After following this story for a little over a year, I am not sure how I feel about the sentencing of Aaron Vargas.
After reading the headlines and watching the above video, here are my thoughts:
Mindy Galliani said, "It's clear that our justice system still doesn't have an understanding of child sexual abuse." The question is why not? After hundreds of organizations have begun behind this issue, thousands of similar cases have entered the courts and millions of survivors have spoken out and finally came forward, why are they still clueless? Over a dozen other victims stepped forward to say they were abused by the same man as Aaron, Darrell McNeill. I don't believe the courts don't understand or don't know about child sexual abuse--I believe they choose to ignore it.
Aaron Vargas was molested beginning at age 10, which carried through his adult life, ending 4 years before he shot him (about the age of 23). As a result of the age in which his molestation ended, the courts ruled it was consensual sex. Consensual? This is where the court's poor understanding, as described by Mindy, comes in. Predators prey. Once they have captured their prey, they brainwash and manipulate. How was Aaron to end the abuse? The legal age of adulthood is 18, but when your childhood has been taken away, when do you become an adult?
This reminds me of my abuse. The abuser told me when I turned 18 he would "marry" me. During the time of my abuse until I ran away at 16, I believed that I would not only marry him, but be forced to and there would be nothing I could do about it. He was older than me and he knew better than I did, so I thought. Also, I lived with the dark thought of who would want me after they found out that I slept with him? He may be the only man on Earth who would even want me. At the age of 23, being sexually active with a predator who molested you from the age of 10 is not consensual. Basically the courts condone pedophilia--the predator would just have to start early and carry the abuse into the adult life of a child. Then it would be okay... ? I guess if I would have married the abuser at 18, it would have been acceptable. How lovely... ?
"The question really comes down to whether he was deserving of that chance," says Defense Lawyer, Tom Hudson. Aaron never had a chance. His life was stolen from him at an age where he should have been nurtured by adults. This led to a life of "anger issues" and "alcoholism issues" as described by Elizabeth Norman, the Assistant District attorney. Well, ya think lady!?! Of course, he would have these issues after more than 10 years of abuse! You know what else, there probably were a lot more "issues" that have not even surfaced. What do people expect from a person who has had to deal with abuse for so long? A Martha Stewart life?
Judge Brown calls it "premeditated murder". YES, premeditation means to reflect or ponder. Look what Aaron had to reflect upon for most of his life! I know first hand that pondering sexual abuse does not lead to happiness, but rather very dark thoughts or either harming the abuser or yourself. How would the judge have felt if Aaron killed himself instead? Oh, that's right, it would not affect him, so he wouldn't even know. Must be nice.
"It would be a crime to send Vargas to prison for a crime he didn't start, but one that he stopped." This skillfully crafted statement by one of Vargas' supporters who gave a testimony during his trial is something to think about. Yes, two wrongs don't make a right, killing is a sin and all the other lessons of life apply. But didn't Darrell McNeill kill him first?
I cannot write this blog entry without thinking about my own life. I have "premeditated" so much for so long--I have been blessed to overcome what I consider to be that darkness that precedes sunlight. However, how do society help or support those who are not strong enough? Send them to jail? Walk past them when we see them suffering and crying out through suicide attempts, drugs, promiscuity, alcoholism, etc. I am too angry to even finish this post. I am sick of the courts, who I remember just earlier this year having to beg for tougher sentences against pedophiles and I am sick of IGNORANT people who ignore this issue, whether they are the victims' family, friends or passersby on the street.
When will victims be heard? I remember someone saying to me THIS year, over 10 years after my own experience of child sexual abuse, "She just feels like you didn't give her a chance to help you because you didn't tell her." (Due to everyone's extreme sensitivity, I will leave "she" and "her" nameless.)
...and they wonder why silent victims don't tell... Thanks for your support, society.