Punishment -- who should administer it?
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Question posed: Who should administer punishment? Their maker/high power/etc. or the proper legal authorities for abuse that happened in the past, that is, if the statute of limitations haven't run its course?
OK, a situation occurred in which I learned that a friend of mine suffered sexual abuse from her brother, six years her senior, while she was growing up in their parents' home. The parents learned of the abuse when she was 13 years old, after she confided during a family therapy session that her older brother was sexual molesting her (fondling her while he thought she was still asleep in her bed). The therapist (who should have contacted the proper authorities) AND the parents did nothing to intervene, or administer consequences to the older brother.
Fast forward to present day: my friend is now and adult and she and her brother no longer live under the same roof. My friend, however, still holds a lot of resentment toward her brother and even more so toward her parents (who she believed essentially betrayed her by doing nothing to prevent future sexual abuse). Not to mention it was revealed at the time that when she was 13 years old that her 12-year-old sister was also being sexually molested by the same brother (!?!?!)
My friend is doing a lot of soul searching...now that the abuse stopped a long time ago, and both the victims and abuser(s) are adults, should she seek out legal recourse against her brother or parents, or should she wait for them to be dealt punishment in whatever after life may exist for them? She would, of course, directly contact the proper authorities if she believed said brother was possibly abusing other children. However, to the best of her knowledge the brother lives alone, works from home, and has no contact with minors. Keep in mind, though, that recidivism is very high amonst sex offenders, so she does worry that she SHOULD contact the authorities just in case the brother gets the compulsion to abuse a vulnerable minor...
What do you advise? I am trying to sleep on it after hearing such a revelation, because it's just not something I'm used to responding to. Usually I'm good with advice for friends, but rather at wit's end for such a complicated and tricky issue, both ethically and legally.
Any feedback would be appreciated! Thanks.