It Wasn't Your Fault: Surviving Child Sexual Abuse
Not in a million years did she think she would have been in this situation.
KeKe* is 34 year old, hardworking single mother of 5 beautiful children. Taking care of people is something that she loves to do, so it is no surprise that she works for a nonprofit that specializes in providing citizens who have low income with better medical options.
Being a working mother, it is only natural that Keke would need childcare for her youngest children while she was at work. She decided to use a local in-home daycare provider that lived in her parents neighborhood. Due to the nature of Keke's work, she understood the importance of having reliable support, and just like any good mother, Keke researched the location prior to enrolling her children into the program.
“I looked her up on [the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services] website. No sanctions, no anything.[I looked there because] They have information of the inspections that are done. They have those reports on file and you can see what sanctions they may have had from the inspections.”
In Ohio, if you are a daycare provider that accepts title 20, The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (also known as ODJFS), is responsible for regularly conducting inspections to ensure the provider's home is in accordance with state standards in order for the in-home provider to continue to receive government funding. In this case, the in-home provider had a clean record which made Keke comfortable with enrolling her children. Coupled with the fact that the owner had a pleasant personality and the home was extremely clean and safe, Keke felt confident knowing that her children were enrolled within a loving and safe environment.
Keke happily enrolled her 15-month-old twin girls and 2-year-old daughter. The in-home daycare provider seemed to be a blessing in disguise who helped Keke out of many binds.
“My big thing is I like to watch how kids act when you pick them up and drop them off. If they like going, or if they like staying. Do they reach out to them? [The In-Home Providers] Do they smile? You gotta watch them. My kids did all that, so I felt safe.”
Although the day care was ran by one woman, Keke did note that the woman’s son also lived within the house. He was around 16 to 17-years-old at the time and was very quiet and respectful. He stayed in his room the majority of the time that the daycare was opened and operational but occasionally would be responsible for clean-up after the children.
As time went on, Keke and the daycare provider grew a strong report, allowing her to take her children (along with the other children) to Chuck E. Cheese’s and even being a little lax on pick up times when work occasionally ran a little later than normal. When one can find a daycare that is so responsive to their needs, you can’t help but thank your lucky stars that you found a place that can love your kids like you do.
On one particular day, Keke went to pick up her children as normal, but discovered one of her daughters doing a not so normal action; Her daughter was continuously holding herself. While she stayed and spoke a little with the daycare owner, she continued watching her now 3-year-old daughter. She kept noticing that her hand never moved from her vagina. As the owner talked to her daughter to ask what was wrong, the little girl stayed mum until they left to go to her parents home who lived around the corner.
When Keke asked her daughter again why she was holding herself, the next words that came out of her daughter’s mouth sent her reeling; “Keenan put his finger in it.”
Keenan Butler is the young man who stayed in his room while his mother ran the in-home day care center. Keke did noticed that he was downstairs when she went to pick up her daughter which was very rare. She even noted that in the 2 years she had her children there he never spoke a word to her, but on this day when the owner asked the 3 year old if someone touched her he said “Don’t no one better touch my Titi*”. Looking back on the interaction that took place only moments ago, Keke felt devastated. She called the owner back and was met with an unexpected reaction; rage. The owner immediately took up for her son and in fact, told Keke to check with her (at the time) husband to see if he had assaulted her daughter.
The woman who she has trusted over the past two years had turned her back on her and later would hurl a campaign of threats, while trying to discredit the victim’s mother.
But Keke couldn’t worry about that right now. Her main priority was ensuring that her daughter received immediate help. She took her daughter to Children’s Hospital where they questioned her young daughter about the incident while also completing a rape kit. While trying to keep her daughter calm during this emotional time, Keke struggled to answer her daughter's questions such as “Why didn’t I get my clothes back?” or how to respond to her questions about what happened to her and why did Keenan do it.
Keke and her family wouldn’t hear anything back regarding the kit for months. In the interim the daycare owner’s in-home business was shut down due to leaving the kids unattended, which led to her losing her license overall. During these next few months, Keke and her family faced threats and harassment from his family. The owner and her family had constantly called her phone and drove by her home to intimidate her from pursuing the case any further in efforts to save and protect the owner's only son.
