When we feel pain, we demand justice to those who wronged us. As if that justice will make us feel any better after what happened to us. Over time, as anger sets in and hits it’s peak- the lines between justice and revenge get blurry.
In my case, I never got justice in the literal sense of the word. I was interviewed by detectives. The detectives advised my Mom that going to trial would be additional trauma for me and they didn’t recommend it. She settled on supervised visitations, believing my father would never actually pursue supervised visits. I would see my father a few times after the abuse. My Mom believed he had changed. I desperately wanted my father in my life and openly voiced that to my mom. I know now, that her allowing him in my life added to my internal distress and toxic belief system. I shouldn’t have been given a choice to see that man again. This man had shown no remorse or even admitted to his actions. I continued to blame and hate myself. I questioned my own memories of the events. He called me a liar, maybe I was. I mean, when I saw him, the abuse was never mentioned. For everyone else around me, it was like it never happened. Over time, I turned him into the victim. I believed it wasn’t his fault that he hurt me. I made up a scenario in my mind. I believed he was abused, so he knew no better than what he did. Being allowed to see him again further instilled this belief. The anger I had for what happened to me now had no where to go. I struggled internally. I started displacing my anger on myself, my Mom and everyone else closest to me. This cycle would continue into adulthood. My dad went on to live a very miserable life. His parents died a few years after my abuse. His contact with his siblings, nieces and nephews ceased. He was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Later he would come out as Gay and in even later years, he would transition into a woman. Was this why he did what he did? Were his “wires crossed” from the beginning? Was he Gay and now Trans because he was victimized? Did this change his perception of what his sexual and gender identity should look like? For a time, I put Gay men and transgendered people in this box. Sick dangerous men who had a sick fantasy of children. Predators. I was open and vocal about this hate. I used the Bible to cement and glorify my hate. Another way of displacing my anger. As time went on, and I was more exposed to the LGBTQ community, I knew it was bullshit and I was an asshole. I realized how ignorant and hateful a belief like that is. Mindless, misinformed, toxic beliefs like this take place on minorities everyday in society. Traumatizing good people. There are bad and good people everywhere, all creeds and races. Why, in the actual fuck, should one bad person’s actions define an entire group of people? I’ll say that a bit louder for the people in the back….
Why, in the actual fuck, should one bad person’s actions define an entire group of people?
Stop being stupid.
At the age of 30, I messaged my dad. I sent him a message of forgiveness. At the time, I was trying to prove to myself that forgiveness means healing and I was healed. Right? Right! He responded to that message with a meme. A fucking meme. A cartoon teddy bear embracing a heart was what my abuser responded to my act of offering forgiveness. I maintained casual conversation with him through social media over the next couple of years. As if we don’t already know how ass backwards this is- Let’s think about this. He could see my Facebook Profile. He could see pictures of my children and my family. What a cluster fuck… but in my mind we were both victims of this cycle. Believing that was easier than thinking he was just born with that type of horror in him and the possibility of those horrors living in my gene pool too.
For my daughter, she spoke her truth to detectives the Monday after her abuse. I was sitting next to her when she bravely faced a 6’4, shaved headed, UNIT of a man with a gun on his hip, and spoke that truth. This time, when she was asked if that was the first time Michael had done this to her, she would say no. She would tell him it actually happened three times on the same day. He showed her a picture and asked her to point on the part of the body where he hurt her. She pointed at the vagina, chest and butt. I opened up a CPS investigation as well as the police investigation. I was determined to get justice for my daughter. At the time, I would have told you justice would be him serving time for the horrors he did to my daughter. His parents would feel the pain of what their incompetent parenting had caused. Weeks…. then months went by. My step-sister, for one reason or another, would make up a different excuse each time and keep Michael away from the detectives. By now, my demand for justice was all consuming. I thought about it every day and every night, but it no longer looked the same. Now, I needed him out of that house. I need him out of a house that would surely lead him to more self loathing, more violence and more hate. In that house, Michael was always treated poorly, surely now they have a reason to treat him poorly.. maybe worse. I worried he would hurt more children. I worried he would go further. He needed help and protection from his parents and his self. His siblings and society needed protection from him. I called the detective everyday for status. I reached out to my step-sister directly and was greeted with “fuck you.” I reached out to my step-sister’s mother. By now, I am in tears. I am begging her to help me move this forward. I remember her asking me, what exactly I expect to happen to him because “CPS already closed the case.” I responded with, I want him out of that house and away from the children. I reminded her that he was not in a position where he could get treatment. He was in a position to be groomed, even if not of intent of his parents, to turn even more violent. Murder. School shootings. I apparently touched a nerve. I was called various disgusting names, told “fuck you and your family” then promptly blocked. I had no way of communication at that point with Michael’s family. It would ultimately take almost 5 months before Michael sat down to speak with the detective. He would be accompanied by his step-mother, my step-sister, and would say a very different story than his 5 year old accuser. The detective told me he believed he was lying and believed he was coached by his step-mother, but he had done all he could do and would proceed to submitting the case to the District Attorney. The DA would review the case and decide whether or not to proceed with charges. There was nothing more I could do, but wait. The detective advised me that this could take months and to be patient. Patient.
