What We Learned From the Newly Revealed Cosby Deposition
by Justin Worland
Cosby denied assault accusations but admitted to a number of other things
A deposition uncovered Saturday shines new light on Bill Cosby's extramarital relationships and the accusations of sexual assault from many women.
The court documents, first published by the New York Times Saturday, come from 2005 and 2006 depositions related to accusations of molestation from Andrea Constand.
In the questioning, Cosby denies allegations of assault, but admits to the dogged pursuit of extramarital relations, often in an ethically dubious, if still legal, fashion. Here are four things we learned:
Cosby obtained seven Quaaludes prescriptions
The deposition provides new details about how Cosby obtained the drug Quaaludes, which functions as a sedative. Cosby said in the deposition that he told a Los Angeles doctor that he wanted the drug for back pain, but he assumed the doctor knew that he actually wanted to use it for other purposes. “Quaaludes happen to be the drug that kids, young people were using to party with and there were times when I wanted to have them just in case,” Cosby said.
Asked how he used Cosby used them, the comedian said he never took one himself and instead offered them “the same as a person would say have a drink.”
Cosby made light of the accusations
Even in a deposition where Cosby theoretically had something to lose, the comedian couldn't help but make light of the situation. In one moment, Constand's lawyer told Cosby, “I think you're making light of a very serious situation.” Cosby agreed: “That may very well be.”
Cosby used personal details to lure women
Cosby admitted to discussing personal details of women's lives in hopes they would sleep with him. In one case, he discussed the cancer treatment of a woman's father. Asked if he asked “her those questions because [he] wanted to have sexual contact with her,” Cosby replied, “Yes.”
Cosby put a lot of effort into hiding his affairs from his wife
Cosby provided women with financial assistance in hopes of wining their silence. Doing that often involved a number of tactics to keep his wife from becoming suspicious. In at least one case, Cosby had his agency, the William Morris Agency, cut a check to a woman he allegedly drugged. Cosby then reimbursed the agency. Asked who he hoped to prevent from knowing about the payment, Cosby replied, “Mrs. Cosby.”
Tragedy in Dallas: Girl, 2, dies after family forgets her in family car
by Dan Taylor
A 2-year-old girl has died in Dallas tragically after being forgotten in a hot car while it was sitting in their family's driveway.
The girl was in the child safety seat when her father went back to the car to find the child unresponsive after sitting in the blazing heat, according to an NBCDFW.com report.
The toddler had apparently been forgotten when her other family members got out of the car after parking in the driveway, police said. The parents told the Dallas Child Abuse Unit that they had been at park with the children that day and had gone in to take a nap. When the father woke up, he went outside to work on the car and found his daughter.
The father took the child into the house and dialed 911 while the mother performed CPR. They then drove the toddler to Children's Medical City. She was pronounced dead at 7:19 p.m.
The parents said they thought the girl had gotten out of the vehicle when they got home.
No charges have been filed, although authorities are investigating the incident.
Authorities warn that even on relatively mild days, a vehicle's inner temperature can rise to levels that can kill a person in just minutes.
About 605 children have died from heat stroke after being left in hot cars since 1998 in the United States, with half of those deaths due to being forgotten by a caretaker. So far in 2015, nine children have died after being left in hot cars.
Inquiry judge will hear 30,000 VICTIMS of predators – but Goddard probe says that's less than 1% of adults who were abused as children
by David Rose
The landmark inquiry into historic child sexual abuse is braced to hear testimony from at least 30,000 victims, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
But that extraordinary number represents less than one per cent of the more than three million adults in Britain who were abused as children, according to the Goddard Inquiry.
The figures were disclosed to this newspaper by Ben Emmerson, the QC who is the chief lawyer for the vast investigation set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and widespread allegations of abuse by politicians at Westminster.
In his first interview since he took up his post with the inquiry, Mr Emmerson has for the first time given details of the mammoth task it faces as it takes up evidence going back decades.
He admitted that the inquiry's scope was ‘vast', covering the handling of abuse by institutions including children's homes, the military, youth groups, orchestras, doctors, Westminster, the police, prosecutors, internet service providers and the BBC. It has no past cut-off date.
The broad remit includes Savile's victims and those abused as pupils at Chetham's School of Music, whose former pupil Frances Andrade, 48, committed suicide last year after giving evidence against teachers.
But Mr Emmerson insisted the inquiry would stick to the timetable announced this month by its chairman, New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard – to issue a final report by the end of 2020.
‘The canvas is huge, but it is not unmanageable,' Mr Emmerson said. He was determined that, unlike the 12-year Bloody Sunday inquiry and the Chilcot probe into the Iraq War – which having started in 2006 is already four years late with no publication date – ‘this issue is not going to end up being kicked into the long grass'.
The shocking figures of the scale of alleged abuse are based on research from multiple sources, Mr Emmerson said, and are ‘generally accepted by the agencies who work in this field'.
Given the current UK population, they imply that 806,000 males and 2.7 million females endured sexual abuse before the age of 18.
Mr Emmerson said the experience of similar inquiries, such as the Royal Commission now sitting in Australia, suggested one per cent of the total number of victims would come forward and ask to give evidence – about 32,000. But he promised that no victim or survivor would be denied their chance to be heard.
Special ‘truth project' forums, to be chaired by a barrister and which will feed victim testimony to the main inquiry panel, will be operating in six or seven cities across the country early next year.
The inquiry will be divided up into more than 30 ‘modules', each dealing with an institution, each sitting in public over one to two months, and each presided over by two of the inquiry panel's five members. At the end of every module, there will be a ‘chapter' report, to create a ‘dialogue with the public'. Recommendations will be made, where necessary, to ensure children are protected from future abuse.
‘Our job is not to conduct a thousand trials of individual allegations of abuse,' Mr Emmerson said, ‘but to examine how institutions dealt with the obligation to prevent abuse, to report it, and to take appropriate action – their duty of protection.'
There would be time limits on lawyers' speeches, and page limits for written submissions, and only evidence that needed public examination would be given orally. If individuals found themselves facing new criminal allegations, they would be given the right to instruct their own lawyers, who could cross-examine witnesses.
But however strictly the inquiry was managed, Mr Emmerson said, it was bound to be expensive: ‘It's quite obvious you can't run an inquiry on this scale without cost.'
Last week it emerged that Judge Goddard is to be paid £500,000 a year, while Mr Emmerson has received £177,000 in just over a year. But he said the lawyers, including himself, were being paid standard government rates, while some of the QCs who would serve individual modules would be taking large cuts to their usual income. ‘For them, this is an opportunity to give something back,' Mr Emmerson said.
With a planned budget of about £20 million a year, the inquiry's total cost is at present projected to reach about £120 million – but a significant overrun would bring it up close to or even beyond the record £195 million cost of the Bloody Sunday inquiry.
Mr Emmerson said he could not comment on the current allegations against former Labour MP Lord Janner, and the pending ‘trial of the facts' to which they will be subject. ‘The focus of our inquiries into the Janner case will be the institutions,' he said, following claims that local authorities, police and CPS failed to protect his alleged victims.
But in the wake of assertions in the Commons by Labour campaigner Simon Danczuk that Janner was ‘guilty', he warned MPs to be careful what they said using parliamentary privilege.
‘I think MPs need to be aware there have been criminal cases that have been derailed because of things said under the cover of parliamentary privilege.'
He stressed that although allegations against high-profile people, such as Westminster politicians, had attracted much attention, they would make up only a small proportion of the inquiry's work – which would also cover more recent concerns, such as child sexual images on the internet and ‘grooming' cases in places including Rotherham and Oxford.
The inquiry would work closely with Operation Hydrant, the police probe co-ordinating investigations of this kind.
An NSPCC spokesman said yesterday that the inquiry's estimates of victim numbers ‘could well be correct'.
The spokesman added: ‘A few years ago people would have dismissed the horrendous level of child abuse, but with the Savile revelations and high-profile grooming cases, it's clear that it's a massive problem.'
Officials: No clear reason for 5,006 untested rape kits
by Marisa Kwiatkowski
More than 5,000 sexual assault kits collected in Marion County since 2000 have never been tested, according to an analysis by The Indianapolis Star and the USA TODAY Media Network.
Each kit represents an individual named as a victim of sexual assault.
The kits contain forensic evidence, such as clothing, fingernail scrapings and swabs from various parts of an individual's body, gathered through an invasive and intensely personal exam that takes about three hours.
A number of victims' advocates are pushing for testing of all kits. Testing the sexual assault kits can reveal DNA evidence that helps identify suspects, strengthen criminal cases or, in some cases, clear a suspect of wrongdoing.
It's unclear, however, whether the large number of untested kits in Marion County is denying justice to sexual assault victims. Officials say there are myriad — and often legitimate — reasons why a kit might not be tested.
“We've talked about this for nine years,” said Mike Medler, director of the Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency, which tests sexual assault kits. “There's no simple answer.”
Behind the numbers
What officials do know is only 26 percent of the 6,769 sexual assault kits collected from 2000 to 2014 in Marion County were tested, according to records provided by the Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency.
The 5,006 untested kits were among the largest number reported in USA TODAY Media Network's survey of more than 800 law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
Nationwide, the USA TODAY Media Network investigation identified at least 70,000 sexual assault kits containing evidence from rape, sexual battery and similar crimes that have never been tested. Despite its scope, the department-by-department count included only a fraction of the nation's 18,000 police agencies, meaning the number of untested sexual assault kits may reach into the hundreds of thousands.
Local officials interviewed by The Star said the reasons for not testing a kit can be as varied as the crimes themselves.
In 874 instances, the kits likely were not tested because a crime was not reported to law enforcement. Individuals went to an area hospital, allowed evidence to be taken, received medical care and left.
“We encourage people to report, but if they don't want to report, we don't force them,” said Megan Brown, a certified sexual assault nurse examiner and manager of St. Vincent's Center of Hope. “We care more about their medical well-being and their safety.”
From the hospital, kits are sent directly to the Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency. The forensic lab keeps “nonreporting” kits for about two years in case the victim decides to report a crime to law enforcement later. Police detectives typically are the ones to request testing.
Still, a report to police doesn't guarantee a sexual assault kit will be tested. Only 29.9 percent of kits connected to a reported crime in Marion County were tested from 2000 to 2014, a Star analysis found. The bulk of those cases were handled by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Reasons kits aren't tested
Kristina Korobov, a deputy prosecutor who supervises cases involving child abuse, sex crimes and domestic violence in Marion County, said kits are just one piece of the prosecution puzzle.
Sometimes an offender will confess or plead guilty before a sexual assault kit is tested, said Korobov, who also is chair of the county's Sexual Assault Response Team. Or the offender is someone with whom the victim had a prior consensual sexual history, so testing the kit to find the offender's DNA will not prove a crime has occurred. Or, in some cases, other physical evidence or witness testimony disputes a victim's account of what happened.
But the most common reason for not testing a kit, according to local officials, is because the victim did not cooperate or declined to move forward with the case.
Korobov said prosecution may not be the priority for victims dealing with trauma and fear.
She said the victims may deal with pressure from social media, family and friends who don't believe them, the stigma of reporting rape or self-doubt. Some victims also may be dealing with mental illness, homelessness or drug addiction.
Korobov said combating those challenges is “an amazing testament” to the strength of those willing to continue the process.
“It's completely understandable,” she said, “to have a victim say, ‘I've gotten medical care. I'm done.'”
Sgt. Richard Ray, a supervisor in the Sex Crimes Unit of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said detectives get an initial statement from a victim when the crime is reported but wait about 48 hours to get a full statement, to give the individual time to deal with the trauma.
If the individual does not show up for the interview, the detective will call, then send a letter, then go to that person's address, Ray said. But the police investigation will stop if the victim decides he or she does not want to press charges.
Capt. David Hensley, branch commander for IMPD's Sex Crimes Unit, said the detectives' work is reviewed at two levels to ensure it was done correctly. He said the agency also has a cold case investigator, paid through a grant, who is reviewing older sexual assault cases that may have the potential for DNA testing.
“I'm confident we're doing the work,” Hensley said. “I don't want anyone to think we are pushing something back or not following through on these investigations, because they definitely are.”
In some jurisdictions, including Detroit, police have been criticized for failing to pursue sexual assault investigations because they blamed the victims.
“Rape survivors were often assumed to be prostitutes and therefore what had happened to them was considered to be their own fault,” researchers from Michigan State University wrote in their analysis of Detroit's rape investigations.
Rebecca Campbell, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University, said the decision on whether to test a sexual assault kit is typically left to the discretion of the investigating officer or prosecutor. Nationally, the vast majority of officers don't receive adequate training on sexual assault and trauma, she added.
Campbell, who was the principal investigator in the Detroit study, said departments should provide more trauma training and should formalize policies for when kits should be tested.
“There's a real public safety issue here,” Campbell said. “There are crimes that could be prevented. There are lives that have been destroyed that didn't have to be. What is our option here to get repeat offenders off the streets?”
Some national advocates argue every sexual assault kit should be tested — in part because it could help identify serial rapists.
Rebecca O'Connor, vice president of public policy for the nonprofit Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, said her organization advocates for every kit to be tested.
“Survivors submit themselves to these exams with the expectation that something's going to come of it,” she said. “If nothing else, every survivor deserves an answer.”
O'Connor said testing every kit also may stop serial offenders.
“We've got to do a better job of taking these seriously,” she said.
Medler, director of the Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency, said there would be challenges with testing every sexual assault kit.
In order to test the kits, lab technicians want to know victims' prior sexual histories, Medler said. If the individuals recently had consensual sex, their partners' DNA might also come up in the samples tested.
Police need to collect a DNA sample from any partner so the lab can eliminate them from the test results.
While collecting evidence for the kit, nurses ask victims whether they had consensual sex in the last five days, but they don't ask with whom. Detectives ask those questions during the interview process. But if the victim, for whatever reason, never speaks with police, the lab won't have access to that information.
Even if a kit is tested, the lab technician won't always find DNA.
Medler said his lab would test all of the sexual assault kits if he was asked to, but it would require more money, more staff, more space and more storage.
The Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency's average cost of testing a kit ranges from $1,704.19 to $2,415.59, data provided by the agency shows. Those figures are based on the cost of chemicals and 40 to 60 hours of staff time.
Catherine O'Connor, president and CEO of the Julian Center, said that while, in a perfect world, it may be good to test every kit, there are practical considerations when it comes to limited resources. It is more important to have the kit collected every time, she added, so that the evidence is available if there is a prosecution.
“I think that we have a good system in Central Indiana,” Catherine O'Connor said, “a law enforcement community that is good and attentive in these cases and has made remarkable progress in being sensitive to the needs of victims.”
If you are in immediate danger or to report a crime, call 911.
Legacy House, in Indianapolis, provides free counseling and support services to children and adults affected by violence. They can be reached at (317) 554-5272.
The Julian Center provides myriad services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Their crisis line is (317) 920-9320. For more information, visit juliancenter.org.
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network has a free, confidential national sexual assault hotline at (800) 656-4673. For more information and resources, visit www.rainn.org/get-help.
Child abuse tied to DUIs
by Yoohyun Jung
The child endangerment and abuse felonies most commonly found in Pima County's courtrooms have nothing to do with hitting children or neglecting to feed or bathe them.
Instead, they involve children riding in the car with a parent or caregiver who has been using drugs or alcohol.
An Arizona Daily Star analysis of the 157 defendants charged with at least one child abuse felony in 2014 found that nearly 80 percent involved children being exposed to potential harm, rather than having harm directly inflicted on them. Of these, nearly 44 percent involved children in cars with a drunk or drugged driver at the wheel.
“I can't think of too many more dangerous situations than putting a child in a car with an impaired driver,” said Ryan Schmidt, supervisor of the vehicular offenses unit with the Pima County Attorney's Office. “We take it very seriously.”
Parents drive while impaired far more often than the numbers show — and they rarely lose custody of their children for doing so. First, it's likely that many impaired drivers reach their destination without being pulled over. Second, when there is an arrest, the other, nonoffending parent is often available to care for the child.
Beyond that, cases of impaired parents are investigated as DUI cases by the traffic unit, rather than as a child abuse case by the Crimes Against Children unit, said Sgt. Mark Bustamante of the sheriff's department's traffic unit.
“There is a difference between a child being in a car with a parent driving impaired from a child who is being struck at home,” he said. The Crimes Against Children unit typically deals with cases involving children being directly harmed.
Patrol deputies are required to notify DPS each time they arrest a person on suspicion of DUI when there are children in the car, Bustamante said. At that point, the investigation is deemed complete. Then it's up to the child welfare agency to decide whether to follow up.
A COMMON OCCURRENCE
Drug and alcohol problems are common in Arizona's child welfare cases, with more than 5,500 parents seeking help for addiction through a state program in 2013 and hundreds more participating in county drug courts each year.
Jason Frazier, program director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Arizona, said that in his former career as a child welfare investigator, he saw frightening scenarios in which a child could easily have been killed.
One case involved a teen who was afraid to stand up to an intoxicated parent and got in the car — only to have the parent drive erratically and run red lights as the boy and his younger brother sat, terrified, in the back.
Another involved a parent who was clocked going 80 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone — with an unrestrained preschooler in the car.
“Children trust that their parents are going to keep them safe,” Frazier said. “My heart breaks for the kids who have to go through that.”
He said many of the DUI cases he saw as a child welfare investigator involved parents going through a divorce, and the same is true now that he's with MADD.
“We get a lot of community concern calls from people saying, ‘I suspect my ex is drinking with my kids in the car,'” he said.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
An arrest for drunk or drugged driving with kids in the car is often not a first offense. Nearly 40 percent of defendants charged with driving drunk with their children in 2014 had a history of prior alcohol-related arrests, the Star's analysis shows.
“The average first-time offender drives impaired 87 times before they are caught,” Frazier said.
In one case, a woman drove herself and her two children to the hospital on a September afternoon. Feeling ill, she intended to check in to the emergency room, court records showed.
When she showed up, hospital staff noticed signs of intoxication. A blood draw showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.446 percent, more than five times the legal limit.
Before checking in at the hospital, she went into the restroom and drank some vodka, records show. After she was admitted, she drank even more as she waited for her treatment — this time beer, which she had hidden in her purse.
Tucson police showed up. This was her second alcohol-related arrest.
The Star is not identifying her because doing so would identify her children, who were not injured as a result of their mother's drunk driving that day.
The Star's analysis of 2014 cases showed that 83 percent had no reported injuries for minor victims. But not all children come out unscathed.
In January, a Phoenix mother driving along Interstate 10 lost control and rolled her SUV near the Cortaro Farms Road exit. Irma Linda Martinez was speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol, police said. Her 16-year-old daughter died, and her son was seriously injured. Martinez has been charged with second-degree murder.
Adults who drive drunk or drugged with their own child in the car are typically charged with child abuse, a class 5 felony, while those who drive with someone else's child face the lesser count of endangerment, which is a class 6 felony.
Joe St. Louis, a Tucson defense attorney who specializes in drunk driving cases, said the legal criteria of people being impaired “to the slightest degree” can be tricky when it comes to charging otherwise good parents with child abuse.
In cases where the impairment is slight, or where there hasn't been an accident, he said child abuse charges are “used to convince people to plead guilty or risk being branded a child abuser.”
Nearly all defendants charged with both DUI and child abuse in 2014 entered into plea agreements, the Star analysis showed. Seventy percent of the defendants got a lesser charge of endangerment as opposed to the original child abuse charge.
“If there is an accident where the child is really put in danger, you could see them charging child abuse,” St. Louis said. “If you have to go to your employer and say, ‘I was convicted of a DUI,' that's a hard conversation. But if you have to say that you were convicted of child abuse, that's probably an end-of-the-line conversation.”
Forty-three states — including Arizona — and the District of Columbia have laws that enhance penalties against people who drive drunk with a child passenger, data on MADD's website shows. The laws vary in severity: In New York, for example, driving drunk with a child passenger under 16 is a child abuse felony; in Wisconsin, it's a misdemeanor.
Schmidt, of the Pima County Attorney's Office, said parents in many of the cases he's worked realize after their arrest how much they endangered their child. The crime spans all socioeconomic classes, he said, and includes parents who would never otherwise risk hurting their child.
“When you are starting to becoming intoxicated, one of the first things to go is judgment,” he said. “Maybe you make choices that you wouldn't make if you were sober.”
Building Hope: Idaho Falls Man Moves Past the Abuse he Suffered as a Child
by Tom Holm
An uncle raped Matt Morgan.
Terry Morgan abused Matt when he was 12 and 13, kicking off Matt's lifetime of repressed memories, alcohol abuse and what he hopes, one day, is redemption.
The 49-year-old owner and manager of Morgan Construction, a local design and construction business, buried the memories of the abuse for three decades.
Matt became a rare statistic. He is among the few men who speak out against their abusers. Although research shows that one in six men have suffered sexual abuse before the age of 18, Matt became a rarity because he spoke out about the abuse. He sued his uncle, won a judgment and is now moving forward, trying to be more than a statistic.
Now Matt wants to bring some good from the years of pain he suffered. He won a civil suit Dec. 2 against his uncle under a fraud claim instead of a sexual abuse claim, court records show.
He never wants another child to go through what he endured. That's what his nonprofit organization Building Hope Today is for. Matt wants to have the organization bring awareness to the sexual abuse of children.
Matt wants to give a voice to the voiceless and help them shed the pain of abuse.
“You want to find guys like me? You can find them in the cemeteries and the jails,” Matt said. “I have these emotional wounds that I'm working on to become scars and not wounds.”
Young, confused, angry
Matt said his parents split up when he was 12 and his father took him to live in a home two houses away from his uncle, Terry Morgan. Terry frequently stopped by the house when Matt's father was at work, court records show.
Terry stepped into the void left by an absentee dad. Court records show he brought pornographic magazines and showed them to Matt. Terry told the young boy the women depicted in the magazines were his mother. Terry reportedly told Matt to pay attention as if he were receiving instruction in school.
“He had me convinced that was my mom in those magazines,” Matt said.
Terry called Matt's mother a slut and a whore, blaming her for breaking up his parent's marriage, court records show. After forcing Matt to view the pictures of these women having sex with multiple men, he made Matt view gay male pornography. His uncle said this is how they should show their affection toward each other.
After showing him the pornography, Terry molested Matt, court records show. He raped and fondled Matt all summer. The abuse only subsided when Matt went back to school in the fall.
“I just closed my eyes when he did that to me,” Matt said. “I just friggin' left … I didn't let any of it rent any space in my brain.”
He said he spent the next three years flunking school and getting into trouble. He didn't know why he was so angry. He tried to escape his demons by moving to California.
“When I got down to California and I found that set of nail bags and that hammer. It gave me, I found a purpose. It made me feel good about me. I was good at it. It made me feel good.
