Our legal system, we would all like to believe, is based on the precept of "Innocent until proven guilty". Bad guy gets arrested, goes to court, found guilty, goes to gaol. Victim picks up pieces, and moves on (hopefully). Sadly, that isn't the way it works.
My husband was charged with molesting his daughters (from his first marriage) - this allegedly happened 10-15 years ago. It took 6 years of turning up to Court every month, to be told 'Come back next month', chasing statements and documents, for someone to look at all of the evidence, and throw it out. Mis-matched statements, outright lies (even under Oath), missing or 'destroyed' records, it kept going. A juggernaut of deceit and destruction.
Child sexual abuse is a heinous thing, and anyone guilty of it should be - treated accordingly. We won't go down that road today.
But what about the wrongly accused? My husband did no wrong, but his name was repeatedly published in the local paper, along with a graphic description of his alleged crime. We, his family, who also did nothing wrong, are forever ready to fend off those who believe that because it was in the paper, it must be true, and that we are guilty by association.
If he had been guilty, the victims of his crime would have been offered counselling, and every form of support available. If he had been guilty, I would agree that, and much more, would be appropriate.
He isn't and neither are we. And yet, when it was all over, we got - nothing. Not even a "Sorry, we made a mistake." We have been left to find our own way out of the emotional mess that 6 years of fear and loss have caused. It is a long, dark, scary road. None of us will never be the same again, and the repercussions will sound through our lives for many years to come. Probably the rest of our lives.
We live in the same small town as we have for the past 30 years, where our children grew up. Every day we walk out the door, we face the spectres of his accusers, and those who accompanied them down the road to our devastation.
Every day, I make the commitment that I will keep my chin up, no matter what. And every night, I weep for the innocence that was ripped away from my younger children, and the victims of the monsters who walk around free.