National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Occasionally we bring you articles from local newspapers, web sites and other sources that constitute but a small percentage of the information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse and recovery from it.

We present articles such as this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
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Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.

We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
Recent News - News from other times

July - Week 1
MJ Goyings
Many, many thanks to our very own "MJ" for
providing us the majority of the daily research
that appears on the LACP and NAASCA web sites.
Ms. Goyings is a Registered Nurse and lives in Ohio.

Great Britain

Church to vote on making 'unreserved apology' to sexual abuse victims

The Church of England is expected to vote today to make an historic apology to victims of sexual abuse, as the Archbishop of Canterbury considers setting up the church's first national commission on abuse.

by Claire Carter

Archbishop Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu have issued a joint statement ahead of today's debate at the General Synod in which they urge church members to support an ‘unreserved' apology to victims of clerical sexual abuse.

The church is also set to overhaul its procedures in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse.

The vote is due to take place this afternoon. A motion urges the Synod to “endorse the Archbishops' statement expressing on behalf of the Church of England an unreserved apology for the failure of its systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others, and for the failure to listen properly to those so abused.”

The vote follows convictions of clergy who abused scores of victims and the arrest of former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball on suspicion of eight sex offences against eight boys and young men.

In May a report ordered by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, following abuse scandals in the Chichester diocese warned the Church of England risked a “ticking time bomb” if it didn't act to prevent further abuse cases.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is thought to be considering proposals to set up the first national commission on abuse for the church.

It has also been claimed the change in how the church deals with allegations could include allowing clergy members to break the sacrosanct seal of confession so they can report major crimes told about in confessional, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Campaigner and clergy abuse victim Anne Lawrence, is expected to be at the debate when it takes place at the meeting in York. She said: “There have been so many cover-ups, and the Church is not taking the concerns of survivors seriously that there is something fundamentally wrong in the system.

"The Church is a powerful institution with moral authority but it has used that authority to cover-up serious crimes. There are so many unanswered questions.'”



Victim of assault by Wisconsin priest lauds release of abuse files

Newly published documents troubling, yet vindicating

by Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

John Pilmaier was 7, a second-grader at St. John Vianney School in 1977, when Father David Hanser walked into his classroom and asked for a volunteer to help him with a project.

Several children raised their hands, Pilmaier says, but he was chosen.

And so they walked, Father Dave and John, to the rectory that the priest called home. Once there, Hanser sexually assaulted the boy, then warned him not to tell anyone, saying his parents would be angry with him.

John Pilmaier is the final entry, just three lines, in the history of the now-defrocked Hanser, which was released Monday with thousands of pages of documents as part of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy proceeding.

Hanser's file recounts what Pilmaier and his parents had already come to suspect: that their once-trusted parish priest may have sexually assaulted numerous children over the years, dating at least to the 1960s.

Still, reading the documents — the litany of allegations, how bishops moved Hanser to parishes and later to a hospital after he was first accused — was devastating and yet also a relief.

"It's hard, even though you know it, when you see it in print," said Lynn Pilmaier of Brookfield, who for years blamed herself for not protecting her son.

But for John, it was a comfort, in a way, to finally learn the truth.

"A lot of survivors, myself included, you want to know what happened to you," said Pilmaier, who was 36 when he first told his parents of the abuse. "These documents are really the closest to the truth any of us will get because the church leadership seems incapable of dealing honestly with people," he said.

Pilmaier, 42, is among 575 men and women who have filed claims in the archdiocese's bankruptcy alleging they were sexually assaulted by priests or others associated with the church. About 90 of those claims, including Pilmaier's, involve victims who had signed prior settlements with the archdiocese but are now asking those to be set aside.

Pilmaier, who received a $100,000 settlement from the archdiocese, alleges that Chancellor Barbara Anne Cusack misled him before he signed the settlement agreement, by telling him the church had not known of earlier complaints about Hanser or about other students assaulted at St. John Vianney in Brookfield. According to the documents released last week, a complaint had been made against Hanser in 1975 while he was working at St. John Vianney, and some church leaders — including Archbishop Timothy Dolan, now cardinal of New York, and retired Bishop Richard Sklba — knew about the earlier complaint by the time of Pilmaier's 2007 mediation.

Cusack issued a statement Friday saying that as chancellor she sat in more than 100 mediation sessions and that she was truthful to Pilmaier during his.

"In each of them, including with John Pilmaier, I told the truth and I was always forthcoming in sharing information with abuse survivors," she said. "I am sorry that John was hurt by this process. I know from my personal experience that it was helpful to many others, and I am saddened that it did not always work for some."

Pilmaier filed a claim in the bankruptcy case, he says, not to get more money. He suspects he might actually get less by ceding his settlement when it all shakes out, especially if the courts rule the archdiocese cannot tap its insurance policies to pay victims. But the social worker who once studied for the priesthood and sat on the board that advised Dolan on sex abuse issues said he joined the bankruptcy as a way to hold the archdiocese accountable for its actions.

"When you've carried this poison in you for 30 years, with all of the damage it's done to you and your family, you want to be treated with dignity as a person," said Pilmaier. "You want to be dealt with honestly."

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley dismissed Pilmaier's claim, saying he failed to show why the settlement contract, in which he absolved the archdiocese of future liability, was not valid.

Her decision was affirmed in the U.S. District Court and is now at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A history of abuse

According to the records released last week, Hanser was accused of molesting more than a dozen boys, ages 7 to 18, from the early 1960s to 1985, though only one of those cases was actually reported to the archdiocese before 1988.

Ordained in 1958, Hanser, who was independently wealthy, would often ingratiate himself with large families, according to the records, then invite their boys to his Moose Lake cottage, where he would assault them.

Most of the incidents appear to have occurred while Hanser was at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha, from 1961-'70; St. John Vianney, 1970-'78; and St. Mary's Parish in Pewaukee, 1982-'88.

The archdiocese received the earliest recorded complaint in November 1975, according to a handwritten note released as part of Hanser's file. It says: "Informed that D.H. had taken teen age his cottage at the lake to help him etc — but while there went to bed with the boy and touched him indecently. Called in D.H. to discuss the matter — gave rather evasive answers."

It's not clear who wrote it. But Sklba found it in a locked drawer belonging to then Bishop Leo Brust in 1998.

After the 1975 complaint, Hanser was assigned to at least two other parishes — Holy Family in Whitefish Bay and the former St. Mary's in Pewaukee — and St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee, though he was ordered not to have contact with children there. Later, some of those restrictions were lifted so he could minister to children if no one else were available, or to offer them the Sacrament of Penance.

Hanser underwent intensive therapy beginning in the late 1980s. His ministry was restricted to varying degrees beginning in 1988. He was fully restricted in 2002, and laicized, or defrocked, in 2005.

At least one other student at St. John Vianney accused Hanser of molesting him, saying the assault occurred in about 1972, according to the documents. The victim did not report it to the archdiocese until 2002, which was 30 years after the assault, but before Pilmaier's mediation.

John Pilmaier struggled in the years after his assault by Hanser. Even today, he has trouble putting into words what happened in the rectory; the humiliation is still so raw.

Shortly after the incident, Pilmaier developed a severe stutter that dogged him until high school. His parents knew something was wrong, so they took him to a therapist, but he would never say what was troubling him.

A devout Catholic at the time, he began thinking about the priesthood as a high-schooler, and spent nearly two years in the college seminary before deciding against it.

His life seemed on track professionally. He finished college, worked at banks in Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee, volunteered at the White House. But he says a pall hung over it all.

As an adult, Pilmaier says, he struggled with depression and forging relationships, with trust and intimacy. Always, he said, the experience at St. John's lurked just beneath the surface.

Pilmaier finally told his parents in 2006, after an unrelated health crisis in which he was hospitalized and feared he might die.

"I started to think seriously about the state of my life and where I was headed," he said. "It caused me to confront what happened to me as a child."

Parents devastated

It was life-shattering for his parents, who thought they'd done everything right, moving to the suburbs to put their children in a good school and giving them a foundation in their faith.

"I believed not only that you gave the church your money, but you gave your time and talent," said Lynn Pilmaier, who volunteered each week at St. John's and on the school playground.

She remembers in hindsight that Hanser always seemed to have children around him.

"I just thought that was nice," she said. "I had no idea."

When he reported the abuse to the archdiocese, Pilmaier was encouraged to participate in its voluntary mediation program, set up by the church at at a time when victims had no recourse in the courts due to statutes of limitations and other past rulings that favored the archdiocese.

Dolan started the mediation program with the expectation of paying victims on average $30,000, according to court records.

Pilmaier at the time saw it as an exercise in restorative justice.

"I went into that meeting with the chancellor in the hopes that she, that they would hear me and do everything in their power to make sure it never happened again to someone else," he said. "It was a very emotional meeting ... as I tried to explain the impact this had on my life."

Pilmaier says he had two questions: When did the archdiocese first receive a report that Hanser had sexually assaulted a child? And had anyone else from St. John Vianney School accused the priest of assault?

Pilmaier said Cusack left the room to check. When she returned, he said, she told him the first complaint against Hanser came in the 1980s, after Pilmaier's assault. And, he says, she told him no other boys from St. John's had complained.

"So it was a relief to me that they didn't know," before he was assaulted, Pilmaier said.

Archdiocese attorney Frank LoCoco objects to criticism of Cusack. "Mistakes were made over the years," he said. "But Barbara Anne Cusack is one of the great people who has worked hard for many years for abuse survivors and their healing."

Pilmaier's contract with the archdiocese clearly states that he could consult an attorney, but he says he did not.

"I was still a practicing Catholic, and I believed they had my best interests at heart," he said.

Within a few years after signing, Pilmaier says, he began to suspect otherwise.

He was sitting on the advisory board and had begun meeting other victims. He attended his first national conference of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests in Washington, D.C., where he met Milwaukee survivor and activist Peter Isely. And he began to hear other survivors' stories with their recurrent themes of abuse and coverup by church authorities. He became more active in SNAP, now serving as its Wisconsin director.

Over time, Pilmaier says, he began to suspect that he may have been lied to. He became convinced, he said, after watching the video deposition of retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland on the Journal Sentinel website in 2008. In it, Weakland admitted moving sex abusers from parish to parish without divulging their histories to the next parishioners. The only way Pilmaier would ever know for certain, the only way he would ever see Hanser's file, would be to sue the archdiocese or file a claim in the bankruptcy.

A crisis of faith

The Pilmaiers' experience has taken a toll on their faith. John Pilmaier, who once loved to going to Mass, was the last to leave the church. It was a gradual process, he says, "as I began to realize the betrayal, the lies, I just couldn't reconcile it anymore."

His parents, too, felt betrayed. Friends in their church walked away from them, Lynn Pilmaier said, because they didn't want to hear about the sexual abuse of children. "Who would?" she said.

"My faith is gone. ... I don't even know what I believe anymore," said Lynn Pilmaier, with no hint of anger.

"I think, if there's a god, then God carries me. And if there isn't, I'm working alone."

She does, though, believe in her son, who now advocates for other victims and policies needed to keep other children safe.

"When I look at the pain my son has had to go through...he is such a hero," she said. "He's not an angry person; he's a very peace-filled person. He wants children to be safe, and keeps going patiently. I don't know how he does that," she said. "But I am just so proud of him."



Guard against post-trauma stress, say doctors

by Umesh Isalkar, TNN

PUNE: For thousands who escaped the flash floods in   Uttarakhand , the ordeal may not be over as yet. Doctors, who said some   survivors   could develop anxiety and other   related disorders , suggest constant monitoring and timely medical intervention.

The most   likely complaint   can be that of 'acute stress disorder', symptoms of which are visible within a month, doctors said. Several individuals keep dwelling on the events and some peculiar set of symptoms which is termed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"It's natural to have some stress related symptoms after a life-threatening event. Sometimes they show serious symptoms that go away after two or six weeks. This is called   acute stress disorder   or ASD. When the symptoms last for more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, it may be called a case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some people with PTSD don't show any symptoms for weeks or months while some have a chronic condition," said   senior psychiatrist Vidyadhar Watve .

Consultant psychiatrist Himani Kulkarni said, "Seeing death from close quarters and experiencing near-death situations is not common. Those who face such situations are likely to experience stress-related disorders. It may be too early to come across a case of PTSD in the Uttarakhand tragedy. But we must be ready to identify the victims and help them." He, however, says such cases are uncommon and that they can be treated with medication.

Kulkarni cited the example of a 22-year-old man. He was witness to a brutal murder. A man sitting next to him in a barber's shop was done to death with a sword. As the crime happened, the young man stood there physically and mentally immobilised due to extreme fear. Even after a month he continued to feel anxious and irritable. "His mind used to go blank even during routine conversations. He exaggerated reactions to news about murders or scenes on TV depicting physical harm. He avoided going to barber's shop or socialise. His sleep was disturbed and the horrifying events of that day troubled him even during wakeful hours. He could not study and dropped out of college. Later, he was diagnosed with PTSD and treated successfully," Kulkarni said.

