National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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"News of the Week"  

July, 2018 - Week 2
MJ Goyings
Many thanks to our very own "MJ" Goyings, a resident of Ohio,
for her daily research that provides us with the news related material that appears on the LACP & NAASCA web sites.



Putin Doesn't Care about Sex Trafficking

Russia could have done something to prevent sexual exploitation of foreign women during the World Cup. It chose not to.

by Madeline Roach

The 2018 FIFA World Cup has brought an estimated 1 million football fans from around the world to 11 host cities in Russia. But beneath the buzzing, celebratory atmosphere lies a black market of human misery. Anti-slavery nongovernmental organizations in Russia claim that human trafficking has increased since the start of the temporary visa-free regime for ticket holders, which began on June 4 in advance of the World Cup.

Major sporting events including the World Cup, the Olympics, and the Super Bowl always spark warnings over an influx of trafficked workers, many of whom are the victims of forced prostitution. But experts dispute whether such events intensify the problem of human trafficking. Concrete figures are notoriously elusive. There were reports that sexual exploitation had risen by 30 percent in connection with the World Cup in Germany in 2006, and 40 percent at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. Florence Kim of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said, “It can be extremely difficult to identify human trafficking because of its invisible nature, and even more so because victims are afraid to denounce their traffickers. They're often psychologically abused into staying silent.”

Whether or not the numbers have increased dramatically during the 2018 World Cup, Russia is no stranger to human sex trafficking. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, economic instability, looser travel restrictions, and the absence of a functional legal system facilitated a rise in human trafficking. In the Soviet era, there were no laws against the practice, and public discussion about sexuality and prostitution was taboo until the late 1980s.

As trafficking soared in Russia in the 1990s, foreign and domestic NGOs and some Western governments put pressure on the Duma — the Russian parliament — to pass anti-trafficking legislation. In 2003, President Vladimir Putin introduced laws making human trafficking a crime. Since then, Russia has not introduced any further anti-trafficking laws In 2003, President Vladimir Putin introduced laws making human trafficking a crime. Since then, Russia has not introduced any further anti-trafficking laws , whereas all 14 other former Soviet Republics have passed a total of more than 100 human trafficking laws. Activists say the absence of legislation makes it almost impossible to incriminate a trafficker.

According to the Global Slavery Index , there were more than a million victims of human trafficking in Russia in 2016. Yet, in 2013, just 28 people were convicted of sex trafficking and forced labor.

Thousands of people have been trafficked to Russia since June, according to the Nigerian anti-trafficking activist Oluremi Banwo Kehinde, who leads Help Services for Nigerians in Russia ,  an organization that supports African victims of human trafficking based in Moscow. Kehinde moved to Moscow in 1989 as a student and has been there ever since. After learning about the increasing problem of sex trafficking from African countries to Russia, he decided to fight the practice . To date, he says, he has helped over 400 African women escape sexual slavery in Russia.

The vast majority of trafficked women come from Nigeria, where so-called recruitment agencies lure people in with promises of a good job in Russia. Women are also trafficked from other African countries such as Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Mali, and ex-Soviet countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Moldova. The Moscow-based anti-slavery NGO Alternative has accompanied police on raids of hidden brothels and discovered hundreds of women who are potential victims of trafficking. Julia Siluyanova, a coordinator for Alternative, explained that traffickers mostly force non-Russian-speaking women into prostitution because they are easier to silence. “Language is the key to isolating a woman,” she said.

Families in Nigeria sometimes also play a significant role in facilitating trafficking. In exchange for helping agencies recruit their daughters, the relatives get a cut of the girls and women's earnings. In June, Ella, a Nigerian woman who worked in a Moscow brothel, was rescued by Alternative. She called her father to tell him what happened and that she was trying to prosecute the madam. Her father threatened to throw her mother out of their home in Nigeria if Ella did not continue working.

Sex trafficking from Nigeria is a growing problem throughout Europe. Sex trafficking from Nigeria is a growing problem throughout Europe. According to a 2017 IOM report , 80 percent of female migrants arriving in Italy from Nigeria — whose numbers have jumped from 1,454 in 2014 to 11,009 in 2016 — are potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. (The remaining 20 percent are economic migrants who come to Italy willingly.) The IOM's Kim said many women are forced into prostitution across Europe after being promised careers as hairdressers.

