Counting OnGrace

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

SOL = Statute Of Limitations


© 2018, 8/16/2018 Chantelle Henderson


Freakin’ statute of limitations. Let's see.  I was abused from 14-18 by a man I babysat for.  It screwed me up in my 20's.  In my 30's I started getting help through therapy and writing my abuser a very detailed 7 page letter.  In my 40's I began to feel empowered as a survivor and overcomer.  And yet the SOLs (Statute Of Limitations) make me lose my faith in our justice system time and time again.  Why?  If you're abused, assaulted, molested, raped, whatever you want to call it, as a child of ANY age, the fact of the matter is that unless a miracle happens, you're not going to get “physical – see, hear, touch, feel” closure after years of silence.  For MANY survivors it does in fact take years, and others, an entire lifetime, if at all. 
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First you have to learn that it wasn't your fault and that can take an entire life time.  Then you begin your journey of healing after you realize that. I am 47. Yes, I sent a letter to my abuser in 2007, but this year I felt emboldened by my soul sister survivors who have come forth out of the shadows to say, “ME TOO”.  In them and their stories, I learned that I could still tell mine.  I have seen with my own eyes that giving my abuser’s real name is not just for me.  It’s for others who have been or potentially will be violated in the future.
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Very recently, I called and confronted my abuser on the phone in 3 separate phone calls. In all of them he denied any wrong doing. When Ry grabbed the phone and asked him if he knew Chantelle Thomas, at first he said no, so Ry asked him again and he says, "Oh. The babysitter?" So then my abuser keeps saying, "I don't know what you're talking about." In all 3 phone calls he kept asking repeatedly, "What do you want from me?" My one and only response every time he asked was, "An apology." It was at least 10 times if not more of the back and forth. His wife had the nerve to grab the phone and starts yelling AT ME. Not her pedophile husband, but ME.  I strongly believe she knew what was going on when it was taking place.  Tell me if this makes sense.  So word on the street is that your husband was being made to look like “Chester the molester” and it’s because of you.  So you’re FORCED to apologize to her and him for “lying” even though it was the truth.  Logic tells me that I should not let that same girl within a million mile radius of me or my husband or my kids.  Well, a month to two months later, guess what?  She started using me again as a babysitter.  Something is very wrong about that, wouldn’t you agree?  I digress.  I felt even more empowered after the third call.  I simply gave up any hope that he would actually own what he did and apologize. It was time for me to accept the saying, “Sometimes you have to accept the apology you never got”.
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KNOWING that the SOLs in Georgia were not on my side, I was resolute in my pursuit of justice at any level.  Sometimes it does come in a courtroom, with a gavel and robe, surrounded by 12 strangers who might vote guilty, not guilty, or no verdict at all.  That being the case, I filed an official police report. The police officer who took my call, in the beginning, kept reminding me of the SOLs. "Are you planning on doing anything like a lawsuit or civil suit? You know the statute of limitations is up. Why do you want to do it?" My response, "Because it is a part of my closure." "Well mam", he says, “I don't think I can do that, but let me check with my Sargent and call you back.". Much to my surprise he did call me back and took the report. He pissed me off, though, because he sounded EXTREMELY unsympathetic and almost arrogant.  If I didn't know any better, I would have guessed he just got out of diapers the day prior. That's okay though, because I got the report done. It's officially on record. It's public. Anyone can go and get a copy. In my upcoming article about my "ME TOO" story, I will include a copy of it. 


