• Tue, Dec 17 - 2:00 pm ET

Child Abuse Survivor Finally Gets Empathy She Deserves After Bearing 3 Children To Her Father

Child abuse survivor gets empathy in court after mothering 3 of her father's children.

In most stories about abuse and rape survivors, we hear a lot of victim blaming. “She should’ve done this,” “there’s no excuse for turning out like that,” “he was responsible for what happened to himself,” and so on and so forth. But for once, a story about a woman whose past included horrific abuse has an ending (or rather, a middle chapter) that includes some common sense and a whole lot of empathy.

A Los Angeles woman was sentenced to rehab rather than jail time after a judge took into consideration her history. Not only had she been sexually abused by her father starting at age six, but according to LAistshe had bore three of his children–one at the age of 17 and two others by the age of 24. I, and probably all of you, wanted to vomit when I read that sentence.

While her father was sentenced to prison for 109 years for the repulsive crimes he committed against his daughter, now 33, I can’t possibly imagine how difficult it would be to feel safe, healthy and trusting after going through decades of abuse. The details are horrific, according to the LA Times:

She said he threatened to kill or blind her if she reported him and rigged the family’s West Adams home with surveillance cameras to monitor her movements and prevent her escape. He tortured her by beating the soles of her feet with a wooden stick and covered her head with a plastic bag until she passed out.

Initially, the woman had been facing up to 12 years in jail for assisting in burglaries for gang members–including her “violent and controlling boyfriend”–but after the prosecutors and judge heard her story, they were lenient on her:

“Because of her background, I believe it’s time to see if she can rehabilitate herself,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Gallegly, who prosecuted [the woman]. “If anyone deserves it, it’s her…. She’s had a hellish experience.”

[The woman's] attorney, Ron Seabold, said Superior Court Judge Dalila Corral Lyons expressed hope during Friday’s sentencing hearing that [she] would take advantage of the lenient punishment by obtaining the counseling she needs.

Having already spent three years in jail while awaiting trial and sentencing, the woman will be released to a rehabilitation center next week where she will receive substance abuse and mental health counseling–a resource abuse survivors can certainly benefit from, but is often unattainable for those who do not have insurance or a substantial income.

Her attorney, Ron Seabold, was hopeful regarding the judge and prosecutors’ decision. Seabold believes the woman’s past played a significant role in her crimes:

“I had tears in my eyes. Since the age of 6 or 7, she’s been abused or dominated by males, and she doesn’t know how to say no.”

It is well-documented that child abuse survivors are more likely to commit crimes, to have at least one psychological disorder. On a purely personal, anecdotal note, I know myself and many other rape survivors have wound up in abusive relationships later on because it can be extremely difficult to distinguish the difference between power, control and love. And prison is not helpful for survivors; Amnesty International says many women in prison are subjected to sexual abuse there, too, by people who are supposedly protecting them. Rather than helping survivors become productive members of society upon their release, prison instead offers more abuse, more violence, more psychological damage.

So, long story short, I am very glad that at least one courtroom acknowledged a survivor’s experiences as being a contributing factor to her future actions, and is helping her get assistance. Taking into consideration the awful, damaging implications of child abuse doesn’t negate the woman’s crime; it just acknowledges that survivors need help, not imprisonment. As District Attorney Gallegly said: if anybody deserves it, it’s her. Speaking of which, I wish this was more of a standard practice than a surprise.

What We're Reading:
Share This Post:
  • Lindsey Conklin

    I think this sums it up really well: “I had tears in my eyes. Since the age of 6 or 7, she’s been abused or dominated by males, and she doesn’t know how to say no.” so sad, but I, too, am glad her struggles are being acknowledged

  • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror

    what the WTF????

    I just barfed…

  • Jennifer Dziura

    Did Scandinavia suddenly take over our justice system? I mean, that would be great. I endorse that.