In another case, a 10-year-old child saw his mother drown in the floods in Mumbai a few years back. He himself was saved in the nick of time. "The child kept clinging to his father and grandmother. He refused to sleep or eat. Even a slight noise would leave him startled. He refused to attend school for almost three months and his interactions with friends and family went down significantly. He had recurrent nightmares of him drowning. He used to get panicky and shut all windows even at the slightest hint of a black cloud in the sky. He was diagnosed with PTSD after four months," Kulkarni said.

These examples give a glimpse of the life following a life-threatening event. "If left untreated, PTSD severely impairs the quality of life and may lead to depressive disorders in later life," Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni said that family and friends can help in treatment by being supportive. Reintegration of the incident in normal life is necessary, he said.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

When in danger, it's natural to feel afraid. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare it to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This "fight-or-flight" response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this reaction is changed or damaged. People with this condition may feel stressed or frightened even when they're no longer in danger. It may result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

It may develop after a terrifying ordeal that involves physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person may have been the one who was harmed, the harm may have happened to a loved one, or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

The term PTSD was first used during the Vietnam war (1955-75) when soldiers were exposed to extreme violence. It may result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms may be grouped into three categories:

(1) Re-experiencing symptoms

* Flashbacks - reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating

* Bad dreams

* Frightening thoughts

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person's day to day activities. They can start from the person's own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

(2) Avoidance symptoms

* Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience

* Feeling emotionally numb

* Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry

* Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past

* Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

(3) Hyperarousal symptoms

* Being easily startled

* Feeling tense or "on edge"

* Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

It's natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don't show any symptoms for weeks or months.

Do children react differently than adults?

Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults. In very young children, these symptoms can include:

* Bedwetting, when they'd learned how to use the toilet before

* Forgetting how or being unable to talk

* Acting out the scary event during playtime

* Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult.

Older children and teens usually show symptoms more like those seen in adults. They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge.



VIDEO on site

WATCH: Australia's army chief demonstrates how you address sex abuse

Why have no American generals been this bold?

by Harold Maass

Like the U.S., Australia is faced with a scandal involving women in the military. That's where the similarities end, however. While American generals have been criticized for their handling of an epidemic of sexual assaults, Australia's army chief, David Morrison, is getting rave reviews for a blistering video he released this week demanding, through clenched teeth, that sexists in his country's military mend their ways or find another place to work.

Morrison this week revealed that 17 military personnel, including high-ranking officers, were under investigation for allegedly creating and exchanging "explicit and profane" emails and images that were demeaning to women. Three of them have been suspended.

"Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army," Morrison says in the video. "Female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army... If that does not suit you, then get out ... There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters."

Morrison also promises to be "ruthless" in rooting out sex abuse in the ranks, and urges all soldiers to do their part if they witness abuse. "Show moral courage and take a stand," he says.

Commentators in Australia and the U.S. say the withering message was exactly what everyone — victims and abusers alike — needed to hear. "Holeeee. Efffing. Crap," says Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. "It's brilliant."

The words are powerful. But the utterly credible fury is what nails it. It is a validation of the frustration and anger a whole lot of people who have been on the receiving end of that 'toughness' have been enduring for a very long time. And it says, yeah, you're right. This is goddamn outrageous. [Salon]

Morrison's direct, unflinching attacks on abusers have left observers slack-jawed. "Er, hang on," writes Sean Power at Mamamia. "Where are all the weasel words, the evasive language, and the spin?... This bloke is the real deal."



City man working on documentary on clergy sex abuse

by Lyle Moran

LOWELL -- Gary Bergeron publicly spoke about being sexually abused by the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham, a former priest at St. Michael's in Lowell, for the first time in 2002.

Since then, Bergeron has continued to be outspoken about the abuse he suffered as a child during a three-year period in the 1970s, and the need for the Catholic church and society to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse.

Bergeron, of Lowell, has written a book about his struggles called "Don't Call Me a Victim: Faith, Hope & Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church," in 2005. He has also co-founded a group called Survivors Voice to help adult survivors of child sexual abuse speak out. His latest project is a yet-to-be titled documentary about his life

as a clergy sex-abuse survivor that he is working on at Lowell Telecommunications Corp.

The Sun recently caught up with Bergeron, 51, to find out what he hopes comes from his documentary he expects to show first in October, and how he thinks the Catholic Church is doing to address clergy sexual abuse.

Q: Why did you first decide to speak out about being abused by a priest?

A: When I found out my dad had been abused by Joe Birmingham, he told my brother and I that we suffered from the sin of his silence. I immediately thought about my son, who was 3. I decided that night that there was no way this was going to happen to my son. I was going to make sure the cycle in my family was stopped.

Q: How did speaking publicly about your story help you?

A: The value in it was understanding who I was. I was not a guy who needed to be running away all the time. I was not the guy who had to go from one relationship to another relationship. I was a family man. I was somebody who was not afraid to speak truth to power. I started to listen to my inner voice as opposed to everyone else's voice. If I had not started talking about it, I probably wouldn't be alive today.

Q: How did hearing others before you speak publicly about being abused help you?

A: I remember the first time I listened to a survivor speak. It was at the East End Club in Lowell. His name was Bernie McDaid and his story was also about Birmingham. The parallels were just mind-blowing. I knew I was not alone. I knew at least one guy I could relate to. It changed my life.

Q: What prompted you to make a documentary about your story?

A: About six months ago I got an email from someone the general public in Lowell would know very well and who said he was abused by Birmingham. He was reaching out for the first time. We met face to face to talk about it. The next day he sent me an email saying that he felt the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders and he felt an inch taller. I knew it was time to get back to work.

Q: How is your documentary different than the other videos and books about clergy sexual abuse already released?

A: I tell the story based on my experiences, rather than someone talking about the sinking of the Titanic who was not there. I was there. I lived it and I am living it. That is a different viewpoint than what is out there.

Q: What type of reaction do you hope the documentary prompts?

A: If I can help a survivor in any place in the world, it is my way of giving back to society. Survivors need to understand there is a difference between being a victim and a survivor, but you need to take that step. Being sexually abused is not a death sentence. There is hope. There is self worth. There is an empowerment when you make a decision to define who you are.

Q: Are there are other types of action you hope the film spurs?

A: It is an issue society needs to have the courage to engage. It is time for American political leaders to talk about this issue.

Q: Why don't you think there has been the type of public political dialogue you are seeking?

A: I think organized religion is the third rail of politics. Nobody wants to touch the third rail. My role is to hopefully educate society and help them realize this is not about God, religion, or Catholicism. It is about the sexual abuse of children and the cover-up.

Q: Has there been any success in other countries sparking dialogue about the issue of clergy sex abuse?

A: Three weeks ago the organization I co-founded, Survivors Voice, which now has a chapter in Europe, went to address the United Nations in Geneva about the issue. The exchange lasted for four hours. We can discuss this halfway across the world, yet we can't get our political leaders here to look at the issue.

Q: Has the Catholic Church made any progress in addressing clergy sexual abuse?

A: The highest ranking Catholic official in the U.S., Cardinal Timothy Dolan in New York, said that nobody has done a better job addressing this than the Catholic Church and that is the good news. And yet, a few years ago, when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee, he moved $57 million into a trust fund for the perpetual care of the dead. He wanted to protect the money from clergy abuse litigation. How any one can do that and then still say nobody has handled this issue better than the Catholic church is beyond me. I can't call that progress.



Advocate: Victims should come first

by Jodelle Greiner - Staff Writer, Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - Bob Schwiderski doesn't believe that people abused by priests suffer more than other survivors of sexual abuse.

"Damage from sexual abuse affects all people," said the Minnesota director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "Just because I was abused by a Catholic priest does not make me a special survivor."

SNAP follows abuse cases and is aware of the one involving Father Leo Charles Koppala, a Catholic priest in Blue Earth who was accused of molesting an 11-year-old child in June.

Schwiderski praised the child, who told a trusted adult; the adult who immediately contacted police; and law enforcement, prosecutors and other officials who tackled the case so quickly.

"Silence is not golden when it comes to child abuse," he said. "Silence is deadly when it comes to child abuse."

Schwiderski was a child in Hector when he was abused by a Catholic priest, and he wasn't the only one. He is critical of the Catholic Church, which moved the priests around instead of disciplining them, he said, and of the conspiracy of silence in the community that allowed the priests to continue to abuse.

"I know hundreds of people who were slapped [when they tried to report abuse.] 'Don't talk about a priest that way,'" he said. "They protect the abusers, and children are continually sexually abused."

Schwiderski says protecting children should be paramount.

"Understand the language of a child," he said. "If they are saying something, pay attention."

Be aware of the environment and who is in that child's world, he advises.

"If you have some idiot that wants to take the kids into a private room, get rid of that idiot now," he said. "Observe, be aware, report or question."

It's best if abuse is discovered and treated as quickly as possible, otherwise the victim is subject to other problems and may not realize it stems from the abuse.

All survivors face common denominators, Schwiderski said: alcohol and drug abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others. He has even known abused people who committed suicide.

There are other individual reactions as well, for good and for bad.

"This is where I'm somewhat different," Schwiderski said. "I myself am not burdened with shame and guilt and many of the other confusions."

That doesn't mean he walked away unscathed.

Schwiderski married and had children, but didn't tell his family about being abused. His family wondered why he did some things.

"Back in the days when my three children were young, I did not give my kids a bath," which caused "arguments between me and their mother," he said.

"Another dynamic that I had to address: I didn't hug much," he admitted. "I did a sideways hug; a frontal hug I did not do."

His children questioned why other kids got hugs from their fathers and they didn't.

He calls his children "the other victims of sexual abuse. They didn't benefit from a good loving mother and father."

Schwiderski did not connect his past abuse to his problems in the present until he ran into trouble.

"I was 43 years old when I stepped from the shadows of silence," he said. "Got my second DWI. [I thought], 'Jeepers, I need to get help.' When I was in treatment, I mentioned [the abuse]."

His counselors quickly made the connection that his alcohol problem was a result of his sexual abuse and Schwiderski became an advocate for other survivors.

He is grateful that Minnesota passed the Child Victims Act this year, eliminating the time limit for survivors to take civil action against their abusers.

"Our criminal laws today are well-written in Minnesota. Now the Minnesota Child Victims Law has just passed, Minnesota has one of the better civil laws.

Those two laws working in tandem gives Minnesotans the tools to fight the strongest social sickness," Schwiderski said.

"Now, it's a matter of those who have been damaged by sexual abuse to seek help," he said.

People are more educated now about what sexual abuse is and are more likely to report it, Schwiderski said. The latest report in 2005 stated 17,562 reported sexual violence.

"That's male and female," he said.

But he knows the actual number of victims is higher because most do not report abuse. He thinks part of the reason is the misconceptions about abuse survivors.

"Society says if you're abused as a little boy, you grow up to be abuser. It's a shame that false wives tale is out there," he said.

"The other one is little boys, if not abusers, grow up to be gay. That keeps many, many men silent.

"I'm hoping as we move forward in time, those fallacies will go away."

The truth, he said, is that survivors of abuse go to extremes, like he did, "to be super vigilant to protect children or they go into professions that protect children."

He wants abuse survivors to know they are not alone.

"I'll take any call," he said.

"I try to empower them by trying to get them to file a police report," he said. "Even if the abuse happened 20 years ago, file a police report."

Reporting abuse is important because the abuser could still be a risk to children. Reporting can help police build a stronger case against an abuser, especially if there are multiple victims.

"The victim is now empowered; they have stepped from the shadows of silence. They are starting the road to heal and recovery," he said.

"We're not going to stop crime or injury if we are silent; [we] cannot protect children or the parish if we are silent; can't educate people if you stay silent," he said. "Take the tape off your mouth; do not be afraid to report."

For more information, visit


United Kingdom

Coleen Nolan: I'm confused about teacher's abuse 20 years ago

COLEEN gives advice to a woman who is torn over whether she should report a teacher who targeted her when she was 10.

Dear Coleen,

When I was just 10 years old (I am now in my 30s), my teacher and I developed a unique friendship.

He would cuddle, kiss and touch me.

He would say I was his special little girl and that when I was older he wanted to marry me and have children with me.

I recently opened up to a counsellor about this and she immediately said it was abuse and I should have reported it, especially as he is still teaching.

I am so confused and upset. Abuse had never entered my mind and I don't know how to feel about it.

This teacher said he loved me. I feel it was my fault, as I was so needy.

I feel disgusted with myself and sometimes I feel like disappearing or just killing myself as I can't cope. I'm so worried you won't believe me, as he always said if I started to tell people they would think I was lying and that I was bad.

I try to put a brave face on in front of people but I feel like I am crumbling inside. I don't know how much longer I can go on like this. What should I do?

Coleen says..

If you've just realised the full significance of what happened to you, then it's going to be traumatic, so don't pressure yourself to put on a ‘brave face'.

Don't ever think the abuse was your fault or worry that people won't believe you – abusers bank on those feelings and encourage them. That's how they get away with it.

You were 10 years old and you did nothing wrong.

I'm very glad you told a counsellor and hope that you'll continue to have counselling to help you cope with how you feel and find a way through it.

