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‘I felt like I was the one on trial’

I just want you all to know that I am getting fabulous help for the website.  So, the story and article (Girl molested by uncle dreads seeing estranged family members in court by Mark Gomez, Mercury News, 8/21/10) I am going to blog about today is linked both here and on our Articles web page.  We are working to provide links to more articles.

The above title was spoken by incest survivor Karinah Guzman, a very brave and courageous woman.  The article states she was afraid telling the truth would tear apart what she calls her ‘tightknit’ family.  Seems like in this case ‘tightknit’ means something like ‘don’t talk, don’t feel,’ sort of like the 3 monkeys ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.’ While the monkeys may mean that for good, it can also mean do not hear, see, or speak of evil that is really truth.  Truth tellers usually have to pay heavy prices.  In this case, her entire family cut her off except her mother and siblings.  When the verdict was delivered, the perpetrator’s side of the courtroom was filled with supporters.  Her side was just a victim advocate, her mom, and sister.

She was molested by her uncle, Jose Zarate.  The abuse started when she was 9 and ended about age 13.  He touched her inappropriately, at times had her touch him, and remembered that he had “French Kissed” her on a bed.  She is currently in counseling struggling with depression from the family fallout.  She quite possibly is also depressed because of the damage the abuse does to the brain and heart.  Much ‘wiring’ within the survivor goes ‘haywire’  so to speak when the abuse occurs.

The response of the family to any type of sexual violence has such heavy implications for the survivor.  The family has such an opportunity to learn, grow, and surround the survivor with all kinds of support.  All too often this does not happen.  In the case of Familial Rape/Incest it is even rarer.  Karinah’s story is even better than most.   At least she is believed by her mother and sister.  When the verdict was delivered she felt so grateful to be believed.  She said “to hear accusations that I was a liar for so long, it felt great to finally get justice.”  Still, she will most likely be left with adjusting to the family cut-off as permanent.  Maybe, just maybe if her uncle abused other family members Karinah  might be an incredible model of truth telling that will someday be followed.  Those of us who have not been incested cannot really comprehend her statement, “It was so hard for me to come out; this was the most vulnerable secret that I’ve kept.  To see it attacked so severely was so hurtful.”

Let’s cheer her on with her own statement, “I’m not the guilty one, I’m not ashamed of what happened to me.”  It is strictly her uncle who is guilty and has the true shame.  She is on the Recovery Road.  There lies hope and healing.

Jose Zarate was convicted of what is termed ‘forcible sex crimes.’  I have said and will keep saying, the word ‘sex’ needs to be taken out of the language of sexual violence.  ‘Forcible sex’ is an oxymoron.  Sex has absolutely nothing, let me repeat, absolutely nothing to do with what Zarate did to his niece.

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