for those who don’t have a voice

every movement has a story that started it.

every great person, thing, event has a story that moved them to action.

i have run out of my leads.

i feel that i am two people from making something happen.

someone who knows someone with the connections to change what is wrong.

someone who will be moved to action.

My most difficult hour

We were in the middle of getting a major addition put on our home when I received a phone call that made me, for the first time in my life, not want to be a mother.

A teacher was on the other end of the line, her voice cracking telling me that one of my children had performed sex acts on a doll at school.  This was done in front of the teacher and two aides that worked in the classroom.

I was told that DCFS was called, as was required by law, to report alleged abuse and a sex crime task force was immediately convened with a case worker from DCFS heading to the school to take the reports.

What she told me next had her sobbing and me dropping to my knees.

Once finding out that my child was non-verbal and could not give a verbal account, DCFS could not do anything, acting out a sex act is not considered disclosure.

Not considered disclosure.

How then, does one explain to me, that a non-verbal child would understand, let alone know, what they were doing?  The case was closed immediately before anything was even done.

Without verbal disclosure they could not do anything.  The case worker told the teacher to call me and get the police involved; their hands were tied with the current laws.

The school district had strict guide lines in reporting any observed abuse by the teachers; the teachers were not to contact the parents – ever.

Part of me can understand this, it protects the children until an investigation can be done, and if there is a crime being committed, it gives law enforcement time to perform the investigation without the parties being aware.

What about the population that does not talk? Where is their voice? Where is their protection?

If DCFS had not told the teacher to call me, we never would have known what had taken place at school that day.

I spoke with the superintendent and the attorney for the school district in a private meeting, they were sympathetic and genuinely heart broken by what had taken place. Again, I was told that this was gray area, there were not any guidelines put in place for a non-verbal individual to be protected.

This was strike one of many, many to follow.

I called the local police immediately to report what I considered a crime.  They opened a case, as required by law, and could not close it until it had been looked into unlike DCFS.

I was told to take my child to The Children’s Justice Center where I had to hold my child while my child was examined to see if there had been penetration.  I felt like I was violating my child again.

At every step I met incredible, kind, individuals doing the best they could.  The sad fact of the matter is that they did not deal with children such as mine or very rarely.

I don’t think it is because it does not happen, I truly believe it is because they are not heard.

I was relieved to find that there was not damage anywhere.  An interview was attempted to re-enact but by this time it had been a few days.

If DCFS had been allowed to investigate immediately as planned the interview would have happened within hours instead of days. I will never know if this would have made a difference.

I spoke with the detective regularly; he along with everyone else I dealt with was very sympathetic. I was getting very angry with sympathy.

In the process of talking, interviewing, and exams, I was trying to get a protective order, restraining order – anything to protect.

Guess what?

Another wall, another apology, another “gray area.”

I called anyone I could think of: Disability Law Center, DCFS, Children’s Justice Center, legislatures, and representatives.

I was able to get a hold of an individual who had lunch with the Attorney General of Utah.

I still have that e-mail from the person who had lunch with the Attorney General giving me yet another apology.

I was running in circles a fast as I could getting absolutely nowhere, exhausting myself emotionally and physically while still having to function as a mother, wife and normal human.

I hit my breaking point.

It was still the winter season and I was getting ready to shovel the second story of our addition so the framers could continue their work when I just felt all the strength leave my body.

I literally had nothing left in me, pushing the snow with the shovel felt the same as trying to push a one ton boulder off the roof.  I physically could not do it.  I just sat down.

I could not protect my child.  I could not give my child the basic protection taken for granted by everyone else with a voice. I was my child’s voice and I had failed.  I did not want to be a mother at that moment.  I did not think that I could deal with this one second longer.  I was angry at the world, angry at the laws that protected rights of the perpetrator more than the victim and I was angry at my Heavenly Father for letting such a thing happen.

I had poured my heart and soul out in prayer for any sort of a break, anything that would let me know my child would be protected and I had nothing.

I was broken in heart, mind and spirit.

As I sat there feeling the lowest I had ever felt in my life my neighbor came and sat next to me. He had just happened to come home for lunch that day and saw me sitting on top of our addition.  I had not told anyone outside of the people who were in the kitchen when I got the phone call; my husband and Bishop and my parents yet here was my neighbor showing up out of nowhere, sitting down right next to me and asking me what was wrong.

For some reason, I poured my heart out to him, sobbing and trying to explain.  He just sat there, What could he do? I begged him not to tell anyone else, I did not know if I could stand the barrage of questions that would inevitably come as to why I was doing nothing, or what seemed like nothing.

He patted my shoulder, climbed down the ladder and left.

Knowing that any work on the addition was going to have to wait until another time I also went down the ladder into my house.

About a half hour later I look out my window to see my two neighbor’s children coming down our driveway, up the ladder and begin shoveling the snow off so the work on the addition could continue.

I don’t know why that little act of service lifted such a load off me.  Someone else was carrying a little piece of my heartache and it made mine a little less heavy.  When I was at my angriest with my Father in Heaven He sent someone at that very moment to comfort me.

Just about a month after the initial phone call I sat at a table in the Children’s Justice Center with the head of their office, the detective who had been working on the case, a case worker from DCFS, the woman who had done the exam, and myself.

They all agreed, in fact there was no doubt; my child had been sexually abused.  The “red flags” all pointed in that direction.  They all were saddened by the lack of laws, the “gray area” (if I never hear the term “gray area” again it will be too soon!) They explained that it was not just my child; this area includes anyone, stroke victims, accident victims, and the elderly.

Anyone who cannot speak or write.

Acting out was not enough.

