Posted by: Marie | October 22, 2010

(428) Their day in court – Part 3 of 4

Post #428
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 – continued from previous post]

Darla and George used to be married about 15 years ago. They got divorced. Darla remarried and the girls were born. That marriage fell apart. She and George got back together again. They didn’t get married again, but they did live together with the girls.

The family moved around a lot. A few years back, George moved to Colorado and rented a house so Darla and the girls could join him in Colorado. In the months before Darla and the girls moved to Colorado, George subleased bedrooms in the house to various disreputable people.

Photo by Martin Chen

When Darla and the girls finally moved in, some of those people – both male and female – were still subleasing a room or two. Drugs were a problem. Drunkenness and disturbances of the peace were issues. Truancy caused regular disruptions in the girls’ education.

Everything came to a head 18 months ago when social services came by and told Darla and George they had to clean up the house to the point of at least being sanitary or the girls would be removed from the home.

One day soon after, Darla was yelling at Lexi to do her fair share of the cleaning. Lexi was complaining she had been given too much of the cleaning responsibility. In the midst of all the arguing, Lexi turned to Darla and stated, “You are doing this because you hate me. You always take his side!” Darla got even angrier and demanded Lexi explain what she meant.

And Lexi did explain.

Lexi told Darla about the sex. She told Darla about the toys and movies and the computer.

Darla didn’t believe Lexi, so she asked Kari if Lexi was lying or telling the truth. Kari backed Lexi’s story.

Darla still didn’t believe the girls until the girls told her the sex toys were locked in George’s desk drawer in his office in the basement.

Darla got a crowbar and broke into the desk drawer. Just like the girls said, the toys were in the drawer.

The prosecutor submitted into evidence the sex toys – after he had Darla identify them.

Then, Darla described how she went looking for one of the computers . . . but she didn’t know much about using the computer, so she didn’t know how to look for evidence of pornography.

She decided it would be smart to call the police. And the rest is history. Well, more or less . . . so to speak.

Needless to say, the girls were removed from the home and George got put in jail.

The prosecutor asked if the girls had ever said anything previously about being sexually abused. Darla said – she was ashamed to admit – the girls had said something to her a few times over the years, especially Lexi.

She never believed them. She never investigated.

Why hadn’t she investigated? Well, she didn’t really know why . . . maybe because she figured the girls were lying.

Dumb bitch.

Dumb head-up-her-ass too-lazy-to-care stupid bitch.

I didn’t cry during her testimony . . . I was in shock. Those girls never had a chance.

Then, it was time for the lunch break. As we were standing, waiting for the jury and judge to exit and for George to be shackled and taken from the courtroom, I found myself a bit unsure about the protocol of when it is appropriate for observers to leave the courtroom. I didn’t want to commit some major faux pas and get yelled at by the judge.

As I was waivering, a very attractive blond lady – maybe a decade or less younger than me – provided some good-natured guidance. She had apparently slipped into the gallery and took a seat behind me during Darla’s testimony because I hadn’t noticed her before. She helped me know when it was okay for us to exit and then we walked out to the lobby together.

When George was about to be escorted through the hall, the security officer hollered for all of us to clear the hall. I had no idea what that meant . . . and this kind lady helped out with that bit of protocol, as well. She explained we needed to duck around a corner so we would not be in the line-of-sight of the prisoner as he came through.

Since she seemed to be very familiar with this environment, I inquired as to her roll in the proceedings. She said she pays her bills by being a real estate agent, but she volunteers as a victims’ advocate and she is on the board of directors of a local organization that coordinates the efforts of court appointed special advocates for children.

I think my eyes glazed over shortly after “real estate agent”. She laughed her easy laugh . . .

She explained that, as a victims’ advocate, she walks beside people who have been a victim of a trauma . . . a car wreck, a rape, a sudden death in the family. She goes out to the scene of the incident, with the police, as one of the first responders. She might help someone pack a suitcase or contact family members or find dry clothes. Then, she stays with that victim all the way through the legal and restitution processes. She helps to coordinate psychotherapy, if it is needed. She helps people figure out how to get medical bills paid. She says she has done a million different things in that role.

Then, the organization for which she is a board member helps children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Specially trained advocates take responsibility for supporting an individual child as that child travels through the criminal and family courts and as he or she receives treatment and support during the healing process.

As a board member, she was observing this trial, interviewing the judge, interviewing the attorneys and touching base with the girls to check on the quality and effectiveness of the support the sisters have received from her organization.

As she was explaining all this to me, I started getting all teary-eyed again. I mean, why the hell not – it had been at least 45 minutes since I had last cried – I was about due for some more tears, LOL!

