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Charlotte Amalie
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HomeNewsArchivesThe Implications of Sexual Assault Upon Victims: What We Need to Know

The Implications of Sexual Assault Upon Victims: What We Need to Know

March 13, 2009 – One of my dearest and closest friends' daughter was introduced to sex at 14 years of age when she was raped: orally, anally and vaginally. She was and is a beautiful girl, tall and willowy, with strawberry blond hair and green eyes. She was totally innocent when the rape took place, but hasn't been since. Her rapist was a young man from the neighborhood who had been admiring her from a distance for months stalking (?) – but was too shy to approach her.
Her mother did everything "right." She immediately made an appointment with a psychotherapist who specialized in rape; she called the police and made a report. She prepared her daughter to testify at the young man's trial…It took them about four tries until they found a therapist who "fit" comfortably with the child, and with whom she was comfortable enough to share the experience. She remained in therapy for several years.
Despite the best of efforts, the child went from being an honor roll student to a drop out. She started using every drug she could get her hands on, and they were all available. She did two stints at rehab. She chose what one believed was the most inappropriate boy friend, until she dropped him to "hook up" with the next, who was even more inappropriate. The next was even more inappropriate. And so it went. Her mother grew grey, and wondered what she might do to help to get her back on track. Her brother, in the meanwhile, graduated from high school, then college, and the veterinarian's school while she wandered and drifted and was barely able to function.
After years of working with her therapist, what emerged was that the young woman really felt like "damaged goods." Nothing her mother, or her brother or her therapist could say would keep those feelings from emerging. She acted out sexually, because she felt that, once "damaged", nobody would want her except for sex. She smoked dope, and dropped pills because they kept her from feeling anything, and postponed her having to face her problems.
While parents and her brother assured her she had not been damaged, it was to no avail. She knew that she had. She took enormous risks with her life, with her future, with her body, because she just didn't care if she lived or died.
She tried job after job, but none seemed to help her find her direction. Finally, they changed therapists once again, and it was almost magical. With this person's support, my friend's daughter was able to finally obtain her GED, and started taking some night classes, and began to find herself drawn to photography. Slowly, her skills became honed, and her mother could not have been happier when the local paper selected her to go to Beijing to shoot the Olympics. Her future remains uncertain. Every day is a struggle, but at least some positives and some pride have emerged from what has been
a long period of low, low self-esteem and depression.
We wish her well, and time will tell.
We have an epidemic of the rape of children within the Virgin Islands. And while no two cases are ever the same, all victims of rape end up with low self-esteem, with depression and in need of services that are not always available. It is impossible to emerge from the experience of rape – whether you are a female, or even more so if you are a male – without damage. And if the damage is ignored, minimized or simply not dealt with by trained, sensitive professionals, the damage will remain throughout the child's life. We tend to somehow be able to ignore this damage and it's manifestations as children grow up here, while we continue to wonder why this epidemic remains.
We need mental health resources that function. We need a private as well as governmental commitment to provision of such services. We need to remove any stigma that associates itself with going for help. We need to recruit more professional people, be willing to pay them a salary reflective of their education and value, and deal with this issue head on.
For as long as I have lived here, Governmental Mental Health Services have been dysfunctional. At the same time, they have been reluctant to change. They need to do an intimate honest analysis of themselves, invite in outside appraisers, and open themselves to a new day, a new millennia, new attitudes. They need to join partnerships with private therapists, working together to recruit still more, until we can provide our youth with all
that they deserve in the area of support and mental growth. Paradise is right around the corner.

Editor's note: Iris Kern, Ph. D is a special advisor to the attorney general and the commissioner of police.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.

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March 13, 2009 - One of my dearest and closest friends' daughter was introduced to sex at 14 years of age when she was raped: orally, anally and vaginally. She was and is a beautiful girl, tall and willowy, with strawberry blond hair and green eyes. She was totally innocent when the rape took place, but hasn't been since. Her rapist was a young man from the neighborhood who had been admiring her from a distance for months stalking (?) – but was too shy to approach her.
Her mother did everything "right." She immediately made an appointment with a psychotherapist who specialized in rape; she called the police and made a report. She prepared her daughter to testify at the young man's trial…It took them about four tries until they found a therapist who "fit" comfortably with the child, and with whom she was comfortable enough to share the experience. She remained in therapy for several years.
Despite the best of efforts, the child went from being an honor roll student to a drop out. She started using every drug she could get her hands on, and they were all available. She did two stints at rehab. She chose what one believed was the most inappropriate boy friend, until she dropped him to "hook up" with the next, who was even more inappropriate. The next was even more inappropriate. And so it went. Her mother grew grey, and wondered what she might do to help to get her back on track. Her brother, in the meanwhile, graduated from high school, then college, and the veterinarian's school while she wandered and drifted and was barely able to function.
After years of working with her therapist, what emerged was that the young woman really felt like "damaged goods." Nothing her mother, or her brother or her therapist could say would keep those feelings from emerging. She acted out sexually, because she felt that, once "damaged", nobody would want her except for sex. She smoked dope, and dropped pills because they kept her from feeling anything, and postponed her having to face her problems.
While parents and her brother assured her she had not been damaged, it was to no avail. She knew that she had. She took enormous risks with her life, with her future, with her body, because she just didn't care if she lived or died.
She tried job after job, but none seemed to help her find her direction. Finally, they changed therapists once again, and it was almost magical. With this person's support, my friend's daughter was able to finally obtain her GED, and started taking some night classes, and began to find herself drawn to photography. Slowly, her skills became honed, and her mother could not have been happier when the local paper selected her to go to Beijing to shoot the Olympics. Her future remains uncertain. Every day is a struggle, but at least some positives and some pride have emerged from what has been
a long period of low, low self-esteem and depression.
We wish her well, and time will tell.
We have an epidemic of the rape of children within the Virgin Islands. And while no two cases are ever the same, all victims of rape end up with low self-esteem, with depression and in need of services that are not always available. It is impossible to emerge from the experience of rape - whether you are a female, or even more so if you are a male - without damage. And if the damage is ignored, minimized or simply not dealt with by trained, sensitive professionals, the damage will remain throughout the child's life. We tend to somehow be able to ignore this damage and it's manifestations as children grow up here, while we continue to wonder why this epidemic remains.
We need mental health resources that function. We need a private as well as governmental commitment to provision of such services. We need to remove any stigma that associates itself with going for help. We need to recruit more professional people, be willing to pay them a salary reflective of their education and value, and deal with this issue head on.
For as long as I have lived here, Governmental Mental Health Services have been dysfunctional. At the same time, they have been reluctant to change. They need to do an intimate honest analysis of themselves, invite in outside appraisers, and open themselves to a new day, a new millennia, new attitudes. They need to join partnerships with private therapists, working together to recruit still more, until we can provide our youth with all
that they deserve in the area of support and mental growth. Paradise is right around the corner.

Editor's note: Iris Kern, Ph. D is a special advisor to the attorney general and the commissioner of police.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to visource@gmail.com.