It was my very last hope and I left there once again dejected.  My child’s case was officially closed.

Nothing was done.

I have spent quite a bit of time studying, looking into any laws in any state that would consider acting out as disclosure and I found nothing. How can that be?

There is a population of individuals left completely vulnerable and the predators who prey on them know this.  I was told “at least your child won’t remember this or have it affect them the same with their disability.”

I was stunned into silence.

At the time we had a calendar that I would write on every day because my child was starting to talk, starting to say words.

My child stopped.

There were no more words.

I still have that calendar and there have not been any entries in the years that have followed.

Don’t dare tell me it does not affect people with disabilities differently.  Maybe it is this mentality of thinking that has hampered any attempt at implementing a law to protect.  If an individual does not function in ‘normal’ society then they must not feel as the ‘normal’ society does.

Trying to get a law passed or even considered takes a great deal of time, patience and understanding.  I have found that I have needed to tell the story to one person and that person needs to sit and think about for quite awhile before sharing it with the next person who needs to be informed in order to help.

It is not something you hear or read about that makes you want to run and share it with others. It is a subject that most people shy away from, cringe at, and try to change the subject as quickly as possible.

So, why have I decided to put this in a blog for more people than I have ever shared with to be reading?

I will try to explain.

Most of the time I bury this deep in my mind; I seem to be able to do just as Scarlet O’Hara did in Gone with the Wind when she said ‘I will think about this tomorrow.’

I can truly do that.

When the time comes that I have to think about it, it comes back with full force.

I have dreams- horrible vivid dreams- that I drop my child off somewhere, knowing in my dream that I should not, but I still do it – I have no choice.

In my dream I hurry back as fast as I can and I am always too late. My child has already been hurt.

I wake up with heaving sobs, my heart is broken once again. The dreams are too real, and the emotions are too raw.

I cannot, as a mother or human being, sit and know that I have done nothing to at least make people aware of what can happen to individuals who cannot speak for themselves.

I have wondered if my reluctance to talk about it is the fact that I have not been able to do anything.

That I cannot explain why my child still must leave me.

Do people listen then turn away thinking “I would never allow that to happen.”?

Do they judge me?

How can I explain that I have had no choice, I have done everything the law will allow me to do?

Even now, I feel I am pleading my case to the unknown person who may be reading this.

I do not expect big changes.

I don’t expect to change the world over night.

I do hope that the right person will read this, who knows the right person to talk to, who knows the right channels to go through, that will finally bring this travesty of justice to light.

To finally be able to give my child and others like them a voice.

And to selfishly hope that it will make my dreams stop.

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13 thoughts on “for those who don’t have a voice

  1. Regina, that is horrible. I am so glad that there are people like you out there fighting. I’ve learned a lot from your posts.

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  2. oh this just makes me so angry again and again. i swear i wanna kill them. i seriously do. i don’t care. it would be worth it. so so worth it. i wish i could do something. anything at all for you. you know i would regina. i really truely would.

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  3. You are your children’s form of justice Reg, if you weren’t there for them no one else would be. You fight so hard for them, and they LOVE you for it! I know they do I just know it. When legally there is no help YOU are there to help them. And you search and search for answers for them, you speak for them Reg when they can’t. I simply cannot tell you Reg how much I love and respect you, I know you have your days I really do, how could you not? But you are the most STRONG, AMAZING, LOVING person I have every known. And I am soooooo fortuante that you are my sister. The best thing going Reg is that you will never stop fighting, loving, or searching for answers for your children, they are so lucky to have you as their mom, and you are soooo lucky to have them as your children 🙂

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  4. I just want to add that Mark is AMAZING too, he stands by you through it all and he is fighting for his children too right beside you! You are WONDERFUL parents!!!!! And you have wonderful kids.

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  5. I am crying over this, literally. How is it that those who need a voice the most don’t have one?! Thank you for being willing to speak about this in a public place. I know that this is got to be the hardest thing to write as it is so very personal. I love you Regina! Do you mind if I put a link on my blog to this post? I would like to spread the word about helping those who need it most.

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    • please do. that is the only reason i wrote this. it is the most painful, trying thing that mark and i have dealt with in our marriage.
      this has to be rectified from the school level to report for those who cannot speak without fear of being sued to the laws that govern us to give those without a voice the basic rights as a human……to be heard.

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      • I just posted a link on my blog and on my Facebook page. I hope it helps get the word out. We need to change the laws on this one.

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  6. I remember this and it is terrible. I am going to see if there is something I can do so people can read this and do something about it. You are amazing. You make me want to be better. You are an inspiration and I am grateful that we are friends. I will have to talk to out Social Work Professors and see if they have any ideas.

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  7. Regina, My heart aches for the pain and lack of assistance you have had to deal with… I can not tell you how many children with disabilities are victims of sexual abuse… abuse can take place in less than five minutes…and when their are not ways to communicate…UGH… the child acts out…and yet how, and who can you find out who was the perpetrator…. Luckily you have been keeping a calendar… and so many children and young adults with disabilities reach out to others to be accepted and are used… for sex is pleasurable… so hopefully and prayfully I will be praying that you can clearly find the perpetrator and get them convicted… we actually had a high school special education teacher accused and convicted seven years ago… Love and Prayers to you and your journey

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    • the case is closed. there is not evidence. finding the perpetrator is done. we are looking ahead to help those in the future.

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  8. Life……. Pain…….. Unfair……….. Lost……. Helpless……..

    Someone stronger………… Justice in the end

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    • there has to be. i know that it has to start small, a doable law, but it has to at least start. life cannot possibly be that unfair and cruel to such a helpless part of our society.

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