Parent’s Denial and Death Threats Kept Victim in Hands of Abuser

“For the past year, Breanne has attended every court hearing for the man who will be sentenced this month for sexually abusing her when she was a teenager.

Her abuser, Ronald Wilson of Moorpark, was arrested March 20, 2009, at his office in Simi Valley and charged with committing multiple lewd and lascivious acts with a child.

He pleaded guilty Dec. 21 in Ventura County Superior Court to two felony counts of oral copulation with a minor, a felony charge of penetration by a foreign object and one misdemeanor charge of child molestation, said prosecutor Catherine Voelker.

When he is sentenced by Judge Kevin McGee on Jan. 29, Wilson, who is out on $100,000 bail, faces a minimum of probation and a maximum of four years and four months in prison, Voelker said.

He must also register as a sex offender.

Breanne, who did not want her last name used for this article, said that witnessing Wilson’s slow crawl to justice since he was arrested four years ago will allow her to move forward.

“I felt like I needed to do that to help me heal,” the Camarillo resident said. “I don’t think it has helped me immediately. It will help me in the long run.

“When it’s all said and done, I’ll feel better to know that his shame is no longer private. And what he did to me, even though it makes me feel shameful, I’m strong enough to stand up to someone that’s done this.”

Breanne, now 28, said the abuse started when she was 14 and went on for four agonizing years. Wilson was a trusted family friend who over time manipulated her mind and knocked down her boundaries.

“Parents need to be aware and understand that these things don’t happen quickly,” she said. “In this case, it was a slow, methodical, thought-out process of grooming. Be aware of signs.”

Among those signs: her abuser’s intense focus on her, the gifts he gave her and the favors he bestowed on her, all actions that mimic romantic courting, she said.”

Her parents should have known something was not okay with this behavior. Their denial system did not want to see it because he was a family friend.

“Typically (abusers) do this in families where children are starved for attention,” she said, mentioning her own detached relationship with her father.

At first, Breanne was happy with the attention Wilson gave her during vacations their families would take together. On those trips, he took her on rides on his jet skis and boat.

“He favored me. It was never anything weird to anyone.”

It should have been! Fourteen year-old girls need to be protected from grown men. The male sex drive is strong and powerful. Men are turned on visually. Teenage girls have raging hormones and men can smell it.

“When she was 15, Wilson gave her a cellphone and called her every day, she said.

Sometimes, he would pick her up from her high school and take her out to lunch. Breanne would tell her mother that she got a ride home from a friend.

Eventually he began to touch her inappropriately and ask her questions related to sex.

A year after the abuse began, Wilson would often make excuses to be at Breanne’s home in Thousand Oaks, offering to do repair work and chores for her mother.

“He nestled himself into my family,” Breanne said. “He’d say things like, ‘Your parents are handing you to me on a silver platter.’”

The perpetrator spoke the truth here.

“On a few occasions the abuser apologized to his victim.

“He said, ‘I know what I’m doing is wrong. I’m probably messing you up.’And yet he kept doing what he was doing,” Breanne said. She still suffers from the depression she felt then.

When Breanne was 18 and started dating, Wilson feared their secret would come out, she said.

“(Ron) was jealous,” she said. “He started leaving me threatening voice mails. He said, ‘If you tell anybody, my wife would kill herself. If you tell anyone else, it’s going to be my death.’ I was threatened, more or less, to keep quiet.”

Notice how she downplays the death threat? “More or less” is minimizing a very serious threat to her life. I am sure the death threats contributed to her not wanting to go to police for two years, even after her parents found out.

“Around the same time, Wilson was accused of having had a sexual relationship five years before with his secretary when she was 18, Breanne said.

The allegation prompted friends to question Breanne’s close relationship with Wilson.

The physical abuse stopped, but the mental and emotional assaults continued into her 20s, she said. The trauma ruined the marriage she’d entered into at age 20 and hung over her second marriage four years later.

“It was wrecking my life,” she said. “I couldn’t stand being touched. My (first) husband couldn’t handle my mood swings. I was so upset all the time.”

It took years for her to reveal the secret torture, a decision prompted in part by the need to steer others away from potential abusers.

“I hate it when something’s broken and no one says anything and someone else comes along and sees it broken. I want to let someone know there are broken (abusive) people out there and what to do to avoid them.”

She told her parents about the abuse but refused to go to the police. She was still in contact with Wilson by phone.

“My dad wanted to kill him. My mom was completely confused, because I don’t think she quite understood why I wanted to protect this man.” Feelings of guilt about what happened and loyalty to Wilson impeded Breanne’s drive for legal justice. Guilt traps a victim, she said. “It keeps that person quiet, keeps them in a cage.”

Truer words never spoken. It doesn’t matter if the victim is 14 or four. Children are made to feel every ounce of guilt from the perpetrator. I lived in that cage of guilt for over four decades. Guilt, shame, and fear paralyze us and stops us from living.

“But two years after the confession to her family, when she was 25, Breanne finally reported Wilson to the police.”

Why didn’t her parents go to the police? They allowed two years before taking action against him –plenty of time for this man to find himself several other victims. What if she had been five? Would they still have not gone to police? A five year-old certainly has less capability of standing up to her abuser, or testifying, or giving a police report than a grown woman.

“It wasn’t until someone said to me, ‘Do you realize how wrong this is?’ that it hit me. He had built a web for me.” She corrected herself. “He built a house for me. Inside the house it was this perfect little land he created just so he could keep me there. He kept me in that house until I was 24. I still called him. I still thought I cared about him. But I realized he didn’t care about anyone but himself. I was a child. I was a little kid. He was a 42-year-old man.”

Breanne believes it is unfair that Wilson may get probation for his crimes. She will write a letter to the judge and speak at Wilson’s sentencing to ask for a stiffer sentence.

Although Breanne is stronger, she is still searching for a way to heal. She looks at other women who have not suffered abuse and wonders what it would be like to live free of pain.”

I think anyone who has suffered from child sexual abuse has felt this way at one time or another.

“I can’t function normally. I don’t even know how that’s possible. I can’t even pretend if I wanted to,” she said. “I’m still in the process of moving on. It’s very difficult to move on.”

Yes, but not impossible. Click here to find help

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One Response to Parent’s Denial and Death Threats Kept Victim in Hands of Abuser

  1. Why Not? says:

    A telling story about the many layers of secrecy, denial, coverups and victim blame that can be – and so often are – involved childhood sexual abuse. Unraveling them is a whole other journey.

    For some reason, the story and her quote at the end about it being ‘very difficult to move on’ reminded me of Beth Hart’s song “I Leave the Light On”

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