Timeout for the AVA – Why Child Pornography Victims Need this Law
One Mother’s Story by Alice
How many people remember when they were a young child being given an innocent “timeout ” for something they didn’t do or something they did that was wrong?
You had to sit in a chair facing a blank wall until a timer bell rang and your punishment was then over.
For a victim of child pornography and sexual abuse, the timer never rings and you are left “staring at the blank wall” for life. Even though you didn’t do anything you are paying the price.
My daughter is a victim of sexual abuse and child pornography.
The abuser was caught and punished. His punishment, however, was only for a few years as mandated by the court. He has a roof over his head, food on the table, and a chance to further his education while incarcerated. The abuser also has television and telephone privileges. He will eventually be eligible for early release and will ultimately go to a halfway house where he’ll get acclimated to living a “normal life” again.
What are the chances of my daughter living a normal life again? What are the chances that her “punishment” affords her an early “release?”
While her physical sexual abuse has thankfully ended, it lives on forever in images of her abuse circulating the world via the Internet and regular mail. Every time her child sex abuse images are viewed, distributed, shared, or reproduced, she is victimized again and again and again.
Child pornography is an insidious form of exploitation. Child pornographers post pictures for other child molesters, pedophiles, and child pornographers to see. These images show children being sexual abused, tortured, humiliated, and demeaned. Just as a bully takes pride and gains pleasure in attacking his victim, so does the child pornographer. Both want to show that they are in charge and that they have power.
It’s time to let victims take charge and have power and control over their lives once and for all.
My daughter’s abuse began when she was an infant and went on for several years. She couldn’t speak, she couldn’t tell me what was happening to her. Who could imagine that a father changing a diaper would turn it into sexual pleasure? Who would think a father would stick his penis in his baby’s mouth so his child would suck on him just like she sucked on her milk bottle? Sickening though this is, even worse are the images of this and other devastating deplorable acts which are distributed on the Internet for other sick perverts to enjoy. Perverts trade pictures like people trade baseball cards. Just as a youngster might want a Derek Jeter card and will do anything to get one, child molesters and pedophiles have their own lists of “cards” that they want. “You give me yours, I’ll give you mine.”
I’m sure by now that everyone knows how social media is attempting to thwart child sex abuse images. While this is nice and appreciated, it is far from effective and the abusers always seem to be one step ahead. The images they have already posted are out there forever. It is a stain that will never ever come out. I was recently informed that the images of my daughter’s abuse have now been turned into a montage video like the celebratory videos you see at birthday parties and weddings. It is now TEN years since her original abuse.
I have received over twelve thousand notifications advising me that yet another stranger has my daughter’s child sex abuse images on their computer, or that a defendant is being released from prison, or that a case was appealed, or that a sentencing or trial date has changed. The notifications are from all over the world, involving all types of people: doctors, clergy, government personal, business owners, lawyers, students, law enforcement officers, and yes, the typical assortment of losers, the unemployed, and bums.
I don’t know what it was, or what possessed me, but one day I started opening every notice from the bag of thousands which I had collected over the years. I started separating the letters by state to see how many perverts were from each state. How many are living near us? Are there any names of people we know? I was obsessed. I needed to make all this stop, but I didn’t know how.
As I sat in tears among ripped open envelopes and letters, I came across a generic blue and white pamphlet that was in almost every envelope. It was a Crime Victims Rights guide.
After so many years of not even being able to see it, I had never read it. What was it going to tell me? That I have the right to be upset?
Ironically, as I continued to rip, read and toss, one of the notifications had a photocopy of the Crime Victims Rights guide instead of the pamphlet. I reflexively started to read it since I thought it was a victim notification. It was at that moment that I felt like my daughter and I finally had a chance to fight back against those whose violate us. Yes us. My daughter is the direct victim, but what was happening to her affects us all, our entire family.
The guide explained that every crime victim has the right to notifications—which we already receive—the right to be protected, the right to be heard, and then I read: the right to FULL and TIMELY restitution as provided in law.
My daughter was violated in the worst way. Her innocence taken away, her childhood non-existent in her mind because she chooses to black out the good times as well as the bad. In school she dropped out of an English class because she had to write a memoir of her life, a required assignment. She had nothing to write, but she had pictures to prove why she couldn’t write it. In another English class she had to read a book about pedophile priests. She never read it and chose to take a zero for that test. Since her other grades were excellent it made up for the zero and she passed the class.
