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I read a story about an 11 year old girl who was raped twice within a matter of months by some young guys in her neighborhood. What disturbed me the most about this story was not just that the little girl was raped but what happened after she reported the rape. The rape of this 11 year old girl is so heartbreaking! But to add to that heartbreak, after getting up the courage to tell she was subjected to years of additional disappointments, sadness and pain!
Before I explain why I am addressing this issue, let me point out a few important details about the 11 year old girl’s story.
1) She and her twin brother were adopted by her aunt and uncle at the ages of 4 months old (parents were crack addicts)
2) Prior to their adoption, she was hospitalized after being burned in hot water by her mother
3) She struggled in school with learning and behavioral issues; eventually set up with an IP and began getting counseling
4) She was raped by two men between the ages of 18 and early 20s
5) She reported the rape only; she was isolated only going to school and back home
6) Her best friend was shot and killed
7) She was promiscuous, defiant and a run away
8) After several months of not going out (other than to school) she visited a family member across from her home; he sent her to the store at which time she was ‘abducted’ by one of the guys in the neighborhood, bought back to the same place as before and raped again
9) Again, she reported the rape; this time she was told that her story was inconsistent (she changed her story numerous times, including giving the name of the person who abducted her)
10) Although the medical reports proved that she was raped she was served with a warrant of removal from her parent’s care and made a ward of the state for providing false statements
11) Both cases, even with the medical proof, were CLOSED
12) For the next few years the girl was shuffled from a psychiatric hospital to foster care to residential facilities; and she was diagnosed with numerous psychological disorders such as ADHD, Bipolar and attachment disorder
13) At the age of 15, the girl returned home; she was pregnant and had her first child
14) Prior to her parents moving, the girl saw the men who raped her whenever she went outside her home
15) Today, the girl is 17 and suffering from psychological issues and struggling with the ability to have healthy relationships; what’s worse is that before being able to deal with her psychological issues, she has become a mother
I tried to find articles, or any kind of information to support my personal findings regarding the number of children removed from their homes, and/or put in situations where they are not able to trust those who are supposed to protect them. Unfortunately, I am not able to find anything. However, while reading the article about the 11 year old girl a legal official who was familiar with the story stated that, "prosecutors proceeded with the case against the girl (accusing her of providing false statements) to 'get her into the system' to obtain additional therapeutic services (which makes no sense because according to her family and school she already had services set up prior to the rape)"; he went on to say, "there’s not a lot of funding available for youth that are not charged, you have to be neglected or a juvenile delinquent.”
Based on her family history, although struggling with learning and behavioral issues she did come from a decent family. This girl was far from neglected. So in seeing no signs of abuse or neglect they turned an already troubled, struggling youth into a delinquent. Although this is not something that is mentioned via the media, this happens far too often!
After years of working with youth who have been removed from their homes I have learned that many of them do not trust the police, social workers, attorneys, judges or therapists/psychologists. One must ask the question, why? Another important question is what do we do to change that?
The girl who was raped at 11 years old (twice) stated that she knows many young girls who will not share their stories because they do not believe they will get help. We hear about the number of children being abused and neglected, and the number is alarming; can you imagine how many of them do not tell because of fear that they will be removed from their homes, made to be liars, or simply blamed for the actions of those who hurt them???
As with the 11 year old child, children who has behavior problems, runs away from home, struggles in school or has a difficult time communicating and maintaining positive relationships with others are often a product of their environment and/or experiences. This does not make them liars or does not mean that everything negative thing that happens to them is their fault; they are not automatically exempt from being a victim.
There was no one in that 11 year old child’s corner, other than her parents who were unable to do anything to help her. Based on her own admission, she felt alone, betrayed and useless. Her life was carved out for her before she had an opportunity to grown old enough to make any decisions; and when she did try to take control of her life by sharing her rape with those who were supposed to help make her feel safe and secure, she went from being a victim to a delinquent. Again, this happens all too often!
How can we protect our children if they cannot trust us? How do we expect them to come to us if they are not comfortable in knowing they are safe, that we will protect them?
It is time for change! Do I have the answers? No, but my hope is to start the discussion; with the help of others there is a great possibility that WE can come up with some ideas. It takes a village…..
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS