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Incest victim fights to keep offender away from child

Delaware online reported that a mother who gave birth to a child after her uncle molested her has spent months fighting to limit the man’s contact with the child and to have the man charged with sex offenses, a fight that sheds light on how Delaware officials handled sexual abuse claims. Click this link to read the full story. Here’s a cutting from the story and below that a comment from Melanie Blow, whose biggest fear when she was fourteen was being impregnated by her own uncle. 

A Sussex County mother who gave birth to a child after her uncle molested her has spent months fighting to limit the man’s contact with the child and to have the man charged with sex offenses, a fight that sheds light on how Delaware officials handled sexual abuse claims.

The struggle the mother has faced to gain sole custody of her child and to see charges brought against the relative she said raped her when she was 17 continued last week, as Delaware Family Court heard arguments over her request to undo earlier orders granting the man significant custodial and parental rights over the child born from the assault.

The mother, who is now 28, said she’s concerned that her uncle will try to take her child, who is now 10. The mother said she fears the uncle will assault the child as he did her more than a decade ago and he will not have to pay for his crimes against her.

“I want her to be in a bubble,” the mother said of her daughter. “I know what he’s capable of. It’s pretty obvious – she was born.”

The 38-year-old uncle, who has declined to discuss the case, has told Family Court that he did not force his niece to have sex and, therefore, is not guilty of rape. He’s asking to maintain shared custody of the child and to continue regular, unsupervised visitation.

“I am only guilty of incest, in which she is too,” he wrote in a May statement to Family Court. “I have never raped or molested her and would never do any such thing to my daughter.”

“She’s just as guilty as I am”

By Melanie Blow

When I was fourteen, my biggest fear was getting impregnated by my uncle. If it happened, a secret that I couldn’t express would be revealed. I didn’t really fear how it would affect my future, as I couldn’t wrap my mind around having one. But I knew that being pregnant with my abuser’s child would make the abuse utterly real to me. Something I could push out of my mind most of the time would come to the forefront of my life.

It’s cliche to refer to child sexual abuse as the loss of a child’s innocence. When I was fourteen I had no notions that I was valuable to my family, or at least to its male members- if that’s a component of innocence, it was long gone. But I still believed that our society, our world, was basically a good place where justice was the rule, not the exception. That helped me survive childhood, but as an adult and an advocate, my belief in justice gets strained regularly. But “strained” isn’t even the word for what I felt when I read this article.

Being raped as a child is so traumatic that you don’t respond to it in a logical or direct way.

You survive it.

Being able to do anything pro-active or healing can take years or decades.

Having to protect your child from your rapist is something that should never be forced onto a very recently wounded mother.

Our laws should keep this from happening.

Period, end of story.

Surviving child sexual abuse predisposes mothers to struggle forming emotional attachments with their children. Failure to form good attachments in infancy predisposes a parent to being an abusive one. This is the “gospel” upon which many child abuse prevention programs are based, and I can recite all this line and verse. But I also know what it’s like to see a mother playing with her child, cuddling her child, cooing and smiling at her child, to recognize that special type of love, and feel absolutely numb.

Love can become a very hard thing to deal with for a survivor of child sexual abuse, and “love” is, if not quite synonymous with bonding, a pretty important ingredient for it. It’s understandable that this mother wouldn’t always be able to make the best choices for herself or her daughter. To her daughter, there is no excuse for her to make bad choices, but there is absolutely no excuse for the state to allow someone who had clearly committed an incestuious rape to have unsupervised time with a child.

But over the course of ten years, this mother got strong and healthy enough to understand the damage her rapist did to her. She wanted to spare her daughter that same pain. Someone who isn’t an abuse survivor may see this as very under-whelming, but to me it’s a miracle (thankfully, a rather common one).

And still, the state fought her.

It’s horrifying that in 2014 we still live in a world where decision makers can look at an incest case, where a much-older adult was sexually involved with a minor in his care, and believe the abuser’s claim that “she’s just as guilty as I am”. It shows we are much too ignorant of what child sexual abuse really is, and that we don’t understand it enough to make the uncomfortable decisions sometimes needed to protect children.

The only thing that went right in this case is that this mother didn’t have a Statute of Limitations to contend with. If she had, it would have been a whole lot harder for her to have the modicum of luck that she had.

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Everyone who is honest admits this- when we go past a car accident, we feel a twinge of gratitude that we aren’t a part of it. We use it to re-calculate a statistical formula in our heads, and re-assure ourselves of future safe travels. All of that went through my head as I read this article. Only I knew that, if that had been my “car”- my life, as an incest survivor in New York- the seat belt would have failed. Rescue, by the courts, would become much more difficult, and another innocent would have been doomed to serious harm.

 

 

 

Melanie Blow is on the Board of Directors for Prevent Child Abuse NY and the New York Coalition to Protect Children. She leads the Stop Abuse Campaign’s campaign to eliminate Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, and sits on the Rochester Area Coalition Against Human Trafficking. She blogs for the Stop Abuse Campaign and Prevent Child Abuse NY, has written for survivor magazines, parenting columns, and has had blogs and editorials published in local and national venues. She regularly testifies before the New York State legislator for children’s issues, and regularly provides educational talks about child sex abuse laws, child sex abuse prevention, and human trafficking.

Melanie Blow is on the Board of Directors for Prevent Child Abuse NY and the New York Coalition to Protect Children. She leads the Stop Abuse Campaign’s campaign to eliminate Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, and sits on the Rochester Area Coalition Against Human Trafficking. She blogs for the Stop Abuse Campaign and Prevent Child Abuse NY, has written for survivor magazines, parenting columns, and has had blogs and editorials published in local and national venues. She regularly testifies before the New York State legislator for children’s issues, and regularly provides educational talks about child sex abuse laws, child sex abuse prevention, and human trafficking.

 

 

 

 

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