“I was frustrated and confused, I struggled for a number of years. I took a hold of that hammer and just decided I wanted to be good at it. I gave it everything I had and I threw myself 100 percent into it and it became my craft.”
Matt repressed the thoughts of the abuse for 30 years until night terrors of his uncle raping him ravaged his sleep.
“I was 44 years old suffering from insomnia getting maybe one or two nights of sleep a week,” Matt said. “I'd wake up in a cold sweat and say ‘My god where did that come from.' ”
The memories came back in bits and pieces. Matt was suffering from dissociative amnesia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dissociative amnesia causes the inability to retrieve memories from a stressful situation such as abuse or war, according to the Cleveland Clinic website, an academic Ohio hospital.
After being diagnosed in 2010, Matt began counseling.
The memories of dissociative amnesia sufferers are not entirely wiped from the mind and can be recalled through therapy or triggered by someone's surroundings. Tom Tueller, a licensed clinical social worker in Idaho Falls, said as memories come back they can be very overwhelming for a person.
“It's not their choice but they start to remember things and it puts them in a very distressful state,” Tueller said.
Coming to terms
Matt said he used alcohol to help press down the memories. He said he began drinking alcohol to excess at age 14 or 15.
“I've had a problem with alcohol since the first time I put that bottle to my mouth,” Matt said.
Matt said he is now four-months sober. But before and during the trial his drinking brought him to a low point.
“I started to tailspin,” Matt said. “I was going straight down and straight down fast.”
One day Matt looked down at the glass as he was drinking alone and decided he needed to change. Matt got clean.
“I got something the majority of people who are abused don't get the opportunity to have or have the money to pursue that vindication,” Matt said. “Here I sat and thought how ungrateful I am to keep on drinking myself to sleep.”
Matt's son, Travis, said he used to worry for his father especially when Matt became more aware of his buried memories.
“He always had this poor image of himself,” Travis Morgan said. “We would always tell him ‘This isn't who you are, why do you have those feelings.'”
In the summer of 2011 Matt drove by his uncle's home. He saw a swing set out front which stirred feelings of disgust in him, thinking Terry was inviting children with the swing. Matt said he stewed in the feelings and then went to his uncle's door and demanded he take down the swing, apologize for abusing him and explain why he abused him as a child. The two began to argue and Matt said Terry refused to apologize or to remove the swing. The verbal argument escalated and turned physical, Matt said.
“I'm sorry I did it, sorry I went there. I didn't get what I was looking for,” Matt said.
Months later Terry sued Matt for battery. During the trial Matt figured if he was going to be in court with his abuser he may as well counter sue. Matt consulted with his attorneys and ultimately came to the decision to file a suit claiming fraud, court records show. This led to Matt ultimately winning his case against Terry.
Repeated efforts to reach Terry Morgan were unsuccessful.
Matt's decision to confront his uncle makes him an outlier.
In a 1988 clinical study of 25 men who had been sexually abused, only one man reported the abuse when it happened. A 1990 study found that 44 percent of the men sampled had never told anyone about being abused, compared to 33 percent of women who had never disclosed the abuse. In a separate clinical study, 31 percent of men abused as a child had told someone about it when they were young, compared to 61 percent of women.
Travis Morgan said after the jury verdict, his father changed. He said his father regained his sense of humor. He carried himself better and saw his self-worth.
“The judicial system said ‘You're not crazy, you have been wronged,' ” Travis Morgan said. “(He's) better than ever, it helped him feel comfortable in his own skin again.”
Travis Morgan, 25, said now that the trial is over, and though it's a victory the emotions, haven't subsided.
“It's strange sometimes I'm not sure how to feel, we've been fighting so long,” Travis Morgan said. “It's nice to move on. Nice to work on Building Hope Today and move forward.”
Building a new life
Despite the alcohol, Matt built a multimillion dollar construction company from the ground up in his free-time. He was working for the Idaho Falls Fire Department and building things on his days off. Eventually he was doing more building than fire fighting and he said he resigned in 1995.
“Kind of unintentionally it blossomed,” Matt said.
Morgan began his business by building and designing homes in the early 1990s. Now the company focuses on business projects. Matt said he built his first home in 1991 and from there the company swelled to include larger projects.
Some of Matt's profits go toward helping victims of abuse through the nonprofit Building Hope Today. From the hard work of his own hands Matt is generating the funds necessary for his nonprofit.
Matt's thick arms pressed tightly against his shirt as he spoke about the abuse.
He pauses occasionally to think through his responses, nervously tapping his fingers together as if holding a palm-sized ball. Matt's wife, Lynne, has stood by him through all his recent struggles.
“It's been a long, emotional road. I've been glad to stand by him,” Lynne said.
Together the couple wants to carry on and help others battling the demons associated with childhood abuse. Their recent efforts in establishing Building Hope Today is the stepping stone toward further healing and raising awareness on the issue. The website, buildinghopetoday.org, is not available yet but Matt said they are working to get it running soon.
“I'd give every hard earned penny I got today if I could just help one person not have to go through that and experience that,” Matt said.
Matt said the organization is up and running and has a board of directors.
Matt said they are trying to do what they can for prevention, but the highlight of the organization is raising awareness in the hope to change policy.
“I don't feel like I could just go through this experience in my life and all of a sudden one day just walk away,” Matt said.
Matt asked for guidance from another nonprofit that focuses on the sexual abuse of young men called 1in6 Inc. The organization is named after the statistic that one out of every six men has been abused before the age of 18.
Steve LePore, founder of 1in6, said he met with Matt purely in a personal advisory role not as a representative of his nonprofit. LePore said Matt came to him to find out how to make his nonprofit sustainable.
“It takes a lot of effort and a lot of coordinated effort but they definitely want to do this correctly, they want to commit to it,” LePore said. “I think he's doing it the right way, he is very much in this with his family.”
Matt said he has dumped a lot of startup money into his nonprofit and they are approaching the point where they can get a website up and running.
Matt said in order to keep the organization going he will be seeking grants and other funds in the future. He said he wants to bring some good from the trauma he suffered.
“I hope to establish Building Hope Today to have a charitable entity and be sustainable in the hopes that my grandkids might sit on the board to continue to do good things, and bring positive change to the issue of childhood abuse,” he said.
Barrel-chested with strong calloused hands Matt's physical presence is that of a man who's earned a living through rigorous labor. He speaks from his diaphragm with a thick powerful voice that rumbles out as if his voice box were polishing rocks in a tumbler.
But the physical attributes belie suffering. Matt is ready to move on, though he will have to carry the damage done to him forever.
“It was finally having a voice after all these years of misunderstood frustration, fear and anger that is going to allow me the opportunity to find peace and true happiness in every bit of my soul and being,” Matt said. “I hope and pray for this same second chance in life for all those who have experienced that same horrible experience that I did as a child.”
Deciding To Heal From Child Sexual Abuse
by Eirliana Abdul Rahman
Child sexual abuse can affect every aspect of your life but it may be difficult to say exactly how it may have damaged you: perhaps it caused your lack of self-confidence, your issues with trust and boundaries, challenges when it comes to intimate relationships, your sexuality and/or your difficulties with parenting.
The following may sound familiar to you but do not necessarily indicate that you have been sexually abused if you do not already know this for a fact: survivors often feel ashamed and "dirty", "marked out" or different from others, and that if people get to know them, they will leave. They have trouble taking care of and identifying their own needs, often putting others first.
They tend to compartmentalise their feelings, and/or do not know how to express their emotions in a healthy fashion. They find it difficult to accept their bodies and frequently push themselves emotionally and physically, have addictions to alcohol and/or drugs, are bulimic or anorexic, and find it hard to create and maintain healthy relationships, often getting close to people who are inappropriate or emotionally unavailable. Survivors may also be uncomfortable around children and/or are confused about crossing the line between good and bad touch.
The decision to heal should come from within, not forced on you by your partner or a family member, urging you to "move on". There are various stages to the healing process, but they may not all apply to you.
The first stage is your commitment to heal and with it, the understanding that this is an active choice by you and that you have agency, that is, you are capable of acting independently and you can make your own decisions. But this journey can also open up Pandora's box, leading to the second "crisis" stage, where you feel that you may be losing control, as suppressed memories and feelings come to the surface, throwing you and your loved ones into turmoil. The emotional pain will be intense and it may be difficult to cope with your normal, daily activities. Do not be afraid to ask for help from your family and friends at this point. It is important to acknowledge that the abuse did indeed happen; you should not minimise it by saying that it was "only a touch". You may find it hard to believe that you were not at fault. It may help visualising yourself at the age when the abuse happened, or perhaps look around you and find another child who is your age when the abuse occurred: you were no Lolita. A 10-year-old cannot seduce a fully grown adult. And it is always the responsibility of the adult to behave well with a child and protect him/her.
The second stage may be when you decide to tell someone close -- breaking the silence is powerful and an important part of healing, if you have the strength for this. You may decide to tell your family or perhaps your decision is not to tell. It is up to you.
The third stage is the grieving and anger process: grieving is necessary to honour your pain and loss, before you can be ready to move forward. Anger itself, whilst usually frowned upon, can be liberating and healing, if channelled the right way. Look out for my next two posts on these two stages.
Healing is possible. Give yourself that chance.
University of Tennessee promises to cooperate with fed over sexual assault investigations
by Kevin Sanders
Following allegations that the University of Tennessee had been lax in looking into cases of sexual assaults leveled against six Tennessee football team players in 2014, the US Department of Education has waded into the matter, with the university's Chancellor Jimmy Cheek promising to take immediate action on the matter.
The matter became urgent when an individual filed a complaint with the fed that the UT failed to handle the sexual assault complaint seriously, warranting the decision of the fed to contact the university authorities for information.
But on Thursday, UT officials disclosed that they were “in the process of collecting and preparing the information the Office of Civil Rights has requested.”
UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek however dispatched an email to everyone in the institution that “While privacy laws prevent the university from disclosing the details of the complaint, I can assure you we will cooperate fully with OCR as it investigates the complaint.”
However, below is a timeline of sexual accusations leveled against certain persons in the Tennessee football team:
April 2013: Running Back Marlin Lane named a suspect in the rape of an 18-year-old high school student and suspended by the team. Prosecutor declined to press charges when alleged victim wouldn't testify. Lane reinstated to team two months later, later graduated.
September 2014: A freshman student accused an unnamed player of sexual assault. The university after an investigation said the sexual intercourse was consensual. The player remains a good part of the team.
November 2014: Michael Williams and AJ Johnson were indicted of two counts of aggravated rape in a case involving another female athlete. Williams claimed to have “aided and abetted” Johnson. The case is still pending.
February 2015: Defensive back Riyhad Jones named a suspect in a sexual assault at an off-campus apartment. Prosecutors do not yet know whether to press charges or not.
April 2015: Wide Receiver Von Pearson was suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged rape of a 19-year-old Tennessee student. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to press charges.
The point to note here is that not every listed person would be guilty of what he is accused of, but considering the number of persons involved and the close of incidents, it is high time the feds took a look into the matter.
Whereabouts of child murderer unknown
by Stan Maddux
LAPORTE — Police expressed concern Friday over the whereabouts of a convicted child killer and molester who was released from a state prison late Thursday.
Richard Dobeski, 67, left the New Castle Correctional Facility Thursday night after completing his 11-year sentence for child molesting and possession of child pornography. That conviction came after he was released in 2003 after serving 40 years in prison for murdering two siblings, ages 6 and 3.
Dobeski, who is required for the remainder of his life to be on a sex offender registry, was given a prison escort to a bus station about 11 p.m. Thursday, said Isaac Randolph, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Correction.
LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd said it was his understanding that Dobeski was supposed to arrive in Michigan City early Friday afternoon on the bus.
Police said Dobeski did not disclose a valid forwarding address on the release documents he filled out at the prison. The address he listed was 809 State St., which is the LaPorte County Jail.
“Be careful and if you see him give me a call so I'm aware of his whereabouts,” said Robert Sulkowski, chief of the Long Beach Police Department.
It was in Long Beach, an upscale community along Lake Michigan, that Dobeski strangled Shawn and Cary Johnston. He was convicted of that crime in 1964.
Dobeski lived next to the victims, whose bodies were found in the crawl space of his home.
After his release, Dobeski in 2007 was living in Westville when he was accused of fondling a boy and having possession of child pornography.
Boyd said offenders have seven days from their release to register at the sheriff's department in the county in which they're residing.
Randolph said Dobeski committed no violations by listing a false forwarding address on his release forms because the state no longer had legal authority over him since he completed his sentence.
Darkness to Light partners with TLC to raise child sex abuse awareness
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Charleston-based Darkness to Light is partnering with the TLC television network and the group RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) in a national campaign to prevent child sexual abuse.
The three organizations announced their joint efforts in a press release Thursday. Their goal is to raise awareness and create a national dialogue on child sexual abuse. They hope to increase awareness and educate the public on ways to prevent it.
The announcement comes alongside TLC's move Thursday to cancel one of its top-rated shows, 19 Kids and Counting, two months after one of the show's stars, Josh Duggar, admitted to molesting young girls when he was a teenager.
"We cannot emphasize enough how impressive it is that TLC is using their platform to reach millions of Americans in addressing the stigma that child sexual abuse is," Kendall Sherry with Darkness to Light said Friday. "The partnership between TLC, RAINN and Darkness to Light has the potential to change on a national scale how people think about, talk about and react to child sexual abuse."
Dr. Lyndon Haviland, Board of Directors member, interim president and CEO for Darkness to Light said D2L is looking forward to partnering with TLC "to bring child sexual abuse out of secrecy and into the forefront."
Haviland called child sexual abuse a "public health crisis ... affecting one in 10 children nationwide."
"We applaud (TLC) for the courage to begin a national dialogue about what all adults can do to protect children,” Haviland said.
Darkness to Light (D2L) is a nonprofit organization founded in Charleston in 2000. D2L's full statement on the new partnership is available here.
TLC said the following in its statement:
“Over these past weeks, TLC has consulted regularly with leading victims' rights and advocacy organizations in the U.S., including RAINN and Darkness to Light, to discuss how to use this moment to address the issue and make a positive impact. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is not an isolated issue; it affects many children and families around the world. To that end, we are partnering with both organizations on a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness and educate parents and families about the issue."
TLC said in the release it is in the process of producing a one-hour documentary on the issue of child sexual abuse that will feature members of the Duggar family and others that have been affected by abuse. See TLC's full statement here.
Katherine Hull Fliflet, Vice President of Communications for RAINN, said the following in that organization's statement Thursday:
“We are pleased to be partnering with TLC to fight child sexual abuse, and appreciate its efforts to spur a national dialogue about this issue. … As this multi-platform campaign moves ahead, we look forward to working closely with TLC and our partners at Darkness to Light. … Together, we believe we can help families that have been affected by this terrible crime and make sure that parents and others have the knowledge and tools they need to help keep kids safe.”
RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, providing support to survivors through various means. Its full statement on the partnership can be found here.
TLC President Marjorie Kaplan: "I Have Learned a Lot" About Child Abuse Since Josh Duggar's Molestation Scandal Broke
by Esther Lee
And now, it's time to move forward. Following TLC's cancellation of its smash reality series 19 Kids and Counting on Thursday, July 16, the network's president Marjorie Kaplan was candid about how Josh Duggar 's molestation scandal opened her eyes to the issue of child abuse.
Kaplan, who heads TLC, Animal Planet, and Velocity, told the Associated Press on Thursday that she was "completely unaware" of how pervasive the issue of child abuse was. "I have learned a lot about this issue since," Kaplan said, citing one staggering statistic of one in 10 children are victims of sexual abuse.
"This is a fundamental problem in this country, so we've become quite passionate about making sure that we educate people," Kaplan continued. "We feel like we have a real obligation and an opportunity to create a moment here for people to be educated and for victims to find ways to come forward."
That obligation has translated itself into a partnership with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which was announced just moments after TLC confided that it had canceled 19 Kids. "We are pleased to be partnering with TLC to fight child sexual abuse, and appreciate its efforts to spur a national dialogue about this issue," RAINN said in a statement released to Us Weekly. "Child sexual abuse affects millions of families across the nation, and we all have a responsibility to work together to end it."
"We spent the past month and a half in thoughtful consideration about what is the best way forward here," she admitted, further noting of RAINN: "We anticipate this will be a long-term partnership with them."
TLC is also partnering with Darkness to Light, another organization that looks to provide a means to protect children from sexual abuse. "We took it as an opportunity to step further than just 'How do we protect ourselves?' and step into 'How do we protect our audience and protect children?'" Kaplan told the AP. "Our hope is to do more of that, in a way that's thoughtful and respectful of the victims of child abuse — in the Duggar family and across America."
The network has plans to create a documentary centered on the issue. "The goal is to take what has been a difficult and painful experience, and focus that attention on the really critical issue of child protection and child sexual abuse," Kaplan explained.
Kaplan said Jessa and Jill Duggar, who were among Josh's five molestation victims (four of whom were his sisters) in 2002, have expressed interest in being part of this documentary. "They're interested in putting the focus on this issue, too," the network head revealed.
America's New Norm: Teen Dating Violence.
What's Going on with our Teens & How We Can Better Understand Their World
by Tania Bradkin
Are you curious about teenagers today and dating? As the mother to boy/girl twins who just turned thirteen years old, I know I sure am, especially when I hear words like Teen Dating Violence (TDV). I mean, what does that mean exactly? Being a young person today is so incredibly different and I believe more difficult too than it was even just a decade ago...but what could possibly be going on in their world that I need to be on top of right now? Do I really need to think about dating at age 13? If you've been wondering about teens, teen dating and this issue called Teen Dating Violence. Here it is. And I hope you're sitting down.
Nearly 42 million, or over 12%, of people in the United States (population=318 million) are youth between the ages of 10-18, according to the United States Census. As of 2012, one third of young people between the ages of 14-20 in the United States have experienced Teen Dating Violence (TDV), which includes exposure to new media, such as the internet, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and highlighted by the American Psychological Association (APA). While TDV has no socio-economic barriers and can occur at any age, according to the CDC, and a majority of the research available, age 11 is identified as the universal age these abusive acts begin to occur. AGE ELEVEN.
Every day in America, nearly one in two teenagers, or about half of all youth who are in a relationship feel they are "being threatened, pressured and/or controlled to do things they do not want to do." Approximately 72% of eighth and ninth graders are "dating" and more than half of all high school students report seeing TDV among their peers. Youth in high school (grades nine through twelve), found that of those they knew that had been in a relationship over the course of one year, 1 in 10 had encountered TDV. Similar to Adult Domestic Violence (ADV), females consistently and disproportionately represent survivors, with young women between the ages of 16-24, THREE TIMES more likely to encounter abuse. In fact, young women, between the ages of 16-20, have consistently experienced the highest rates of relationship violence, even when compared to adult women with acts classified as "severe dating violence" excessively affecting young women. Of note however, while research has indicated that females "are as likely to be a perpetrator as a victim of violence" according to the APA, there's not enough data to clarify or confirm this statistic.
Most alarming regarding this data, is that these figures are likely a bit lower than projected as only about a third of teens will tell someone about the abuse he/she is experiencing; only 6% of victims will tell a family member. The probability of reaching out for help drops even lower, to just 3% for authoritative figures. Interestingly, 75% of victims will tell a friend or peer. Research feedback shows that young men seem to have more difficulty sharing their TDV experience simply because "dating violence and abuse traditionally have been considered women's issues."
Another piece of data that might provide additional insight regarding the behavior of TDV victims is that young people, as well as parents, have been unable to identify whether a behavior is TDV behavior, abusive and/or a warning sign. While 19 states have laws that require school boards to address TDV via curriculum and Congress, in 2010, dedicated every February to "Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month" to help bring light to these complexities, TDV numbers for the past decade continue to be on the rise according to a study conducted by the Library of Congress under an Interagency Agreement with the Violence and Victimization Research Division, National Institute of Justice. Moreover, as TDV far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence, resolving these uncertainties, as well as identifying the short and long term impact(s) of TDV is becoming more dire.
Teen Dating Violence Defined, Sort Of
In a 2011 study, supported in part by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, one of the findings affirmed that "some confusion remains regarding the definition and epidemiology of TDV." When examining the definitions of TDV provided by the foremost sources of data regarding health, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TDV is defined "as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner" (CDC, June 2015); the National Institute of Health provides a similar definition in its literature (NIH, June 2010). The American Psychological Association cites and utilizes the CDC definition and data (APA, 2015). While these websites provide useful and similar data, all three definitions(s) omit discussion of "sexting" and use of the words "digital abuse" which the national go-to organization, Love is Respect.org, utilizes to describe abusive electronic encounters which fall under the umbrella of psychological abuse. The CDC also does not reference or utilize the word "pattern," a very important descriptive in the world of adult domestic abuse but states that "TDV can also be referred to as domestic violence and/or abuse." Lastly, there is no mention of LGBTQIA relationships.
Perhaps if these details and subtleties were addressed by the leading and aforementioned websites, there might be less confusion and less ambiguity which according to the NIH study, "has led to effective ways in which to screen and intervene when such violence is detected." As a side note, the study conducted by the CDC in 2011 and 2012 (and cited by the APA), is entitled "Growing up with the media" and focuses on the effects of violent forms of media and includes the internet, news media, television and games. It can be viewed here in detail via the Center for Innovative Public Health Research.
What's Happening to My Body? aka Adolescent Development
It is well known that adolescence, the period in which a young person exits childhood and enters young adulthood, has been characterized as innately confusing and challenging, particularly the timeframe most associated with the teenage years. In fact, 1950s theorist, Erik Erikson, in his development of the "Eight Stages of Man" not only compartmentalized the journey from adolescence into adulthood across three stages: 1)childhood to adolescence (ages 12-18), 2)young adulthood (early 20s to late 20s) and 3)adulthood (late 20s to 50s) but he also identified the first stage, which takes place during the ages of 12-18, as "the most important period" as the adolescent commits to their sense of identity and "views of self."
The predictable but dramatic physical and biological developmental changes endured by youth during this stage provide part of the explanation as to why this stage of life is more demanding. Some of these transformations via NIH are tangible and apparent such as body hair growth, menstruation for girls and change in voice and penis size for boys, while other milestones such as the change in hormones, the development of identity and independence, the thoughts and feelings regarding these changes, sexuality, as well other internalized and externalized behaviors can be complex and fall into the cognitive and social development realm which is not always as easily identified and explained.
