“According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 1 out of 4 girls will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. It also states that most cases go unreported. You made me one of those statistics. For 5 years, this went unreported. For 5 years, I was one out of four girls.”
As my daughter stood before the judge and a courtroom full of strangers I listened as her nervous tension squeaked past her vocal cords. There, with her back to me, just a foot away I listened as she addressed her perpetrator. I knew she needed a reminder that I was there, but I feared touching her; I didn’t want my anger to override her emotions through my touch.
At the suggestion of another I did reach out, and something amazing happened. As my hand touched her back and began to rub (as is customary of our interaction during tense moments) her voice grew loud, she was angry and she let it be known. My little caterpillar that spent most of her life hidden away in a cocoon of secrecy suddenly emerged a beautiful butterfly … it was that instant that the room turned into the color of tears, not only for what she has had to endure, but for the empowering strength and inspiration she has become.
Prior to my daughter reading her impact statement the prosecuting attorney said, “Now you are very soft spoken, but you need to speak up so that the court can hear you.” However, I’m pretty sure that the prosecutor thought that her booming voice of anger was going to smack him in the back of the head!
She stood there reading the details of his years of abuse, she stated her hatred for him, she spat out memories that have become nightmares, and she yelled at him as she told him that she has been diagnosed with Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder! All the while she watched him, hoping to see some reaction from him, but as is his trait, he was completely emotionally removed from the reality that the rest of us are facing. He could not look at her, or anyone. She completely owned the courtroom as she told the truth, all eyes were on him, including those of other inmates. He could not look at here, could not make eye contact with a single soul in the room. His shame moved around the courtroom like a bouncy ball on speed! She flipped the switch today, she let him know that he can no longer intimidate her.
Per the plea agreement my ex-husband was supposed to be released today with credit for time served (159 days) and the order to register as a sex offender. Yes, this is merely a slap on the wrist, but as long as the victim remains informed the prosecutor is free to reach any deal that he (or she) wants in an effort to save money on trials. However, the judge has a heart … he added 91 days discretionary jail time (if he violates probation), 5 years of probation and registration as a sex offender.
In my victim’s impact statement that represented all five of my children I had requested an addition of the five years of probation, never did I think we would actually get it! Yes, he was released late this afternoon, and our lives are back to checking over our shoulders, but even if the sentence came out to be exactly what it was supposed to be there is nothing more empowering, satisfying, or inspirational as seeing your child transform from victim to survivor, caterpillar to butterfly in an instant right before your eyes!
For further information: CSC Victim Scolds Perpetrator