We Are Survivors 

This blog is dedicated to the tens of millions of adult survivors of child abuse and neglect who get up every day and try to work and function in a world that seems to not care about us.

Child Abuse Survivors and the Justice System - Part 1

Just as in the general population, there is a lot of misinformation and a general lack of knowledge about what is helpful for child abuse survivors who become involved in the justice system. I am providing information that I hope will be helpful for both survivors and the entire spectrum of those involved in prosecuting crimes against perpetrators. It is important that everyone from judges to law enforcement to victim advocates understand what a survivor is experiencing and how to best support his/her needs.

To begin with, it is critical to know that everything is stacked against a survivor who wants to seek justice.

From the very beginning, a child is brainwashed and conditioned to NOT TELL THE PERPETRATOR’S SECRET, because if they do, they will destroy the whole family. The child is shamed into believing it was their fault. Just like children of divorced parents, they automatically believe they caused the divorce. The programmed message is, “Everything will be all right as long as you don’t tell anyone.” So, this deep inappropriate shame and misplaced blame is carried forward into adulthood. Most survivors have never told anyone. In effect, the perpetrator accomplished his/her mission of having the victim cover up his/her crimes for the rest of their life.

What I call the “Brick Wall of Denial” is pervasive in America. The messenger is attacked because the message is unacceptable. When survivors have the courage and strength to finally try and tell other adults in their lives about their past trauma and its effects on them, they get the same messages. “It’s no big deal. Get over it.” Shaming messages: “Why didn’t you tell someone?” “There must be something wrong with you.” And so, the perpetrator is protected because the survivor will probably never try and tell anyone else.

 

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Child Abuse Survivors Excluded from ADA
Child Abuse Survivors and the Justice System - Par...
 

Comments 2

mikko523 on Friday, 04 October 2013 10:52

I was abused by both my step father when I was two and again by my brother when I was twelve. I have been going through therapy for over twenty-five years. I am getting better, but the abuse has messed me up. I don't ever want to be in a relationship with anyone again. This is sad to say but I can't handle one because I don't trust anyone, especially my family. When I told my mom about the abuse the first thing she said to me was,"Do you think your step father molested your brother too?" No I am sorry that happened to you. I was devastated yet again with my mom's reaction on top of the abuse. I love my family, but I don't like them one bit. There are so many reasons why I don't like them and the number one reason is: They are mentally abusive. To this day I can only take a couple of hours with them and that's all I can handle. Sometimes I feel they have ruined my life, but then I make the best of what I can salvage. I have come a long way from where I was and I am proud to say that I am reselent. I never give up and I am always trying to get better.

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I was abused by both my step father when I was two and again by my brother when I was twelve. I have been going through therapy for over twenty-five years. I am getting better, but the abuse has messed me up. I don't ever want to be in a relationship with anyone again. This is sad to say but I can't handle one because I don't trust anyone, especially my family. When I told my mom about the abuse the first thing she said to me was,"Do you think your step father molested your brother too?" No I am sorry that happened to you. I was devastated yet again with my mom's reaction on top of the abuse. I love my family, but I don't like them one bit. There are so many reasons why I don't like them and the number one reason is: They are mentally abusive. To this day I can only take a couple of hours with them and that's all I can handle. Sometimes I feel they have ruined my life, but then I make the best of what I can salvage. I have come a long way from where I was and I am proud to say that I am reselent. I never give up and I am always trying to get better.
shelaghstephen on Friday, 04 October 2013 18:29

So true. And there should be NO statute of limitations for child abuse because it takes so long for the victim to report. But when the victim does report, it takes decades to find anyone who will listen. To this day, the techniques are denial, belittling and 'therapy', whatever it takes to shut up the victim.

My case is particularly appalling. I am the only incest victim I have ever met whose emotional trauma was used to discredit her testimony. Because I had PTSD (which should have been taken as evidence in my favour) my testimony was dismissed by the police and by several psychologists and psychiatrists supporting my parents' coverup. They pretended that because I was 'disturbed' that meant I had imagined years of torture in slavery. Even among other incest victims I am alone because I am the only person I have ever met who has suffered this extent of abuse when reporting.

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So true. And there should be NO statute of limitations for child abuse because it takes so long for the victim to report. But when the victim does report, it takes decades to find anyone who will listen. To this day, the techniques are denial, belittling and 'therapy', whatever it takes to shut up the victim. My case is particularly appalling. I am the only incest victim I have ever met whose emotional trauma was used to discredit her testimony. Because I had PTSD (which should have been taken as evidence in my favour) my testimony was dismissed by the police and by several psychologists and psychiatrists supporting my parents' coverup. They pretended that because I was 'disturbed' that meant I had imagined years of torture in slavery. Even among other incest victims I am alone because I am the only person I have ever met who has suffered this extent of abuse when reporting.

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