Fortunately, research findings from the last decade regarding teen brain structure and functioning have provided greater insight regarding the sometimes impulsive and risk taking behavior of teens. The findings via Harvard conclude that the "human brain circuitry is not mature until the early 20's," and as such the emotional learning and high-level self-regulation" of teens differs greatly from that of adults as the last connections [in the teen brain] to be fully established are the links between the prefrontal cortex, seat of judgment and problem-solving. The under development of these links, also has correlations to addictive behavior. As the life of a teenager is automatically volatile just based on science, inevitable change, and hormonal changes, exposure to the trauma of TDV can only compound the health and well being of adolescents.
Teen Dating Violence & The Well Being of Our Teenagers
Data regarding TDV exposure indicates increased risk for Interpersonal Violence (IPV) in adulthood" as a collateral effect. Unlike adult IPV however, yes, both groups are dealing with the same issues EXCEPT our youth are at a disadvantage because of normal developmental delays. Teens are in a unique position compared to other age groups in that youth are not quite adults but are no longer a child and YET they are faced with situations that even adults find challenging to address affirms Breakthecycle.org (2014).
Physical traumas caused by TDV are similar to those of IPV with teens also being reluctant and afraid to share their accounts of abuse. Like IPV, physical damage varies, depending on impact and location; what has been distinguished is the role of gender. Studies have shown that young men tend to perpetrate more severe and more physical violence but suffer fewer psychological consequences and boys were much more likely than girls to report that they had been sexually violent toward a date. Young women tend to perpetrate less significant forms of physical violence and suffer more profound psychological consequences and girls were significantly more likely than boys to say they had been victims of sexual dating violence and that they had committed physical dating violence; psychological dating violence was about equal for boys and girls. Moreover, girls and boys who actively bully others, are seven times as likely to be physically violent in dating relationships, four years later according to the APA (2013).
Psychological. Adolescents exposed to TDV suffer significant short and long-term consequences. Some of the consequences include: depression, suicide, anxiety, alcohol abuse, cigarette and drug use. More than half of TDV survivors who are also raped are likely to attempt suicide. Other consequences associated with TDV include low self-esteem and academic performance, eating disorders, and other adverse mental health outcomes.
Sexuality. Research suggests that students with low academic performance are likely to engage in sexual activity. Data discloses that sex is "considered part of tween dating relationships" with nearly half of 11-14 year olds having been in a dating relationship, "an alarmingly earlier age than anticipated by parents" according to Love is Respect.org (2014). Sexual interactions can encompass a variety of detrimental physical and mental consequences, especially if a teen is pressured or "forced to have sex" (which is rape), to the unwanted posting of sexually explicit photos, to sexting to threats to "spread rumors if the partner refuses to have sex." As teens simply do not have the years of maturity of an adult, a typical adolescent may be "less adept at utilizing positive relationship skills and more likely to use anger, physical aggression, and emotional abuse in conflict." Additionally, given the other developmental stresses of this phase, coupled with the abundance of information available instantaneously online, teens today may attempt to resolve matters on their own out of embarrassment and shame.
Teens, Violence & Technology
With the advent of the iphone in 2007 and other similar and endless technological advances to keep society "always plugged in," teenagers today are indeed living a completely different, if not unique, reality than teenagers from just ten years ago. Since the 1990's, "one societal change that is necessary is to prevent the transmission of violence across generations is to attack the problem of children's exposure to violence more effectively" per authors LaViolette & Barnett (It Can Happen to Anyone, 2000). As past research has affirmed correlations between violence and television and games (Center for Innovative Public Health Research, 2015), the evolution of social media and intranet access have increased the opportunity to be exposed to violence as both television and games are readily available in both digital arenas.
While there's a sense of "always being plugged in," technology can also create a sense of autonomy and isolation, the latter an effort often carried out by DV abusers, which can create feelings of loneliness, depression and even anger. Moreover, instead of making sure search history is cleared, which is often recommended to DV survivors, in the case of teenagers, privacy settings and control over who can see information is utilized as a protective measure. UNLIKE previous generations, teens today must not only cope with their life being on display instantaneously and constantly via media but society is reliant on additional protective measures being instituted by caretakers and/or providers of such services which can be difficult to consistently maintain with software upgrades and other endless technological updates.
With millennials (defined as 18-34 years old) projected to outnumber baby boomers according to 2015 Pew Research, if the pace of these statistics continues in this direction, the United States may be en route to an epidemic of abuse that based on data will surely result in a future spike in DV figures. The CDC states that teen dating violence is preventable. If that's the case, then we must look at the current programs that are out there to address these issues and examine successes and shortcomings NOW. Moreover, it would be appropriate for companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, AOL and the like, who help facilitate access to the internet and content to make the reduction of Teen Dating Violence one of their corporate priorities too; anything less seems irresponsible. I leave you with this thought: If we are able as a society to ubiquitously convey the message that "scissors are dangerous and that no one should run around with those in hand," then we should be able to make the same kind of commitment regarding our youth and how women and girls are valued. Our youth, our teens, are supposed to be having the time of their lives, not saving theirs.
More information can be obtained anonymously and confidentially via Love Is Respect: teens and parents anywhere in the country can call toll free, 1-866-331-9474 or log on to the interactive website, loveisrespect.org, and receive immediate, confidential assistance. In addition to a toll-free phone line, loveisrepect.org will be the first interactive dating abuse website, staffed by trained advocates, where teens can write and immediately get assistance in a one-on-one private chat room.
Child of 11 and pensioner are victims of revenge porn:
Surge in cases over past six month sees both pupils and adults being blackmailed
Children as young as 11 have become victims of revenge pornography amid a surge in cases, an investigation has found.
Pupils are having their lives ruined by classmates who upload explicit images of them to the internet.
Adults are also being blackmailed by threats to post their naked photographs online.
Figures uncovered using Freedom of Information laws show that between January 2012 and June 2014, eight police forces dealt with 149 incidents which involved revenge porn.
But during a much shorter and more recent period – the six months leading up to April this year – 14 police forces dealt with 139 cases of the criminal offence.
This led to 13 people being charged or cautioned over the offence – double the number who ended up being charged or cautioned between 2012 and 2014.
According to the official figures, the youngest victim of the offence was only 11 years old.
The statistics revealed that the oldest person targeted by revenge porn was a pensioner.
Celebrities, including pop stars Rihanna and Tulisa Contostavlos, have also fallen victim to the cruel practice.
Last night Sarah Green, of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: ‘Awareness of so-called revenge pornography has grown and victims feel more confident that this crime will be taken seriously if reported.
‘We urge the police and courts to continue the pursuit of those who commit this horrible offence. We also urge the Government to step up their efforts to prevent this kind of abuse happening in the first place.'
In February, the Government introduced a specific criminal offence of ‘revenge porn' under which jilted lovers who post explicit images of their ex-partners online will face up to two years in jail.
This followed the Crown Prosecution Service publishing new guidelines on how police could deal with revenge porn offences within existing legislation.
These include cases where intimate images are sent in a bid to force someone into sexual activity, which could see the sender jailed for up to 14 years.
In November last year, a man who posted naked pictures of his ex-girlfriend on the internet became one of the first to be jailed for revenge porn.
Liam King, 21, was imprisoned for 12 weeks after pleading guilty to harassment for posting intimate pictures online of an ex-girlfriend who spurned him.
Last night a CPS spokesman said: ‘Revenge porn is a particularly nasty crime and we have been bringing successful cases to court for some years under existing legislation.
The term was included in CPS legal guidance, as it became apparent this type of offending was growing, in order to make it clear to police and prosecutors which legislation could be used to prosecute.
‘The new offence has added to the powers available to prosecutors, and the CPS will use this legislation to bring the strongest possible cases to court.'
However Jef McAllister, of London-based law firm McAllister Olivarius, which represents sex abuse victims, said: ‘The new law and CPS guidelines are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to eliminating the problem.'
Denver mayor creates initiative to target, report child abuse
by Kent Erdahl
DENVER — Ten days after 23-month-old Javion Johnson died from alleged child abuse, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced a new initiative aimed at helping fix the system that failed the young boy.
“What happened to Javion, I know everyone agrees, should never happen to any child in this city,” Hancock said.
The mayor wants to bring together leaders from numerous groups involved with child welfare, from human services and police to schools and libraries, in hopes of improving communication and response.
Part of the tragedy surrounding Javion Johnson's death, is that it wasn't completely unexpected.
“This is the second incident,” Javion's grandfather Earl Lampley said following his death on July 7 th . “On the Fourth of July I didn't say nothing. He had a burnt mark on his leg. It was so deep to where you could see the flesh in there.”
Ten days after Lampley shared his heartbreak and regret, the apartment remains a crime scene and Javion's mother and her boyfriend remain behind bars on charges of first degree murder and child abuse. City leaders also remain troubled by a child welfare system that received several referrals to look into the parents, but never opened a case.
“Our community failed Javion,” Hancock said. “My heart continues to hurt, as I know this does, for the loss of this little boy.”
In response, the mayor is creating the new Child Safety Net Impact Team, consisting of leaders with each of the following groups and government agencies.
Boys and Girls Club
Butler Institute for Families
CO Dept of Human Services
Denver Human Services
Denver District Attorney
Denver Human Rights and Community Partnerships
Denver Parks and Rec
Denver Public Library
Denver Public Schools
Denver Technology Services
Office of Children's Affairs
Office of Child Protection Ombudsman
The Kemp Foundation
Mile High United Way
The goal is to improve communication and response before it's too late.
“If child abuse goes unattended, we see them later in life,” said Steve Siegel with the Denver District Attorney's Office. “Either as crime victims or as offenders.”
But they can't do it alone, last year 80 percent of calls/referrals to Denver Human Services came from mandatory reporters.
“Why are neighbors, friends, family members and other residents, who are seeing or hearing the signs of abuse or neglect not reporting them?” said Don Mars, incoming director of Denver Human Services.
It's one of many questions those who knew Javion will forever be haunted by.
“I didn't do what I was supposed to do,” Lampley said. “Now he ain't here.”
Eau Claire doctors aim to become comfortable confronting child abuse cases
by Jessica Bringe
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire wants its doctors to be more aware of child abuse when diagnosing the cause of children's injuries.
A new child advocacy care group is making sure doctors are comfortable confronting child abuse cases.
For pediatrician Dr. Jim Haigh addressing the issue of child abuse is hard especially when doctors are tempted to trust the parents and caregivers.
“It's difficult for those of us who care so much about kids to think that it could even happen in the first place,” said Haigh.
However, Haigh said it's important to feel comfortable recognizing and taking action in a potentially abusive situation.
Haigh said the clinic is working towards having all doctors feel comfortable confronting child abuse cases by outlining a clear procedure.
“It's an area that things can be very subtle at times,” explained Haigh. “They can be intimidating from a care provider standpoint and having that back-up and a system in place is very, very helpful because you know where to turn.”
Emergency medicine physician Dr. Kevin Drechsel said having procedures in place may even prevent deaths.
Drechsel said, “We need to be on guard for any type of child abuse because, heaven forbid, there may be some subtle signs that are there and if those don't get picked up something more tragic may happen.”
Drechsel said the new child advocacy team involves social workers, police and spiritual care leaders all aimed at making doctors feel confident knowing how to address child abuse cases.
“What we're doing is try to solidify the process for reporting so all the other providers are more comfortable, if they have a suspected abuse case, that they'd be comfortable with the process and who to report to,” explained Drechsel.
Drechsel added that the raised awareness of how to deal with child abuse cases should help make the community safer.
“The biggest thing is we want to keep the children safe and to have a good process in place for providers and parents to known that the right thing is going to happen,” said Drechsel.
Mayo Clinic Health System is also working with a number of outside sources, including local police, the Chippewa Valley child advocacy care center and even with Mayo Clinic in Rochester in the hopes of making the whole community a safer place for children.
New crime division to focus on child abuse cases
A new crimes division created by the Hidalgo County District Attorney is set to focus on persecuting crimes against children, announced District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Friday.
“There are no more heinous crimes than those against children,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “Handling these cases are highly skilled, specially trained attorneys and victim's advocates who will work to foster relationships of trust with victims and their families while aggressively prosecuting perpetrators.”
The four-member team will focus to focus on sexual assault, failure to register as a sex offender, online solicitation of a minor, injury to a child, and capital murder of a child under the age of 10. Members of the division are:
• Hope Palacios, the chief assistant of the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit. She worked as an Hidalgo County assistant district attorney for more than a decade.
• Savannah Gonzalez, a county ADA who worked in the Child welfare Unit with child Protective Services.
• Linda Greenwood, an investigator with the DA's office who will work as an investigator in the unit. Greenwood worked as an analyst specializing in narcotics and violent crime cases.
• Jessica Maye West, a DA administrative assistant who has worked on cases involving sexual assaults, murder and aggravated robbery.
The members have had training to better understand working with child victims. Other crimes that will be prosecuted in the division include white collar crimes and public integrity cases, the release states.
The team will collaborate with the DA's Victim Assistance Coordinator Rosie Martinez, area law enforcement, Child Protective Services, The Children's Advocacy Center and local medical experts on their cases, according to the release.
Child sexual abuse prevention has to start in elementary school
by Richard Alexander and Eugene Hyman
The Crimes Against Children Research Center reports that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys suffer sexual abuse. The 2000 Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that "more than half of all juvenile victims of sexual abuse were under age 12."
That is outrageous.
Childhood sexual abuse causes youngsters to be depressed, angry, withdrawn and unhappy -- the red flags of post-traumatic stress disorder. In many cases, changes are noticed but no parent is prepared to face the chilling signs of abuse. Red flags are clear in hindsight, after serial abuse is discovered. And even then, many adults do not want to talk about it, which means we must.
The time to start educating children to prevent abuse is elementary school. We wait longer, and it's too late.
The average molester is 14 and learned abuse by suffering abuse. Locking up adult pedophiles does not prevent children from abusing children.
When molestation impacts personality development, the result is pedophilia. Pedophiles seek positions of responsibility that offer secrecy. They are trusted adults who manipulate innocent children in schools, scouting, nursery programs, camps, churches, special classes and sports.
Parental education, reinforced by age-appropriate curriculum in schools, and a community commitment to prevent children from being placed in risky settings are necessary to break the chain of molesters creating molesters.
The American Academy of Pediatricians advises parents to teach these points early in childhood: the proper name of genitals; after diapering ends, no one has the right to touch another person's private parts; the privacy of others must be respected; and there are no secrets between child and parents.
AAP recommends discussing news of molestation to remind a child that when uncomfortable touching occurs, it's time to tell. The youngest children can be taught "no," "go" (run away) and "tell" (right away) Mom, Dad, a teacher, or a police officer. Age-appropriate protective instruction should be the backbone of parental education and supported in elementary schools. Yet today schools are not required to teach innocent children molestation prevention.
When abuse is suspected, California law mandates that school employees, social workers, medical personnel, clergy and coaches report to Child Protective Services. But the Evergreen School District never taught its staff to report grossly suspicious conduct like that of a third grade teacher who molested four 7- and 8-year-old girls 40 to 50 times in his classroom during recesses. Only this year are all California schools required to train employees on reporting requirements.
Yet the state education code is silent on molestation prevention. The law "encourages" school districts to collaborate with consultants in sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention and suggests staff training "may" be conducted on prevention. That's not enough. Age-appropriate curriculum must start in early elementary grades.
Institutions serving children must never allow an adult to be one-on-one with a child and should reinforce "no" "go" "tell" training. Had this been followed at the Walden West Science Camp, an alleged predator would never have had carte blanche access to children.
Adults must listen carefully. Children often are not believed because of their inability to fully express themselves, so when they report an experience with the "last person anyone would expect to be a molester," their voices are not heard.
We can break the circle of molesters creating molesters. Age-appropriate preventive child molestation education is a must. Hold responsible anyone who places a child in a setting where abuse is likely to occur. The anguish inflicted on children and their families should not be born by them alone.
Richard Alexander is an attorney and founder of alexanderinjury.com. Eugene Hyman is a retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judge. They wrote this for this newspaper.
California bars consent defense in child sexual abuse cases
by The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO (AP) - California defendants accused of sexually abusing children will no longer be able to use a consent defense in civil cases.
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday he signed legislation introduced after Los Angeles Unified School District avoided liability for a teacher having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
The teacher was sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 for lewd acts against a child. The district avoided having to pay the victim money in the subsequent civil case after its attorney argued the girl shared responsibility by consenting.
SB14 by Sen. Ricardo Lara bars defendants from raising such defenses in civil cases. The Bell Gardens Democrat says the bill closes a loophole because defendants can't make similar arguments in criminal cases.
The law takes effect in January 2016.
Mom who stored kids' bodies in freezer faces sentencing
by Oralandar Brand-Williams and Candice Williams
Detroit — The mother who pleaded guilty June 30 to killing two of her children and putting their bodies in a standalone freezer in the family's home will learn Friday how much time she will spend in prison for the gruesome crime.
Mitchelle Blair, 36, is set to go before Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway for sentencing. She previously gave graphic details in court about how she killed 9-year-old son Stephen Berry and 13-year-old daughter Stoni Blair. The mother of four told Hathaway about the events that led to her decision to commit the crimes.
Authorities believe Stephen died Aug. 20, 2012, and his sister, Stoni, was killed nine months later on May 25, 2013. Their bodies were found earlier this year by court officers coming to evict the family from their residence at the Martin Luther King Apartments on March 24.
Blair had been charged with two counts of felony murder, two counts of premeditated murder and one count of torture in the children' s deaths. Her visitation rights to her two surviving children, an 8-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter, have been suspended. She also faces another hearing July 27 before Wayne County family judge Edward Joseph in an expected final decision on whether to permanently terminate her parental rights of her surviving two children.
Blair has admitted several times to killing Stephen and Stoni. She accused them of sexually assaulting a younger relative. Blair said she “intentionally” killed her daughter.
"I punched her. I put a bag over her head until she lost consciousness,” Blair said at a June 30 hearing before Hathaway.
Blair said she also threw scalding water on the girl and hit her in the head many times. She said she starved her daughter by limiting her food to oatmeal once a day.
"If I had a chance to do it again, I would," Blair said about killing her children. "I do not feel any remorse for what I did to Stoni because she had no remorse for what she did."
Blair said she didn't intend to kill Stephen, but she admitted she was proud she did. She told the judge she put a garbage bag over his head, choked him with a belt, punched him and burned the boy with scalding water.
"I don't feel no remorse for the death of those demons," she said.
Hollywood Child Sex Abuse: An Open Secret
by Arthur Schaper
I was privileged to attend a private screening of the riveting, eye-opening documentary “An Open Secret” on Wednesday. Before the show, producer Gabe Hoffman explained the necessity of informing the public about child sex abuse in the entertainment industry. Evan, one of the abuse victims featured in the film, who was abused by his manager, discussed with me his involvement and goals afterwards.
The open scenes were a reminiscence for me. The documentary replayed a famous episode from “Diff'rent Strokes”: a bicycle owner and closet pedophile grooming Arnold (played by Gary Coleman). Watching that episode before, I tried to imagine the inner turmoil for child actor Todd Bridge (who played older brother Willis). The documentary's next scenes answered all that. “I begged them to write me out of the script”, the adult Bridges admits. A survivor of sexual abuse from his publicist, Bridges discussed the shame and trauma following the abuse, then his fight out of the pain and victory into long-term recovery.
In featured archived footage, Corey Feldman, of “Goonies” fame, goes on the talk show news circuit, exposing the rampant child abuse and misconduct in Hollywood. A former police officer turned journalist, working with a former LA Times journalist, exposes a deeply wicked yet clever pedophile ring established by a New York media company, DEN. Wild parties, heavy drinking, prescription drugs, with skinny dipping, and heavy-hitting Hollywood producers thought they had created the perfect web for repeat pedophilia.
The film detailed how child actors, eager to please and succeed in the entertainment industry, become vulnerable. Early in the film, narrators described the intense hopes and the heightened competition of the entertainment industry. These kids seek careers in a highly competitive business, and managers-turned-molesters threaten them with an unofficial black-list from the industry if they expose their predators. Add the kids' fears that no one will believe them. There is also the untold shame which child sex abuse victims feel, plus the confusion and fear which follow. A number of former child stars, youth with innate talent for stage and screen, now adults in different stages of growth and recovery, recounted the hurt and hate they overcame following the abuse the suffered from trusted adults in the industry abusers: photographers, publicists, managers, and producers.
The most chilling and engaging part of the documentary occurred toward the end, with Michael Harrah, himself a retired manager for child stars. An unsteady older man and former chairman within the Screen Actors Guild, he discussed the challenges facing child actors, their need to prepare for the worst of rejection, ongoing until a part finally opens up. Another member of the SAG committee, dedicated to protecting child actors, related her frustrated efforts with Harrah for stronger reforms to protect young people from pedophiles. Harrah rebuffed those concerns. In the latter scenes of the documentary, another adult victim of Hollywood child sex abuse, Joey C., calls former manager Michael Harrah. The conversation turns swiftly from the casual “How've you been?” to pointed remarks about Harrah's inappropriate conduct with his former child star protégé. Harrah admits through the phone about his inappropriate conduct, i.e. sexual abuse. Cut to the next scene, Harrah denies any misconduct, then fields questions about his sexual interest in young children, and then alluded to his own childhood, and the abuse he suffered.
After the screening, a Q&A session opened, with one of the former victims, Evan H. joining the producer and the LA Times journalist, who helped expose Evan's abusive manager Marty Weiss and other pedophilia scandals. Allusions to Jimmy Savile of the BBC emerged, the serial pedophile who for decades groomed, seduced, then abused hundreds of children, only for the record of his criminal deeds to come to light after his death. Other individuals in the documentary took to the stage to talk about the legislative reforms in place to ensure that adults in the industry are registered with the state, the same way teachers also submit their fingerprints to the FBI and the DOJ. Unfortunately, too many parents and entertainment professionals remain ignorant of this new “green card” policy.
Further questions focused on the reforms and the moral decadence (decay and decline) in Hollywood, plus the misapplied “R” rating for the film.
After the movie, the lobby quickly filled up. Conservative columnist Ann Coulter showed up and shared her thoughts about the film. I was interested in speaking with Evan H. and family. They discussed not only the disturbing shock of Evan's manager Marty Weiss, but the steps they took to break free of the abuse, then what followed to have the abuser jailed.
Shocking and true, films like “An Open Secret” reveal pressing issues like child sex abuse, and the necessity of providing safe spaces for victims to speak out. For Evan, he participated in this film without pay, risking his chances in the entertainment industry. He then explained to me the inner conflicts he endured processing what his manager had done to him. “I mean, he was part of the family,” Evan related. To this day Weiss manages one of Evan's cousins. How is this possible? The end of the movie detailed how serial offenders who plead guilty can receive probation and a fine, then register as sex offenders for life, but return to Hollywood. Weiss (and other convicted offenders) still work with children. Former producers behind “The Den” pedophilia ring still pursue business ventures, beyond the jurisdiction of the American criminal justice system.
