I could hear the agony of a mother’s voice on the other side of the phone as she called me as possibly the last resort for someone to help her with a traumatic situation.
She told me she had just found out her son was sexually molested by a family friend some 28 years ago when her son was 6 years old. She cried over the phone and her voice quivered as she tried to tell me about her son being sexually assaulted four times by the same person.
As a mother and first time grandmother myself, I listened intently to a grieving mother who is hurting.
She said the alleged molester was 12 years old at the time and the only reason her son is now telling his side is because he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to other family members and friends who still keep in contact with the suspect.
She said her son filed a report with the sheriff’s department, but because the incident happened almost three decades ago, the district attorney told them the case probably wouldn’t make it past the grand jury. There are no witnesses and it was her son’s word against the alleged perpetrator’s word.
“He was scared and he was 6 years old,” she said over the phone as she cried some more.
My heart went out to her as we talked for about 30 minutes.
Unless the case goes further, I told her our hands at the newspaper are tied as well. If the individual is charged with the crime then we can proceed, but if it doesn’t go anywhere or the case is “no billed,” which means the grand jury felt there wasn’t enough evidence, we as the media can’t print the alleged sexual assault either. We have to have records from police reports or court documents to attribute in our articles.
As I was researching sexual assault numbers, the figures are astonishing.
Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey - the country’s largest crime study - there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007 (the most recent data available).
Those numbers mean that a sexual assault happens every 127 seconds, or about one every two minutes.
Forty-four percent of victims are under the age of 18 and 80 percent are under the age of 30. Unfortunately, 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police and 15 of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail. About two-thirds of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim and 38 percent are a friend or acquaintance.
My advise to parents is to talk to their children and communicate with them about the dangers of being sexually assaulted and encourage them to tell you about any suspicious incidents in which adults or other family members or friends are attempting to coerce them to do something immoral. Explain to them it’s not their fault and let a trusted adult know, such as a teacher, but keep the lines of communication open. Role play different scenarios with the child on how he or she can get away from an awkward situation by just walking away and find ways not to be alone with an individual that might lead to a bad situation.
Listening to a painful mother whose son’s life will forever be affected was heartbreaking, to say the least. Let’s educate our children about the dangers of child molesters and as parents always ask questions, and more importantly, let your children know you care and love them unconditionally.