Guest Column: Sexual abuse victims still paying the price

In regard to the Michael Jackson case, long-term effects are evident due to the accepted arguments leading to his acquittal.

Few reported cases of child sexual abuse are fully investigated, let alone prosecuted due to the commonly used argument that “children lie.” This argument is only made in cases of alleged sexual abuse. What at first presents as age discrimination is also indicative of the stigma of sexual abuse itself.

This accepted belief has now been extended to include dysfunctional family members. The belief, which is not only biased in nature, but borders on the violation of civil rights, has been accepted and validated in a court of law. Let’s face it, society would be outraged if the argument were made that people shouldn’t be believed because they are female, black, senior citizens, poor, physically disabled, or in another way considered by many to be socially inferior.

I can’t imagine that any child living with sexual abuse today would feel confident coming forward, regardless of how often we’re chastised for not doing so. We can ill afford to deny ourselves the harsh reality of our lives. We know that by speaking up and not being believed, we put ourselves in an even more precarious position with our abusers. They are obviously not happy when we speak up.

Our abusers are not stupid, either. The vast majority of us have heard them say, “No one will believe you.” They’ve not only been proven correct, but also handed yet another reason to escalate their crimes in confidence.

No one wins. And though society may choose to remain ignorant of that fact, it will not be blissful. Most of us do not die from our abuse. We continue to exist, but without being allowed to live the reality of our lives anywhere but in the framework of our own minds. The shrouded, silent, painful and non-therapeutic worlds in which we live are not conducive to the formation of productive citizens. I find it ironic that a nation so angry for having to pay for anyone, would continue to pay for what our perpetrators have created here.

You pay for us when we are unable to hold a job. You pay for our children if we remain so totally dysfunctional that we repeat everything we’ve been raised and trained to do. You pay for our addictions and the crimes committed to support them as we self-medicate our pain. You pay for our hospitalizations in mental wards as we go misdiagnosed, being forced to hide inside the only available place we can find: our minds. You pay for our anger if we choose to commit acts of criminal violence against a society we feel hates us. The list goes on.

I know no one really believes that children and dysfunctional parents are the only human beings capable of lying and that it’s impossible for them to be truthful. I realize people know better than to ever have accepted either argument in the first place. Yet, they have been accepted. As a result, I know I have to accept the fact that far too many abused children who come after me will have no more hope than I had.

We pay a tremendous price for our own victimization. My only hope is that society’s need to deny us truly will make everyone else’s lives better, safer, less fearful and less painful. If not, then far too many of us have suffered and will continue to suffer needlessly.

Joyce Marchini is a Rockford resident.

From the June 29-July 5, 2005, issue

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