At the end of the evening, Evan shared hopes that this film would encourage victims of sexual abuse not only to come forward, but that they do not have to fear losing their dreams in declaring the truth about prior pain. Evan is on his way to college, after making a major movie, and has the Hollywood press corps ablaze with interest. His dreams are certainly taking off.
Hollywood child sex abuse is an open secret no more. Hopefully more people from the Red Carpet to the Beltway will watch this movie.
The Duggars' TLC reality show '19 Kids and Counting' is officially canceled
by Abby Ohlheiser
Nearly two months after a molestation scandal prompted TLC to pull reruns of the popular reality program “19 Kids and Counting” from the air and online, the network announced that it has officially canceled the program.
“After thoughtful consideration, TLC and the Duggar family have decided to not move forward with 19 Kids and Counting,” the network said. “ The show will no longer appear on the air.”
The announcement ends weeks of speculation about the fate of the show after the Duggars' oldest son, Josh, apologized in May for molesting multiple young girls, including some of his sisters, more than a decade ago, when he was a teenager. Duggar, 27, also resigned from his job at the Family Research Council's lobbying arm in D.C.
“Years ago, when we were asked to film our first one hour documentary about the logistics of raising 14 children, we felt that it was an opportunity to share with the world that children are a blessing and a gift from God,” the Duggar family said in a statement Thursday.
They continued: “Over the last several years people have said to us, ‘We love your show!' We have always responded, ‘It's not a show, it's our lives!' Our desire in opening our home to the world is to share Bible principles that are the answers for life's problems.”
The latest season of “19 Kids and Counting” concluded two days before Josh Duggar's May 21 apology. But TLC still had reruns on its schedule until the May 22 announcement that the show was being pulled indefinitely.
Then came the advertiser exodus, with more than 20 brands publicly declaring that they had no interest in advertising with “19 Kids and Counting” in the future.
Thursday's announcement indicates that while “19 Kids and Counting” is off the air for good, the Duggars have not completely severed their relationship with the network: TLC is planning to air an hour-long, commercial-free documentary on childhood sexual abuse — a program that the network says will “include Jill and Jessa and other survivors and families that have been affected by abuse.”
Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard, two of Josh's younger sisters, told Fox News in an hour-long June interview that they were two of their brother's molestation victims.
“With God's grace and help Josh, our daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. We are so pleased with the wonderful adults they have all become,” the Duggar family's statement reads.
“We look forward to working with TLC on this upcoming special documentary and hope that it is an encouragement to many.”
The Duggars' first major television special, “14 Children and Pregnant Again!” aired in 2004. The family starred in a handful of specials over the next several years, featuring the births of the 15th, 16th and 17th Duggar children, and a move into a larger home. The TLC series, originally called “17 Kids and Counting,” had its premiere in 2008.
Until its removal from the air in May, the show's audience had been growing, as recent seasons featured the courtship, marriage and pregnancies of some of the Duggar women. One episode from the latest season of “19 Kids” featured the gender reveal of the child Josh and Anna Duggar are expecting.
Last fall, a petition to cancel the show in the wake of the family's stance against LGBT discrimination protections gained more than 100,000 followers. But the show's substantial fan base rallied in response to that petition, and circulated a counter-petition on LifeSiteNews asking TLC to keep “19 Kids and Counting” on the air.
Child Sex Trafficking
by Kerry Sauve
Let's talk about the elephant in the room that no-one wants to acknowledge; child sex trafficking. I know it's an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but so is being beaten, drugged and raped by pimps and pedophiles under the guise of freedom of choice. In this article we'll examine this growing trend, and look at some ways you can educate yourself, fellow officers, and your children how to reduce their risk of being targeted for a life of abuse and degradation, and help those that have been lured into the game.
One sex trade worker when interviewed stated “for every 10 women who are rescued there are 50-100 more brought in by sex traffickers.” Canadian stats around this growing problem state that between 800-1600 children are trafficked every year. Personally I feel this statistic is woefully under estimated for reasons that have more to do with keeping up appearances and politics than truth. Don't assume that because you work in law enforcement that your children won't become targets for recruitment.
I've worked as an intelligence officer in a maximum security facility for more than 25 years and part of my portfolio is gangs, organized crime, and human trafficking. I also work and consult for a number of committees and organizations dealing with this growing problem and can tell you unequivocally that our daughters and sisters are being hunted, recruited and exploited every day.
I constantly receive missing person's reports and alerts on girls as young as 12-13 and can attest to the fact that recruiters and pimps are active in every city and town in the country. Laws such as C 36 (Based on the Nordic model for the sex trade) will go a long way to taking some of the human predators that exploit our youth off the street, but it's only a temporary solution. On average pimps and traffickers don't do a lot of time in prison and are put right back out onto the street to continue their predations.
The average age for girls to be lured into the sex trade in Canada is 12. If this is a shocking number then you need to look at the bigger picture. 12 is only the mean average age for recruitment; this means that there are girls as young as 9, or 10 being targeted in our schools, malls, group homes, foster homes, and social media. Despite what you may have been led to believe no-one enters into the sex trade willingly. Oh they may have gotten involved with pimps and gang members for a place to sleep, food, or drugs but you'll never convince me that there is full disclosure of the risks associated with the sex trade discussed prior to their recruitment.
Coupled with the fact that minors can't legally consent to any contract and you've got a whole load of hogwash designed to deflect the fact that some men in North America like sexually abusing children and we're doing a pitiful job of protecting them. We don't hear a lot about this problem in the media. Typically if it's reported at all stories are focused on foreign sex trafficking. The reality is that child sex trafficking is one of the most profitable and fastest growing aspects of organized crime and primarily perpetrated by large criminal gangs who fund, support, and provide resources to street gangs outlaw motorcycle gangs, and pimps.
Sex trafficking is the third most profitable criminal enterprise in the world; eclipsed only by gun and drug trafficking. The truth is that young girls (and boys) are exposed to STI's (Sexually Transmitted Infections), sexual assault, unwanted pregnancies, physical abuse, torture, and risk death each and every time they are sold; sometimes for as little as $25. Some of these children are forced to have sex with up to 20 men a night to meet their quotas, while their pimps can earn $120,000-$280,000 per year for each girl they force into sex.
In order to feed the constant demand for fresh young faces in the sex trade, trafficking has followed the drug trafficking model and is highly mobile and decentralized. Girls are moved from city to city, province to province, as well as internationally to keep them dependent upon their traffickers and to attempt to avoid law enforcement interdiction. This is what is known as the circuit. If you look on any of the big boards that advertise sex for sale (Back pages, PERB, SP 411) you'll see exactly what I mean. Later we'll look at how you can make it more difficult for pimps and pedophiles to access your children, and what you can do as a law enforcement officers to recognize and help victims of child sex trafficking.
It is estimated that in North America every two minutes a child is exploited by sex traffickers. This statistic alone should be cause for change, but once again no one is reporting on the ugly truth. It's easy to ignore or brush off things that make us uncomfortable. In the last week alone, I've spoken with no less than 10 people whose children are at risk of being exploited and want help getting them out of danger. Young girls are being sold in hotels, motels, private homes, pizza parlors, schools, and almost any location you can think of, and most of society continues to be willfully oblivious.
One expert estimates that the life expectancy of a child sold for sex is seven years. If you're a parent then you'd better have a close look at your sons and daughters, because many of them at the ripe old age of 10 would be considered middle aged by these standards. Just because we are law enforcement officers it doesn't mean our children are at any less risk for recruitment. So this begs the question “what will you do?” Not what can you do, because this line of thinking is a cop out and not going to change a thing. My friend Natasha Falle, who runs Sex Trade 101, has been instrumental in changing Canada's prostitution laws and has demonstrated over and over again that one person can make a difference.
Now that we've quantified the scope of the problem it's time to look at how you as a law enforcement officer can recognize the signs and symptoms of trafficking and educate your children, schools, and law makers on what they need to do to combat it.
First of all pay attention to Social Media. Social Media is not the problem it's the medium that gives pimps, recruiters and pedophiles the access they need to begin grooming kids. Some of the most popular sites for young people are the ones you should most closely watch. The following lists some of the more popular Social Media sites for youth that have been utilized by pimps and sex traffickers to find and procure victims.
Instagram: Similar to Facebook in that teens get likes and comments on their photos. For anyone this attention can be addictive and may cause them to post more inappropriate material as a means of gaining self-esteem. The service places photos as “public” unless security settings are altered. Most teens have public settings to increase the exposure of their photos and videos.
The use of hashtags and location based software can make information visible to a wide variety of strangers that the children posting didn't intend as their audience. With the addition of private messaging teens may be convinced to share sexually explicit content with their circles regardless of the rules outlining the terms of service. Strangers can also message teens and they can decide whether to open the pictures or messages sent.
In a recent Canadian case three teen girls were charged with 74 counts of sex trafficking, forcible confinement and procuring for prostitution. Forensic analysis of their cell phones showed the girls utilized their cell phones and Social Media including Instagram to lure 9 girls between the ages of 13-17 into prostitution.
Snapchat: A video and picture board, it allows anyone to post their material and to place time limits on them before they disappear from the web. Part of the problem with this line of thought is that nothing truly disappears from the web. Data is data and once it's out there it can be retrieved without too much difficulty. As it's viewed as risk free messaging, teens may be tempted to engage in sexting or sending sexually explicit images.
Kik: An app based solution to texting that some teens find appealing. Some of the apps like “Oink Text” allow teens to communicate and share photos and information with strangers looking for teens to chat with. User names often display the teen's full name making it a lot easier to contact them outside of the virtual world.
Yik Yak: A location based Social Media site that allows anyone to post anything they like and have it viewed by up to 500 people within a 1.5 mile location of the post. It has everything from cyber-bullying, graphic sexual content and poses the unintended problem of users sharing their location when posting.
Omegle: A popular chat site that puts random strangers together in a video chat room or texting situation. The site is supposedly anonymous and this is a big draw for teens. It also features “interest” boxes that lets chat partners filter their results by what they want to chat about. The app is loaded with people looking for sexting and sexually explicit conversations, due to its anonymity the topics of conversation tend to be a lot more graphic than those where users are identified.
Now I don't want to give you the impression that all Social Media is dangerous to your kids. The reality is that pimps and sex traffickers have myriad ways of introducing themselves to children and Social Media is only one. Some of the other methods that traffickers use to gain access to children are quite inventive and ruthlessly effective in separating them from friends, family and any hope of escape.
Sometimes traffickers will befriend teens either through Social Media, or by meeting them at malls, or other places young people gather without adults around to supervise. Often referred to as “Romeo Pimps,” these predators will go out of their way to make teens feel special by showing them a lot of attention, buying gifts, or offering a place to live. Later on comes the demand that they need to have sex in order to pay back what they owe, or to keep the couple in the lifestyle they've become accustomed to. This is also known as “Recruitment via Vulnerability.”
A young woman who I worked closely with was lured into the sex trade in this manner. Her “boyfriend” was a gang member who systematically broke down her self-esteem under the guise of “love” and was able to convince her to begin stripping and escorting as a means to “help” the couple pay their bills. The gang member was eventually convicted of forcible confinement and sexual assault on two 13 year old girls, while his “girlfriend” was murdered and left in a ditch far away from those who loved her.
Others predators utilize drugs and alcohol in order to get young women addicted or as a means to overcome their resistance to the concept of sex for money. Many traffickers and pimps are smooth, intelligent, and extremely manipulative. Many are also heavily involved in drug trafficking and other index crimes that surround prostitution. This makes it a vicious circle for those brought into the game, as once they are addicted, they will have few options other than being sold in order to gain access to the drugs they need to numb themselves to the pain and abuse they suffer.
Pimps will capitalize on the rebelliousness of youth and encourage teens into increasingly risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, sex with multiple partners). While it's important to note that many teens will engage in high risk behaviors with no consequences whatsoever, some will fall prey to older more manipulative individuals who will utilize this rebelliousness as an opportunity to break them down and utilize their addiction as a means to keep them in the sex trade. This is known as “Recruitment via Acceptance and Addiction.”
Traffickers and pimps will also use young girls already involved in trafficking to lure other young vulnerable girls into the life. It is estimated that up to 71% of all recruitment is committed by someone known to the intended victim. When you think about it this makes a great deal of sense. It is far more likely your children will trust a friend or acquaintance than they would a complete stranger. Often referred to as a “Top Girl” these so called friends will begin to introduce their intended victim to the world of sex trafficking by telling them how easy it is to have a “Daddy” that will pay for everything they want. Eventually they are introduced to the pimp and made a part of their stable.
“Gorilla Pimps” are the violent abusive traffickers who utilize fear and intimidation to keep girls in line. They use sexual assault, beatings, deprivation and a plethora of torture tactics to break their victims down and coheres them into complying with their demands. Girls can be beaten or sexually assaulted for looking at another man or speaking out of turn. I've listened to the horrendous stories of girls that were gang raped, stabbed, had fingers cut off, burned with cigarettes, and undergone forced miscarriages as well as many other forms of torture too horrible to put into words.
This then begs the problem of how you can keep your kids, or those you work with out of the hands of these predatory pimps and pedophiles. It's both harder and easier than you might think. Don't be deluded into thinking that children are safe in the foster care system, child protective services, or the criminal justice system. In many cases this just exposes them to the predators they need protection from. Some studies indicate that up to 30% of youth living in shelters and 70% of youth living on the street will engage in “survival sex” in order to make it through another day.
First you need to know what to look for, and not be afraid to talk to your kids. Knowledge, education and having an honest relationship with your children are the best ways to reduce their risk. Look at the tragic case of 15 year old Tina Fontaine from Winnipeg. She was found passed out in a back alley and referred to children's services after getting out of the hospital. Instead of being returned to her home or provided the care and supervision she so desperately needed, she was put up in a hotel with no supervision, and left the hotel that same night. She was last seen leaving the West End with a strange man. Her body was later recovered from the Red River six days after her disappearance.
Some of the signals that children are at risk for recruitment are;
A history of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. These children are already conditioned to the lifestyle they will be placed in and are simply trading one abuser for another.
A history of running away from home or group homes. I know of several pimps in Calgary who actively target group homes, shelters, malls and other locations that children commonly run from, or to. The streets are a dangerous place and every night 300 children are left to sleep outside, access shelters, or do what they have to in order to survive another night.
Unexplained extravagant gifts, clothing, or money. Gifting is a tool used to gain the child's trust and begin the process of rapport building. Unfortunately rapport building is often given far too much positive press. It's imperative to understand that rapport building is a “Social Strategy,” and is always about the person attempting to establish it, not the recipient.
Signs of sexually transmitted infections or current abuse. This is not to say that every child who develops and STI or is in an abusive relationship is being trafficked. It is however a sign that they are in to something well over their heads and need your help to deal with it.
Signs of gang activity. I work with a lot of gang members, and while they will categorically deny any involvement with sex trafficking, I can tell you that in Canada 30% of all child sex trafficking is directly related to the presence of street gangs. What this means is that a lot of these young gang members are lying and looking to distance themselves from activities that even they see as unsavory. Drugs = Gangs period and drugs are just another money maker and tool used to get and keep children addicted in order to make money. Gangs are a business and their business is the ruthless exploitation of anything and anyone they can profit from. It's also important to understand that many street gangs are directly employed by larger organized crime gangs including those involved in the sex trade.
History of having an older boyfriend or girlfriend. Although it may seem cool for a young person to think an older boyfriend is showing interest in them, it really behooves you to tell them the truth. The only reason a 28 year old man has any interest in a 14 year old girl is what she can provide for him, and that is generally sex or as a means of making money. Let your children know that if these older romantic interests are so amazing, then why aren't people their own age lining up to date them. They are looking for someone with less life experience who they can control and manipulate.
When I speak at conferences to parents and educators I always tell them their best weapons against sex trafficking are love and open communication. Communication does not mean that you will agree with everything that you hear or condone it. It simply means that you are there to listen and guide the child on the path that will help them mature safely. This is a hard concept for adults to grasp. We tend to tell our children things rather than listening to what they have to say. My grandmother used to tell me that we have two eyes, two ears and only one mouth. The moral of this story is that we should listen and observe twice as much as we speak.
Talk to your kids about the realities of sex trafficking and encourage them to talk to you about any behavior that makes them scared or uncomfortable. Too many times children are afraid they will be judged for making a bad call and don't tell parents or other care givers what is going on. In most cases children are exposed by someone close to them; a friend or acquaintance. Knowing who your children associate with and where they are going is a good way to keep them safe. Let them know it's not about controlling their lives; it's simply a matter of teaching them good personal safety habits.
Talk to your school, colleagues in Vice, and anyone involved in keeping your children safe and ask about their level of knowledge, and training in this vital area. You can't be with your kids 24 hours a day, nor do you want to stunt their grown and development by being over protective. Kids need to be risk takers in order to learn good critical thinking skills. The key is to teach them the difference between acceptable risk and unacceptable risk. Lastly talk to your elected officials and demand that something be done to deal with individuals who are involved in this insidious practice in any way.
Trafficking, Prostitution: America Hijacked by Porn?
by Paul Strand
WASHINGTON – Porn is just prostitution with a camera -- that was the message at a Capitol Hill briefing Tuesday on the ties between sex trafficking, prostitution, and pornography.
Experts at the symposium, titled "Pornography: a Public Health Crisis," revealed an America where the vast majority of men consume porn, making for an ever more violent culture connected to prostitution and sex trafficking.
Experts like Dr. Gail Dines, author of the book Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, discussed what top, well-respected researchers are finding.
"When they studied 50 of the top-selling, top-watched scenes in porn, 90 percent had some form of sexual, physical, or emotional violence against women," Dines told a huge crowd gathered for the symposium.
"This is the peer-reviewed literature. Those who argue that pornography is not violent are basically lying, or what they say is not based on peer-reviewed literature," she said.
Several speakers compared the blasé attitude toward porn today to the blasé attitude toward smoking before its many dangers were known and well-publicized.
They said just as cigarettes are poison for the lungs, researchers are finding pornography is poison for the eyes, the development of the brain, and the sexual conscience.
Dr. Melissa Farley, executive director of the organization Prostitution Research & Education, flew in from San Francisco for a presentation titled "Pornography, Prostitution and Trafficking: Making the Connections."
Farley told CBN News that porn users should realize these connections.
"Ninety percent of prostitution is online," she said. "Traffickers advertise women for sale using pornography today. It's a way to traffic women."
Prostitution with a Camera
And Farley asked users to really consider what that naked woman they're viewing is actually doing.
"She's performing an act of prostitution for the camera," Farley asserted. "The only difference between pornography and prostitution is that a camera's in the room. As a survivor said, 'Prostitution is legal if you've got a camera.'"
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) hosted the symposium.
"All these forms of sexual exploitation are not happening in a vacuum but really are connected, and pornography is one of the root causes of this," NCSE Executive Director Dawn Hawkins told attendees.
Today some porn users are finding to their surprise the material is hurting them, too.
Cornelia Anderson, founder of Sensibilities Prevention Services, fights adult and child sexual harm. She told CBN News many adults confess to her that porn is ruining their real-life intimate relations.
She reported they'll say things about porn like, "I'm looking at that and I'm getting aroused by that and I suddenly find I can't be aroused by the real thing, by the real person."
More Fizzle than Sizzle
Anderson said porn promises sexual sizzle, but for many disappointed couples, it's leading to more fizzle than sizzle.
"This is supposed to be a sex enhancer, but instead it's harmful. It's the same lies the tobacco industry used," Anderson contended. "That this would help you with your anxiety, make you look sexy."
"Now we're still hearing that," he continued, "that to be hip, if you want to show you're hip sexually and cool and show you're tolerant and 'with it,' then you're supposed to be okay with your partner using porn or using it yourself. That's the message people of all ages are getting."
"Then they're finding out that it's deadening their arousal," he said. "It's hampering their ability to be intimate with the person they love and care about. It's affecting their sexual functioning."
Anderson and her colleagues are waging a campaign to, as she put it, "recognize that this is an issue that affects the health and well-being of all of us."
Dr. Sharon Cooper treats sexually exploited children. She said the average age children are first exposed to adult pornography and perversions is 11 or 12 now.
She said many are having hardwired into their young brains scenes of "unprotected sex, sex with anybody, multiple partner sex."
"Not only do they not know how to process that very well, but they begin to believe that this is how they're supposed to behave when they go on their first dates," Cooper said.
Porn + Internet = Addictive Danger
Cooper, who is a pediatrician, pointed out the Internet plus pornography is an especially dangerous, addictive combination for children viewing it.
"We as pediatricians have a huge concern that this is becoming their sexual education," she said. "But because it's on the Internet, which in and of itself has a relative addictive nature, when you add that to the content of sexually abusive images, then we become very, very concerned for youth."
Dines presented some shocking statistics on just how 'pornified' the Internet is these days.
"Thirty six percent of the Internet is porn," she said. "The online porn industry makes over $300,000 a second. One in four search queries is about porn. Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined."
Anderson is frightened for the young generations being shaped by porn that's so easily accessible on the Internet and that is so violent in nature.
"The content is so much more violent; it's much more about violence than sex," Anderson explained. "So you're seeing a very different content at a much younger age when our brains are still under development."
"Then add multi-stimulation of the Internet, the access, so the message is, 'This is what everybody's doing. This is just normal sex. This is what I'm supposed to be aroused by.' All of that is problematic when you're shaping arousal to the kinds of degradation that are depicted in today's pornography," she warned.
As for those women seen on-screen, many are hurt as badly by pornographers as they are by pimps and sex traffickers.
"The same things happen to women who are pornographized, trafficked, and prostituted," Farley explained. "They're recruited in many of the same ways. The same kind of violence and coercion channel them into the sex industry."
Hawkins summed up various ways pornography is becoming a societal plague.
"It is affecting the developing brains of children and their sexual templates," she told the symposium audience.
"We're seeing increased sexual dysfunction among young men these days," she noted. "We're seeing increased demand for prostituted and trafficked women and children and increased child sexual abuse."
She concluded, "Our courts and our jails are overwhelmed with predators right now and we would argue that pornography has played a role in that."
In fact, featured speaker Dr. Mary Anne Layden, who has treated and studied thousands of sexual predators across the decades, often points out she's never come across a sexual predator who wasn't also an avid consumer of pornography.
Hard to Find a Porn-Free Male
How widespread is the porn plague? Dines summed up her talk saying, "It's virtually impossible now in the United States of America to find males who do not use pornography."
Farley said those users need to realize their pleasure comes at the price of a whole lot of pain for the women and children seen in porn.
"If you understand what sexual abuse is, what humiliation is, what rape and intimate partner violence are, then imagine if people get paid and are generating profits from those activities. That's what the sex industry is," Farley explained.