And, with support, you can.

Police take historic allegations of abuse seriously, but if you're unsure of what you want to do, speak to the NSPCC (; helpline: 0808 800 5000), who provide confidential support for adults abused in childhood.

Please don't let what this man did destroy your life – you have everything to live for.

Be a survivor and not a victim. Good luck.


Dear Coleen,

I have been married for eight years and have two small children, but my husband and I have not been truly happy for years.

Throughout our marriage there have been issues, from financial hardship, to violence, to cheating.

Somehow we've always worked it out, but I feel we've never got it right. 

I just want to leave him, but he is my main financial support and I don't see how I'll make it without him to support me financially.

What should I do?

Coleen says..

IF you divorce, you will be entitled to your fair share and it will be worked out in court.

First see the Citizens Advice Bureau, who have good advice on ending a marriage, and on financial arrangements 

I know it's scary, I've been there, but you shouldn't stay in an unhappy marriage for financial reasons.

It sounds as if he has also been abusive and you must think about the environment you're bringing up kids in.

Perhaps you'd be happier out of your current situation, and money can't buy that.


Dear Coleen,

My husband sulks if I refuse to have sex with him. When he sulks it creates a horrible atmosphere, which affects the whole family. He blames me for my lack of interest, but I know I have no problems in that area.

I just feel used. He is selfish and chauvinistic.

He never does anything romantic, yet he expects me to dress up in sexy undies for a night of passion. I've had enough. I don't want to break up our family but I'm not happy and I'm not sure I love him any more. What do I do?

Coleen says..

He sounds like a spoilt child. Everything has to be on his terms by the sounds of it. Why on earth would you want to put on sexy undies for some sulky chauvinist?

I'm sure if he did pay you some attention you'd be in the mood to make love.
If you're in a position to do it (sounds like you have children to consider) have a trial separation and make a list of pros and cons of your relationship.

If he genuinely loves you and doesn't want your marriage to end, then he'll start making an effort.

If he doesn't, then you can be confident your instincts were right.


170-page guide teaches pedophiles how to target your children

by Molly Grantham

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  Ever heard of a "grooming guide"?  We hadn't either.  Federal agents want that to change.  They want all parents to know these vile guides are out there, teaching predators how to get to your kids.

There are various "grooming guides" floating around online and amongst predators.  Officials say most are amateur, but a handful are frighteningly slick.  WBTV obtained one of the more in-depth ones.  A 170-page manual full of simplified lessons written by a convicted pedophile.  As the big warning page on the front will tell you, this particular guide is a step-by-step "how-to" in which one predator, who goes by the name "The Mule", lists the best ways to start long-term sexual relationships with a 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 year old.

"It's a sickness and a depravity level I can't even comprehend," says Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Brock Nicholson.  His office is well aware of these guides and tracks these criminals.  "We call them predators but at the end of the day, they are child rapists. Flat out. That's what they're doing.  It's sickening . [In the guide] they try to convince others with the same mindset that what they're thinking is NOT wrong, that it is society who is wrong.  The guide says this is the ultimate expression of how to love a child."

Where do you find a guide like this?  Sadly, it's not hard.

"This guide literally sold on Amazon for awhile," said Nicholson.  "These guides and similar guides are posted on websites."

This particular guide goes into great detail on the difference in how to have sex with a toddler versus a kindergartner.  It lays out specific word-for-word dialogues you can have with children to make them think the experiences are all okay.  But the most stunning section might be where the guide teaches predators to get in with parents first, in order to get to their kids.

"It's not the ‘stranger-danger' you might be thinking of," said Nicholson, who has worked a number of these cases in his 25+ year career with I.C.E.  "It's teachers, coaches, ministers, politicians, even law enforcement.  It's every walk of life, every race.  It's usually men acting as the predators, though not always."

For example, the guide says, "If you have kids in your family, but you do not yet have a close relationship, it might be a good idea to carefully start to visit those people and start to show a friendly interest in that particular family.  But do start carefully and try not to make it too obvious, like going straight for their kids and play – build up trust and friendship with the parents over a period of time, and see where this takes you."

Babysitting, the guide says, will sometimes provide the opportunity for "sleepovers".  If that doesn't work, the guide tells predators to "establish a playgroup", "establish a sports group", "run a summer or winter camp" or "run an orphan home".

In another section of the guide, the author, who again is a convicted pedophile, lists the four important advantages that provide some "fundamental assets for every adult who are searching for child and child love:

1) The advantage of owning an animal,

2) The advantage of searching in poor communities,

3) The advantage of finding sad and lonely children and

4) The advantage of using schools as starting points."

"Getting yourself an animal should be the very first thing to consider if you are serious about finding a child love candidate," the guide states.  "Either if you plan to have the children come to your home or searching outdoors.  Animals are what we like to call child magnets ."

Nicholson said about six months ago he found out child predators sometimes identify themselves by a particular piece of jewelry or tattoo.

"When I discovered this," he said, "it totally blew me away!  Much like we see in gang members, they have their own signs of who they are.  With boys, if they like boys, they have a triangle within a triangle.  If they like young girls, they have a heart within a heart.  Either tattooed or worn as a necklace or a bracelet.  Then, when they're encountered, they'll tell law enforcement, ‘Oh, this belonged to my daughter who died years ago and I wear it for that reason…'."

To get another opinion on the "grooming guide", we sent it to Dr. Sharon Cooper, an expert in diagnosing child sexual abuse.  She's a Forensic Pediatrician and Consultant for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children who is based in Chapel Hill, but is widely regarded across the nation for her books, lectures and work on individual cases.  

"It's highly detailed and extremely disturbing," said Cooper.  "What this pedophile suggests in the guide would work.  This kind of rewarding of a child on a reoccurring basis, in telling them how important they are, that would make a child respond – especially young children."



CASA wants volunteers in fight against child abuse


CASA of Central Texas invites Hays County residents to get involved in the fight against child abuse by training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate.

CASA of Central Texas advocates for abused and neglected children in the community by recruiting, training, and supporting community volunteers. CASA volunteers are appointed to children who are confirmed victims of abuse or neglect to independently investigate the case and provide recommendations to the family court judge, what is in the best interest of the child. They often serve as the only consistent adult in the child's life.

More volunteers are needed in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays counties, according to CASA of Central Texas Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell. She said becoming a CASA volunteer is a way to make a direct impact in the community one child at a time.

“We assign our volunteers to one case at a time, to make sure the children receive the attention they need,” Castilla-Blackwell said. “But, that means we are only serving as many children as we have volunteers. We need more volunteers to reach our goal of serving 100 percent of the children who are currently in the state's care.”

The next session of free advocate trainings will begin in mid-July and will be held in both the San Marcos and New Braunfels CASA locations. Classes meet once a week for five weeks.

In 2012, CASA of Central Texas served 372 children in Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays counties but there were an estimated 400 or more additional children who did not have the voice of a CASA volunteer.

To learn more about CASA or volunteer training, please contact CASA at (512) 392-3578 or (830) 626-2272, or visit



Iowa View: Church makes major strides against abuse

by Tom Carney

In light of the publicity in recent years about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, it's fair to ask, “Is the Catholic Church doing any better in protecting children?”

It appears so.

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, which gathered data for an annual audit of U.S. Catholic dioceses, found “the fewest allegations and victims reported since the data collection for the annual reports began in 2004.”

The Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People says that all but one U.S. diocese — Lincoln, Neb. — are compliant with its 17-point charter. The charter is described as “a comprehensive set of procedures” established by American bishops in 2002 “for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.” It includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of acts of abuse.

Although one case is too many, it's noteworthy that the incidence of sexual abuse by priests is mostly in the past, though we can expect a continuation of reporting of past incidents. The report notes that “68 percent of allegations made in 2011 were of incidents from 1960-1984,” and the most common period for allegations was 1975-1979. The report also found that most of the accused have died or been removed from ministry, and many had been accused previously.

Three percent (or 21) of the allegations noted in the 2011 report came from current minors. Of those, “seven were considered credible by law enforcement; three were determined to be false; five were determined to be boundary violations, and three are still under investigation,” the report said. The credibility of three allegations could not be determined.

In the same period, “683 adults who were victims/survivors of abuse in the past came forward to report on allegations for the first time.”

The audits were done for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The report can be found at:

The church may be doing better in protecting kids, but the damage has been done — to the children and their families, as well as to the church itself, its members and its clergy. Indeed, there is evidence the damage to Catholic clergy is disproportional. A study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, conducted in 2003-04, found that about 4 percent of U.S. priests were found to have abused children, but the public perception may be that a much higher percentage were involved.

I couldn't find a relevant study for the U.S., but a 2011 study commissioned by the Irish Iona Institute, which describes itself as promoting “the place of marriage and religion in society,” found that 70 percent of the public in Ireland — a traditionally Catholic country — highly exaggerates the number of priests involved in the sexual abuse of children. The Iona study accepts the 4 percent U.S. figure for Ireland, but the study found that about 42 percent of the Irish public believes that over 20 percent of priests are abusers.

U.S. numbers are likely to be similar or even more exaggerated. This may result from the great dissonance felt by the public between the ironic specter of abuse and the traditional view of priests as men of God who profess and teach adherence to the Christian ethic.

Hopefully, we can all get past that, adjusting to a more realistic view. This news about the church's progress in stopping abuse of children should help.


Children of Domestic Violence: A black and blue fairytale

by Jerome Elam

WASHINGTON , July 3, 2013 — I awoke at midnight from the nightmare that had repeated itself so many times and stolen away so many of my nights. The storyline for the dream was one that had been etched in my mind in vivid detail since I witnessed an unspeakable act as a four-year old boy. In the dream I can still hear my mother's voice, pleading, “Not in front of the baby,” but the sound that followed was the unmistakable contact between my father's hand and my mother's cheek. It was a sound that left wounds deeper than the bruises that had begun to constantly appear on my mother's body and would affect me my entire life.

The unbridled rage of my father knew no boundaries and passed like a summer storm through the lives of my mother and me, weaving a path of destruction. The tumultuous end to my parents' marriage was a prediction that required little insight or experience in the realm of relationships. However, the eruption of the physical violence that ensued at the inception of their imminent downfall became a tragedy that defied the breadth of anyone's imagination.

The story of my parents' relationship begins when at the age of eighteen my mother escaped an abusive home to enroll in college. She hoped to fulfill her dream of being a nurse and to put some distance between her and her parents, but fate would soon intervene to change all that. During her freshman year she fell in love with my father who was twenty-two. She was swept off her feet by his romantic and worldly personality.

Their relationship began to change when my mother discovered she was pregnant and the weight of becoming a parent began to dawn on my father. It was the 1960's and the system of morals and values that existed within my parents' families was significantly influenced by the bygone decade of the 1950's. This meant that marriage between my parents was mandatory and that putting me up for adoption was not an option.

To give you a picture of their relationship, my parents' personalities existed in such dichotomy that the two could not have sat next to each other on a cross-country bus ride. If they had not fallen so deeply in love, they could not have lasted ten minutes in a room together with such explosive personalities and such hot tempers. It became clear to me much later in life as to why my mother had fallen so hard for someone who was obviously her complete opposite.

My mother was beautiful and was constantly being courted by men since she was allowed to date in high school. The ‘hook” for my mother was that she had found someone as abusive and cruel as her own father, and her choice would only reflect a pattern of bad decisions based on the influences of her childhood. The two quickly married and my father joined the Army in order to help pay for the expense of my impending arrival and to support his new family. He was quickly deployed overseas, which in the end proved beneficial for my parents' marriage. The three years my father was gone kept my parents' marriage intact but only delayed the impending doom that was destined to happen.

My father had made it a point to send money home to my mother on a regular basis with the understanding it was to provide for my care. A portion of the money was also to be placed in a savings account to pay the bills when my father returned and looked for a job. When he returned the money was gone, spent on my mother's various habits, one of which was her consumption of alcohol. After several months my father began to change as he became trapped in a relentless job search that proved unsuccessful.

The arguments between my mother and father became more frequent and they began a rapid descent into psychological and physical abuse.. It was as if all the love they had for each other had now been transformed into hate, and many times it was as if the argument was having them instead of them having the argument. During my mother's childhood, drinking and violence were a way of life. When my father first began hitting her she did not flinch. When the fights began to escalate and the beatings became more severe my mother sunk deeper into a bottle as her life spiraled out of control.

My father's violent behavior seemed so unpredictable at first, a random explosion of anger that would fill the room with a fear that would suck all the oxygen from a room as I struggled to breathe. The only recourse I had was to find a hiding place where I would cover my ears and try to block out the chaos around me. My first enclave of solitude was a closet where I would hide behind winter coats and my mother's shoes. My father soon discovered where I lay hidden as the sound of my four-year old heart breaking as I cried led him to me.

As any survivor of Domestic Violence will tell you there soon evolves a sixth sense that tells you when an episode of violence is fast approaching, although many choose to ignore it. I soon acquired this sense and after my hiding places began to dwindle, I escaped to nearby woods where I found a stolen peace that I knew would not last. I knew when I returned that the fight would be over and both my mother and father would be possessed by the amnesia that often grips the minds of the abused and the abuser, and I would be punished for making them worry. This is part of the madness that surrounds Domestic Violence.

