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What Is There to Say About Adrian Peterson?

Reposted from my Sports Blog.

As a survivor of child abuse, I’m just not sure where to start with this whole Adrian Peterson story. I’ve been thinking about it all weekend, and trying to figure out what to say about it, and I think finally I do have some thoughts.

First off, let me just get this out of the way. Yes, lots of us can look back and say “my parents did this”, or “my grandparents used a switch” what’s the big deal? As Cris Carter said on TV yesterday, it’s 2014, we know better now, and those people were wrong to do what they did. Going out and getting a switch and beating your kid with it to the point where you draw blood and leave some vicious marks on their legs is wrong. (I won’t link to the photos, but trust me, they’re not pretty.) Stop trying to defend it. If you were beaten with a switch, you were abused, whether you feel like it was abuse or not. Whether it’s been going on in your family for generation or not. This doesn’t represent the “weakening of America” this represents a step forward in preventing injury and later issues for children. I do think we can have a reasonable disagreement over light spanking in certain circumstances, but beating kids with a switch should not be a normal part of any child’s life!

The tougher question is what to do about Adrian Peterson. I think it’s fairly obvious that he is a victim of his own upbringing. When he needed to be disciplined, he got beaten with a switch. This is a textbook example of repeating the cycle of violence. Adrian now has a chance to learn better, and to stop the cycle, because he’s been reported for child abuse.

This past weekend, he was inactive for the Vikings. That makes sense to me. He was indicted on Friday and had to go to Houston to turn himself in and post bail. That all occurred, and he didn’t play.

Now it’s been announced that the Vikings are going to let him play while the legal process runs it’s course. For most of us, if we were charged with a crime, after posting bail, we’d probably go back to work and await the rest of the legal process to continue. But, being a professional athlete isn’t the same as a regular job. You’ve got the extra media attention, you get the public relations nightmare of having this guy go out and represent your team on Sunday and so on. That throws a lot of other things into the fire. (By the way, if you want to know why Ray Rice was released by the Ravens only after the video went public, think PR. They stood by him and his suspension when they judged that the issue would blow over and people would root for him again, then when the video was released, they re-thought that idea and released him.)

As far as I see it, the Vikings are perfectly within their rights to play Peterson while they await the legal process. They would also be within their rights to release him outright and never let him play again. That’s their choice, and it’s your choice to make up your own mind about whether what they are doing is right or not. You can choose to protest the Vikings decision to let him play next week, boycott the team and the NFL, or any other option available to you. If enough people think it’s wrong to play him, and that response hurts the Vikings bottom line, it might just get them to change their mind. That’s how free markets work. As a survivor, I’d like to think that anyone convicted of child or domestic abuse would not be allowed to play any more, but what to do until they are actually convicted? I don’t know.

What I hope, more than anything, is that this situation and all of the publicity will help us understand the damage done to children by outdated, barbaric practices. Perhaps enough people who still view getting a switch as normal will begin to question these beliefs and end the cycle within their own families. I think we can all agree on that!

Coming at You From The Other Coast

Oregon! Still hundreds of miles from home but in the right state!

 

So yes, I did make it to our new home in Oregon last week. I am still catching up on the photos I took during the drive over on my photo blog, but I realized today that I’ve neglected to post any updates over here!

I’m still getting used to being on a three hour time difference and living in a new place, but it’s coming along. I keep reminding myself that the frustrations I’m feeling are actually normal for anyone moving to a new place; finding things, not really feeling comfortable and let’s face it, after that drive, just feeling a bit run down! Those are not signs of “survivor issues”, they’re normal. Isn’t it weird that any struggle we have has to first go through that lens of figuring out if this is a survivor struggle, or a plain old regular struggle, as if survivor struggles are somehow different? They’re all struggles and obstacles to overcome, that can be overcome! Eventually, I’ll figure out how to get around Corvallis, what places I like, which I don’t, how to get an Oregon driver’s license, and so on. People move to new states, I did it myself just three years ago. It’s not without stress, but it’s hardly impossible.

