Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Ups And The Downs

To follow up Thursday's discussion on forgiveness, let's continue on with today's discussion: Revictimization.

I think the majority of crime victims will probably agree that what ever restitution was ordered for them wasn't nearly enough. I'm going to hazard a guess and say that for many people, money is quite a ways down on the list. I'm going to guess that most crime victims want what was taken from them. They were violated and given back a lifetime of anxiety, fear, depression, sadness, low self esteem, loss of a loved one, health, ability, and being made to "feel like a victim".

Go ahead and place a monetary value on that. I'll give you this form and you need to show receipts to support your answers and please, make sure you use a black or blue pen and I'll just let you sit here for the next five minutes and finish it because I actually should have given you this two weeks ago but I forgot so now I have to go and file it with the court by 4:30 today. OK?

That feeling that you get as you sit there and stare at the clipboard and the pile of receipts and doctor's reports sitting next to you, getting progressively more illegible because you seem to be leaking tears all over the place? That's called revictimization. That is the day in and day out feelings that the system and our society put on a victim of crime. Perhaps you're getting blamed for being in the short skirt at a bar at midnight, I mean, when a woman is raped one of the first things she's asked is "What were you wearing?"

Do you think they really are asking her what she was wearing because they were interested in her fashion sense? Or is she being asked this because hey, who wouldn't give permission for five frat boys to gang bang a pretty girl in a short skirt?

It can be as overt as that or as subtle as a trip to the courthouse for an order for protection and being treated by an officious clerk as if you were the stupidist human being ever to walk the face of the earth. What do you mean you don't know how to fill out this seven page form in which you are asked to detail every intimate aspect of your life and why you are now terrified of this person and please describe in detail the perpetrator and what do you mean you didn't bring a photo of him? How do you expect us to know what he looks like if you didn't bring a photo??

Yeah, just a little bit of personal experience there. Put that experience on top of having two or three children at my feet, having to have ridden the city bus there, and not knowing where I will take my family because if I go home, he will find us all and kill us.

That's the journey that victims of physical abuse go through. And what do their friends say to them? "Why didn't you leave sooner?"

And what do people that I've met ten minutes earlier say to me? "How could you have NOT known what was going on?"

That was a question posed to me a couple days ago. I then spent fifteen minutes explaining some of the tactics used by pedophiles: lying by omission, manipulation, taking advantage of situations where one spouse works one shift and the other spouse works a separate shift. In the middle of it all, I wanted to stop and ask: Are you with your husband 100% of the time? Do you ALWAYS go to bed at the same time? Do you ALWAYS get up at the same time? Do you NEVER let your husband and your kids spend time alone together?

What would be their answer? "Why, of course they spend time alone together but I TRUST him. He would NEVER do that."

And then I will lean across the table and say "Welcome to my word. By the way, you are full of shit."

But of course, I didn't do that. I did the dance that society dictates that I do. I gave my report in blue or black ink and I did it in fifteen minutes so that it could be turned in to the powers that be because it was up to ME to justify that something had been done that was wrong.

I am tired of playing this game. I am promising myself that the next time this happens, I won't explain the MO of pedophiles. I will explain the concept of revictimization.

And then I will tell them to shut the fuck up.

A little musical interlude anyone?


Anonymous said...

Revictimization. What society and the powers-that-be do to to keep the less-thans from rising up and screaming "The Emperor is NOT WEARING ANY CLOTHES!".

It's the scarlet "A" on the forehead.

It shuts you up and drains your energy past the point of empty. It quiets your voice, maintains order in the courtroom and pews of church and congenial looking backyard BBQ's.

Let's not DEAL WITH IT - change it - create new laws, options, rituals of crime and punishment. Give the victim a PEN and make them right it down on PAPER and maybe we will send it to the perp for new wallpaper in their cell...

Is that a goal? The objective of the crazy making rituals of laws and higher powers? The sanctified abuse of powers-that-be?

Changing this starts with one voice at a time.

You can't stop now.

Shelly said...

I have a friend in an abusive relationship. I have advised her of how I feel about the whole thing, but, keep my frustrations about her staying in it to myself. She's scared, period. The best thing you can do is help them be less scared, but, to condemn them for being scared? Ridiculous. And Heartless.

How could you stay in that situation? Mostly, because not a one of us thinks, "well, surely someone in my FAMILY will hurt someone else in my family, so I must remain vigilant and be ready to leave at a moment's notice!" Nobody, and I mean NOBODY does this. It is not in our nature as human beings to think the worst of people, even if there is "evidence". We cannot even grasp the concept of someone doing evil things, because it is so far from what we would think to do ourselves. Just awakening to the reality (don't need to tell you) is such a shock to our system that it sends us reeling. And then, when we are awakened to it, we are forever changed, and, not necessarily in a good way.