DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, my 8-year-old daughter and her friend were molested by a teenage boy from our church. My daughter came to me and told me about it. I immediately took her to the hospital and called the police.
This began a year of talking to detectives, district attorneys and therapists. During all this time, we were urged by friends of the boy's parents and other church members not to press charges. We had to move twice to avoid conflict with all the people who thought he was innocent.
When the court date finally arrived, my daughter and her friend took the stand separately to tell their stories while the boy and his parents stared at them.
My daughter showed remarkable courage. When the public defender tried to twist her words, she stood firm. At one point, she told the public defender that he was a liar when he said something untrue. She actually made the judge laugh.
I will not tell you she wasn't upset when she walked out of the courtroom. She went to her friend and gave her a big hug. Then her friend went in to testify. The boy was convicted.
I am sharing this story because our children are stronger than we give them credit for. Professionals have told me that the reason my daughter is OK now is because I let her stand up for herself and I believed in her.
I encourage parents and guardians of molested children to let the children stand up for themselves. Don't try to shelter them from the legal process. It is healing for them to assert their rights. -- STANDING UP FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS
DEAR STANDING UP: Thank you for the great letter. When you encouraged your daughter to fight back using the legal system, you empowered her and gave her closure. Too many innocent victims remain silent out of shame and fear -– and by doing so, they carry wounds that can last a lifetime.