"Just because there's money thrown at acts of violence and coercion and sexual assault of children, it doesn't mean it's any different," she said.
Report: State lags on mandated child abuse reporting
by Jo Ciavaglia Staff writer
In October, 27-month-old Sebastian Wallace died of an overdose after ingesting enough of his father's alleged illegally obtained Oxycodone to kill an adult three times over. His 39-year-old father, Coco Kollie Wallace, is awaiting trial in Bucks County on charges of homicide and child endangerment related to his son's death.
Nine months later, though, details of the child welfare investigation into Sebastian's death remain largely unknown to the public even though a 7-year-old state law requires a report be released to the public within six months of a child's death.
Even a state-mandated summary without specific details of Sebastian's death — and the deaths of other children during the fourth quarter of 2014 — won't be available until the state releases its annual child abuse report in the next few weeks.
Such delays are not unusual either, according to a Berks County child advocacy group, which noted that the annual child abuse report is supposed to be released by May 1.
When the Center for Children's Justice on Friday released its latest report on child deaths and near deaths in the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services had released only two finalized reports online — one death and one near death, both in York County. Information from the investigations into another 66 confirmed child abuse deaths or near deaths during the first nine months of last year remained unknown to the public, according to the center.
But on Wednesday, after calls from the newspaper, DHS posted another 11 finalized reports, including six newly added deaths in the central and northeastern parts of the state.
Another 53 reports for last year are being finalized and could be posted within the next couple of weeks, according to an agency spokeswoman.
DHS spokeswoman Kait Gillis would not comment on the delay.
The Center for Children's Justice's latest report outlining data involving death and near deaths among Pennsylvania children shows that 163 children died and another 245 nearly died as a result of abuse or neglect over almost five years, between January 2010 and September.
More than 80 percent of the deaths, or near deaths, involved children under age 3, and many, like Sebastian Wallace's, had a common thread of drug use, the center found.
Montgomery and Bucks counties ranked sixth and ninth, respectively, of counties in the state with the number of reported deaths or near deaths involving confirmed child abuse or neglect during the four-year span, according to the center's report. Bucks County reported 10 incidents, and Montgomery County 14. Philadelphia led the state with 96 reported incidents.
The center's report was based on information culled from summaries in quarterly reports filed with Human Services, as required under the 2006 state law, according to Executive Director Cathleen Palm. Those mandated summaries include basic, non-identifying information about child-abuse related deaths and near deaths.
What those summaries also show is a lag in the release of the finalized reports with details of the deaths that are required under Act 33, a 2008 law designed to provide child advocates and others with detailed accounts of the circumstances surrounding child deaths and near deaths in the state. Act 33 reports address details such as if the county child welfare organization was involved with the family, if the agency met compliance with any laws or regulations and makes recommendations to prevent future incidents.
The law also sets standards and timelines for local and state authorities for reviewing and reporting incidents, including the six-month release deadline. The only exception to the six-month rule is when a district attorney certifies that a report release might compromise a pending criminal investigation or proceeding, according to the state agency.
DHS' Gillis did not say how many of the remaining unreleased 2014 reports fall under the certification exception.
Of the six newly added deaths to the 2014 Act 33 report, none were found to involve child abuse or neglect, though one case did involve criminal charges. All the reports indicate that they were finalized within the six-month deadline but not made public as required by the law. Of the newly added near death reports, none involved substantiated child abuse or neglect, half were finalized after the six-month deadline, but they weren't released to the public either, according to online documents.
The time lag with Act 33 reports is an ongoing problem, Palm said.
The state has not released any new summaries on deaths or near deaths involving child abuse or neglect since Sept. 30. Those summaries will be included in the annual state reports, Gillis said. The 2014 summaries include 14 deaths or near deaths that occurred in 2013 and 2011 but were not substantiated as child abuse or neglect until last year, Palm said.
A similar discrepancy is seen in 2013. For that year, the center found summaries for 38 child deaths and 52 near fatalities related to abuse or neglect, but the Act 33 report lists only 26 fatalities and 38 near fatalities, Palm said. The number of Act 33 reports should outnumber summaries since they reflect both confirmed, and unsubstantiated, child abuse and neglect cases, she added.
The apparent disconnect goes beyond the discrepancies between quarterly summaries versus Act 33 reports, Palm noted.
The center's report found at least four child fatalities in 2011 and 2012 that were substantiated as abuse or neglect in Allegheny County but not included in any state reported data, not even quarterly reports.
Other child deaths reported in the media also appear to be the result of child abuse or neglect, but those children are not found within state data either, Palm said. The incidents include an 8-month-old infant who died in a Bensalem hotel in July 2012. An autopsy of the infant found he had heroin in his system at the time of the death. Both parents were arrested and pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including endangering the welfare of children in February 2013, the center's report shows.
The quarterly summaries and final Act 33 reports are critical for tracking trends with child abuse and prevention efforts, Palm said. Since no standard exists for summaries, the amount of detail varies widely, unlike what is found in the Act 33 reports.
“We know too little. Imagine trying to cure cancer with the same little bit of knowledge we have,” Palm said. “Why is it so hard to really know how many kids died and nearly died in Pennsylvania?”
Child-abuse investigation training project will go statewide
by JoAnne Young
Newer police and sheriff's deputies across the state will be better equipped to investigate child abuse with help from a law enforcement training project.
Officers and deputies often are the first point of contact in child abuse complaints, said state Attorney General Doug Peterson at a news conference Wednesday announcing the training series.
Nine law enforcement, county and state groups, led by Peterson, will make an eight-part DVD and notebook series on investigating child abuse available to new officers next month.
With the training, they will be effective in protecting children and being able to go forward with prosecution of criminal child abuse cases, Peterson said. It is meant to fill the need for training in the first 12 months after an officer is hired.
One important aspect of the training tells officers how to talk with children. Most of the time, they interact with adults, and talking to children requires a different approach, said Kerry Crosby, investigator with the Attorney General's office.
There is also information in the training on help that is available from child advocacy centers across the state.
Child abuse, sexual assault and neglect cases are unique cases, and this is another step that can be taken to narrow the gap to ensure these complaints are properly addressed and done quickly, Peterson said.
"We just don't want any of those calls to be ignored or failed to be properly investigated," he said.
Children as young as 5 are sometimes put on the witness stand to testify, to describe the abuse they suffered at the hands of someone the child loves and trusts.
"That's a real, real difficult thing to do," Crosby said.
Sgt. Mark Unvert, with the Lincoln Police Department's family crimes unit, said a child victim who testifies in court frequently does so with their abuser sitting in front of them.
That's why a strong case and the forensic evidence are so important, to be able to tell the story through physical evidence, fibers, DNA and things of that nature, Peterson said.
Child abuse and neglect complaints come both to law enforcement and to the state child abuse and neglect hotline.
Amanda Nawrocki, child and family services administrator of the child abuse and neglect hotline, said every report to the hotline generates a form that is entered into the computer system. The staff uses a structured decision-making tool to decide if the Department of Health and Human Services would be involved in the complaint.
Typically, any complaint of criminal abuse or neglect that involves a person not a member of the child's household would go to law enforcement. Any criminal complaint about a family or household member would involve both HHS and law enforcement.
"We send every intake that we generate over to law enforcement," she said.
The hotline received 33,803 calls in 2014. From those calls, 12,221, or 36 percent, were accepted for investigation by the department, and 2,575 complaints were substantiated. Those complaints involved 4,137 children.
By law, police or sheriffs' deputies remove children from homes in which they are in immediate danger, and then an affidavit is filed with the court to be acted on within 48 hours. HHS determines placement of children.
Child protective services looks into social issues and into what services can be put into place to help families whose children are at risk, Nawrocki said.
Crosby said Child Protective Services has a unique role in child protection issues, but many of the complaints are criminal cases, and HHS workers don't have training on how to gather and preserve evidence and have it analyzed by a laboratory, and how to interview criminal suspects.
"We work with them hand in hand, but they just simply have a different role than law enforcement does," he said.
Carol Stitt, training coordinator with the League of Municipalities, said the DVDs and notebooks should be mailed out by mid-August to every law enforcement office in the state.
Microsoft tackles spread of child abuse imagery with free online tool
by Katie Collins
Microsoft has launched a free online tool to help try and prevent the spread of child sexual abuse images.
According to Microsoft, around 720,000 illegal images of children are among the 1.8 billion photos uploaded to the internet every day. PhotoDNA is a free cloud-based service that can be used to hunt down and remove these photos from the web.
"Finding these known child sex abuse images in that huge universe is like finding a needle in a haystack," said Courtney Gregoire, a senior attorney at Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit. "We needed an easier, more scalable way to identify and detect these worst of the worst images … and that's how the concept for PhotoDNA in the cloud was born."
The tool has been designed to be used by companies like Flipboard, which allows users to share content, the ability to identify and halt the spread of these images in order to prevent young victims and ensure the platform remains safe.
"The Flipboard community is built on the desire to inspire each other with the things we love. Our community needs to trust that we do everything possible to stop the spread of illegal content, especially images of child sexual abuse," said David Creemer, Flipboard's head of platform engineering.
"Manually searching for a handful of illegal images among the millions uploaded and curated every day is simply an impossible task, so we looked for a solution and found it in Microsoft's PhotoDNA. Together we built an effective service that scales and works great."
Flipboard, along with the likes of Twitter and Facebook, have been using the service for some time, but by placing the tool in the cloud Microsoft is making it available to smaller companies and other organisations that might want to allow users to upload content, but want to ensure that this content is of a legal nature.
"The fact that the service is free and in the cloud completely eliminates a financial and budgeting hurdle that might otherwise stand in the way of service adoption," says Mike McCarter, Microsoft's director of online operations.
The tool has been constantly evolving since it was first developed in 2009. It was tackling the problem of the wide circulation of photos of abuse victims, which would crop up repeatedly in different locations across the internet. It was adapted to ensure that it would be able to recognise these photos even if they had been slightly altered or marked -- common tactics for attempting to fool the software.
PhotoDNA has been trained to convert every image it encounters into grayscale, before creating a grid across the image and assigning a numerical value to each square of that grid. The numerical values are combined to create a unique image signature. PhotoDNA will then be able to identify exploitative imagery whenever it comes across any photo with a signature matching one held in its database of known illegal images. This means that images don't need to be scanned or looked at in order to for their content to be declared illegal.
Of course, from time to time there is a need for imagery to be manually reviewed. Chat network Kik is one service that uses PhotoDNA and relies heavily on the automated policing of the images uploaded by its 200 million global users, but also must rely on some human moderation.
Kik's head of privacy, Heather Galt, has praised the tool however saying that not only has it helped the company identify and remove illegal content but that it is "so fast and does its work so efficiently that it's been implemented with no negative impact whatsoever on the experience for users".
Now it is in the cloud, PhotoDNA should be quicker still. McCarter claims that the combined speed and efficiency of Microsoft Azure and the enhanced algorithm means that the tool should be 1,000 times faster at identifying imagery than previous versions.
Male sexual abuse victims don't have to suffer alone
by Mohammad Najafian
There are 300 to 500 people visiting the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center on a yearly basis. National studies show 28 percent of male victims of rape were first raped at age 10 or younger. I have friends who have been through such traumatic events.
All of that inspired me to dedicate this column to survivors of sexual assault and abuse — and to help raise awareness of the challenges males face as victims.
Some people think men are only harassed if they are a prisoner, but that is not true. Anyone can fall victim to sexual abuse and assault. One in six boys has a childhood story of sexual abuse before age 16.
Christopher Anderson is executive director of MaleSurvivor, a national organization dedicated to better understanding and treating adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Through the organization's website, Anderson says everything the center does for male survivors is about bringing the message of hope, healing and support to victims, to their loved ones and to their partners while healing.
A lot of people have tried to tell their story from a place of darkness. Now, thanks to groups like MaleSurvivor, we are starting to get to a place where people need to know they can heal from this trauma.
According to MaleSurvivor, a large part of helping male victims heal involves them coming together for a three-day retreat and breaking the isolation. It helps victims realize there are other people in similar situations. They get to tell their stories and witness others' — out of which a sense of community begins to emerge.
Testimonials from those helped by such efforts stress that they provide a safe environment and place for understanding, all of which help provide a positive approach to the healing process.
Peggy LaDue, executive director of the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center, says what survivors find mostly difficult is to break the silence, face the trauma and decide what heals them. Most of them are not heard or believed. What society and people around them can do is to believe them, as they deserve to be respectfully treated.
Howard Fradkin, who is part of MaleSurvivor, has a daily affirmation that best summarizes what these victims face. "Recovery is absolutely possible and achievable for victims. They can practice being disloyal to dysfunction and loyal to functionality. The abuser(s) from the past chose to hurt them; they need to stop repeating the lie that it just happened to them."
Boys and men: Survivors of sexual assault
by Malinda Williams
While women have a higher risk of sexual assault during their lives, males are also all too commonly the victim of sexual assault, particularly as boys and adolescents.
According to recent studies, approximately 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before they turn 18; 1 in 33 men are sexually assaulted as adults. Because the reporting rate for male victims, especially for males who were victimized by other males, is low, these numbers do not reflect the true rates of male victimization.
Like sexual assaults against women, sexual violence against men is an act of power and control using sexual assault as the weapon. Most of us have some knowledge of the male rape epidemic in prisons. Male sexual assault is also common in our military: in 2013, males were the victim in 53 percent of 26,000 military sexual assaults.
Men are the perpetrators of sexual assaults against boys and men far more commonly than women. The majority of the perpetrators of sexual violence against men are white, heterosexual men. Many perpetrators are married or in long-term relationships with women. While girls and women do sexually assault boys and men, a 2010 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found that males perpetrated 93.3 percent of rapes against males. Another study put the number of male perpetrators of male sexual assault at 86 percent.
According to the National Center on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (ptsd.va.gov), at least 10 percent of men in the U.S. experience trauma from being sexually assaulted. Male survivors are more likely to suffer from PTSD, anxiety disorders and depression than non-victims. These men have a very high rate of substance abuse: about 80 percent of men who were sexually abused become problem drinkers versus 11 percent for male non-victims.
Males who were sexually abused as children are more likely to run away as teens; participate in delinquent or criminal acts; or engage in other risk-taking behavior, such as unprotected sex. Some male survivors of sexual assault will become hyper-masculine: have many female sexual partners or act “macho” to reinforce their masculinity.
The organization 1in6.org is a good resource for male survivors and their families. The site provides information about male survivors and the many myths about male sexual assault, including:
Boys and men can be sexually used or abused, and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.
If a victim liked the attention he was getting, or got sexually aroused during abuse, or even sometimes wanted the attention or sexual contact, this does not mean he wanted or liked being manipulated or abused, or that any part of what happened, in any way, was his responsibility or fault.
Sexual abuse harms boys and girls in ways that are similar and different, but equally harmful.
The sexual abuse of boys has nothing to do with an abuser's sexual orientation.
A boy abused by a male is not necessarily gay, nor was he abused because he is gay, nor can the abuse make him gay.
Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. The boys are not “lucky.” They are exploited and harmed.
Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others.
CAV provides counseling and support for all survivors of sexual and domestic violence, including both men and women of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Malinda Williams is the executive director of Community Against Violence, Inc. (CAV) which offers FREE confidential support and assistance for adult and child survivors of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking; community and school violence prevention programs; re-education BIP groups for domestic violence offenders; shelter; and community thrift store. To talk with someone or get information on services available, call CAV's 24-hour crisis line at (575) 758-9888. taoscav.org
Hundreds of child sexual abuse complaints referred to police: royal commission chair
by Irena Ceranic
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has so far referred 666 matters to police with a view to prosecuting the offenders.
The commission has received more than 13,000 allegations of sexual abuse with approximately half of those relating to faith-based institutions.
Commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan gave an overview of the figures during an address to the 14th Assembly of the Uniting Church meeting in Perth this morning.
The speech marked the halfway point of the hearings which began two and a half years ago.
So far, the commission has completed 3,766 private sessions, and there are another 1,527 people waiting.
Justice McClellan said the people who told their stories in private sessions covered a broad spectrum of Australian society, but each of them has been "betrayed by a trusted adult" and for some "the lifelong consequences have been catastrophic".
"We have witnessed humour and ingenuity among survivors, but we have also seen profound sorrow, grief and pain that for many may never go away," he said.
Justice McClellan said for many victims, the best way to get justice would be through a national redress scheme, but that measure raised many complex questions, including who should be eligible, how a scheme should be funded, who should manage it, and what benefits it should provide.
The royal commission's recommendations on compensation for victims will be handed to the Federal Government in the coming weeks.
Justice McClellan said it was time to consider whether institutions should also face criminal charges for the abuse that went on in their facilities.
He noted that in both the United Kingdom and Canada, a law had been developed so institutions could be made liable for the "deliberate criminal act of a member of that institution, even when the institution itself has acted without negligence".
Currently, Australia does not have such laws.
After being granted an extension last year, the commission will now conclude at the end of 2017.
Bill seeks to stop youth programs from abusing LGBT teens
Legislation would require youth residential treatment programs to adhere to national minimum standards
by John Riley
Two U.S. House members are looking to prevent teens from the same fate that befell Stephanie Scheider.
Scheider, now 26, was taken to a McDonald's by her parents when she was 15 years old and drugged with prescription sleep medication. When she woke, she found herself at a treatment facility for LGBT teens in Florida known as New Beginnings.
“I had no idea where I was or why,” Scheider wrote in a statement. “I was confused, scared and sensed immediately that something was horribly wrong with this place. And I knew I couldn't get out.”
While at New Beginnings, Scheider was degraded because of her sexual orientation, with staffers telling her she was going to hell and going to die because she was a lesbian. She recounts receiving various punishments, including physical and psychological abuse. She was repeatedly denied food and water.
“New Beginnings was the beginning of a terrible time,” Scheider said. “I still suffer from the abuse I was forced to endure. Teenagers should not have to go through the things I went through.”
It is because of stories like Scheider's, recounting abuse allegations at the hands of administrators of various residential treatment programs, that two members of Congress have decided to act.
U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) held a Tuesday morning press conference to introduce a bill to reform residential treatment and youth “boot camp” programs by ending the most egregious abuse practices. They include solitary confinement, electric shock therapy, beatings, hard labor, denial of medical care and deprivation of adequate food and water. The bill would also set minimum federal standards to which such programs would have to adhere, regardless of the state in which they are located.
“Because of a patchwork of state regulations, often these programs are shut down in one state, only to open up in another under a different name,” Schiff said. Indeed, a 2012 investigation by the Tampa Bay Times found that New Beginnings has since relocated to Missouri, due to the state's even more lax regulations governing religious residential facilities.
Schiff and Ros-Lehtinen both point to a 2008 report from the Government Accountability Office as evidence of the widespread abuse that goes on in some residential treatment facilities. That report found that 34 states had reported over 1,500 staff members involved in incidents of child abuse during 2005, and that 28 states reported at least one fatality in a youth residential treatment program in 2006. Schiff also noted that those were only the reported cases, and that he and Ros-Lehtinen believe that there may be more cases that went unreported.
The bill would require youth facilities to adhere to certain requirements, including allowing children to have “reasonable access” to their families. Many of the programs that have been investigated for potential child abuse infractions have also prohibited youth from communicating with their parents, or only allowed contact if phone calls and other correspondence were either monitored or censored.
The bill would also allow families of youth who enroll in these programs to sue if the program is found to have violated the minimum standards. It would also prohibit residential treatment facilities from discriminating against youth with disabilities, and would protect those who identify as LGBT from being subjected to conversion therapy.
“LGBT youth are particularly at risk of abuse in these camps,” Schiff said. “These young people already face increased risk of mental health and substance abuse issues, as a result of issues ranging from family rejection, pressure to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity, or childhood trauma. Because of this, they are also at higher risk of being sent to residential treatment programs in order to ‘cure' them of their ‘misbehavior.' This is often referred to as conversion therapy. Similarly, they are also more at risk of being abused in these programs due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“I am particularly concerned about this issue because of the many stories, the tragedies we hear about, of young girls and boys in residential treatment facilities,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “As a mother and stepmother to four adult children, and a grandmother to three beautiful and healthy baby girls, my heart aches when I hear about abused children and what their families go through as well. Parents entrust their children to these establishments under the false perception that they will be taken care of. However, they find themselves in a state of shock, due to the unacceptable lack of professionalism, the lack of transparency, and the multiple violations that occur in these facilities.”
States that are noncompliant in enforcing those minimum standards outlined in the bill or in regulating treatment facilities could be threatened with the loss of federal funding. Schiff said that while states can choose to go “above and beyond” the minimum standards set forth in the bill, he believes tying implementation to federal funding will provide “a carrot and a stick” to encourage states to develop their own policies with significant clout.
In addition to reading aloud part of Scheider's testimony after her travel plans were delayed, Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, expressed her own support for the bill, which she says protects both youth and their parents, “who have been duped into believing these programs will actually help their children.”
“It isn't treatment to withhold food and water from a teenager for days on end,” Jean said. “It isn't treatment to beat a teenager. And nothing should ever be considered treatment that involves solitary confinement, withholding medical care, electric shock treatment, public humiliation. Those things are not therapeutic, they are child abuse.”
Kane County opens special exam room to help child abuse victims
by Harry Hitzeman
Kane County authorities opened a new child-friendly room at the Child Advocacy Center Tuesday where specialized doctors will examine victims of physical and sexual abuse as part of their overall recovery and continuum of care.
The agreement with the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford will send a medical team to the CAC Annex in Geneva once a month to examine victims of abuse.
The exam, lead by Dr. Ray Davis, a board certified child abuse pediatrician, is not necessarily to collect forensic evidence for a court trial, but it helps with a child's emotional well-being in an environment where they feel comfortable, officials said.
The room was decorated and painted by art students in the class of Lisa Dzuricsko at Marmion Academy in Aurora.
"Oftentimes, the child just needs to hear (from a doctor), 'You're OK,' " said CAC Executive Director Deb Bree. "That goes a long way as far as their emotional recovery. The goal was to create an environment that's soothing and relaxing in a nonthreatening way."
Davis said an exam can take 90 minutes or more, and it helps when children return to the CAC and see familiar faces instead of a new set of strangers.
"This is the ideal setting," he said. "It sets them at ease to be able to do the exam with faces they already know."
Added Shannon Krueger, a nurse practitioner who is part of Davis' team who also will conduct exams: "It's actually relief on a lot of girls and boys faces that they look normal. It's a huge sigh of relief that others can't tell what has happened to them."
The CAC already provides counseling, transitional services, victim advocates, police, and forensic interview specialists to cover every aspect of a child abuse or neglect case.
Before the specialized exam room, Kane County authorities took victims to Edward Hospital in Naperville where a board certified child abuse pediatrician there would conduct exams. But that doctor also was on emergency room duty, thus creating another stressor for victims and their families.
