15
October

The Abuser Is Being Released; Now What?

We were notified 90 days prior to his release date. This gave us time to take it in and prepare our daughter. Although some have disagreed with our decisions, we didn’t tell our daughter immediately. We took a week or so to absorb the reality that the person who abused our child would soon reclaim his freedom. It was a hard truth to accept seeing as how we in no way felt he has served enough time to atone for his crime. We were angry all over again, but we had to quickly check our emotions and prepare to support our daughter. We knew there was a big possibility this would cause her to regress back into feelings and emotions that she had been trying to heal from. Nonetheless, it was our job as parents to support her.

In the days prior to his release, we checked in with her regularly and encouraged her to let us know where she was mentally and emotionally. She admitted that some anger had resurfaced because she didn’t feel justice had been served. We reassured her that her feelings were completely appropriate and understandable. We gave her space to just feel whatever she was feeling. We also gave her specific instructions on what to do if she encountered him anywhere. These instructions were recited for several days to make sure she would not panic; but react, and react quickly.

The day he was released she woke up and asked if he was out. We explained that to the best of our knowledge he was free and what his parole officer had told us about the requirements and conditions of his parole. She chose not to go to school that day because there was some trepidation with knowing he was out and he could violate his parole and seek her out. Her fears were certainly understandable and we wanted her to feel safe, so we supported her decision to stay close to home until she was comfortable going out and returning to her day to day activities.

As parents, it was critical that we kept our emotions in check as well. Not to say that we had to be super heroes and act like we weren’t affected by him being released, but we had to hold it together for our children, and ourselves. We had come a long way and we didn’t want to undo all of our progress by making hasty decisions that would impact us in a negative manner. We took the time leading up to his release date and in the days to follow to check in mentally and emotionally with one another and our therapist. Admitting where we were struggling and talking things through was a tremendous help. It hasn’t been easy, but we are determined to heal!

Next week’s topic………Helping others


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3
October

Getting Your Paperwork In Order

Getting Your Paperwork In Order

Part of the final phases of the court proceedings is making sure your child will be protected once the abuser is released from jail. One way to help accomplish this is to request that the judge sign a protective order prohibiting the abuser from having contact with your child or your family during their incarceration and also once they are released from jail. The protective order specifies the length of time for which the order must be adhered to and should the abuser violate the order, they are subject to arrest.

Another task is to determine whether your state has a mechanism in place to notify the victim or their family when the prisoner is moved or released from jail. You must register for this service and notification is sent by mail, or  you can opt to receive the notification by phone. Either way, it is does provide some peace of mind to know that the abuser won’t be released back into society without your knowledge. The same organization that assists with the notification process can also assist in making sure the abuser is not paroled back into the same community. We were able to request that the offender be paroled into a different county.

The final task that we recommend is to speak with the abuser’s parole officer. Ask specific questions about where the offender is actually be paroled to, what are his restrictions in terms of how far he can travel from the location he is paroled to, and what the penalty is for violating these restrictions.

Additionally, given the nature of the crime, the DA should have pushed for the abuser to be registered as a sex offender, in which case, he should be electronically monitored with a GPS tracking device. That said, make sure the parole officer knows where your child resides, attends school, or works, so there is significant tracking radius placed around your home and the places that your child frequents daily. Granted, the system is terribly broken and the monitoring isn’t fail-safe, it is still worth doing as an added precautionary measure. You should also make sure your child has clear instructions on what to do if the abuser violates the protective order. This includes getting to a safe place, calling 911 and the parole officer immediately!!

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3
October

Victim’s Impact Statement

Once the DA offered the plea bargain, we were advised that we would have an opportunity to let the judge know how this crime impacted our family. My daughter had the option of speaking publicly in court or writing a letter to the judge. We too, as parents, were given the option of speaking in court or sending a written statement to the judge.

The original purpose of the Victim’s Impact Statement was to help the judge understand the extent to which the victim and the family was affected by the crime. Often times the judge may take the statements into consideration when determining the criminal’s sentence.  One can only hope that the judge is not desensitized by the constant exposure to pain and violence, and he/she is able to tap into the raw emotions that are often expressed in these statements and worn on the sleeves of those who give the statement.  However, when a plea bargain has been reached, the jail/prison sentence is already set. So, barring the judge’s discretion to reject the deal, the statements are more of a formality and opportunity for closure for the victim and their family.

Never the less, we encourage victims and their families to take this opportunity to have their voices heard. It can be very therapeutic. And, even if the victim has someone read their statement aloud in court on their behalf, it can be very cleansing to know you have addressed your abuser and spoke your truth….

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