Child Abuse Penalties

An article from FINDLAW explains the difference in legal ramifications for the offender. Most child abuse victims think the penalties are too lenient. I tend to agree. The Law isn’t taking into consideration the emotional trauma that is experienced by the victim.

“A person charged with child abuse faces a wide range of penalties and sentencing possibilities, depending on several factors. These include the state where the abuse took place, the age of the child, whether the offense involved sexual abuse, whether the child was physically or mentally injured, and the criminal history of the offender.

Sentencing for child abuse and neglect cases is often difficult for everyone involved – especially since child abuse cases are often highly publicized and the potential for a social stigma on the family is great.

In most states, child abuse may be charged as either a felony or a less serious offense depending on the circumstances. The most severe cases of child abuse may carry felony lifetime sentences, while the least serious cases are considered gross misdemeanors with potentially no jail time.

Punishments will typically be more severe if the offender has a prior record of criminal child abuse activity and greatly reduced if there is no prior record.

For sentencing purposes, a person charged with child abuse may enter a guilty, not guilty, or no contest plea. In a large number of cases, sentencing will typically include probation or a prison term of up to five years. Sentencing in other, more serious cases, may include a longer prison term.

Other possible penalties and/or consequences may include:

  • Lifetime requirement to register as a child sexual offender
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Ruined reputation
  • Criminal record
  • Supervised access to the child
  • Physical or actual loss and enjoyment of a child
  • Continual involvement with a child protective services agency.

People who fail to report child abuse or neglect also face penalties and consequences in some states with mandatory reporting laws. In those states, if a person has reason to suspect that someone is abusing a child, they must report is through a hotline or law enforcement agency. Failure to report such cases in a timely manner is considered a misdemeanor in most states and may result in fines, jail time, or both. It is usually best to work with a criminal defense lawyer to reduce or lessen the severity of the penalties and sentencing in all cases involving child abuse.”

Taken from FINDLAW, #1 Free Legal Website

To Tell or Not to Tell

One of the most stressful things about sexual abuse, besides the abuse itself, is the taboo against telling someone. Abusers tell victims (children and teenagers), that they must not tell anyone, and that they will be hurt badly or killed if they tell. The abuser also may tell the victim that a loved caregiver will hate them because they are so bad.

Often the victims of this crime grow up with a terrible secret knocking constantly at their consciousness. It’s like throwing a ball against the wall and catching it. You wish you had someone to catch it, but you alone keep catching the secret and throwing it back into your mind, because you believe you will suffer grave consequences if you tell.

According to psychologists, eventually the secret abuse settles somewhere in the child’s sub-conscious and cannot be retrieved. Sometimes the secret remains hidden years after the abuse is over. My secret, the sexual abuse by a maid, was not revealed until I was middle-aged. I went to a mental hospital and my therapist helped me remember my abuse. With that came the realization that I had wanted to tell my mother very badly at the time, but did not, because my abuser told me she would kill me with the butcher knife if I ever told anyone.

Therefore, these secrets, the secrets of sexual abuse, eventually hid in my subconscious. Along with that, I developed alternate personalities that didn’t even know about the abuse. It was only when I had the courage to tell my therapist that the stress of hiding the secret was released.

If you are suffering from abuse, it is very important to tell someone. Telling is a key to healing.

My story has been told, but there are millions of stories out there that have never been told. Every year the Children’s Advocacy Centers in the United States help over 100,000 children who have been abused. These children may be battered, beaten, starved, locked up, berated, or forced into having sex with an adult or sibling. This is not acceptable in our American society, where we value each life. We must pass stronger laws to stop it.

We must address the needs of girls who are being abused by their fathers or step fathers. Often the first thing they do after being assaulted is tell their mothers. Unfortunately this disclosure is often met with retaliation and disbelief. How many young girls have been slapped in the face, yelled at and told they have dirty minds. They are accused of lying. If Mom won’t listen, I strongly advise these girls to tell a teacher or responsible caregiver about this incest. To tell can lead to release from this situation.

A little known fact is that mothers are committing a felony in most states if they don’t report the abuse and do something to stop it.

If YOU are being abused or you are suspicious that a child is being abused, please call the Child Advocacy Center or Children’s Services in your area. It is their job to investigate and RESCUE ABUSE VICTIMS. Their phone numbers are on the internet. Or you can call 1-800-4-A-CHILD, the national number for reporting abuse. My prayers are with you if you decide to tell.

Child Abuse – Symptoms

Here is a list of some of the Symptoms of Child Abuse:

1. Dramatic change in behavior. If a child who is normally outgoing becomes withdrawn, or a quiet child becomes loud and aggressive, that child may be experiencing child abuse. A normally bright child may become unresponsive, or a calm child becomes frightened or jittery. It is the change that may signal that the child is being abused.

2. Observable injuries. These are easiest signs to spot: burns, bruises, broken bones, bite marks, swelling and discolorations of the skin. If you notice these on a child, ASK them about it. It is polite in our society to ask. Does the answer seem plausible? If not, further investigation may be needed.

3. Fear of their abuser. All abused children have one universal symptom. They will be AFRAID of their abuser. They may become fearful of a parent, relative, neighbor, teacher or caregiver. My abuser used a carving knife to scare me and keep me from telling my parents.

