Testifying

by The Counselor
Texas, USA

I am a child counselor for an organization that provides therapeutic foster care for children who have experienced abuse or neglect by their families. One of my former clients now lives with her grandparents in another state. She was placed into foster care with her two older sisters because her mother’s boyfriend sexually molested all three of them. She is eight years old, about four feet tall, weighs 41 pounds, and looks like a little elf.

When her abuser went on trial, the District Attorney tried him on charges against this child only, because she got the very worst of the abuse. She came back to testify, spending two hours on the stand recounting in excruciating detail everything that he did to her over two years. She didn’t back down when the defense lawyer tried rattle her during cross examination. Instead, she announced that she knew he was trying to trick her, and he’d better knock it off! The investigating police officers, the doctor who examined her, the police examiner, her former foster mother, her grandparents and I also testified.

Testifying The jury took 30 minutes to convict. My client’s sister testified to his abuse of her during the penalty phase, to establish a pattern, and the jury gave him 30 years. The District Attorney found two prior felony convictions for aggravated assault which this abuser had lied about, which added another five years to his sentence for aggravated perjury.

After sentencing, this tiny girl amazed us all. When she entered foster care she was so scared of her abuser that she could barely even speak his name. After the verdict she informed her former foster mother that she had something to say to the perpetrator. “You need to help me find a way to do that.” The foster mother talked to the District Attorney, who talked to the judge. The judge said this was unprecedented — she had never had a victim in any sexual assault case want to make a victim’s statement. But there was nothing to legally prevent it, so she agreed.

After the jury announced the abuser’s sentence, this little girl stood up in the witness stand, looked straight at her abuser, and said, “I’m really sorry you have to go to jail, but you deserve it for what you did to me. I’m really happy to know that you’re never going to be able to hurt me again. And that’s all I have to say to you.”

Everybody in the room, with the exception of the defendant and his family and lawyer, was in tears by the end of her statement. We were all so proud of her! She made it possible for justice to be done that day. She faced her abuser bravely — in a way that few adults have the courage to do. And from the sound of it, this little one is going to be just fine. Seeing her on the stand that day made it clear to me exactly what courage really is.

Originally published as HeroicStories #251 on Nov 8, 2001

9 thoughts on “Testifying”

  1. I am not saying any thing negative towards your posting this story. I am just very curious. When I was able to compose myself and see again I started to wonder when(the year) this all happened, and how is the little girl doing now. I do not want to invade her privacy or bring up the terrible experience. I just would like to know if she is well and what she is doing with her life after this horrible experience. OH-Also 30 years was not nearly enough. He should have been castrated and sentenced to life for all the abuse he dealt.

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  2. How wonderful she was able to do that because it surely helped her to heal and to get to the point where she could forgive the abuser if only for her own mental health. There is so much damage done in abuse cases and my daughter was abused by her father, my ex husband. Everyone suffers thre such terrible actions and every one has to get to the point where they can say “I forgive you” if only for their own peace of mind. I can honestly say that I am almost there, but the hurt that lives on in our daughter makes it hard for me to actually say it. I pray to God that my oldest daughter can get there so we can cross the bridge together.

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  3. Having seen the results of that lifestyle in range victims, I would say this girl is an amazing example of resiliency. I pray that she was able to truly have a normal life after all that, a lot of the time it will haunt them. Doesn’t seen so in her case. . .

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  4. It is amazing to me that this little girl showed so much spunk and chrisma, after having lived through all of the repeated physical and sexual abuse to her young body, for as so often happens in cases such as this, the victim ends up with a broken spirit as well; but to be able to stand up and face her abuser as she did, shows much bravery and courage to boot, which tells me that she was well on her way to recovery already, at that time. In fact, she reminds me alot of myself at that age, in that I also experienced much of the same, only by both sexes, and as we all know, it sometimes takes a lifetime for a victim to overcome such, due to PTSD and the like, where one’s subconchous speakes out both during the day, and at night especially sometimes, in the way of our dreams, not to mention flashbacks occurring throughout the day, when something we touch, see, taste, hear, or feel, triggers such. In fact in my case, the only way I personally have been able to overcome such past tragic events in my life, other than periodic councelling, has been for me to write the past events out longhand and in great detail too, in order to help rid my mind of these past events. But most of all, what eventually has helped me the most in the long run, has been my being able to forgive my abusers from my heart, in that my doing such has finally allowed me to live a more carefree life, knowing that they will all eventually have to answer to a lot higher power than is here on earth, meaning GOD.

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  5. What amazing courage this young lady showed showed. She will go far in life if she is able to continue to draw on her resilience of spirit. I only hope her sisters fare as well as she has good luck to all three.

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  6. One more request for a follow-up. As a therapeutic foster parent for the last 15 years, and now an adoptive parent, I’d love to know about the young woman she has become. She is an inspiration to those of us who have given to help children like her, and I’m sure there are may more positive stories about the positive impact she is having on the world.

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  7. This story prompts me to tell about an old man I thought I knew, but discovered he had abused his daughter throughout her childhood. It has destroyed her life, but she never acused him publicly and he was never punished. The rest of the family refused to believe her, but I know it to be true. I was his power of attorney when I found out, because his daughter refused to have any contact, and he had no one else. There was a period of several weeks that I didn’t see him, out of revulsion, anger and disgust, and I questioned why God would put me in such a situation, to think I was helping a deserving person when he had done such a monstrous thing. I came to realize that he was my neighbor, and just as the Samaritan didn’t help the man because he was especially deserving, neither did I, and that’s the way it should be. Perpetrators are people too.

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