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By Nola Ford Restorff
Guest Commentary 

I still hear the cries of the victims of child abuse

 


Larry R.Chapman, a pharmacist in Klickitat County, was recently arrested and charged with child molestation. He is free on bail. He also was given, through the pharmacy board that supervises his license, a suspension and 20 days to request a hearing to contest it. “Such an egregious act, if proven at hearing, constitutes a risk of imminent danger or harm to the public,” the order says. “Any sanction less restrictive than summary suspension would be inadequate to protect the public from (Chapman).”

I am 76 years old and a victim of sexual abuse as a child while living in Camas, Washington; I was abused by my uncle and my father. My uncle molested me from age 5 to 13. My father, from age 9 until 18 when I left home. No one stopped it. No one came to my rescue. No one arrested my abusers, and all that they took from me went with them un-punished to their graves. Many refused to believe me, many said it was my fault. No one gave me a 20-day suspension to heal and be heard.

I read the order from the pharmacy board regarding Chapman and my memories of abuse jumped to the surface as if it were yesterday.

I believe that all sexual abuse is an “egregious act” and until an offender is locked behind bars permanently, there will always be “risk of imminent danger and harm to the public.” And let’s give this “imminent danger” a name. It is the action that robbed me and thousands of precious little girls and boys of their innocence, their self-esteem, their right to be safe in their homes; to grow up to be unafraid and free from anger and distrust. Their right to be nightmare free. With every wound that heals, a new one opens up when another sexual predator is given bail, their right to a trial, a slap on the wrist. There were no rights for me when I was held down, raped, told, “This will only take a minute.” There were no rights when I held little girl tears in that in adulthood became tears for every child still at the hands of molestation.

Those charged with child abuse face varying sentences depending on a range of factors, age of the child, which state the crime was committed in, the extent of the sexual abuse, whether the sexual abuse caused physical or psychological injury, and whether the offender had previous convictions.

Charges are then sectioned to be aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor or ward and abusive sexual contact. A judge looks at a number of aggravating factors such as whether any threats of force or actual force were used, whether the child was injured or died, whether a child was kidnapped. and the possibility of a lifetime of being on the sex offenders register, losing parental rights, probation, and counseling.

As a survivor, I can attest that being sexually abused was (and is for all child victims) under threat, force, being injured, and certainly kidnapped inasmuch as any small child is not able to get away from an abusers grasp, mentally or physically. The laws need to be changed! The children, not the abusers, deserve the protection! I speak for them now! I plead to the legislators to understand that there is no cure for those men and women sexual predators who live freely among us. Locked behind prison bars indefinitely, in my opinion, is the only penalty. It is important to know that someone can be criminally charged with a misdemeanor for not reporting suspected child molestation such is all too often the case with women who chose to stay with a predator although they are aware of the sexual molestation.

Today, when I look into the face of the miracle who is my son, whom I love more than life, and interact with my brother who loves me unconditionally as I do him, I see my blessings. It is in those times that I know deep inside I am a survivor, a warrior.

Survivors can never completely heal until they know that those who robbed them of everything they were entitled to are permanently jailed. Permanently! Forever!

I don’t want another day to pass when a child of sexual abuse realizes that those who stole their right to be a laughing, safe, trusting adult are free to re-offend. Can you hear their cries? I can. I have cried them for over 70 years. They are my cries too.

 

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