Friday, June 20, 2008

Closing out

This week, as the fiscal year (for those who know our office, shall I say "physical" . . . it's a joke with our staff because we run into so many folks who "out rank" us who insist on pronouncing "fiscal" as "physical" . . . and we decide to let that get on our nerves rather than, you know, like rape and stuff.)

Anyway, back on subject, the staff is working to close out cases . . . figure out which client files can be put in the locked filing cabinet that only I have a key to as opposed to the locked filing cabinet our client services folks have keys to.

I was struck by the contrasts of two cases I closed out yesterday. One involved a woman who reported sexual harassment, including 3rd degree sexual assault, in her work place. She told her supervisor what happened immediately . . . the supervisor referred her to our office and their internal HR office. (the right thing). We offered support, information . . . and she decided to file a grievance with HR. Her file notes say that HR did absolutely everything right. They listened to her . . . reassured her that they would do everything to keep the matter private . . . reprimanded the harasser . . . offered the client a change of job to minimize repeated contact with the perp . . . and kept her well informed of the case as it was handled. She was able to resume her day to day work in a short time and feels confident and secure in her job. YAY!

Then, the contrasting case was one of a young woman who initially reported a rape by a family member. The worker noted that the behavior of the client's mother seemed a tad inappropriate but that the client seemed to take it in stride so the worker said nothing about it. Later, the victim recanted her story. But, the condition of her recanting is chilling. She revealed that her youngest child (an infant) was fathered by her father. This case is working it's way through our court system and that her older child was fathered by her stepfather in another state. Apparently the case of that sexual abuse is winding it's way through another state's court systems.

What was even more chilling than the prospect of this child being forced to bear and care for children who were results of sexual violence . . . was that her mother had forced her to make up the most recent rape report. The mother's logic was that if the girl falsely reported a rape, was caught having falsely reported rape . . . then the case against the stepfather (who is also the mother's current husband) would be dropped because the girl would gain the reputation as having lied about being raped. We were sick over it. We are still helping her. And, suggested to the officer that perhaps an investigation into the mother might do some good.

On one hand, we have the perfect case . . . and on the other one in which everything has gone wrong from a long time ago. Hopefully, this time next year, I'll be more hopeful about the second case.

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