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Helping Survivors Who Are In Danger

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This community is open to all survivors who are sixteen (16) years of age and older, including survivors who are still living through abuse and violence. In fact, we do hope that they will find the strength and support they need here and that hopefully our support will help them break free from the abuse - - which may mean pressing charges, leaving an abusive environment, etc.

To hear the story of a survivor who is currently being abused is especially heartbreaking. It is our natural instinct to wish to help and make the abuse stop. Unfortunately, we have to realize that when the person who is being abused is legally an adult, all we can offer is support and advice. We are physically and legally unable to make the abuse stop.

Often moderators are contacted by concerned members who wish to help fellow survivors who are being abused. Members experience helpless feelings and turn to moderators for advice. The fact that those members care enough and want to take action speaks of their humanity, and it is admirable. However, moderators share the same helpless feelings that members do. Moderators can't notify law enforcement when the person being abused is over 18 years of age. The law says that legally adult individuals are old enough to take care of themselves, and that if they want something to be done they have to make it happen themselves. It is VERY difficult to get law enforcement to acknowledge a claim of abuse made by a third party, even when the victim is a minor.

When a violent crime is committed against an adult, the adult has the choice to report the crime or not. It is your right to make the decision. Survivors of sexual violence are not obligated to press charges. While it is advisable to press charges whenever a crime is committed against you, the law does not force you to do so. For the same principle, we can't press charges or report a crime to the authorities when the victim of the crime is an adult and thus by law capable of pressing charges, and or reporting the crime herself or himself. This does not mean that we don't care, but simply that we don't have any authority over another person.

Perhaps if you have the full name and location of a victim, you may attempt to let authorities know that a crime has been committed. Again, you need to know at the very least the FULL name of the victim and her or his LOCATION. That being said, survivors should not be forced to report a crime against their will. If you do choose to report a crime committed against another survivor, you are also taking upon yourself the responsibility of deciding for her or him.

Moderators have gone out of their way several times in the past to help underage members. But despite the fact that these members were often as young as 13 or even 12, it was very difficult to get authorities to take our complaints seriously. This is not to say that law enforcement agencies don't care, but that a complaint made by someone who has read a post on a message board is hardly considered of any importance. Only in one occasion we did manage to identify the location of a very young girl, who had posted about being raped in her own house, and with the help of Cyberangels.com a detective did find the girl. It was a difficult and long process and had this girl been over 18 years of age none of this would have been possible.

Please understand that the fact that moderators can't contact law enforcement does not mean that they don't care, but simply that they have no grounds to report a crime on behalf of someone else.

If any member of this board believes that third parties should report a crime, when the victim is an adult and when the third party does not have the full name and location of the victim, we encourage the member to follow their ethical voice. Law enforcement agencies have never heard of After Silence and any member of this forum has the same power that moderators have, which in most cases is, sadly, none.

After Silence Moderators

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