Good Morning All,
Yesterday I introduced myself and wrote a short story about my journey into this. Today I would like to go back and start at the beginning. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very private person. I share this story to not only help me and my family gain your insights and suggestions, but to help others that may be starting down this road.
It was a normal Saturday morning. My daughter had dropped the kids off before going to work. We were in the kitchen and I was making breakfast for everyone. I loved talking to the kids while I cooked. My oldest granddaughter was excited because she was supposed to go with her big half-brother to a fun-house later in the day. As she is excitedly talking about this she says, her brother did something to her (details left out) that made my heart stop! Here is my 6 yr old grandchild saying the most atrocious thing to me in normal conversation. I said to her, “What did you say?” She repeated it as she ran back and forth from the kitchen to the window looking for her big brother to arrive.
I realized she didn’t even understand that what had happened was wrong. How could this be? Stop It Now. I was stunned and thought maybe I was misunderstanding. I asked her if she could draw me a picture. There was no doubt in my mind after I saw what she had drawn. My first thought was to call my daughter. She was also shocked and yes disbelieving! This is something you can’t begin to fathom would happen in your own family. She did call the brother and make up a story so he wouldn’t come pick her up. Of course now my granddaughter was upset and confused about why she couldn’t go have fun.
How do I explain this to her? What do I say? What if I say something that is wrong? What if I handle this wrong and cause more damage? How could this happen? What to do now?
My daughter and spoke that evening. Should we call the police? That was my initial reaction. Would filing a report make this worse for the child? Where do we go to get answers? It was like having a cyclone of questions and doubts swirling around in my head. Ultimately we decided to file a report. I went to my daughter’s house that day rather than having the kids come to me. I thought this would be better for the child. The officer arrived and spoke to me. He took down my story and informed me that our city had a SMART team and someone would contact us to interview the child. This SMART team is supposed to be set up with individuals in the legal system ex. police officers, investigators, etc.
This is where our long and frustrating saga began. There are SMART teams, Victim’s Advocate groups, and the Prosecutor office that all get involved eventually. Here is where we began to feel defeated before we even began. The child was interviewed by the SMART team. There was a referral to a mental health facility. It took several more weeks for the team to interview myself. There were many reasons for the delay. People on vacation, behind in cases, etc. There was little to no empathy or concern communicated to any of us. It was like just another case to them. While I understand this to some extent I believe we need to make sure as a community that these groups are educated well within the area of child sexual abuse. I believe they need to be staffed with professionals that understand the emotional impact and devastation this has on the entire family unit. They need different rooms to conduct these interviews rather than an interrogation room.
This is where the victims begin to feel re-victimized. I ask, “What can we do to make this better?” What do you need from your community to help this process become a better and safer place?
I encourage any and all thoughts. Only through the power of each and every one of us can we make change. Together we can go to these groups to make them better understand.
Please comment and share any ideas, stories, or opinions.