People often look at victims of domestic violence as if they have a choice in leaving or staying. For many years I blamed my mother for staying in an abusive relationship that caused me so much pain and heartache. As an adult, I realized that anger and violence were a lifestyle that had corrupted my mother at her very core, and her lack of self-esteem and abusive childhood had trapped her in this way of life that she could not escape.

Anger is the drug that fuels violence, and when alcohol is added, the effects can increase ten- fold. As I became a target for my father's anger I too began to lock away these violent periods of my life as my memory of them remained hidden until my later years. The downward spiral of my parents' relationship came to a screeching halt when a handful of my mother's relatives who did not embrace the culture of violence that permeated our family collected my mother and me and took us to live with them.

My mother and I eventually ended up living with her parents where I was subjected to daily beatings from my grandparents that often drew blood. They would often make me choose the implement that would be used to discipline me. As a form of rebellion I would often select the most painful to show them that although they may leave scars on my body, they would never break my spirit.

The challenges in my life would only grow exponentially from this point as my mother would marry for a second time, and I would become a victim of child abuse at the hands of her second husband. My escape from all this came at the age of seventeen when I joined the United States Marine Corps and never looked back. It was at that point that I dedicated my life to defending those who could not defend themselves.

My mother would go on to divorce and marry a third time. When my mother divorced my father he was banned from my life until I sought him out at the age of 26. On his fourth marriage at the time, I tracked him down. I had the hope of any survivor of child abuse that I would find someone who would just hold me, tell me they loved me and say they were sorry for what happened to me. My dreams would come crashing down however as this fantasy was eclipsed by disappointment and heartbreak as he turned out to be the opposite of what I expected.

I finally found the healing I so desperately needed in my life at the age of 44, when my children were born. I had spent over twenty years working with a gifted therapist to find the healing in my own life that I needed to prepare myself for being a father. No one can ever put into words the transformation that your heart experiences when you become a parent. For me, it was as if I had only been using a small percentage of my heart, and from the day they were born every inch of “real estate” that comprised my heart was invested in loving my children. As I look through their eyes I have seen the unimaginable burden I was made to bear as a child and the undeniable responsibility that I have as a parent, and nothing will ever distract me from my duty as a father.

The United States Department of Justice reports that Domestic Violence is one of the most severely underreported crimes in this country. The National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention tell us, “Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalking's perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police,” and that, “One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control report in their findings, “An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports, “Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.” The costs of Domestic Violence are staggering and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control studies have revealed, “The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services.”

They also have found that, “Victims of intimate partner violence lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence perpetrated against them by current or former husbands, boyfriends and dates. This loss is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of violence.”

The effect on children is just as horrendous. Break the Cycle states that, “Witnessing violence between one's parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.” J.L. Edelson reports in the publication, “The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Woman Battering,” that, “30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household.”

The change that will bring an end to Domestic Violence in our lifetime begins with each of us because it is what we teach our children about violence that will determine how the next generation treats the scourge of Domestic Violence. We cannot allow their world to be colored by the haze that teaches an indifference to violence, and we have to protect them by removing them from environments that breed this tragedy. We must also protect victims and give them the shelter and support they need to escape Domestic Violence. Further, we have to strengthen and aggressively enforce laws that protect and defend all victims.

As for me, my nightmares have all but stopped, but I will never forget the sound that echoes in my memory of a four-year old's first experience with Domestic Violence. If you are a victim of Domestic Violence there is help available by calling the The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474 or The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. Please get help now, if not for your own sake then for the sake of your children. The endless fight to heal my broken heart as a result of the Domestic Violence I experienced as a child has consumed the majority of my adult life. My experience has driven me to protect those who cannot protect themselves and to work as hard as I can to be a voice for the voiceless. Please join me in my battle to prevent even one more child from being sentenced to a life of reliving the pain as a child of Domestic Violence.


More child abuse survivors reveal trauma

Calls to a professional helpline for survivors of child abuse have increased since the federal government announced its royal commission into child abuse.

Four times as many child abuse survivors are seeking professional help since a royal commission into the issue was announced last year, research shows.

Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) says calls to its helpline have increased by 300 per cent since November when it was revealed there would be an inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

"The royal commission has helped break down the taboo and implore people to tell their story," ASCA president Dr Cathy Kezelman told AAP on Tuesday.

"Often the first step is realising that you are not alone."

The calls have also revealed the effects abuse has on adult survivors.

Four out of five (78 per cent) survivors said the abuse affected their relationships, while two out of three (68 per cent) said they suffered from mental health problems.

"The findings show that living with impacts of child abuse can make everyday life very difficult and for some, dangerous," Dr Kezelman said.

Of those callers who revealed the abuse they suffered, sexual abuse emerged as the most common type, affecting 61 per cent of survivors.

Emotional abuse affected 29 per cent, followed by physical abuse at 27 per cent.

Twenty-two per cent reported multiple types of abuse.

The most common age group when survivors said they experienced any type of abuse was between six and 10 years, at 62 per cent, followed by 11-15 at 42 per cent.

Almost half (46 per cent) said they were abused at multiple stages of their lives.

Since the royal commission was announced, ASCA has expanded its 1300 657 380 helpline to 9am and 5pm between Monday and Sunday.

Previously it was only available four hours a day during weekdays.

Dr Kezelman predicts the fourfold increase is just the tip of the iceberg.

"People are reaching out. We've had people calling us for the very first time who are in their 70s who have never told another soul what happened to them," she said.

The research is based on more than 3,500 calls to the ASCA helpline over the past four years.


‘MTSU On the Record' Focuses on Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

The next edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program will spread the good news about help for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Host Gina Logue's interview with Dr. Debra Rose Wilson, associate professor of nursing, will air from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, July 1, and from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, July 7, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and

Wilson is co-author of a study in which 32 female adult survivors underwent four weeks of stress management training classes.

After the training, the participants reported using more problem-solving approaches, more direction on seeking social support and a more positive perception of the stress factors in their lives.

The research shows that stress management techniques can help survivors improve their physical health, as well, since the severe psychological stress to which they were subjected as children is long-lasting and has an adverse impact on the immune system.

To listen to previous programs, go to the “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800



Iowa View: Church makes major strides against abuse


In light of the publicity in recent years about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, it's fair to ask, “Is the Catholic Church doing any better in protecting children?”

It appears so.

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, which gathered data for an annual audit of U.S. Catholic dioceses, found “the fewest allegations and victims reported since the data collection for the annual reports began in 2004.”

The Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People says that all but one U.S. diocese — Lincoln, Neb. — are compliant with its 17-point charter. The charter is described as “a comprehensive set of procedures” established by American bishops in 2002 “for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.” It includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of acts of abuse.

Although one case is too many, it's noteworthy that the incidence of sexual abuse by priests is mostly in the past, though we can expect a continuation of reporting of past incidents. The report notes that “68 percent of allegations made in 2011 were of incidents from 1960-1984,” and the most common period for allegations was 1975-1979. The report also found that most of the accused have died or been removed from ministry, and many had been accused previously.

Three percent (or 21) of the allegations noted in the 2011 report came from current minors. Of those, “seven were considered credible by law enforcement; three were determined to be false; five were determined to be boundary violations, and three are still under investigation,” the report said. The credibility of three allegations could not be determined.

In the same period, “683 adults who were victims/survivors of abuse in the past came forward to report on allegations for the first time.”

The audits were done for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The report can be found at:

The church may be doing better in protecting kids, but the damage has been done — to the children and their families, as well as to the church itself, its members and its clergy. Indeed, there is evidence the damage to Catholic clergy is disproportional. A study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, conducted in 2003-04, found that about 4 percent of U.S. priests were found to have abused children, but the public perception may be that a much higher percentage were involved.

I couldn't find a relevant study for the U.S., but a 2011 study commissioned by the Irish Iona Institute, which describes itself as promoting “the place of marriage and religion in society,” found that 70 percent of the public in Ireland — a traditionally Catholic country — highly exaggerates the number of priests involved in the sexual abuse of children. The Iona study accepts the 4 percent U.S. figure for Ireland, but the study found that about 42 percent of the Irish public believes that over 20 percent of priests are abusers.

U.S. numbers are likely to be similar or even more exaggerated. This may result from the great dissonance felt by the public between the ironic specter of abuse and the traditional view of priests as men of God who profess and teach adherence to the Christian ethic.

Hopefully, we can all get past that, adjusting to a more realistic view. This news about the church's progress in stopping abuse of children should help.



Sex abuse survivor set to ride for Sophie's Place

by Troy Landreville, Langley Advance

Andy Bhatti has stepped out from the long shadow cast from a tumultuous past.

Now he's focusing his time and energy on giving back.

The sexual abuse survivor and former drug addict continues to raise funds and awareness, to keep others from taking the same path he found himself on as a teen and young adult.

Earlier this spring the Langley resident was the co-organizer and key promoter of a charity poker tournament at the Aldergrove Legion that raised $25,000 for the B.C. Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse (BCSMSSA).

The money will go towards helping male survivors of sexual abuse on their road to recovery.

On the heels of that successful poker fundraiser, Bhatti is now training to cover 525 kilometres of B.C. asphalt during the Men of Hope Ride For A Reason.

From July 15-20, he'll be pedaling his road bike from Vernon to Vancouver to benefit Sophie's Place, a child advocacy centre in Surrey.

Leading up to the ride, and the tournament that preceded it, Bhatti has willingly shared his story of the sexual abuse he suffered from a former Big Brother volunteer in Langley.

Bhatti's abuser, who in 2008 was jailed for sex crimes against two young children in the Vernon area, assaulted him over a four-year period.

The abuse pushed him into an endless loop of drug abuse and crime. To feed his heroin addiction, Bhatti became a career criminal. All the while he lived on the street, sleeping in cars and hotel rooms, or wherever he could find warmth. He smoked heroin for the last time on Sept. 26, 2006, and since then has been working hard to turn his life around.

Recently he has directed 100 per cent of his efforts to helping others.

The beneficiary of his cycling trek is Sophie's Place. Since opening its doors in February 2012, the centre has provided services to children and youth up to the age of 18 who are victims of sexual, mental, and physical abuse.

RCMP child protection, victim services, and the Centre for Child Development work together with Sophie's Place on reported cases of child abuse.

"Sophie's Place is the first child advocacy centre in British Columbia," explained Judy Krawchuk, vice president of the Child Development Foundation of B.C. "It's one of only probably a handful in all of Canada. It's a place where children who have been abused can come and share their story in a more family-friendly environment."

Bhatti decided to support Sophie's Place because "the money goes to children."

"My abuse was when I was a kid, so it's good to help both [adults and children]," he said. "I did one event and the money will go to adults. This money will go to help young kids who are survivors of sexual abuse from the ages of zero to 16."

Named after its patron Sophie Tweed-Simmons, daughter of KISS bassist/vocalist and reality TV star Gene Simmons, Sophie's Place offers a comfortable, welcoming environment for children, according to Krawchuk.

"Once you've had probably the most traumatizing experience of your life, it's a place that feels safe," Krawchuk said.

"They do their interview for sexual abuse in that centre instead of a cop shop, so [they're] totally not going to be scared," Bhatti offered. "The place is painted like a children's hospital. It's a safer environment. In a safe environment, a kid will talk; if it's an uncomfortable environment, the kid won't talk - guaranteed."

If a child chooses to disclose his or her story at Sophie's Place, it's taped and can be used in court and also by each of the departments involved in the case.

The ride starting in Vernon is no coincidence. That's where the man who made Bhatti's life hell as a child in Langley was arrested for his attacks on two other children.

This is Bhatti's first foray into long distance cycling and while he knows it's going to be difficult, it's a ride in the park compared to what he's endured in the past.

"It's going to be hard, but it's going to be good because it will raise a lot of public awareness," Bhatti said. "If I can walk around the streets of downtown Vancouver wired on crack cocaine and heroin for like, 16, 17, 18 hours a day, I can ride a bike for eight hours a day."

The ride winds up with a fundraising dinner gala being held July 20 from 6-12 p.m. at the Sheraton Wall Centre.

Tickets are $100 each. The event includes door prizes, a raffle, and a silent auction.

More sponsors and riders are needed. To get involved, or to purchase a ticket to the gala, call 604-309-1573 or email andy:


South Africa

Women opt for dispute resolution to settle case

by Kamini Padayachee

Durban - Twenty years after they were allegedly indecently assaulted, two KwaZulu-Natal women are hoping to put the matter to rest this week.

On Monday, the alleged perpetrator of the crimes, a 58-year-old former deputy school principal from Durban, appeared briefly in the Durban Regional Court where the matter was referred to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) meeting.

According to the charge sheet, the man, who cannot be named because he has not pleaded, is facing a charge of rape and indecent assault of one of the victims related to incidents between 1991 and 1993.

He is also facing another count of indecent assault, in respect of the other victim, for an incident at the Suncoast Beach in 1995. When the alleged acts occurred both victims were minors. Their ages at the time have not been made public.

