I can finally talk about something that is close to my heart, that has affected so many people. I am finally going to open up about a very sensitive subject. I will talk about my story then go from there. Buckle up buttercups.
Like so many young women in my age group, and maybe its still a thing, but I wanted to wait to have sex until marriage. At the age of thirteen that was stolen from me by a young man I was going to end up going to school with. I can tell you all the things that I lost that day, my virtue was taken from me, my friends turned there back on me, I was quickly isolated, and I lost my boyfriend at the time. I was made fun of a lot and I was isolated and forced to find different group of friends. That event that happened in my life doesn’t hurt me anymore, because I have been healed and restored from that time. God was able to turn that bad situation into a good one.
So lets fast forward to present day. I now have kids of my own, and the danger of predators is on a whole new level. The world that all kids live in is a fast moving one. There is social media that has brought on a whole different disconnect and connect to people. From my experience there are a lot of kids that are not really into the connection of face to face interaction with other people. Especially new people. It is easier to connect to someone in what they think is a safer place over social media or other media as long as its not face to face in the moment. Talking on the phone is also taboo to them unless its their friends. My teens think that I am “Old School,” and that all of those things are old people ways. No one talks on the phone anymore, no one does weird old people stuff like that anymore. Nevertheless, I have tried to get my kids to be smarter about this day and age of things. Like don’t send “Nudes,” ever because those will never go away. Don’t be forced to do things are not wanting or ready to do. Make safe choices when you are away from home, and don’t ever feel that you can’t reach out when things go bad. That’s just to name a few. Now keep in mind that I am a young mom, and the age difference between me and my oldest is 17 years. That isnt really anything. I am aware that kids will do whatever they want in the moment it happens. We all want to believe that our children are going to use the tools that we have given them and make good choices in the moment. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
So I am one of those parents that goes through my kids phones and rooms and whatnot. One day some time ago I went through my daughters phone, upon going through her phone I discovered a very disturbing text on her phone. It was through Snapchat, I didnt want to confront her while we were celebrating a holiday with family. I wanted to wait until we got home to ask some very hard questions. Unfortunately, she opened the message right after I did and other family members saw that message as well. Which started a very hard discussion openly. I sent her away after giving her a hug and letting her know that we will be talking about this when we got home. From that moment on there was a changing in our lives.
A grown man asked my daughter to send nudes to let him know that she was safe, and a picture photo of a grown couple working out with a caption saying ” this could be us but I would get a boner.” Now ask yourself what would you do? Where would you start? What would you ask your child? How would you feel? I will tell you exactly what I did, and what I felt, what I asked, and what my journey has been since then.
This has been a journey I have been on for quite some time now. When I saw these, I was in shock. Composed on the outside but shocked. Like was I really seeing what I was in that moment. YES I was!! This was happening to my child. This is happening this is really happening. What am I going to do and say to her? There was a plethora of feelings and way more questions than answers at that moment. But the one thing that was constant that I have to do something. So after a very hard discussion with my daughter and reading all the messages for nearly two years, of grooming, my mind was firm on what I was going to do. I comforted my daughter as much I can. I asked her if she was ever going to say anything to anyone about this and she told me NO. I’m sure so many of you are asking yourself, ” Kristal you just said that you are a parent that goes through your Childrens things, and this has been happening for nearly two years.” Yes that is true 100% but my daughter wasn’t living with me at the time. She was living with her side of the family. To whom were very close to her abuser. The very same people who blamed her, called her a liar, and eventually kicked her out of the house, and she came to live with me. But that is getting ahead of the story.