On arrival, a madam typically confiscates the women's documents, advertises them on Russian sex websites, and imprisons them in apartments. “The women are forced to hand over all their money to their madams, and in order to go free they're told they have to pay a debt of between $40,000 to $50,000. They're psychologically and physically abused, and the only time they get out is when the madam receives an order and calls a taxi to bring the girl to the client,” Siluyanova explained. The madams — many of whom were trafficked to Russia themselves — fear deportation, and angering the Nigerian diaspora. “During raids, there were cases when the madams jumped out of third-floor windows to escape the police,” Siluyanova recalled.

Anti-trafficking NGOs saw this coming. After observing the rise in human trafficking during last year's Confederations Cup held in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, and Sochi, activists put together a robust action plan for the World Cup. “This time, we were much more prepared,” Siluyanova said. Her organization carried out interviews with groups of men and women from Africa at Russian airports to find out if they could be the victims of trafficking and carried out raids in what they suspected were hidden brothels.

Alternative scans sex websites looking for advertisements for African women and once had a male staff member pose as a client to find out an address. Activists might spend days observing the location and the people going to and from the apartment. This work is essential to developing their database of suspects involved in the business.

Before the recent World Cup tournaments in Brazil , South Africa, and Germany, there were significant outreach campaigns to prevent human trafficking. Despite repeated warnings from NGOs, Russian authorities declined to support the anti-trafficking measures. Alternative's requests to put up billboards displaying their free hotline number next to airports were rejected. “We don't know who you are, and it's not our business,” was the government's response, according to Siluyanova.

Seeing one phone number can be the key to freedom. In April, a woman in Nigeria called Alternative's hotline for help. She said her sister, Amina, had been sold into prostitution in Moscow by a Nigerian woman named Rose. Three days later, Alternative rescued Amina and six other Nigerian women from a brothel on the outskirts of Moscow. According to Siluyanova, the three Nigerian men who owned the brothel had lied to the landlord, claiming they were living there by themselves while they hid the women.

In February, Amina had been lured to Russia through a job agency in Nigeria. When she arrived at the airport in Moscow, she was met by Rose, who turned out to be her madam. Rose confiscated her documents and told her she owed a $50,000 debt. “Even when the women are rescued, they are afraid of reporting the madams' crimes. Some are brainwashed into believing in a voodoo curse, that the madam is very powerful, and that their families will be in danger if they talk,” Siluyanova said.

Many Russians blame the victims for falling into prostitution, which is why fighting human trafficking remains a low priority in government.  According to a question in a 2007 survey , only one-third of the participants agreed human trafficking in Russia was a substantial problem. In response to another question from the same survey, around 41 percent of the respondents blamed the victims for their situation, while another 41 percent believed women were duped by criminal gangs or sold into slavery by parents and friends.

Trafficking victims are treated as criminals under the current law, said Kehinde, the Nigerian activist. “Authorities don't see them as victims but as illegal immigrants and refuse to provide even basic medical care when they're rescued. Victims are immediately deported back to their country, where they're almost guaranteed to be in danger and face rejection by their community.”

Alternative has made progress with the support of the criminal investigations department in Moscow. The department collects information about diasporas and criminal groups, and it carries out extensive investigations. But it is merely a small section of the Russian law enforcement apparatus, mostly operating in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The majority of police officers are still unaware or simply ignorant about the extent and gravity of human trafficking. Siluyanova recently reported an incident of sex trafficking to a chief investigator, who scoffed: “Voodoo-shmoodoo. Report it and you could be put prison for lying.”

Despite the tireless work of NGOs to combat human trafficking, political clashes between the Russian and U.S. governments have made their work more difficult. In recent years, the issue has become politicized due to Western pressure to adopt anti-trafficking policies. In 2012, Russia expelled the United States Agency for International Development, the main source for U.S. government funded anti-trafficking activities in Russia, claiming the aid agency undermined Russia's sovereignty.

The next year, Russia was downgraded to Tier 3 — the lowest ranking — in the U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report for failing to comply with minimum standards. The Russian government derided the methodology, calling the report results “preformulated conclusions based on fragmentary evidence obtained from dubious sources.” In 2016, the Russian government stopped providing prosecution or victim rehabilitation data for the report.

The case of Amina, who spent just three months in sexual slavery before being rescued, was exceptional. According to Siluyanova, people spend an average of two to three years in such conditions before they manage to find help. Most of the time their families do not know or care — or are complicit themselves.

Until the Russian authorities step up their commitment to stop human trafficking, women will continue to be vulnerable. The very least the Russian government could do would be to advertise hotline numbers that could make the difference between continued captivity and escaping sexual slavery. The World Cup would have been a good place to start.



(Video on site)

Derek Braye Boss - 12-year-old drops his first music video - 'Child Abuse'

Little Derek is a Hot Hip Pop Sensation who is currently signed to SoloMount Entertainment.

