Monday, October 22, 2012

Parents in Denial

Dorothy Sandusky and Jaqueline Peterson
In late 2008, Jennifer Hudson´s mother, brother, and seven year old nephew were brutally murdered in Chicago.

William Balfour was convicted of those murders and handed three life sentence. He will never be a free man. When it all happened, I remember hearing Balfour´s mother was interviewed by Nancy Grace. The interview was interesting because Madam Balfour concocted an elaborate explanations for questions having simple explanations. Parents in denial often have overly complex stories, explaining why their child is innocent, a victim, and everyone else just does not 'get' all the facts. They want to bog you down with details that are completely irrelevant to whether or not their child did the evil deed. I remember distinctly in the Nancy Grace Interview Madame Balfour said, with such conviction, ¨I know my son could not have done this.¨She was convinced that her son was innocent. I was able to locate the actual YouTube video and featured it to the left.

Jaqueline Peterson, mother of Scott Peterson, to this day thinks her son did not murder his pregnant wife Laci. She currently operates a website trying to collect donations for Scotts appeal. The website is also full of those overly complex arguments previously mentioned.  Jaqueline was invited to appear on the Oprah show to talk about the case after her son's conviction. Jaqueline said that she would appear on the show, only if the show was about how innocent people are falsely convicted. Oprah refused to do that and the show never happened.

This brings us to our newest woman in denial, Dorothy 'Dottie' Sandusky. Her husband Jerry was convicted of forty-five counts of child rape. I listened to the testimony of several victims. It left me feeling nauseated  I literally had a physical reaction to their testimony. Listening to this is not an easy thing to do. I have a great deal of respect for the Judge and Jury who had to sit through that testimony. One of the victims was Sandusky's own adopted son. Delusional Dottie thinks her husband is innocent and went fully throttle conspiracy theory mode.

I am just wondering when she is going to make a "Jerry is Innocent" website and start asking for donations.

Defense Mechanism

Wouldn't it be great if we could all live in the most convenient reality?

These people, overwhelmed by the brick wall that has just crushed them, are selective about the reality they chose to accept. In other words - they are in denial.  Refusing to believe something without proof is rational, but ignoring all knowledge that comes from outside ourselves is just plain stupid.  Admittedly, I cannot help sympathizing with them. Dottie's denial is easy to understand, she refuses to believe the man who has been sleeping in her bed for forty years could be this evil pedophile. Can you imagine sleeping next to somebody for all those years and not knowing that they are raping little boys? What a horror. I cannot imagine what kind of a nape bomb that must be.

With all due respect to Dottie...does she really think that all of these victims are making it up? Does she really think that it is a massive conspiracy concocted because...errr...for no apparent reason than convicting an innocent elderly man? 

During the Sandusky trail, Michael McQueary, a former assistant footbal coach at Penn State University, testified that he had no doubt that he saw Sandusky raping a young boy in the team's showers. McQueary heard the shower running and smacking sounds.

McQueary came in to find Sandusky penetrating a boy in the showers. As a mother, just writing about this incident bothers me.

Dottie seems to think that McQueary, like everyone else, is just making it up. Even during her testimony the loyal wife winked at her husband. This woman defends not only her pedophile husband, but she lies to herself and in doing so, she is really protecting herself from what we all know is true. Reality can be a bitch. But isn't it better to accept reality for what it is, than persist in comfortable delusions. 

Jaqueline Peterson is another interesting case of a mother in denial. Hers son brutally murdered his pregnant wife because he wanted to be a single man again. When daughter-in-law Laci Peterson went missing, Jaqueline's son Scott tried to sell the house, sell his wife´s car, he dyed his hair and headed to Mexico. I am disinclined to convict someone based on circumstantial evidence. I am a tough sell. But the circumstantial evidence against Scott was so great that a conviction was in order.