The ADR process is unique in that the victims and perpetrator choose to meet and come to an agreement rather than have the case set down for a trial.

As part of the mediation process the victims get an opportunity to talk about what effect the alleged crime had on their lives and the accused has the opportunity to apologize.

Marc Hardwick, a private child abuse investigator who is assisting the women, said the ADR process was “new” and not often used in child abuse cases.

“In this case, it has been a long time since the offence and it would have been very difficult on both parties to have a trial. It is a process that can be appropriate in cases with adult survivors of child abuse, especially when they want closure but do not want it to go to trial.”

Hardwick said he could not divulge the details of the meeting, which took place on Monday, due to a confidentiality agreement.

The case was adjourned to Wednesday for the outcome of the ADR meeting.

If the process is not successful, the man will go on trial.


Surviving domestic violence; the road to recovery

by Rachel Baldwin

(Editor's note: This is the first of a four part series on survivors of domestic violence.)

“I couldn't breathe; his hands were around my throat. I felt myself drifting into unconsciousness and I remember all too well the last thought that went through my mind…who will stand as a buffer between my husband and my two sons after I'm dead?” said Colleen Wiley, a survivor of domestic violence who spoke to the Daily News about the years of physical abuse she endured at the hands of her ex-husband and of the long road to recovery that is truly, a never ending one.

“I so often recall the first time he ever struck me,” she said. “I was only 17 when I married him. I know now that I married him to get away from home, from a father who acted as if I was more of a burden than I was loved. I felt lost in that house…like I wasn't wanted or didn't belong. I was searching – searching for someone to love me the way I craved to be loved. I thought I found that with my ex-husband, and was too young and naïve to know the difference. In my mind, I thought my life would be wonderful. Although it began that way, it soon changed.”

“I was 19 when my first son was born,” stated Colleen. “He was premature and had a bad case of the colic. He cried 24/7. It put strain on our marriage, but he didn't help me take care of the baby at all. He became angry, yelling at me to shut the baby up. I tried everything, but nothing worked. My ex would go into the bedroom, turn the stereo on and lock the door while I walked the floor until I was ready to drop. Early one morning, I woke him up around 5 a.m. and begged him to take care of the baby for just a couple of hours so I could get some sleep…I was dead on my feet. Instead of the help I begged for, I was backhanded across the face and knocked into a wall.”

Colleen's story is sadly not unusual, but has been told over and over again by women across the nation and across the world. Although the circumstances may vary, they are in part, all the same.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, an average of three women a day lose their life every day at the hands of a current or former intimate partner. Every 5 minutes, a woman is injured by someone she loves or had loved. Many cases are reported to law enforcement while even more go unreported for fear of repercussion for their actions. They live in fear of losing their children or their homes. The men who abuse them mentally as well as physically and make them feel useless, defenseless, and they are fearful of being killed. They think they have no choice but to take whatever punishment he decides to dish-out. They see no light at the end of the tunnel. Some fool themselves in thinking that the abuse won't get any worse and sadly, most are wrong. The beatings increase in frequency and in intensity until they endure injuries that leave them with life-changing impairments and physical handicaps or worse, they lose their lives.

Colleen stated that after she was struck the first time, she was shocked beyond belief but received a bigger blow to her heart when she went to her parent's home to ask for help.

“When everyone else is against you, you're always supposed to be able to go home…count on your parents and family to support and help you. That didn't happen for me. I was crying my eyes out when I walked through their door. My dad was sitting in his chair in the living room and asked me what in the world was I blubbering about. I managed to speak enough words through the tears for him to understand what I was saying and instead of being enraged at the thought of someone harming his daughter, he told me I needed to get myself home - beg my husband for forgiveness and figure out what I had done wrong to deserve being hit and to never do it again,” said the victim. “I had never felt more alone or rejected in my whole, entire life. I felt numb. I got back in my car, went home, and apologized. I went from being the victim to feeling as though the whole situation was my fault.”

Through the years, which brought the birth of a second son, the violence continued. Sometimes months would pass with no physical contact and right when Colleen would begin to feel like she could relax and breathe, something would anger her ex and he would take it out on her.

“I can remember his parent's covering for him, telling our neighbors that I was clumsy…that I tripped on the cat coming through the door and struck my face. The excuses they came up with were believable, especially since they had reputations in the community as being church-going, upstanding people,” she said. “I know I should have left but every time I made plans to leave, I would have to step in-between he and my boys to keep him from beating them. I knew in my heart he would get visitation and I wouldn't be there to protect them. I was working, but I didn't make much. He parents had a lot of money and I knew they would hire him a ruthless divorce attorney to fight for full custody. I felt stuck.”

The 11-year marriage came to a screeching halt on a cool, spring day in 1994 when her enraged husband began yet another round of abuse so severe that Colleen suffered extensive, life-threatening injuries including a skull fracture that caused her to spend 18 days in a local hospital, 7 of those being in the intensive care unit. She feels confident in saying that had her 8 year old son not sneked and called the police, she would have been killed. True justice did not prevail, however. When “small-town” politics became involved and favors was called in, her husband was released from custody the next morning and never spent another night inside a jail cell.

After recovering from her multiple injuries, Colleen made a promise to herself to move forward. She realized after therapy and counseling that she had never deserved one day of the abuse she suffered over the years she was married to her ex, nor would she tolerate it in the future. She rented a home, got primary custody of her sons and worked 2 and 3 jobs at a time to support herself and her children.

“We never again had a fine home, or a new automobile and sometimes I had to get really creative to come up with a good meal out of the meager groceries in our pantry, but we were safe and that's what mattered,” explained Colleen. “The aggravation continued but I was able to retain EPO's against him and eventually he remarried and moved away. That was truly the happiest day of my life.”

Her ex slowly cut contact between himself and his sons and has not seen either of them more than 4-5 times in the last 6 years. The children have now became adults with children of their own, and have both remarked that they would never do to a woman what their father did to their mom.

During the wedding of her eldest son that was attended by her ex, Colleen remarked that when she made eye contact with him for the first time in my years, the first thought that crossed her mind was, “If I had killed you, I would be out by now.”

Time has healed most of Colleen's wounds, and she is now remarried to a man she describes as “the love of her life”, who shows her everyday what it's truly liked to be loved and considers herself blessed beyond measure to have him.

“There is a life out there and there is help for any woman who is in an abusive relationship,” said Colleen. “You don't have to stay, you deserve far better than that. I encourage anyone that is being abused to take the first step to a better life. The first one is always the hardest to take but it gets easier and easier as time goes on. It won't be a bed of roses and there will be days when you question every action you take but if you just hold on a little longer, I promise it will all be worth it in the end.”

“There's no price-tag that can ever be put on peace of mind and knowing that you're safe.”


Abuse survivor spins tale into book, play

Yolanda Lee lay in the mud on her front lawn, battered and bloodied and unconscious.

As she laid there, her husband grabbed a hose and sprayed her with water until she came to.

"It knocked me into a place of temporary insanity," Lee says of her abusive marriage. "I wanted to die. I prayed to God to let me die."

But Lee survived.

After a decade of mental, emotional and physical abuse, she divorced her husband. Lee said he was arrested 28 times for domestic violence and served time in prison.

As a way to deal with the pain and anger, she penned a book, "Someone Almost Loved Me to Death." The book was turned into a play, which will be performed Saturday at The Cuban Club.

Lee hopes her harrowing story - which emphasizes survival, not victimization - is an inspiration to other families dealing with the horror of domestic violence.

"I was embarrassed it happened to me," said the 45-year-old West Tampa native. "I was kicked, spit on, beaten, had guns pointed at my head, but I was raised to believe what happens in your house stays in your house."

Lee said she was emotionally abused as a child, which led to a life of drugs and promiscuity as an adult.

She knew her now ex-husband, John, from the neighborhood. The two crossed paths regularly on the streets, and in the clubs where Lee often performed as an exotic dancer.

John was well-groomed, street smart and into the same scene as Lee.

A month into their relationship, he hit her for the first time.

"He hit me with so much force, he knocked me out," Lee describes in the book. "My head hit the window so hard that it felt like he had shaken something loose in my head. It should have been a red flag, red blanket, red anything. Should have been the time to get out and away from this man right then."

But Lee didn't leave. They married four weeks later.

"I opened the door and allowed him to abuse me" said Lee, who has expressive eyes and a warm smile. "I allowed him to take complete control of my life. He told me I was stupid, dumb, ugly and worthless and I believed him."

Lee called herself a "puppet on a string" because of the control her husband exerted over her, asking his permission to bathe, even brush her teeth.

But through it all, she held on to the love of her five children, who many times witnessed the abuse, and to her faith.

Somehow, she found the strength to leave her husband after 10 years.

After divorcing him in 2001, Lee began putting her feelings to paper. She found it therapeutic.

"My dad always said, 'Never let the enemy see you cry,' but he forgot to tell me what to do with the anger," she recalls.

Three years ago, she met local playwright Nathan Dwayne Sanders and shared her book. The two wove her words into a raw, gritty stage performance that follows the arc of a relationship - from falling in love to the beginnings of feeling trapped to being physically and sexually abused to eventually leaving the relationship and becoming a survivor.

"When you talk to this young lady, it's hard to believe what she went through for so long," said Sanders, a Tampa police officer. "I was overtaken by her story, her perseverance and her love of God. To be able to see God's work and see where she is now in awesome."

Sanders said Lee's story also helped give him a different perspective about abuse victims.

"When you go on so many routine (domestic violence) calls, you tend to become complacent and put them all into one category," he added. "We always wonder, 'Why don't they just leave?' (Lee's story) opened my eyes and made me better understand why."

Unfortunately, stories like Lee's are not uncommon.

Last year, there were more than 7,000 domestic violence offenses reported in Hillsborough County, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics. According to The Spring of Tampa Bay, one-in-four women will experience violence during her lifetime.

Discussing the issue of domestic violence can help shed light on the violence, and help some survivors heal.

"Sharing and getting (your story) out certainly can bring attention to a horrible issue and brings a face to it," said Roseanne Cupoli, chief program officer with The Spring of Tampa Bay. "But while it can be a step in the healing process for some, for others there is shame and embarrassment that it happened to them. But it's the abuser that should be ashamed and embarrassed, not the victims.

Cupoli isn't familiar with Lee's story but said survivors can find strength in her story.

"When you're able to show it really is this bad, but this is what can happen when you overcome it and get out - it's a story of hope."

Lee, who now works for the Hillsborough County Bar Association, is on a mission to help other abuse victims and their children. She created Bethany's Group, a faith-based organization that helps families overcome abuse and become self-reliant. And she speaks publicly about her ordeal on behalf of Bay Area Legal Services, a nonprofit legal aid program she credits with saving her life. She is now on their board.

In 2011, Lee received the organization's first "Heart of Hope" award for breaking the cycle of domestic violence and empowering other families to take action.

"She has given such a great gift to our community by sharing her story, which demonstrates how her pain was transformed into strength and hope for herself and her children," said Margaret Mathews of Bay Area Legal Services.

Lee said bringing to the stage the story of such a terrible time her life is difficult to watch, even for her children, but she is thankful for the life she has today.

"I feel as though God gave me favor," said Lee, who is engaged to a kind, loving man who "caters to her like a queen." "So many people die in domestic violence, but God delivered his promise to me and here I am."



Arm Kids with Tools to Keep Them Safe from Abuse this Summer

TALLAHASSEE – As summer begins and children spend time in new settings with unfamiliar caregivers, it's an important time for parents to arm them with information to keep kids safe from sexual abuse. That's why the Florida Department of Children and Families and Lauren's Kids teamed up to provide new educational tools for parents, children and youth-serving organizations.

The summer safety push includes launch of a free online parent toolkit to help parents talk with their children about how to stay safe through videos, interactive scenarios and parent and kid tips. Also available is an online Web training and handbooks for youth-serving organizations to teach their staff and volunteers how to spot and report abuse, and protocols to keep children, staff and volunteers safe.

“Summer is an important time to open up the lines of communication and make sure children know they can come to their trusted adults with anything,” said Lauren Book, M.S. Ed Founder and CEO of Lauren's Kids. “It's very helpful to run scenarios by children and help them imagine how they would handle different situations.”

Parents also can benefit from the resources of the “Don't Miss the Signs” campaign, a comprehensive public awareness campaign that launched earlier this year that aims to educate Floridians about the signs of child abuse as well as their obligation to report suspected abuse.

90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know their offender in some way.

“Sex offenders seek out places where children are, so youth-serving organizations need to keep their guard up and learn how to be a strong first line of defense against sexual abuse,” said Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins. “These resources give parents and caregivers important, new tools to help keep children safe.”

To promote a safer summer experience, Florida requires all owners, operators, employees and volunteers who work more than 10 hours a month to undergo background screening for state and criminal histories. DCF wants to remind summer camp operators of Florida's background screening requirements and encourages them to add their summer camp listings to DCF's statewide database.