She saved their conversation over Snapchat for that time, the only thing that isn’t saved are the videos that come through. In another words, the Snapchat video are meant to not be seen again once they have been played, there are times when you can see the video again, but its only once more. And That’s it folks. Now, to disclose another tidbit about this man. This man had been a part of her life for a long long long time. He was the best friends of her family on that side. He was also in law enforcement. I will say right here and now, That I support police and all law enforcement. One “bad apple,” doesn’t overshadow the great works that law enforcement does everyday. You don’t have to like my opinion and I respect that. So what he had done was use her bad living situation as his way in. He used his authority status to build a deeper relationship with her. Hence grooming her, he had her isolated in a relationship via social media. He would visit her and her family on that side, and even help them out by helping buy food and pay for their rent. He would counsel her when her home life on that side got physical or mentally overwhelming or abusive. As their “relationship” grew he would say things like ” Just ask your parents how good of a man I am, I will always be there for you.” Or He would say ” Just remember that I love you, and you do have a cute butt, have a great day” So things like that, it went on and on, he would send memes that were relatable to the things or characters that my daughter liked. Overall, he was waiting for her to give him permission to “Be” with her. I asked hard questions like, Is this consensual? How does this make you feel? Her response was this, Its doesn’t make me feel good, I feel awkward when he sends things like that Mom thats why I started saving the messages because it feels wrong, and I cant tell anyone at my house because they are close friends with him, they will take his side. And he is a cop mom. That’s why I changed the subject or not talk for a bit to him.” Talk about heartbreak. She was completely alone. Then she disclosed that he also befriended her friends. I later found out that he also befriended another family member of mine. They were the same age as my daughter at the time.
She trusted this man at first. She would consider him an Uncle to her. That is how she identified him. He had no familiar ties with her what so ever. But lets face it, that is what Sexual predators do. They become a part of their lives intimately, groom them, create a trust between them, isolate them in some fashion.
So here I am with this information, now what to do with it. Here’s what I knew then.
- He is a police officer
- He is grooming my daughter
- He is sending inappropriate messages to my daughter
- He lives in my area
- He is extremely close to her family on that side
- She is isolated and will not have support on that side of the family
- He has no intentions of stopping
- She needs help, needs a voice to help her, I need to be that voice.
- I need a plan of action
The next steps had to very careful and delicate. I had to reach out to someone I trusted and I needed courage. I reached out to someone that I trust with my life. They reached out to someone they trusted, and I said nothing to no one else. I met with a Detective the next day, and told the whole story of all that I knew at that point. I then called the department where this man worked and talked to his boss’s boss. I went as high as I could to tell them what was happening. That day I had a State Policeman who specializes in this realm and his boss sitting in my kitchen. There was a point where, I saw the disbelief on his bosses face and what looked to be confusion. I was asked what my intentions were for speaking about this. My answer was this. If he isn’t doing anything wrong then the investigation would show that, but if he is then I am bringing awareness to the situation and bringing it out of the dark and into light. People like him are sick, but I am not doing this for him, I am doing this for my daughter, and her friend. If he is doing this to her he is doing it to others. This is much bigger than just my daughter. If he is doing something this is for the victims of his past, present and future. No matter what, it needed to bring awareness.
Someone needed to be the voice. I learned that some of the laws for such an event like this are very gray. There are a lot of loopholes. He would eventually would “resign,” from his job, which set off another set of events for my daughter and her departure from that side of the family to live with me. He was not to talk to her, and yet he still did and in a group message with her parents on that side of that family. The last thing he told my daughter was this. ” If you want to talk to me, you will have to say ‘In regards to the family,’ and when you turn 18 we will resume our relationship.” She didn’t respond. My blood boiled.
Nothing was done at that point in regards to the texts because there is a huge gray area pertaining to such things via media like that. Soon thereafter, someone else came forward about him and regarding physical touch. Molestation. My daughter came forward as well. He touched her too. Keep in mind that a lot of victims do not come forward or it takes a lot of time for them to come forward. There is a lot of work that has to happen in order for anyone to feel safe to open up about it.
