DC--Hastert victim’s family speaks
For immediate release: Friday, June 5
“When you defend a predator, your words hurt.” That’s the lesson many should learn from the pain of the Reinboldt family.
Our hearts ache for the Reinboldt family, whose brother Steve was sexually abused as a youngster by Dennis Hastert. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/exclusive-alleged-dennis-hastert-sex-abuse-victim-named/story?id=31530828
And we are grateful to Jolene Burdge in particular for speaking out and helping millions to understand that even a purportedly “squeaky-clean” politician, two heartbeats away from the presidency, can be a predator.
“Who is ever going to believe me?” That’s what Steve reportedly told Jolene when she asked him why he told no one of his abuse by Hastert.
That question haunts millions of child sex abuse victim. And millions of well-meaning adults make this pain worse by instinctively and immediately disbelieving abuse reports and siding with the accused over the accuser. Until this hurtful pattern stops, thousands of child molesters will keep assaulting thousands of kids.
At this point, we as a society likely can’t prevent the creation of sex offenders. We must, however, create a more accepting climate that encourages their victims to speak up, expose them, and prevent more devastation.
Finally, let’s be accurate and show sensitivity in our language about all this. It’s not really the victim’s first homosexual contact.” It’s child sexual abuse.
When a girl is sodomized by her uncle, no one calls it “her first heterosexual contact,” even if she calls it that.
Let’s call child sex crimes child sex crimes, even if a victim has been brainwashed into thinking differently or, for self-preservation, considers it something less awful.
It’s not enough to feel moved by the Reinboldt family’s pain. We must be moved, and moved into real action, if kids are to be safer. We should start by thinking twice and acting compassionately – not impulsively – when abuse reports surface, and insisting that those around us do too.
Then we should repeal or reform predator-friendly statutes of limitations so that victims can expose those who commit and conceal heinous child sex crimes in court. Had Illinois lawmakers done this, Hastert might have been exposed and the Reinboldt’s might have gotten justice long ago.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by figures of many institutions and all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)