4. Defensive stance. An abused child may avoid physical contact with others. They may hold their arms or hands in front of their body, as though someone might suddenly hurt them. They may also shy away from being touched by anyone. They may flinch at sudden movements, appearing watchful and alert, as if waiting for something bad to happen

5. Return to earlier behaviors.  These include thumb sucking, demanding a pacifier, soiling themselves, wetting the bed, fear of the dark or strangers, loss of acquired language, stuttering or memory problems. Have a serious talk with your child if you notice these symptoms.

6. Lack of personal hygiene shows neglect. A child may look like their parents forgot to give them a bath or change their clothes. This may or may not be linked to abuse, but it is neglect. The other possibility is that the child is purposely trying to look unattractive to ward off an abuser.

7. Poor School Attendence. Children may come to school early or stay late, in order to avoid an abusive parent. They may seem preoccupied and their grades suddenly plummet.

8. Risk-taking behaviors. If a child no longer feels safe and his self esteem has been taken away, he or she may have no reason to be careful. The child may run across the street without looking or jump off the top of the jungle gym. This can be a silent cry for help.

SIGNS OF SEXUAL ABUSE MAY INCLUDE:  

1. Difficulty walking or sitting.

2. Torn clothing and/or bloody underwear. A child with this symptom should be examined by a doctor to verify injuries

3. Pain and itching in the genital area.

4. Inappropriate sexual behavior. An abused child may attempt to victimize a peer or a younger family member.

5. Explicit language. A young child who suddenly spouts sexual language may have heard it during abuse by an older person.

Signs courtesy of Dreamcatcherforabusedchildren.com, The Joyful Heart Foundation, Children’s Advocacy Centers, and childhelp.org.

Sarah Gets Her Own Room

SarahI have been in therapy for multiple personalities since 1992. During that time I have discovered more than 13 alters in a system I call the Vortex. This is a circular system in my mind that organizes my personalities, so they can be remembered and accessed. My therapists and psychologists have identified and spoken to most of my alters, and we knew about Sarah but she had never revealed herself except during hypnosis in 1993. She is four years old.

At my most recent therapy session, Dr. Foster suggested we have a conference for all the personalities, where they come out and talk to each other and try to solve their problems. Everyone agreed with this idea, except Sarah.

“No, no, no!” she cried. She squeezed into the wing chair, and hugged the side for protection and to make herself seem smaller. She writhed in the chair, as though she was being attacked by snakes.

“Who are you?” Dr. Foster said. At first she would not identify herself, but after whining for several minutes she answered. She is carrying a lot of shame.

“Sarah!”
“What’s wrong Sarah? Why are you so upset?” the doctor asked.
“Because I don’t want to go to a conference.”
“Why not?”
“Because I don’t want anyone to see me.” There was a long pause.

“Why?” the doctor asked.
“Because I’m so ugly.”
“I don’t think you’re ugly Sarah,” the doctor answered.
“I am ugly. I have to live in a black hole so no one can see me.”
“Tell me about the black hole,” he said.

“I had to go in there to get away from the Green Girl (my abuser). She made me all slimy and hated me, so I disappeared. I went into the hole so she couldn’t abuse me any more. I need to go there now, so no-one finds me.”

“Sarah, the Green Girl can’t find you because she is dead. And, I think Nancy is looking for you,” my therapist said.
“I don’t care. I don’t want anyone to see me, because I’m so ugly and sticky,” Sarah answered. “I have slime all over me from the Green Girl.”
“You still have slime on you from 68 years ago?” Dr. Foster asked. Sarah thought about that. It has been 68 years since my abuse.

“Yes, it feels bad. And my hair looks awful and smells bad,” she said.
“Doesn’t it look like Nancy’s hair?”
Sarah was really thinking now. She said, “No it’s black and kinky like pubic hair.”
“Are you sure about that?” asked Dr. Foster. “It looks to me like it is brown like Nancy’s hair.”

Sarah relaxed a little in the chair, realizing the doctor was right.
“It’s not black and kinky?” she asked.
“No, it’s pretty like Nancy’s hair.” There was a long pause, while Sarah thought about her self image.
“I still don’t want to be around people,” she said, “because my skin is so sticky and slimy.”
“It doesn’t look sticky or slimy to me,” said Dr. Foster. “It looks like Nancy’s skin.”
Sarah looked at her hands. She straightened up in the chair and said, “Do my hands look like Nancy’s hands?”
“Yes!” Sarah relaxed even more and she started accepting her position in my body. “You’re saying I look just like Nancy?”
“Yes, Sarah, yes!”

After a long pause my therapist said, “Would you like to live in a room like everyone else instead of going back to the black hole?” All my alters have rooms in my imaginary house in my head.
“Yes!” Sarah was getting excited about having her own room. “And I want a pink ruffley bedspread.”
“Okay. You have it.”
“And I want a big blue elephant in the room with me.”
“I don’t think there’s room for an elephant in your room, do you?”
“No. I want him to be stuffed!”
“Okay.”

Dr. Foster and Sarah talked about her new room. The doctor said she only had to come out if she wanted to and he gave her a little square window in the door, so she could see if anyone came to see her.
“What if someone comes that I don’t want to see?” she asked.

“I’ll give you some cannonballs. You can shoot them at the window if someone comes who you don’t want to see.”
Sarah smiled, perhaps for the first time in 68 years. “I know,” she said, “I can have the elephant shoot the cannonballs at people through his trunk.” She laughed about that. Sarah was feeling much better.
“I’d like to play,” she told the doctor. He got out some crayons and some paper and gave them to her.
“I’m going to draw my new room,” she said, with enthusiasm.

 

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Other Multiples

If you know someone with multiple personalities, please tell them about my blog. I would like to connect with them