Maybe he’ll die. Maybe he’ll retire. Maybe his boss will fire him. Maybe he’ll just stop on his own. Maybe he’ll stop working with kids. 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 children. 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 Horowitz Law has represented. They’re all understandable. They all make sense. They are all tempting thoughts. But the sad reality is that more kids are hurt when we let these wishes override reality. The reality is: only when people like us speak up are child molesters stopped.
Wishful thinking doesn’t stop abusers. Brave, smart decision-making stops them. And if we expect others to act or wait for others to act, more kids will inevitably be abused. This may seem 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.” 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; others still credit the late activist Lisa Sullivan. But what matters is not who the author is but its meaning. Regardless, the message is what counts, and the message is clear: Replace your hesitancy with action. We know survivors come forward when they can. When they do, it is always hard. We are fully away that there are real risks to doing so. But there are also real risks to keeping quiet; risks to ourselves and 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 report of the crime, 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. No one should ever silence you.
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 expect it will make you feel relieved, proud, moral, responsible, and confident that while you can’t un-do the past for yourself, you CAN make a better present and future for others.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures, healthcare professionals, teachers, coaches, and massage therapists. If you need a lawyer because someone sexually abused you, contact us today at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.