Anti-Abuse Activist & Child Sexual Abuse Survivor
When Barbi was six years old, she was exposed to pornography by an uncle. She didn’t understand what it was, but she quickly understood what it would lead to—him sexually abusing her. Barbi didn’t fully recognize the connection that pornography played in the sexual abuse during her childhood until a guest speaker talked to her class when she was in high school. After that, she disclosed her abuse to a trusted teacher, who then informed Barbi’s parents about what had happened. Fortunately, Barbi’s parents believed her and were able to go to law enforcement, and her abuser was later convicted in court. Now, Barbi is a loving mother to five kids and is happily married to her husband of twenty years, and she’s passionate about educating how pornography is used to groom children for abuse. Hear her story and what she’s doing now to invest in her healing and make her home a safe place for others.
FROM THIS EPISODE
- Learn more about Bark
- Article: Bark Undercover Project
- Article: 6 Ways The Mainstream Porn Industry Fuels Child Sexual Abuse
- Article: Understanding How Child Sexual Abuse Images Are USed To Groom Abuse Victims
- Article: Samantha’s Story: How She Survived Child Sexual Abuse And Became An Advocate For Other Victims
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Garrett Jonsson: My name is Garrett Jonsson, and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug.
And in case you’re new here, Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
We want these conversations to be educational, uplifting, and hopeful. As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some- you can refer to the episode notes for a specific trigger warning. Listener discretion is advised.
Today’s conversation is with Barbi. She is a loving mother to five kids and is happily married to her husband of twenty years. When Barbi was just six-years-old, she was exposed to pornography by a trusted adult. At the time, she didn’t understand what it was, but she quickly understood what it would lead to, which was him sexually abusing her. During this conversation we discuss how pornography played a role in her child sexual abuse, how it impacted her life, and how she’s been able to press forward despite the abuse that she experienced.
With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation, we hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
I think it’s important to give a little bit of rundown as to your current life.
Garrett Jonsson: Because they need to know how awesome you are.
Barbi: Thank you. First of all, I’ll start off with my name. So people aren’t scared to call me my name. Um, my name is Barbi, like the doll, um, was born a redhead named after a person, not the doll. Um, my mom’s friend from high school, his name was Barbi. And so I named after her, I was born a redhead. So it made sense no longer red head. I’m a blonde, um, and resemble the doll. So it’s funny that that’s my name now. Um, now that my parents thought that I wouldn’t look like the doll, so it was safe. Um, not Bambi. That’s often a mistake people make.
Garrett Jonsson: Often confused with…
Barbi: Yes. [laughter] I’m not saying Bambi’s a bad name. It’s just not mine. My name is Barbie. Um, I am the mom to five kids, four daughters, one son. Um, and I have been married almost 20 years. So we’re holding on, plugging along. [laughter]
Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] For sure. With five kids, five kids,
Barbi: Five kids.
Garrett Jonsson: Four girls, one boy. That’s a lot.
Barbi: That’s right. Best boy. He is the most patient individual that I know of. Yes.
Garrett Jonsson: That’s cool. Um, and then your husband is a doctor?
Barbi: That’s right.
Garrett Jonsson: In the ER?
Barbi: The emergency medicine physician. Yep.
Garrett Jonsson: And then for fun, you guys… does he, I know you’re into fitness. Is he also?
Barbi: I’m into fitness. He’s… our, the fitness that we like are polar opposites of each other. I do not like to mountain bike at all. In fact, I think it’s crazy that you biked from Virginia to San Francisco.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Barbi: That’s like my nightmare. Like when I think of a nightmare, I think biking from, from, from,…
Garrett Jonsson: From your house to the mailbox? [laughter]
Barbi: Yes. [laughter] That’s just too much. Um, but my husband loves to mountain bike and I enjoy, um, more of weightlifting type of workout. So…
Garrett Jonsson: Cool. I haven’t done CrossFit for like five years, probably. But I like it.
Barbi: It’s the best place to leave your anger. Just leave it there.
Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Yeah. Some good therapy?
Barbi: That’s right.
Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] So now that we know a little bit more about you and the level of awesomeness that you’ve reached, can we jump into your personal account?
Garrett Jonsson: I guess the first question to start with is when did you first experience some of the harmful effects of pornography in your life?
