When I think about the justice system in the United States, I have seen it served on a platter, a paper plate, trash can lid, and just straight out the trash can. People that have been impacted are often told that was served if the verdict was guilty when harm was done and justice was not served if the verdict is not guilty when the harm was done. Personally, when it all said and done any involvement with the justice system is going to be a cost and there will be some harm. I have learned about the practice restorative justice over the last 5 years as a model that is used in the community to repair the harm. When I think that restorative justice in my story, it was a practice that I have been taught since I was child.
My parents chose not to take justice in their own hands toward my perpetrator, but we allowed the justice system to work on our behalf. Unfortunately, due to the inconsistency of the story that I told the court, the perpetrator was let go. At 6 years old I did not care, I did not want to go back to court. The judge and the lawyers reminded me that if I ever got caught in a lie I would go to jail, I was confident that I was telling the truth and so I was not going to jail. I remember being about 13 years old and I found the articles and the court transcriptions of the trial. I read the letter that stated that there was not enough evidence to take this case to trial. I remember reading the transcriptions over and over again, and thinking,”Where is the inconsistency they are talking about?” I saw where my family had one year to appeal the decision and open the case back up again. I remember asking my mother why she did not reopen the case and her reason was that I did not want to put you through anymore than you already had been through. I had a thought about opening the case back up myself, but the more I asked questions, I realized it would cause harm to my family in a way that I did not want to really do.
At 14 years old I thought about becoming a family lawyer. I was going make sure that all children that have ever been abused, raped or kidnapped would make sure that the perpetrator would go to jail. I am not a family lawyer, I am Cultural Competence Coordinator that has been trained to be sexaul assult counselor and child advocate. I have learned that justice for the survivor and the victim does mean the perpetrator goes to jail, it is the perpetrator knowing how they have been impacted and they do not want to be blamed for not keeping what happen to them a secret.
The law has come along way since 1980 as far as childhood sexual assault; however I believe it is justice served on a trash can lid. There is still no formal way of meeting with the perpetrator as a part of the justice process, the victim and survivor are made to feel afraid for standing up and not keeping a secret. When the system stops blaming the victim about being assaulted and holding the perpetrator accountable for the harm they have done, then will be justice served.
Thankfully this was not a secret in my family, we chose to keep the matter private because of the impact it would have on me. As far as my perpetrator, I forgave them a long time ago, because I knew that I had to heal. If I ever get the opportunity to see them again, I can be able to say, “You may have tried to kill me and you may have formed the weapon of trauma against me but it did not proposer, because God has good plans for me.”