In the past, there were a few select people who I had told about my abuse. Most of the time they would ask if I would press charges against my step-father. I always convinced myself that I wouldn’t press charges because I didn’t want to go through the process of court dates and such. I also live in a different state which complicate that. Nobody ever really asked me that question until I was well into adulthood. I didn’t really start waking up from the emotional coma that I was in until recently. By the time I was asked about that, I had already gotten married and had my son. I was also playing pretend, just like my mother, trying to convince everybody that everything was fine. I basically told everyone that I didn’t believe that he was a threat to the public and that I was purely a matter of convenience since I lived with him. I figured that he only abused me because I lived in the same house as him but I really didn’t think that he was, or ever would, prey on anyone outside of the house. I also was working on my relationship with my mother and giving her a clean slate and a second chance with me. This was all before I found out that I wasn’t his first victim and I began to “wake up.”
I beat myself up about this when I first came to terms with the abuse. I’m over that now but it is something worth discussing. I’m from Oklahoma. The statute of limitation used to be only 5 years but was extended to 7 years in 1990. Senator Debbie Leftwich (OKC-D) even said that 7 years was not enough time for most victims. In 2005 the statute was finally raised to 12 years after discovery. It’s really confusing though. Even at 12 years passed “discovery, ” the latest that I could have done anything would have been over 3 years ago. I’m not mad at myself anymore about it but I sure do wish that this law would be overturned in favor of no statute of limitations for victims like myself.
Sometimes I think, what if I lived in a state with no limitation? Would I go through with pressing charges at this point? Just the thought makes my stomach turn because I am still fighting with my own cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, I don’t want him to harm anyone else and justice must be served but on the other hand… he was my dad and even though I can’t stand him now, the little girl inside of me loved him at some point- for years. Logically, my mother should be charged as well for enabling the abuse and not reporting it. I still have mixed feelings about her as well. I feel like their lives are really shitty right now so do I really want to go and make it even worse? I think it all goes back to the fact that I think that I would feel horribly guilty of any punishment that was bestowed upon them. It’s all so conflicting!
So, I’d like to throw this question out there to other readers that have a similar past. Did you live in a state with the statutes or not? If your perpetrator is free because of these laws, how do you internally justify things without beating yourself up about it? All in all, I think that all citizens need to be made aware of these kinds of laws. Not everyone is completely aware. Even my own step-father was ill-informed way back when it was only 2 years. He thought that if he didn’t penetrate me, then it wasn’t illegal. He couldn’t have been more wrong. His ass would still be in jail right now or at least be on the sex offender registry.
Here is a list of state-by-state statutes for anyone interested from the NDAA.