After months of waiting Keke finally received confirmation from the rape kit that her daughter had indeed been a victim of child sexual abuse. The kit confirmed Butler’s DNA in her daughter’s vagina and rectum. (In court, Butler admitted that his finger did go into the young girl’s vagina but said it was due to an accident from picking her up.)
In the end, Butler received 5 years in prison, but has already served 2 years which may mean he only has 3 years left. Butler had initially been charged with 2 counts of rape and 2 counts of gross imposition. He pled out to 1 count of rape which gives a maximum of 11 years, yet Butler received only 5 years total.
Keke has become frustrated with the judicial system, noting that drug users and criminals of non-violent crimes have received more time than someone who has sexually abused an innocent child. She felt let down by the system who we often have been taught to trust. The same system where people tell you to allow the process to work and that you will get justice.
“I struggle with making sure my daughter knows we didn’t let this fucker get away with this. “ Keke said.
Since then Keke has been trying to bring back some sort of normalcy in her daughter’s life by seeking counseling and making sure she understands that none of the things that happened was her fault. She can see the effects of what happened to her youngest daughter in the form of delayed learning skills and inexplicable weight gain. She noticed that her once outgoing personality has slightly changed to a more reserved and introverted child.
Keke sometimes thinks about the other children who went to her children's former day care and wondered if any of the other children may have been a victim of Butler’s sexual abuse. She recalls a young boy who was a regular at the daycare, who suddenly stopped coming.
“I wanted to ask his mother, ‘Why did he stop coming’? Did he ever say anything? I wondered why did he stop coming. ”
As time moves on, Keke is learning how to cope with what her family has been through and wants to advocate for other children who have been victims of sexual abuse. She wants to lobby against the judicial system's current treatment of sexual offenders and advocate for tougher sentencing for criminals who commit sexual assault towards children. “It has been going on for years and years, and people brush it off as if it is nothing. A thief will get more time [as opposed] to someone who hurts someone for life."
3 Things All Women Can Learn From Keke
Not in a million years did she think she would have been in this situation. She did her due diligence in identifying a good in-home provider. She checked the necessary government sites to ensure that the day care was a quality establishment. She spoke to other parents who brought their children to the daycare, yet her daughter was still a victim of sexual abuse. However, Keke’s quick reaction time, ability to pay attention to detail, and communication skills helped her convict and put away a child predator.
Have a clear and open dialogue with your children
Keke taught her daughters to call their sex organs by their actual names. "I teach them that it is a vagina. I wanted them to know that no one should touch it.” She taught her children that their privacy is valuable and didn’t want them to get caught up in pet names for their private parts to cut down on confusion. Many times you hear how children felt bad or uncomfortable after being assaulted and feel as though they cannot say anything to anyone, causing years of guilt and trauma that can lead to other mental stresses down the line. She focuses on creating a warm and inviting relationship with her daughters so that they could come to her about anything without feeling ashamed.
Time is of the essence
When Keke heard that her daughter was sexually assaulted, she immediately took her daughter to Children’s hospital. Often times people wait around because they have a hard time dealing with the situation but this can be detrimental to your case should you desire to press charges.(Which I HIGHLY recommend.) Once too much time passes, the DNA can become degraded and makes it harder to substantiate the victim’s story. As soon as your child says they have been sexually assaulted, take them to the hospital so that they can perform a rape kit and grab the assailant’s DNA in order to better fight their case in court.
Pay Attention to You Child
Keke interacts with her children constantly and knows when any of her children are acting out of character. Her ability to focus on her daughter’s sudden interest in holding her vagina sent out a huge red signal to Keke. Once she confirmed why her daughter was holding herself, she was able to react accordingly and take the next steps to expose her daughter’s assailant. Her speedy reaction time allowed the police to obtain good DNA samples which led to the arrest and ultimately conviction of her daughter's assailant.
If you or anyone else you know have been sexually assaulted, make sure to contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline. They can provide confidential support, locate facilities to help abuse survivors, refer victims to long term support in their area, and so much more!
Please support Keke and her daughter by sharing this post and advocating for harsher sentences for sexual predators.
*Denotes names have been changed to protect the victim's family.