Sex Abuse Survivor Shares Her Story to Bring About Change

Girl abused for decades by father

BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA) -- According to the Department of Justice, out of every 1,000 reported rapes, 99% of abusers will walk free. 

On Thursday, KNWA brought you the facts in how repeat sex offenders may be released on bail for a low price. We now continue our investigation, and introduce you to survivors who say failing to prosecute can lead to lasting effects on an entire family. 

"A father is supposed to be someone you love and trust," said Sarah Goodwin, a sexual abuse survivor. "To have that ripped away, it's horrible."  

For over a decade, Sarah Goodwin was sexually and emotionally abused by her father. 

"The very first time I remember feeling unsafe and uncomfortable and in danger, from him, my father, was when I was in my crib," Sarah Goodwin said.

"I was seeing red flags and I was seeing signs and trying to get somebody to listen to me," said Paula Goodwin, Sarah's Mom.

Years later, the Goodwins say they never received justice. 

"There's no record out there that he ever hurt me or touched me or did anything to me that was wrong whatsoever," Sarah Goodwin said.
After appealing Sarah's personal testimony, Sarah's father was never arrested.  He was never prosecuted. Her abuser walked away a free man. 

"He was vindicated. He was cleared. And that's what he told people," Paula Goodwin said. "There was no record of him being arrested. There was no record of her being hurt. But in the end, there was a record that she was not believed,"

Sarah's story isn't unique. There are hundreds of sex abuse cases filed each year in Northwest Arkansas, And the Goodwins say many of the offenders will end up walking for lack of physical evidence. 

"I went through 10 to 12 years of suffering and he went through a week," Sarah Goodwin said.

"I didn't know it would take seven months to find out that they wouldn't prosecute. I didn't know it would take two months for him to even interview him. And during this time, we are trying to deal with the trauma that happened and he's going on, living his life," Paula Goodwin said.  

"It sends survivors the message that what they did wasn't that bad and that survivors shouldn't feel the pain that they feel," Sarah Goodwin said.

That's why Sarah is sharing her story, to invoke change to a legal system she says has flaws. 

"I didn't deserve what he did, and no one deserves it," Sarah Goodwin said. 

"How do we change that and get to where they can be prosecuted and predators can be stopped and children can be believed?" Paula Goodwin questioned.

"I am worth protecting and other kids are worth protecting and it wasn't my fault. It wasn't my doing," Sarah Goodwin said.

The Goodwins say failing to prosecute offenders send a message to abusers: That  you can get away with this type of behavior. The family says its up to the community to educate themselves and speak up when they see abuse occur.  

Click here to see the original story on sexual offenders and how they make bail to pay for their crime. 

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