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By Tammi Pitzen, Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County

Today I am sitting in my office trying to get caught up after the big snow fall in Medford.  The office is officially closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  It is very quiet and peaceful here.

I have been reading about a case out of New Mexico of some pretty horrific abuse.  Maybe you have read about it?  It caught my attention on Facebook on a friend’s feed. I remember hearing a little bit about this case earlier in the investigation.

The child was ten years old and named Victoria Martens.

She was sexually abused and killed by her Mother’s boyfriend and his cousin while the mom watched. I would not advise researching for more information on this case, as most of the reports I have read have been pretty graphic and pretty horrific.

Most of my career in child protection I have categorized parents in two categories. There are those who do the best they can and that just isn’t good enough to keep their kids healthy and safe, so their children are abused. These parents have the ability to learn and have the desire to do so.  These parents are the parents that when their children are removed from their care, they are usually returned after a treatment plan.  Or maybe the children are left in their care with a treatment plan.

Then there are the parents I say are, well, just “mean” parents.  It appears from the articles that I have read that Victoria unfortunately had a “mean” mom.  These are the parents that are somewhat sadistic and are just cruel.  I will admit that I do not know the truth of what happened and I am making judgements based on what I have read in the news article.

There among the news reports on the case is an interview with the Mother’s parents.  The case reports state that the Mom watched her current boyfriend, and two other men before that, have sex with her daughter for her own sexual gratification.  (I wasn’t kidding when I said the reports were graphic…they are disturbing even to me after many years of hearing these kinds of stories.)  There are reports that she watched two people give her daughter, who was ten years-old, meth in order to calm her down so they could have sex with her.

Victoria’s grandparents say that the child never said anything and appeared to be happy. A friend and neighbor of the mom states, “I know Victoria is in heaven saying forgive my mom.”   The grandparents agree.  The grandparents report that their daughter loved her children and was a hard working single mother.

If that is the case, then that leaves the rest of us to ask what went wrong.  What can we learn from this in order to prevent it in the future? 

I need to know, even though I do not know Victoria, that she did not die for her mom’s, and the others allegedly involved, own perverted reasons.  I need to know we, as in the global we, can do better for the Victorias in the world.

I have poured over the news reports in this case.  My heart hurts.  I cry not understanding how this happens.  I compare it to my own life.  What would have to happen in my life that I would find myself there and allow this to happen to ANY one’s child.  I can come up with no scenarios.

My only hope is that most people in this world are made up of a moral fiber that does not allow for events to happen that would end in this result for a child.  For any child.

Everyone one interviewed, or at least that I could find to read, stated that there were no signs that this was going on.  The child seemed happy.  Mom is described as a hard working single mom.

I wonder how many people in this child’s life had any education regarding identifying and responding to child sexual abuse.  The mom states in one of her interviews that there were other men, acquaintances of mom’s, who had sex with this child because mom liked to watch.

I have a favor to ask of all those who are outraged and horrified by the Victoria Martens case. 

If you believe that this ten year-old should not have been forced to have sex with the men in her mother’s life, if you think it is a tragedy that she was killed one day after her tenth birthday, and if you would do anything in your power to prevent this from happening to children in your life or in your community or in your child’s life or in your grandchild’s life, then please join the Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County in our efforts to protect the children in our community from sexual abuse. 

Sign up for a class through our Protect Our Children project.  There are public classes every month.  We will even do private classes for you if you have 5 people or more who are interested in protecting children.

We can make a difference.  We can’t change what has already happened, but we can control what we do in the future to prevent these tragedies from happening.

Let’s all decide together that we will not accept that Victoria’s abuse and death could not have been prevented, that there were no signs.