Barbi: Um, I was just a child. I was, uh, roughly six, six, seven years old. Um, I was exposed to it by the hands of another individual, which is often the case with pornography and children. Um, my parents are the most charitable people and oftentimes would have families, um, live with us, families with kids sometimes not with kids.
Garrett Jonsson: Your dad was a farmer?
Barbi: My dad’s a farmer. Yep.
Garrett Jonsson: Which brings some cool experiences as a child.
Barbi: It’s the best way to be a child is on a farm, driving the tractors. I started driving when I was 10, you know, so,… [laughter]
Garrett Jonsson: And your mom was a dancer?
Barbi: Yeah, my mom is a dancer, still a dancer. Um, she grew up in the east coast and she had a studio. She did most of her training in Boston and New York. Um, and she opened her own studio when she was, when she was 18.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Barbi: In Massachusetts. And then she moved when she met my dad. My dad is from where I’m from and came to, to live here and opened a studio here. And I was always raised in a studio and I was raised in on farm. So…
Garrett Jonsson: You mentioned that you were exposed to pornography, but I don’t think you mentioned who it was.
Barbi: Yeah. So, um, my, my mom’s, if some family members of my moms came from the East coast to, to our home and lived with us for we’re, we’re not really sure how long they were with us. Um, just because we did have families in and out of our home a lot. It was hard to pinpoint a timeframe on it. Um, I just know how old it was based off of, um, my memories of school. Um, and yeah, so I was exposed between the ages of six and seven, um, my uncle, but I, I don’t refer to him as that anymore. I feel like “uncle” is a respectable term and he’s not a respectable man. Um, he exposed myself, my sister, and my brother to pornography. He had a VHS, a box in the room that they stayed in, in our home, uh, full of VHS. People who, um, are predators, pedophiles. They can manipulate to the there’s perfect at it. I can’t, there’s not even vocabulary for the way they manipulate, but they are so good at it.
Garrett Jonsson: Um, none of us are above that manipulation.
Barbi: No. Well, they had all those gymnasts, the Nassar case, he had those gymnasts believing that it was okay.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. He would say that it was a medical treatment.
Garrett Jonsson: Like an internal treatment of the pelvic floor, is basically what he would say.
Barbi: Yes, which is crazy. Especially having a physician doctor, I cannot imagine.
Garrett Jonsson: And the way he finally got caught was one of his victims wasn’t his patient, and he…
Barbi: No, the victims weren’t believed. They told, they told and they weren’t believed.
Garrett Jonsson: There were several that told.
Barbi: Several that told, and finally one brought it to the, to the paper, to the press somehow.
Garrett Jonsson: And she wasn’t his patient. So then he didn’t have that excuse anymore.
Garrett Jonsson: Anyway, the point is, is that none of us are above the manipulation.
Barbi: Absolutely not.
Garrett Jonsson: Now jumping to your experience.
Barbi: Yes. As far as we know my sisters and I even had a conversation just two days ago about this, just because I wanted to make sure I was speaking truth today. Um, he didn’t ever sexually abused them. It was just me and him looking back, my little sister was too young. Uh, she, she was, she was little and she, she won’t mind if I say this, but she cried a lot. And so she would’ve been, she would have, she would’ve cried. And my older sister was at an age where she probably would have said something. And so he targeted me because I was passive. I was shy. I was exactly what he was looking for. I was a very trusting little girl and I think that’s why I was targeted.
Garrett Jonsson: So he targeted you from there. The abuse kind of started?
Barbi: Right away. I just didn’t have the vocabulary or the understanding of what sexual abuse was. It wasn’t, in the eighties, you didn’t talk about it. It was not talked about, it was shoved under a rug and that’s where it stayed. So for me, it just wasn’t something that I, I knew even existed. So he would tell me that it was fine, that what he was doing was okay. Um, and it wasn’t, but I didn’t know that. So when he would hurt me with like a bruise, he’s like, “Remember not to tell your parents about that.” or “If your parents see that bruise, tell them it was from recess.”