"There was additional anxiety going to a different place," Bree said.
Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said the exam room has been a goal since he took office in fall 2010, and he credited Bree for her leadership and efforts to make it happen.
McMahon also thanked the Dunham Foundation for its continued support of the CAC. Earlier this year, the group donated $25,000 for the CAC to buy a minivan to transport victims and their families to the center and court hearings. The specialized exam room also cost $10,000 to renovate, plus another $20,000 to $25,000 in equipment and supplies. "Kids who are going through just a horrific event in their lives, we can do everything we can to minimize the repeat trauma," McMahon said.
Residents who want to help can donate to the Friends of the Child Advocacy Center, which collects items from pillows and sheets to toiletries and strollers for victims and their families that are displaced by abuse. For more information, visit friendsofkcac.org.
Child abuse scandal shows why sexual consent education should be compulsory
by Jon Stone
Child abuse scandal shows why sexual consent education should be compulsory, says Green MP
Schools should be required give children mandatory education on the issues surrounding sexual consent, the Green Party's MP has proposed.
Caroline Lucas is to bring forward a bill in Parliament that aims to reform the provision Personal, Social, Health, and Economic education in schools.
The MP says recent high-profile sexual abuse scandals have shown the need for children to be better informed about the issues surrounding consent and sex in general.
“Nobody would suggest at all that simply the provision of PSHE would have prevented some of those scandals from happening, but at least it would have equipped kids with more tools to be able to withstand it,” she told the PoliticsHome website.
“Perhaps it might also have given them more understanding on what is ‘normal,' in a sense, although that is quite a strange word to use; what is quite right to say ‘no' to.”
The Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (Statutory Requirement) Bill would make it a legal requirement for all state schools to teach PSHE, and for it to include sex and relationship education and education about ending violence against women and girls.
Parliament's Education Select Committee recommended that such lessons be brought forward in February of this year but the Government has not yet officially responded to the call.
The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is said to be personally sympathetic to the idea of compulsory PSHE lessons.
Sexual and relationship education, a subset of PSHE, is compulsory in “maintained” schools run by local authorities, but in recent years an increasing number have become academies, which are exempt from the rule.
Current guidance issued by the Department for Education describes PSHE as “an important and necessary part of pupils' education” and says all schools should teach it – but also that it is non-statutory. In practice many schools do not teach the subject.
“To allow teachers the flexibility to deliver high-quality PSHE we consider it unnecessary to provide new standardised frameworks or programmes of study,” the department says.
“However … we expect schools to use their PSHE education programme to equip pupils with a sound understanding of risk and with the knowledge and skills necessary to make safe and informed decisions.”
Consent education was included on the curriculum for PSHE earlier this year by Ms Morgan but that subject itself is not compulsory.
Medical Child Abuse Or Desperate Parents?
by Hank Campbell
When you can be arrested for letting your children go to the park alone, we might be a little hyper-vigilant, yet on the other side multiple times per week there is indignation that child protective services failed to stop some idiot parents who were harming a child. It may be the precautionary principle run amok but doctors and government workers are the people who will be sued if they are not going overboard looking for problems.
At Free-Range Kids, Lenore Skenazy critiques a New York Times article discussing what has been termed medical child abuse - looking for a doctor until a parent finds one that will treat a child for a condition only the parent thinks they have. One well-known example is a mother and father who believed their child had mitochondrial disease, a devastating condition where the energy factories in cells don't function properly. Though science confirmed the child had the condition, the girl spent 16 months in state custody and her parents were treated like criminals before it was resolved.
At our American Council on Science and Health editorial meeting, we wondered whether or not to cover the issue, because it is so rare. A few of us invoked movie "The Sixth Sense", where a sociopathic mother was poisoning her child so she would have someone to treat, and Skenazy thinks that some doctors and some policy makers visualize the scene in that film every time a concerned parent wants a second opinion. She wants society to stop finding scary narratives about kids everywhere the same way we want environmental groups to stop treating all of us like children who need a corporate fundraising savior like NRDC.
We've seen over-pathologizing of people before. Yesterday we had an article here on implanted abuse memories - which became well-known in the 1980s. But is it common? Well, no, that is why it gets so much attention in fiction. To-date, no one has actually had repressed memories of their parents running a Satanic cult, even though it is a famous case of wacko psychotherapy causing a person to believe it.
Like unethical therapists desperate to become famous for a case study, environmental groups are implanting false memories all of the time. They seek to create a nocebo and convince society that if they give up something, they will feel better. Environmental Working Group is doing that about crayons, claiming that your kids might get mesothelioma from that box of Crayola (so you'd better send EWG money, or else). Environmental Health News is trying to claim that BPA is changing the genes in the uterus of women.
Medical child abuse by parents is very rare, but environmental news abuse by fundraising groups happens all of the time.
Child sexual abuse awareness spread with Darkness to Light
by Powell Cobb
Here are some disturbing numbers to consider.
In 2013, there were 77 reported cases of child sexual abuse in Decatur County. In 2014, there were 119 reported cases. There are almost 50 reported sexual abuse cases for children this year already.
While the rise of cases coming to light is worrying, it also tells us that it's being talked about more than ever before. That's the mission of the Darkness to Light program in Decatur County, and so far, the program is seeing major steps in the right direction.
Darkness to Light is partnered with Decatur County Family Connection and serves to equip residents with the information, steps and solutions they need to prevent child sexual abuse.
“This program is education and prevention,” said Elizabeth Whaley, authorized stewards of children facilitator. “This program takes the responsibility off of the child, which is never where it should be, and puts it on the adult.”
Whaley was introduced to the program at a session in Thomasville and wanted to implement it in Decatur County. She brought it before Ronnie Burke, Family Connection coordinator, in 2013. It is now Family Connection's main initiative in the county.
One of the first targets for the program was the school system, and when superintendent Fred Rayfield was approached about hosting sessions with students, he jumped on it.
The awareness spread quickly from there. Now, 314 people in the school system have gone through a training session, including bus drivers, educators and lunch ladies.
“Basically, you learn the facts, the five steps for prevention, learn how to respond,” Whaley said about the two-hour training session. “You learn the empowerment skills of making choices, taking risks and supporting each other.”
Sessions are held at the YMCA, at local churches and occasionally as open community events. The more people who are aware, the better.
This year, Whaley said the goal for Decatur County is to educate 5 percent of the adult population on child sexual abuse. That's 1,038 people, and Whaley and her team has already reached 48.52 percent.
“We want everybody in this community to understand we will not tolerate child sexual abuse,” Whaley said. “Perpetrators will flee quickly. We want people to be educated and ask those questions.”
The sessions break down the protection of children from sexual abuse into five simple steps: learning the facts, minimizing opportunity, talking about it, recognizing the sighs and reacting responsibly. Video segments are shown followed by a short discussion period.
“(In two hourse) you get in there, you get out, and we don't charge anything,” Burke said. “It just gets it on peoples minds.”
The next training session Darkness to Light has planned is back at Bainbridge High School.
For questions or information on holding or joining a Darkness to Light session, contact Whaley at (229) 254-0783 or email at email@example.com.
Jada Pinkett Smith takes on sex trafficking for CNN
by Andrew Nodell
Jada Pinkett Smith is helping to expose the ugly world of sex trafficking in the United States.
The actress has teamed up with CNN for an hour-long special report airing later this month, in which she says, “As a mother — as a human being — this is something that is simply unacceptable.”
“I want to show you traffickers, girls affected and the people fighting back against modern-day slavery,” she continued.
Airing July 21 on CNN, “Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking” delves into the gritty underbelly of child sex slavery in America.
Pinkett Smith, 43, traveled to Atlanta — a trafficking hot spot — to sit down with courageous survivors and come face to face with a trafficker who preyed on vulnerable young girls.
“People who sell children are monsters,” said the mother of two.
For the report, the wife of actor Will Smith followed undercover officers on raids and spent time in shelters where survivors shared their chilling tales of survival.
Pinkett Smith was first inspired to advocate for those impacted by sex trafficking when her then-pre-teen daughter, Willow, asked her about crime in the United States. With some research, the “Gotham” actress was aghast to learn these heinous activities were happening daily in the US.
“For me, this project is extremely important because I want the world to understand the dangers that every kid in America is susceptible to,” she explained.
Minn. Nonprofit Aiming To Break Men's Silence On Sex Trafficking
by Kim Johnson
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is a heavy topic to talk about. Sex trafficking takes place in the shadows of the Twin Cities, but a new Minnesota nonprofit is hoping to shed light on the issue in a new way.
“We wanted to bring some light and color to the situation and say, ‘Hey, we know it's scary, but we do need to do something about it,'” said Mandy Multerer, co-founder of My Sister.
Multerer and Jonathan Cipola say sex trafficking is a bigger problem in the Twin Cities than most realize.
“Sex trafficking is the number one human rights violation,” Cipola said.
They say it's on display just on a drive down Lake Street in Minneapolis.
“You can see the patterns of walking and then their pimps and traffickers might be around the corner and you could see them in their cars,” Multerer said.
A 2010 study by The Schapiro Group found that each month in Minnesota at least 213 girls are sold for sex an average of five times per day through the Internet and escort services.
“The FBI actually identified Minneapolis as one of the top 13 for child sex trafficking, so that's really important for us to talk about,” she said.
To get people talking, the two created My Sister, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit geared toward raising awareness, especially among men.
“If men started seeing all women as their sister, they wouldn't exploit them,” Cipola said. “Most guys are good guys, but they stay silent on the issue.”
The organization sells not only T-shirts, but also glittery tattoos and hand-crafted jewelry made by sex trafficking survivors in Nepal. Proceeds support prevention and intervention programs through MN Girls Are Not For Sale and Maiti Nepal.
In the first two months, sales have taken off, locally and online nationwide. Even Woody Harelson was photographed wearing the group's “Sisters Before Misters” shirt.
“I'm blown away, personally,” Multerer said.
Since its launch in May, My Sister has already raised $30,000 to fight sex trafficking. It may be a drop in the bucket to combat a problem of global proportions, but it's enough know the conversation they wanted to start has begun.
“It makes me really excited for the future and how much impact were all going to be able to make,” Multerer said.
Along with raising awareness, an important need in the community is employment opportunities.
“If you're not able to stay on your two feet economically, you're at risk to be exploited again,” Cipola said.
My Sister has goals of growing the company to employ as many trafficking survivors as possible, hoping to have one of them eventually become CEO.
For more information on My Sister, click here.
First Arrest Made Under New Virginia Sex Trafficking Law
Man arrested arrested last week for luring women into prostitution, according to news report.
by Ethan Levine
A new state law in Virginia targeting the men behind sex trafficking took effect earlier this month, and the state now claims its first arrest under the new law.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Robert Lewis Dillard, 27, of Jamestown, N.C., was charged with luring women into prostitution in Henrico County last week. He reportedly appeared in court last Thursday, and according to WTOP faces more than a decade in prison.
The new law is aimed at prosecuting the men behind sex trafficking rather than the female victims of the growing practice. The Times-Dispatch reports the new law is also aimed at seeking new avenues for rehabilitation of female sex trafficking victims.
The FBI says human trafficking is the second-fastest growing crime in the U.S.
“Human sex trafficking is the most common form of modern-day slavery,” reads the FBI's website. “Estimates place the number of its domestic and international victims in the millions, mostly females and children enslaved in the commercial sex industry for little or no money.”
The new sex trafficking law took effect on July 1 as part of a series of new laws in the commonwealth of Virginia. Check out a few of the other new laws throughout the state here.
Rape Crisis Center is Now Helping Human Trafficking Victims
by Tara Calligan
The only state-certified rape and crisis center in Collier County is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2016. Over the past year, the nature of the cases Project Help is seeing has changed.
It's counseling more human trafficking victims than ever before.
Eileen Wesley is the Sexual Assault Program Director at Project Help.
She said the agency works with people from victimization through sentencing, and beyond. The agency offers ongoing counseling, relocation funding assistance and other services for no charge.
“Everything is a little bit more heightened with human trafficking victims, because we don't want them to leave,” said Wesley. “We want to help them. We try to from the very beginning build a very good bond with them and build the trust. Trust takes time with human trafficking victims.”
The Collier County Sheriff's Office had 27 human trafficking investigations last year. That's 20 more than in 2013.
Detective Sergeant Wade Williams said how they understand sex trafficking cases has changed over the past few years. He said few cases go to trial.
New procedures for interviewing victims has improved their ability to identify these types of cases.
He said a lot of sex trafficking is moving to the internet, and all of the human trafficking reports within the past year and a half have been sex trafficking.
“All these situations are, in my opinion, very deprived situations on the part of the trafficker,” said Williams. “We're talking about exceptionally vulnerable victims who are already suffering from, in many cases, abuse and neglect, and have their whole life. And they're taking advantage of those vulnerabilities and committing even worse crimes against them.”
Williams said sometimes all the Collier County Sheriff's Office needs is a tip to lead to a potential investigation.
People can remain anonymous and use Crime Stoppers or Project Help's 24/7 Crisis Hotline to report suspicious activity.
Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers: (800) 780-8477
Project Help 24/7 Crisis Hotline: (239) 262-7227
Office: 239-649-1404 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Backpage.com Adult Entertainment Section Linked to 495 Child Sex Trafficking Victims;
Visa, MasterCard, AmEx Cut Ties With Site
by Anugrah Kumar
At least 495 victims of child sex trafficking in 46 states and D.C. have been linked to the online classified site Backpage.com, Shared Hope International says, a week after Visa, MasterCard, and American Express announced they will no longer be a payment option on the site.
Backpage.com has been at the center of national advocacy efforts for years, with thousands calling on the site to shut down its adult entertainment section, says the Vancouver, Canada-based anti-trafficking group, even as D.C. police, with the help of the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force, on Friday uncovered several advertisements related to sex trafficking of children placed on Backpage.com, according to The Washington Post.
Also this week, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey called on Backpage.com to shut down its adult entertainment section after 28-year-old Daniel Tejeda was indicted in the strangulation of 24-year-old Ashley Masi, whom he met through an ad on Backpage.com.
A study by YouthSpark in Atlanta, Georgia, has found that 53 percent of children receiving care from service providers across the country were bought and sold for sex on Backpage.com, says Shared Hope International in the statement.
The site continues to operate "by hiding behind unintentional protections granted under the First Amendment and the CDA," the statement adds.
Laws, as of now, cannot sufficiently deal with sites like Backpage.com.
As many as 47 state attorneys general and the National Association of Attorneys General have endorsed and sent a letter to Congress advocating to amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to remove the barrier to state prosecution of online businesses in violation of trafficking and prostitution offenses, the group says.
"Backpage.com has one evident motive — revenue," the group's founding president, Linda Smith, said. "Regardless of their intent, Backpage.com's woeful supervision of the content of their site has enabled child sex trafficking. If lawsuits, legislation, letters, petitions, and now a murder won't sway them to close down the adult services section, perhaps a hit in the pocketbook will."
Now with the credit card companies having withdrawn at the request of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Backpage.com will be badly hit in terms of its revenue, the group hopes.
The site makes $9 million a month from the adult entertainment ads alone. But it has now temporarily allowed free basic ad posting with Bitcoin as the only option for payment for anyone who wants to upgrade an ad.
"While free ads may trigger an immediate spike in new advertisements, the strategy could yield a long-term win for advocates if the company cannot identify an equally convenient alternative payment option," the anti-trafficking group says.
5-year-old finds camera in Starbucks bathroom
by Lori Grisham
A woman and her 5-year-old son found a camera under a Starbucks bathroom sink in Lancaster, Calif., according to local news outlet KTLA. It was propped up on paper towels, facing the toilet and recording, KTLA reported.
"We're obviously really disturbed by the incident," Jaime Riley, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, told USA TODAY Network.
The woman who found the camera did not want to be identified but told KTLA reporters that her 5-year-old son spotted the phone first.
"I noticed he was staring at the sink a little bit perplexed. I asked him what was wrong and he said, 'Mommy, why is there a phone under there?'," the woman told KTLA.
Once notified, Starbucks employees immediately contacted police, according to Riley. "We take our obligation to provide a safe environment very seriously both for customers and our own partners who work in our store," she said.
"The deputies discovered that the cellphone was running in a video-recording motion," Lt. Joseph Fender with the Lancaster Sheriff's Station told KTLA.
This is at least the second such incident to take place in a Starbucks in recent months. A man was arrested in Walnut Creek, Calif., in April after reportedly placing a camera twice in a Starbucks bathroom, according to reports.
Riley said employees are trained to inspect bathrooms for cameras or other devices on a regular basis, but that these incidents still occasionally happen.
"This isn't the first time we've seen it, but I wouldn't call it common," she said. "And I'm sure it's not specific to Starbucks."
Disneyland Employee Allegedly Tried To Trade Tickets For Sex With Minor
Hotel dishwasher "was immediately relieved of his duties"
by Ed Mazza
A Disney employee who worked at one of the company's hotels at the Disneyland Resort was charged on Monday with trying to trade theme park tickets for sex with a minor.
Darreck Michael Enciso, 27, allegedly posted an ad on Craigslist on July 1 offering Disneyland tickets for sex, according to a press release from the Orange County District Attorney's office.
A undercover officer with the Huntington Beach Police Department replied to the ad, pretending to be a 14-year-old girl who wanted the tickets, the DA said.
Enciso allegedly arranged a July 9 meeting on Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach. He was arrested when he arrived at the location carrying condoms and Disneyland tickets, according to the release.
“[Enciso] was immediately relieved of his duties as a dishwasher,” spokeswoman Suzi Brown told the Huntington Beach Independent.
The website reported that Enciso had worked for Disney for a year.
Disney owns three hotels at the Disneyland Resort, but neither the company nor the DA's office specified which one employed Enciso.
Enciso was charged with one felony count of attempted lewd act upon a child, one felony count of contacting a child with the intent to commit a specified sex crime and one felony count of meeting a minor with the intent to engage in lewd conduct, according to the DA's office.
If convicted, he faces up to four years and eight months in prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Enciso is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond, and LAist said he will be arraigned on July 31.
The DA's office accused Enciso of posting similar ads offering sex for tickets and said the investigation remains open as they work to identify potential victims. Anyone who may have information is asked to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Mark Gutierrez at 714-347-8794 or Detective Angela Bennett at 714-536-5960.
Babes In Toyland Bassist: The Jackie Fox rape disclosure shows we still have a lot to learn
Ignorance about rape can tragically mute any instinct to protect or tell
by Maureen Herman
This article contains no “trigger warning," because it is about rape, which happens every 107 seconds in America. That's like everyone in the entire city of Pittsburgh getting raped once a year. A crime that common ought to be discussed openly, especially since 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail. In fact, most rapes go unreported. Why? I believe most people, myself included, did not grow up with a full understanding of what rape actually is. As a result, victims are continually subjected to mocking, doubt, and blame.
Here's the FBI's legal definition of rape, updated in 2013, so we can all be on the same page:
“Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
Rape victim-blaming is a time-worn American tradition – every country in the world has their own version – and ours was played out like a script this week after The Huffington Post ran a meticulously researched article by reporter Jason Cherkis, disclosing the drugging and rape of Jackie Fox, member of the beloved '70s band, The Runaways, at the hands of her manager Kim Fowley.
Then this morning, on the heels of the release of a 2005 deposition where Bill Cosby admits to buying Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he “wanted to have sex with,” the New York Post reported that Cosby's wife, Camille, just re-affirmed her belief that her husband is not a serial rapist. Instead, Camille is allegedly calling the serial rapes of more than fifty women who have come forward "cheating." She said she believes her husband's accusers consented to both drugs and sex. Consented. To being drugged? To being raped unknowingly while unconscious? The very fact that she uses the word “sex” belies the ignorance about what rape is. It's a violent crime that uses sex acts as a weapon. It is, in fact, a felony.
I was shocked that there was any question about Jackie Fox's story. Her rape happened in front a roomful of people, including two of her bandmates, Cherie Currie and Joan Jett. In the course of the article's investigation and Fox's disclosure, many bystanders have come forward, affirming what they saw and who was present that night in 1975.
The majority of the response to Fox's story was positive and supportive. Go-Go's guitarist Kathy Valentine, who had professional contact with Fowley, posted a poignant statement on Facebook that said in part:
“Jackie is incredibly brave for finally speaking out about this. I told her, and I will say it here too: she has done FAR more for women by speaking out than the Runaways ever did.”
Fox's support also originally included lead singer Currie, who called Fox “courageous.” Currie wrote an account of the rape in her 2011 memoir, without naming Jackie, who at that time was not yet ready to come forward publicly. However, guitarist and newly inducted Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett was noticeably quiet and non-committal, sticking to a vague statement to The Huffington Post that essentially denied Jackie's account:
Through a representative, Jett “denied witnessing the event as it has been described here.” Her representative referred all further questions to Jackie “as it's a matter involving her and she can speak for herself.”
All that anyone was really expecting from Jett was some kind of normal acknowledgement of Jackie's experience. So her denial stood out, and cast doubt in the public's mind on Fox. Cue the suspicion and derision, and the public discourse changed. Here we go again. As one commenter put it, “If they needed to deny being there, then deny it, but tell the world you believe that Jackie was raped exactly the way she says she was raped.” That is how the focus was turned to Fox's bandmates. No one is dismissing the fact that the villain here is Kim Fowley, the rapist. But when you step up to deny a rape victim, and you are a powerful celebrity, you take on a new role, and a new set of challenges.
As the Jackie Fox story broke, I read multiple copies that began with trigger warnings. Of course I understand that rape news might be a trigger for some, especially a victim who has never reported their rape. As a fellow rape survivor who had publicly disclosed my assaults, these warnings stood out as odd and needless. It seemed to me that the secrecy of rape was the problem, not their disclosure.
My initial response after reading Jett's statement was anger. The only thing the article triggered in me was a curiosity as to why Jett had not yet come forward in support of Fox. Impulsively, I posted something on my personal Facebook page – as did many others –encouraging Jett to come forward more assertively in support of her bandmate. Crickets from the most famous and visible member of The Runaways. The lack of compassion struck me as strange, given the feminist clout and inherent responsibility that she carries. Then two days later, on Facebook, Jett released a second statement:
"Anyone who truly knows me understands that if I was aware of a friend or bandmate being violated, I would not stand by while it happened. For a group of young teenagers thrust into 70s rock stardom there were relationships that were bizarre, but I was not aware of this incident. Obviously Jackie's story is extremely upsetting and although we haven't spoken in decades, I wish her peace and healing."
