Press-Republican

Guest Column

April 30, 2013

Victims can regain control of their lives

There is help to get your life back after victimization.

When I write these columns, I try to think of what I have learned that you might not know. In our regular lives, we mostly do not see beyond the outside layers of other people.

However, as a prosecutor and then a judge, I saw the layers peeled back. Mostly, people meet police and prosecutors at the worst times in their lives.

It has been eye-opening to me that there are so many people among us who have been victimized by others. Their trauma and suffering can continue long after the crime.

Many of the crimes are sexual; sometimes these took place recently, and other times they were years ago. Most were committed by a trusted person who took advantage of a child, a teen, a friend or a date.

SECRETS REVEALED

As district attorney, I learned of these crimes when they were reported to the police, of course. Also, I learned of them when jurors were being picked for rape cases and potential jurors told us they could not be impartial because they had been victimized. Sometimes this happened decades earlier, and it stayed a secret. Being asked to sit on a jury in a sex case brought it all back, and they talked about it for the first time.

As judge, I learned about past rape and sexual abuse of defendants I sentenced by reading the pre-sentence investigation reports prepared by the Probation Department.

Many who commit crimes were abused as children. This is part of the background information gathered to give the judge a complete picture of the defendant. Over the years, defendants themselves, particularly those in treatment for substance abuse or mental-health issues, have told me about their own history of being abused.

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