We really appreciate her openness about all of this and due to the lack of support from some family, she is leaving out details to avoid any potential backlash for little Firecracker. This is most importantly, her story, and if the day comes that she wants to share it, we will stand by her!
Firecrackers very large, 15 lbs of pure love arrived on Friday. She was so excited and couldn’t wait to get home from our final attorney meeting to open it! We spent hours Friday evening going through all of this love and support, reading every inspirational and encouraging message that you amazing and extraordinary loving people provided. The precious drawings from two year olds, cards being “eaten by baby brothers on the way to the post office (we loved that)”, beautiful Brave necklaces, bracelets, the beautiful and meaningful silver rosary bracelets for my daughter and I to wear, the letters and stuffed toys from the children's shelter, crafts, darling stuffed animals (even one filled with lavender), beautiful artwork, so many books from survivors, giftcards, cards from all over the United States and the World, and the most beautiful Brave Jacket sent to our daughter from another Brave little girl who took on the world! There are not enough words to describe the emotions that we all shared! I will say that there were lots of joyful tears shed from us all, there was lots of joy and comfort from the support, and most of all the love, kindness and light that radiated from this box of just pure love! Astounded is the only word that I can think of that would describe this! God is so amazing, and led you all to our Firecracker! I can't thank you enough for the prayers, strength and love! I truly wish that I could meet every single one of you, hug you and personally tell you thank you for what you all have done! What an army God built for our girl! Every single one of you were a part of it, a part of her journey, and her strength! Turns out Firecracker’s Katy Perry were every single one of you! You all helped her to truly let her “colors burst”! You helped to prepare her and get ready to take on hopefully the most difficult battle that this child will ever have to face in her precious life! We send you all hugs and nothing but love!
Court was to begin this week. Firecracker was ready! She was to be the first to testify so that the anxiety and fear wouldn’t build and cause anymore scarring. She said all weekend that she was ready to sit in the “truth chair” and tell the truth and tell the people of the court everything that this man did to her! Firecracker thought that her voice was small, but no, it was very loud! Firecracker roared like a lion and he cowered in fear! He ran and plead guilty! Thankfully, Firecracker didn’t have to testify, because he had already heard her and feared for his life! It was a very emotional day in court to say the least. My husband and I don’t know how we did it, but we shook the ground like thunder and both gave very powerful impact statements! The Lord held us up, he lifted us up and we truly walked on water! Our Judge was an amazing Judge, and only wanted what was best for Firecracker. He allowed my husband and I to speak as long as we wanted and never interrupted. As I spoke, the anger built up inside of me! At that moment I was a voice for our Firecracker, a voice for every child that has no voice, a voice for every survivor that never got the chance to face their abuser, for every parent who never got to give their own impact statement. It felt so good letting all of that anger, rage and pain out! Looking into the Judge’s eyes while talking, you could see that he felt our pain, and there was never any doubt that we were telling the truth. The defendant and his attorneys on the other hand were interrupted quite often and, as we figured, were spitting out bold face lies left and right. The perps speech was a joke, and he admitted his guilt in his angry shaky voice. He made up his lies as he went and could not remember the lies he had already told and his “facts” were being all mixed up.
The arrogance of this man is more than any of you could believe! In his sick mind and in the sick minds of his family, they believe that he won! He tries to tell everyone that “he took this plea to save this child from testifying. He took this plea because he is innocent, he did nothing, but the Prosecution had enough evidence for a jury to find him guilty”. What innocent man takes a plea? As always, this man and his family are a joke! Bottom line, he plead guilty to sexually assaulting a baby! No matter what he says about why he took the plea, he plead guilty! No, he didn’t win! Firecracker won! Firecracker used her small brave voice and she won!