Now I was deeply triggered by her insinuation that what happened between Kim Fowley and Jackie Fox was part of a “relationship.” What triggered me specifically, was the victim blaming. Angrily, I posted to my Facebook page:
The only "bizarre relationship" is the one that Joan Jett has with the truth. ?#?stopblaming ?#?trustwomen ?#?jackiefox
I even made a meme. I hesitated to post it, noticing my racing heartbeat and riled feeling in the pit of my stomach. Who am I? What am I doing? Why the hell am I publicly challenging Joan Jett about this? It felt personal. It felt familiar. Then I realized, I was triggered right back to how it felt as a rape victim, to share a horrible and personally humiliating story, where drugs and drinking were involved, something that shattered the whole course of your life, and not be believed.
As a result of my multiple sexual assaults, including a gang rape that resulted in pregnancy, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It does not trigger me when other victims come forward. It makes me feel proud, happy, and relieved. I find it incredibly healing. For me, an article about a woman bass player coming forward after forty years of silence to name her rapist? That was good news to me. No, the trigger was the victim-blaming and lack of support.
If people wonder why victims avoid reporting their own rapes, they need only look to this week's headlines to understand the trauma and revictimization that comes with rape disclosure in America. There's a great satirical video illustrating how ludicrous our approach to rape reporting is. Additionally, in the case of celebrity perpetrators, victims find themselves publicly challenged by people who support the powerful men to whom they owe their status or careers. People, it seemed to me, like Camille Cosby and Joan Jett.
I wanted to understand how people become aligned with rapists. I spoke with Sexual Health Educator Laura Jones, who said, “Perpetrators rely on those closest to them to turn a blind eye, deny, and/or blame the people they victimize. They're very skilled at choosing their supporters and grooming them for their positions, which are essentially security and damage control.”
It's been a rape-infested year in entertainment news: the Quaalude-soaked Cosby rapes, the TLC reality show featuring the Duggar family's unexpected history of incest. Thankfully, TLC canceled the show before it could become “19 Victims and Counting.” Now, it was Kim Fowley's turn, and stories, inspired by Fox's disclosure, started peppering the internet, one after another.
“I was 15-16 and living in Westlake when Kim was trolling my high school. That's how close to home this is. I feel for Jackie and wish her peace.” - Kristin Williams
Right after I posted Fox's story on my own Facebook page, my friend, Chicago music scene staple Steve Silver, posted an incident where he rescued a friend from Kim Fowley when he found him assaulting her in a closet at a party:
"It's Chicago in 1983 or so. My friend has a band. She's 17, she's cute, she's trying hard. Kim Fowley wants to sign her. I knew who he was, not much else. It seemed like a big break. The band is playing on Friday night. I take my friend to Mick Levine's place, Radio, in the Metro building. Fowley is hanging about. In what seems like a wild coincidence, she buys some cool gear for the show. While Fowley is still kind of hanging about, just as we are leaving, Mick taps me, looks me in the eye and says, “Hey, keep an eye out on this guy, there's something wrong with him.”
He was right, of course. Jump ahead to the after party. I open a door and my friend is in there with Fowley. I start to back out, thinking I'm interrupting. She screams, “Steve, help me! Get him off me!” She's crying. I'm pulling him through the loft, he's screaming about mistakes. You know I beat his ass, toss him out on the street. This is back when that part of Sheridan Road was fucking nasty. My friend is in tears, I am walking her out to the car, Fowley is standing in the street, by a bus stop, starts screaming, “Fuck you, you cunt! I will make sure you never get a record deal!
I slowly walk up to him, he's kind of nasty-looking from the previous ass-beating. He will not stop screaming at my friend. So I took his head and pounded it into the bus stop kiosk metal edge until he threw up, and then kinda passed out. I told that story to Mick over cans of cheap beer the next day, and of course, he did the “I told you so” bit. But, up until today, I have always felt bad about that second round of kicking his ass. Like really, really bad. After reading that story titled 'Lost Girls' that Maureen Herman posted earlier, now I wish I had killed him."
All of these incidents happened decades ago, meaning the perpetrators were able to continue to rape, brazen by the camouflage of celebrity, and protected by the stigma of rape reporting in our culture. Bill Cosby, Josh Duggar, and Kim Fowley's list of victims increased in proportion to their audacity as they continued to rape and molest unchallenged, unchecked. People, like Jerry Sandusky's wife, literally looked away, stood by and did nothing, made excuses, or were fearful of criticizing a powerful public figure. Also, ignorance about rape can tragically mute any instinct to protect or tell. I know firsthand the devastating and eviscerating impact it has on a victim, and the damage it does to the public's understanding and acceptance of rape and disclosure.
According to a Facebook post written by The Runaways' replacement bassist Victory Tischler-Blue:
"All of us in the Runaways have always been aware of this ugly event. I don't see this as a “witch hunt”, or a “criminal accusation” or a “blame game” – this is one rape victim's personal story of how she is beginning to come to terms with what happened to her so many years ago, while also trying to let the others, who were innocent bystanders, know that she has never held them responsible in any way. I encourage my former band mates to exercise compassion and understanding here and to not shift the paradigm and spin this any other way."
Fox's courageous revelation was accompanied by an extraordinarily generous and proactive forgiveness of the many bystanders at her rape scene. Mostly teenagers, like her bandmates, many shocked and traumatized at what they were witnessing, Fox cited their unwitting part in "The Bystander Effect,” a phenomena where the more witnesses there are, the less likely it is that one of them will act, termed the “diffusion of responsibility.” The article elaborates, “Add in prevalent myths about rape, and the situation becomes even more complicated. A 2014 study found that witnesses were less likely to intervene in cases of sexual assault than iPod theft.”
When Fox posted the article on her Facebook page, she wrote, “One of the things I've tried to do with every bystander is let them know it's not their fault,” She continued, “Thank you to all the bystanders who had the courage to come out and talk about how they were affected – including Helena Alicia Roessler, Kari Krome (the unsung hero of the Runaways), and Cherie Currie. Every rape has many victims. I was just one.”
That's a pretty generous statement. Fox may have been just one of the many people ultimately affected by a crime Fowley committed in public, but she was the only one actually getting raped, so it showed magnanimous humility, and gave a lot of room for anyone involved to show empathy and affirmation. Even Fox's account of her rape didn't trigger me:
“I remember opening my eyes, Kim Fowley was raping me, and there were people watching me.” Fox looked out from the bed and noticed Currie and Jett staring at her. She says this was her last memory of the night.
Was the rape itself horrific? Yes. All rapes are horrific by their very definition. Writing the previous line led me to google the definition of rape. I was startled to discover that, by legal definition, my first memory -- always an unpleasant one -- was, in fact, a rape. I had never called it that before. Here I was, with my daughter conceived in rape, myself a reproductive rights activist, and a writer known for frank articles about rape. Yet, here I am at age 48, and I just discovered I'd been raped at five years old.
I noticed that before 2013, the FBI's legal definition was “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” That's the guy jumping out of the bushes and the woman fighting back with her purse scenario. This vague wording often gave a free pass to rapes involving oral or anal penetration, penetration with objects, rapes of males, and victims in drug-induced states of defenselessness. That's how most agencies interpreted and applied it, and consequently, that's how the public saw it.
It made me question how we as a culture respond to and understand rape. I have come to the conclusion that we as a country don't understand what rape actually is, and until yesterday, that included myself. We may not recognize when it is happening to us or right in front of us. Add youth, ignorance, and fear, and you get bystanders who do not act. On Monday, Kathy Valentine posted a response to the assertion that Fox was raped, as described in “The Lost Girls,” in Huffington Post.
This started out as a response to a person who posted on my page that the Lost Girls story didn't prove Kim Fowley raped Jackie Fox. Then I decided it was a post worthy of it's own place and discussion.
...you do bring up the history and context which is absolutely relevant. In the 70's, the post sexual revolution was in full force. The debauchery that followed on the heels of the "free love" era of the 60's took all kinds of forms. A lot of women gave in to unwanted sex because they didn't want to be seen as uptight prudes. Porn became more prevalent and began sending the message that women "wanted it," and wanted it bad. back then, it wasn't uncommon for lines of guys to wait their turn to gang bang passed out girls – I was at several parties where this happened when I was a young teen. I know why I didn't do anything – because it's really fucking scary. Suppose they decide to turn on me? I was often the youngest person at parties, desperate to fit in and belong and these guys were popular and cool. I didn't know the girl it was happening to, maybe she didn't care for all I knew. The emotions and thought process of a young girl knowing something like that is going on are very complicated. Put on top of it being stoned and a little drunk and you have the recipe for a teenage bystander.
I think it's important for us as a country to plainly define rape, because reports are immediately and constantly questioned by the public and authorities. Maybe that's why drugging victims is so common, because the intended effect is to render the victim pliable or unconscious, giving the illusion of consent, and crippling their memory retention. A spotty memory is gold to a rapist.
Fowley, unchallenged for his flaunting, public, and humiliating assault of Fox in 1975, was able to continue to boldly assault other girls. It is known that a young, probably fearful Jett had made steps to hide the event in the past, by calling witness Brent Williams and telling him to deny he was at the scene in case Fox's parents brought legal action. Also, in the article, The Runaways replacement bassist, Victory Tischler-Blue reported that Fox and her rape were mocked “nonstop” by Jett, Currie, and the rest of the group after Fox left the band. It was understandable that Jett might want to just bury this all in the past, given the mistakes of her youth.
But here was Jackie Fox giving wide berth for anyone to come forward blamelessly, citing the term “bystander effect” to proactively forgive all the witnesses of her rape for not intervening or reporting it. Jett is now famous, iconic, and a full-grown adult. Are we not yet at the point culturally at which silence is more of a public relations liability?
The rapist's crime thrives on other people's silence -- both victims and witnesses. A rape survivor's well-founded fear of being blamed for his or her own rape, which is unfortunately still the approach our society takes in this crime, gives the perpetrator great freedom. The Catholic Church is just one example of this institutionalized victim-blaming. That is why I believe it's so crucial that people strongly support the victims who speak up and share their story: rape investigations and public disclosure can prevent rapists from assaulting more victims and destroying more lives. Otherwise, as Kari Krome, another documented victim of Fowley's noted, who's next?
As a rape and incest survivor myself, it matters to me how victims are perceived and treated in the press and public. In cases where they come unapologetically forward, as Fox is doing, they win my deep admiration. Telling people you were raped is humiliating business, and it sucks. I know that from experience. But it is also transformative. For survivors, it is an essential part of our healing. Because it is so hard to speak up, yet so important in prevention, I ardently defend anyone with the courage to do it.
In Fox's case, staying quiet felt like her only option and she found no support around her at the time. When she came to band practice a few days after the rape, her bandmates ran through the songs as though nothing had happened. In her disclosure this week, Fox shared her reasons for not reporting the rape until now.
“I didn't know if anybody would have backed me,” she says. “I knew I would be treated horribly by the police – that I was going to be the one that ended up on trial more than Kim. I carried this sense of shame and of thinking it was somehow my fault for decades.” That was the day, Jackie says, “the elephant joined the band.”
I understand the hesitation in telling. I had my own rape-pourri of stories involving family members and strangers infecting my life. I never reported them to police, in one case because I was an active addict at the time, and, following the script of fear I had learned growing up female in America, I partly blamed myself for the turn of events.
Though I chose ultimately to raise the child that came from one rape, I have never for an instant thought another woman should be forced to do what I did. Frankly, I doubt most people could handle it. I was just lucky, because I had extraordinary support. Without it, I'm positive I wouldn't be here. Power and choice over what is going on with your body is a really key part of recovering from a rape – especially one that results in pregnancy.
The only place I could accept having no choice, was in whether or not to finally tell my story – I had to. It is how we survive. It is that same urgency in telling my story, that I feel in writing this, to come forward in support of Jackie Fox's disclosure. And it is the same urgency she says she felt when the Cosby victims started coming forward. She felt empathy and a sense of protective sisterhood.
The HuffPost article continues:
Jackie saw herself in those young women and knew all the hurt and shame that awaited them. “They have to be making the same value judgments about themselves as I made about me,” she explained. “I know from personal experience how all those things can eat away at you. They can take vibrant young people and turn them into something else.”
Also, because of the way the other Runaways had treated her, she carried this nagging feeling that maybe the rape was her fault. How could they have not supported her otherwise?
I still struggle with how to tell my own story, in a way that authentic, but not harmful to other rape victims. When I first told my story in 2012, I made a very tough decision to let go of the shame and self-blame I had about my personal history. I had a unique and hard-won perspective, and I felt compelled to say something. But still, I always partly blamed myself. After I posted the initial support of Jackie on Facebook, I was shocked to get a message from her, thanking me. I asked her if she had anything she'd like to add.
She sent a quote and said to feel free to use it if I'd like:
“Poor judgment is not an excuse for rape or for blaming the victim. The shame of rape falls squarely on the shoulders of the rapist. Period.”
What was she, psychic? Oh, how I needed to hear that. It cemented my commitment to tell my story without any apology in the memoir I am writing. Watching a fellow female bassist come out with her own rape story was, to say the least, empowering. In fact, it is life-changing.
Still, I questioned my own right to “call out” Joan Jett or anyone else for their lack of support for something that happened forty years ago. So I hesitated to post anything, out of fear. That hesitation is the same pause that Jett may have taken the night of Fox's rape. Silence for fear of upsetting someone powerful. Someone powerful like her band manager. Or powerful like Dr. Bill Cosby. Powerful like Joan Jett. Fear and power. Those are the tools a rapist can depend on in our society to get away with their crimes. Not once, but over and over again.
But I thought again, it's Joan Jett. I kept thinking about how she was one of the first real female rock stars. How I had grown up listening to her songs. How I had met her a few times and she had come to a couple of our shows and hung out backstage. This wasn't just some celebrity I didn't know. We shared a dear mutual friend, the late Tim Carr, who signed both our bands to major labels. She is an icon that so many bands and girls and women and everybody looked up to. Who am I to question fucking Joan Jett?
But then I remembered, “I'm a fucking rape victim. This is important to me.” This has zero to do with me being in a band. That's coincidental – distracting even.
In this case, Jett is a powerful role model who could really make a huge difference in the public's understanding of the crime of rape, at such a pertinent point in time. We need to put to rest the absurd and relentless question of whether the rape even happened to Jackie. We need to counter the still-popular opinion that a victim somehow is to blame for a crime committed against her and her body against her will. We need to understand that a person who's impaired by drugs or alcohol cannot give consent. We need to speak up when we feel pressured into silence. We need to give rape victims the support they need to come forward.
Jett at least acknowledged the scope of horror Fox experienced that night. But my disappointment remained, because her last statement casts a skant look upon Fox on a large, public scale. It throws doubt upon the victim, tears at the foundation of Fox's credibility and effectively rape shames her. Again.
As if to prove the effect of Joan's statement on Fox's credibility, shortly after her statement was released, Cherie Currie posted her own, strange second statement, complete with 21 uses of the word “I,” a mention of her new album, and only one reference to Fox. She effectively recanted her previous affirmation of the rape:
“I have been accused of a crime. Of looking into the dead yet pleading eyes of a girl, unable to move while she was brutally raped and doing nothing. I have never been one to deny my mistakes in life and I wouldn't start now. If I were guilty, I would admit it. There are so many excuses I could make being only one month into my sixteenth year at the time that people would understand but I am innocent. When I return from Sweden I will seek a qualified polygraph examiner to put to rest any and all allegations. I will make public the questions, answers and results of that test. I am a proud person but for this, I may need to open a Fund Me account since I do not know how much this will cost. I am not a rich person but a carver. I wouldn't ask for funding for my new album because I am proud. I will prove I am telling the truth. I will not allow anyone to throw me under the bus and accuse me of such a foul act. I will fight for myself. It is the only thing I can do.”
She later edited it, redacting the parts about needing funding.
With one nudge of denial from an iconic Joan Jett, we witness the beginnings of the public collapse of Fox's credibility. Currie's own confidence has suffered, too. In her strangely worded Facebook post Currie puts herself in the position of the accused, fearful that she is on trial for speaking out about Fox's rape after Jett publicly dismissed it.
In my personal opinion and experience, the paternalistic tradition of shielding victims from articles with “trigger warnings” about disclosures helps no one. Consider this for perspective: there are more house fires in the U.S. every year than rapes. Fires are traumatic, sometimes fatal events, too. However, we do not see trigger warnings attached to articles about fires. It made me question how we as a culture respond to and understand rape. I think trigger warnings discourage a reader that they are about to read something "unpleasant," and that further drives the stories into hushed tones, avoiding the light. At the moment, the courage of Fox to speak openly of her rape, the bravery we as a society, as decent humans should be applauding, is being buried minute by minute under the statements, retractions and emotions of others.
Telling somebody, telling everybody is a moral directive, an imperative that if followed by the victims or any possible bystander, will prevent those who prey upon the vulnerable from chalking multiple deliberate tallies. The open disclosure of victims of their experiences is our only hope as a society to give shape to the shadowy monster that is rape. We must have a clear picture of the enemy if we are to eradicate it. As one fan put it, “If Joan Jett speaks out, in support of victims, I'm sure it will be met with a lot of warm, positive reactions by many.”
Jackie Fox told someone, and now she's told everyone. I'll let her have the last word, edited from an eloquent statement (see full statement here) she posted Sunday night on her Facebook page, (and posted on Huffington Post Monday). She said, in part:
“I have been so incredibly moved over the last few days by the outpouring of love and support that has followed the story of my rape on New Year's Eve 1975.
I thought I had prepared myself for the haters -- I was wrong. I was shocked by some of the vitriol; more so by the fact that nearly all of it came from other women. *But their voices were drowned by a chorus of support from women I respect and admire – women like Kathy Valentine, Maureen Herman and Jane Wiedlin. And then there are the private messages. The sheer number of people who have written to tell me their own stories of rape and abuse has been heartbreaking. Many have said they've never told anyone about their rape or abuse, or that the people they told didn't believe them.
If I am disappointed in one thing, it is that the story has become about who knew what when and who did or didn't do what. That isn't the story at all. It would be nice if everyone who was there the night I was raped could talk about how it has affected them over the years. But if they don't want to talk it about, I respect that. It's taken me years to talk about it without shame. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have watched it happen.
I only wish that if my bandmates can't remember what happened that night – or if they just remember it differently –they would stick simply to saying that. By asserting that if they'd witnessed my rape, they'd have done something about it, they perpetuate the very myth I was trying to dispel when I decided to tell my story. Being a passive bystander is not a “crime.” All of us have been passive bystanders at some point in our lives.
If we have any hope at all of putting an end to incidents like these, we need to stop doubting the accusers and start holding rapists, abusers and bullies accountable. What we don't need to do is point fingers at those who weren't to blame for their actions.”
Thanks: #tellsomebodytelleverybody was made possible with the research and editing help of Megan McGlynn, Patricia Fetters, Laura Jones, and Steve Silver, who literally kicks ass.
Man who exposes suspected pedophiles commended by victim of notorious online predator
by Michael Talbot and Avery Hines
A survivor of one of Canada's most notorious and prolific online predators is commending a Mississauga man for his efforts to expose suspected pedophiles, despite a warning from police that his vigilantism could be doing more harm than good.
Last week, CityNews aired the story of Justin, a 28-year-old construction worker by day who poses as a young boy or girl on adult dating sites. Under the guise of meeting these children, Justin lures the men to parking lots in the Greater Toronto Area where he confronts them with a camera.
He later posts photos and videos of the men on his Facebook page.
Justin's story has made the rounds on social media, especially among those whose lives have been devastated by abuse.
Alycha Reda was one of Mark Bedford's many victims. Bedford was sentenced to three years in prison in 2008 after coercing girls — mostly between the ages of nine and 11 — to commit lewd acts on webcams. The Ontario man threatened to send explicit emails to the victims' families if they didn't comply.
“There were over a hundred girls reported,” Reda told CityNews via Skype, before describing some of his vile crimes. “He made a 12-year-old girl perform sexual acts on her dog. The two sisters that came forward from Edmonton, they had to perform sexual acts on each other.”
Reda saw Justin's story on Glenn Canning's Facebook page. Canning is the father of Rehtaeh Parsons, the teen who committed suicide after photos of her being sexually assaulted were spread online.
Reda instantly became a fan of Justin and his crusade to protect children.
“His work is amazing, what he's doing, exposing these people to the public,” she said.
In a tweet, she called him her “hero” and said she wanted to meet him.
But Toronto police aren't as enthusiastic about Justin's tactics, regardless of his seemingly good intentions.
Det. Const. Amy Davey of the Sex Crimes Unit says only police can truly stop a predator — by putting the wheels of the law in motion.
“In these cases where someone is outing someone as a pedophile or creating these videos and posting them online, you have to keep in mind that that's actually not preventing him from offending again,” Davey said.
“What is going to prevent him is being arrested and hopefully getting a conviction that will restrict the use of the internet.”
“And that's why I do believe that the public should let these types of investigations be in the hands of police,” Davey stressed. “That way we aren't ending up with sort of a public shaming, but we're ending up with a conviction.”
Reda says she has lost faith in the justice system, and applauds Justin's tenacity.
After violating the conditions of his release, Bedford was sent back to prison in 2013. He's scheduled to be released next month and Reda can only imagine how things may have been different if someone like Justin intercepted him before he could wreak havoc on so many lives, including hers.
“If he would have been online when Bedford was doing this, maybe I wouldn't have gone through what I'm going through,” she said.
“I just want him to be careful.”
Report: Fatalities and near fatalities from child abuse in Luzerne County 8th highest in state
Report looks at fatal, near-fatal abuse statewide
by Mark Guydish
Luzerne County ranks among the top nine statewide in the number of recorded fatalities or near-fatalities resulting from child abuse or neglect, according to a recent report that reviewed data from Jan. 1, 2010 through Sept. 30, 2014.
The ranking is higher than the county's population standing: Luzerne County is the 12th most populous of the state's 67 counties.
Philadelphia skews the numbers in the report, released by The Center for Children's Justice, with 100 fatalities or near-fatalities from Child Abuse or Neglect. Allegheny County had the next highest total with 27. Luzerne County had 12.
In releasing the data, the center focused on the need to refine “plans of safe care” required under state laws enacted in 2014 and 2015, designed to assure the safety of children in situations that may not meet the definition of child abuse, but who face greater risks because of parental drug use.
The center cited the Feb. 14, 2014, death of “a 3-month-old male Luzerne County infant” despite the fact that Children and Youth Services “had been involved with the family since the infant's birth” after the mother had tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. A court order was in place preventing “the mother from having unsupervised contact with her children.”
The center's report didn't provide a name, but the information makes it clear the case referred to is the death of Jaxon Eckrote, who suffocated when his mother, Tracey Ann Gonda, allegedly closed a recliner on the infant. Police say Gonda had been drinking before the child's death.
Gonda and the father, Corey Eckrote, face multiple charges in the case. Prosecutors contend the couple did not follow the court-ordered plan designed to ensure Jaxon's safety.
