The sentencing

September 26, 2014

Yesterday was the sentencing for my niece’s abuser. My niece wrote him a letter, and asked her mom to read it in court. This is what she wrote:

 

Dear Uncle,
I really hope you get better. When you hurt me I was mad at you and sad. So I hope you become a better person. I’m surprised that you did that to me, but you were a good man but then you made that choice. I love you but not what you did to me. Why did you make that choice, it does not make sense to me. I just hope you become a better person and make the right choice. I hope you can promise me that.
From, Justice

 

That from an 8 year old girl. Her capacity to forgive is amazing to me. She has a big heart and she’s strong, so I know she’s going to heal from this. When my sister read the first three lines, I lost it. I cried because it was so emotional and the letter was so heartfelt, forgiving, but also came from a place of strength and healing.

Her uncle was sentenced to 25 years plus 10 years post prison supervision, restitution to the court and victims (to be determined within 90 days), and no contact with minors, the victims, or their families. He will get credit for time served only, no possibility of early parole. Overall, I am satisfied with the result. He practically got a life sentence (what he would be facing if he went to trial) and my niece didn’t have to go through a trial and relive every horrible detail. Justice was served, and I am glad it worked out this way. Unfortunately, not all victims of sexual abuse see justice, but sometimes, it does work out in the victim’s favor.

 

The DA cautioned us not to treat Justice like a victim, that she will heal better later on if we treat her normally and let her just be a little girl. We’ve always done this. We know she is strong, and we have supported her when she needed it, provided her with counseling and karate lessons to boost her confidence, and I think she’s going to be a very wonderful and independent young woman one day. I love her and am so proud of her for putting her abuser behind bars.

 

#Justice4Justice

#Justice4Justice

September 13, 2014

My niece is eight years old, and last year, she confided in her mom that something terrible happened. She had been sexually abused by her uncle. This was a horrible hit on our family. My ex brother-in-law relinquished custody of my niece, siding with his brother-in-law who claimed it never happened. That entire half of her family chose to alienate and abandon her. The DA suggested my niece switch schools so that she wouldn’t have to go to school with her cousins. As if being abused was not enough, the family she spent most of her life with no longer wanted her to be a part of their lives because she came forward, because they thought she was lying.

My niece’s abuser was arrested and the trial continued multiple times. Her life was turned upside-down. Not only was she dealing with a change in scenery, her and her younger brother were dealing with living with lesbian moms after being raised that homosexuality was wrong. Combined with her abuse, it was very hard on her, because she was too young to understand the difference between sex and abuse, and so the concept of homosexuality was an added confusion for her. She loves her step-mom very much, but she had to basically unlearn what she had been taught from the homophobic side of her family and accept something about her mom she simply didn’t understand (she’s totally okay with it now and she and her brother attended the Pride parade with us).

Now, she is a very happy and strong little girl. And brave. I am constantly in awe of her bravery. Her willingness to testify in court, her absolute resolve that this was not her fault, her ability to deal with such trauma at her age is just amazing. She’s also had a great support structure. She’s had counseling, her mother is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, so understands what she is going through, and she had been taking Karate which has helped build her confidence. I am so very proud of her.

As it turns out, Justice was not his only victim, and another came forward. A girl who his wife used to babysit. The DA offered him 25 years and he plead guilty to Sodomy in the 1st degree and Sexual Abuse in the 1st degree on Justice’s case, and 1st degree rape and st degree sexual abuse on the other case. Then the DA had to make a statement of facts. He detailed everything this man did to my niece and the other girl. It was difficult to hear. I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or throw up. I did neither, I just sat there, and stared at the judge, who had her hand covering her mouth and looked absolutely mortified. I was too. I hadn’t heard all the details, and am now just grateful that he plead guilty so that Justice doesn’t have to testify. The fact that she was willing to is just another testament to her bravery and fortitude. I adore her so much. I hate that this happened to her, but I know that she is going to come out of it a strong, fearless young woman. The sentencing is in two weeks, and my sister will have the opportunity to speak. She might be reading a letter that Justice wrote. I hope she does, because I think he really needs to hear how he hurt this little girl, and understand that he deserves far worse than he is getting.

I just wanted to make a post about this because it has been so emotionally draining on me and my family, but I also wanted to share the story because I want people to know that justice is possible in sexual assault cases. We have adopted the hashtag #Justice4Justice because it’s so fitting. At first, is was a demand, and now it is a statement. Justice is getting justice, and we are grateful that he will be going away for a long time. Maybe if he had other victims, they will come forward as well and get whatever closure or solace they may need.

Pornography and feminism

September 1, 2014

Pornography is a hot topic (no pun intended) in society, and especially in feminism. A lot of feminists ague that mainstream pornography is degrading to women, gives people an unrealistic idea of sexuality and distorts body image. This is all very true, to some extent, but I don’t think that porn is inherently harmful (even the way it is depicted currently) and that with proper education and moderation, porn can be a fun little escape into fantasy where the user knows the difference between fantasy and reality (as with video games). I love porn. I think it’s a great way to enhance fantasy alone or with a partner. Are there problems with it? Oh yes, I will not refute that, but I think there are some factors people don’t always consider when arguing against porn.

The concept that porn is degrading to women is not a new one. Since porn has become more and more available, and more aggressively marketed to men, the scrutiny on the porn industry’s portrayal of women has increased exponentially. And it’s true that some porn does depict some pretty degrading stuff. The most important factor being ignored here (on both sides) is consent. In the majority of porn, the people in the videos appear to be consenting to whatever acts are being displayed. Now, note I said, appear to be. In a society where women are highly sexualized, objectified, and blamed if they are assaulted, I think it would be super awesome for the porn industry to have more depictions of enthusiastic consent where someone asks “do you want ___?” and the other says “YES!” Some videos do this. I like those ones. Most of them though, the consent is implied, and I can see where that would be problematic.

As for the unrealistic idea of sexuality, well, sure, if porn is someone’s ONLY introduction into sexuality. If parents have more active and realistic discussions about sex with their children, it might be easier for them to understand that porn is just a fantasy world when they do stumble across it one lonely night browsing the web when they’re 13.  Kids explore their sexualities much sooner than that though, and they explore each others bodies at a very early age way before they discover porn, and so when they do look at porn for the first time, chances are it’s not the first time they are looking at naked bodies and it’s probably unlikely they haven’t touched, licked, or otherwise fondled someone’s genitals (their own at the very least).

Distorted body image, okay, yeah, this is true. Most porn actors aren’t exactly average looking. Porn isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) to use airbrushed, made up, and surgically altered models. The attack here shouldn’t just be on porn, or even the media and fashion industry, but on society for continuing to consume this unrealistic and impossible standard of perfection. For them to stop producing it, the demand for it has to decrease dramatically. Public outcry isn’t going to stop them from wanting to make money, unfortunately.

I think that another very important issue that is often ignored in this debate is that with the rise of internet use and free porn sites, “mainstream” porn is being redefined. Amateur porn is more popular than ever, and different types of people of all shapes, sizes, and colors produce porn. More and more women are creating and maintaining their own cam websites and erotic picture galleries, or directing and producing porn that is more orientated to sexual pleasure and more sensual themes. Porn is not what it used to be, and I welcome anyone who is tired of the perfectly sculpted bodies, and unrealistic sex acts to do a little internet digging and find some different porn, because it’s out there, waiting for you to pleasure yourself to it.