Garrett Jonsson: And for how many years did the sexual abuse last from age six until…
Barbi: Between the age of six and seven. And we’re not really sure how long, because when he moved his continued to happen in, in the apartment that they lived in, until they moved back to the east coast, um, I don’t remember how I felt when they left. I just know he threatened me right before they left. And so it just never said anything. I was because I knew what he was capable of. I knew he would, at the time I knew he would follow through with the threats. So I, I kept it quiet. I, I didn’t really know what it was that he did. I know how it made me feel and it didn’t make me feel good. Um, but sometimes other people don’t make me feel good. So at the time I just thought, ‘Oh, he’s just another one of those people who won’t let me play with them at recess’, kind of thing.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Barbi: Um, so I would express how I felt through my, I, I liked to draw and do art and I would express how I felt through art. And I think, I think if my parents kept all the artwork, it would really tell a story.
Garrett Jonsson: What do you mean by that?
Barbi: Like, um, because sometimes when he was done with me, I would color a picture and it was me sad or a day he didn’t touch me, it would be happy. And I was in, you know, a field of wild flowers in the, in the picture I would draw. Um, so I think that my, I mean, in a lot of child, psychologists will say, you know, artwork is really telling what children. And I think that with me, it was, that’s where I expressed my, that was my outlet.
Garrett Jonsson: And so you held on to this pain, but you’re kind of unaware of it because you’re so young?
Barbi: Yeah. I mean, it was, the pain was always there, but it was clear in the back of my mind.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Barbi: I had no idea what he did was, was it beef? I really had no idea. I know that sounds, I know that sounds crazy. I’m listening to myself thinking ‘TThat sounds crazy.” It’s not…
Garrett Jonsson: We need to change that stigma though, right?
Garrett Jonsson: Because it’s common for individuals who have experienced abuse to not have the language or the, the knowledge to understand what is happening. Especially as a child.
Barbi: Not only that in the eighties, you don’t talk about it. I was the, the child that appeared to be perfect. I was happy.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Barbi: I, I really wasn’t. Uh, I, wasn’t a sad child. In fact, if you were to look outside, you’re looking into our family, we appeared to be perfect. You know, my, my mom and dad loved each other and had a good relationship, five kids who did well in school. And, um, we’re all healthy and talented. As an outsider looking in, you would have never known that sexual abuse and pornography was in our home. You would have never known.
Garrett Jonsson: And then when did you start getting the language to actually talk about the abuse?
Barbi: Um, so I started to realize that what he did, that, what he did was sexual abuse. When I was in the seventh grade health class, I think, um, I don’t can’t remember which group came into our class, but something like the Peace House came into our class and talked about, um, abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. And that’s at that moment is when I realized, “Oh my gosh, what he did to me was sexual abuse.” And that, but at that time, I did not know that the movies he was playing for me was pornography. I thought it was rated R movies. I was only allowed to watch rated G movies, we didn’t have cable. We didn’t have, we had, I think the only station we had was the channel seven and channel 11, like the local, the local channels. So we didn’t have TV. So I was, uh, I didn’t, I just thought it was a rated R. I knew what a radar movie was. Cause I knew I wasn’t allowed to watch them. And that’s what I thought he was playing for me. So then in the eighth grade, the same people came to this health class and that’s when I realized he showed me pornography. Every, every person in those movies he played were naked.
Garrett Jonsson: Did in seventh grade, when you found out that it was sexual assault and you came to that realization, did it become heavier for you, and more of a burden?
Barbi: Oh yeah. Yes. That’s when, like, that’s when I felt like, “Oh, I did something to make him want to do this to me. It was, it was all my fault.” I knew that what he did was because of me, I, I just knew it in seventh grade. Um, so that was, that was heavy. That was really heavy. But I, I was really good at pretending like every day was a good day. Um, no one would have known that I was having a hard day.
Garrett Jonsson: And no one did know, except for you and him.
Barbi: That’s right.
Garrett Jonsson: And then in eighth grade, when you found out that what he was showing was pornography…
Barbi: That was a whole nother level of, “I am bad.” Like the shame is indescribable that you feel from being sexually abused. But then on top of that, the pornography brings on a whole new level of shame.
Garrett Jonsson: Why did you feel shame from that?
Barbi: If I would have told sooner, if I would have told the very first time it happened, my sister and my brother would never, would’ve seen the pornography either. I knew that they saw the pornography and I was hoping my, my sister was young enough that I was hoping that she had forgotten. But in talking to her just a few days ago, she remembers, and for her triggers are sounds, um, she remembers the images, but I was hoping that she had forgotten, had never talked to my brother about, about the pornography.
Garrett Jonsson: It’s interesting how some of our most traumatic experiences are the ones that we don’t talk about.