Years and years of therapy, tons of love and understanding. Changing jobs to accommodate my daughter’s needs and her emotional highs and lows. The struggle to try and make my daughter whole again. To put the horror behind her, behind us. It will never fully go away as long as her pictures are still online victimizing her daily.
While she tries to block out the horror in her past, it’s only temporary. The abuse and its immortalization has created a domino effect. Every time you line up the dominoes, someone or something comes along and knocks them down again. But we get back up.
All little girls dream of being models or movie stars or a princess. My daughter will always be my princess, but I gingerly squash any dreams she had about being famous for fear the media might find out about her tragic past and destroy her.
To this day, my daughter can still not eat a hot dog on a bun like everyone else, she has to cut it in pieces. The thought of sticking something in her mouth like a hot dog or pickle brings back memories of the sexual abuse she endured.
Financially the situation has devastated us.
We lost our home and our primary income earner.
We faced eviction several times, had utilities disconnected, and repossession notices sent for our family vehicle.
Everyday is a struggle, but we choose to survive or rather endure.
We live in a society where no one blinks an eye when a woman’s heirs sue a manufacturer for 2 billion dollars in royalties for using their deceased grandmother’s drawn (not photographed) alleged image in marketing materials. Worse yet, they exaggerate the situation by claiming the deceased is “one of the most exploited and abused women in American history.” This because her possible likeness might be on a package. My daughter didn’t ask for her images to be posted on the Internet. My daughter is truly exploited forever. On computers, on paper, in cell phones and tablets and more, not just on a box on the shelf in a grocery store. Two billion for my daughter’s loss of a normal life sounds about right too.
In the entertainment industry, musicians recover for illegally downloaded music even though when they made their recordings they were fully aware of the risk of copyright infringement. Most recently, nude celebrity photos have hit the Internet and made a lot of famous people very angry. They want their pictures removed and they want compensation from those that profited or viewed or shared their photos. Yes, the celebrities involved were violated, but they voluntarily took those pictures in happy and sometimes seductive situations. Not while being abused nor photographed unbeknownst to them.
Why are the rich and famous getting more attention for seeking compensation than an innocent victim like my daughter?
This is why victims of child pornography need FULL and TIMELY restitution.
This is why my daughter needs the AVA.
We appreciate, applaud, and endorse Senators Charles Schumer and Orrin Hatch, U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright, Tom Cotton, Suzan DelBene, Randy Weber, Judy Chu, and Doc Hastings, along with all the co-sponsors, in their quest to have the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act passed.
Thanks to the United States Congress for recognizing and acknowledging that the passage of this bill will be a life-changing experience for victims of child pornography and their families, and will help begin to make victims feel whole again.
While the term “whole” might be a slight overstatement—and nothing will ever make up for what happened or for future victimization—it does empower victims and gives them influence and control which is lost with the original victimization. Making a defendant pay for a victim’s financial losses is one important way for a victim to feel that they have been somewhat restored and that the defendant has answered for his crimes against them.
Many victims receive public assistance from the government due to their victimization. Requiring defendants to pay mandatory restitution will relieve part of the burden of the government and taxpayers by assisting victims to become financially independent rather than dependent.
In reality, because of illegal child pornography and its related abuse, the government and taxpayers take a double hit; they support both the criminals in jail and the victims. Many defendants can afford to pay restitution for their crimes and all defendants should share in that obligation. Some defendants have even profited from the sale and distribution of victims’ images. Payments should not be based upon the defendant’s net worth; everyone should pay. Defendants who distribute should pay more. Defendants who produce child pornography should pay the most.
A victim should not have to chase after defendants all over the country in an endless attempt to receive some small amount of restitution. A set amount should automatically be mandated by the courts. If the defendant cannot pay, a judgment should be entered against them for any future earnings, inheritance, lotto winnings, or hidden assets they tried to disperse in an illegal attempt to avoid paying their victims.
While the exploitation and victimization associated with child pornography will never be fully annihilated, we can try to reduce future crimes. Being liable for a set amount of restitution will hopefully act as a deterrent and make people think twice before participating in these heinous crimes. Child pornography victims need a strong voice to stand up for them and passing the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act is an excellent starting point.
Let’s begin the new year and the new Congress by turning things around for child pornography victims. Let’s all join together to give them hope for the future. Let’s pass the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act today!