The Sad, But All Too Familiar Fact in Abuse Cases: Pedophiles are Often ‘Trusted,’ Well Known by Survivors and RelativesMarch 6, 2013
By DAN FASY
A recent pair of links we posted on our Facebook page inadvertently demonstrate something of a range of ways the scourge of child sexual abuse is revealed to the public.
One is a news story about the aunt of an alleged victim discovering references to abuse incidents on her niece’s Facebook page. The allegations indicate that the predator is another member of the extended Indianapolis family.
If so, the case would jibe with several familiar patterns. One is the high likelihood that the pedophile would be well known by the victim — would, in fact, likely be a family member. Another is that the alleged victim waited, in this case about two years, before revealing what she remembers. Yet another is the implicit reluctance of the victim to more overtly come forward and charge the perpetrator.
One certainly can understand the reluctance. Imagine the feeling of powerlessness of, in this instance, a 13-year-old girl. She’s already been forced by circumstances to process what she claims are two cases of molestation. Then she has to summon the emotional wherewithal to come forward in some fashion and, in effect, let the world know what happened.
Obviously it requires the kind of courage no one should have to demonstrate.
Then there’s the related recent link on our Facebook page. Rather than being about average citizens with no claim to celebrity, it concerns a woman for whom celebrity has been a live-long given.
Her name is Anoushka Shankar. The last name belonged to her late father, Ravi, for half a century a name synonymous with sitar music. As it happens, Anoushka Shankar also is the half sister of singer Norah Jones, also Ravi Shankar’s daughter and a celebrity better known than any from the extended family.
Anoushka Shankar, herself an accomplished sitar-player and composer, is in the news precisely because of the familiarity of her name. She reported just a few days after attending the 2013 Grammy-award event in Los Angeles that she was repeatedly molested as a young girl by an apparent “family friend.”
The timing of her announcement, revealed in a video, has to do with her support of the One Billion Rising global movement for women’s rights.
In the video Shankar says: “As a child, I suffered sexual and emotional abuse for several years at the hands of a man my parents trusted implicitly. Growing up, like most women I know, I suffered various forms of groping, touching, verbal abuse and other things I didn’t know how to deal with. I didn’t know I could change.”
A Huffington Post story indicates that Shankar “has dedicated her ‘rising’ message to the 23-year-old Indian physiotherapy student who died after being brutally gang-raped by five men in New Delhi. ‘I’m rising with the amazing women of my country who are together calling and saying enough is enough. I’m rising for the child in me who I don’t think will ever fully recover from what happened to her.”
Shankar’s bold, selfless revelations bear at least one striking similarity to the Indianapolis story. In each case the accused perpetrator was known to — perhaps trusted by — the alleged victim.
What the two instances do not have in common may prove to be most notable. The fact is, the Shankar story no doubt will have far greater resonance with a much larger audience than that of an anonymous girl from Indiana. That the latter has been bold enough to reveal her story should be admirable to many. But the notion that a celebrity would tell a similar tale can’t help but make it at least incrementally easier for other heretofore reticent victims to reveal their own deeply guarded secrets.
In this way, we can at least hope that such victims, so emboldened, will help us bring to justice the myriad sex-abusers who otherwise will continue to prey on defenseless children.
Our attorneys are highly experienced in childhood sexual abuse law and offer free initial consultations to potential clients. We are also willing to assist other attorneys in sexual abuse cases. Please call 206-257-3590, or email us directly. Conversations will be kept confidential, and even if you are unsure about a lawsuit, often we can direct you to the assistance you need. You will be treated with compassion and respect.
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