Category Archives: Child Abuse

Facebook User Asking For Advice on Confronting Her Abuser

Over on the Facebook page someone sent me a message asking for advice. Since I haven’t really faced a similar situation, with her permission I posted it to the page to see if anyone else had any wisdom to share. If you do, please go share your thoughts!

Take Care of Yourself

Over at the revamped No Longer Silence Movement website, they’ve put together a list titled “Treat Yourself“.

I am not pointing to it because I think there’s any new amazing revelation in this list of ways to take care of yourself. In fact, if you look at it, it’s mostly full of very common sense ways that adults should take of themselves on a day to day basis. On the other hand, that’s exactly the point. I’ve said many times that when you are surviving an abusive, horrific, childhood, you are too busy surviving what is happening to pick up the subtle lessons of life that you should be learning as you grow up. When we should have been learning about how to dress, good hygiene, ways to deal with stress, etc. we were learning how to hide, how to deflect attention, how to disconnect emotionally and all of the other defense mechanisms that we used to protect ourselves.

Healing for that, is learning how to move forward and live an adult life. This list is a nice place to start, and to understand that we are worthy of the care that we give ourselves.

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!

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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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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How We Make It Harder For Kids to Tell

I was dismayed, though not surprised at all, when I saw a number of Facebook users and pages link to an article about an inmate convicted of child molestation being murdered in prison.

The posts were, for the most part, followed by near unanimous comments celebrating the death of a pedophile.

Look, I get it. I don’t have sympathy for the guy either. But we have to seriously think about what we want to accomplish when it comes to dealing with pedophiles, and the message we are sending to kids. Here are some facts:

  • We know children are most likely to be abused by someone they know and trust, someone who is either part of their family or a close friend of the family.
  • We know the abuser is more than likely going to groom the child, and the family, in order to create a bond with the child.
  • We know abusers are manipulative, and use that bond to convince children not to tell, because it would cause bad things to happen.
  • We know Stockholm syndrome is a very real thing.
  • We know these kids have been traumatized and the only way to encourage more children to speak up about what is happening to them is for them to feel safe in telling.
  • We know most abused children do not tell anyone because they don’t feel safe.

So how is running around talking about how anyone who abuses a child deserves to be killed in horrible ways going to help a child feel safe and secure about telling? Are we not handing an abuser a manipulation tool to be used against our own kids? (“Look if you tell, your parents will kill me, and you don’t want to be the cause of someone’s death, do you?”)

Lastly, wouldn’t that death just be adding more trauma onto kids who have already been traumatized enough?

Hey we know you were abused and you’re going to have a hell of a time dealing with everything that goes along with that, so in the name of “justice”, we’re going to go out and kill the sicko and then let you go ahead and add the guilt of someone’s death to your therapy bill, cool?

I’m not going to get into a disagreement over what is “just” and “fair”. That’s not my concern, and it shouldn’t be yours. Our concern should be what is the best way to help this child get help and heal. Adding more trauma doesn’t do that!