“Okay, this is what the good guys do. They keep trying. They don’t give up.” Cormac McCarthy “The Road”
” ‘You will succeed’, said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’ ” 1 Kings 22:22 NLT
“I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ ” Acts 22:10a NLT
“Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!” Jesus Acts 18:9b NLT
I was gently informed by the woman who wrote so eloquently about healing and forgiveness, that those who have dealt with sexual abuse consider themselves to be survivors of it as opposed to being its ongoing victims. I applaud her, and those like her. I admire their courage and their ability to control things that happened TO them rather than letting those things control them as human beings.
There is no way of knowing how many survivors are out there, but it is highly likely that there are many times more who are still victims living day to day with the pain of past – or present – abuse. Some published estimates place the number of females in this country who were sexually abused as children at one out of every three. Similar reports also estimate that the number of males who were sexually abused as children is between 1 in 7 and 1 in 4.
While politicians push emotional hot buttons in a quest for votes, and media outlets sensationalize tragedy and capitalize on fear in their quest for ratings, studies show that the greatest threat to children does not lie among faceless predators lurking in the community. The most reliable sources available estimate that somewhere between 90-93% of all sexual abuse occurs by a family member or acquaintance.
In her book “A Nation Of Wimps”, Hara Estroff Marano, award winning author and editor-at-large of Psychology Today writes, “In fact, the greatest threat of child physical and sexual harm arises INSIDE the home, presented by family members, often stepparents, and especially stepfathers……Infants and children who do not live with two biological parents face forty to ONE HUNDRED times the chance of being killed within the family as those who live with both biological parents.”
Why, then, is so much time, effort, and money spent on these misguided efforts to protect our children from dangers lurking outside the home when the overwhelming majority of incidents occur within?
Quite likely, it is because of tragic stories such as one I read recently in an Arkansas newspaper about a 16 year old girl whose body was found buried in a barrel on property owned by the family of the prime suspect in her disappearance. The suspect was already a ‘Level 3’ registered sex offender who apparently ‘met’ the girl on a social networking website, struck up some sort of relationship with her and ultimately got her to agree to meet him. The evidence points to her willingly being picked up by him, but it ended horribly for her, and her family and friends.
The fact that this particular individual was a registered sex offender did nothing to help this poor young woman or keep her safe. To compound the situation, he was a ‘Level 3′ offender. Let’s look at what that means, for therein lies part of the problem we face today, albeit a small part since these types of crimes (for all of the massive amounts of publicity they receive) are relatively rare:
The suspect in this case had been sentenced in 2001 to ten years in prison. He was released in 2008 after serving about 7 years of his sentence. That original crime? He entered a woman’s home through a window, held a box-cutter to her throat, taped her mouth shut, and raped her.
Just to put things in perspective, let me say that I am surrounded by individuals serving 7, 10, even 15 years in prison for looking at pictures. I am most certainly NOT insensitive to the fact that the pictures in question involve children. The individuals involved with the production of these pictures should be dealt with severely. Of that there is no question, but so too should the individual who uses threat of physical harm, or death, to take from a woman (or man, for that matter) that which should only be given freely.
That woman was a victim. Whether she is a survivor I do not know. I pray that she is and that God has given her some peace and comfort and helped her to heal.
For raping a woman after breaking into her home and threatening her by holding a razor to her throat.
If this individual had gotten a sentence of, say, 30 years, perhaps the young woman he is now accused of murdering and stuffing in a barrel to be hidden away in an unmarked grave would still be alive, doing the things that 16 year olds do. Perhaps the time will come in this country when crime, criminals, and the victims the crimes create will be dealt with in a manner that is devoid of emotion, haste, sensationalism, and political grandstanding, because the truth of the matter is that dealing with crime – even crimes involving children – in the heat of emotion makes for bad laws and bad decisions that punish everyone, including the victims of those crimes by taking much needed funding away from where it can do the most good, or by clogging courts and prisons with so many people that the truly violent have to be released to prey again.
Cases such as this are heartbreaking to the extreme. They are tragic, senseless, and emotionally explosive. They receive hours of air time on television and days of coverage in the newspaper. Grieving parents are sidled up to by politicians drawn to the cameras and the reporters as moths are to a flame. Fists are shaken like sabers before battle and various new laws are passed in haste that pertain to the unique set of circumstances of that particular tragedy.
