By Philip Foley
Convicted sexual offenders have a lobby: Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL). Groups are working to change the way penalties are imposed on sexual offenders. While they argue that the criminal justice system per se may not be at fault, they claim it is the 'time served' after the actual time is served that presents the problem. In essence, public punishment continues well after a convicted sex offender is released from prison.
No such lobby exists for aging and elderly women who as juneviles were victims of sexual assault that resulted in catastrophic, confidential pregnancies. These women are in hiding from a society and culture that punishes them for the violence perpetrated against them all those years ago, while holding them accountable to the second generation aggressors hunting them via breached sealed adoption and other confidential records.
The trauma and guilt victims suffer from sexual assault imposes a "LIFE" sentence. Profound trauma makes it impossible for victims to speak for themselves. The criminal and civil legal system forces them to appear in person to fight for the right to protect themselves from unwanted intrusion into their personal and family lives. Many elderly women are not equipped to understand the violence they were subjected to as junviles and the protections the law could provide, if it was accessible to them, when that violence re-asserts itself in their elder years.
We have federally required ramps and doorways for physically disabled persons to gain access to the legal system.
We need to create access for elderly women disabled by past sexual trauma who are trying to cope alone with its resurgence into their lives.
Elderly women enduring stalking and abuse as a result of a confidential, catastrophic pregnancy must be permitted to have "champions." Persons who can appear for them; persons who can adequately represent them through the civil and criminal justice system. Emotional and psychological safety is paramount to a trauma victim. Elders require prospective on the trauma they endured and they need to be informed about what protections the legal system can offer them and their families.
Most trauma victims are unable to articulate their needs to an attorney; most are unable to describe their ordeal to anyone they do not completely trust. Trauma victims survive by adapting to whatever the situation requires them to be or to say.
Convicted sexual offenders enjoy a lobby. Unless society permits them equal access via champions, elderly women re-victimized by past sexual assault will never be so fortunate.
Contact your legislators and insist that elder women re-traumatized by sexual violence through information gained from confidential sources be granted this basic civil right.