I will say this though, even though I know I’ve said it before many times. Going through the trip here and all of these changes is only possible because I have spent the last few years embracing small, and large, changes and seeking out new adventures, building the confidence to deal with change. Driving across the US is not without it’s perils. I worried every day about the car breaking down, for example, but I also knew that if it did, I could figure out how to deal with it and get to where I needed to be. Luckily, no such thing happened, the trip went off pretty well and I was able to have a new adventure and see some new things.

I look forward to not only settling in and getting comfortable in our new surroundings, but to new adventures in Oregon as well. From what I’ve seen so far, I do believe there is plenty to explore here, and I know that I can explore it without fear!

The August 2014 Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse

Thanks to everyone who submitted something to share with other survivors for this month’s carnival!

This month, I decided to repeat a theme that the carnival has had before, change, for my own personal reasons. As it turns out, the very day that this edition goes “live” on my site, happens to also be the last day that I will live in South Carolina. My wife is pursuing an opportunity in Oregon, and I will be leaving and driving out there to join her. Since my work involves both travel and working from home when I am not traveling, I do get to keep that the same, but obviously, we are undertaking some pretty big changes!

As a survivor, and as someone who interacts with survivors, I see how difficult change can be. It presents us with things that are uncomfortable, unknowable, and beyond our control. For survivors, that can be scary, but change is part of life, and learning to deal with it is an important part of healing.

So, along with that theme, we have a few posts that speak specifically about change:

Charlotte Issyvoo, from her Sublime Mercies blog, shared When Home was Hell – Love After Slavery.

Meanwhile, April Phelps Downey asks an important question, “Is it Possible that Change Isn’t a Bad Thing?

I also decided to weigh in, with my post about this move, and how making small changes helps us learn how and feel confident about making bigger ones, Dealing with Change and Challenges.

We also have some posts shared for the regular categories as well!

Advocacy and Awareness:

Tracie was keeping an eye on recent news and wrote about Grooming, Mel Hall, and Disclosures of Abuse; What Parents Need to Know.

Jayneen Sanders offers up lots of good information in Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse, and Dave Pittman adds more with How and When to Talk About Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Art therapy:

Steve Head shared a collage along with these words, “This is a new art piece I felt compelled to do. I have been carrying the story in my heart and in my head for over 50 years, and it feels great to finally put it on canvas to share with others:

“Visiting Uncle Oscar” by Steve Head Digital Collage by Head2art”

Aftermath:

Dave from Together We Heal shared He Would Tell Me.

Healing and Therapy:

Dave Pittman also suggested this post under the healing and therapy category, One Thing Leads to Another, which I enjoyed not just for the reminder of the 80’s song title, but also because it points out how starting down the healing path can lead to all sorts of changes and opportunities to give back to other survivors following on that path.

Along those same lines, I want to add Another Good Reason to Talk About Child Abuse.

Survivor Stories:

Patricia Grace submitted a post that actually is the first few chapters of her book, Shattered.

The ever prolific this month, Dave Pittman, sent along a survivors stories piece, The Invisible Hand on Your Mouth! (Trigger Warning)

Thanks to everyone for the submissions! For those of you submitting for the first time, I hope to continue to see your work in future carnivals, and for those of you who’ve been around this scene for awhile, thank you for keeping this going through the years. I think it’s important to have this regular reminder that there is a large community of survivors out there, that we are not alone. For those of you just reading this and seeing that, indeed, you are not alone, please be sure to share this with your circles and get that same message out as far and wide as we can!

Oh and last, but certainly not least, thank you Tracie for allowing me to host this month, and for keeping this ball rolling!

Irrational Fears?

That’s what Bruce Schneiner suggests is at the root of a story about a woman in South Carolina who was arrested for letting her 9 year old play at a park while she was at work. Now Bruce is an expert on security, and risk assessment and I tend to agree that we don’t assess the risks very well, especially when it comes to very emotional topics like protecting children.

Lovely Sunday in St. James Park. Oh, if you like the deck chairs, you can sit in one, for a price. ;-)
Now, without knowing the kid, the park, the neighborhood, the people in the park, or anything like that, I can’t say how much of a risk this truly was. I was allowed to walk to a neighborhood park as a 9-10 year old by myself for Little League games, so I don’t find the idea of a 9 year old hanging around a park by herself to be as shocking as some others might. I also know the truth about child abductions and abuse, that the vast, vast majority of them are the result of someone the kids already know, not the random stranger on the street. But, the random stranger on the street abducting a child does happen from time to time, and perhaps in this situation, leaving the kid there wasn’t the safest thing in the world. But, it also sounds like maybe there weren’t a lot of options here, which is a whole other blog post that I’ll let someone with kids write!

