What could justice mean?

For a long while, I thought getting my brother convicted for sexually abusing me when I was little would just be about vengeance. I could only see it as my wanting to make him suffer, and I don’t want to be the kind of person that inflicts suffering on another. Even if a person deserves to suffer, I’ve always felt like it shouldn’t be at my hands. I’ve been turning over in my head what justice might mean to me and how I could potentially feel like I’ve got some.

I suppose the argument is that if he suffers now, it is only because of his own actions 20 years ago. And if his wife or his unborn child or my family suffer, again, it is his fault. It wasn’t my choice at ten years old to let him get away with it, nor was it my choice in all the years that followed. But the problem now, is that if I did choose to take action, I would feel like it was down to me. I can logically say it wasn’t my fault back then, but right now I have a choice, so it will feel like my fault in the here-and-now.

I read something in an article about the guidelines on rape sentencing that made me reconsider the importance of justice . Reflecting on this, I could position a possible conviction differently in my mind. I could see it as more than a selfish act and put in perspective a bigger picture. That overview is one in which as a society, we cannot afford and don’t collectively desire letting these crimes go unpunished.

In the case of R v Roberts and Roberts (1982), Lord Chief Justice Lane stated:

“Rape is always a serious crime. Other than in wholly exceptional circumstances, it calls for an immediate custodial sentence. . . . A custodial sentence is necessary for a variety of reasons. First of all to mark the gravity of the offence. Secondly to emphasise public disapproval. Thirdly to serve as a warning to others. Fourthly to punish the offender, and last but by no means least, to protect women.”

I’ve been making an effort to disclose to my closest friends recently what happened to me as a child. It has been amazing so far and is helping me strengthen the resources I have outside of my family. That’s important because I’m too emotionally tied up in all the family stuff right now to get any kind of support from them.

What I recall from their reactions, more than anything (other than enormous compassion) is their frustration and indignation that justice has never been served. Every time I tell someone I was abused, their first reaction is to ask how on earth he got away with it. They’ve never met him and they want him to be punished.

And I get that. Because when you’re removed from the situation it is so very easy to see what’s right and wrong.

This week I watched a BBC documentary on the reach of Operation Yewtree and the Jimmy Saville enquiry. I knew I was being a hypocrite feeling furious that Saville died without being punished. I was bowled over by the guts it took those people to speak out about the abuse after decades of secrecy. There are hundreds of people who carry the regret of not reporting his crimes while he was alive. They didn’t get that chance, and several said they wished he was still alive for that reason.

It was sad, but also inspiring, for everyone who has suffered the consequences of sexual abuse, to hear those stories of survival and strength. Maybe those voices will help ensure more victims get the chance to seek justice, and when they do they will truly be heard.

If you missed it, you can watch ‘Abused: The untold story’ on BBC iPlayer here.

Photo: Guillaume Paumier, Creative Commons.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. So, lots of questions and things to say here …

    #1 Is there a statute of limitations on bringing up these charges?

    #2 How would YOU FEEL about dredging up each and every horrible traumatic sexually exploitation experience?

    #3 Would you have to pay for your own lawyer and HOW much COULD these expense cost you financially?

    #4 Can you AFFORD these expenses?

    #5 What about his baby and his wife? Should baby know what a monster daddy once was? Will this f*ck over new baby and his (her?) opinion of dad? Will this cause a divorce or severe emotional strife in your sibling’s marriage? Do you care? Is the wife a monster too by proxy?

    #6 Do you care about the potential emotional carnage #5 “could” cause? Maybe who cares about the wife, but what about the baby?

    #7 Shouldn’t you definitely bring charges NO MATTER WHAT because all child pedophile abusers need to be sent a message that their actions were not right and harmful?!?!

    #8 Is there any, any, any way that pedophile brother can demonstrate enough contrition and active action such as speaking out against being a pedophile that charges will not have to be brought out officially?

    #9 Should his whole offspring and family be forced into carrying shame … if they even feel it … for what he has done to you?

    #10 If he has to pay emotionally, socially and personally for what he did to you way back then will this bring ENOUGH justice?