Which is the crux of the center's argument.
In analyzing the data, the center notes that federal and state laws now require “Plans of Safe Care for Infants Affected by Prenatal Substance Exposure and Parental Addiction,” but that those laws still have some ambiguity in “what entity is responsible” for those plans.
“The federal statute did not specify whether it is the formal child welfare agency or another entity,” the release says. That ambiguity “demonstrates a challenge, but also an opportunity since it appears there is important flexibility in designing and implementing plans of safe care, beyond the formal child welfare system.
“Pennsylvania could well harness the urgency surrounding the state's drug epidemic and the evolving transformations in key policies and funding streams … to cultivate the use of carefully crafted and measured interdisciplinary plans of safe care,” the center argues.
The report includes a breakdown of fatalities or near fatalities each year from 2010 through September of 2014, the latest available data from the state. Of Luzerne County's 12 cases, five occurred in 2011 and another five in 2013. Once incident occurred in 2012 and another in 2014.
Half of U.S. hospitals don't follow child abuse screening guidelines
SImple test to detect hidden fractures is not universally applied
by David Ferguson
Nearly half of children with abuse-related injuries are not properly screened for hidden fractures, in spite of that procedure's accuracy in determining cases of abuse, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics . The study also found that race and socioeconomic status play a role in these discrepancies.
The skeletal survey is a series of X-rays taken of a child's full skeleton to determine the presence of broken bones that may not be apparent to the naked eye. These breaks are called occult fractures. The American Academy of Pediatrics mandated the test for all children under two years of age who present signs of possible abuse-related injuries.
"In the young population, medical providers can miss important injuries," senior study author Joanne Wood, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, told Kaiser Health News . "Skeletal surveys can help identify them."
The study examined data from 4,486 patients younger than 2 who providers diagnosed as victims of abuse or injuries often associated with abuse. The study included 366 hospitals and ran from 2009 to 2013. Forty-eight percent of children with an abuse diagnosis and 51 percent of infants with traumatic brain injury were evaluated with a skeletal survey for occult fracture. Of infants with femur fractures, only 53 percent of the cases across the nation were examined for further fractures.
Pediatric hospitals fared significantly better, however. In a previous study by Wood and her colleagues, 83 percent of similar cases underwent skeletal surveys at hospitals that specialize in pediatric medicine.
Furthermore, there is a sharp socioeconomic and racial divide between which patients receive the screening and which do not, echoing broader trends within healthcare. Black children were half as likely as white children to undergo a skeletal survey as part of an abuse diagnosis, whereas Hispanic were nearly twice as likely to receive the screening as white children. Infants with traumatic brain injuries were more likely to be evaluated if they receive government health insurance.
"Over the past 25 years, research has repeatedly highlighted missed opportunities to evaluate and diagnose abuse in young, injured children suffering from undiagnosed injuries as well as ongoing abuse," researchers wrote. "Research has also revealed that racial and [socioeconomic status–based] biases influence decision-making regarding child abuse evaluations and diagnoses."
Standardized, universal fracture evaluation for all children who present with these types of injuries could eliminate these inequities of treatment and detection.
"The marked variation in occult fracture evaluation rates among infants with high-risk injuries raises concerns for missed opportunities to detect abuse and protect children," the study concluded. "These results highlight an opportunity to improve quality of care for this vulnerable population."
To learn more:
- here's the study
- read the KHN article
The day I realised the child abuse I suffered wasn't my fault
Denial is a funny thing, isn't it? I'm sitting at a dinner party, freshly wounded from a failed relationship, and someone is talking drunkenly about Jimmy Savile. “Well all those people who have come forward as victims, I bet it's just for the money, isn't it? Those people just want attention.” And at that moment, something inside me shatters. I fall through the glass floor of my own denial and remember that I was sexually abused. By my grandad, starting from around the age of five or so.
Part of my mind reels, trying to stagger away from the memories. No, no – it shrills desperately – it didn't happen didn't happen didn't happen.
It did though, of course. According to statistics from the NSPCC one in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused. One in three children who have been sexually abused by an adult don't tell anyone. Late one evening, at the age of seven, I remember finally plucking up the courage to tell mum that granddad kept touching me there. She immediately sent me back to bed and we never said anything else about it. My parents still invited him round for Sunday lunch, just as before, and he still abused me afterwards.
It's two years after the dinner party. I'm sitting in a horseshoe with nine other women, in a drab room in north-west London. The group is called “Recovering from Childhood Abuse”. It's probably the first time, for all of us, that we feel we're not suffering alone. As the weeks progress, we swap stories. One woman was gang-raped at gunpoint by members of her extended family. Another is tortured by her mother. Most of us are on anti-psychotics. Most of us are on benefits. We all have a string of failed relationships behind us. The experience of abuse is powerfully defiling – your wellbeing is shockingly outraged. These experiences are often internalised and lead to overwhelming feelings of shame, self-loathing, worthlessness, fear and disgust. Early abuse cripples your sense of self and blights your capacity to trust. Often the only way a child can make any sense of the situation is by assuming they are doing something wrong. That they are somehow to blame. This is, of course, inaccurate. The survival mechanism of self-blame often means that anger churns and boils beneath the surface. It's difficult for a child to develop confidence in the world if an adult – a grown-up who is not just physically huge in comparison, but also in terms of resources, status and significance – chooses to victimise them in this way.
I'm astonished by the structure of the support group, our syllabus of healing. The two amazing women who run it are pragmatic, compassionate, safe. There is also a manual, published by the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre. In it, we read: “If you were abused as a child, you may have been denied the opportunity to learn that you were precious, that you deserved love, that you were special and that you were OK just the way you were. You may not have been given the chance to feel good about yourself.”
As a child, the trauma and torment forced me into a fantasy world. I collected photos and pictures in a desperate attempt to build highly detailed inner landscapes I could escape to.
Then, growing up, I became a wildly self-destructive teenager. I abused alcohol, self-harmed with razor blades, narrowly avoided expulsion from school and became outrageously promiscuous. This behaviour dulled pain in the short term, but ultimately attracted more censure and seemed to further confirm all the distressing beliefs I had about myself. I must just be bad – worthless, unlovable, disgusting.
At 16 I went to art college, full of the romantic notion that if you didn't fit in the real world, you could find acceptance at art school. But I was too weird, even for art school. The feelings of otherness, of being outside and inferior, still plagued me. But making things – pictures, stories, clothes – continued to be a refuge and a coping mechanism.
I first tried counselling for depression and anxiety at the age of 25, following a break-up and an enforced move back to the family home. At the time, I was so frozen in depression, so terrified and conflicted, that counselling felt like an excavation – unearthing the buried shrapnel of repressed pain. My lovely counsellor encouraged me to try mindfulness meditation. It was not a success. I was so ferociously at odds with myself that there could be no peace or acceptance anywhere. We briefly mentioned the abuse but I couldn't talk about it. In the end, with her encouragement, I managed to write down the experiences for her. I saw her once more afterwards and then ended our sessions.
A couple of years on and I was again in therapy, but not talking about the abuse. I'd sort of managed to bury it again. This time it was cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). We focused on compassion, and again on mindfulness meditation. Through those sessions, as the candle flame of compassion started to flicker, it began to illuminate the depths of my longing and distress. We practised a compassionate visualisation exercise, and formed a compassionate image. (Mine was Aslan from the 1988 BBC adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). The meditation frequently led to tears. But the tears were a release. I started meditating more often, and became increasingly aware of the inner roar of self-hate. The barrage of self-criticism that was the white noise of my life.
Things improved and I (paradoxically) became suicidal. I lied to my therapist about the severity of the depression. But the CBT eventually led to some positive changes – I moved back to London and got a book deal – I was still escaping into heightened imaginative worlds. I tried internet dating, fell in love, got dumped.
And here we are again, back at the dinner party – with the talk about Jimmy Savile.
After crashing through the denial into something like a nervous breakdown, I was lucky enough to see an excellent GP who referred me to the support group. There was a year-long wait for the group to start, but that was spent in one-to-one therapy, and in crying. I cried for most of the year. I was still meditating, it was getting easier, but lots of the meditation time was still spent lost in labyrinthine thinking. Anyone who has experienced the deeply soothing acceptance of mindfulness meditation knows that meditating with the furious desire to fix yourself is a tragic misdirection of energy.
In the new year, the group finally started. During our first session, we discussed our fears about entering therapy.
In my diary that day, I wrote: “As we compiled the lists of fears, I realised they're all exactly the same as my own feelings – the inability to trust, the drive to self-isolate, the self-destructive sabotaging of relationships. They feel it too. They're the same. It's something that comes from the abuse. IT'S NOT MY FAULT.”
This felt like a revelation.
Together, we tried to come to terms with what we'd lost – a loving and nurturing childhood, important people who had ignored our suffering and tacitly allowed us to be abused. We wrote letters (which weren't sent) to verbalise our sense of rage and grief. We worked on our negative and distressing core beliefs which had been forged in childhood. We looked at thinking biases, self-criticism and reframing our thoughts in a compassionate way. At first, we all blamed ourselves for the abuse, but gradually we learned to apportion appropriate blame. The blame for abuse always lies with the abuser, never the victim. We found it easy to be compassionate with each other, and then it became easier to extend compassion to ourselves. For all of us, I think, it was the first time we felt truly understood. Truly cared for and supported. Those women saved me.
These days I can finally meditate and be (comparatively) at peace with myself – it's such a relief.
Part of the healing came from the realisation that the morass of distress which felt so unique and personal is all being lived by other victims and survivors, too. It isn't our fault and we are not to blame. There are kind people who understand. Nothing can ever erase an abusive childhood, but healing is possible. We don't need to struggle alone any more.
Institutional abuse and its long-term consequences
Funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, the "Vienna Institutional Abuse Study" is the first to investigate the psychological long-term consequences of institutional abuse and violence. Based on data provided by the City of Vienna, psychologists work with adults having experienced childhood institutional abuse to explore the unresolved issues of a dark chapter in institutional history.
In the context of their private lives alone, about 20 percent of the population are subject to abuse and violence during their childhood. The percentage of victims of physical, sexual and emotional violence is particularly high, however, among children who grow up outside a family context, for instance in welfare institutions. In recent years, numerous scandals all over Europe have brought to light a shocking level of child abuse in childcare institutions. Austria is no exception, and only in recent years has the general public become aware of the level of violence to which children in Vienna's municipal welfare institutions were exposed until well into the 1980s. Researchers from the University of Vienna are currently addressing this situation in a major investigation that seeks to provide empirical evidence of what has been dealt with theoretically for the most part so far – namely, the question as to the particular dynamics of institutional abuse and its long-term consequences for those affected. "Empirical evidence for fundamental issues in this field of research is still missing, although foster children and children in institutional care are considered particularly vulnerable to phenomena of abuse", says Brigitte Lueger-Schuster, the clinical psychologist who heads the three-year FWF research project which started in 2014.
First comparative analyses
For the first time, the City of Vienna has authorised the Vienna-based researchers to access about 2,000 dossiers and establish contact with affected individuals who received damage awards for the abuse suffered in Viennese welfare institutions. Since 2010, victims of abuse have been able to claim damages before a commission dedicated to the protection of victims, the "Wiener Opferschutzkommission", which still receives several dozen new applications every week. The study itself also triggered numerous reactions from victims of abuse, noted Lueger-Schuster, who assumes that the number of unreported cases is extremely high.
For the first time, comprehensive data are being collected in this way by the researchers in the context of the FWF research project. Under the title of "Vienna Institutional Abuse Study" it focuses on two key areas. First, the study compares the experiences of individuals affected by institutional abuse to the average population and victims of abuse in a private context. To this end, the scientists analyse and assess specific aspects, such as family-related risk factors, the level of violence encountered in the institutions, as well as factors that may help predict certain types of abuse.
Psychotraumatology and diagnostics
Secondly, the long-term impact of institutional abuse is examined on the basis of international systems of diagnosis and classification: mental disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorders, cortisol levels in hair as an indicator of long-term stress and social aspects such as disruptions in personal histories are taken into account. "Currently there is a huge debate in psychotraumatology about complex post-traumatic stress disorders", explains Lueger-Schuster. "The project enables us to challenge current WHO-based diagnostic systems and look at the problem from a wider perspective by investigating what violence and abuse may mean, for instance, for the development of aggressive behaviour, the sense of self-worth, the sense of control or the way someone deals with failure. In this way we can offer major input for the discipline of psychotraumatology."
Biographies Of Abuse
Existing studies show that 50 to 60 percent of individuals who lived through traumatising experiences in childhood will still suffer from massive mental stress disorders in adulthood. "This is why it is tremendously important to understand and systematically describe these long-term consequences; there are an excessive number of people affected and we have reason to fear that there will be victims in the future", emphasises the psychologist. So far, the team around Lueger-Schuster has conducted interviews with 144 survivors of childhood abuse. More than 50 percent are men with an average age of 58. About 20 percent spent many years of their childhood in a home, 85 percent were taken into institutional care before the age of ten. As the majority of victims of violence and abuse have a poor level of education, their personal histories are marked by aspects such as poverty, problems with relationships, life on the streets and also prison sentences. More recent German studies have shown that the level of abuse and violence is highest in foster care homes. For the survivors, this has lifelong consequences. "The number of traumatic events experienced during adulthood is clearly correlated to sexual abuse in an institution", reports Lueger-Schuster. Depression, anxiety or substance abuse such as alcoholism are post-traumatic stress disorders that individuals suffer from even decades after experiencing the violence. "We are now investigating the connections and taking a closer look at long-term consequences."
Brigitte Lueger-Schuster is a clinical psychologist and professor at the Department of Applied Psychology: Health, Development, Enhancement and Intervention and chairs the Arbitration Commission of the University of Vienna. Lueger-Schuster has i.a. conducted studies on the long-term health consequences of victims of abuse in a church context and, most recently, on children in foster care homes in Lower Austria.
Abusive Priests Outed—Time Running Out to Bring More Claims
by Stephanie Woodard
Law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates has released the names of seven priests and brothers whom a Catholic religious order agreed had been “credibly accused” of child sexual abuse. The disclosure results from a 2014 lawsuit brought in Minnesota against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
The seven named are Michael Charland, Vincent Fitzgerald, Paul Kabat, Orville Lawrence Munie, Thomas Meyer, Robert Reitmeier and Emil Twardochleb. Some served in Native communities, including White Earth and Leech Lake, in Minnesota, and the Pine Ridge and Lake Traverse (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) reservations, in South Dakota. The law firm's website details the men's work histories and includes a map of their movements, as they were shuttled among parishes.
The suit was made possible by Minnesota's Child Victims Act. Passed in May 2013, the law gave childhood-sexual-abuse survivors older than 24, the previous age limit, a three-year window during which to bring civil claims. That opportunity for most new claimants ends on May 25, 2016. In addition to those abused in Minnesota, Anderson associate Mike Finnegan said he believed Natives abused in other states by members of religious orders operating in Minnesota could also sue.
There's a second, tighter time limit for survivors of abuse that took place within the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. That's because the archdiocese has filed for bankruptcy, and the court has set a deadline of August 3, 2015, for claims against it.
Successful claimants will obtain validation of their suffering and share in eventual compensation, according to Anderson. “You will be believed,” he said, noting that plaintiffs may remain anonymous or disclose their names. In all, Anderson has brought over 200 claims under the Child Victims Act, resulting in the exposure of 100 new offenders, he said.
The Oblates have apologized and will turn over files relating to the abuse. The law firm will release the documents after removing victims' identifying information. Litigation is pending against additional defendants, the Diocese of Duluth and Diocese of New Ulm, which were not part of the settlement.
The first Native childhood-sexual-abuse claim under the new Minnesota law was filed in November 2013 for abuse that took place on White Earth. On that occasion, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribal member and Anderson consultant Lonna Hunter said, “This has been going on so long across Indian country. But we can stop it today.”
The Catholic Church on reservations was the largest offender in the state, according to Anderson: “That's because they had so many missionaries in Native communities, and because the Church moved offenders around to hide the abuse. As a result, the abusive practices were also more dangerous.”
The Child Victims Act has meant a sea change in treatment of abuse claims in Minnesota. Dioceses throughout the state have broken with the Church's long-standing policy of silencing victims and protecting offenders. Each Minnesota diocesan websites features information for survivors, including directions for anyone wishing to report abuse to contact law enforcement immediately.
This could not be more unlike the situation in neighboring South Dakota. In 2010, its legislature passed a law limiting the ability of adult victims to sue. Enacted in the wake of more than 100 Natives suing for childhood sexual abuse, the measure was written by a Catholic Church lawyer who accused Natives of attempting to “grab the brass ring…thinking that's your ticket out of squalor.”
The law helped the courts throw out most of the cases. “When I saw what happened in South Dakota, I was heartbroken,” said Anderson.
Minnesota abuse survivor Joe McClean spoke at Anderson's July 7 press conference announcing the disclosure of the seven names, saying, “It's a good day.”
Community officials, responders train in averting deadly domestic violence
by Carin Miller
CEDAR CITY — Community leaders and first responders from Cedar City and Iron County gathered early Friday morning at Festival Hall to spend the day talking about domestic violence in connection with the launching of a training and intervention program called the “Lethality Assessment Program.”
LAP is a field instrument designed to aid responders in preventing homicides during their interactions with residents who are in domestic violence situations.
“We know that victims of intimate-partner homicide, in the year prior to their murder, only 4 percent of them reached out for domestic violence specific resources,” national LAP Project Coordinator Abby Hannifan said.
On the other side of that coin, she said, first responders, including community law enforcement, have much more contact with either the victims or the perpetrator in the year leading up to a domestic homicide.
“… we know that victims of intimate-partner homicide — again, in the year prior to their murder — about a third of them were reaching out to the police for help,” Hannifan said. “Also, 44 percent of those abusers who killed their partners were arrested for some crime in the year prior to killing their partners.”
This tells experts that victims who are not reaching out for services in other ways are somehow reaching out to law enforcement, Hannifan said, which places them in a position to potentially save lives by asking 11 questions known as the lethality screen for first responders.
The questions identify key indicators of how dangeroDus a situation may be, according to the website of the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence — where LAP began.
The website states:
If the victim's response to the questions indicates an increased risk for homicide, the officer or community professional states he/she is going to place a phone call to the local 24-hour domestic violence hotline to seek advice and encourages the victim to speak with the specially-trained hotline advocate. Talking on the phone is always the victim's decision.
LAP started by looking at the data used by intimate-partner homicide expert Jacquelyn Campbell to create her 20-question danger assessment, which has been used by medical professionals, and adapting it for first responders who have a smaller window of time with a potential victim, Hannifan said.
A lot of times, abuse isn't obvious or even physical, Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Associate Director Liz Watson said. Bringing LAP in allows for a larger net of prevention to be cast out into the community.
There is no stronger indicator of both the severity and urgency of the situation of domestic abuse homicide in Utah than the current numbers, Watson said.
“Across the nation, it's anticipated that 1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime,” she said. “And in Utah, it's a higher figure; it's 1 in 3.”
While Utah is a safe state to live in in comparison with the homicide rates in other states, Watson said, a closer look at the numbers show that of the homicides that do occur in Utah, over a 10-year period, over 42 percent of all adult homicides turn out to be related to domestic violence.
Many of these deaths are preventable, Hannifan said, if first responders are given the skills to help recognize the signs and get immediate connection with services for whoever is at risk because of abuse.
It is important to remember that domestic abuse does not only happen to women and children, Watson said, but also to men who are in both traditional relationships and same-sex relationships. Often times, these events go unreported because of the perceived implication of emasculation associated with stereotypes and societal roles.
“For any victim of domestic violence, it can be very difficult to reach out,” Watson said. “But there are some additional barriers for male victims — there may be an added sense of shame, there may be risk of feeling emasculated, worrying about what their peers will think. …”
Fear of losing a relationship with their children can also be a motivating factor in a man's abuse going unreported, she said, if he believes the children's mother would keep them from him as retribution.
Regardless of who the victim is or what type of abuse they are experiencing, Watson said, LAP will allow for red flag responses to empower first responders with a tool to help.
Implementing LAP into Cedar City Police Department protocol was a “no brainer,” Police Chief Bob Allinson said.
“Domestic violence is a community problem,” he said. “It's not just Canyon Creek Women's Crisis Center's problem, it's not the police department's problem, it's a whole community problem because it impacts a whole community.”
In his 40 years of law enforcement experience, Allinson said he has seen a real evolution in the way intimate-partner abuse situations are handled.
Years ago, if the officer on the scene didn't witness a violent act, the Police Chief said, his hands were tied and there was nothing he could do about it. It was a frustrating cycle that repeated over and over with little end in sight and no way to follow through.
Eventually, laws changed that allowed for arrests to be made and action to be taken. LAP takes it a step further by taking things from a reactive stage to a proactive stage of prevention, Allinson said.
“I've got mixed feelings with this,” he said, “because as I look at it, I think, ‘how many victims over the years that I've been involved with, maybe would still be alive today if we had something like this (then).'”
The small town of Cedar City is not exempt from domestic abuse situations, Allinson said. Speaking from memory, he said, he believes there were somewhere near 264 domestic violence cases in 2014 in Cedar City.
“We have four homicides going through the court system,” he said. “At least three of those four are directly tied to domestic violence.”
The time to act is now, Canyon Creek Women's Crisis Center Executive Director Cindy Baldwin said. The crisis center is expanding to accommodate the possible needs in the community and, through grants, will have four more rooms than they do now and be able to hire additional staff.
The crisis center is dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence access needed services at no cost to them. They provide a room, legal assistance with filing restraining and protective orders, job and housing placements, as well as much needed emotional support and counseling options to aid in recovery.
“We just wrap our arms around them and provide emotional support and advocacy,” Baldwin said. “Through protective orders and court and providing a safe place and helping them find a job … it's all there, and I think they don't realize that those resources are available.”
Often times, people who are caught in a cycle of abuse are unaware of how dangerous their situation is, Maren Hirschi, licensed clinical social worker and therapist, said.
Speaking from both personal and professional experience, she said, the mental trauma that takes place when an abuser is inflicting their will on their victim tends to keep the victim from leaving through a process of rationalization.
“In order to stay in a violent relationship,” Hirschi said. “Whether it's emotional, sexual or physical violence, we have to be in some kind of denial. If we weren't in some level of denial, then we would get out; nobody would stay if they were fully aware of the danger of the situation.”
For her, it came down to a discussion with her father when she expressed how much she loved her abuser, Hirschi said; his response was that her love didn't matter, her safety mattered.
The fact is, like with any other thing, it takes each person in an abusive relationship hitting their own personal rock-bottom before action is taken, Hirschi said, and sometimes, it's too late.