IL- A letter to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
SNAP believes the indictment of ex-House speaker Dennis Hastert can be “a watershed moment” for those molested by teachers, coaches and Scout leaders and “a real chance to prod hundreds who are trapped in hopelessness and depression to get help, prevent abuse and expose wrongdoers.”
SNAP held a press event on Monday, June 1 2015 In front of the Illinois Attorney General’s office calling on three institutions to create dedicated hotlines for adults who were abused in any school, Scouting or athletic program to report the crimes, regardless of when they happened, and to provide information and resources to help those victims.
The following letter has been mailed and hand delivered to the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan:
June 1, 2015
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
100 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601
Attorney General Madigan,
In light of the recent federal indictment against former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, we urge you to create a hotline dedicated for adults who have suffered sexual abuse as children.
According to the indictment, Hastert agreed to pay a former student of his $3.2 million dollars to “compensate and conceal” prior acts against the student.
Whether or not such an agreement is legal, it is wrong. Victims of childhood sexual abuse deserve a much better system and much better path toward healing and retribution than secret meetings and covert payments.
Unfortunately, the person identified in the Hastert indictment as Individual A had little recourse for what was allegedly done to him or her so many years ago. He or she, like most Illinois victims of child sex abuse, are prevented from obtaining justice because of archaic, arbitrary and predator-friendly statutes of limitation. But the victims are still out there and still suffering in secrecy and shame. The crimes are uninvestigated and the offenders unprosecuted so they can continue to go after other vulnerable children.
We believe those victims need a compassionate place to call to report the crimes they endured and to obtain information about services to assist in their recovery. They cannot get justice in the courts but they should receive help as they continue to be traumatized by the original assaults.
The Office of the Illinois Attorney General goes after sleazy companies that take advantage of adult consumers, so we ask you to create a mechanism to more effectively go after sleazy teachers, coaches and scout leaders who hurt children. We want victims to find information and resources and learn that they are not alone.
We urge you to set up a confidential hotline for men and women who have been violated as children to call for help. It is extremely difficult to confront devastating trauma from the past. Many victims carry misplaced shame and guilt from sex crimes committed against them. Some vow to take the ‘secret’ to their grave. Too often, it becomes a burden that is simply too heavy to carry alone. Will you please help?
Calling a confidential hotline can mean the difference between life and death for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Not everyone can reveal past sexual trauma to family members or friends. Some fear losing their job if their employer finds out. As a result, many – if not most – sexual abuse survivors are not getting the help they require to regain their power and their health. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Imagine having been abused as a child by your teacher, coach, or scout leader. Many years have passed. The law prevents you from seeking justice in criminal or civil courts. What do you do? Where do you turn?
As the Attorney General, you can be that beacon of light countless individuals now living in darkness can see and reach out to. Your office can provide information, direct callers toward resources, and most importantly, offer hope to potentially thousands of citizens who need it badly. This effort would not cost much to you but it would be a priceless commodity not only for crime victims but family members, witnesses, and whistleblowers.
It is tragic that such a hotline is even needed in an agency such as yours. But, you can be proactive and demonstrate your commitment to keeping children safe and defending your organization from would-be criminals by taking us up on our suggestion.
Parents, guardians, and members of the public will be thrilled to see you are taking child protection seriously by providing a hotline and at least limited support for those who feel the need to call it. This small action will be walking the talk, taking concrete action that will actually protect children, support those who have already been victimized, and expose perpetrators who have gotten away with their crimes.
We are a self-help group of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. We know what it is like to be assaulted and then feel alone with nowhere to turn. The last thing we want is for another child to go through what we went through. We also want all adult survivors to know there is help; that they do not have to suffer alone.
We commend you for considering this proposition. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is any way we can help you set up your hotline.
P.S. SNAP has been helping sex abuse victims for over 25 years and we work with professionals in the area of healing from sexual trauma. We will be glad to assist you any way we can.