Danyelle Dyer from Oklahoma was raped 14 years ago.
Dyer, now 21, was just 7 years old when her father’s step-brother, Harold Dwayne English, scarred her for life. He was visiting the family for summer.
Dyer’s parents did not know that English repeatedly raped their daughter throughout that summer.
When she finally gained the courage to inform them, English was convicted of rape and arrested.
"I would rather look down the barrel of a gun than relive the time I had to look into my 7-year-old daughter's eyes as she struggled to tell me what had happened to her," recalled Dyer’s father.
English recently moved in with his mother, who happens to be Dyer’s grandmother, after serving his sentence. Now, the 64-year-old sex offender now lives just about 100 yards away from Dyer’s home.
So, the man, who once raped Dyer when she was just a child is now her neighbor.
This was naturally concerning for Dyer and her parents. Perturbed, they called lawmakers, the police and the prison system for help. Initially, each one of them said the law disqualified English from living so close to his victim, however, soon they called back to inform the family they were wrong.
There is nothing that legally prevents English from living right next door to the girl he once sexually abused in Oklahoma. Though the law requires registered sex offenders live at a certain distance from schools and playgrounds, it does not require that those criminals stay away from their victims.
"My mom called and told me that we can't stop this from happening. I don't want anyone else to ever have to go through the feelings of reliving the trauma from something like this," she said.
Dyer decided to fight back. She made her story public on Facebook sharing her ordeal.
“Meet my abuser and my new neighbor,” she wrote along a photo of her abusive uncle on the state sex offender registry website. “He has been asked to leave, but in Oklahoma, he can legally reside there. Surely, Oklahoma can do better than this. My parents and I are out to change Oklahoma law, because surely, he can find somewhere else to live.”
Dyer’s mother Larina Dyer said it was extremely “heartbreaking” that her daughter had to relive the trauma and feel threatened. “When you have to see it, I can only imagine what it does to my daughter when she’s there and she has to witness it,” she said. “She shouldn’t have to.”
Dyer’s father put up a sign in their front yard alerting people that a child sex offender lived nearby. He asked his neighbors before putting them up. "They were very supportive and most of them have children and they don't want him around."
The family is now working with Oklahoma State Rep. Kyle Hilbert to introduce a new bill protecting victims from a similar situation. "I'm doing everything I can to try and help and do something statutorily to prevent this from happening to anyone else in Oklahoma," he said.
When questioned if the bill be named after Dyer, Hilbert said that was completely up to her.
Staying strong, Dyer said, "It would be an honor for the bill to be named after me. It's because of my father that I am strong enough to fight this battle. He has always taught me to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive one to help others."
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters