Friday, April 15, 2011

Recovery Without Justice

By Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

At the heart of the victims' rights movement that I was involved in during the 1980's after my father's murder was the concept of judicial justice which would lead to psychological justice. It's a great concept and in a perfect world it would work in all situations. If you were wronged by the pathological person (physically hurt, conned out of money, screwed up custody situations, infidelity, spiritual abuse, etc.) the pathological would be held accountable in the courts for his behavior and more importantly, he would be forced into victim restitution in which he would have to repay or do something as a sign of his guilt and your pain.

Restitution, in and of itself, really doesn't heal anything. It does, however, make the victim/person harmed feel like the scales of justice changed.  The scales, which once grossly tilted toward him, now tilt in the victim's direction. For a brief moment in court, and for however long it takes him to pay or do the restitution, he is officially 'guilty.' Everyone knows he was charged and found guilty; now he is 'paying the price' for his actions. For a brief moment in court, a judge believes the victim! He believes the monster really did what the victim said he did. That, in and of itself, is often the psychological justice that victims really look for, and it helps them to heal.

In the case of murder trials, which I often attended, the family cannot be compensated in any true way that relieves their pain and suffering. Their loved one was murdered. No amount of restitution touches a human life. The best the family can hope for is either physical payment, prison, the death sentence, or some other act that the court assigns from the monster to the victim's family.

The judicial system acts as the conscience of this country. Victims seek solace in the courtrooms and chambers, hoping that justice will alleviate the pain, horror, and stigmatization of being a victim of the monster. But we know that in many cases, and I dare say most cases, that's not what happens. Restraining orders are not granted, arrests are not performed for stalking or violence, and children are given over to the pathological who is overtly violent, sick, drug addicted or otherwise an inept parent.

He continually violates the rules, but the court does not impose sanctions.  He doesn't pay child support, but his visitation continues.  He does not pay alimony, yet the court does not make him pay it.    He conned/stole thousands of dollars from you, but the court does not make him pay it. Your legal bill skyrockets as he does not pay what he has agreed to pay or been ordered to pay. Taking him to court again and again does no good; the pathological continues his behavior. The judge does not see past the expertly-crafted mask to the pathological's true nature-he gives him the benefit of the doubt, thinking him normal. Even when the court does order compliance, it does no good: the pathological laughs at court orders. You stand by, mouth gaping and wondering "Where is the justice? HOW does he get away with this?"

I have repeatedly said that the universe is strangely tilted to the pathological's benefit. If ANYONE will get away with a con or a criminal act, it will be them. The universal scales of justice tilt in his favor. Ironically, this somehow influences the judicial scales of justice. In the 20 years of doing this work I have seen pathologicals literally get away with murder, rape, embezzlement, breaking and entering, stalking, domestic violence, child abuse, and more. This ranks as the 8th Wonder of the World -- how pathologicals con their way out of the most vicious deeds and often never pay in any way for their behavior.

In these cases, women's hopes for justice, connected to their psychological healing, are dashed. The scales of justice will never be balanced -- she is not vindicated in the way that helps her heal. Even if he is found guilty of something, he rarely pays the price. If he is suppose to pay a fine, he doesn't. If he is suppose to go to jail/prison, it's postponed or over-turned. If custody is denied, it's later granted by another judge. If he embezzled, it's forgiven in exchange for an admission of guilt.

Victims' rights and its connection to judicial and psychological justice doesn't play out often in pathological relationships. The psychological justice that the victim is counting on in order to vindicate her -- her moment in which the conscience of this country believed her -- doesn't happen. Since we understand that psychological justice is what is most likely to help victims heal, now what?

I sternly tell victims of pathological relationships that they must recover without justice. We are not discussing 'what is fair'; the pathological has already skirted the issue of 'fairness.' He doesn't live that as a concept, and the law doesn't use it as a concept with him. If you desire to recover, heal and move forward with your life, you will have to recover without judicial justice. Without victim restitution. Without the conscience of this country validating your story.

You have to recover without a second of judicial support. Women who hinge their recovery on judicial justice or waiting for her day in court, or 'when he gets what's coming to him' will never recover. The universe is tilted in his favor, and your own recovery must be a daring adventure in the face of a lack of victims rights. Sometimes the only personal justice is recovering and living a great life. What he did to you doesn't define you, hold you down, or stop you from succeeding in your own spiritual outlook.

In the end, the only thing you really have control over is how you choose to see your situation. If you see yourself as a victim of the situation, you won't recover until you move past that view. If you see the situation from a different perspective - horrible things happened to you but don't define or restrain you, you will move forward -- with or without justice.

The most unfair situation is what you have lived through and the aftermath of the effects of the pathological relationship. In the face of this grossly dehumanizing experience is the indomitable spirit of recovery that can guide you to not only survive, but thrive in the face of great pain. I have every confidence you can heal, even without justice. Let us know if we can help you do that.

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