Barbi: Talk least about. Yeah. I think I could bring it up to him now. I was with him a few weeks ago and I wanted to talk to him about it. Cause I knew I’d be coming here, but I didn’t know if his wife knew and I didn’t know if his kids knew.
Garrett Jonsson: So how long was it until you were able to finally tell someone?
Barbi: Um, I told my ninth grade year for me was almost over. It was March of my ninth grade year. I was 15. Um, I knew I couldn’t tell anybody until I was no longer angry with him. Um, so I, I forgave him. I, I couldn’t take away what he did, what he did was his choice. It wasn’t my choice. I didn’t choose to see pornography. I didn’t choose for him to touch me. I didn’t, I didn’t choose any of that. Um, so that’s when I knew and, and I forgave him and it took me another, maybe six months after forgiving him to actually, um, ….
Garrett Jonsson: Get the courage?
Barbi: Get the courage to, I didn’t know how to tell. I didn’t, I, it just, wasn’t something you talked about, you just didn’t talk about it. And if someone said something, it was like, that was the end of the conversation. There was no, there was no chatter about it after that it was done. And I didn’t, I didn’t know how, I didn’t know who to tell. I didn’t know how to go to, I didn’t know if they would believe me. I was, it was easier for me. It was just easier for me just to know and no one else to know and I’ll be okay and that’s the end. Um, but I didn’t, I just felt like my parents, it was almost became a burden that I couldn’t do on my own anymore. So I had a religion teacher who I, thankfully he allowed me the opportunity to trust him.
I watched, kept my eye on him all year. I was wondering if, if he was trustworthy and he was, and I so grateful for him and allowing me the opportunity to trust him because I, he believed me. Um, he, he, I didn’t go up to him and say, “Hey, you know, I was sexually abused.” He had a lesson where he had this jar in, on, uh, on his desk. And he said, “I feel like a lot of you are carrying some heavy burdens today.” I’m going to allow you to write a question, anonymous question. And tomorrow we’re going to discuss these.”, what would be the next class? So, because we had the class every other day. And so I didn’t write it in classmate questions. I didn’t want anyone to see it. So I went home. I was like, “Huh, I got to disguise my handwriting.”
You know? So I wrote it in cursive with my left hand, because I’m right-handed, and I’m like, “This is really messy, but it’s fine.” And then I put it in there and it was one of the first questions he pulled out. I was like, “He’s probably not even going to see the question anyways. Um, he only has an hour to read 35 questions.”
Garrett Jonsson: Did he read them out loud?
Barbi: He read them out loud. Yes. Um, this one, mine, he, he read, he didn’t read it out loud at first. He read it and then his eyes filled up with tears. And then he were to out loud. He did not answer it. So he put it aside. And then I think it was within about a week later, he pulled me aside after class and asked me if it was me and I, I first told him “No.” And then I started crying and then he, he assured me, he believed me, but he did say that I have to tell my parents.
And I didn’t know that by law, he had to tell the police had to get involved. I didn’t, I was not educated enough on all of that. Um, and he asked if he could call my mom. And then he did, he called my mom and my mom took me on a drive. And I know that’s where I have conversations with my kids. Now, if I have something to talk to them about, like, “Let’s go for a drive, one ice cream cone, get in the car and give me your phone because I don’t want you texting anybody.” Um, and we’ll go in the car and, and that’s where we have conversation. And that’s what my mom did. She brought me in the car and we went for a drive. And I, I didn’t, I didn’t know how I, I hadn’t yet used the words I’ve written it, but I had never actually said out loud, “I was sexually abused.” I never had said that. And I couldn’t say it to my mom. I, because I knew she was going to fill what I had felt for the past three years. And I like couldn’t fathom my mom and my dad feeling that pain. So my mom just guessed. She just started asking questions and it turned into, “Were you sexually abused?” And then “By who?” And I made her guests and she, she guessed. And that’s, that’s how my parents found out.
Garrett Jonsson: It’s a heavy thing, and um…
Barbi: Yeah. It’s a lot. It’s a lot. But it’s something that we has to be talked about.
Garrett Jonsson: Agreed. And that’s why we are grateful for you being here today. Now, going back to, when you were finally able to tell another person, when you wrote that down and you gave it to your teacher, how did it feel to finally tell someone else?
