Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stories needed for Supreme Court Case

My response to a petition for The Stop Family Violence Activists Organization is looking for survivors willing to share their story to assist them in fighting the Supreme Court. Please see more information at their website. Bolded is the questions that were asked:

http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org/226 )

By an Anonymous Childhood Sexual Abuse survivor seeking to help in persuading a change to the legal system in the interest of protecting other children

background about the assault(s) that occurred

I was sexually abused by my father in my childhood home for a period of 6 years from the age of 10. Two of my sisters and a childhood friend also confirm they were abused in similar circumstances.

This has caused tremendous effects on myself, family and friends. My childhood was spent
· fearing my father would rape me, touch me or hit me
· hiding under beds and in other areas if I was alone with him
· witnessing domestic violence
· seeking help and not being given it
· protecting other siblings during the abuse
· contemplating suicide
· extremely low self esteem
· panic attacks and general fear of surroundings
· blaming myself for the abuse
· change in personality due to the abuse

In my adult years, the effects have been:

· At least 300 counselling sessions, with 5 different therapists
· Attending two group counselling sessions
· Hospitalisation due to the abuse
· Having to protect children in his presence including nieces
· Losing all my family due to the fact they are unwilling to deal with the situation
· Untold misery and hurt, depression and anxiety
· Relationship breakups
· Anger and denial of the problem
· Numerous family arguments, harassment and anger from family members
· Speaking to the police and retelling my story
· Total breakdown of a relationship with my twin sister, mother and other sisters.
· Witnessing family members being hospitalised due to abuse
· Fear of meeting the abuser in public, shopping centres etc
· Confronting the abuser
· Loss of work days, many sick days during recovery period
· Being unable to continue at one work place due to hospitalisation
· Need for medication at times
· Looking after family members before and after hospitalisation
· Attending therapy sessions with family members
· Wanting to move out of the area I reside due to close proximity to abuser
· Living with the fact that I will not get justice
· Living with the fact that he may do this again to other kids
· Living with the fact that he can now get a “police clearance” due to the fact that this has not been taken to court
· Total of 22 years of being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse

I see there is no justice at this present time for people in my situation without horrific retelling in the court system and facing the abuser and other supporters in court.

• information about the decision to file criminal charges.

Four weeks ago, I spoke to the police in my local area. I was advised by a counsellor at the local Referral Centre that I could file an anonymous letter to the police stating the abusers name and marking it on a police record.

I have not felt comfortable with formally pressing charges at this present time.

I have been advised there is enough evidence to go forward, but the police could not say what sort of sentence he would receive if any. My sisters are unwilling to deal with the situation and would not support any action.

I am currently seeking legal advice at my own expense as to the actions of the courts and whether I should proceed any further

I have been advised there is a 2 year waiting period for a court date and that I would have to testify in full. I am in the process of writing dates/details of the abuse, and this has caused severe emotional upheaval over this four week period.

I have reported him to the police, but as of this moment, have not formally pressed charges due to the fear I am feeling about the court system, penalties and the actual sentence (if any)

I have been advised by friends/associates of penalties that others have received and have not been able to comprehend the light sentences that they have received.

I am no willing to go further, for my abuser to get a short stay in jail, go through two years of heart ache waiting for the court date, put my sisters through absolute turmoil for a light sentence.

• information about your decision to testify in criminal court or not.

I have been advised of the adversarial nature of the courts, and that on the chance that he pleads guilty to the offence that I would not have to attend court. There is a chance he will, but once faced with police and court systems and jail time believe he may change his mind and plead not guilty.

I have yet to formally attend a written statement interview with the police, because of the uncertainty of the court system, uncertainty of how the police will respond and how my family members will respond – perhaps violently.

Specifically, what factors weighed in to your decision?

· Family members not supporting me
· The fact that he may abuse again
· The fact that he may go to jail for only a short period of time, if any time
· The formal court process
· The detail and witnesses I would need to produce
· Horrific court procedure and telling my story in front of the family
· Effects on other family members
· My perception on the lack of justice.
· My lack of detailed memory

Did you discuss your concerns with a victim advocate or prosecutor? How did they respond?

I have had a number of discussions with the police advocate over the phone. It has been a positive experience speaking to the advocate who has advised some of the legal processes, avenues and charges.

She has also advised of the evidence procedure, the interview procedure and advised of the nature of the prosecution itself, and the uncertainty of the verdict.

Talking to the advocate, though positive on her part, has made me think twice about proceeding. I am happy that I have reported him, and have a report number, however, he can still receive a police clearance and possibly harm other children.

I am believing at this time that the court process would be horrific and that I am not needing to spend the next two years in fear and turmoil, possibly putting relationships at risk and personal safety of myself and sisters.