Unfortunately, the nest senseless tragedy will be accompanied by its own unique set of circumstances.
As we seek to make children safer there are those who would argue that what is being done is having a reverse effect. In a passage from “Perverted Justice”, author and forensic psychologist Charles Patrick Ewing writes:
“From the research, however, it appears that the emperor has no (or very few) clothes. The consensus of empirical research is that these sex offender registration and notification laws have no statistically significant effect on sex offender recidivism and thus fail to provide the protection upon which they are premised and which they promise to the public. Related laws that restrict the residences, workplaces, and movements of sex offenders also appear to do little if anything to reduce recidivism and may have the unintended consequence of making sex offender recidivism more likely because they engender hopelessness in some offenders, impede their contact with social support networks in the community, and create disincentives for pro-social behavior. Moreover, these laws may make citizens (especially children) less rather than more safe because they engender a false sense of security.”
In an article in “Prison Legal News”, Lt. Ruben Diaz, who heads the sex crimes unit for the Harris County Sheriff’s office in Texas, admitted that it is “very rare to find a perpetrator of a new sex crime among those already in the registry”.
According to a blog called “Sentencing Law And Policy”, the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children states that there are currently 747,408 registered sex offenders in this country, an increase of 25% since 2006 ALONE. The number continues to grow at an ever-increasing rate and is on track to grow another 10% just this year. Those convicted of possession of child pornography make up the largest number of additions to sex offender registries in this country. James Lang, chief of the criminal division of the US Attorney’s office in Massachusetts was quoted as saying, “There’s been recognition nationwide that there’s been an epidemic.”
An epidemic indeed.
The Supreme Court of this great nation has unconscionably legitimized immorality and the removal of God from many aspects of daily life. It has endorsed the absence of any requirement of decency in the way that people live and it has paved the way to the creation of this nation’s obsession and preoccupation with sex.
As America descends deeper into the depths of depravity and degeneracy, those who have become obsessed are now becoming the obsession itself. Society has become so maniacally obsessed with the sex OFFENDERS that the waves of arrests and the flood of new legislation and restrictions on a select class of citizens’ freedoms and liberties threatens to overturn society and capsize the very core of its existence.
And all because we have the right to use our freedom in pathetically meaningless and depraved ways that contribute nothing TO the good of mankind and take away much that is good FROM it.
In the meantime, as local, state and federal governments struggle to find ways to pay for services that taxpaying citizens should have a right to expect, hundreds of millions – indeed, BILLIONS – of dollars are thrown into a cesspool of our own making rather than going to the very agencies that were created to protect children in the first place.
Every state in the union has some form of child protective agency. Instead of using them for their intended purpose, and growing them to meet today’s special needs, we have turned the FBI into a very ineffective, and very expensive child protective agency while at the same time we reduce funding to these very critical, very well-positioned agencies that were designed to do what the name implies – protect children from neglect and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. It is easy to find stories in almost every state about cutbacks in funding. Poorly trained case workers and investigators, and fewer of them in today’s world are things that should not be tolerated by anyone who claims to be a protector of children.
There is no dispute from any quarter that the overwhelming majority of the dangers that exist to children comes from family, friends, or acquaintances. It should be as obvious as the problem itself that funding for these agencies should be a top priority. More investigators and caseworkers who are better paid and better qualified. More therapists to turn the victims of child sexual abuse into survivors.
It’s time to take steps that will substantively help these young victims become survivors through education, treatment, and therapy. It’s time to spend money where it will have a positive impact on someone’s life rather than using it to paralyze an entire nation, filling its citizen’s with fear and paranoia about dangers that comprise a small percentage of the damage done to children through sexual and physical abuse and neglect.
I look forward to one day being able to write about the SURVIVORS of freedom rather than its victims, but until we re-focus our energies, intellect, and resources on solutions that can actually fix problems, we will just continue to incarcerate more people and make their re-entry into society a near impossibility, thereby effectively destroying MORE families and creating hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of victims of another kind.
It’s time to stop the madness and end the sadness that comes when this nation’s children are victims of freedom not used well.
I thank you for your time. God bless you and your families.