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Melody C. Gibson

In light of the recent location of two abducted children in Missouri, there is a firestorm of questions which will take years to answer. Because these are victims and children, regardless of how the media, law enforcement, or those 'in the know' feel about things, or assume things are, we, as victim advocates must take only ONE position on the matter--These children are VICTIMS of crime perpetrated on them by selfish individuals.

It will not matter if the children relished getting gifts; it will not matter if they lied and listened to lies, were beat and never told about the abuse, IF they never sought help when they could of--none of that matters. These are children and they are victims of crime.

Point is, innocent 'children' were lured and abducted, and they acclimated as children do to their victimizers--their ‘abusers.’ Children, like pets, live in the moment. They don't fully realize the abuse will repeat itself. Even after they see it will, they acclimate to lies and threats--and they stay alive and make no waves. When they make waves, they are further abused and threatened--the reason child prostitutes continue in the industry without calling home. Children are terribly resilient little buggers.

Runaways will sometimes call home and hang up, they will email, they will try to connect with a friend to ‘get a feeling’ for their parents or home--and they fear the lies told to them are true—or that their parents will never trust them again, or that their parents don't want them back--all immature thoughts, but real...they simply are too young to know the difference--that their family wants them no matter what they have done or had done to them.

An Abused child freezes their emotional growth at about the level of their abduction and trauma, therefore a 15 year old is still 11 or 12 years old, or the age of crisis--until he or she is set free from the world he has endured--which may take many years of healing.

Will neighbors tell the story that nothing seemed amiss? Sure. Because nothing seemed amiss--other than the typical overheard abuse--yelling, screaming, hitting—something that should have been reported to protective services. Will it make them feel better for not knowing what happened? For not telling about what they thought they heard or suspected? It will. And for that reason they will transfer their guilt feelings upon a child they think should have ran, told, and recovered himself.

If you recall the Steve Steiner story, this boy tried to tell school teachers and nobody believed him. No one connected his face to the poster in the school. He gave up. His abductor told the school the child has a problem with telling lies. He acclimated. It wasn’t until a young boy was abducted and brought in to replace him that he was able to shut all of this down and take action for himself and the other child--It took the drastic measure of another abduction before Steve could reach out and tell the police who he was and what was going on. (It is amazing how much agony a person will accept for themselves, but will not tolerate being perpetrated upon another...

We sometimes think it is a simple step to telling about sex abuse because it is more acceptable to tell these days, but history says it is still a struggle to tell about it, and it can take many, many years of growing up to find this elusive courage. Not only does the abuser lie, but the victim child lies and a victim child is not mature enough to undo all of that...

This is a tip of the iceberg. I have said all of this because regardless of what anyone else says to you or asks of you, an abused child is a VICTIM. Children are victims no matter the circumstance, the time that passed, the opportunities that they have missed to get away. It doesn’t matter how we rationalize he or she could have gotten out. That is hindsight, it is insensitive, and it means none of ‘us’ were in the right place at the right time... Whose to blame for that? The VICTIM? I think not.

Melody C. Gibson
Executive Director/Cofounder
National Center for Missing Youth


I'm so saddened by this. Nearly obsessed. I want so badly for Shawn Hornbeck to recover and be able to lead a normal life. I'm floored this happened and what is wrong with Devlin? I read where he said, "yea I was pretty happy during those years" and he's worried about what his parent thing? Oh my goodness. Perhaps the awful things Devlin might have told Hornbeck to make him scared to reach his parents will be true of his own parents. I don't look for him to last more than a year in jail anyway. People (in or out of jail) DO NOT like people who abuse children and in such a grotesque manner. He stole that boy's childhood. He stole his life because Shawn Hornbeck won't go far without those thoughts haunting him. Blaming him for not escaping pisses me off too. While I don't understand, I certain wouldn't blame it on him. Must have been some strange outrageous fear Devlin instilled in that poor child.
God Bless them All !!
Houston, Texas

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