I have been advised by the advocate, that should the abuser seek contact, that I can have a restraining order on him, however, I would have to do this in court again, possibly confronting the abuser to receive a restraining order on him and other family members. I do not believe that this would be a suitable arrangement in my case.

In the end, what did you decide to do about testifying and why?

I have not decided either way at this time. I am feeling that I may not proceed with the legal action, however, this may change in the future and for me there is no deadline or statue of limitations.

The uncertainty of the sentence, the fear, and facing the abuser in court, family reaction and possible confrontations with the abuser make me feel unsafe and uncertain. I am not willing at this time to go through the formal actions, enduring such hardship for the period for a light sentence.

What was the result of your decision in terms of the case moving forward? In terms of you or your family’s safety and well-being?

If I do not press charges and go forward with the formal interview, he still has the ability to work with children and still can carry on as normal. He can receive a police clearance at this given time. I feel a lot of responsibility in protecting others however, facing the turmoil uncertain of what to do.

I believe the well being of all family members involved and their families and children would be harmed through a formal court process. My safety and ability to function is also a consideration.

What was the result of the criminal proceeding?
A report to the police, filed on their computer system for future use.

Do you have any regrets about the decision you made?

I have not made a decision either way, though at this time, due to the nature of the court system, having to testify in horrific detail and facing the abuser in a court situation, with other family being at his side would cause serious harm to my own well being, and that of my relationships with my husband and family members.

At this time, I am not regretting ringing the police and placing a report. However, I feel at a loss, because justice I think in this case has not been served and he is still able to continue on possibly abusing others. This in itself is terrifying for me. Could the whole process not be made easier?

For others reading this story, there is help available.

Please visit http://www.aftersilence.org/ or http://www.brokenspirits.com/, online support groups for rape, sexual abuse, molestation and domestic violence and abuse.

Why not tell your story too??

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Couple of Harrowing Weeks

After spending a couple of harrowing weeks deciding on what to do about reporting, I feel I am no closer to deciding either way. Though I have reported him formally, I am required to go in for a police interview. I have been given time to think about it, but in the mean time the report stays in the computer system for other police to see, should the need arise. Should he apply for a police clearance (to work with children) this report would have no bearing on its outcome and he would receive one automatically.

Though I am aware of the processes I have been put off by the amount of time it would take to go to court (police advised it would be 18 mths - 2yrs) and the effects it would have on myself and other family members. After the past couple of weeks, I am very aware that even the thought of reporting is beyond mention.

I am required at the police interview to give as much detail as possible, and have been advised to write down as much as I can remember - times, dates, details, what people have said and did, including what they said when I informed them of what had happened. People I have told in the past, and people that have helped me along the way. I have attempted to do this two times now, and have found it extremely triggering, to the point where I have had to stop to recover.

I have been in emotional turmoil for the past couple of weeks. My husband is supportive which ever way I decide, be it reporting or not.

On a good note, I have updated my main site at www.whitedovesnest.com with statistics and a new survivor art gallery. Hope you enjoy the new features.
Thanks for reading.



Monday, January 09, 2006

Thoughts on reporting

It is confronting
That I feel this way
What to do?
What to say?

Why am I scared?
Why just now?
Is it that I live in fear?
Instead of the here and now

Where am I going?
What can I see?
Why did this happen?
Why just me?

Where is the support?
Where do I belong?
Is it just that others
Sing this other song?

I have no idea
I cannot know
I want to know what to do
I want to know where to go

The feeling is overwhelming
The scare inside
I wish I could just walk away
Walk away and hide

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fear Struck Tonight

Memories of a sexually abused child; 20 yrs on

A small girl lay on her bed
Feeling fear; nothing said
A single teddy is her friend
Just when will it ever end

The single bed in the room
The light shines in from the moon
She looks out her bedroom door
Waiting for fear; horror more

The darkness is all around
She makes not a sound
She feels safe; the door is closed
Nobody but her really knows

She shuts the door out of fear
Her father is close and near
She hopes the door will keep him out
She can do nothing; she cannot shout

Every night she lives in pain
For tonight it may happen again
A noise makes her hyper alert
She crumples; forever hurt

Every night is the same
What does this all really mean
She looks out at the light
A sound gives another fright

She thinks that she is all alone
But she knows now; as she has grown
That there are many with this fear
Many hold this vision near

The memory is here again
Fear strikes; round the bend
Many years from her life
Living horror; living strife

She feels like she is in the room
Twenty years past; it is not soon
The memory is eternally there
But he lives on without a care.


Bit of an awful night - decided to write a poem to express feelings.