Barbi: Well, part of me was hoping he wouldn’t ever reach mine. Um, so when I saw that it was mine, um, my heart sink, I was like, “this is, this is it. Everyone’s gonna know how bad I am now.” And that’s not what happened for me. I, I, it makes me so sad to hear of people who aren’t believed. And I know that happens. Um, and thankfully for me, there was none of that. And that was my biggest fear was, “People are gonna think I’m bad and people aren’t gonna believe me.” And neither of those things happened. People. Now, if people hear me, they’ll say things like, “Well, now I know why you’re the way you are.”
Garrett Jonsson: What do you mean by that?
Barbi: Like, I don’t really know, because I don’t know if I would be any different if it didn’t happen to me, I have no idea, but I’m protective. I don’t let my kids roam the neighborhood. They, if, if they go to a friend’s house it’s by invitation, um, uh, that, there’s just things I don’t allow. And people will say things like, “Oh no, I get why you’re the way you are.” I’m like, “I don’t even understand what that means, because I probably would be this way anyways. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Barbi: But I’m a helicopter mom.
Garrett Jonsson: You’re strong on defense.
Barbi: Yeah, I’m like, I want to know.
Garrett Jonsson: I think helicopter mom kind of has like a negative connotation.
Garrett Jonsson: But it’s more like, you’re just, you’re aware. You’re helping your kids be competent. You’re you’re a realist. Right?
Barbi: Absolutely. I do phone checks. My kids have phones. They, um, and it’s random phone checks. I mean, I have an 18 year old and I’m still like “Hand me your phone, I need to check your texts.” She’s 18, but I pay the bill. So I will check her phone. They just know that. So there’s no, I don’t. If they’re hiding stuff from me, they’re really good at it because I checked their histories. I check…
Garrett Jonsson: And at least you’re doing your part, right?
Barbi: As much as I can. Yeah. I’m sure.
Garrett Jonsson: Speaking of technology and kids were kind of getting on a tangent here, but did you see that video done by a software company called, Bark? And there was a mom who went undercover. She looks young. She’s probably, I don’t know how old she is, but she looks young anyway. And she goes undercover and they take photos. It was a whole thing. It took a, Lowe’s a long process. A lot of detail put into it. They took photos. They Photoshop them, for her to look younger. And then they created a profile. Have you seen this?
Barbi: I have seen this, actually just like last week.
Garrett Jonsson: It’s just going viral right now. So it’s not a surprise that you saw it last week, but yeah, she, we’ll link it to this episode.
Barbi: The amount of information that she found was unreal.
Garrett Jonsson: Yep. Like within a minute and 26 seconds, if I’m remembering correctly, there was people on her account trying to groom her.
Barbi: Yes. Well, my kids have no social media. Um, my, my two oldest have Instagram and they each, I don’t allow it until they’re 15. So my, my 14 year old now I’m like, if you write me a 20 page persuasive essay on why you need Instagram and I’m persuaded, maybe it’s been two years and she has not been in the essay. Um, but she can follow whoever she wants on mind. That way I can, I can, but I have my kids, Instagrams are linked to me. So sorry, kids now, you know? Um, but I, I see everything. I see every inbox, I see everything. So maybe that’s an invasion of their privacy, but that’s my right as their mom. So…
Garrett Jonsson: I think what this company does, who did this, uh, undercover project.
Garrett Jonsson: It’s a company that basically does what you’re doing.
Garrett Jonsson: But it’s an algorithm that does it for you kind of thing.
Garrett Jonsson: Anyway. So it can build trust with, in the relationship.
Barbi: I trust my kids. I they’ve given me so far. No reason not to. Um, they’re, I think they’re a little bit scared of me, which is good.
Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]
Barbi: Um, I, I’m not, I’m not mad about that because I would rather than be scared out of love. They know I love them.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, of course.
Barbi: So, yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: Um, the other thing, so jumping back to your story now.
Barbi: You’re good.
Garrett Jonsson: So you said you felt regret, a little bit of regret, the first time that teacher, when he grabbed the paper, you were like, “Oh no.”
Barbi: Um, I honestly, part of me wanted to run up there and be like, “No, actually don’t read that one. That one’s mine and it’s not worth reading.” but I, I was like paralyzed. Like I wanna run up there, but I don’t want to run up there. “I hope he just can’t read my handwriting. Cause it’s my left hand and it’s cursive and it’s really bad.” Um, but he, it was legible enough that he knew exactly what it said.