Summer camp has long been a tradition for kids and is an important part of child development. It is crucial that parents ask questions and make sure any summer camp personnel are appropriately screened. Parents can also search DCF's database of summer camps whose personnel have confirmed background screenings. For more information and to search DCF's summer camp database, go to



Fly Fishing Helps Child Abuse Victims Cope

Being a victim of child abuse is often a long road to recovery. Steve Davis familiar with this process is the founder of On River Time, a charity that lets the role of fly fishing help victims of abuse to heal, at the Lodge at Palisades. After longtime manager Stan Klassen passed away in 2011 Davis decided to help children who have been abused or neglected on their journey through the healing process by enjoying some of Idaho's greatest treasures.

"All of us have been survivors of something and like these kids I'm a survivor as well. What's happened is I wanted to take something that would introduce kids to something about the Snake River and fly fishing and maybe teach them about patience, persistency, but most importantly show them something about themselves that they learn on the river," said Steve Davis, the Founder of On River Time Charity.

This is the second annual On River Time charity event that offers children the chance to fly fish in the Snake River. Two boys and two girls along with their guardians from Big Oak Ranch in Alabama have been chosen for this special event.

"I mean it's just beyond words, we just keep saying we can't find the words or how to express how thankful we are and how amazing this is," said Reagan Phillips, the Child Care Team Director with Big Oak Ranch.

They couldn't be more grateful or excited for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

"I'm just amazed we got to come out here. Being out here is really miraculous, I love the sight seeing and especially the wall fishing," said Karen, one of the participants.

At first we thought it was a log and so I pulled it, saw the fish and started reeling it in quickly again," said Dalvin, another Participant.

"It was a lot of fun and I had a great guide," said Chris, One of the Participants.

"It means a lot, to the people who brought us out here, I just want to give them a big thanks," added Karen.

Davis's goal is to not only show off Idaho's beauty, but show these kids the peace it can bring and also to remind them that they are not alone in this journey.

"There is a lot of people out there who have gone through bad things and I think it's not neccesarily what happens, but what you do afterwards," added Davis.

Child abuse can be heartbreaking and traumatic and Davis hopes this mentoring and relationship experience through fly fishing will help inspire these kids to not give up and to know that the future is full of amazing possibilities.

"I hope they see how big this world is and they can go out and do anything they set their mind to," added Phillips.

"When I think about these kids and you think about the future and the leaders of our country, one of those four kids in there might be the next president of the United States. It's great to have a venue that offers this lodge, the Snake River, and fly fishing to maybe allow them a chance to feel the peace and the opportunity to know that they are not alone," said Davis.

Davis dreams of one day offering this fly fishing all expenses paid opportunity for one summer month where many more kids can come and experience something that they might not have thought possible. For more information on how to make that possible you can visit


Child Abuse Takes a Toll on Medicaid

by Cole Petrochko

Child abuse places a significant financial burden on the Medicaid system, researchers found.

On average, children who were maltreated or were at risk for maltreatment had Medicaid expenditures more than $2,600 higher annually than children who were not subject to or at risk for maltreatment, according to Curtis Florence, PhD, of the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Atlanta.

Compared with nonmaltreated children, costs were higher for psychiatric, inpatient hospital, and outpatient and clinical care of maltreated children, Florence and colleagues wrote online in the journal Pediatrics .

Applying their results more generally, the total number of investigated cases of child maltreatment covered by Medicaid would be about 2.2 million out of 3.7 million children with investigated cases for an estimated cost of $5.9 billion per year, they said.

The authors noted that child maltreatment often manifests as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect, and is common to an estimated 772,000 U.S. children. Although programs have been established to prevent child maltreatment, no prior research has looked at the fiscal toll maltreatment carries.

Data on child maltreatment was collected from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a database of cases presented to local Child Protective Service agencies from October 1999 to December 2000. A sample of 5,501 children from this cohort was then matched with Medicaid claims data from 2000 to 2003.

All children in the sample were considered "at-risk" in absence of a substantiated maltreatment claim. This was based on prior research demonstrating developmental and mental health outcomes associated with maltreatment in groups with and without verified claims.

The researchers used a propensity score-matched sample of Medicaid data of 972 children as a control group, which allowed researchers to compare expenditures between groups for total expenses, psychiatric care, inpatient hospital costs, outpatient and physician care, prescription drugs, targeted case management, and home health and rehabilitation.

They cautioned that some maltreated children were possibly included in the control sample due to their inability to match low-risk or nonmaltreated children to Medicaid data.

In a comparison of the two groups, children who were maltreated or at risk for maltreatment had "considerably higher costs overall than did observationally similar children in Medicaid," the authors stated, citing a greater-than $2,600 difference per Medicaid patient per year.

"Much of this cost difference was reflected in higher psychiatric and inpatient hospitalization costs," they noted, adding that ambulatory care ($413 difference), prescription drug ($263 difference), and targeted case management costs ($269 difference) were also substantially larger.

"Although the propensity score matching controls for the effect of the observational characteristics on healthcare spending, it cannot account for the skewed distribution of healthcare expenditures," the authors wrote.

They also found that although both populations used high overall rates of Medicaid services, there was a significantly higher use of services among the maltreatment group, who were almost twice as likely to use a psychiatric service and nearly three times as likely to have received targeted case management.

The researchers concluded that their findings show both a higher cost per case as well as a higher rate of care among victimized children.

"Overall Medicaid spending for children was $68.4 billion in 2009. Our estimates imply that the excess cost to Medicaid associated with child maltreatment are [approximately] 9% of all Medicaid expenditures for children," they said.

However, they suggested that "these expenses could be partially offset by increased investment in child maltreatment prevention."

In addition to the inclusion of non-substantiated incidents of maltreatment in the maltreated sample, the authors noted that the study was limited by estimated Medicaid expenditure data.



Archdiocese of Milwaukee faces Monday deadline to make public clergy sex abuse documents

MILWAUKEE – The Archdiocese of Milwaukee was expected to release thousands of pages of documents related to clergy sex abuse on Monday, including the personnel files of more than three dozen priests and the depositions of church leaders including New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the former archbishop of Milwaukee.

A deal reached in federal bankruptcy court between the archdiocese and victims suing it for fraud called for the documents to be made public by July 1. Victims say the archdiocese transferred problem priests to new churches without warning parishioners and covered up priests' crimes for decades. Many pushed for the documents' release in the belief that it would be an important part of their healing.

Similar files made public by other Roman Catholic dioceses and religious orders have detailed how leaders tried to protect the church by shielding priests and not reporting child sex abuse to authorities. The cover-up extended to the top of the Catholic hierarchy. Correspondence obtained by The Associated Press in 2010 showed the future Pope Benedict XVI had resisted pleas in the 1980s to defrock a California priest with a record of molesting children. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led the Vatican office responsible for disciplining abusive priests before his election as pope.

The Milwaukee collection has drawn interest because of the involvement of Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the nation's most prominent Roman Catholic official. Dolan has not been accused of transferring problem priests. He took over as archbishop in mid-2002, after many victims had already come forward. But there have been questions about his response to the crisis, including payments made to abusive priests when they left the church.

The archdiocese has characterized the money, as much as $20,000 in some cases, as a kind of severance pay meant to help priests transition out of the ministry. Similar amounts were made to men leaving the priesthood long before allegations of sexual abuse surfaced in the Catholic church, spokeswoman Julie Wolf said last year, when the payments came to light.

Charles Linneman, 45, of Sugar Grove, Ill., was among the abuse victims who spoke out against the payments and pushed for the archdiocese to release its records. Linneman said he was an altar boy when he met Franklyn Becker at a Wisconsin parish in 1980. He read the priest's file several years ago when it became public during litigation in California, where Becker also served.

"It helped me move on," Linneman said. In particular, he was relieved when the file showed no reports of children being abused after him, he said. He had long wondered if coming forward before he did in 2002 would have kept other children from being hurt.

Abuse victims have long sought to hold the church accountable, but most didn't come forward until well into adulthood, when it was too late under Wisconsin law to sue the church for negligence in supervising its priests. A 2007 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision gave them a window, saying the six-year limit in fraud cases didn't start until the deception was uncovered. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2011, once it became clear that it was likely to face a slew of lawsuits.

As of June 30, 2012, the archdiocese had spent nearly $30.5 million on litigation, therapy and assistance for victims and other costs related to clergy sex abuse, according to its annual statement. It faces sex abuse claims from about 570 people in bankruptcy court, although some of them involve lay people or priests assigned to religious orders, not the archdiocese.

Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome Listecki, has estimated the files total 6,000 pages. They include the depositions of Dolan and his predecessor, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, along with the personnel files of 42 of the 45 archdiocese priests with verified abuse claims against them. Topczewski said the allegations in the files involve abuse that happened years, and often decades, ago.

But at least one priest on the list of 45 is currently under police investigation. Steve Klein, assistant chief of police in Fond du Lac, said it opened an investigation in November on Jerome Wagner, who left the priesthood in 2002. Attempts to reach Wagner at listings in his name were unsuccessful.

Listecki, who succeeded Dolan in Milwaukee, said Tuesday in his weekly email to priests, parish leaders and others that he hoped releasing the documents would allow the church to move forward. But he also warned that descriptions of abuse can be "ugly."

"I worry about the reactions of abuse survivors when confronted again with this material and pray it doesn't have a negative effect on them," he wrote.

Listecki said the documents would show that 22 priests were reassigned to parish work after allegations of abuse and eight of them abused again. He said civil authorities and the archdiocese didn't always pursue investigations, but even when they did, priests often received probation as a sentence and did not go to jail. Overall, Listecki said, "people were ill-equipped to respond" to the problem and "terrible things happened to innocent children."

Esther Miller, 54, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was abused as a teenager by a deacon who later became a Catholic priest. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles made his file public in January as part of a $600 million settlement in 2007 with more than 500 victims. Unlike the victims in Milwaukee, Miller said she hadn't received notice of when the documents in her case would be released and initially, it sent her head spinning.

"It's very a dark time ... You see that pattern of the cover-up," she said. But months later, she believes "it was the last final peace for my healing. Because I never sued for the money ... I sued for physical, tangible evidence to show the world."


United Kingdom

UK mosques giving anti-grooming sermons in response to sex abuse cases

LONDON – Some 500 UK mosques are planning sermons condemning the sexual abuse of children, following the sentencing of seven men of South Asian origin convicted of a series of crimes against underage girls.

The effort organized by the group Together Against Grooming means that the message was being delivered at Friday prayers at participating mosques.

The anti-grooming group wants imams to stress that the Quran rules out all forms of sexual abuse and that Muslims have a responsibility to protect children and other vulnerable people.

Spokesman Ansar Ali says it is unprecedented for Islamic leaders throughout Britain to band together to deliver a collective message on the same day. A number of prominent Muslim groups in Britain have endorsed the new group.



The sex slave next door: How human trafficking happens near you

by Jessie Balmert

She has run away from home. She has been abused by her relatives. She has been performing poorly at school and is depressed.

Every human trafficking victim has a different story of how they were sold into the sex trade or forced into domestic servitude, but their stories all start in the same place — vulnerability. And as State Rep. Teresa Fedor said, “What girl isn't vulnerable at 15?”

This month, FBI agents arrested four Ashland residents accused of forcing a 29-year-old woman with cognitive disabilities to perform manual labor inside their two-story home. Authorities report the woman and her 5-year-old child were beaten, threatened with large snakes, and forced to live in a padlocked room with a large iguana.

It's easy to assume this is a Toledo problem, a Columbus problem or even an Ashland problem, but people who lived and study human trafficking know it's everyone's problem.

Drugs, guns and human trafficking are the three largest and most profitable criminal enterprises, said Celia Williamson, a University of Toledo social work professor who has studied human trafficking since 1993.

“So, if you look in these towns and say to yourself: ‘Is there illegal drugs being sold here? Is there illegal guns being sold here?' Why wouldn't there be people being sold here? Because they are so respectful of your community that they would skip your community and say, ‘Oh no, we're not going to sell here. The police force is too strong in Mansfield, so we're not going to.' No! Matter of fact, that's where it grows. It grows in places of ignorance.”

About 1,078 Ohio children are sold as sex slaves each year and an additional 2,879 are susceptible to sex trafficking, according to a 2010 report on the Prevalence of Human Trafficking in Ohio. Ohio ranked ninth in the National Human Trafficking Hotline's 2011 calls for potential human trafficking locations.

A report, released Thursday by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, listed 30 investigations into human trafficking statewide since legislation increasing penalties for the crime was signed in 2012. Only 11 police departments reported statistics, and seven cases resulted in convictions.

In the report, DeWine said cases were underreported by prosecutors and police officers getting acquainted with the new law.

Alice Adkins, founder of Hope Outreach, a Zanesville nonprofit dedicated to helping prostitutes and drug addicts, estimated she sees 21 pimps and prostitutes on the city's streets each year — and that doesn't include people selling services online and behind closed doors. However, people in Zanesville have little tolerance for prostitution and rarely see it as human trafficking, she said.

“I think people need to realize that most of these girls, they are the victim, if not a victim of the pimp who has lured them out, they're a victim of the drugs. They're a victim of their dad or uncle or some other person of authority that sexually abused them when they were growing up,” Adkins said.

