Maybe he’ll die.
Maybe he’ll retire.
Maybe his boss will fire him.
Maybe he’ll just stop on his own.
Maybe a co-worker will turn him in.
Maybe the police will investigate him.
Maybe another victim will speak up first.
Maybe he’ll get caught with child pornography.
Maybe he’ll move somewhere far away from the kids.
Maybe his wife will find some evidence and call the cops.
These hopes, and similar hopes, have gone through the heads of many of the brave abuse survivors who we at Horowitz Law have represented.
They’re all understandable. They all make sense. They are all tempting thoughts. But the sad reality is that more kids are hurt if we let these wishes rule our decision-making. If we expect others to act or wait for others to act, more kids will inevitably be abused. To many, this seems obvious, so obvious that saying it here may even seem silly. But if reminding ourselves and others of this painful fact prompts even one person who saw, suspected, or suffered abuse to speak up, we at Horowitz Law are willing to seem silly.
Speaking of truisms or obvious sayings, this one (popularized in recent years by Barack Obama) springs to mind: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” Barack Obama may have popularized it, but he didn’t coin it (and never claimed he did). Some websites call it a Hopi elders’ phrase. Others say it’s “an old song from the civil rights movement.” Poet Alice Walker attributes it to another poet, June Jordan, and still, others credit the late activist Lisa Sullivan. But what matters is not who the author is but rather what the message is. We know survivors come forward when they can. When they do, it is always hard. We are fully aware that there are real risks to doing so. But there are also real risks to keeping quiet. Risks to ourselves and risks to others. Our goal here is not to pressure or guilt trip anyone. We are impressed and gratified each time someone makes a call or sends a text to expose wrongdoers and protect kids. No matter how much time has passed between the crime and the crime report, society must appreciate the courage and strength required to take this tough step. No amount of coaxing can accelerate the process of stepping forward. Victims know best when they are capable of doing this.
Maybe, just maybe, this gentle nudge will remind others – the ones who saw or suspected or were told of abuse but didn’t suffer it directly – that the best time to speak of the unspeakable and to stop the horror is right now. Maybe it’s the police. Maybe a district attorney. Maybe a civil lawyer. Maybe a state hotline. Or maybe, for starters, a dear friend or close relative. It matters less WHO you tell. It matters more THAT you tell.
At the risk of coming on too strong, we at Horowitz Law ask you to consider that maybe it’s time to give up the wishes and ‘maybes’ and pick up the phone yourself. In the short term, we predict it will make you feel stressed. In the long term, however, we predict it will make you feel relieved. And proud. While you may lose sleep in the short term, in the long term, you will sleep much more soundly knowing that you’ve done the right, hard, responsible thing.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or email sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected]. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.