Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One with Courage

This post is a follow up to my previous post A Joint Open Letter to the Super Hero Victim of Greg Kelley.
Photo by Michaela Myers

Last night outside the Williamson County jail in Georgetown, Texas, a group of supporters gathered, dressed in teal, the color representing sexual assault awareness, to stand up and speak out for the little boys in the Greg Kelley child sexual assault criminal case. Greg Kelley supporters also gathered across the lawn in front of the jail, many dressed in jailhouse orange shirts and tape across their mouths.






















Greg Kelley protests draw more attention and scrutiny
Across the parking lot, people dressed in teal were supporting the victim in the case.
Janet Heimlich is the director of the Child-Friendly Faith Project, a group that advocates for victims of such abuse. She did not go to the demonstration Monday night, but says demonstrations like that of the Kelley’s supporters, especially when members of a church or faith community are involved, are harmful to victims.
“I think that maybe they don’t have a full appreciation of what kind of impact that can have when you have very public rallies in support of someone who has been convicted of sexually abusing a small child,” said Heimlich.



Supporters of child sex assault victim rally in support
"I am a victim of sexual abuse myself, and I feel that no child should be ignored," said Michaela Myers, another victim supporter.








SNAP statement on the church holding a "Justice for GK" rally
Discrediting victims and publicly supporting predators, especially convicted ones, not only hurts the innocent victims who have already suffered too much, but it also hurts other victims who suffer in silence and self-blame.
It creates a hostile environment and does not encourage victims to speak up and help protect other innocent people.
We urge officials at Generations Church to cancel this hurtful event. If congregants really must support a convicted predator, we ask that they do so privately. 
The church is run by pastors Bob & Tammy Brydon (1461 E. Woodview Dr. in Leander, TX (512-616-7000, info@generationschurch.net). According to the church website, the Brydons have been “actively involved in local church ministry, in both lay and pastoral staff positions, in several large Austin-area churches.”
I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from Pastor Bob Brydon of Generations Church who is helping lead the effort to "fight for GK," the man convicted of super aggravated sexual assault of a 4 year-old boy, in prison for 25 years after accepting a sentencing deal waiving his right to appeal. Bob immediately let me know how offended he was at our statement, saying he considered it "slander." I asked what was slanderous about it, but he did not answer. He just began a rant about how the "real perp" is still out there on the streets.










Sex offenders in our midst
Monsters behave like monsters. It isn’t a choice they make. But offenders who behave monstrously are people, not monsters, people who have chosen to behave abusively and who need to be held responsible for their choices.
Plus, it promotes the myth that sex offenders are not the regular people we know and love. And as author Amy K. Sorrells asserts“It’s not the people you don’t know who will hurt your daughter, girlfriend, wife. It’s the people you do know.”  
"Mom of a Super Hero" commented at The Wartburg Watch:
1. Child sex abusers are almost always nice, beloved members of their community (in this case a church). This is how they ingratiate themselves into a community and gain access to children. 2. Children this young do not lie. 3. If you believe he is innocent, support him privately. Do not hold rallies, or bully the family. 4. If you need to resort to making up scenarios to support the abuser, you don’t have much to stand on.
I’ve read the comments sections of the news stories on this (I have also read everything on that ridiculous freegk site). The family is being attacked because a group of people can’t believe someone they like, a “nice guy”, would do something like this. They should educate themselves on child sex abusers, especially if they have, or plan on having, children themselves.
The main insane rationalization I’ve read so far from supporters on the boards is that it was probably actually a family member of the victim who was the abuser, and the whole case is a “cover up”. First of all, I don’t understand how that would work. Secondly, as someone who went through what this family is going through last year (daughter abused at a church daycare, abuser convicted and sentenced, church people showing abnormal amounts of support for someone with a criminal background, creepy behavior he actually admitted to on stand, and other stuff I won’t get into), I can tell you that the victim’s family is thoroughly vetted in these cases. In our case, we went to the police at 8 pm at night. CPS was at our house by 10 am the next morning for a surprise visit/interview. Thirdly, how sick and cruel, to say something like that on a public forum.
The family is often maligned in these situations, when, in reality, it is a child from a supportive, loving family who will actually have the ability to testify.
So my point is yes, this family is being bullied. I was bullied too, called all sorts of ridiculous things, including Bored Housewife like the ladies who run this site, even though I wasn’t a housewife (why do housewives get such a bad rap, anyway?) The bullies said I must have concocted the whole thing and gotten my daughter to lie for my own “entertainment” (whoever would even think of that – a child sex abuse trial as entertainment – is a sick, sick person). My husband, for whatever reason, was mostly spared. Perhaps because I was seen as weaker, or more vulnerable, by the church folk, who sat in the courtroom and snickered when I broke down during my testimony. These sheeple have no decency. They will stretch to any length to conjure up reasons why the child sex abuser could not possibly have done this, no matter who they hurt in the process. They do not know how ridiculous they sound to any sane person capable of independent thought, but, sadly, I suspect they do know the damage they are doing to the victim and the victim’s family, at least deep down. They know the truth deep down.
The young ages of the sex abuser’s supporters disturbs me. In our case, several supporters were young women, just like in this case, although my daughter’s abuser was not a young man. Have we failed our young women this badly? They do not know what is inappropriate, perverted, or just plain mean, especially on a public forum? Are these women going to have children some day? Would they side with a grown man over their own four-year-old son, because the man was a “good guy”? How many of them were abused themselves, and perhaps have not dealt with it? Statistically, some of them. These questions have kept me up at night.
I related very much to the commenter who pointed out that these things said on the internet will last forever. I have thought about the day when my daughter will search for her story, and read the awful things people said, even though of course they’re not true. But how horrible for her. Pain on top of pain. People can be so cruel.
As for the commenter who said there is no benefit to writing an open letter, that the family would not want it, he is absolutely wrong. He said he knows this from experience, but did not cite the experience. I suspect he is stretching the truth or lying. I would have loved for a letter like this to be penned for my family. I had tears streaming down my face reading it tonight. This family needs to know there are people out there who support them. They need to hear a little sanity and compassion, because they are facing a lot of insanity and brutality right now, on top of their already insurmountable suffering.
The David and Goliath story is so appropriate for this situation. My daughter drew the comparison herself before she testified (yes, our family is Christian, for those of you to whom it matters for whatever reason. What we are not is Pharisees, or sheeple). People know that story, including non Christians, so cut the garbage, whoever commented on that.
I wish I could travel to Leander on Aug 10th to stand in support of this brave young boy and his family. I can’t, so I will pray for them, Christian or not (that comment made me sick. God loves all). Dee, Amy, I don’t know who you are, or understand everything you do, but keep doing it!
I firmly believe there are two types of people. Those who can deal with situations of child sex abuse, and those who can’t. I firmly believe this man is guilty, and his supporters can’t deal with it. I am so thankful for that first category of people, those who can face the truth head on, shine the light on it, and get these monsters out of society. The police (the ones in our case were maligned, too, guess what, it’s called building a defense!), prosecutors, jury members, parents/guardians, family and other support people, social workers, mental health professionals, those who run support centers, doctors. But mostly, the brave young Super Heroes who stand up before their abusers, in a room full of strangers, and tell the truth.
(sorry to make this post a lot about our story, but I wanted to give the perspective from someone who has been through it, and I believe the more light we shine, the better)

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