A recent article in the Burlington County Times related the enormous struggle for normalcy being experienced by the sexual abuse victims of Jerry Sandusky. Achieving normalcy after enduring sexual trauma is a long, difficult path, if normalcy can be found at all, according to mental health experts.
The article cited an interview the reporter had with a victim of child sex abuse (not victimized by Sandusky). The abuse victim, now an adult, described how watching the Sandusky story unfold on TV one day, he curled up in a fetal position in his chair, pulled a blanket over his head, and trembled uncontrollably.
To a victim of sexual trauma, intense flashbacks are a dreaded, crippling part of life. Flashbacks are merciless and disabling and do not discriminate. Flashbacks descend out of nowhere, any time, any place because triggers are everywhere. Just ask any abuse victim. It is unconscionable that New Jersey and other states, by their legislative action, are forcing aging and elderly women who were juvenile victims of sexual assault, to relive the horror of an unwanted pregnancy. The States’ action is another act of violence perpetuated against aging and elderly victims of sexual crimes.
To open sealed confidential adoption records is a deliberate dismissal of the trauma that women in hiding have suffered and a intentional infliction of further punishment for the failure of these traumatized women to live up to society’s fantasies.
Many women in hiding will respond in a similar way as did the victim described in the Burlington County Times article. Only they will suffer alone. Because of the enormous amount of personal shame and the terror of condemnation, support and compassion will remain unavailable to them. And certainly there is no one who can stop the State or a predator adoptee from showing up on their door steps in a real-time flashback.
It is unimaginable to me why the State of New Jersey and other states who have opened or plan to unseal confidential adoption records ignore the aspect of sexual trauma. Sexual trauma never goes away. At best, with understanding assistance, it can only be managed. Who is going to help these women navigate their way through this government imposed trauma? State social workers? If you believe that, then you probably believe that a naked Jerry Sandusky was a great babysitter.