No, what I want to talk about are the irrational fears we have as a result of media attention. You see it’s the rare and random crime that gets the media attention precisely because it is so rare and random. A child being abducted due to custody disputes, or a child being abused by a family member, doesn’t grab headlines the way these other stories do, so you don’t notice it as much. Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired to pay attention to the risks that we see and hear, and those are the ones that make big news, rather than the risks that we take everyday.

So, it’s the “stranger danger” risks that grab our attention, because the stories are horrifying, but also because it’s the type of risk we feel like we can do something about. Managing the real risks of children being abused is hard. Figuring out how to keep kids safe from the much more likely risk, the people already around them, requires a lot more work and good ideas. But people don’t want to acknowledge the real rate of victimization, or imagine that kids are being abused by people they already know! It’s too scary to think about!
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TED Talks on Mental Illness

In light of yesterday’s news about Robin Williams, lots of folks have been reaching out on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to share their own stories of depression and other mental health issues, or make sure folks know where to go to get help, and that there is help for mental illness.

I even shared out my post from a couple of years ago about my story with suicide on Twitter and Facebook as well. It has been heartwarming to see so many, from all walks of life, coming out of the darkness and sharing their own struggles. I hope it’s something that continues. We all could do with feeling less alone.

TED Talks shared this playlist that I thought many of you might want to take a look at.

7 talks on the struggle of mental health.

There’s quite a lot there, real stories from real people dealing with metal health issues. Exactly more of the kinds of stories we need to be talking about if we hope to stop losing good people to the lies their illness is telling them!

Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse for August – Change

I’m going to be hosting the monthly Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse here this month. Since this is a month where I am facing some big changes in life, including moving across the country at the end of it, I thought why not look into the topic of change. As survivors, change can be terrifying. We are comforted by control and predictability, so change isn’t something that we naturally look forward to. But it doesn’t have to stay that way! I’d love to hear from some folks this month who have managed to embrace change, make changes in their own lives, and how they’ve overcome this fear of change!

As always, we will have the regular topics as well and I look forward to seeing all of you submitting a post, old or new, for this month’s carnival!

-Advocacy and Awareness
-Aftermath
-Healing and Therapy
-In the News
-Poetry
-Survivor Stories
-Art Therapy

To submit an article, you can fill out this submission form. To find out more about this “Blog carnival” thing, you can check out Tracie’s page for more details. The deadline for submissions is Weds. Aug 27.  The carnival will go live on Friday Aug 29, the day before I move actually. ;-)

Now let’s put together a chorus of survivor’s voices for this month’s carnival and show the world that we’re out here!

Permanent Victim Status

A few weeks back, Patricia wrote about being an advocate, and being accused of being “stuck in victim mode” because she continued to talk about child abuse.

It’s something that I’ve been thinking about too. Part of that thought process had to do with some cleaning up of old links that I’ve been doing on the blog, and seeing how many survivors have simply stopped blogging and dropped out of the online community, as well as thinking about some of the things I see online about healing in general.

First, before I even get into my thoughts, let’s make one thing clear. All survivors are individuals, and what works for some, may not work for others. Whether you feel lead to continue being an advocate, or sharing information like I do here, or Patricia does, or if you’d rather spend your time with other interests and put this behind you, is totally your choice. Part of being healed is giving yourself the ability to make your own decisions and have control over those decisions. Far be it for me, or anyone else, to demand otherwise.

On the other hand, part of being healed is being more than “just” a child abuse survivor. That can be a tricky line to walk. I’ve been at this blog for 12+ years now, and it’s still tricky. In fact, maybe it gets trickier the longer I go on, because it would be easy for someone who doesn’t know me to look at this site and come to the conclusion that I’ve been going on and on for almost 13 years about being a survivor of child abuse. Wow, talk about someone who is stuck!

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