It is over! After all this time, it is finally over and we can start to move forward! Firecracker is a little upset about not being able to sit in the truth chair. I feel like I robbed my daughter of that. I am afraid that she will be angry as she gets older for not being allowed to speak. We are glad that it is over, but we are not satisfied about the punishment. No matter what punishment he would have gotten, it still would not have been justice for Firecracker! Nothing in this world could ever replace what was robbed from her. I do know that God isn’t finished with this man yet! His life isn’t going to be as wonderful as he believes it is going to be! He will still have to live with this shame and humiliation of what he has done! Everyone knows the truth. I found it funny he only had one row of supporters. Where were all of his friends? Where were all of his friends in so called high places? Not one friend came to support this man! That is because they all know the truth! I also know that the day he takes his last breath, God will judge him and he will be sentenced for all eternity.
I know it is a hard concept for people to understand why parents would accept a plea bargain and not go all the way. My husband and I were the same way in the very beginning. We would read articles and would say “there is no way we would accept anything like that. We will go all the way”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go the way that you planned, want or think that it should. No parent really knows this process, therefore, these next few paragraphs are from the point of view of my husband and I and what we experienced and saw from the court and attorneys. You have to understand that as much as you believe that you will have a say so in the proceedings, you really don’t. It doesn’t matter who you believe should be called for witnesses, it doesn’t matter who said and did what, it doesn’t matter what questions you think witnesses should be asked, every part of the process down to the plea bargain is pretty much made and decided by your attorneys. An important note to remember, do not believe that your attorneys are completely honest with you. My husband and I never knew that the charge for the plea had been dropped so significantly. They conveniently left that part out, and led us to believe that the charge we agreed upon was the same. Being told that “he still will carry this felony charge”, and using court/attorney lingo can be very confusing. You think that you have asked all of the questions, but even though your questions may be answered, you feel quite pressured. Also, it doesn’t matter how many charges you may start off with in the beginning. Once court starts, the Judge may find insufficient evidence to be able to support the charges. Therefore, charges could be dropped, and or changed to a lesser charge. If a plea bargain is made, of course your attorneys will ask you if you agree with the plea being offered, but once again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the plea you agree upon is the plea that is going to be accepted. By time you get to court, the plea could change numerous times, ending up with a plea that you don’t really agree with. Your attorneys along with the Defense attorneys may or may not have a meeting with the Judge prior to proceedings, and in order to show that you are cooperative, sometimes it is best to gain some favor with the Judge. That way if the plea isn’t accepted, you at least showed that you were willing to work with the defense for the sake of your child. This can be a good thing as far as the Judge in concerned, because the Prosecution may be able to pass more motions as far as what the defense can and cannot use. The main thing that you will learn from the beginning, is that the whole judicial system is designed to provide more rights to the Defense than the victim. Not to mention, these types of cases are hard to prove. That is because you very rarely have a lot of evidence. In our case, we did have two witnesses to come forward that had witnessed things that supported the crime.
For parents who haven’t gone through this, it is a hard reality to understand. For parents who have just started on this horrific nightmare of a journey, you will soon understand. As parents we want what is best for our children. We want to fight for them and of course we want the harshest form of punishment for these criminals. This journey is difficult enough to be on already, but once the whole court process begins it becomes even more strenuous. Weekly Attorney meetings aren’t easy for parents, let alone for a child. Being a child who is embarrassed and ashamed of what happened to them, they are now facing more people that they have to tell this horrific story to. The courtroom is a very scary place for children. Taking them in to see it and letting them get a feel, is definitely an important thing, but then it also adds more stress on the child. As court gets closer, the anxiety begins to build up in the child. For Firecracker, she was doing great! It was the first time in two years that we had seen that much of our girl! She was coming back. Then, with the start of court prepping, and counseling becoming more deeply involved, she began to regress. This is normal, but then she started to disassociate herself again, which becomes an even scarier thing. Firecracker was telling us she didn’t feel like she was in her body, that she felt like she was in a dream. It was scary! All of these things can be normal as the impending court date approaches. Weeks before her court date, her medication had to be adjusted in order to ease her anxiety.
You are ready to go, ready to take it all the way, then you look at the pain in your child, and your heart changes. You now think only about your child and what is best for them. Your mind starts racing with “what if he gets off?” All it takes is one juror to not agree and the whole thing could possibly be dismissed. The fear inside of yourself starts to build, and you are now worried that if this man by some chance does get off, what will he do? Will he try to take my child away from me? What will he do as payback? What impact is this going to have on my child? Is it going to be more damaging to face him than to not face him? Your mind is racing and it is terrifying! For my husband and I we looked at it as Firecracker won! It was a victory to her! We didn’t have to risk the chance of having to come home and telling her he didn’t get punished. They already feel that they did something wrong, and even though we know they did everything right, if the perp was to get off , have you thought about the thoughts that would go through your child’s mind? We knew that if he took this plea, that he could never come back and try to take her from us (which was his plan by the way. He let that slip in his statement in court). It would have been over my dead body, but he could have won and then what? As crazy as this may sound, it can happen! If they are found not guilty, they can take you to court to get visitation or try to get custody and they could win! My child would have had to face her abuser and we could have done nothing! It is a harsh reality. Bottom line, you have to do what is best for your child! We had a very strong case! After hearing all of the discrepancies in his and his attorney’s story, we could have won hands down and he would be serving life right now! The question for us was, “at what costs is this to our daughters health?” “What will this do to her mentally, psychologically, emotionally and physically?” I believe that she would have done what she needed to do, but then again she is a young child. You get a child in front of the person she fears the most, and a courtroom full of people, you don’t know what is going to happen! If your child doesn’t talk, then your case is over! Everything depends on what your child says! It is very frustrating! Your attorney’s can Motion for Closed Circuit, but don’t count on it being granted! I will say that my husband and I worried that we were doing the wrong thing. We felt a little pressured because it was all so last minute. We have really struggled with it, I am not going to lie. We do take comfort in knowing that our daughter is safe, that she doesn’t have to face him now, and for her sake, it is over! We finally feel a sense of peace and know that now we can just focus on Firecracker’s healing and picking up the pieces! She is a strong survivor!
I don’t know if any of you preparing for court right now have written an impact statement yet. If not, I highly advise that you write your statement and not “wing” it! This is your moment Mama and Papa Bears! This is your moment to speak to the Judge and/or Jury about how this crime has impacted your child’s life as well as your families! I had my statement written two months before court! I wrote it on a day that I was angry and feeling a lot of hurt! My daughter was at school, and I had some time alone. I just wrote and let it all come out! Over the course of the last two months, even the morning before court itself, I was editing and adding! This is your moment! This is your time to get out how you feel finally! Let it out, don’t have regrets! Let them feel your wrath! My husband and I didn’t know until the day before court that we couldn’t direct our impact statements to our daughter’s abuser! I basically kept my statement the same, but changed any “you” to the name, that way it would be directed to the Judge. A very close family friend whom is a Guardian Ad Litem sent me these links which we both found to be extremely helpful. hhtp://www.spokanecounty.org/prosecuting/victimwitness/content.aspx?c=1076#93880890 and http://victimsupportservices.org/help-for-victims/victim-impact-statements/. Remember when reading it, don’t just read, give the Judge eye contact, read it with your pain, hurt, loss and anger! You will feel so much better getting it out! It is an impact statement, make them feel the impact! As hard as it will be, do not give the defendant eye contact, or the family! I am telling you, if you look at him/her or their supporters, it will be a distraction and will get the best of you! Keep your eyes on the Judge when making strong points of your impact and on your paper when reading other points. My husband and I also held a handmade wooden cross in our hand, that was given to us by our Pastor. I also wore a locket with my daughter on my heart, a friendship bracelet given to me by my daughter (that I have not removed in 6 months), and my “Proud of my Survivor” necklace made by Ending the Shame. Wear as many personal effects as you want, hold something special to keep your mind focused on your child. I also wore a permanent reminder on my back right shoulder! (This was my first tattoo, and I got it month ago. I got it in honor of my daughter to let her know that we would wear this scar together, that she was never be alone! For me, this was my last step to empowerment and it worked! It was also to make a point to her that I will wear this with no shame, because she should have no shame to carry either!) Another reason I feel that my husband and I were able to speak for the length of time we did, was because we had a written statement to read from that was full of time, pain, hurt and anger! Had we had winged it, we are not so sure we would have been allowed that much time! Every minute of court costs money, so be prepared if the Judge does tell you to wrap it up! Have the most important parts of your statement marked that way if you are interrupted, you can quickly move to your next powerful point and so on to get it done!