Garrett Jonsson: And then the other question I had was when you told your mom in the, or I guess you didn’t tell your mom, you kind of had her to guess.
Garrett Jonsson: But that conversation happened.
Barbi: It took me probably 10 years after that to actually be able to say “I was, I was sexually abused.” Like I just couldn’t actually like,…
Garrett Jonsson: Verbalize that.
Garrett Jonsson: What did you feel? Because I know in some traumatic experiences like that, like the room can start to spin. It can be a traumatizing thing. Did you, were you, were you calm with your mom or did you feel anxious?
Barbi: Yeah, because I had no more anger towards him. I don’t respect him, but I don’t wish ill things for him. His life hasn’t been good. There’s been more heartache in his life than.… And, but I feel like he kind of deserves it all. I, I don’t wanna that, that sounds awful. It sounds like I’m holding a grudge. I’m not, but I feel like sometimes your choices, your choices for good, or for, for, for bad, are going to result in your, the consequences of your life for good or for bad. Um, so I didn’t, I knew my mom and dad would be really angry with him and I knew they would, they were going to fill how I felt. And I, that, that, that was the hardest part for me, was watching them fill, fill how I felt for the past three years.
My siblings were all confused. Um, but all of our stories aligned, there was all of our stories were the same. I know, cause we did my parents, that police did get involved and we did take him to court. And I did testify through writing. Um, I was behind, uh, it looked like a mirror. I could see him. I didn’t want him to see me cause I looked different and I, part of me still believed with the threats. So I didn’t want him to see, see what I looked like now, rather than I did when I was six, seven, eight years old. So I testified through writing my mom. Uh, if you want to see a strong woman, it was my mom, the day of court. And that woman had the paper and she walked in there with the greatest amount of confidence that I’ve ever seen in her.
And she looked him straight in the eyes and just told him exactly how she felt. And for her, I think that was really healing. I didn’t need to do that, but for her watching her and how strong she was, has actually gotten me through a lot of hard things. When I think “This is going to be really hard, but I’ll be just like my mom was in that courtroom.” I didn’t understand how the laws worked with, um, any type of abuse, really. Um, we didn’t have smartphones. I couldn’t Google, there was no Siri. It was all in dictionary and encyclopedias. So when I heard my mom talking on the phone about the statute of limitation, uh, she was talking to the detective and it was shortly after I had said something. I didn’t know what statute limitations meant. So the next day of school, I went into the library and looked it up. And once I realized what it was, I realized, cause I, that day I had to write a statement. I realized I don’t need to, I don’t need to tell him everything. It’s not going to do anyone, any good to know everything.
Garrett Jonsson: So after you went to the library, you decided, “Okay, I don’t need to give all the details.”
Garrett Jonsson: Because you have to relive that trauma.
Barbi: Yeah. And that was a lot because I didn’t know the police had to get involved. I didn’t, for me, it was just, I was just writing a note and getting it off my chest. I didn’t know that anyone really had to know is me.
So I, it was just a whirlwind of “What have I done? I shouldn’t have said anything.”
Garrett Jonsson: Oh, did you regret it?
Barbi: Yeah, I did regret it once, once I knew the police were involved, I had to talk to detectives. They were asking me all kinds of questions that I didn’t know, nor did I want to answer. Um, luckily I didn’t have to go and get an exam by a doctor because it happened so long ago, but just, there was just a lot of, I felt like very interrogated and, and I didn’t really, I just, I didn’t really want anyone to know details. So once I knew there was a statute of limitations, I wrote down one instance. So that’s all he was, he was only charged off of one instance. And even if that one instance had there been no statute of limitations would have been 18 year sentence and he only got three. So I feel like I didn’t, it, his crime was terrible, but he would’ve gotten the same punishment telling everything as he did with the one instance. So I didn’t need to put my parents through that.
Garrett Jonsson: Do you, have you had conversations since then to your parents?
Barbi: No. No. Nobody does. I haven’t taught, told my husband everything. I just feel like, honestly, we, my husband and I talk about it because sometimes it’s triggers and um, he, he always knows why.
Garrett Jonsson: Of course.
