Scarry topic I know but one that needs to be talked about.
16 years ago my son died by suicide because he had been sexually assaulted by a young man in our neighbourhood. Bryan was not the only victim of this person. In fact, as the years go by I find out about more and more who suffered because of him. It is a travesty.
Knowing what I know about mental health issues I am fairly confident in telling you that over 60% of the people who live with mental health issues are victims of childhood sexual abuse. It is my personal opinion that our focus in solving mental health issues is in the wrong place. We should be targeting the source but instead, we wait until people are in crisis. (That is one soapbox).
As parents, most of us try to protect our children. I made the mistake of trusting a neighbour to care for my children while I working 15 to 18 hours a day to make ends meet. I should not have and will pay the price forever.
The young man had moved away and I had no way of knowing where he was or what he was doing but over the past two days, I have seen him twice. Like a ghost, he has walked back into my path and the old terrors and fears surfaced.
What should I do? I didn’t know where to turn. I found the man’s name on the internet and discovered he is a self-proclaimed minister and encouraging youth to work with him in music ministry. YES I’M TERRIFIED.
He’s not on a sex offenders registry. The perpetrator was a juvenile when it happened and my son was dead so there was no one to face the accused. Strange predicament. Most people who have been abused find it difficult to pursue any charges because the fears they have are rooted in childhood memory. Children are usually threatened with their own life or with the lives of loved ones. Those fears remain, no matter how unrealistic they may be.
What can you do? Not much in reality.
I called the police on the advice of a retired officer. They referred me to the “Crime Unit”. An officer called me back promptly and listened to my story. He asked me to watch for the young man and report anything suspicious. We all know I can’t become a stalker, though I am sorely tempted. I can’t tell you his name or give you a description because it would be slanderous. All I can do is hope and pray that no children will land in his path and be harmed. My hands are tied.
What can you do?
Be vigilant about your children. There is a good chance a sexual perpetrator who lives near you has never been caught let alone charged. It might surprise you to know that in Haldimand and Norfolk there are likely about 200 sex offenders who have been charged and released. (Map released to Global News by the Ontario Corrections Ministry in 2014). These may not all be paedophiles but I suppose many are.
I am the first to give someone a chance to change. I know it is possible because I have seen it many times. Even sex offenders can change and most do not re-offend according to an interview with someone from the John Howard Society.
I hate that we have to live in a world where we cannot trust anyone. It is frightening but often the people closest to us are the most dangerous. How to stop the madness I do not know but if one child is saved a lifetime of grief by my writing this it will be worth it.
- Know boys are targeted almost as often as girls but it is less likely to be reported because of the stigma which accompanies it.
- Know that sex offenders don’t have a “type”. They can look like anyone and come in all shapes, sizes and sexes.
- Know that someone who has been sexually abused as a child is not going to become an abuser as an adult. There are some but most do not.
If you want to learn about the sex offenders registry you can find information here
Articles on childhood sexual abuse.