“The system is wrong. I had hoped they would continue to improve the system for victims. But it only improves for criminals.”
This utterance really hit home for me.
It echoes all I have been through, and still struggle with.
In the early 90s my parents went to the police. They told them of the horrific abuse I had disclosed, that I had suffered at the hands of my half-brother. For my family, and especially for me, the result of his actions was devastating.
The police did nothing. They did not even interview me. I was supposedly assigned a social worker. I never met him.
The abuse taught me that I did not matter; that I was worthless. The lack of interest from the police and social services taught me the same thing: that it did not matter who hurt me. Not even the police cared.
My school reinforced this, too. I attended a special unit for kids who had missed a lot of school either through expulsion, emotional difficulties or illness. My mother told the head of the special unit about the abuse (though what she actually said I don’t know) and the head apparently decided that because my parents were a lot better off than the other kids’ parents, and because I was clever, I therefore had no problems. She said this to my face, not in so many words, but it was enough. Of course (silly me!) the reason I sat in the corner and didn’t talk to anyone was because I was fine. So even at a school where they were supposedly there to help kids, it was made clear to me that my problems couldn’t possibly be all that bad. The headmistress once told me that during her daughter’s ballet exam, her feet had begun to bleed, but that she had ‘danced through the pain’. At the time, I was just confused. I had no way to answer. Was my pain not enough? Once again, I learned I was worthless.
With self-esteem at about the same depth as the Mariana Trench, at 21 I married my first boyfriend, who was by turns manipulative, coercive and abusive. It doesn’t take a genius to see that my (then) rock-bottom self-esteem was the magnet for his manipulation, does it?
That man, the ex-husband (he does not deserve to even be called that much) is now a convicted paedophile. Yet on his release, the so-called justice system saw fit to send him back to the same town that we lived in.
Now this convicted paedophile is claiming legal aid so that he can ‘seek contact’ with my children. He continues to claim legal aid, and will likely want to go before a judge for the judge to decide whether he can have ‘supervised contact’. In essence, he gets legal aid to put us through more trauma. We have to pay £175/hour for a solicitor. We are by no means wealthy. My lovely Frank makes a heck of a lot less than £175/hour.
I finally spoke to the police myself, about two months ago, regarding the abuse I suffered as a child. They are currently investigating. So far, so good. My fear is that, after twenty years, they will not be able to uncover enough evidence for a prosecution. If they had done their job properly in the first place, how much pain and suffering could have been avoided?
This is a broad subject and I could go into a lot more detail about crime in general, its impact on victims, the paltry sentences criminals receive, etc., etc., but it is too vast a topic for a blog post. Nevertheless, given what one reads in the link above, about the release of the accomplice of a serial killer and paedophile, and given all the things that have happened in my own life, I have this question:
Does justice exist for victims of crime, especially serious crime, or is it just criminals whose ‘rights’ are respected?
If you would like to learn more, or would like to talk to someone about the issues raised in this blog post, please contact http://www.stopitnow.org.uk/
For me, when it seems as if all else fails, and the world is so unfailingly horrible that it is just too far gone, I remember the words in Luke’s gospel:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’
I know I have said this before, but the word translated as ‘oppressed’ also means ‘broken’ or ‘shattered’. That means me. Jesus says his purpose was to set me free. And what an uproar there was when he said it! He did nothing but cause trouble wherever he went. The ‘authorities’ hated him for what he was doing.
I might be disillusioned with the world, but I can never be disillusioned when I look at Jesus. I am also reminded to keep up the fight, for me and for all victims, whether they’re victims of abuse, of violence, of poverty, of corruption, etc.
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter –
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
… Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: here am I.
Here am I, by grace. What a privilege.