    Just some questions I had … none of them do you have to answer … only musings in my own head after I read your poignant post. Again, I’m sorry that your stupid @sshat for a brother for whatever reason stuck his stick in you and took advantage of you repeatedly. Is HE also a victim of sexual abuse or did he somehow create this sickness on his own? Ya’ll aren’t Catholic are you, and a priest molested him???

    You are still a whole person, probably the most tender and caring with a great sense of consciousness due to this whole mess. THIS can never be taken away from you. You aren’t dirty or slime because he did this. You are less. Oddly, you are probably more because of his horrible premature prefrontal cortex development and hormone overactivity. And also, there HAD to be some enabler in the family for all of this to happen.

    It’s awful when people can’t admit small injustices or mistakes, but even worse when they can’t come clean and make restitution for the harm they have created. I really don’t think that abusers actually have the brain power to know the emotional and physical harm they caused their victims — and this is in NO way to excuse their behavior. I think their brains are so deformed in such ways that they are unable to sympathize or empathize with the damages they have caused others, leading them to not be able to fully apologize or appreciate the magnitude of their negative actions. They have selfish defective brains … for whatever reason … by nurture (or lack of) or nature (genetics) or some combination. They are truly animals in the sense that they f*ck their own.

    And you, my dear, are not an animal, and are way beyond this barbaric excuse for a genetic creature. He isn’t even worth a thought in your mind because he is (or at least was) at a very low level of human consciousness.


    1. Laura Black says:

      Wow that’s a lot to think about. I’m meant to be doing some work right now, but I’ll reply later when I’ve got more time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just some thoughts …


    2. Laura Black says:

      Hello. Thanks for all your input. There’s no limitation on reporting charges here, especially after the Jimmy Saville enquiry. The police are very keen to pursue these kinds of criminals. I wouldn’t have to pay for a lawyer, because the police would be my prosecutors. It would be a criminal matter, rather than a civil one, so I would just be a witness in their case. Yes, recalling the details would be horrific, but I also think it could be very liberating too.
      I’ve thought a lot about the baby. But it isn’t my problem. He chose to start a family, and his wife knew about the abuse when she got pregnant, so I don’t see any of that as having much to do with me. I want that baby to be safe more than anything, so maybe it should know what he is.
      There is a lot of potential for emotional carnage (by the way that is the perfect term!) and I am fairly certain this would be a consequence. I also reassure myself unhealthily that if the explosion of my family were to be huge, I could just end my life. I’m not planning to, but it is a dark comfort knowing that I could.
      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Do NOT end your life over that jerk-0ff, or what he did you, or what your temporary thoughts about yourself are.

        I was thinking that maybe the baby should KNOW that his daddy did what he did — eventually he/she will find out and maybe it will bring awareness to what happened and the mortifying circumstances abusers leave after they’re “gone”.

        It would be a commitment and I’m not sure how they go about “proving” such things since DNA is not hanging around anymore. I don’t know what kind of person your brother is … like if he’s an angry vengeful person or reasonable … but that shouldn’t guide your choice to prosecute … just something to be aware of.

        Maybe you could read (I suppose from the internet?) about others who have chosen to prosecute their abuser and if they feel their time and efforts were worth it … if the majority say they are glad they made the effort, then maybe you should go for it. You say it’s going to be liberating reliving all this sh*t, but the brain is weird and sometimes has a hard time discerning between what is going and what went on — meaning that past events recalled can feel just as real to the brain & body as the day they occurred — it’s like experiencing it all over again … just a theory and something to be aware of.

        I think it sucks you even have to make a decision like this … but self-harming is no way to live and you don’t deserve to rehurt yourself … to be your OWN abuser even if that makes you feel and think you’re in control.

        Maybe you know some people personally who have actually prosecuted their abuser and can detail the process from beginning to end … even though each story truly is unique.

        Your brother doesn’t deserve to have everything he did forgotten, just as you didn’t deserve for this to happen to you … but life isn’t even about deserving. I want to say we’re all entitled to a harm free life, but why isn’t that the reality 100% of the time, like ever? Or even close?

        I can’t make recommendations that you pursue this or you don’t … but I would try to find out what happened when others in similar circumstances to yours did and what the outcomes were … and was it worth their time, mental energy and effort.

        Liked by 1 person

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