As months continued to pass, there was no change to Michael’s life, but the changes to my daughter we quick and they were drastic. I barely recognized the girl she had become only 6 months after the abuse. The once outgoing girl was now so shy and fearful of everyone. She struggled with family and friendships. She no longer had interest in hobbies she once enjoyed. The once curious and adventure seeking girl was now was riddled with fears, anxieties, and phobias. The once affectionate girl, now didn’t hug or acknowledge most family members. The once healthy girl, now suffered from constant stomach aches and headaches. Lastly, the girl who was once had no better friend than her Daddy now seemed like she hated him. It was agonizing to watch their relationship change. Her Dad was and is an amazing Dad. She didn’t want to do much with him. Would rarely hug him. She grew an unhealthy attachment to me and her Dad didn’t understand why. He went through the motions of pain, anger and blame. It had a huge impact on him, on us and our family. The thought of being patient made me furious and I became desperate for revenge. I thought it couldn’t get worse, but it could and it did.
By the one year anniversary of her abuse, we hit a peak of pain and chaos. My daughter was on a path to fail 1st grade. Her confidence was shot and learning new things made her disassociate or go into her episodes. Every morning she would cry when I left her at school. She had no friends and struggled to make them while her phobias of mushrooms and snakes threw her into panics. She would wet the bed, have nightmares or cry in her sleep every night. The memory of what he did now had physical effects on how she felt. She would break down because her vagina “felt wet” after what he did. Sometimes she would have a full blown meltdown because she couldn’t get it to stop. Some days she cried because she felt like a fruit was stuck inside of her, like a banana, she would say. Headaches and stomach aches were an everyday, multiple time a day, occurrence. Her emotions were all over the place and the slightest thing would set her off into her episodes. She would scream uncontrollably, bite herself and hit herself in the vagina. She called herself negative things. She was in therapy, but therapy wasn’t working and we were on our third. Her Dad and I were considering custody options and living separately. We were both in immense pain and we weren’t communicating. I was also in survival mode. I was trying to survive and still be the best parent I could be, my relationship was the last priority at that time.
Fast forward to now. My Daughter is finally with a therapist that she loves. Her treatment is successful and we are seeing signs of healing and growth. I began EMDR therapy about 8 months ago and it is showing successful. Her Dad and I are more committed than ever to making this work and for the first time ever… I believe we can. Our family is strong.
Michael is in a facility. We told my daughter he was in a “Hospital Jail” to help his brain heal. We told her that because of her bravery, he would get help and not hurt anymore girls like her. That made her proud, but she cares deeply about his well-being. We’ve assured her he was well treated and told her he can visit his family as often as he wants. She wanted to write him a letter and we allowed her to. Her letter to him was forgiveness and it was unprompted. She would say in the letter that she was sorry he was in Hospital Jail, but that he will get better soon. This letter would go on to say that she forgives him and she is not angry at him anymore. I had mixed feelings about her letter, but I pretended to send it anyways. I don’t know if it is healthy for her to no longer be angry with him, but I also know anger is unhealthy to carry. In truth, we know nothing about where he is at or the help he is getting. We just know he is in a facility. We also know he will never receive any letters from her and he will never see her again.
Knowing he is in a facility doesn’t change my feelings over this whole situation. It doesn’t take away from the emotional, physical, mental and financial burden this has had on my daughter and my family. I do, however, have a different perspective of justice now and I do feel like our family is getting justice. Our justice is love. Our justice is healing from a trauma together. Our justice is no longer questioning why and no longer seeking revenge. Our justice is allotting only so much time (eventually no time) to being angry and spending time on things only within our control. Our justice is a stronger us. I really love us.
There is no such thing as justice- in or out of court.Clarence Darrow