Derek Braye Boss, known by his stage name Derek 'De Wonder Kid', is a Nigerian Singer/Rapper, Songwriter, and Instrumentalist from Sagbama L.G.A of Bayelsa State.

Derek is the second child of Mr & Mrs Braye Boss a family from Bayelsa State, South-South Nigeria. Born in 2005, Little Derek is a Hot Hip Pop Sensation who is currently signed to SoloMount Entertainment.

His 1st hit to lime light on November 2017 was at the AY Live Port Harcourt where he performed and thrill his Audience with His Lyrical Prowess.

Later that same year Naija FM Comedy & Jam Night which play host to the 'Creme de la Creme' of the Entertainment Industry were thrilled to an Outstanding Performance of the Young Lamb.

In this Classic Piece titled CHILD ABUSE, Derek cries out for justice unbehalf of the abuse child in Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world.

There have been Over 200 victims of child abuse cases in Nigeria and no one seems to be taking serious action against the perpetrators of this act.

From physical abuse, to emotional abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, child trafficking, child labour.

Derek uses this Piece to speak out, stop the abuse today, let's give our leaders of tomorrow a reason to smile again because like kids we were once like them.


How Child Abuse Affects the Brain

“If a child is experiencing danger in a chronic way ... their stress response system is on high alert all the time.”

by Gaby Del Valle

Each year, child protection agencies receive more than 3.6 million referrals involving more than 6.6 million children who may be experiencing abuse, according to the advocacy group Childhelp . In some cases, that abuse turns deadly: On average, between four and seven American children die each day because of abuse and neglect. Most of them — approximately 70% — were two years old or younger. But even when children survive abuse, the psychological and cognitive effects of growing up with trauma can last a lifetime.

Adam Brown, PsyD, a child psychologist at the NYU Child Study Center , told Teen Vogue that child abuse can take many forms, ranging from neglect to physical and sexual abuse. In cases of neglect, a child's development may be stunted as a result, Brown said. In order to understand how abuse affects the brain, Brown said, it's helpful to understand what kinds of environments children need to thrive.

“The structures of the brain continue to grow throughout childhood, with a lot of growth happening in the first year,” Brown said. “Neurons in the brain grow in result to experience, so that's why it's so important to have nurturing, stimulating, and safe experiences in the first year of life. In the absence of that, kids are not going to grow in an optimal way.”

One of the biggest issues in cases of neglect, according to Brown, is that children won't learn to “regulate their emotions,” since they may learn to do so from their caregivers.

Dr. Kim Schrier , a pediatrician who's running for Congress in Washington state's eighth district, explained how parents should teach children to regulate their emotions. “When you put a child in stress, they don't know how to self-calm,” Schrier told Teen Vogue . “That's why when you see babies cry, parents hug, we sing lullabies, we do deep breathing, we blow bubbles. These are all things we do to help kids control and adapt to stress.”

But, as Brown and Schrier explained, the absence of these stress-management lessons can have an adverse effect on young brains. “If kids don't have the ability to develop these adaptations [to stress], then it becomes what we call toxic stress,” Schrier said. “You're flooding the developing brain with cortisol and adrenaline.

Nearly 15% of respondents to a questionnaire for a joint study on adverse childhood experiences by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health organization Kaiser Permanente mentioned emotional neglect during their first 18 years of life, while an additional 10% mentioned physical neglect. Even more spoke to physical abuse (28.3%), sexual abuse (20.7%), or emotional abuse (10.6%), all of which Brown says are experiences that can lead to increased aggression and psychological issues in children.

“Neglect can have such a negative impact,” Brown said, “but then imagine if the people who are supposed to keep you safe are actually harming you.” Much like in cases of neglect, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse can “trigger the stress response system in the brain,” leading to that “flight/fight/freeze” response in children, Brown said.

Everyone has the flight or flight response — it's why your heart races when you're scared, why some people are able to fend off attackers, or why sometimes you freeze up in times of danger. But when this response is being constantly triggered in a child's brain, the effects can be seriously detrimental, according to Brown.

“If a child is experiencing danger in a chronic way, like when they're being abused, then their stress response system is on high alert all the time,” Brown said.

Being forcibly removed from one's parents at a young age could trigger that stress response.

"You certainly could imagine a very young child being suddenly and forcibly removed from their parents, and being made to live somewhere where they don't know anyone, is going to have a very serious stress response," Brown said.

“We know that adults who have a history of child abuse or other negative effects in childhood are at a much higher likelihood for psychiatric problems, for medical problems, to be unemployed, and to have problems with the juvenile or adult justice systems,” Brown continued.

