What Is My Daughter Giving Up For Me To Be A Prosecutor?
Contributing Author: Anonymous Prosecutor
Every day, I think about my daughter being sexually abused.
She just turned three in July and I can say with full confidence that she has not been sexually abused. But because of my job, every single day I think about the chance that she might one day be sexually abused.
Before she was even born, I vetoed the request from her uncle that she be permitted a sleepover with him when she was old enough. I’ve seen too many of those cases.
Because I’ve prosecuted that case where the father molested the child while lying with her in bed at night, I am uncomfortable when my partner climbs into her bed at night to help her get to sleep. He adores her and would be devastated if something bad happened to her. So why do I think these things?
Because I am a prosecutor.
I see how easily it could happen to my child, I see how devastating it could be for her both immediately and in her entire future, and I want to do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen. In the meantime, my daughter is probably already tired of me talking with her about good touches and bad touches and what to do if someone does.
I try to remember to have faith in myself, in my own intuition. But when I am suspicious without reason, I wonder if I am being overly paranoid because of my job, or whether it truly is mother’s intuition of a real danger to her child. It has ruined my faith in myself and in others.
The cases have damaged my faith in myself as a mother. Because I cannot blame the mothers. The great majority of the time, there was nothing that the mothers could have done to prevent the abuse to their children.
So, what do I do? Keep her away from solitary time with older kids or adults. Monologue towards my husband. Lecture my child. And try to get it out of my mind. I think, I can relax when she’s grown… No, wait, she’ll still be in danger of sexual abuse when’s she’s grown… Easing tension is out of the question as long as my child is alive.
I guess I’ll just hold her as tight as I can for as long as I can. And keep fighting the good fight: hold offenders accountable, bring justice to victims, and change the narrative around who’s to blame for sex offenses.
At least there’s this knowledge: the challenges my family faces because of the trauma in my job does make a difference for good for other families. Until everyone is safe, no one is safe, and I want to keep fighting to make everyone, including my daughter, safe.
I am not proud of all the effects of my job on my life, but I am still proud to be a prosecutor.
Editors note: Secondary trauma can have devastating effects on our relationships, our mental health and our work. If you or someone you know is suffering the effects of secondary trauma or professional burnout, there is help available. Please reach out. Here are some resources:
ABA page to lawyer assistance crisis hotlines in each state