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Stand Up Speak Out
Gary Smith
December 17, 2012
IMAGINE, A CENTURY FROM NOW, LOOKING BACK ON THE PLAGUE OF SEXUAL ABUSE. TWO BRIGHT SPOTS IN THIS DARK HISTORY WILL BE CY YOUNG WINNER R.A. DICKEY AND JUDO GOLD MEDALIST KAYLA HARRISON, WHO REFUSED TO BE SILENT VICTIMS
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December 17, 2012

Stand Up Speak Out

IMAGINE, A CENTURY FROM NOW, LOOKING BACK ON THE PLAGUE OF SEXUAL ABUSE. TWO BRIGHT SPOTS IN THIS DARK HISTORY WILL BE CY YOUNG WINNER R.A. DICKEY AND JUDO GOLD MEDALIST KAYLA HARRISON, WHO REFUSED TO BE SILENT VICTIMS

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The Pedros, Big Jim and Jimmy, were surprised by Jeannie's request but agreed to try. The universe smiled: Blaise Aguirre—the medical director at a psychiatric ward for teenage girls exhibiting self-endangering behavior—was a black belt who trained in the Pedros' dojo, and he fast-tracked Kayla into nearby McLean Hospital in Belmont with a diagnosis of severe posttraumatic stress disorder. She freaked when she realized what was happening, sobbed and screamed as her mother bit her lip and left her in the ward. She'd go back to judo, Kayla pleaded, she'd do anything, just don't leave her there.

She got permission, a week later, to do intensive therapy all day and leave for a few hours at night to train. But she was a wreck in the dojo, a puddle of tears. Judo felt dirty now, and everyone, she was sure, was staring and whispering about her. Every time she stepped on the mat, Daniel rematerialized—What are you doing, girl? You know you can't do this without me!—leaving her both loathing him and thinking she loved him, and trembling over everyone's expectation that she would testify against him and lock him away.

She and Aaron moved into the eight-bedroom house that her new coach, Jimmy Pedro, rented out to his team of elite judokas. She felt as if she were going crazy: the Pedros shouting at her each night at the dojo to suck it up and go to war, to "kill for the love of killin', Kid!", the psychologist the next morning urging her to open her heart, let down her guard and release all her feelings. Why was she waking up at 5 a.m. to pump iron for an hour and a half, working 50 hours a week at a hardware store loading 80-pound sacks of sand into pickup trucks, taking online high school courses, running off to therapy sessions that ripped open her wound, starving herself to cut weight and getting the crap kicked out of her for two hours on the mat every night when she just wanted to run away, be a nobody, serve lattes in a coffee shop ... or....

Panic seized her chest and closed around her windpipe. Anything could trigger it: the smell of Daniel's cologne on a stranger, hotel rooms that looked like ones they'd shared, a song they used to listen to, a screaming coach. One night she jumped in her car to escape before something terrible happened, afraid even to stop for gas because the people at the station would know her secret, then drove south on the interstate to start a new life and finally pulled over, even more scared of what she'd do without judo. Another night, in a blizzard, a panic attack sent her crawling out her window onto the garage roof and leaping down to the yard to evade her worried teammates downstairs, then scrambling through the neighborhood and into a nearby nature reserve.

Aaron, terrified that she'd taken an overdose of sleeping pills, bashed down her locked bedroom door, then he and seven teammates jumped into three cars to pursue her, a police car joining the hunt. Spotting her finally as she emerged from the nature reserve and headed toward an adjacent school, they took off after her on foot, slipping and spilling on the ice. A teammate named Bobby Lee yanked off his shoes, bolted after her and tackled her on the track. She lay there sobbing and heaving in the snow.

Education, of course, was how we finally contained the disease. Once the dust from the revelations of the early 2000s settled, once people stared at the numbers and realized, the momentum began to shift.

Realized that one in 10 men had molested a child, their likelihood of being caught only 3%, according to FBI statistics cited by the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Beaverton, Ore.

That, in three studies of those convicted, the number of molestations committed by the average pedophile ranged from 88 to 264.

That 25% to 30% of convicted sex offenders, in a conservative estimate, were arrested again for the crime after their release.

That the odds were that in a family of five sitting down to dinner, one of the five had been or would be sexually abused ... and most of the abusers were immediate family members or very close to the family, which meant that the victims often loved and protected the perpetrator.

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