I also have to add that I know a lot of you have lost family through all of this. This is also normal as unfortunate as it is. You are always going to have ones that side with the abuser, that is fact! I know for my husband he lost his entire family, which was and still is difficult for him. It is understandably so. He received a double whammy in all of this. Don’t think that after court ends, and they hear the truth that they are going to believe it. Even though by this point they pretty much know the truth, they will never admit to it. More than likely they will stay by the abusers side and support this person for the rest of their lives. It happens all the time. This man failed more than one polygraph test! You would think that after the first one they would have known, but guess what, even after the second they sided with him! Of course we don’t know exactly how many family members actually knew of this, because this family is woven in a web of deception, evil and lies. You don’t have to make them believe! It isn’t your job! Everyone is going to have their own opinion, and not everyone is going to agree with you. You can tell them the facts of the case until you are blue in the face. It isn’t going to make a difference, and it doesn’t matter! What matters most is that you know the truth, the truth that your child disclosed to you. Do you really want these people to have a relationship with your child anyways? I don’t, because what could they offer her healing wise if they never believed her to begin with? Once again, that is my view of our situation and in no way anyone else’s.
Speaking of my husband’s pain through this. This can and will take a toll on your marriage. Be prepared for this. Marriage is more like a 50/50 thing these days anyways. This 50/50 added with the stress of going through something like this doesn’t always end well. Marriage alone is hard enough. The difficult thing is that in our case, this was my husbands family, so he was heartbroken not only for the pain that our daughter suffered, but because he didn’t have anyone from his family on her or his side. I felt like I couldn’t offer the support that I needed for him because I felt so much anger, disgust, pain and hate for what his father did as well as the rest of them. I had to learn that I had to direct those comments to other people such as friends and not my husband. I had to be there for him to just listen and offer as much support as I could with out causing him any further pain. I know at times it was hard because I was so consumed with our daughter, but I tried to ask him how he was everyday. It was important for me to know how my husband was handling this, and for him to know that I cared! It was difficult at times because I couldn’t relate to his pain, but I love this man more than life itself, and I wasn’t going to risk losing him. I also wasn’t going to let my daughter’s fear (her perp told her that her daddy would never believe her and would leave her mommy and her if she told) of losing her daddy come true! I know all of our stories are different, and that not all marriages can make it. I am not in any way looking down on anyone or judging anyone. Like I said marriage is a difficult thing and as my daddy told me before we married “marriage is something that you have to work at every single day. As you grow, you change.” My parents have been married for 42 years, so that was amazing advice! Of course no one wants their marriage to end, but it is so important to stand strong together as one, no matter if you divorce or not. Stand together and fight together for your child! You created this precious child together, therefore your roles as parents doesn't end after divorce. If you are still married and having problems, remember this, when you married, you vowed to take the good with the bad, for better or for worse. It was an amazing feeling knowing that my husband I were standing strong together, united as one. It was also a very profound and powerful statement in itself. So regardless of being married or now divorced, you can achieve this for the sake of your child! I know a lot of times the abuser is a father or mother, so in this scenario, this doesn’t apply!
I can’t believe that it is now over… It’s Over! Firecracker still has a long road ahead of her, but the worry about her actually having to face him is gone! For a couple of nights now, my daughter has had no nightmares! That is the first time since she was two years old! She told me this morning that she had a dream that she was falling and her daddy saved her! Now that is a dream! I told her, “your daddy will always save you, so will your mommy”! Healing is already beginning! Our new life began yesterday and we can’t wait to see where the good Lord leads us! I hope that it will be close to my family, but far far away from this place! It won’t be hard to say goodbye! Now, we get to see where God leads us and what he wants us to do with this journey! I have an idea, but we will see!
