Tonight on Justice Interrupted at 10:00 PM Central Time a very special woman shares her story of silence within her own home. And the demons that remain her contstant companion.
"My name is Tivona. I’m not a famous author, model, or actor. I’m not Super Girl trying to save the world or a Super Villain trying to destroy it. I’m not anyone special except to my family. I’m just an ordinary, fun loving, moody teenager. I’m just trying to grow up and live an average life like everyone else. I’m 14 and looking forward to high school.
Yet, there are days that I wake up and feel like I can’t relate to anyone else in the world. I want to be a ghost and disappear…There are days I wish I weren’t here. During the day, I maintain A’s in school, I sing, draw in my journal, hang out online with my friends, play the saxophone, am an avid hunter and am a half back on my soccer team. Yet at night, when I crawl into my warm bed – surrounded by my soft blankets, my cats and more stuffed animals than you can count, I feel so alone. So isolated. Like no one else in the world knows how I’m feeling. It’s at this time, that I have to deal with my own private monsters and demons.
In the dark, I feel like no one could understand me. I’m not worried about the typical teenage stuff because my life over the last 4 years hasn’t been really ordinary. It’s been conventional on the outside while pain and guilt raged on the inside. Quietly, I’ve suffered. How could I tell anyone that I was a victim of sexual assault? Who could I tell and who would believe me?
As the daughter of someone in law enforcement and the niece of an attorney, I have always been told, and led to believe, that if you do something wrong – you are punished. There are consequences for your behavior. Today, as I write you my story of sexual abuse at the hands of a loved one, my abuser is free to roam the streets of our town because the Prosecuting Attorney refuses to follow up on my claims of abuse. I know it is hard to listen to these accusations. I know it is hard to comprehend that “this” person can do “these” things but there is a “silent epidemic” occurring in this country and it is harming those of us you have “sworn” to protect! Please take a minute to listen to our “cries for help”. They are not false or “made up”. They are very real. In some of our lives, there are truly monsters who hide “under our beds” and “in our closets” at night just waiting for the darkness so they can “attack”. We rely on you to help and we need you NOW more than ever!
I truly believe that society has the resources to put an end to this epidemic. At the very least, we can drastically reduce it. Why don’t we? Are we too afraid it can happen in our own homes and that’s scarier to acknowledge than believing it is the “horrible monster we see on Law and Order” that is causing this destruction? Perhaps you misread the statistics?
Talking about sexual abuse of children is crossing into frightening, unfamiliar territory for many people. We live in a very confusing society with hypocritical views on sex and sexuality. We are uncomfortable talking about sex, but we are willing to have it sold to us through songs, magazines, TV and advertisements.
I know that healing is a process, a journey. I know I will never forget the assaults and abuse but I hope to grow from this experience and I want to help others “escape” and grow too. PLEASE JOIN ME AND USE YOUR VOICE TO HELP STOP THIS CYCLE OF VIOLENCE IN OUR COUNTRY.
Child sexual assault is the world’s deepest, darkest, best kept secret. How many are out there, I guess we will truly never know. I am asking, pleading with you to take a stand. Remind all those who choose to seek out the children, that their behavior will not be tolerated no matter who they are. I believe I did the right thing by finally “telling”. I truly hope that my openness can save other children. I told the police. I was open and honest, even though it was extremely embarrassing to retell my story to one stranger after another. I believed in the process of the justice system. All I am asking is that the justice system “believes in me too!”
Here’s my story, it began in 1994:
People talk about “Princesses”. Royalty really isn’t my thing – I enjoy the “supernatural” – vampires really. Nevertheless, for years, I was truly a “Princess” in my family. The “first born” for both sides of extended family, I entered this world in grand fashion (an emergency C-section because I had stopped breathing). For my loved ones, I truly was a miracle and blessing. I grew and thrived from the attention and you can truly say “I was rotten”. So many camera flashes have gone off in my face over the years it’s amazing I am not blind. As an avid hunter, my grandfather had me appreciating nature as soon as I could walk and follow in his footsteps. Even my name, Tivona, means a “love for the outdoors. This man was my “hero”.
My perfect, innocent “happily-ever-after-fairytale-princess” life and childhood began to crumble and ended when I was 10. That was the year my grandfather died. That was the year that my whole world began to shatter into small pieces and fall apart around me. It was at that time, my uncle would also begin to “groom” me for his own sexual pleasures and means of “control”. It began with slow rubs and touches and progressed from there.
During this time, my uncle gradually eroded our appropriate adult / child boundaries, built a wall of secrecy around us and finally established compliance through my fear. Over the next 3 years, I was repeatedly reminded that this was “our little secret” and I mustn’t say a thing. He told me that I would be to blame if anyone discovered our secret little game. He repeatedly told me that: “This would really hurt my mom if she knew” and that he would go to jail if I told. Each time he said that, a part of me died. I betrayed what I knew was the “right thing to do” because I was afraid “no one would believe me” and because I didn’t want my close knit family to fall apart. It just seemed easier to close my eyes, retreat to the darkness in my head and “go along” than upset anyone. My life became a fraud and a fiction. Do you know how much energy is consumed to keep a secret hidden from ourselves and our families?
As a family member, he had seduced us all. He had our devotion and love. He was trustworthy and “above reproach”. His popularity within our family covered behaviors that should never have been tolerated. He was a trusted friend and relative; a pillar of the community. He would never do anything “shady” or inappropriate. That is what he hoped everyone would believe if I ever told our “secret”.
By creating an untarnished image, he has convinced my beloved aunt and his children that he is innocent and that I am lying and trying to destroy his pristine image in our lives and our community. He has ‘explained away’ most of his actions with excuses. When approached with his inappropriate behaviors, he responded by being insulted and became extremely defensive. Although never acknowledging the abuse, he never once denied it either. His response to the police, and I quote, “if that’s what she said happened, then it must have happened…I just don’t remember”.
During my short time in therapy, I have learned that pedophiles are like any other predator. They stalk and hunt children as their prey. Many predators, like mine, will spend weeks, months, and even years grooming their victims. They are calculating, manipulative, and very, very patient when it comes to achieving their goal. Molesters are charming. They get along with everyone and are usually popular. They can be upstanding members of the community and tend to present a perfect image. Like my uncle, they are “great guys” and “everybody’s friend”. They are charming and intimidate other adults into believing they are above reproach. Their behavior is a controlled public image – for I know all too well about their private behaviors. My counselor says she has never met a “child molester she didn’t like.
Today, I wonder if he is capable of feeling, let alone harbors a conscience. And did he, in all those years of wonderful memories, ever really love me? Is he sorry for the destruction he has caused in all of our lives, even though he refuses to admit it? I'd like to know WHY? Why did he chose to cross the line?"
Join Hosts: Robin Sax Prosecutor and Author, Author Stacy Dittrich, Violence Expert and Author Susan Murphy-Milano as they provide justice for those whose lives have been interrupted by rape, murder, child sexual predators, strange and unexplained disappearances.........To listen live go to: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/justiceinterrupted and click on the "Click To Listen" icon.You might want to refresh your page because the icon will not show until the show starts.Call in live at: 914-338-0663 to participate in the show.