Comments about ‘Secret shame: Lifelong impact — Victims, families, society cope with effects of abuse’

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Published: Tuesday, March 18 2008 12:40 a.m. MDT

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Unprepared

When we got married, they forgot to give us a parenting manual. So we didn't know about all the problems kids could run into. We were extremely naive.
When our oldest three were still under 6, a neighbor molested all three of them repeatedly. We were clueless.
By the time they were teenagers, they were sneakily acting out with each other and our younger children. We still didn't catch on.
Then our daughter's best friend went into a treatment facility, and the counselors discovered she had been molested by the same man, saying he had gotten to "half the kids in the county." The rest of the story about our own came out, devastating us.
It took years, and we are grateful to church leaders who taught forgiveness, and supported us through the crises. But the kids have forgiven the perpetrator. He served his sentence but is still running around in denial. They are truly free, he is not. God can do that, the penal system can't.
They are all happily married, much wiser, raising grandchildren who will be safer because their parents are Prepared.
Victims can survive, and thrive. There is hope.

Abuse Crisis

This type of abuse is truly atrocious and saddening. Those with children have to be suspicious of everyone and must be sure to openly explain what constitutes abuse to now even their toddlers. We also need to be more sympathetic to victims, giving a listening ear and helping them as much as we can. It is shocking what we choose not to except as a problem, not just in Utah, but throughout the world. Thanks goes to those who assisted in putting these articles together and who support getting the truth out to the public so we can better prepare for and counter this growing tradegy.

Anonymous

That was a really good comment, Unprepared.

Thanks.

It's good to bring this horrible things out. This is a good reversion from the current mess Bush has lead our nation in to.

Still Concerned

I know for a fact that Utah is NOT doing what it should in releasing convicted sex offenders from prison. Between trying to "save money", believing those up for parole when they are counciled in prison and joining the idiotic "rehabiitators", tax money is spent on prison "treatment" and after release these UNrehabilitated, lieing "actors" are NOT "watched" as closely as the public deserves.
PARENTS & FAMILIES raise people. If mistakes or neglect or ignorance or "genes" produce a sex offender it is a FACT that the resulting person is what they ARE. The state`s FIRST responsibility is to WATCH the offender (too BAD if that is "intrusive") and KNOW what he/she is doing and with whom! (For example Talk to involved children within the offenders` life.) And CONTINUE the close surveylance using monies now wasted on prison counciling. The only "prison involvement" should be a set of rules signed off on and an understanding that close supervision will follow prison. Period! The "State" is GOVERNMENT. Governments do POORLY raising children OR changing behavior! They have a different FUNCTION! Keeping citizens safe!

ex offender

If there was anything I could do to take back what I did, I would. If my death could help then I would desire it. Those things are not possible for me.

For Still Concerned, the only way to make everyone perfect safe it to take away all freedom from all people. This is an issue that requires parenting skills, trust, and faith.

Remember, this has been going on since the beginning of time. Therapy works for those who want help and unless they get it things will get worse. To help the victims part of the sentence should be a requirement to pay for therapy or have special fines that go into a victims fund to help pay for therapy.

If you don't want this issue to become hidden in families then don't make laws that preclude a chance to re-enter society.

Many families, once they read about some of the issues that have affected victims and offenders may think twice about turning someone in if they think that the laws are too harsh.

This is an issue that must be dealt with in love and support for the victim and holding offenders responsible for their actions.

Mc

Sex offender treatment programs are part of keeping citizens safe because eventually the offender will probably be out of prison. If offenders can come to realize the devastating effects of their behavior and care about the feelings of others, society will be much safer when they are released. I believe that people can change and overcome past urges, if they want to badly enough. We have to help them want to change. We have to be vigilant while giving offenders the opportunity to show they have changed. Never letting them move on from what they were doesn't benefit anyone.

ex offender

If you rely on government to solve all problems you will be disappointed.

