Shhh! I know a secret and it’s disturbing. It’s an unsettling secret that many people share. This secret shook my family to its core and I’m hoping one day we’ll recover.
By now everyone has heard of the molestation allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. Many believe the women, but some don’t (men in particular). They question why the women never came forward sooner. I can answer this question.
Several years ago, a close family member (hereafter called “X”) disclosed that as a child they’d been molested by a member of the clergy. This clergyman took advantage of X’s age and vulnerability when a beloved parent had just died. X had sought grief counseling from the pastor as X’s other parent was “emotionally unavailable.”
After the death of this preacher an emotional release occurred for X, and X was finally able to reveal the decades long secret to our family.
X felt no one would have believed what happened because the minister was highly regarded in the community and X’s family were devout Christians. Also, when this occurred no one knew about the rampant abuses among the clergy and if they did, it was a time when it went unspoken.
As X grew older, a deep shame took root and it led to years of depression and thoughts of suicide. Now, X engages in magical thinking and hopes that somehow someone can make the memories disappear.
When I learned what happened, I was filled with a deep rage. Knowing church abuses, I knew that X would not have been the only one. Also, a proverbial “light bulb” went off and the years of X’s depression and behaviors made sense. Indeed, this had caused strife within the whole family.
Along with the rage came a supreme pain and sadness for X. I cried for X the child, who was alone and violated. A child who knew not to speak out because no one – including X’s own family – would have had confidence in the story’s veracity. Also, some people would say X was distorting what occurred or say X was mentally disturbed. No child should have to undergo such torment and turmoil.
Wanting to expose what this cleric had done, and knowing he had later been transferred and promoted, I contacted an attorney, who explained that New York was a “lock down state.” This is where the church’s influence is highly pervasive amongst the legislature, so that they will not expand the statute of limitations for molestation.
A victim has until age 23 to bring criminal or civil charges against their abuser in New York. Joining New York among the most restrictive states for the statute of limitations when it comes to molestation are Mississippi, Alabama, and Michigan.
This year the New York Republican legislature did not pass legislation allowing victims to sue their abusers past the statute of limitations.
The effects of molestation linger throughout a victim’s life and, I can attest, also affect their family forever. To this day, X cannot enter the church where a portrait of this pastor hangs.
I believe that a radical new way of looking at rape and child molestation has to occur in the court systems throughout the entire country. I would propose that all states should have no criminal or civil statute of limitations for molestation and rape. In essence, molestation or rape murders part of the victim. So, like homicide charges, there should be no statute of limitations. I would also suggest that the magnitude of the crime and the lifetime sentence that has been imposed upon the victim and their family warrants a lifetime prison term for the perpetrator.
Hopefully, if these changes took place, victims would find some measure of peace and a feeling that justice has been served.