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Why don’t we protect victims of abuse?

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Here’s my raw take on what we should do to protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. It’s what keeps me up at night. No script, no makeup, no sponsors, uncut, I just had to say something. Thank you for letting me get up on my soapbox for a minute.

The tragic outcomes from not protecting victims of abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence

I’ve worked with dozens or hundreds of survivors of abuse. dozens of them have filed reports. 

I’ve only ever seen one case get a successful prosecution. And it was hell for the survivor to go through. 

Too often we don’t believe victims. 

And our standard for evidence for prosecution is very high- which I admire, but also wish it was easier for victims. 

In this case, people attempted for 15 years to get protection from an abuser, in the end, the system didn’t help them, and a teenage boy was killed by his father. 

Contribute to the fund to promote “Keeping Children Safe From Family Violence Act” a.k.a. “Kayden’s Law,”  

Love your family. 

Believe survivors. 

Go and do some good in the world today.

A Story Of Domestic Violence Where The System Worked

A lot of things you lose sleep over or at least I do. And this week it is why our system does so little to protect victims of abuse, whether that’s sexual abuse or domestic violence.

I’ve worked with dozens or hundreds of victims of abuse and I have only once seen the abuser go to jail for long time for his crimes and even getting to that point was like really awful for the survivor.

So in that situation, the stepfather had sexually abused his daughter for like seven years. She finally leaves the house, is trying to develop her own life.

She starts coming to therapy. We talk about the pros and cons of reporting because now she’s an adult and eventually she decides to report him.

And her entire family was furious at her. Her entire family was like, what are you doing? Her dad got arrested and they said, now your little sister won’t have food because your dad’s in jail.

Why did you do this? You know, and they blamed her for the abuse even. And so that’s emotionally, mentally miserable.

Well, the stepfather then confesses, full videotape, confession, to all of it.

And then later pleads not guilty. And they spent two years leading up to the trial, well, a year leading up to the first trial, and then it mistrialed, and then they had to wait a whole, almost another year for the next trial.

And in the meantime, her family’s sitting on his side in the courtroom. And you just can imagine the emotional turmoil this woman was going through, while also trying to process her trauma, while also trying to hold a job and live her life, right?

And this man is now in jail and he’s, you know, he’s gonna be in jail for a very long time.

So that’s the one time it worked.

Here’s Why I’m Losing Sleep Again

Now let’s talk about why I’m losing sleep. So a couple years ago, a couple of women came to me and said, “Hey, we’ve been sexually abused by this man.”

And all three of them, right? And I’m like, okay, wow. Three people at once. They weren’t my clients, they were acquaintances.

And I was like, well, okay, okay. And they also said, “And we have, um, indications that there are dozens more victims.”

I’m just thinking in my head, this guy is a chronic abuser, a chronic rapist.

And his ex-wife was worried about custody of their two kids.

They were trying to protect their kids from this guy. There was evidence of abuse from this guy towards their children.

And so they were trying to brainstorm like, what else can we do? They had filed reports, but some of it was beyond the statute of limitations.

They had talked to the police. They had hired, um, investigators. They had worked with, local and state police departments and still, the kids were still going to this person’s home.

And he was also a practicing psychologist. And I knew that he worked in programs with kids and as a psychologist, he would often be alone with these kids.

So I told them, you know, I talked to them about their options. I said, “Look, you know, you can keep going down the legal route, which often fails people.

Investigations often just don’t go that well. You can keep pursuing that though. Keep going with that. Why not?

Some of your other options are like, let’s put up a billboard on the I-15, the big highway in Utah. Let’s put up a billboard. Say, have you been abused by this guy? Call this number? And let’s get as much information as possible.

We could go to the newspapers and be like, hey, there’s the psychologist with all these accusations of abuse. Like, if you’ve been abused by him, call this number. We could compile more evidence.”

The problem with those approaches was that they put the mom and the kids in danger. In danger of more, um, retribution from this guy.

So I talked to them. I said, “These are some of your options. Let me know how I can help with them. I’m happy to help.”

And then in the meantime, I call up our licensing board and I say, “I’d like to file a complaint. Um, three women have told me they’ve been abused by this guy.

