Imagine for a moment that you are a mother, or if you are a mother, ask yourself these questions:
- “What is your first reaction if your child makes verbal claims of having been sexually abused?”
- “What is the correct initial response in handling the situation?”
- “Are you sure you know what the correct response is, and how you will respond to this situation if it hasn’t happened to you?”
If it has happened to you, I’m so sorry, and pray that all is and will be well with you and your family, in God’s hands.
I personally subscribe to “needing to have gone through a situation myself, in order to have a plausible idea”, because until you are, how can you say for certain what someone else will do, should do, or is even capable of doing in that moment?
If I hadn’t actually experienced this circumstance in a similar manner, I could take my best guess from a logical perspective even though I’d be void of understanding the probable emotional experience. I’d likely surmise that the first thing I would do, should do and would be capable of doing, is to “call the police.” However, I can’t say this for sure, and I am not void of the probable emotional experience. Once upon a time I was an adolescent witnessing the first reaction of my mother (may she rest in peace), in a similar situation.
My mother was working when I unexpectedly arrived at her workplace in the wee hours of the morning when I was supposed to be all tucked away at a sleepover with my new friend, who was the daughter of the sleepover host–my father’s boss. All it took was one look at my stature and she knew. Her first response was to scream at the top of her lungs–clearly in a fit of rage–words I will not repeat, but will give a clue by saying that she expressed what she wanted to have happen to the man that harmed me.
You could hear a pin drop in the room now silenced among customers looking back at her in shock, including me. She didn’t call the police in that moment, or any moment thereafter. She wanted to take matters into her own hands, and considering those words she screamed, thank God she never did. In her moment of instant confusion, fear, anger and pain, she appeared to lose composure and any sense to invoke logical thought.
Seeing my mother so desperate in that moment, I began to lie, hoping that my fabricated story of not having been harmed would somehow make her feel better, and make it all go away.
My mom may or may not have believed my lie, I’ll never know for certain. Though regardless of my fabricated story to make her feel better, it couldn’t erase the facts of what was evident to her. A man that she knew, who she trusted and gave permission to guard me, took me to a place of his own accord for the benefit of his own dark and evil purposes−without her knowledge. This fits the description of having been kidnapped, which is a federal crime. No, my mom did not call the police and I was satisfied with that, because it meant I wouldn’t have to face or deal with the truth, and my mom would be spared from hearing the truth.
A recent child abuse claim that occurred in the state of Maine (the mother–whose name I refer to as Laurel Hope) differs from my experience in several aspects such as the existence of a decade between our ages at the time, and, there was no custody battle in my case, several aspects strike a resemblance.
I believe I was initially introduced to this case because I support the fight against child abuse. I received a plethora of information about the case. The court documents and other material described as evidence was published in various web posts, web journals, web blogs and various social media sites. Included were video and audio recordings, as well as what appeared to be untouched images.
Out of curiosity I clicked on the links to listen to the audio recordings said to be the voice of the child claiming abuse. What I heard on these recordings had a tremendous impact on me. I consider them “bone chilling” to say the least! They left a haunting, recurring residue in my mind and soul. That very young voice and the specific claims rendered me “severely concerned for the safety of this child.” That’s when I began to review the official court documents that were available at the aforementioned locations.
Laurel Hope claimed that her child disclosed unspeakable abuse, several times, and as a result she took the child to be examined, repeatedly, by doctors, to hospitals, to one of the most long standing-highly regarded organizations examining abuse in that region. She and the child had many interviews and received opinions from experts in the field, among them are Professors and Doctors from top Ivy League schools, DHHS, a former RN, and more.
Several resources documented and reported the results of their opinions as rule of law, substantiating the child’s claims to be true. Among the information made available was a statement purportedly written by a highly trained, former medical professional who reviewed the case, spoke with the child several times, was convinced (per the statement) that the abuse occurred repeatedly, but did not testify.
I then decided to review everything made available at the time in making a decision on if and how I would support this child. In addition to listening to the recordings of the child’s voice, I read all the documents referred, and I took the liberty to study facts about similar cases. I needed more information and through the additional research, I found reports about failures–actual and factual documented flaws attributed to States and man’s actions, processes and man-made organizations. This raised more questions in regard to the training rule taught to professionals that when a child discloses sexual abuse, the professional is “required to believe the disclosure, stand by the child and report the disclosure – granting them immunity.” I found studies revealing difficulty for some professionals to actually report claims of abuse, considering the traumatic impact it may have on the family in their own lives. I found that “recanting” is known to be part of a victim’s coping process due to the dynamics of secrecy, helplessness, entrapment and accommodation, facts about a specific therapy that provides a safe and therapeutic environment for sexually abused children to easily disclose graphic information about their abuse to pets/animals, which bolstered my opinion of what I heard on those audio recordings.
This result was enough for me to take a stand and write a letter to the US Attorney General, requesting a review into this case.
Since then the courts have spoken in this case regardless of my opinion or anyone else’s, and “that” as they say, “is that” as the rulings went against the mother, what seems to be largely due to her behavior, and or lack thereof.
I remain in support and I subscribe to believing that the majority of people in this world have good intentions, and some people actually get it right. All people including myself will make mistakes. However, I also acknowledge that there are others out there who make them by choice, deliberate and callous. When this unspeakable choice occurs, others, children, innocent people suffer.
There is light in this world that reveals truth, and there is dark in this world that shadows truth. It has been so since the beginning of time, and will continue until the day we are in the presence of Jesus Christ.
May the Lord God bless and heal abused children and their families.
(This blog is closed for comment and replaces others posted in early 2012 regarding a child abuse claim within a custody case in the upper North East Region of the USA. Names have been changed or omitted to avoid revealing actual identity. Links and references to topics and subjects in the matter have been omitted to allow truth seekers the space to research information on their own in forming opinions based on facts they find.)