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"The overall sense was:  This is the way it is, just go with it and suck it up on move on."  

 -Military mother, after confronting a federal         prosecutor who refused to charge the juvenile offender who sexually abused her 10-year-old son for years at Fort Hood 

 

Juvenile sexual assault victims suffer

Federal prosecutors seem unwilling to appreciate the physical and emotional trauma that sexual assaults have on juvenile victims and families.  Research demonstrates that common long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse include depression, guilt, shame, self-blame, body image problems, eating disorders, stress, anxiety, dissociative behavior, and difficulty establishing interpersonal relationships.  Some juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault victims view dealing with the negative effects and horrible memories of abuse as a “life sentence.”  Federal prosecutors at Fort Hood, however, urged the mother of a 10-year-old boy who suffered years of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault to forego pursing charges, suggesting that juvenile sexual assault crimes are not serious.  The mother stated of the experience, “[t]he overall sense was: This is the way it is, just go with it and suck it up and move on.” 

Importantly, the Department of Justice already acknowledges that victims of crime treated with disrespect, not informed of the status of their cases, and not even interviewed by a prosecutor before the decision is made to decline charges in their cases are re-victimized by the criminal justice process. The re-victimization leads to emotional harm separate and apart from the harm by the physical sexual assault. 

 

For example, a 7-year-old boy raped by a 13-year-old male juvenile on Fort Lewis wound up sleeping in corners and hiding knives to protect himself from his attacker.  The victim displayed clear signs of emotional distress related to the fact that the juvenile offender went unprosecuted.  Similarly, the mother of a 5-year-old victim of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault at Fort Hood firmly believes that had the 16-year-old male juvenile offender been held accountable at the time, it would have had a significantly positive impact on her child. Instead, the child victim experienced numerous issues growing up, including the inability to trust others, separation anxiety, and the inability to create healthy relationships.  She still feels as if she must be vigilant, remaining on constant guard to protect herself because no one else will. 

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