges to stick - sadly, our laws are not quite encompassing enough to nail the long-term sexual offenders.

The fact is, that most sexual abuse of children happens so often that trying to prosecute it is like trying to remember every time you've ever stubbed your toe and on what you stubbed it.

And sadly, many of the worst child molesters get away with it, because it's so hard to prosecute. And even if they do time for it? Not enough parents look at the sex offenders list for their towns, and they strike again and again.

If you choose to prosecute, we're behind you and here to listen and support you. If you don't prosecute, please, don't feel that you have cursed others. I know the feeling of not being able to take down your perpetrator... that lingering feeling of not seeing justice done for the crimes that shattered your life. But remember - not prosecuting does not mean in any way that you can't be actively vocal about what happened to you.

Take the horrors that man did to you and turn them into the fire to be an activist, work to help prevent rape and child abuse, be an active voice to support other women and men who have lived through what you have. We're a veritable army nowadays, and together, we all make a huge difference.
15th-Dec-2005 02:56 pm (UTC)
In my opinion, he has nobody to blame but himself. If you choose to pursue this issue, you won't be ruining his life- you'll be holding him accountable for his actions. If he doesn't want to face the music, he shouldn't go around sexually molesting children.

You have to make the right choice for yourself. You are going to have to deal with the consequences of your decision. I don't have advice, because this is a decision that each person has to make alone. Everyone has different reasons that they choose to pursue/not pursue the case. I chose to pursue and the charges were dropped for lack of evidence, but I am not sorry, because I thought about it for a long time and made the decision that I wanted to bring charges. However, it was very difficult and emotionally draining.

((hugs)) I am so sorry that this happened to you...
16th-Dec-2005 07:39 pm (UTC)
I have been in your situation, my stepfather molested me for years until I got too old,(about 12,I think), I tried telling people, my mother told people I was lying to get attention...My stepfather left my mother and found a new home, I did try and tell the "other woman" what had happened to me, but she thought I was just a spoiled brat trying to get attention...however, one night she went to the store or something, and left her 5yr old alone with him...she unexpectedly came home and caught him...she slapped him, grabbed her daughter and called 911...she had him arrested, but not before he got to her daughter...Several years later, after I told my doctor what had happened and what his name was...you see, my mother told me he was a member of the "Mafia" which she says is why she couldn't stop him...anyway, my stepfather was already behind bars for something, I only wrote a little letter explaining who I was and what had happened...since my doctor said I was under 18, I could choose to remain anonymous, which I did...as for "petty emotions", there are no "petty" emotions, they are your emotions and they deserve your full attention...As for wrecking this guys life...I tend to think about it like this, he ruined my life, I'm 35, single, living in a hobbot hole, and nearly terrified of men, and crowds...everyday is a project for me to continue(I'm NOT suicidal, just unhappy)...he ruined my life, and its payback time, I would ruin his...however, revenge isn't a really good reason for ruining a life, but healing is...I'm not sure I could heal if I knew he was still out there...As for the other little girl, I think about her everyday, and continue to feel guilty since nobody believed me...I hope this helps, and lots of healing hugs to you...you are a survivor and whatever you decide, I will stand by you no matter what :)
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