And so I talked to DOPL, is what it’s called. And they open an investigation. Turns out this guy had some priors.

He had some other legal issues that he had solicited a prostitute, some other things. And so, but eventually DOPL comes back to me and says, “Hey, look, we see the smoke, but we don’t have enough evidence to do anything about his license.”

And I’m like, great. We’re not protecting anyone here. This guy’s practicing sex therapy with minors. I mean, like he’s doing all this stuff and so then there’s all these programs that I know this psychologist is working with with these youth. And I know some of the people in these programs.

So I start sending emails and making calls and saying, “Hey, just so you know, I’ve received reports from three people that this man has sexually abused them. You may not want him to be alone with your clients.”  And after I did that, here’s the thing, right?

After I did that, I had this horrible feeling of like, oh my gosh, what if he comes after me? What if he comes after me for defamation? What if someone in these programs is buddies with him and says, “Hey, this, this lady is out to get you.”

And then he sues me for defamation. Now all of a sudden, my family’s in the crosshairs for retribution. So, it’s scary to speak up to these things. And I was, I didn’t even directly know this guy. He didn’t know who I was, right? It’s really scary to pursue, um, action against abusers who are like really bad actors.

And I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard for so many victims to speak up and make claims to make accusations or to file charges. Not only that, but the legal expenses and emotional expenses are really hard and really heavy for people. So I think that’s one of the reasons.

And obviously, in our society and in our justice system, we wanna have, you know, evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.  I think that’s one of the big reasons.

And I think another big reason is people, even really well-meaning people inherently doubt that people could be so bad. They doubt that like there are such bad people in this world.  I can admit to this myself.

One time I was working in a program. It was an outdoor program. And a few weeks after some of these kids had left the program, one of them came back and, and said, “Hey, this one night where we were camping in this one place, one of these other kids forced me into some sexual activities.”

And the director came in and said, “Hey, Emma, what do you know about this? Like, you were staff that day.” And my initial thought was, and this is what I said and I …. I …. I regret this. I deeply regret this. I said, “Oh, that …. that couldn’t have happened. We were all sleeping within five feet of each other. I am a very light sleeper. I don’t think that happened.”

And my supervisor, who was on point said, “Emma, always trust when someone accuses it, you default. You default to believing because most people aren’t gonna make it go through all that pain of an accusation for, you know to, to make a lie.”

And I do believe that the vast majority of accusations are true and people need to default to believing them, not doubting them.

And I think a lot of well-meaning people and hardworking people and good people who are trying to help protect people don’t understand like that most people …. most people would never want to make a false accusation because of all the pain and suffering associated with it. It’s hard enough to make a true statement about what actually happened.

So, long story short, here’s the awful thing that happened.

Going back to the psychologist, there’s been openings investigations against the psychologist in multiple cities and counties.

His wife has been continuing to struggle to get full custody to protect her kids from this man, and was on the verge within the last few weeks of, from what I understand, getting custody.

And on Saturday, this man, um, shot his son and then ended his own life. So, this is why I am so upset about our system and the victims I’ve worked with. And this boy who lost his life, his name is Om,  and, gosh, he died with his saxophone, he was a teenager, right? And his dad killed him.

And his mother has been trying to protect him for 15 years and has been prevented …. been prevented from doing so by the system.

Here’s How You Can Help

So what can we do about it? Number one, I would just say believe people, like, believe people when they have accusations of abuse.

The second thing, if you would like to support this individual family, click here. They are trying to pass some legislation called Kaydyn’s Law, which is a system changing piece of legislation that helps support families who are trying to escape domestic violence and abuse.

So they’re trying to raise money. All that money goes straight to legislation to protect families from abuse. So if you’re interested in contributing in that way, that would be great.

If you can find any other way in your communities to advocate for victims of abuse or violence, please do so. And let’s hold our government as well accountable to keep people safe.

So there you go. That’s what’s keeping me up at night. I hope we can all take some action to make the world a better place for victims of abuse. Let’s not just get better at feeling, let’s take action like making the world a better place. Okay. The end.

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