Barbi: Um, but he doesn’t even know details. I just feel like the details of what he did. Just, I don’t even think about it.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Barbi: It’s not, I don’t, I don’t even think about it.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Barbi: So, yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: Gotcha. Seeing him being held accountable, did that help you in the healing process or had you already forgiven to the point where that didn’t really change anything?
Barbi: That was helpful for my parents, my parents needed to see him handcuffed. I mean, seeing him that was hard, seeing him, like I never saw him face to face, but I walked into the courtroom. I was with my sister, my brother-in-law, my dad, and my mom. Pretty sure that’s everyone that was there. Um, and I walked in and I saw him and he, he looked the exact same to me, the exact same, maybe a little heavier, but the exact same, otherwise, same hair, same everything. And like, that was hard. Seeing, seeing him there be kind of, because the fear of, “He knows that I told people.” was there, but seeing him handcuffed and walked, that was good for my parents. For me, I believe, I believe God will take care of him. I don’t have to.
Garrett Jonsson: And the fact that you had to face him again, that can be very challenging. I imagine. And from what I hear from other people who have experienced similar things, and that’s oftentimes one reason why people won’t tell the truth about their experience, because they don’t want the police to get involved. They don’t want to face these people in court. So oftentimes, you know, that number one in ten that we mentioned, one in ten kids will be sexually assaulted before they’re 18.
Barbi: It’s more than one in ten, that’s just people that have told. Um, yeah, it’s facing him was, it was hard. Well, I didn’t, I didn’t see him face to face, but just seeing him there back in the state I lived in, I didn’t know… It took two years.
Garrett Jonsson: The process?
Barbi: Yeah, from the time I told from the, to the time of court was, was a long time. And I didn’t know.
Garrett Jonsson: Did that raise your anxiety during those two years?
Barbi: Yeah, it did. Yeah. I thought that, “Oh, this is it. Is it for me?” Like, like there was, there was definitely things that I didn’t that made me nervous, very nervous. I worked, I worked. And so if I needed to walk to my car in the dark, I always made sure somebody was with me. I just always felt like, like there was a target on my back, but when I saw him and saw him handcuffed for me, it wasn’t super necessary. Um, but it was for my parents. They needed to see that he, I mean, I never will feel like a three-year sentences is justified, but my parents needed to see him handcuffed and taken. I think that they needed to know him to know that they knew too.
Garrett Jonsson: You’re a person, you’re a good example because you’ve been through some challenging stuff, needless to say, and then you’ve addressed that and you’ve moved forward. So I think you’re such a great example to other people who have experienced sexual abuse because there is hope, right?
Barbi: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I was at dinner with a group of probably, I don’t know, 15 or so women. And for some reason, sexual abuse came up and I, I, I didn’t know why. And so we were just talking about it and I don’t talk about it a lot. I don’t tell very many people. And the people that I do tell have a lot of questions. And so naturally they asked me the questions and that’s totally fine. It’s really hard for people to understand or fathom such things happening to children. Right? Um, and so this, one of the women said, “Oh, I just, I just think sexual abuse would ruin their life. Your life is ruined. If you’ve been sexually abused, your life is over.” And that kind of, for me, stung a little, I’m like, “Oh, I feel like my life’s pretty good.”
And so I looked at her and she not knowing about me.
Garrett Jonsson: And your experience.
Barbi: Yeah. And I went to high school with her. So through all of the telling my teacher, to telling my parents, to the detectives getting involved, none of my friends knew. None of them. Nobody really knew. I think some people speculated because I crying a lot at school because I was, anytime I saw a cop car, I was always like, “I think coming from me, like, do they need to talk to me? And who’s going to know who knows.” I always feared who knew. Cause I told my parents when I told my parents, “Please don’t tell anybody.” And so I always feared that people who knew were telling other people, um, just cause I thought people were going to think that, that I was bad. That I, that was my fault. So I just, I think any type of shame of victim fills is unnecessary, but you can’t get rid of it.
You just can’t get rid of it. Um, and so anytime I saw a police car drive by the school, I thought they were coming to talk to me or so like I came kind of paranoid, but none of my friends knew. And so we were at this dinner and she says, “Her life is ruined.” And I looked at her and I just said, “So are you saying my life is ruined?” And she said, “Well, no, it didn’t happen to you.” “It happened to me. And this is what happened. I, in ninth grade, when we were in ninth grade, I told my parents and then sophomore year, um, it was just, I was talking to detectives every other week. And then junior year is when I had to face him in court. But you guys didn’t know anything. I didn’t tell any of you anything.” And she just looked at me and I said, “Yeah, my life is good. Really good.”