The women of Zanesville's stories, and the stories of women across Ohio, look a lot like EleSondra “El” De Romano, of East Toledo's journey.

El's story

De Romano has walked the streets nearly her entire life — first as a sex worker, rape victim and crack addict and, now, as a human trafficking survivor known by everyone in East Toledo as “El,” “Mama,” and affectionately, “Captain Save-a-Hoe.”

“My mother was a prostitute. My father was a pimp. My father went to prison when I was 4. He shot two men and killed them because they called my mother a ‘bitch,'” De Romano rattled off in her no-nonsense tone while seated on a cloth couch in the duplex she shares with her fiance. The next block over, sex workers — some of whom De Romano watched grow up with her three sons — will sell oral sex for $10 to feed their addictions, maybe with heroin, the most recent drug of choice.

De Romano's journey to the streets of Toledo started when she was placed in foster care in Grand Rapids, Mich. The first night, she was sodomized and raped by her foster father and brother, she said. The abuse continued until she was about 6 years old, when a teacher noticed something was wrong.

She was placed with “da bomb foster home” briefly, then returned to her mother's custody, where her mother's boyfriend assaulted her.

Tired of the abuse, she hit the streets at the age of 11. Shortly thereafter she was taken by a human trafficker, who started pimping her out to other men. It wasn't until a john noticed her age and took her to police that she was able to escape.

But that wasn't the end of the nightmare. She spent time in her father's prostitution operation in Detroit and behind bars before she moved to Toledo with a Christian family who hoped the new environment would help her change.

However, she wasn't used to curfews and caring people, so she returned to the streets. There De Romano nurtured an addiction to crack-cocaine and became the arm candy of drug dealers and pimps.

“You know that Cadillac has that Cadillac emblem? That's what I was to the other dudes. I was like their little emblem,” she said.

De Romano had three children during that time and sent the first two to live with relatives so they wouldn't be placed in the foster care system. She and her ex-husband, tired of the lifestyle, decided to stop using drugs. After two years of sneaking around and smoking, she was clean.

During the next decade, De Romano would open “Wake Up Youth,” a program that catered to human trafficking victims and survivors, be interviewed for a book published by national anti-human trafficking organization Shared Hope International, and assist FBI agents in getting women to testify against traffickers in the Precious Cargo case — a massive 2005 bust in Harrisburg, Pa., that involved numerous Toledo victims and offenders.

De Romano said she doesn't want sympathy for what she went through. She wants people to have sympathy for the girls still being trafficked and hopes her story can help them through tough times.

“God took me through what he took me through to get me to where I am today, to use me as a tool to educate and help people, to say that, ‘If I can do it, you can do it,'” she said.



Safe house planned for sex trafficking victims in Mansfield

MANSFIELD — A residential facility for teen-aged victims of sex trafficking will open this fall in Mansfield.

Nothing Into Something Real Estate, a faith-based nonprofit agency in Columbus, will operate the facility. The program would re-open part of a complex of properties controlled by NISRE that were mired in controversy just two years ago.

During the summer of 2011, the city issued a cease and desist order, banning NISRE, which controlled four near-north-side buildings, from operating a transitional housing program for adult sex offenders in one of them. In September 2011, the city and the nonprofit group signed an agreement allowing NISRE to run a group home, if it obtained proper licensing from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction — but no sex offenders would be allowed to live there.

Mansfield Law Director John Spon said the proposed new use fits terms of that agreement. Minors used by adults in sex trafficking clearly should be considered victims, not perpetrators, he said.

“Obviously, I'm 100 percent totally in support of any facility that will help young people and assist young people in overcoming any type of victimization of children,” Spon said. “I believe that it takes a community to raise children.”

The residential facility theoretically could house up to 15 young girls, ages 12 through 17, from Mansfield and elsewhere in Ohio, said founder Marlene Carson.

But Carson said she hopes numbers won't rise that high — and the program will go into operation gradually, a few girls at a time, to make it more manageable to provide housing, education, health care, therapeutic mental health and support services.

“We want them to live in a healthy environment,” Carson said. “These girls are no different from any other kids, other than that they are traumatized.”

Carson originally founded Rahab's Hideaway five years ago in Columbus, working with women 18 and older who had been involved in sex trafficking. Earlier this year, she formally restructured her operation under NISRE.

“We believe that NISRE's continued use of the property as a group home with a population of victims, as opposed to former offenders, is consistent with the settlement reached in September 2011 with the commission,” attorney Roger L. Schantz told Mansfield building and codes manager J.R. Rice in a Feb. 28 letter.

NISRE has taken steps to obtain licensing from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, officials said.

Carson said her dream of establishing a safe house specifically for child victims of sex trafficking became her mission as a result of her own experiences. She was 15 when a couple who had been “courting” her north Columbus neighborhood for two years invited four young girls, including herself, to go to New York City, ostensibly to shop and see a show. Instead, they were given skimpy outfits and used in the sex trade, she said.

“They sold us for the next three days.”

Carson said one girl tried to escape and was raped. She never saw her again. The other three returned to Columbus. After an investigation, the man who took the teens to New York was sentenced to 2 to 10 years in prison, but served less than eight months, she said.

Carson said she used her own money and got help from 17 volunteers to run Rahab's Hideaway in Columbus for five years.

“There is not one bed in Columbus for a domestic minor sex-trafficking victim,” she said. “I decided I'm going to have a place for girls to go.”

She began talking to area church groups about human sex trafficking about three years ago.

“It happens right here,” she said. “We are going to make this a community initiative.”

The program will be phased in, admitting a few girls at a time, starting around September or October, as a two-year residential and support services facility, she said.

Churches and businesses have “adopted” several rooms to redecorate for the girls who will live there, she said.

“We will take girls from Mansfield first,” Carson said. “Then we will take girls from all around Ohio.”

At the end of two years, NISRE hopes to operate its own foster care agency, licensed for specialized treatment services, she said.

“There is a strong need for programs like Rahab's Hideaway,” Schantz said in a white paper provided to city building and codes manager J.R. Rice Feb. 28. “According to the Ohio Attorney General's office, human trafficking is an estimated multi-billion dollar a year international enterprise that forces the most vulnerable among us into the horrors of modern-day slavery.”

Criminals involved in trafficking frequently prey on vulnerable people, including children, according to NISRE. A preliminary report on the scope of the problem in Ohio cited 13 years old as the most common age in Ohio for youths to become victims of child sex trafficking, he said.

In a study cited by the Ohio Human Trafficking Commission, 49 percent of the 207 individuals in the study sample were under 18, when they were first trafficked, the group said.

Richland County Juvenile Court Administrator Mike Casto said there has been a movement to decriminalize minors' involvement in sex trafficking — to see them as victims, rather than willing participants who might come under juvenile courts' purview.

That change came about partly because when teens who have been trafficked know they're going to come under court supervision, with criminal records, “that keeps them from coming forward and getting out of that lifestyle,” Casto said.

Susi Maiyer, an “ambassador of hope” for Shared Hope International, a group dedicated to ending sex trafficking, said Berean Baptist Church's Women's Ministry team has become involved in raising awareness of the issue — and has looked into helping Rahab's Hideaway get started.

“People just don't want to believe it's happening here,” Maiyer said. “We've got to make people aware of this. We've got to protect our children.”

Teen-aged girls “think they're finding some guy who cares about them,” but in fact are dealing with an adult predator who patiently grooms them until they see an opportunity to cash in, she said.

“It's just a very scary thing. The kids are so trusting. They can get drawn into this without realizing what they're getting into,” Maiyer said. “They are absolutely victims. There is no minor child that chooses to become a prostitute. They have been forced or coerced or brainwashed into doing this.”

The historical response — law enforcement putting juveniles in jail — may keep perpetrators away from the girls for a few days, but is inadequate for helping victims deal with fear and shame, Maiyer said.

“I hope that this (Rahab's Hideaway) does happen, because it's needed,” she said. “It will be wonderful. We need restorative shelters.”

“As long as they abide by the terms of the settlement — that there can't be any sex offenders living there — that use is allowed,” Rice said. “(Juveniles) are definitely considered victims.”

Spon said he was concerned about the location of the proposed safe house.

“It may not be the most desirable setting, on a scale of 1 to 100. I'd much rather that young people that have been victimized like this be in a setting that is more conducive to a middle-class environment, and less transient,” he said.

But Carson said the girls' safety will be extremely closely monitored.

“They would be supervised 24 hours a day,” she said. “These are teenagers. Kids.”

But the Rahab's Hideaway founder said she hoped the community will support the program and help out by “keeping their eyes open, and making sure these girls are safe.”


Judge temporarily blocks part of NJ law on Internet child sex trafficking to protect unrelated sites


A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked part of a New Jersey law designed to combat child sex trafficking after Internet companies warned that it could put online libraries and other service providers at risk of prosecution.

Acting on two lawsuits filed in Newark on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting the state from enforcing a section of the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act. The law had been scheduled to take effect Monday. The judge set Aug. 9 for oral arguments on the bid by the plaintiffs — Internet Archive and — for a preliminary injunction.

The Internet Archive is a San Francisco non-profit that “crawls and archives” about 100 million web pages a day as part of its mission to archive the Web and to provide other digital materials for researchers, scholars and the public. is a Dallas-based classified advertising site that is used to sell everything from auto parts to sex.

Both contended that a section in the New Jersey law would make online service providers criminally liable for providing access to content supplied by third parties.

And they argued that it “would impose an intolerable burden on free speech,” in violation of the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996 — which essentially grants immunity from prosecution for Internet bulletin boards — as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The state law was enacted in May in advance of next year's Super Bowl, an event that has been described as one of the country's biggest human trafficking magnets.

“The intent of this law is to give New Jersey as many tools as possible to combat human trafficking,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood, the prime sponsor. She called the provision cracking down on sex ads a “critical tool in preventing and prosecuting” the abuse of minors and said that, while similar provisions were struck down in other states, it was “certainly worth” including “given the nature of sex trafficking of children.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the Internet Archive, said that although the law aims to combat online ads for underage sex workers, it could lead to stiff penalties for online libraries and others that “indirectly” cause the dissemination of material that contains even an “implicit” offer of a commercial sex act if it includes an image of a minor. “Nobody is in favor of human trafficking with minors, but the law reaches all kinds of speech that is protected under the First Amendment,” said attorney Frank L. Corrado.

Virtually identical laws in Washington and Tennessee were enjoined by federal judges and Washington lawmakers subsequently repealed their law, Corrado said. “The law specifies that it's not a defense that you didn't know that the depiction was of a minor,” Corrado said. “But that it is a defense if you have made a bona fide effort to verify the age of the person whose depiction is used in the ad.

“So it would in essence require anyone who agrees to allow these ads to be posted to affirmatively verify each and every one of these ads. And in the case of both Backpage and the Internet Archive that task is physically impossible,” Corrado said.

See more at:



New Shelter to House Underage Sex Trafficking Victims

The GenerateHope shelter, run by a local non-profit organization, is located in Pauama Valley

by Nicole Gonzales

San Diego County is getting it's first shelter that will house underage victims of sex trafficking. The girls who have been sold into prostitution are between the ages of 12 and 17.

A non-profit called GenerateHope is the organization behind the project set deep in Pauma Valley, far removed from the pimps and traffickers the girls escaped.

GenerateHope Executive Director, Susan Munsey, says the girls are sold between 10 and 15 times a night, bringing in $1,000 for their pimps.

Sex trade arrangements for children are often made online by their trafficker, then facilitated at hotels. And if the girls get caught, many times they're taken to juvenile hall.

“They kind of fall through the cracks because they're charged with prostitution and yet another girl same age, with a slightly different sexual encounter and it's statutory rape. She's protected and these girls aren't,” said Munsey.

GenerateHope's new shelter is set on 15 acres. It will house six girls ages 12-17. They'll have academic studies, therapy sessions, life skills lessons and field trips to amusement parks.

The ranch-style home opened on June 5, but no one has moved in yet. Once they do, Munsey says the change in environment can be terrifying.

“You would think there'd be a big sigh of relief and joy about being in a safe place, in a peaceful place and finally being able to relax, but it actually takes a little while.”

The non-profit gets most its funding from private donors who want to make a difference.

“We want to see them take on a career, go to college so they can be successful as independent adults,” Munsey said. “Really prosper and have happy lives.”

One young woman at Munsey's first GenerateHope shelter in Bonita is a striking example of perseverance.

Morgan Stacy, 19, is in a good place now, recovering from a lifetime of traumatic experiences that started at age 4.

She was sexually abused by her stepfather, then sold for sex to other men.

“When it happens to you as a kid, you don't know it's wrong. It's like it's normal,” Stacy said.

To learn more about underage sex trafficking in San Diego and across the nation, visit this website.



County's human trafficking crimes on rise

by Kathleen Rohde

The question on almost everyone's mind at a June 18 presentation on human trafficking was an obvious one: Is it a problem in Washington County?

The answer was not reassuring. According to Det. Yonsoo Lee of the Tigard Police Department, this type of crime is more common in Washington County than anywhere else in Oregon.

