Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Information About Prevention, Advocacy and Recovery from Sexual Abuse

  • Website - Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website: "Links public state, territorial, and tribal sex offender registries [into] one national search site...[also] provides visitors with information about sexual abuse and how to protect themselves and loved ones from potential victimization."
  • Website - Joyful Heart Foundation: "Our mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues...Healing & Wellness, Education & Awareness and Policy & Advocacy."
  • Article - American Academy of Pediatric's Parent Tips for Preventing and Identifying Child Sexual Abuse: "In most cases, the person who sexually abuses a child is an adult or older child known to the victim, often an authority figure that the child knows, trusts or loves. The offender usually uses coercion and manipulation, not physical force, to engage the child."
  • Website - Stop It Now!: "National organization that provides direct help to individuals with questions or concerns about child sexual abuse, develops and distributes educational materials, and provides consulting and training services."
  • Book - The Courage to Heal (20th Anniversary Edition) "An inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and a map of the healing journey to every woman who was sexually abused as a child--and to those who care about her...provide clear explanations, practical suggestions, and support throughout the healing process."
  • Book - When Your Child Has Been Molested: A Parents' Guide to Healing and Recovery: "Thoroughly revised and updated edition of the best-selling guide for families of children who have been molested...includes current research and information on the nature and well as proven techniques for therapy, healing, and recovery."
  • Book - I Said No! A kid-to-kid guide to keeping your private parts private: "I Said No! uses kid-friendly language and illustrations to help parents and concerned adults give kids guidance they can understand, practice and use. [Uses] a simple, direct, decidedly non-icky approach that doesn't dumb down the issues involved."
More reading recommendations from advocacy organizations:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Stopped to Smell a Rose

The most amazing thing happened to me the other day. I was sitting on the floor clasping a broken bowl that I had recently glued together when, within six inches of my nose, a big spider appeared. What was so extraordinary about this event was my reaction: I looked at it and said in a perfectly normal voice, “Go away, please.” No sonic scream, no paralyzing fear. For over 50 years, spiders made my life miserable, and the life of everyone who lived with me. One time my brother drove from Fremont to Alki beach on a work night to remove an invader from my bathtub; when I was pregnant and my husband was out of town, three spiders in my house spent the night without me to harass, as I went to a motel.

Arachnophobia dominated my life for so long. My fear was so intense, so physical that it rendered me insensible. My heart beat insanely and the pain surged throughout my body, my toes cramped, and I hyperventilated, not able to do anything. God forbid I touch or be touched (for surely I would die) by a horrible beast with furry legs and red eyes, that I could not kill to save my life. My husband would reach out and scoop up the offender and, with utmost gentleness, take it outside. I would obsess for days about another one lurking, hiding, awaiting the moment to persecute me. And quite frequently, especially in the fall, a spider would pop up too close for comfort and I would be in an anxious state for hours, disrupting my activities and sleep.

Enough I said, this has to stop. I went into hypnotherapy for other issues and one day casually mentioned that I had a fear of spiders, probably due to the admonitions of my parents to beware of the black widow spiders that live in dark corners. So now I am an adult and I know to be careful, so could we please address this issue and get some resolution? What ensued during the therapy was a big, jolting surprise.

I was allowed to walk home from kindergarten by myself. Neighbors would often call my name and wave to me as I passed their houses. One neighbor had a wonderful rose garden that would make me literally stop to look and smell the flowers. One day this neighbor invited me into his garage to show me a fantastic new rose; only what he showed me was not a flower. As I backed away, into a corner, I came to a stop underneath a black widow spider’s web.

It makes sense on so many levels that the fear I experienced, transferred onto spiders, is just like being bullied by a pedophile. Mine is not an isolated case, as it is reported that reported by the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), 4 out of 10 children, both girls and boys, have experienced some form of sexual predation by adults and teenagers. And as is so often the case, the predator is someone the child knows.

What can a parent do to ensure a child’s safety? Foremost is communication between parent and child as well as developing trust.  We too often instill in our children that adults are to be respected and the child must behave nicely--that translates into “good boys and girls do what an adult tells them to do.” A child’s body and privacy, should always be respected, and never should that child be touched on his or her body, especially in the “bathing suit” areas. Reassure your child that that it is okay to say “no” to an adult who behaves inappropriately or to tell another adult if the child just feels “creepy” around the person. Be sure your child knows that it is okay to “tell on” an adult, and that you will listen without judgment no matter who the adult is. If there are signs of abuse, call 911 and report it. Unfortunately, many times nothing can be done for a variety of reasons; but, give and get support through therapy for the victim if you are certain that your child has been abused. Sexual predators are in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and on the Web. As parents, it is our responsibility to protect our children by giving them the skills necessary for their well-being. Talk about appropriate/inappropriate behavior, and respecting one’s body and privacy as well as the difference between being polite and survival, getting away from an abuser by any means available. Monitor the computer and make sure your child is not being cyber-stalked. There are many websites available on the Internet for guidance and resources. Use them. It is in your child’s best interest.

