It's a story that's garnering a lot of attention. A 23-year-old Texas father accused of killing a man he says was trying to molest his 4-year-old daughter. It happened this weekend in Shiner, east of San Antonio. One local father is also weighing in, sharing his personal story.
They say you can't truly empathize with someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes.
"You will think of things you'd like to do and in certain instances there's things you might do,” said a father of two, whose name and identity remain anonymous. “There's a feeling of rage, helplessness, wish to act upon this rage, and so it ripples and dominoes through the entire family.”
A year ago has passed and yet the suffering from an unspeakable crime is far from over.
"I never thought anything like this would happen; it was at a family gathering where there were lots of people around,” he said.
During that family gathering, this father of two, whose name and identity remain anonymous, says a member of his extended family attempted to sexually abuse his daughter at that family gathering. The family member was in high school, the victim was still in elementary school.
"She came to me and told me what had happened,” he said. “She was afraid; she was afraid of a lot of things of everything. When it happened, you have to deal with the fact that as a parent, you’re going to have doubt. It's so shocking, at first, you can’t believe something like this would happen, so we addressed the doubt. Dealing with something of this magnitude, especially knowing what you're about to accuse somebody of, you have to know it's true. And she did not understand what was happening and she did not have the technical knowledge to make that story up. From that -- I know it's true -- and the details were too accurate to be made up.”
He filed a police report; however, he said police were unable to find enough evidence to press charges.
“This is a situation where he's able to get away with it and I believe the system has taught him to not get caught next time,” he said. “This is bigger than most people are capable of dealing with. We're teaching our kids how to avoid strangers, but we don't teach them what to do if a family member or close friend does something like this.”
Sexual abuse is far more prevalent than most people anticipate; and the Brazos Valley is not immune. Studies show that a child is molested every two minutes in the United States; the majority is between the ages of 8 and 13. But for every victim revealed, 9 are hidden from authorities.
"We see annually 350 to 400 cases,” said Linda Patton, Executive Director of Scotty’s House. "Kids are sexually molested 97 percent of the time by somebody they know and trust, but more importantly, the parent's know and trust."
Scotty’s House is located in Bryan; however its services reach far beyond the city. Scotty’s House provides services to abused children and their families, which bring comfort in times of crisis and lay a foundation for a healthy future. For the past 15 years, Scotty’s House has served: Burleson, Brazos, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson and Washington counties.
"Sexual abuse is to mental health like tobacco is to health," Patton said. "It causes permanent long term consequences for the child’s life, not only for the mental health, but physical health as well.”
Patton says it's a crime that is all too often suffered in silence and shrouded in fear.
“It has a huge impact on children and sometimes they isolate, sometimes kids sometimes torture themselves, engage in sexual promiscuity, drugs, and the list goes on," Patton said.
Regardless of age, getting the appropriate help is critical -- for every victim -- and every family.
“The parent’s reaction is going to be really critical in how well and how quickly the child heals and it will do not good to the child to have their parent in prison,” Patton said.
We asked the father if he thought the actions of the Shiner, Texas father were justifiable.
"We can sit here and talk all day long on what you think you would do," he said, "But until that moment comes, and you're sitting there faced with that situation, you never know. And yes, I think his actions were justifiable."
This father says time has lent a helping hand as his family continues to heal; and it's a trusting hand he says his family will never let go.
“It’s become part of her and that's the evil; it becomes part of her and our family,” he lamented. “Yes, it’s forced her to do deal with adult things that she's not ready for, and we know it’s going to be a continuous process to deal with it, but we will get through this together.”
“The big one is to watch for unexplained behavior: a child who doesn't want to go out again; a child who is potty trained who starts wetting the bed; or they become fearful of a certain person,” Patton said. “For younger children, they may not have the language abilities to tell what's going on, but a lot of the times what they draw and what they play is indicative of what they're working out internally."
More signs of potential sexual abuse
-Kids who stop speaking
-Kids who regress developmentally, for example, potty training and relapse while developing language skills
If you witness sexual or physical abuse, contact authorities immediately. Click on the link below this story to find more information on resources in the Brazos Valley.