To all of you facing court, and on this journey, I wish you the very best of luck and I send prayers and strength your way! Even after all is said and done, you will question yourselves, you will have regrets. You think that it will all be over, but it isn’t. For the last two years we have been consumed with this, and now that court is over, you can’t just let it go! You have to mourn and process everything all over again. Just like every time your child would make a new disclosure, or something new would happen in the case, you had to reprocess it all. You just have to work through it, and in time you will make some sort of peace with it. We know that this journey is in no way over, only this part of it is. It is a relief though knowing that we don’t have this dwelling on us, and now we can just focus on new beginnings and our daughters health. You are going to get a lot of negativity for your decisions. Be prepared for this, because you will. People including family are going to be angry that you decided to take this route if you take a plea. They are going to be angry that you settled for so little in order for this to be over. Bottom line, it is your decision as a parent or parents! You have to go with what feels right to you, and what you believe is best for your child. You have fought for your child, you have stood up for your child and made it perfectly clear that they messed with the wrong child, Mama Bear and/or Papa Bear. If you know in your heart that this was the right decision for your child and family, then take comfort in that. If any questions are asked, or negative comments are made, just simply say “we had to do what was right for our child, and that is all that matters”, or just tell them you don’t want to talk about it. That is the good thing about it, you don’t have to if you don’t want to! As parents we have to deal with negativity on everything we do as parents right? If we don’t raise our children the exact way someone else did, we put them in their place, so what is different about this? You have to stand firm! In time you will realize that you made the right decision for your child and family! You got this! You can do it! Just a few more steps, and this part is over! I ask that all of you not to be so consumed in your own anger and hurt that you fail to put what is best for your child first and foremost. I hope no one gets angry at that comment, but I just want to be honest! I wanted to offer you all something that my husband and I wish we would have had, someone to guide us and lead us. I think for most of us, we feel that we are in this alone. That is the most wonderful thing about The Mama Bear Effect and other sites like this one, we find out that we are not alone! We can all help each other get through this, and give each other support! No matter what path you choose, make sure it is your decision! Also no matter what happens, your child and you did everything right!
To end, I just have to thank you all again for all that you did for our Firecracker and for my husband and I! I am still so overwhelmed with the love, kindness and support! I thank you Mama Bear Effect, and Ending the Shame for the two life long friends that I have made during this process as well! I do encourage families to find a local BACA Chapter in your area. They will bring your child as well as you so much strength and empowerment! They are so truly amazing! I can’t imagine this journey without them! They made firecracker feel strength, they made her feel unafraid! She knew she had nothing to worry about as long as she had and still has BACA! They will be with your child every step of the way! They will be there during court, to make sure your child is safe, they will be your personal body guards as well traveling with you everywhere in the courthouse. These people are bikers with true angelic wings! They will not only change the lives of your child, but yours as well! They are with her for life, as long as she needs them! Who knows, one day Firecracker may be traveling along with them and offering support to a child the way they did her! I think that would be amazing!
I truly hope that no one took this article as being judgmental. I in no way, shape or form would ever judge anyone going through this journey. It is so difficult, and we as parents and caregivers have to do what is best for our children! All of our stories even if in some ways are similar, are all different. Our journeys will all be different. We will all handle it differently, look at it differently, and make different decisions based on what we feel is best. I want you all to know, I admire you all! I admire all of you survivors, parents of survivors, and friends who are showing support for survivors. We are all connected now and can help each other in our own healing while reaching out to help and educate others with our stories. As I said before, this is a journey that no child or parent should ever have to go on, but at least now, we can try and help as many others as we can from enduring this journey alone.
Now, it is time to pay it forward and start supporting other children and their families! it feels really good to be able to offer support and give back! That for us is also healing! What a feeling to finally feel like we can breath….what a wonderful feeling it is……
Firecrackers Mama Bear