Some issues can be addressed through psychological treatment and counseling — and, most importantly, by removing the child from an abusive situation — but child abuse can also lead to medical issues down the line. According to the CDC/Kaiser study, “adverse childhood experiences” like abuse and neglect can increase risk of heart disease, liver disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as conditions like depression.

“You take these children who don't know how to adapt and put them in these toxic stressors, and you're basically setting them up for academic struggles, for emotional struggles, not knowing how to bond, for not knowing how to seek help,” Schrier said. “These are lifelong impacts.”



Suicide and loss: A mother reflects on her son's death

In 2016, when Jack Pierre ended his life, Montana's suicide rate led the nation.

by Briana Wipf

Bobbing his head to the music, swinging his brown, jaw-length hair from side to side, Jack Pierre sang dramatically along with the music, the Killers' “Somebody Told Me,” sometimes letting the strident vocals of lead singer Brandon Flowers take over, other times belting out the music in his own clear tenor.

Jack recorded it about a year before he died by suicide in August 2016.

This Jack, caught in a video goofing around, enjoying music, “his outlet,” is the Jack his family and some friends knew. But Jack, who dealt with mental illness and suicidal thoughts from a young age, also struggled to relate to his peers and gained a reputation as being a scary kid, his mother, Jennifer Van Heel, said.

Van Heel tried for years to get Jack appropriate help, which at various times included medication, counseling and inpatient treatment, but nothing seemed to improve his quality of life in a substantial way.

Ultimately, he was a lonely kid. Counselors would tell him that he needed to love himself. Jack insisted that he loved himself just fine; it was other people who seemed to go out of their way to remind him that he was different. “What Jack hated was he did not fit into what society thought he should be, and nobody would accept him for what he was or allow him to just be,” Van Heel said. “Not only do people not accept you, they have to let you know.”

Rachael Skiera, a friend and classmate of Jack's, said that while she knew Jack was bullied in school, she did not see him publicly show a negative reaction to the bullying. “Looking back on it, he was probably just trying to protect himself from getting hurt,” Skiera said.

Jennifer Van Heel holds a portrait drawn by Jack Pierre's long-distance girlfriend of two years, Edith Dively, during a Skype session. Dively met his family for the first time during his celebration of life. Julia Moss

In 2016, when Jack ended his life, Montana led the nation in its suicide rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, suicide regularly ranks within the top-ten leading causes of death, according to the CDC. The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Montana's adolescents, compiled by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, found that 20.8 percent of students reported having seriously considered suicide in the past year, while 9.5 percent of students reported having attempted suicide at least once in the last year.

But suicide in Montana affects all age groups. The 2016 Suicide Mortality Review Team Report, published by Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, indicates that more than half of all suicides in Montana between 2014 and 2016 occurred in people between the ages of 35 and 64. Yet suicide is a leading cause of death for young people, the report states. The majority of people who killed themselves had mental health issues and many had exhibited warning signs, according to the report.

Rural communities face unique challenges with respect to mental health care. According to Brooke Dager, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Marias Healthcare in Shelby, rural areas lack resources that make mental illness “difficult to address and treat.”

A lack of inpatient beds for people in crisis is one concern, Dager said. Great Falls is the closest inpatient facility for adults. Children must go either to Helena or Billings for inpatient care. Dager wishes there were more inpatient beds, but treating people before they need crisis care is important too. “Really it's just preventive care,” she said, “more people being educated about warning signs.”

To that end, Dager said the local community has worked hard to provide mental health first aid training to parents and educators and to raise awareness about adverse childhood experiences, such as physical or emotional abuse, which may affect a child as they grow into an adult.

Van Heel has seen the community change in that regard, too. But she worries that change has yet to take root in a significant way that can change the attitude toward people with mental illness. That stigma is “probably one of the major barriers” to getting treatment, Dager said. “They don't want to be labeled mentally ill.”

Contemplating suicide does not necessarily mean one has a mental illness, she adds. Many people at some point or another in their lives go through times where they think about ending their lives.

Jennifer Van Heel stands under the pavilion where her son's celebration of life was held. The celebration was on what would have been his 18th birthday. Julia Moss

From a young age, Jack displayed character traits that set him apart. “When he was 5, he wanted to move to the rainforest to save all the snakes. And it always disappointed him how little everyone cared about how the snakes and everyone else were impacted,” Van Heel said.

Jack would continue this way, showing concerns for big-picture problems that many of his friends had difficulty relating to. “He was always way more worried about huge things and wanted to try to fix everything,” she adds.