“Smaller communities ask, ‘is this a problem for us, or is it a big city problem?'” said Lee. “We found 68 percent (of the minor victims) were recruited from or exploited in Washington County.”

That's 148 girls.

Lee was one of several law enforcement and social help experts who came to St. Matthew Parish Hall in Hillsboro to present information on human trafficking, an increasingly serious issue in Washington County and all across Oregon.

“We aren't talking about your girls getting pulled off the MAX at night,” said Lee.

He explained that sex trafficking occurs when girls showing signs of chronic truancy and runaway behavior — the most common risk factors — are befriended and seduced into manipulative sexual relationships.

“It's like MTV on steroids,” said Hillsboro Attorney Paul Maloney. “They get to do what they want, when they want. It's a very different culture, much coarser. It's the result of a coarsening of society.”

The Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) began tracking hard numbers on these types of crimes in 2011. Lee pointed out that SARC identified 219 minor victims of sex trafficking. Most of them had links to Washington County.

More than 50 people attended the presentation, entitled “The New Slavery,” and the majority were parents. SARC also had staff at a booth for the event.

“We are the only organization in the nation that is connected to a rape crisis center,” said Lena Sinha of Beaverton-based SARC. “It makes our program unique.”

SARC takes referrals from law enforcement officials and the Department of Human Services (DHS). When victims come in, they are assigned to a case manager who remains as a confidential advocate, consistently building bridges back to resources for them.

“We have an entire collaboration of partners in the Portland area, which is great because the needs of these victims are so diverse,” said Sinha. “We are developing best practices of how to best help them. Everyone in our collaboration understands that these children are victims, not criminals.”

The Portland area is a hotspot for human trafficking because of the high population of homeless youth, its proximity to state lines and the major freeways such as I-5 running through it.

“It's happening in every town and every county,” said Sinha. “We are paying attention. If you're looking for it, you'll find it.”

“These girls come from all different backgrounds,” added Lee.

Lee said the best results occur when victims agree to leave the state and resources are available to them. But according to Lee, programs, funding and bed spaces are few and far between.

“We are lacking the social services to give these girls a new environment,” said Lee. “They're sucked into the same risk factors. There's no shortage of traffickers.”

Many in the crowd expressed concerns about safety for their own families, but Lt. John Black of the Washington County Sheriff's Office consoled them.

“Washington County as a county is a very safe place,” assured Black. “The information you gained tonight is knowledge you didn't have before, and it's scary.”

Maloney had some advice for those who attended.

“It starts at home with the example we set for our children. Be involved, ask questions, be there,” he said. “Show them relationships where they can trust adults who care about them.”

Besides sex trafficking, labor trafficking was discussed. Det. Keith Bickford of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and leader of the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force talked about the complexities of labor trafficking and its prominence in the Portland metro area as well.

“The important part is all of you,” said Bickford, who has worked with 200 victims this past year. “Educate yourselves and keep your eyes open. Understand both sides, understand that people coming up here aren't coming here all on their own.

“If you are interested and want to get involved, we can be a very powerful group of people. I can guarantee you that the worlds are colliding. You are the army.”

Bickford added that he believes Mexican cartels are gaining influence in Oregon.

“There's a storm coming,” he said. “It all has to do with money and control.”


Why Did These Sex Traffickers Only Get A Slap on the Wrist?


What's worse?: 1. Trafficking more than 100 women and coercing them into sex slavery or 2. Selling a lot of weed.

Well, in U.S. courts often times #2 receives much harsher punishments than #1.

Take, for example, the following men who have all been convicted of running separate trafficking rings within in the last few months, using mostly women smuggled from Latin America. All five men only received approximately three years in prison each:

Angel Campos Tellez , 27, admitted to leading a prostitution ring of more than 100 trafficked women in states across the East Coast. The women he oversaw were paid $30 for 15 minutes of sex, while he and his accomplices pocketed tens of thousands in cash each year. In the country without authorization, Tellez has already been deported twice. Earlier this month, Campos was convicted in Virginia and received just 46 months -- or three and a half years of prison time -- for his crimes.

Freddy Soriano Leguisamon , 27, was charged in Maryland with 54 counts of general prostitution for pimping out mostly undocumented women. Leguisamon was sentenced in April to three years in jail for his crimes.

And three men, Nery Najarro-Rodriguez , 42, Jorge Perez-Hernandez , 37, and Luis Mata , 30, were sentenced for running a prostitution ring in Northern California, comprised mostly of undocumented women from Mexico, who were sold for sex to as many as 20 clients in a single day. Each man received just three years for his involvement in the ring. javascript:void(0);

In comparison, many cases involving growing or selling weed get much longer sentences. In recent months, this California man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, this Oregon man to 15, and this Iowa man to 20 years -- all for growing or distributing marijuana. Those cases are all on the long end for marijuana-related sentences (the average time served for drug-related offenses being about 2.2 years) but they help illustrate just how comparatively short sentences for pimping can be.

For all the attention the drug debate receives, sex trafficking remains comparatively under-discussed problem. Roughly 800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year, according to the most recent U.S. State Department estimates. And sex trafficking in Latin America generates an estimated $16 billion worth of business annually. One study estimated that at least 10,000 women from southern and central Mexico are trafficked for "sexual exploitation" to the northern border region each year.

The average sentencing length for sex traffickers in the U.S. is harder data to come by, but advocates say prison time for these crimes tends to be woefully short. So why don't traffickers face harsher sentences?

According to Dorchen A. Leidholdt, the Director of the Center for Battered Women's Legal Services at Sanctuary for Families in New York City, there are numerous barriers to convicting pimps and human traffickers with a punishment that fits the crime.

One of the barriers is legislative. In many states, including New York, promoting prostitution is classified as a misdemeanor crime. (There's a bill in the New York State Legislature which would increase punishments to pimps and human traffickers, but it has been held up due to procedural complications.)

Another big problem is that federal law requires that prosecutors be able to prove force, fraud, or coercion by pimps, making it very important for victims to testify against their exploiters. But often times women are too scared to come forward, or feel that their pimps are their only source of protection due to concept called "traumatic bonding."

"Trafficking is a unique kind of crime because traffickers often brainwash their victims and use very sophisticated tactics to do so," said Leidholdt. "Not only do they physically abuse them, but they often make them believe that their safety depends on them, and manage to win their loyalty."

Leidholdt says this concept has been recognized in domestic abuse cases, and for that reason domestic abuse law requires only evidence-based prosecutions to convict perpetrators, instead of relying on testimonies of victims.

She believes prosecutors should be able to rely on evidence, like wiretaps, in trafficking cases as well, regardless of the quality of victim testimony. A father, son pair was acquitted from sex-trafficking charges in New York in June because the same prostitutes who were threatened with beatings if they didn't make enough money (according to wiretap evidence), testified on the father and son's behalf in court.

Short sentencing for human traffickers also means that victims are more fearful to come forward, pimps retain their power of prostitutes from behind bars, and prostitution rings are more likely to resume when traffickers are released from prison, according to Leinholdt.

"Legislators and prosecutors need to beat traffickers at their own game, which means changing the law," she said. "We have to find a way to be as sophisticated as traffickers are themselves."



Hawaii governor to sign human trafficking bills

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie plans to sign two bills designed to prevent human trafficking.

Abercrombie's office says the governor will sign a bill that puts children who are victims of sex and labor trafficking within the scope of the Child Protective Act. The bill also declares January as Human Trafficking Awareness month.

Another bill to be signed Monday requires certain employers to display posters that provide information related to human trafficking.

The posters will be required in massage parlors, establishments that provide nude dancers and some businesses with liquor licenses.



Where's the outrage for Kiesha and other abused children?

Kiesha Weippeart's life ended at the hands of her own mother, and society continues to fail children like her. It's time for serious child abuse cases to be fully investigated

by Saman Shad

Back in 2008 when I was living in the UK, I was aghast at the Baby P case. Reading about the horrific abuse and torture baby Peter was meted out at the hands of his own mother, her boyfriend and their lodger completely stunned me. I could not fathom how anyone could do something so horrific to their own child. I wasn't the only one shaken up; there was a massive outcry from the public. How could this have happened?

Sadly his case wasn't that unusual. A “shocked” group of British MPs were told how three children died every week as a result of abuse in the UK. Baby Peter just happened to be one whose story ignited the public's fury. This outrage was further intensified when it was revealed that his case was known to social workers, doctors and the council, and yet no one stepped in to protect him from his fate.

Here in Australia, the horrific details of Kiesha Weippeart's life are being splashed across our newspapers and TV screens. We've learnt that Kiesha was initially placed into foster care at 15 months of age when her mother Kristi Anne Abrahams bit her. She was then returned to this woman 18 months later. At the age of three, when asked about a cigarette burn on her body, Kiesha told a social worker “mum did that”. The burn along with bruising on her face still didn't warrant the social worker to take the child away from her mother. Kiesha only attended school four times in her life, and despite calls and visits from the department of education, nobody stepped in to check on the child's welfare.

Kiesha's six years of life were full of pain and abuse at the hands of her mother. The abuse finally ended when the woman who brought Kiesha into this world also took her away from it. And yet, the outrage about this tragedy is strangely muted. The howls of protest are few, and I can't help but wonder why.

Is it because Kiesha was part Aboriginal? Sadly, Australia's Indigenous children are 7.5 times more likely to be at risk of harm than non-Indigenous children. Does this mean we as a society turn away from these children because their problems seem to be part of the wider issues faced by the Aboriginal community, problems to which there are no easy answers? As it turns out, Kiesha's mum didn't identify as Aboriginal, despite having an Aboriginal father.

Was it then that because Kristi Abrahams was once a ward of the state, one who also suffered abuse as a child? Middle-class Australia could easily imagine someone like that growing up to mete out a similar fate on her own child. The intergenerational cycle of abuse and violence is well-known. No one would've been greatly surprised.

Or is it that we as a society have heard too many sad stories of abused children already? We know you can't choose who you are born to. Some have to be the unlucky ones, being born to people who clearly should never have become parents. All we do instead is hold our own precious children closer, and love them as much as possible.

There are no simple answers. At the end of the day, what matters most is that children are continuing to suffer at the hands of those meant to take care of them. And as for the state protecting the most innocent under its jurisdiction, the sad fact remains that only 30% of the most serious child abuse cases in NSW are investigated. Two-thirds of the 77 children who died due to abuse and/or neglect in 2010-2011 were from families with a child protection history.

Rather than look at these figures and wonder what can be done to ensure more children don't meet the same fate as Kiesha, NSW family services minister Pru Goward has decided instead to blame the unions and the previous Labour government for the failings of social workers in protecting those children at risk. The union in turn is blaming the government for not getting more social workers on the job.

Whilst this game of politics plays out, children whose only fault was being born to the wrong people are losing their lives. Kiesha was one of them. Her story, however awful, at least got to be heard. The woman who abused and eventually killed her will soon be jailed for her crimes. It's the ones who are silently suffering now, the ones without a voice who are asking for help, who may or may not be known to authorities. These are the ones we should be worried about, these are the ones we should be protecting, rather than burying our heads and hoping stories like theirs would quietly go away. Because it wasn't just the authorities who failed Kiesha, society failed her too.

Until drastic action is taken it won't be long before another story like hers is hitting the headlines. We all have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do to stop it happening again?


Penn State Sets Date for Invitation-Only Child Sex Abuse Awareness Conference

by Laura Nichols

Penn State is making some changes to its annual conference on child maltreatment. The university's inaugural conference, which was held last October, came in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

This year's event is set for September 25. The daylong conference will be run like a workshop, and attendees will be invited.

Last year's conference lasted for two days and was open to the public.

The conference is called "Protecting Pennsylvania's Children by Building Multidisciplinary Investigative Teams/Child Advocacy Centers." It will feature keynote speaker Tina Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance, and has a "very focused topic," says Jonathan F. McVerry, Communications Manager at Penn State's Network on Child Protection and Well-Being.

"One of the Network's goals is to translate research into real-world use. By inviting organizations and child advocacy centers from around the state, we can do that," McVerry says. "Practitioners state-wide can learn from each other and access resources for their communities."

The Network was created in 2012 as a response to a report provided by the Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment.

Potential attendees include Pennsylvania's district attorneys, children and youth service administrators and law enforcement officials, as well as Penn State faculty, who will gather in the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel to discuss various topics related to recognizing and combating child sex abuse.

According to Penn State, The National Children's Alliance is the accrediting body 750 children's advocacy centers across the U.S. and through the coordination of investigation and intervention services by bringing together law enforcement and child welfare professionals as a multidisciplinary investigative team, creates a child-focused approach to child abuse cases.

Pennsylvania currently has 22 Child Advocacy Centers across the state, and they operate by using the standards set by the National Children's Alliance.

Penn State says the conference also will include experts from in-state in child abuse investigations and prosecutions in panel discussions on topics such as model investigation standards and multi-disciplinary investigative team development. Grants for multidisciplinary investigative team development and support will be announced.

Last October, keynote speakers for the two-day conference included Elizabeth Smart, a former kidnapping victim, and Sugar Ray Leonard, a retired boxing world champion.