I don’t know how many of you were watching KATV Channel 7 News at 10 on November 5; if I hadn’t seen what was coming on I might have been in bed myself. What caught my eye was the story “Why experts say Arkansas has more traumatized kids than any other state” by Alex Burch – claiming Arkansas is ranked #1 for child abuse and neglect. They went on to discuss the A.C.E. survey (which I filled out and posted on our website last year). The survey is a list of 10 questions that cover certain areas of trauma, which can give a therapist an insight as to what areas one might need help in. We knew as well from the CDC studies, that children who are traumatized often become adults with severe health issues. Sadly, the emotional and mental impact of abuse takes a toll on the body, and since the mind and body are linked, one directly affects the other.
At KATV.com, there are links to the groups that are trying to do something about this, and everyone has to become involved for a difference to be made.
I applaud all the Child Advocacy Centers for allowing victims a safe place to share, and professionals that empower and enable them to do so. It is impossible for a child to process those things on their own, and overcoming the programming that it communicates to the mind takes trained professionals.
In the 1990s, there were no Child Advocacy Centers for us to turn to, and in all honesty no one wanted to even acknowledge that boys were being sexually molested or could be. The message suggested was that boys could keep it from happening and, if they didn’t, then they must have wanted it to.
Few can forget what happened in Lonoke when Larry Cook, those in his office, law enforcement, and even DHS failed to investigate or prosecute Charles “Jack” Walls, III when Doug Hogan claimed sexual abuse against him. In fact, Jack confronted all of the victims that had given statements in the Hogan case, demanded we redact and change statements, and all from information he obtained from the prosecuting attorney,Larry Cook. Of course, DHS also provided a copy of the investigation they had against him as well, all against state law, yet we were the ones blamed for not doing more to bring our abuser to justice.
For those of you who didn’t know, Larry Cook and those in his office refused to file rape charges against Jack for molesting me, because he had a gut feeling my case would steal the spotlight. Not that I was the one one that he refused to file rape charges for, but the only one that he voiced a reason for not that had nothing to do with my being manipulated and molested for a decade.
The Arkansas Supreme Court recently denied my appeal, and again I was to blame for not doing more to understand the abuse, what it did to me, and the influence my abuser had to coerce and condition. I was to blame for not assisting my attorneys, but they allowed Jack to be part of the defensive meetings and even shared strategy with Judge Walls, his father. I was to blame for not helping the prosecutor understand that Jack wanted my family to die because he was caught raping me by my mom, and she had tried to expose him fearing the prosecuting attorney and police would do nothing. We had all seen what they did in the Hogan case, and it was what they had done for decades as Charles “Jack” Walls, III groomed and molested scouts at his family’s farm, in his truck, at his father’s house, in his home and, when we tried to pull away, in our own homes.
I know that the #1 ranking isn’t because of Jack, no, but when they talk about trauma today and refuse to claim the failures of the past it exposes the true problems. Child sexual abuse is one of the most devastating experiences a child can endure, and while the state and justice system claim that it doesn’t matter in what happened to my family or I, WE at least know the truth.
I am very thankful to Governor Hutchinson, First Lady Susan Hutchinson, Elizabeth Pulley Ex. Dir. of the Child Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, and even Rep. DeAnn Vaught of Horatio as a survivor for each doing what they can to change the way abuse is handled. At some point, I hope that the state of Arkansas will turn its eyes to the prison system, and consider how many traumatized boys are there as hurting men. How many can change with treatment and compassion, contribute and be productive citizens, if only someone will see them with compassion and understanding.
23 years have gone by, I have researched and studied and shared my understanding and struggles, but back then I was a scared little boy, raped and abused, that no one wanted to listen to.
Who’s listening now?