policeSometimes you read something in the news that is so horrible, you have to read it three times to convince yourself it could be true. Such is the case of a 36-year-old mother from Michigan accused of holding her 3-year-old daughter's hand while the child's father sexually assaulted the child. Essentially, cops say the mom helped the dad assault their daughter!

The story is horrific. It's heinous. But it gets worse.

According to police, the mother -- whose name is being withheld because it could identify her child, a rape victim -- was herself a victim of sexual assault as a child. The mom's abuse started at the tender age of 5. She was abused by a number of men as a child, and then further abused by her own husband as an adult.

Does it excuse her alleged behavior? Certainly not.

There is no excuse for standing by when a child is raped.

And yet, it does explain it, at least a little.

Psychologists have long debated what's known as the cycle of abuse, whereby someone abused as a child is at an increased risk of being a perpetrator when they grow up.

Abuse is what they know.

It's easy to look at this woman and think, what kind of mother would allow this to happen to her child? What kind of mother would stand idly by as her child was violated?

But she didn't stand idly by, at least not according to the police reports. She reportedly held the girl's hand during the assaults so "it wouldn’t hurt that much." There was, it sounds, at least a seed of compassion, a sense that the child needed her. If she was a complete monster, would she have bothered to comfort her child?

Was it enough to excuse her actions? Enough to make her sympathetic?

I don't know. My stomach is still turning by the horror of what this little 3-year-old went through, seemingly at the hands of the two people who were supposed to care for her most. SHE is the one I feel for here.

Mom's background and holding her daughter's hand are certainly not enough to keep her out of the courts. The mother is being charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (her husband is facing stiffer penalties -- 12 counts of first degree criminal conduct).

How do you feel about this mother? Do you have any compassion for what she's been through or only contempt for what police say she has done?

 

Image via Jason Rojas/Flickr