Sexual Abuse in US Prisons


Just when I’m coming to grips with the amount of child sexual abuse that occurs I begin to think about women’s prisons.  I start hearing statistics like one in four women in prison are sexually assaulted, 20% of inmates in men’s prisons are sexually assaulted and 50% of women in prison were sexually assaulted as children.  67% of the women in prison who had been convicted of killing their husbands did it to protect themselves and their children.  93% of women in prison who killed their mates had been battered by them.  The amount spent to shelter animals is 3 times the amount spent to provide emergency shelter to women from domestic violence situations (WAC Stats). These statistics are numbing.

I think back to when I was married to my third abuser.  He was a sex addict, a liar,and had sexually abused his daughter for many years causing her to travel in and out of psychiatric centers after suicide attempts.  He had sexually abused his sister for five years.  I didn’t learn any of this until after we were married.  He used threats and intimidation to support his several times a day rapes against me.  He woke me up every couple hours to commit rape.  He even quit his job after we were married to spend more time raping me, stating that I was his wife and as such he was entitled to sex as often as he wanted it. One time I hid behind a locked bathroom door praying he would leave me alone.  He broke the door down, dragged me out into the hallway and raped me.   If I tried to fight back he would use his fists to beat me until I complied.  Eventually, my terror and anxiety accelerated to such out of control that one time after he chased me around the house in an attempt to rape me I ran into the kitchen, pulled a large butcher knife out of a drawer and brandished it at him screaming that I would kill him if he came any further.  Thank God he left the house, jumped in his car and took off.  If he hadn’t I would now be one of those 67% serving a life sentence.

Unfortunately, I was only half way through recovery, severely addicted to my husband and took him back after he called, apologized and said he wouldn’t do it again.  I had so much more to learn. Being addicted to a husband may sound to a lay person as an excuse to stay in a domestic violence situation but  I’ve heard that trying to break the addiction to someone is akin to coming down off heroin.  If my husband threatened to leave because I wouldn’t do something he wanted me to I would begin shaking, I would have dry heaves and vomit.  I was unable to withstand his attacks and would beg him not to leave saying I’d do anything.  In my innocence and desperation I asked my therapist to write him a note telling him to stop abusing me.  In my fragile mental state I thought he would stop.  She kept telling me it would do no good but eventually gave in.  He read the note and the abuse doubled because now I had broken his first rule, “You must never tell anyone what is going on in this house.”  I lived through five years of horror until I finally finished my recovery program and with the help of my children was able to get him out, get a restraining order and a divorce. Today I’m the happiest person I know.  I did an excellent job of REPAIRing myself.

All of these women in prison have stories similar to mine.  Can you imagine being incarcerated for the rest of your life because you killed a man who was raping your child or beating you up? What to do, what to do?  I feel compelled to leave no stone unturned in trying to help them.  But it all started in their childhood.  Most suffered severe child abuse.  I must take them back to the time when it all started and get them REPAIRED.  That is the only way.  And so I run my fingers to numbness for hours ever day trying to find websites on women’s prisons, websites on people in charge, hoping I can talk them into having Lamplighter meetings and to encourage these women to work the REPAIR Your Life program I developed.  It won’t change what has happened but it will give them a future of healthy behavior.

I am worried about their children. Children of an untreated child sexual abuse victim stand a five times greater chance of being abused themselves. I must get to them.  Thank God I have REPAIR For Children and will soon have REPAIR For Toddlers (to be released in April or May of this year). I must get the word out.  There are so many to be helped.  If you know of anyone that needs to be REPAIRed please have them contact me.  They can go to my website at www.thelamplighters.org and email me from there.

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