Today was a mix of emotions. Watching E. leave the court, hearing her say “So this is what it feels like to be free? Is it me or does everything seem brighter?” It had been overcast when we came and it was so apropos that the sun gave us it’s full face and the ocean and bay kissed us and hugged us warmly with their winds.
I didn’t, wasn’t able to, stick to the script of my VIS but that was for the better. The variations were small but meaningful, clarifying things. My neurology sometimes makes my wording hard to understand (as you all know). The Judge was gracious, considerate of the circumstances without stepping out of any boundaries. I respect people who do their very difficult jobs but are human and find whatever ways they can to breathe life into it.
E. had agreed to an extremely, extremely lenient plea agreement after a year or more of other offers given him because her one bottom line was met. The one thing I’d thought was in there, wasn’t and that was something I’ve wrestled with a lot. The fact is, to convict someone of these crimes is not easy, It’s a high-stakes poker game between a person who’s really good at the game and one who’s never played. That seems like a simplistic description but when you take out the specifics, it is about maneuvers, bluffing, poker faces for one party while the other is praying their honest hand is enough. I’m not angry, it just shouldn’t be this way in a perfect world.
I don’t think people expected the provisions set up to protect defendants from having basic rights yanked from them meant to re-victimize or yank them from victims, but they do. They do over and over and over again. This is why so many victims don’t report, don’t show, minimize what happened, have unabating shame, push away the history but still live with it but spend an awful lot of time proving they’re just fine. It’s ok, it’s not a right or wrong thing, it’s an observation from one who’s seen both sides. Many heal, surmount, move forward but many are in the shadows and simply not understood “He/she is so melodramatic” “God he/she is such a downer.” “They are nothing but trouble.” They simply can’t or are unable to speak why. This is a human, not some broken vase or blender we can just replace. We need to keep trying. When one loses hope for an answer, get’s burned out or needs a break, send in another. Even if all we can give someone is straight-forward boundaries for safety then that’s what we do.
The road isn’t over I’m sure but the hardest mountain has been climbed, I think. She is amazing. My family is amazing. My children, my girls, coming together, being so close, hearing each other, having their own relationship; it’s a privilege to watch them from the front row.
To everyone who does this for a living, I have only glimpsed your work and it is immense. Don’t lose heart, it isn’t forgotten or unnoticed. Please don’t stop fighting for change, though. One person assaulted, invaded or abused is too many. It doesn’t matter how sterilized the defense makes their appearance. DIG! The families may even dig for you if you give them enough time. The charges , the rabbit hole, may be a lot deeper than you think, and these people are a danger. The people smoking weed are at home eating Cheetos, let them do “Time Served” or none at all, go after these guys. these are the bad guys, not some guy smoking a blunt in their living room watching cartoons or trying to not have a seizure but can’t get a script for it. You have that unspoken ability to sway and care.
For those who play this like a game of poker, I hope no one innocent near you ever knows what it’s like to be victimized by someone in any way, then revictimized by the system and someone like you. I’ve read the posts at message boards and they nauseated me. We have ways to protect ourselves. I, for one, make use of it. Playing the system like a game or a stage (“Judges like it when the defendant shows remorse.” was said over and over again, like a script. Do you really think anyone with any world wisdom doesn’t see through your cheaply thrown together faux silk, pigs-ear purse?). We are not powerless like you delude yourselves and more of society is recognizing that and rising up.