Anyway, as I was hearing her talk about the support people in crisis were receiving, and hearing her talk about the satisfaction she received from providing the support, my heart melted. I can only imagine what it must be like to receive and to give in those ways.

I started asking a million questions about what all was involved in being an advocate. She patiently answered them all.

As our conversation was coming to a close, I told her I might be interested in doing something like that – when I was in a better position for doing so, when I was bit farther along in my healing journey. I shared a very brief version of my story . . .

And, in reciprocation, she shared a very brief version of her story. She concluded her story by saying:

“While acting as an advocate forces us to view a very ugly side of humanity, it also allows us to see the very best of humanity. Isn’t it so good to see so many good people fighting so hard to rescue and assist these kids . . . to help them find a significant level of justice and healing? Look at these prosecutors and these police officers and these social workers and these advocates . . . they care so much about each individual child.

“You know, you and I never had a chance to have that kind of support. It just didn’t exist in our day. But, now . . . now, things are different. These kids have a chance.

“This is what I choose to do in order to build something good – very good – from my own history. This is part of my own healing journey.”

I can’t help but to be inspired by her.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. Truly inspiring.

    And that stupid woman not listening to her kids is deeply shocking.

    • Hey, Evan –

      Yup . . . talk about emotional extremes!

      – Marie

  2. I wish I could say I was surprised by the mother, but I’m not … these parents often choose not to believe anything that would be inconvenient or would make them take action; they’re so mired in their own crap that they just can’t be bothered to see past it.

    I’m so glad you met the advocate. From this distance, it must be very interesting to see things linking up … your decision to volunteer in the search, and your discovery of your leadership abilities; and now meeting this woman who may be pointing you toward a very practical and meaningful way for you to use those abilities for children who are lost in a different way … lost in a way where you can still find them in plain sight.

    • Hey, David –

      There is something to be said about pointing your intentions in a specific direction and then allowing things to fall into place in support of those intentions . . . it is interesting how it all comes together . . .

      I appreciate your supportive words!

      – Marie

  3. diddo; awe inspiring

    • Hey, Ivory –

      This is pretty cool (and ugly) stuff . . .

      – Marie

  4. I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented here before, but I am reading with interest. I am a CASA – a court appointed special advocate. The foster child I work with is now 16 years old. He was abused throughout his life. It is a very rewarding job, but frustrating as well, dealing with the court system and social workers can be very difficult. I recently decided to resign from my role since my foster child is now in a good home, the home he always wanted to go back to since he was 7 years old. I’m going to take some time off, and then maybe I’ll take on another case.

    • Hi, Harriet –

      I’m glad you stopped by!

      It sounds like you invested a lot of yourself in your foster child . . . I’m so glad he had you next to him through that journey!

      I’m sure being a CASA is very challenging and very rewarding . . . what an awesome way to give back!

      – Marie

  5. What has shocked me in dealing with a slightly different–but in some ways all too similar–situation of abuse with my family has been the ways in which whole groups of people seem to collude around the abusers.

    In my case, it took such a long time to convince people around me that my brother and his wife needed to be taken to task for their abuse of their children. But I have seen therapists consistently blame the children, as well as grandparents and friends and other relatives constantly refusing to believe that the situation is as bad as it is.

    People just don’t want to stick their necks out and they also don’t want to believe the worst about those closest to them. Better to stick their heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening.

    Well, my wife and I called social services and also spoke our mind to one of our niece’s therapists. Nothing much came of it all, other than us losing contact with our niece and me not speaking to my brother anymore.

    But at least i know we did the right thing and stood up for those kids.

    • Hey, Aaron –

      I’m so glad you were willing to pay a dear price in order to protect your niece . . . I think you will find the next post (part 4) very frustrating because it shows a brother who made a different choice . . .

      I’m so glad a spotlight is finally being shown on abuse in general . . thank you for being part of that light!

      – Marie

  6. Thanks Marie. And another thing I can say from my time involved in this situation…is how much the abusers and the family members in denial act in ways that make you doubt your own experiences.

    My brother and his wife lied so often with such believability that at times I had to question if maybe I was the crazy one…luckily I had my wife to support me.

    What amazes me is for children who suffer this abuse, that someone like my niece is able to stay as strong as she has despite the lies of both her parents and other relatives and caregivers believing her parents…she still knows that what has happened to her is wrong.

    And I hope that you can learn to trust your remembrances as well, because that’s one of the things the abusers try to rob the victims of. Anyway, thanks for your work.


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