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You see, all these years later, despite the “ME TOO” and “TIME’S UP” movement you still come in contact with ass hats like the policeman who could care less that your childhood innocence was violated and taken from you against your own will. Don't ask me why it's taken so long for me to come forward (with more detail), or any victim for that matter. For me, it was never uncomfortable for me to say, “I was sexually abused from 14-18.”  I said it very matter-of-factly, with little or no feeling.  It had just become a part of my life story.  It never occurred to me that it was okay to say his name, share details of what happened, or even to disclosed that I confided in no less than 3 adults at that time what was going on who chose not to come forward.  I just assumed that because they didn’t say anything that it was no big deal, so why should I care.  In fact, by that time I was so groomed by my abuser that I began to look forward to seeing him.  My own body betrayed me.  Puberty was happening and his abuse only added to the raging hormones going on in my 14 year-old body.  It got to the point that I thought I was falling in love with him and that he would leave his wife and kids for me (around 16’ish).  “Why didn’t you tell your parents?”  That’s a question I get asked a lot.  Well, for starters I was way too embarrassed.  I was convinced that it was my fault because I was “allowing” it to happen.  I thought it would get him in trouble, which I didn’t want.  I believed that I wouldn’t be able to see him again. Do you now understand what goes through the mind of a childhood sexual abuse victim?  It’s like a cult.  You don’t realize you were in one until you get out and see things as they really are.  There’s no more blurry vision; only 20/20.  Just don't ask why one of the victims on a laundry list of accusers took so long to report it. In the latest uncovering of priest abusing children, one man has waited SEVEN DECADES. SEVENTY YEARS, to come forward and say, "ME TOO." (https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/15/us/pennsylvania-catholic-church-victims/index.html). 
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Unless you have suffered abuse of any kind, at any age, you do not have the right to have an opinion that does not support victims of sexual assault and abuse. You may have them, but you have not paid the price to do so.  You’re nothing but noise.  You do not get to judge how a survivor and overcomer has dealt with or is dealing with how they choose to share their story and do whatever it is they need to in order to move on. You have not earned the right to say that Bill Cosby (charged), Harvey Weinstein (admitted), Larry Nassar (charged), Priests (found guilty), or others in a position of authority who have been found guilty, are really innocent.
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I was surprised earlier this year when I simply posted a status that read, "Victim blaming must stop." And you know what? People disagreed with me citing that it's interesting how "all these women have come out of the woodwork for their 15 minutes of fame." Well listen to me and hear me good, when you say stupid s*%t like that, you are re-abusing the victim. You are causing him or her to go back into hiding. You are communicating to them that they should stop going down their avenue(s) of healing-no matter what it looks like-because, "Nobody will believe me." IT DOES NOT MATTER WHEN THE ABUSE HAPPENED. THE FACT IS THAT IT HAPPENED AND THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH. I have always said that I would rather believe a victim and be wrong, than doubt the victim and be right.
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Truthfully, there is a majority of us that never get closure.  We just learn to move on from “it” as best we can.  It doesn't matter if it was just yesterday or seventy years ago, we do not have the luxury of forgetting. You see, we have paid a price to give voice to our abuse, pain, lost innocence, and suffering as a result of a rapist, child molester, pedophile, or any other predators that I have failed to mention.  I make no apologies nor am I hesitating to expose and publicly name the man who molested me from 1985-1989. His time is up. People say, "Aren't you afraid he will come after you?" Hell no! I can take a polygraph and put all doubt to rest, just as he can and should if he really thinks he didn’t or has amnesia.  And if there is still a way for him to make my life miserable, I can and will keep talking louder and more passionate because one thing he did not take from me is my voice and my ability to call him out and stand up for justice, not just for me, but for all of my "ME TOO" sisters.
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Wow!  This was (is) supposed to be about the statute of limitations, but it appears I needed to get out some other things.  Going back to my initial intent in beginning this post, I am asking that you PLEASE FIND OUT WHAT YOUR STATE'S STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ARE AND BECOME ACTIVE IN HAVING THEM OVERTURNED OR RADICALLY CHANGED OR EVEN BETTER, THAT THERE AREN'T ANY.  At the very least, expand the time frame, even if it’s only by a year.  You’d be surprised how that can change the entire trajectory of a survivor’s journey to help bring peace to her or himself, and give others permission to do the same.  Please visit http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/local-lawmakers-support-bill-that-would-extend-statute-of-limitations/article_180d3a72-a030-11e8-a1b8-f3ec6bc1b242.html to find out how you can help.



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