Protecting the innocent | AspenTimes.com

Protecting the innocent

Dear Editor:It is with great sadness that I have watched on national television news programs the joyous reunion of two kidnapped boys in Missouri and their parents. I privately plead with those behind the scenes to please tread lightly when discussing public confusion over the young Mr. Hornbeck’s failure to flee his captor. I beg them to please stop showing the child’s face. Please do not additionally injure this boy.It is entirely possible, indeed likely, he was repeatedly sexually abused during the formative years – age 11 to 15 – he was held in psychological captivity. If so, his psyche was deeply, repeatedly pierced and damaged. He may have lived in fear of being emotionally hurt, may have been seduced by what he thought was a first experience with adult love or controlled with threats of danger to him or his family. Mind control involving sex, if it indeed occurred, is insidiously powerful. Ask Oprah.I am no expert. In my beginning forays into undergraduate and graduate psychology studies including a PsyD program, I have studied adult manifestation of child sex abuse. I have met a small, unfortunate number of grown men who say they were sexually abused at that age and did not report it. It is possible years will pass before the poor boy will even remember all the facts, let alone gain perspective or hopefully, gently, begin to understand what happened to him. Some men who were violated at that age by older men or boys continue on into a gay life, a path rarely chosen or recommended by those in the know.News coverage additionally injures a victim. I think any abused child’s parents, while understandably joyful at the catastrophe’s end, should stop trotting children out in front of news cameras. Instead, the Hornbecks should shield the recovering boy from public scrutiny, photographers and press so he can begin to heal in peace rather than forever be identified as a kidnap and possible sexual abuse victim who may have been raped as a young man.Bonnie BehrendAspen

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