May 11, 2016

Relief for Incest Survivors is Available

Hey, Bonita…

Dear Ms. Applebum,

After reading your Apr. 20, 2016 column, I have some incredibly helpful, stupendously positive info for both you and your brave seeker of advice.

The young lady who wrote to you about having survived incest alongside her sister, perpetrated by their birth father, does indeed have reparative relief locally and free of charge. In fact, to my knowledge, this time-sensitive, vitally important assistance has not been covered by your fine periodical, but needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

This advice-seeker and her sister can now sue their father for his illegal acts no matter how long ago the criminal acts took place and free of charge. The Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic (the CEASE clinic) opened its doors this past January within the University of Georgia School of Law.

House Bill 17, titled the “Hidden Predator Act” by the Georgia legislature, provides a two-year window of relief from any statute of limitations on bringing civil charges against a perpetrator of child molestation. The window closes on July 1, 2017, so it's vitally important to get the word out. The CEASE clinic will work with these survivors free of charge. The director of the clinic is Emma Hetherington, and she can be reached at 706-369-5720 or Ms. Hetherington is putting forth her greatest effort in raising awareness of this very time-sensitive, local assistance. She's coming to our group psychotherapy practice, Positive Outcomes Psychological Services, in a few weeks.

The school of thought around what's interchangeably known as restorative or reparative justice is not as new to political science as psychology, but the other social sciences are catching up. After success stories like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the macro-level ameliorative advances offered up have been crystallized into micro-level reparative help for individuals. One of the better places for further illumination of how to go beyond solely ending abuse of power but also mending the damage already done is the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University in Boston.

One last significant piece of info to pass on to this specific seeker of advice and the rest of our community: There is no statute of limitations barrier to prosecuting aggravated child molestation. Obviously we don't know the extent of the sexual abuse survived by this lady and her sister, but if it falls within the category of the aforementioned criminal charge, they could also still prosecute their father criminally, as well as utilizing our system of tort law.

I would beseech you to contact this lady and not only pass on all of the info above, but please give her the contact info for our Northeast Georgia Sexual Assault & Child Advocacy Center, locally known as The Cottage.

Thank you for printing this lady's story! You've done great service to her, as well as to our entire Flagpole community.

Most respectfully submitted,

Gina M. Defalco, LCSW

Ms. Defalco,

Thank you so much for sending us this information, and I'll do my best to have your letter printed in its entirety. Correspondence like this reaffirms my decision to write the advice column for this great town. It's worth it to talk about my own history as an abuse/assault survivor or wrongdoing if it means I'm helping other people out and giving people with more technical knowledge a place to reach out to those who need them.

I've wondered about the lady who wrote to me, and I hope she and her sister are OK. I really hope she reads this and checks out some of the amazing resources you've provided here. (Anyone in a similar situation should feel free to check out these organizations, too!) I'm beyond grateful that you read this letter and felt the need to offer her your knowledge. We need lots of people like you in our community, and I'm honored to know that you can see I'm trying my best to help, too.



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