Teach your children and then keep a vigilant eye. The best thing that happened to me was being caught as I was forced to deal with the issues that caused my offense. I was given a second chance after I completed all my penalties and I will do everything in my power not to re-offend again.

It is not the laws that keep me from re-offending but my past shame and my desire to never hurt anyone like that again. I don't want anyone to hurt as I hurt again.

For those that think I cannot change then your opinion will not matter to me because I am above your petty nature. If you want people to re-offend then never give them hope of being able to change. If you want people to hurt others then take paint a scarlet SO on them and they will not disappoint you.

Many say that the victims never escape their prison, but they can chose not to be a victim just as an offender can choose not to re-offend.

I pray for both.

Who Else?

I'm not worried about convicted sex offenders. It's on their record, and if they try anything, and get caught, they're toast. I'm worried about the sex offenders who aren't registered. We need to be careful, but at the same time, remember, things like this could happen to anyone, and we should be careful not to blame the victim, OR the victim's parents (unless they are the perpetrators) for the abuse. I was child raped when I was 6, just before I moved to Utah, and my parents had no idea until they found out on accident when I was 15. Utah needs to put more focus on pro-victim! We need to get our children educated, not only so they don't become abused, but so they don't have negative feelings about those who are abused, because I ran up against a lot of that in Utah County. I have a friend who insists that if you're raped, it's because you're not looking out for yourself. I know of another girl-- no longer a friend-- who, when I insisted that the perpetrator has changed and is now a good man, told me I must have liked being raped. WHAT?

Joe Schmoe

I guess it's easier to blame others than be accountable for ourselves.......

We all need to teach our kids good priciples, healthy boundries and live by them as familes.

Yes there are exceptions, but in most cases of abuse our children get hurt because we allowed the situation to escalate, un-knowingly of course.

Accept that we all live in a crummy society, teach your children yourself, and don't be stupid. And for Heaven's sake.....stop living in fear!

Those that continue to live in fear have no testimony of the Savior or his attoning sacrifice. We can be forgiven of our sins and we can change. Didn't we learn anything in Sunday School?

I feel this story series has useful information, but it is a bit of a witch hunt unfortunately.

Elizabeth, Oregon

Thank you for focusing in the victim.

One of the scariest aspects, which you didn't touch on, happens when a child victim receives "pleasure" in the course of the abuse. As a long-time foster parent, I believe it to be much easier (not that any aspect of it is easy) to deal with hurtful abuse.

Regardless, the attention should be given first to the victims, of all ages.

Thank you for publicizing this issue. It is a monster that thrives in darkness and ignorance. You've shone a light in its face.

Depressing...

What is this, Sex Abuse Month or something? Why all the articles on sex abuse? It's very depressing to read.

As one who was sexually abused as a child, I have to say that society is making the effects of this much worse than it has to be. To treat a victim as if their life is over and setting the expectations that all is lost if this happens to you is very destructive, in my opinion.

Thankfully, I had good parents who took the steps to make sure it didn't happen again. But more importantly, they didn't treat me as though I had been ruined for life. Bad things happen in life. You have a choice as to how you will deal with them. You can choose to deal with it and get on with life or you can waste the rest of your life being a victim. Society seems to expect the latter and that is very sad.

reg: ex offender

That's great that you would never hurt or abuse again. Not every offender is like you, it is tricky to know who would do it again & who wouldn't. A lot of offenders don't agree that they even have a problem. That is where the real issue is for sex offenders, because you can't help them if they don't feel accountable.
As for teaching your children to keep a vigilant eye, that's tough too. I taught my children from a young age not to let anyone touch them anywhere inappropriate. My soon to be ex husband went behind my back undoing all that I taught & convinced one of my girls that it was okay. That continued for over four years. He is now going through the criminal process & doesn't recognize his problem. That is concerning because I don't know how they can help him with his attitude towards it.
My daughter, the victim, is too young to decide not to be the victim. Sometimes these issues take years to resolve, if ever. She is now 15, confused about the betrayal & deceit from her own father. She is my concern, not him. We should focus on the victims.

