It's been just over three weeks since my abuser pleaded guilty to first-degree rape of a child under the age of 13.
I was not that child, as the statute of limitations expired three months prior to uncovering memories of my abuse. But because of one brave soul, my abuser will be locked away.
It was a quick hearing, in a sparsely occupied courtroom. I chose not to attend, as it was the first full day of being responsible to put together and voice 21 newscasts at my new job as a reporter for a local radio station. I'm glad it worked out that way because I knew it would do nothing for me to watch her drive herself to the courtroom, read a piece of paper, and stroll right back out the door, free to do what she pleased.
My parents, however, did attend. As fate would have it, my mom pulled into the parking lot at the exact same moment my abuser did. My mom decided to wait before walking into the building, and when she did she threw daggers with her eyes at that woman. In the nearly empty courtroom, my mom picked a seat in the last row to wait for my dad. I mention the emptiness of the room because my abuser walked into the courtroom and sat directly in front of my mother.
And if choosing to sit in front of the parents of a child you abused wasn't bad enough, she had the audacity to say "hello" to my mother.
God bless my mom because I have no idea what I would have done in that situation. This woman walked in, made direct eye contact with my mother, who I can only assume was giving her the most scathing of looks, said "hello" and sat right in front of her when she could have sat anywhere else. When my dad walked in, shocked at her proximity, he asked my Mom if she wanted to move and my mom vehemently declined.
She had to read from a piece of paper, in that cringe-worthy baby voice of hers, that she raped a child. Then the Judge announced that she will be sentenced at the beginning of September where she will face 10 to 15 years in prison.
She then left the courtroom and drove herself home.
Later that day, as I was sitting in the newsroom my computer dinged with an email from the county DA. I held my breath as I opened the attachment knowing what it would be. There the press release was, detailing her hearing and announcing her sentencing. That evening every news outlet carried her story and shared her face.
I didn't realize the effect the renewed exposure had on me, until about a week later when I sat on our couch heaving and sobbing through a panic attack, being held by my husband. I just wanted to fast forward to her being locked away.
I've become more aware of the lasting effects the abuse has left me with, like the constant denial, self-loathing, and intrusive thoughts. I'm slowly learning that it's better to recognize that I'm not okay than be in denial and think I'm completely fine. That doesn't mean I believe that I'll always have these struggles, it doesn't mean that I identify as a victim, or am content with where I am with my healing.
What it does mean, is that I will allow myself to have bad days. I recognize when I'm depressed, and implement coping mechanisms to combat the darkness. It's realizing that I actually am doing well, and in the words of my therapist, I should be proud of myself.
It means I must be nice to myself, that there's no timeline to healing and I will continue to overcome my trauma.
- Psychological abuse - Wikipedia ›
- Effects of child abuse and neglect for adult survivors | Child Family ... ›
- Effects of Emotional Abuse: It Hurts When I Love | Psychology Today ›
- Signs, symptoms and effects of abuse | NSPCC ›
- Side Effects of Abuse | LIVESTRONG.COM ›
- Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect | Joyful Heart Foundation ›
- Safe Futures | Effects of Abuse ›
- Effects of Abuse ›