So, he would soon be arrested very publicly. There was even a live fb feed of his arrest. I did all that I needed to do to ensure that my daughter wouldn’t see it, but her step mother called to let her know that he was just arrested. Now she falls a part even more. I will get to that in a moment. In the moment of watching this story, our story on the 6 o’ clock news was a tough pill to swallow. No one tells you what it feels and looks like on the other end of things. No one can tell you what to expect. No one. It was the talk of the town, and I cant tell you how many people I came across that just wanted to talk to me about this case and couldn’t say anything or even let on that I was involved. I had to put on a very convincing mask and learn to have none committal answers. Very few people knew what actually happened or was happening. There still is some misinformation that surrounds what actually happened.
Well now this is all happening, I called the school and got some resources in place for my daughter including a therapist. Keeping her involved in the community and building a life here. But lets face it. Once her school peers found out at her new school that was it. You have no idea what its like to watch your daughter, or child fall a part because she feels so much shame and guilt. She blamed herself. She was told by peers that she enjoyed being touched by older men and to just accept it. Kids can very cruel to someone at times. Hearing her cry over the phone because her peers said certain things. Or some of her family blaming her, that she should of kept her mouth shut or lie to make it all stop because this is all her fault. Now mind you, she didn’t say anything, she was going to live with this darkness the rest of her life. I said something initially, I made the choice to involve police, I made the choice to speak. Not her. She asked me point blank” Mom what did I do to deserve this? Do I dress in a way that makes me a target? Why did he do this to me?” I would build her back up. But it wouldn’t last because her self worth, self esteem, her hopes, her dreams, her life was torn down to nothing. To a point where she has selfed harmed, and even attempted suicide more times in the last 9 months, because there is a constant reminders all around her, there are triggers all around her. She will do good for a little bit then it comes crashing again. No one ever wants to talk about how things like this affect someone. I am not afraid to talk about it, this is a life sentence for those who are victimized. LIFE SENTENCE!!! This is something she will have to work through the rest of her life. Rest of herrrr life!! A sexual predator doesn’t care about how it hurts their victims, they are seeking their sick pleasures. They don’t have empathy for what they’ve done. NONE!! The impact this does to a victim is overwhelming. The hard work for the victim and their families is overwhelming. So why am I talking about it now?
His sentencing was yesterday, and he was facing 25 years in prison for what he did. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, and 16 years of probation. Let that sink in a little bit. How does that make you feel? How does that sit with you? How does that sit on your heart? How would that sit with you if it were your child or children?
And with good time up to 85% means that he will spend less than that in prison. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. How does that make you feel about the protection of our children? A person who is in possession with a drug gets more time than someone who sexually assaulted your child. My fight for this didn’t end yesterday. The chapter of that event closed yesterday, but my fight has not stopped. Its just the beginning for me and as for my daughter, the fight is everyday. Everyday she will fight for her life. Everyday she will fight to have a happy, healthy life where she will know that she is loved, worth it, and enough. She will fight everyday to know she Who deserves great blessings and beautiful life and love. My heart broke yesterday but yesterday standing in front of the judge saying what I needed to say, and I almost felt that I stood alone in that moment. I know there were others who felt the same way I did, and would have said more than I did. I know I wasn’t alone in fighting for justice for not only my daughter but any others. I was empowered to say those things because I needed to be a voice. I will still be a voice and I will continue to make awareness to everyone I can. Its time we rise up.
If you are a parent reading this, I encourage you right now, to learn all that you can about social media and what your child is doing. This includes not only social media but gaming. I encourage you to ask those hard questions. I encourage you to get involved. I encourage you to speak out and up. If you are someone who has been victimized, I am so sorry, I know what you are going though, I will empower you to reach out and say something, your story matters. You don’t know how your story will reach others to help them and empower them to stand tall and keep fighting the good fight of healing and restoration. You are worth it and worthy of great things. I encourage everyone to read and research all that you can about this. Its real and it really happens. More than anything you’re not alone. You need to have support and you deserve it. We can turn victims into overcomers and survivors. We can make a difference. Feel free to reach out to me.