Forensic Sociology Independent Researcher
Eve E Carson
Confronting the problem of child sexual abuse requires the collective efforts of everyone. The perspective I bring to the discussion exposes the dysfunction of support systems to help a child in crisis.
As my daughters hit their adolescent years, uncharacteristic behavioral problems erupted. Parental vigilance aggravated the situation. Counseling support compounded the difficulties with inadequate feedback and non-inclusive participation. The focus for the hostility was clearly directed toward me.
In early 2001, I found a letter to God written by my daughter. She alleged her father sexually abused her. I immediately sought help. My husband and my children were confronted with the letter−all denied the implications.
Counselors in possession of the letter failed to report the allegations to authorities, violating the laws in our state. This was a prominent, well-regarded family. No one could imagine anyone in the family was capable of such heinous behavior. The villain was a mother seeking help with her child’s written letter in hand−me. Unfortunately, too many people make false accusations that someone with legitimate concerns becomes a victim as well, and unable to help a child in need.
My 25-year marriage ended amid confusion and duress being torn from my children. The paternal family devalued and demonized with gossip and false assertions. I attempted to watch out for my children from a distance, but each episode of poor coping identified only intensified the resistance toward a mother pleading for help. Their father became an enabler. There were verifiable incidents of drug use, underage drinking, promiscuity, and the arrest of one of my daughters. I watched the continual devaluation of my daughters, negligence, and endangerment, and no one would listen.
Today, I am alienated from my daughters. To date, I have never been accused of anything to warrant the treatment, however, the paternal family circulates rumors. During a contempt hearing I filed, my daughter committed perjury about her letter. The court ignored multiple witnesses that affirm my daughter wrote the letter, the implications, and I sought help. When someone lies, it is a good measure of what the truth is likely to be.
Since finding the letter to God, I have learned a great deal. I studied the topic of incest, the only “lead” I had. Fear and shame are very controlling factors held over childhood victims. Offenders “groom” children and are enabling. “Don’t Tell” is a dictate in childhood abuse situations. Offender and child now protect each other’s secrets.
It is common for the non-offending parent to be vilified. The child perceives they are not valued resulting in the abuse. It is a misperception that the vilified parent had knowledge of the abuse and did not protect their child. The child then identifies with the offending parent. It is where they seek to define themselves. An offender seeks to alienate the victim from others who would help the child. In my case, the entire maternal family is alienated from my daughters.
The effort of the paternal family has been to discredit my input, portraying themselves as the victims. It has been an uphill battle to establish the facts. I made no allegations against the girls’ father, but properly stood up for my children to get to the root of the problem, and get the proper help for my children. Another opportunity presented itself in 2006, a highly publicized tragedy in the same family.
The paternal family publicly cooperated and supported a book about the unresolved 1981 murder of my sister-in-law. I was the only non-blood relative in the immediate family during the tragedy. The case became one of Boston’s most sensational cases and discussed in numerous books. This book was by the former prosecutor involved in the investigation. He promoted a theory my sister-in-law was murdered by his suspect on a boat.
The remains were recovered in 1990, 8 ½ years after she disappeared. She was located more than 30 miles from the alleged crime scene, buried in a remote wooded area. The theory was not plausible based on known facts. The family’s support made no sense until I was able to recover records.
I learned the condition of her remains. The fatal injury was blunt force trauma to the head leaving a 2”x 4” hole on the right side of her skull. She had been stripped of all clothing and none was found in the vicinity. The offender discarded her in a black plastic trash bag.
Recovered records revealed my in-laws were in possession of a composite; a bearded man seen with my sister-in-law shortly before she disappeared. The composite was suppressed by authorities and by the parents of a missing daughter. The family’s influence is evident in the records throughout the investigation. At the sentencing phase of a bankruptcy fraud trial against the state’s suspect, the family’s influence is evident again. The centerpiece of the trial was the alleged crime scene, the boat. It was determined the boat did not exist several months before my sister-in-law disappeared. The 2008 book the family supported gives a graphic description of rape and murder on the boat, an impossible crime. The parents appealed to the judge to impose a harsh sentence against the man they accused without foundation.
The blood family’s hostility about inquiries into the open, unresolved case are documented. There are verifiable instances of personal attacks, harassment, and threats from the family. The victim’s father, my former father-in-law emailed on Christmas 2012. His closing statement was “Die.”
These are the secrets and fears controlling my children. It is reasonable for me to raise the concern that motive for an unresolved murder in the family surfaced with my children−abuse in the family.
This is not about me, although I became a victim, too. This is about the inadequacy of support systems that fail to help children in crisis. Saying the right words is not enough. When allegations surface, it is imperative to get to the root cause. Our authorities and counselors have to error on the side of the child. Children cannot always speak out because of the burden of secrecy unfairly placed on their shoulders.