Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Invisible Victims

Imagine, for just a moment, that you are the father of a young family. The oldest child in your family is a girl who, by the time she reaches her teen years, has begun growing into a smart, pretty, outgoing young woman. Like young women everywhere, your oldest child eventually falls in love, and like fathers everywhere, you don't particularly approve of your young daughter's choice.

Imagine that from the earliest days of the relationship, you see a disturbing trend developing. Your young daughter's boyfriend tries again and again to separate her from her family; to isolate her, while at the same time treating her poorly, cheating on her with other girls, playing the sorts of games boys play in high school every day.

Still your daughter stays with this boy. She has known nothing but love and encouragement from her family; it never occurs to her he might be different.

After a couple of years, imagine that you discover your smart, pretty, outgoing daughter is pregnant. She is a junior in high school by now. When this young "man" finds out the news, he dumps her like the proverbial hot potato, only to take her back later, unfortunately for her.

Imagine that nine months later your granddaughter is born. By now your daughter and the young "man" are seniors in high school. During the delivery, the "father" continues his controlling behavior, refusing to allow anyone else in the delivery room, including the young woman's mother.

A few months later, imagine that your daughter and this young "man" graduate high school. Your daughter has had a child during her senior year but has missed just two weeks of school, earning honor roll grades and admission to an outstanding college. She will have to live at home but she has a future. On graduation night, the "father" of your daughter's child cheats on her. Twice. With two separate young women.

Imagine that this is the last straw. Finally your daughter sees the light. She sends the young "man" packing, relationship-wise, while still allowing him to see his child. You allow this young "man" into your house almost daily, even though he no longer is in a relationship with your daughter, because you want your grandchild to know her father, regardless of your feelings for him.

Now imagine that you discover this young "man," who has been in and out of trouble with the law, is being charged with a felony sex crime. On a thirteen year old girl.

The case is not as open-and-shut as it may appear to most people. This girl, who clearly has serious problems, has been obsessed with this young "man" for years, but in New Hampshire the law is clear: This thirteen year old girl could sprint naked across her yard and throw herself at this young "man," who is now twenty years old, and it is up to him, as a supposed adult, to stop the girl.

Unfair? Sure. Still, it's the law, and it makes sense. A thirteen year old girl, by virtue of her age and immaturity, is unable to give consent for sex. Period.

Imagine that this young "man" will face a criminal trial in the near future and if he is convicted, will face jail time, meaning of course that he will lose his job, making him incapable of paying for the child care that your wife provides daily. Without this money, your wife will be forced to go back to work - you have two children in college and tuition bills mounting.

But if your wife returns to the workforce, there will be no one to care for your granddaughter, meaning your smart, pretty, outgoing daughter may be forced to drop out of college to care for her child. Imagine that the only positive contribution this young "man" has made to his now two-and-a-half year old child's welfare will disappear.

Imagine that this young "man's" supporters - Incredibly, he does have some! - have blamed your child for his woes. If she had only stayed with him he wouldn't be in this trouble, the argument seems to go. I know, there's not a lot of logic going on there.

Imagine that your innocent little grandchild caught a glimpse of this young "man's" mug shot in the newspaper. "Daddy looks mad," she says, when she sees the photo.

Just imagine.

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