Legal Dictionary - Circumstantial Evidence
Many circumstances can create inferences about an accused's guilt in a criminal matter, including the accused's resistance to arrest; the presence of a motive or opportunity to commit the crime; the accused's presence at the time and place of the crime; any denials, evasions, or contradictions on the part of the accused; and the general conduct of the accused. In addition, much Scientific Evidence is circumstantial, because it requires a jury to make a connection between the circumstance and the fact in issue. For example, with fingerprint evidence, a jury must make a connection between this evidence that the accused handled some object tied to the crime and the commission of the crime itself.

Jaqueline Peterson's website entertains elaborate theories about his innocence, and attempts to debunk all the circumstantial evidence which convicted her son to a sentence of death.  She tries to debunk all the circumstantial evidence piece by piece. Several jury members conducted interviews after the sentence was handed down. One of the things they said as that it wasn't one piece of circumstantial evidence that lead to Scott's conviction. It was a mountain of circumstantial evidence. It was all things combined. If we compare Jaqueline's website with the above video featuring Balfour's mother, we see these women are doing the exact same thing. They are arguing tit for tat, they are deflecting, they are denying the obvious.

Dottie, Jaqueline, and Balfour's mother are all serving a public sentence of denial. When these people are defending their guilty child, at some level, they are defending themselves. They are defending their parenting, and their loving marriages. 

A Lesser Example

Last year my husband and I took our two babies to a weekly playgroup. One little boy, about two years older than my son had it in for him. The kid followed my son around bullying him. My husband got fed up with it and finally confronted the mother. The mother could have said, "thank you for letting me know, I will discipline my son." Instead her response was, "We do not raise our son like that."

Her response tells me that she cares how others view her parenting style. Rather than worrying about what others think of you - just do your damn job and discipline your children. If they bully, they get time out. If they keep doing it, there is no more playgroup. This is not difficult. A parent's primary job is to prepare their children to live in the world, and to live as hardworking, intelligent, moral individuals. This is a matter of doing your job properly and not worrying about what others think about your 'parenting style'.

Rather than going on about how these people have blinded themselves, it would be more beneficial to propose solutions. In Dottie's case, she needs to face the fact that her husband lied to her. I listened to some of the victim testimony and decided not to post it in this blog because it was too upsetting. 

In Washington State, the Green River Killer' was caught, and his loving wife of sixteen years had to confront the fact that her husband was a murderer and sleeping with prostitutes during their marriage. She could not see how a man she loved for sixteen years could be a killer. It was the love they had for each other that convinced her for awhile, that he was innocent. Eventually, she came to terms with it. Eventually she came to accept the truth about her husband.  I think that Judith and Dottie need to get together and have a chit chat. 

1. Recognize that you are in denial. 
2. Let go of your embarrassment and humiliation
3. Do not blame yourself for the choices others make - including your children.

I think that one of the goals for parents may be to recognize where they went wrong and try to fix it.

What is the other option, if not to live in a delusional bubble, public and sentence of public denial. If they really want to escape reality, they can wisely invest in World of Warcraft. 

Who Am I To Propose A Solution?

I have no idea what these people are going through or how to fix their denial. I may be the last person on earth to advise them. But, I am a human being, I am sensitive to the suffering of others and I do care about people. I think that the only way to proceed is to recognize the denial, and focus on what one can do to make the future better for others. Even though these parents and spouses are not responsible for the actions of their loved ones, I think that their broken hearts would be mended if they gave some of their time helping others. 

Being close to the criminal does not mean that you are guilty by proxy. That bible verse blaming children for the crimes of their parents ( Isaiah 14.21) is a load of crap. Children are not responsible for the crimes of their parents. Parents are not responsible for the crimes of adult children. Spouses are not responsible for the crimes of their spouse, no matter how humiliated, naive, or horrid the crime. The answer may very well be about looking outward rather than inward. There are food banks and homeless shelters that need help. There are public schools that need volunteer tutors, and AIDS organizations that need volunteers. That is the only advice I could give these people. Sometimes our thinking is too introverted. We care too much about what others think about us, and maybe the answer, in thinking about how we can help others. 

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