Four years ago, I received the phone call that stole my breath. It was a call that I had agonized over for years prior, from the time I learned I may one day receive it. This call informed me that my abuser had filed a petition to be removed from the sex offender registry. I wrote about receiving this call back in 2018- you can read that post here. In that post, I asked for friends to pray that I would have peace with any decision rendered in court. Though I knew the judge could rule in my abuser’s favor, I truly could not imagine a world in which my abuser would be deemed “not a threat” to the public.
You can read more here and here about the judge’s decision and what the court experience was like as I delivered a victim impact statement and fought with all I had to protect others from future abuse by my abuser. It is still hard to always feel at peace with the judge’s decision. Often, I do not feel like it was the right one. I have questions that were not answered, and likely will not be answered for my case. But, these questions and the feelings of injustice motivate me to keep fighting and advocating so others might have a different fate.
In June, I served as a juror on a criminal trial. It challenged me to evaluate my views on a side of the judicial system I had yet to see so close up. Part of my journey has included seasons of questioning whether at 15 years old I made the correct decision in accepting a plea deal instead of going to trial. At 15, it was clear to me that going to trial did not guarantee a conviction and punishment; the plea deal would, though it meant significantly lighter penalties. After serving as a juror, I better understand what is meant by the burden of proof and what guilty beyond a reasonable doubt requires. I thought back to my own case as a victim and whether a jury would have looked at the evidence available and concluded my abuser was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As a child, I thought if you were telling the truth, people were supposed to believe you. Going through the judicial process for felonious crimes exposed me to the harsh truth that so often more is needed when you are the victim. I do not know the answers, but I do long for the day when the judicial system feels like a more just place for victims of childhood sexual abuse.