*Trigger warning: sexual violence.
1 in 6 women are a victim of sexual assault. I was the 1.
I knew my abuser. I was six years old when it started. He was my mother's boyfriend. I was groomed and taught this was normal. His touch didn't hurt me, it felt nice, it had to be okay. I was exposed to pornography, taught how to give hand jobs, and learning too much about my body at a young age.
At age 15, I started becoming aware of the relationship we had wasn't normal. I became scared of him, a part of me hated him. Denial kept me quiet. It wasn't until my aunt started asking me questions that it came out. I was being molested. The world I once knew was gone, it seemed darker. I was afraid of trusting again.
At first, I didn't want to report what happened, I wanted it to go away. But then I started thinking about other victims. Did he do this to someone else? Was I his only victim? I didn't want him to get away with this, I wanted him stopped.
I reported the abuse to the local police. He was arrested the next night, but was out on bail. I was terrified he was going to come after me. A temporary restraining order was put in place, but it didn't give me peace. He was still allowed to walk freely in society, free to strike again. Because he lived in the next town over, the police were supposed to notify my family every time he was in our town. They never notified us. We ran into him multiple times, leaving me scared for my life. To this day, I still have nightmares about him hurting me/killing me.
The court case dragged on. It was filed in February 2009, with little movement in the case. I had to undergo an invasive exam by a doctor I never met (there was no damage thank god). 2010 was supposed to be the year when the trial was supposed to start, but it was delayed several times because my abuser kept getting it pushed back, a way for him to have power in the situation.
In October 2010, an unexpected break. I was offered a plea deal. He would go to prison for 18 months and become a registered sex offender, or I could accept a $10,000 settlement from him in exchange for dropping the charges, or I could take neither and the trial would happen. Exhausted from the investigation and not wanting to testify, I finally accepted the little jail time he was given. It wasn't what I wanted, but at least he would be on the sex offender registry, the biggest thing I wanted.
I was told he would serve 18 months in the state prison. He didn't serve 18 months, he was out in 14. He was released early for good behavior. I couldn't believe it. He would be back on the streets sooner than it was agreed on. Why the hell would the justice system release a sex offender, a dangerous criminal, early for so-called "good behavior"? Another pain in my fragile heart.
It got worse. With his pending release, my family and myself met with the court to discuss the terms of his release. My abuser was set to be on probation and be a lifetime registrant on the sex offender website. They read the terms of his probation, and told me if he violated any of his terms, even the smallest ones, he would be sent back to prison for nine years. So far so good, they were taking this seriously.
But then came the shocking blow. Prior to his arrest, he owned a trailer park where he operated it as the landlord. He was allowed to keep it and rent to whomever he wanted to...including families with young children.
I argued, begged, please don't let him have his trailer park, he'll abuse the kids living there. The court said there was nothing that could be done because it was "his source of income." They tried to reassure me, they'll watch him and warn any tenant about his history, but it was their choice to live there or not. Being a sex offender, he wasn't allowed contact with children under the age of 16...but they were allowed to live on his property. It made no fucking sense. I told them before I left the room, "When he does this again, it'll be on you."
It's now 2022, almost twelve years since my abuser registered as a sex offender. He was released from prison early in 2012. He violated his probation and was sent back to prison, but not for nine years as promised...he only served eight months. He hasn't been back to prison since. He still owns his trailer park. Children have lived there throughout the years. It makes me sick knowing how accessible the kids are to him, I pray none of them were hurt by this monster.
In late 2021, my local senator and myself tried to change the laws in Maine to restrict where sex offenders can live. It was rejected by legislation, deeming it "not an emergency." Every 68 seconds, someone in America is assaulted, how is this not considered an emergency? It's like the justice system was failing me once again, like what happened to me and countless others isn't good enough to make the necessary changes.
Society pressures assault victims to report the crime. It's not an easy process, it's slow, painful, traumatizing, being picked apart and turning ourselves inside out for the sake of strangers believing us. None of the possible outcomes changes what happened to me, I already know this. When I first reported it, my goal was to have my abuser stopped. Barely a year in prison and being allowed to operate a trailer park hasn't stopped him. I pray the system changes before a tragedy happens.
I'm a sexual abuse survivor, and I didn't get justice. I reported it to the police, I did everything right according to society. But I didn't get justice. My abuser has been free since 2013. He's never admitted what he did or ever apologized, not that I want it. He still gets to operate his trailer park and rents to families with kids. His trailer park is located less than a thousand feet from the local high school. As long as he has his trailer park, it's not justice. As long as he's out in society, it's not justice.
I will continue telling my story and helping other victims, turning them into survivors. I hope one day the justice system will change. I hope I'll get my justice one day.
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