Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Breaking the Cycle

Last night I watched the Dateline special about “outsiders”, although it could have been called “Sexual Abuse is Rampant in America”.

The first story was about an Amish girl who was raped more than 100 times by her brothers and cousins. Here’s a good article on the whole awful story. She escaped and prosecuted her brothers and other members of her family who assaulted her, but they got such light sentences it’s almost laughable. In one court appearance the brothers were disputing their sister’s recollections, not of the events in general, but about the number of times they had raped their. Mary said between 100 and 150, they said it’s more like 75 to 100. Are you screaming into your computer yet?

The second story was about the arrest of Warren Jeffs, the so-called prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which has polygamous communities in Arizona, Utah, Texas and Canada. He’s wanted in Arizona and Utah on felony sex charges in connection with polygamous marriages involving minor girls. These girls are expected to produce a baby a year as their “duty” to their husbands, who in almost all cases are 3 or 4 times older than their child brides.

The third story was about a 29-year-old named Ricky “Davidito” Rodriguez, who was born into a group called The Family (aka The Family International, Children of God, or God’s Salvation Church). From The Wave magazine: “Started in the ’60s in Oakland as a community devoted to sexual liberation (they even claimed that sexual relations could exist between adults and children, until public scrutiny forced the group to issue a declaration of condemnation against pedophilia in 1986), the Family promotes awareness of the impending apocalypse in which Family members will lead the battle against Satan as Jesus Christ returns. Today, the Family boasts 8,000 “full-time missionaries” in more than 100 countries. [One of the scariest sentences I've read in a long time.]

Ricky stabbed a Family board member to death before killing himself in an attempt to track down the secret location of his parents. Turns out he wanted to kill them, too, in revenge for raising him amidst alleged rampant sexual abuse. Rodriguez claimed that by the age of nine, he was having daily forced sex with scores of women to prepare him for becoming a group leader. In a video he made the night before the murder, Rodriguez is seen loading bullets into his gun and saying, “Anger does not begin to describe how I feel about these people. I’ve seen how ugly humans can get.”

Being abused changes you. You can rise above it if you are lucky enough to have a good support system and are willing to face the pain of healing, but for some people there is no escape other than to hurt themselves or others.

All this on the heels of the dropping of charges in the JonBenet Ramsey case against the now infamous John Mark Karr. Have you heard the recordings that are allegedly Karr speaking about JonBenet and how it would feel for the killer? Creeeee-py. At least California is willing to prosecute him for the child pornography charges he fled the Bay Area in 2001 to avoid. Where did he go? To Thailand, one of the world’s biggest playgrounds for pedophiles.

Angela Shelton’s words never rang so true: you can’t tell what a person is like or what they’ve been through just by looking at them. This is doubly true for perpetrators. I generally try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if I had a child, all bets would be off when it came to protecting them.

*sigh* There is still so much work to be done to break the cycles of abuse and sickness that pervade our society.


  1. Yes, I am screaming into my computer.

    I grew up in Ohio near an Amish community. I always felt sorry for those poor girls in their black sensible stockings, granny-shoes, and plain dresses with straight pins instead of buttons. Those boys in their black trousers and plain hats. For years, we bought our tack from an Amish saddle maker. (He had a radio hidden/stashed in his shop. He even showed it to my mother and I once.) It all looked very repressive and unhealthy to me.

    I am amazed at what happens to women. In this society. In the world at large. And at how some simply choose to look the other way.

    After my ex sent me to the hospital with a head injury, the wife of one of the former governors of my "great" state wrote a letter to the court on his behalf, stating that he was one of the "finest citizens of NM." I found out later that her own husband had hit her in the head so hard that she lost hearing in one of her ears.

    I never never understood that. I thought about writing her a letter. But finally didn't see the point of it. I have worked for years to let it go.

    Yep. The world is a mind-boggling place sometimes. But the good news is that it's also a place of astounding goodness and beauty.

    Pax. K

  2. A very disturbing post Donna, but one I'm glad I read.

    It made me realize that being a protective parent is important and something I should feel proud about.

  3. Hi Donna, just dropping in to say "hi" from BosphorusRamblings--I'll be reading you, too :)


  4. how did we as a species get so sick, no matter the justification used how could a mother/father stand by and watch members of their family (not "the family" but their own children)commit or be victims of abuse, let alone commit these atrocities against them it just doesn't make sense, surely somewhere within their heads a voice is screaming at them to "do" something. anything.