The system is down...

WARNING: This is very angry and contains crude language (in the parenthetical portion of the rant). If you are under 18, please skip this and read something happier, like my apple salad recipe. If you are over 18, please consider what you can do to make a difference. I can’t change the world by myself, but together, we can move mountains.

I confess that, for all my attempts to live in forgiveness, to rise above my past, to overcome the abuse I survived, I find myself tonight still bitter, still angry, still upset, and I don’t know how not to be. Not at my mother, who has come to sincerely regret the things she did, and who I am learning to forgive, even though I have to do it for each thing I remember as though I was starting from scratch each time. Not at my father, who mistakenly thought that the way to protect his girls was to fight for custody of them, and failed at both. I don’t fault him for that. Not even at the man serving time for raping me repeatedly from the time I was 10 until I was 13, including the time he made my sister and I have lesbian sex for his amusement, even though, yes, that still makes me angry. No, what consistently angers me, every time I think about it, without fail, what is still a root of bitterness that eats at me, what I don’t know how to forgive is the system that so consistently failed first me, then my sisters, and now my niece and nephew. How do you forgive a governmental system that you’re told to trust, that you’re told will protect you, that everyone points you to for help, but that consistently fails to do any of those things? How do you forgive a governmental system that is criminal in the way it serves to aid and abet child abuse, especially when there are so many dead children that slipped through the cracks?

Please understand me, I’m not angry at the Guardian ad Litem who was assigned to our case only after I was 17 years old. I’m not angry at the dozens of caseworkers assigned to our family in at least 2 states and 3-5 cities. I’m not angry at the judges who wouldn’t even let me talk to them, wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. They were all working within the confines of what I believe is a criminally broken system. They had too many cases, not enough time, not enough resources, not enough evidence. They were up against a woman who knew how not to leave marks, who knew what to say to appear to be rehabilitated, who knew how to do just enough to satisfy requirements, and would move away from jurisdictions when it suited her. They were against a legal system that, while it wisely protects the innocent from the assumption of guilt, also made it the word of a child against the word of an adult when it came to proof, and tended to default to the adult over the child.

(I do have a personal grudge against the attorney who recused himself from representing the man who raped me for 4 years so that he could TESTIFY on his behalf, who attacked me on the stand verbally and emotionally, who mocked my intelligence when I knew words his own daughter didn’t, taking that not as proof that I was telling the truth, but instead that I’d been coaxed in an evil plot to get this man. Would you be more comfortable with a 13 year old girl saying that he jammed his cock into my cunt over an over and over again, instead of saying that he inserted his penis, pens, vibrators, and whatever else he wanted into my vagina. Does that make you feel better? Yes, I do blame you, Michael King, yes, I do have a personal problem with you. And if you want to sue me for libel, let’s pull up the transcripts of court where you told me I was lying in front of a jury, let’s pull up the transcripts where you stepped down so you could testify for him, let’s pull up the PROOF of what I’m saying you did. It’s not libel when it’s true, Mr. King. I hope you sleep well at night.)

But I’ve gotten off topic. I’m angry because the very system we are told as children to trust to protect us put me in more danger every time I did. I would tell them “if my mother even suspects that I’m the one who told, she’ll beat me worse when I get home.” They would assure me that my mother wouldn’t know, and yet every time, without fail, when I got home, she was waiting to throw me into the wall, to drag me up the stairs, to beat me, choke me, scream in my face. Every time I told, I got it worse when I got home. Wonder why I stopped bothering to tell people.

Eliza Izquierda was 6 when her mother beat her to death and then flipped her tiny body upside down to mop up the spilled blood with little Eliza’s hair. Her mother had been reported to Child Protective Services, or Social Services, or whatever it was called in New York in 1995. There was a caseworker assigned to protect Eliza, to act in her behalf. And yet, in a broken system, Eliza was murdered by her own mother.

Kelsey Briggs was 2 when her mother’s boyfriend beat her to death. She too had a caseworker assigned to her case. The system in Oklahoma was just as broken as it was in Virginia, as it was in New York, as it was everywhere, and Kelsey died even though the system was supposed to be protecting her.

I do not know of a single case where a child told the system “I’m in danger, help me, please, help me,” and the system could do anything about it. I have lost faith in the system. I have no confidence that the very agency that exists to protect our most innocent is actually able to do that. In fact, I honestly believe that the system is SO broken that children are DYING as a result.

Nor do I have faith that a single voice could change things. Even as a survivor of child abuse, I have no confidence that if I were to speak out, anything would really change. Order people to take parenting classes; my mother did. Order them into counseling: my mother picked up a sexual offender in group counseling ordered by the court. Order oversight: I could call the police when my mother was beating me, and nothing changed.

I don’t know the answer. I don’t know the solution. And I don’t know how to stop being angry that the system that failed me repeatedly is still failing children. I don’t know how to not be angry that I survived despite the government sworn to protect me, and that worse, children are actually being killed.

Maybe opening the dialogue is a place to start. Maybe if enough of us demand change, something will happen. Maybe my anger serves a purpose: to give voice to Eliza, to Kelsey, to the millions of other children. Maybe, just maybe, together, we can find a way to save these innocents.

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