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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 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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I think you've done a lot for your friend already, by just listening and being there for her. That's all you can really do in a situation like this...listen and encourage her to get the professional help that she needs.

    I would also stay out of it, and not get any more involved.

    You are a very good friend, she's lucky to have you!

    1825 days ago
    I think I would just stay out of it----let yer friend do as she feels is right---Interesting----
    1826 days ago

    I agree with everyone else who posted that your friend needs to seek professional help. You can continue to give her moral support, a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold when she may need it.

    Everyone should have a great friend like you!
    1830 days ago
    What a good friend you are, to listen to such a difficult story and try to help your friend find the best solution. Certainly the suggestions of others that she seek professional help is appropriate.

    Some thoughts come to mind... if she stays quiet about brother, and in the future he harms children, how would she feel? On the other hand, if she outs him and he is now "clean," and this causes problems in his life, what will that do to her family dynamics? There's so much to consider and only the professional can help her find the best answer.
    1830 days ago
  • SKATER787
    I agree with Archimedes, your friend MUST see a professional. Even if it's just for one session, or one contact, it's a start and that is the most important part: A start. It's an honor that she puts her trust in you. I think part of it is that she needs someone to push her to seek help. That's just my hunch.
    1834 days ago
    Some of my friends have shared seriously horrific episodes from their pasts with me. In every case, I suggest counseling if they have not already undertaken it. But, at the same time, I try to let them know they can talk to me - if they need to. You can listen, but that's about it. Sometimes that's all good friends need - someone to listen.
    1834 days ago
    I agree with Skater, Kristine. I've been in your situation and understand that it is very hard to hear about this stuff and want to
    help. But all we can do is be a kind ear/shoulder,
    when needed.
    1834 days ago

    Skater is right. Due to the complexity of the situation, your friend really must seek professional advice. If she feels legal action is necessary, she should start by talking with a lawyer who specializes in abuse cases. She needs to learn what her legal options are. I'm no expert either, but I do believe that the statue of limitations that may limit what she can and can't do in a court of law.

    1834 days ago
    SKATER787: Thanks for your feedback! You're right. I should stay out of it and advise her to seek out professionals that are trained to deal with and dispense advice over such a matter. I like to think I know a little bit about everything, but this issue is definitely out of my comfort zone.

    Thanks again for your advice emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1834 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/17/2013 10:22:06 AM
  • SKATER787
    Encourage your friend to see a counselor or someone who is trained to handle such situations. You are not trained to do this. I advise you to stay out. That's just my 2 cents.
    1834 days ago
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