vic·tim – noun – a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. synonyms: sufferer, injured party, casualty; a person who is tricked or duped. “the victim of a hoax”.
The child that is abused is certainly a victim. The short and long term effects are many and varied. Children can become withdrawn or start acting out. They may tell and they may not. They may shy away from their abuser in the future or they may not. If the abuser is someone close to the family this may be especially true. It is hard for us as adults to handle this. Imagine being a child. Children may not even understand that what happened was wrong at first but it always affects them in some way. See for more info: http://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/effects-of-csa-on-the-victim
There are so many other victims that are created from this. The child’s siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. It is just like throwing that stone in a pond and watching the ripples get bigger and bigger. One child speaks up and says they are a victim of abuse. Immediately that child’s parents and siblings now share that burden. The parents talk to their parents or siblings and those people now become victims and share the burden. The child’s siblings talk to family members and their friends. The child says something to a playmate who then tells others and goes home to tell their family. The ripple effect of this is never-ending. Ultimately we all come to share this burden and in some ways become a victim.
Once a police report is filed there is almost no turning back. Police, victims advocates, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the defendant all become involved. See Criminal and Civil Justice. These people often victimize the victims again. Sometimes it is not intentional. It may be due to lack of knowledge and experience. Perhaps they are understaffed and overworked. There are people in this system without the proper training. There could be a lack of empathy. There are times they have to prioritize because they have so many cases. This then is done on which they deem to be the most heinous to the least. Prosecutors do not like to try these cases. Often there is no evidence, and no witness. It is the word of a child. Of course defense attorneys are purposely trying to confuse and discredit the child and the family. They say it’s their job.
When it is your loved one none of these things matter. So I ask what can we do to make the system better? There are organizations that do help. Families First Indiana, CASA. I believe we need major changes in the system.
Through my experience from the beginning – the report and interview. I must say here the police department was very quick in coming out to take the report. The officer was professional and polite. Muncie Police Department. The officer explained that they do not speak to the victim because they have a SMART team Muncie SMART team. This team was to contact us for interviews. Within a few days the team had spoken with the child victim and referred them to Meridian Services Meridian Services. The child was seen 5 days after at Meridian. However, I (as the adult the child told) was not contacted in over a week. I was placed in an interrogation type room and was told they were going to find video equipment. The door was closed (I do not know if it was locked). As you can imagine this was intimidating. I had never been in any sort of trouble with the law before. I was understandably very stressed, upset, emotional, and shocked. This room made me feel more like a criminal than someone reporting a crime. I ask you City of Muncie can you not find a more relaxed area or room to conduct these interviews? The officer did come back in the room and to my memory said she couldn’t find the equipment and she would just take my written statement. I don’t know if this is true or not because at a later date the defense attorney deposing me said there was a video. I did tell the officer what the child had said to me, she also asked questions, and was writing things down on a writing tablet. Over the next year and a half as we were trying to get the prosecutor to file charges we were told our statements had been lost and we would have to re-write them. This was by the prosecutor at the time on our case. I ask, How do you lose police statements? The child had to be re-interviewed. This was another victimization in my opinion. It should not have been such a fight and long time to get charges filed and there should have been no “lost” records. Delaware County Prosecutor
Can you explain this? Can you explain how you won’t file charges and lose official statements? Was the prosecutor at the time just not being truthful? Were they negligent in their job? How as citizens can we help to change this? What do you need to make this a safer place and procedure for these victims and their families?
I leave the story today here. As always I encourage comments and suggestions for helping us make this better.