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. There’s a lot of hope.
Garrett Jonsson: Cause in the moment, looking back to maybe eighth grade, when you found out when the kind of the severity hit you.
Garrett Jonsson: And then fast forward to telling the truth, finally at the, at that moment, did it feel hopeless to you at all?
Barbi: It was just scary. I don’t remember feeling hopelessness. I felt, I felt scared. I felt like “No one, if anyone finds out, no, no boys are going to want to date me because I’m not used goods. I’m unworthy of anybody’s love.” Like, I did feel a lot of that, um, through, through the shame process.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Barbi: Um, but I didn’t, I don’t remember feeling hopeless. I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel. I just knew that tunnel was really long at that, that moment that tunnel was dark. But I knew there was light. I knew there would be light.
Garrett Jonsson: Cause I’ve heard some people who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. They’ve said that “It’s a lifelong sentence.”
Barbi: It’s definitely something that… there’s triggers almost every day. It’s just something that…
Garrett Jonsson: I wanted to get your take on that.
Garrett Jonsson: Because you said “It doesn’t ruin you.” right?
Barbi: Yeah. I don’t think you’re ruined, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deal with it. You have to make a choice.
Garrett Jonsson: So you would agree that it’s a lifelong sentence.
Garrett Jonsson: Okay.
Barbi: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean I have four daughters, statistics prove that one of them. Right.
Garrett Jonsson: That’s true. One in four.
Barbi: So that’s a trick every day. I might. It’s one of my girls likely um, yeah. I mean, I see someone that looks like him. I’m like, “Oh, did he, does he send someone for me?” Like, there’s always kind of that fear. I know it’s unrealistic fear, but it’s still like my childhood self coming out. Yeah, no, it’s something definitely. You have to wake up in the, and you’ll have to choose how you’re going to deal with it. Cause it is a lifelong sentence, but it doesn’t have to be a bad sentence or a sad sentence or a hopeless sentence.
Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for pressing forward through your challenges. Because one of the benefits is that you’re helping a lot of people, um, through sharing. So we appreciate that.
Barbi: Thank you. And I would say 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to, I just don’t want listeners to feel like, “Well, I’m not quite there yet.” I wasn’t either. It’s not something that’s easy to talk about.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Barbi: So I totally understand that if…
Garrett Jonsson: And everyone’s journey is different.
Barbi: Absolutely. All I can say is there is hope and you are worthy and you are lovable.
Garrett Jonsson: And I hope that anyone listening, who has experienced abuse, I hope they take that to heart. That there is hope there is light at the end of the tunnel. Well, Barbi, thank you so much for being with us today. We want to leave you with the opportunity to have the last word during this conversation. Is there anything you’d like to leave our audience with?
Barbi: All I want to say, I guess is if your story sounds a lot like mine and you haven’t said anything, you don’t have to go at it alone. Just don’t have to go at it alone. It’s hard to go at it alone. So find somebody and if the somebody me come find me, I will help you.
Garrett Jonsson: Can people reach out to us to get your information?
Garrett Jonsson: So once again, Barbie, you’re amazing. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.
Fight the New Drug Ad: Talking about porn can be tricky. That’s why we created an interactive conversation guide called Let’s Talk About Porn. Simply select who you’d like to talk to, your partner, child, friends, parents, or even a stranger, and select the type of conversation you’d like to have. We’ll walk you through a healthy way to approach this taboo topic in a productive conversation. Let’s Talk About Porn is available for free, both in English, and Spanish so you can be prepared to talk when someone asks why you’re listening to a podcast about the harms of porn. Access the guide, and start talking at FTND.org/blueprint. That’s FTND.org/blueprint.
Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for joining on this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug.
Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links included with this episode.
Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.
MORE RESOURCES FROM FTND
A three-part documentary about porn’s impacts on consumers, relationships, and society.
Fifteen research-based articles detailing porns negatively impacts.
Tees to support the movement and change the conversation wherever you go.
Successfully navigate conversations about porn with your partner, child, or friend.
A database of the ever-growing body of research on the harmful effects of porn.
An interactive site with short videos highlighting porn’s proven negative effects.