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I have an 11 year-old daughter who just recently told me that she had been repeatedly and violently raped by her cousin who is 16. At first she only told of a single incident, but now it has come out that it had been going on since she was 6 yrs old. It was reported and he was only charged with gross sexual imposition. All he received for this was court ordered counseling and probation. To say the least I am appalled, he at least should have served one year for every year he took from her. The worst of all this was how other family members reacted, they just act like it wasn't such a big deal. The one I was most shocked by is my oldest daughter that is 28 and a pediatric nurse. Her reaction was that he was only a kid. I do have my daughter in counseling but the wounds of all this are very deep.

Also, when he turns 18 his record will be wiped clean and free to rape again. One thing I failed to also include is he also was raping his younger sister. My daughter's life is now forever changed and he can just go on with his like nothing has happened. Where is the justice in that?

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM--I certainly wish that you were writing under better circumstances. You note ended with an appropriate, but certainly not an optimistic question--"where is the justice"--unfortunately, it's absent. Therefore, you are left to make up for that injustice and it seems like you are taking all of the steps to make that possible.

Your daughter probably knows this by now, but she is not alone. An estimated 1-in-4 girls and 1-in-7 boys are sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18. To date, we have yet to acknowledge that this is a prevalent problem, and, therefore, don't quite understand that acknowledging it is the first step toward curbing it. Often times it is too hard for people to acknowledge it, because that could mean that 1.) they were sexually asaulted or 2.) that they sexually assaulted someone. Until this happens the cycle of abuse will continue. The way that cycle most often repeats itself is that for women who are abused--they often continue to find themselves in abusive relationships. For men who are abused--they go on to abuse. So what the cousin did could be repeating something that was done to him. Though it sounds like his family might be too deep in denial to explore that posibility.

Therefore, the most you can do is to protect your daughter. To let her know that she needs to be honest about what happened in order to not have it happen again. Also, she needs to know that she did nothing wrong. There are several great books and other resources on this topic--most of which are included in the V-Day Resource Guide or our Violence Against Women. section. I hope that helps--and thanks for being such a friend to your daughter. She will be all the better because of it. Good luck to both of you


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