Reader

I think Heather Stringfellow's comment that the system is offender-focused makes an important point. It is interesting to me that the offenders get the treatment while the victims get the blame. For example, if a child is predated upon, society implicitly labels the child as vulnerable. The abuse becomes the child's or parents' fault, i.e. the parents weren't watching closely enough. Society paradoxically iterates that it's not the child's fault while suggesting ways a parent and child can prevent abuse.

Unprepared???

Kids don't need to be born with instruction manuals. They need parents who are actively involved in their lives. Know where your children are and who they are spending time with. Ask questions when they come home from a friends house. Teach them "good touch and bad touch" before they go to preschool or daycare. We need to create open lines of communication and LISTEN to our kids. If they disclose abuse, BELIEVE THEM, and call the police, even if the offender is a relative. These guys never get better if the rest of us sweep it under the rug and they never have to face consequences.

The Elephant in the Room

Wanna know what the single biggest cause of sexual abuse is?

And no, it's not pornography, or religion, or lack of prisons, or even ignorance.

It's divorce.

Statistically speaking, a child's chance of being sexually abused skyrockets when his or her parents split up. As this article illustrates, usually the perpetrator is a step-parent or sibling, or quite often the mother's live-in boyfriend.

Also, having only a single parent means the child has less supervision, making him more vulnerable to predators.

But since we as a society are wedded (pun intended) to the concept of easy divorce, this issue is not going to go away any time soon.

ex offender

reg: ex offender I really feel bad for your daughter. I do not mean to indicate that we should not focus on the victims. We need to focus on them so they can heal and not feel like victims. The betrayal of a parent is so devastating, I know. It happened to me and I also did it.

Your soon to be ex can change only when he accepts fully what he did and only then will he be capable of making changes in his life.

It is his responsibility though. He should be required to pay for any therapy as part of his punishment. I sincerely hope she finds a way out of the darkness he force on her.

The one thing I cannot stand is someone who re-offends after they had a chance. I believe in second chances but if anyone re-offends I am in favor of life in prison without parole. If his behavior went on for years then he should spend years in prison for his abuse.

My hope and prayers are for you, your daughter, and your family.

re: Depressing

If you didn't notice, this is a series, and we're on part 3 of 4. Look for more tomorrow.

As for your parents' reaction, I'm glad they didn't press it into you. Every case is different, but it seems like people will brand it into kids at time, constantly telling them, "You were abused, you are traumatized and your life will never be the same." I think that does a lot of unnecessary damage.

Falsely Accused

I agree that victims should not be branded. I've seen therapists and professionals - many of whom were abused as children, and who went into their fields on a crusade to right the wrongs that happened to them - actually tell victims to never forgive, and to hate. They tell them this is the worst experience of their lives, and they are damaged and it is the fault of the perpetrator. Amazing.
All the attention to sex abuse and the way law enforcement is trained to react now has had other negative repercussions. I actually overheard a group of teenage girls plotting to get back at an older guy - who was teasing one of the other girls -by accusing him of sexually abusing her. I saw a text on my daughter's phone from a friend that said, "just tell the cops he sexually abused you and they'll fix him!" My son's soccer coach was falsely accused of sexual assualt and he was put in the SAFE system without a hearing, interview, and did not know what allegations were made against him for three months! The kid admitted to lying, or he'd have been toast.

Unnamed

My daughter was abused by a male baby sitter - once.

My wife and I had always been candid about these things, even when out children we very young. That is why it was only once.

My wife an my daughter kept this from me for nearly 20 years. The reason being that I would have killed the boy had I known. My wife knew that and looking back, she was right.

My wife's wisdom had stopped the problem early on and her "duplicity" in not telling me was correct.

We LDS are going to have to lose our fear of sexual matters.

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