The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) is an unprecedented public safety resource that provides the public with access to sex offender data nationwide. NSOPW is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice and state, territorial, and tribal governments, working together for the safety of adults and children.
  • As many as 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood. 
  • Most perpetrators are acquaintances, but as many as 47% are family or extended family. 
  • In as many as 93% of child sexual abuse cases, the child knows the person that commits the abuse.
  • Approximately 30% of cases are reported to authorities.
  • Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault. 
  • 33% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17.
  • 82% of all juvenile victims are female.
  • 69% of the teen sexual assaults reported to law enforcement occurred in the residence of the victim, the offender, or another individual.
  • Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 1/2 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • Approximately 1 in 7 (13%) youth Internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations.
  • 4% of youth Internet users received aggressive solicitations, in which solicitors made or attempted to make offline contact with youth.
  • 9% of youth Internet users had been exposed to distressing sexual material while online.
  • 9.2% of cases of maltreatment of children in 2010 were classified as sexual abuse. 
  • Over 63,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2010. 
Stop It Now! (website) has developed a warning signs tip sheet to help identify possible warning signs. Any single sign does not mean that a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you should begin asking questions and consider seeking help.

Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent:
  • Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
  • Seems distracted or distant at odd times
  • Has a sudden change in eating habits
  • Refuses to eat
  • Loses or drastically increases appetite
  • Has trouble swallowing
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity, or withdrawal
  • Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
  • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
  • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
  • Writes, draws, plays, or dreams of sexual or frightening images
  • Talks about a new older friend
  • Suddenly has money, toys, or other gifts without reason
  • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty, or bad

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Few Dysfunctional Reads

The byword for three books I have read lately is dysfunctional. I Know This Much Is True, the acclaimed novel by Wally Lamb, is a tedious journey wending through a labyrinth of flashbacks, emotions, and circumstances that the narrator Dominick Birdsey relates of his life with a schizophrenic paranoid twin brother. The premise and characters have the potential to be engaging and remarkable, not to mention unforgettable. It is a saga about love, redemption and the family ties that bind our humanity to make us more than the sum of our weaknesses and strengths. With some serious editing, I think it could have been a great story.

The Australian writer, Graeme Simsion, did it right in his hilarious novel, The Rosie Project. Don Tillman, a genius professor of genetics, has Asperger’s syndrome which seriously impairs his social skills. He constructs a list of questions that he uses to interview potential mates...then he meets Rosie. Truly a romantic romp that had me hootin’ and hollerin’ and definitely rooting for the two of them.

Reading the four novellas that comprise Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III is like being a spectator in an operating theater where the masterful surgeon exposes the internal mechanisms of the human soul and psyche.  When you’ve finished the stories, you may not like any of these people, but you will certainly not forget any of them.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Play the Hand You're Dealt

So, at 8 days into the new year, how are you progressing with your resolutions (if you made any)? Most folks who make resolutions manage to last at least several weeks. I hope you're doing well at whatever resolution you chose to focus on this year. I thought I'd inspire you with this article I found recently on one thing successful people have in common and one thing I am personally working to eradicate from my own life: whining. Enjoy!

The One New Year's Resolution The Most Successful People Always Keep: No Whining
by Paul B. Brown, co-author of Just Start: Take Action; Embrace Uncertainty; Create the Future

Every successful person is unique. (How could it be otherwise?) But invariably one of the things they have in common is this: They don’t whine.

I noticed early on that the most successful people rarely (or never) talked about the difficulties that they had to overcome.

For the longest time, I thought it was modesty, but eventually I realized they didn’t talk about it because they didn’t think there was anything to talk about.

They had a problem or series of them.  They took their problems as a given and worked hard to play the best hand they could with the cards they were dealt.

If the problem was caused by something they had done, they took great pains not to do it again.  But if it was just a matter of fate, they accepted it and starting working on a way to overcome it.
Read the entire article>>

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The New Year: A Time for Hope

It's that time of year again. The holidays are winding down and most of us are looking to the new year and the possibility of new beginnings. So, are you one of the 45% of Americans who usually make New Year's Resolutions or one of the 38% who never make them?

The tradition, believed by some to be the brainchild of Julius Caesar, offers us the opportunity to take advantage of that "fresh start" feeling that comes along with the new year to put into writing something we want to improve. A resolution is more than just a goal; it's a promise to yourself. And, according to research at, "People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions."

Now THAT is an interesting statistic to consider...I rather like those odds! In my mind, resolutions signify hope: hope that I will improve, hope that I can make a difference, hope that I can keep the promises I make to myself. If you are inspired to be one of the 45% who make New Year’s resolutions, I applaud your belief that things can improve and that you can be the one who makes it happen. Best wishes in the New Year!

 Ready to take the plunge? Here are a few tips:
  •  Focus on what you can add to your life. We have a tendency to fight against feeling deprived.
  •  Understand the why behind your resolution. As the philosopher Nietzsche said, “He who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how.” 
  •  Create several small resolutions rather than one big one. Perhaps one you want to improve for yourself (eat three more servings of vegetables a week or have one TV-free night a week), one you want to do for someone you love (call your best friend once a week or send your grandma a card once a month), and one you want to do for the outside world (volunteer monthly at the local food bank or sign up and train for an upcoming walk for charity). 
  • Follow the SMART plan. We are much more likely to achieve goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-specific. 
  • Reward yourself for the small successes along the way. When we reward ourselves for the small steps, we are more encouraged to keep going.