Finding My Voice - Matt Morgan's Story
At the age of 44 years old I was repeatedly awakened by nightmares. I told my wife I haven’t had this dream since I was a kid. It became completely debilitating in a short amount of time.
I really thought I was going crazy. With the help of my family, I found myself in a rehab center. You see, addiction was part of my story. There, I worked through some intense therapy and I learned that these dreams were actual memories from my childhood. I could no longer deny what had happened to me. My whole life I hated myself and couldn’t look in the mirror, I struggled with addiction and suicidal thoughts but really never knew why.
I invited my family to visit me while in rehab. That’s when I shared with my wife and children for the first time the sexual abuse that I had endured as a child. After years of silence, I found my voice. During my stay, I worked with many mental health care professionals. I was diagnosed with PTSD and dissociative amnesia. I couldn’t understand how these memories were kept locked up for so long. They told me ‘the body protects you.’
Once I returned home, my therapy continued. My counselor invited a police officer in to listen to my story, she told me that there was no statute of limitation on Rape. I was asked to go to the police station for a very painful interview and she began an investigation and said ‘we can get this guy’. Later, she came back to inform me that there is a statute of limitations for events prior to 1993. I was devastated.
I went to my uncle for answers and for an apology. That day went horribly wrong.
I was triggered by the environment and the smells. Through no choice of my own, I found myself in a civil litigation with my abuser. I told my attorneys I wanted them to counter-sue. “I can’t be a defendant,” I said. My attorneys counter-sued for childhood sexual abuse, but we knew it would be thrown out due to the statute of limitations. They became very creative and in my day in court, I was able to go around the statute of limitations with a new cause of action-Fraud for grooming a child.
On that divine day, with my family by my side, 12 perfect strangers had allowed me a voice. They unanimously found on my behalf and gave me the truth and validation I so needed to move forward on a lifetime journey of healing.
But then, I had to watch my abuser walk out the door with his freedom instead of in handcuffs. With all the many setbacks and heart-wrenching disappointments in the civil justice system over a period of three years, I felt re-victimized. I now feel that I have been given a gift of vindication that I so want for other victims of this insidious and life-altering crime against our children.
The goal of helping victims, raising awareness of childhood sexual abuse and working to end this cycle of abuse is the reason I helped start Building Hope Today. The mission of this nonprofit is to safeguard those at risk and work toward a future where children no longer are at risk of such destructive behavior from those they should trust. If we can save just one it will be worth it.
My experiences, combined with my understanding of the challenges facing victims, are also the reasons I’m in favor of Marsy’s Law for Idaho. There is no doubt in my mind that victims need and deserve a stronger voice in our legal system and rights on par with those our constitution provides to offenders. Idaho crime victims need more. They deserve more. Now is the time to provide those rights and finally give crime victims a true voice in the process.