As he grew older, he read voraciously. He checked out books from the library that had not left the shelves for decades, exploring with Leo Tolstoy and Salman Rushdie. He became interested in world religions. “Jack was looking for answers and why he was the way he was and why he didn't fit into society,” Van Heel said.

When his exhaustive study of religions did not satisfy him, he turned to science and became interested in quantum physics. He loved to tell his mom about what he had learned.

People who knew Jack learned not to argue with him on subjects he had studied because he had his facts on hand. “He was smart and against the grain a lot of times,” Van Heel said.

Skiera remembers Jack being smart and applying that intelligence through his sense of humor. She moved to Shelby as a fourth grader and, because their last names fell near each other in the alphabet, often found herself near Jack in the seating order in class. They became friends. “He was very intelligent, very witty, quick to make jokes, but never taunting or mean about it,” Skiera recalls.

Jack loved children, especially babies. Children under 5 were not cynical and were not judgmental, he said. He was especially fond of his niece, Annie, who was almost a year when he died. He sang to her constantly. “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes was one of their favorite songs.

Skiera remembers Jack's love for his niece. When she was born, “everyone saw a total change in him. He was completely obsessed with taking care of his niece.”

He loved animals, especially snakes, and had several. His last was a ball python named Ash. He could relate to snakes, he would say, because they, like him, knew what it was like to be feared and not understand why.

He was a talented artist and writer. He loved to sing and loved music, “everything from Jack Johnson to heavy metal that made my ears bleed,” Van Heel said. He enjoyed the outdoors and liked to run.

He had sometimes contentious relationships with his siblings, but he shared a close bond with his older sister Shyanne and his younger sister, Melanie. He butted heads at times with his stepfather, Van Heel's late husband, Casey, perhaps because they were so much alike, Van Heel said. Jack's relationship with his father, Jason Pierre, was strained at times, but toward the end of his life, he and his dad were on better terms, and Jack even lived with him for short periods, once in Louisiana and once in Great Falls.

“It was hard to see him through the ‘a lot' (of times) that wasn't so good,” Van Heel recalled. “Living with someone who struggles with that is freaking hard.”

Van Heel admits her attempts to help Jack sometimes meant she spent less time with the rest of the family, and that took a toll too.

Jack's family knew his struggles and loved him. Outside the family, some people were less forgiving. Some thought he was trouble, Van Heel said. For a while, he had dreadlocks. He painted his fingernails black and wore black eyeliner. Some peers, teachers and employers were scared by his dark outward appearance.

But those who got to know him learned he was a polite young man who was well read and intelligent.

As he hit puberty, his mental health problems began to compound, and his struggles began to increase.

Always close to his mother, Jack confided in her that he was engaging in self harm. “We talked about that a lot… I could relate because I did the same thing,” Van Heel said. “That was one of my downfalls, because I'm still here, I made it through, so I figured my kid would do the same.”

Eventually, Van Heel stopped cutting herself; instead “I graduated to tattoos because they're prettier,” she said wryly.

A crescent moon and the words "I love you to the moon and back x infinity" are tattooed on Jennifer Van Heel's arm. Near the end of his life, Jack went to live with his father, Jason Pierre, in Louisiana to see if a change of scenery would help with his mental health. Van Heel told him that it doesn't matter where we are, we always look at the same moon. "That was our thing," she said. Julia Moss

For years, Jack also confided in his mother that he was miserable, that he wanted to die. “He didn't hate himself, but enough of society hated him and let him know what a freak and how different he was and he didn't fit,” she said.

He was a burden, he would say. Everyone would be better off without him. It would be easier for everyone if he were gone.

But he stuck around, Van Heel said, because he knew it would hurt people, especially her.

“I told him it would do more than hurt my feelings,” she said. “I would try to let him know that dying was not the answer… I tried to convince him that there is so much more beyond this and so much more for him.”

Sometimes, Jack believed her. Other times, she knows he did not. Van Heel tried to get help for her son, in Shelby and outside of it. “I can't even tell you how many counselors we went through,” she said.

From age 7 to when he began puberty, Jack was on medications for ADHD. Those medications stopped being effective and “they kind of bounced him around” on different medications for depression and anxiety after he began puberty.

They tried counseling in tandem with medication. When the side effects from the medications were too much for Jack, they tried counseling only. He tried inpatient treatment. He spent time in a therapeutic group home in Billings, which was helpful. But Jack missed home.

He underwent a full psychiatric evaluation at a facility in Kalispell, where the staff helped get Jack on medications that were be more helpful for him. But still, Jack's past mental health diagnoses seemed to follow him.

With those labels Jack – who already could be off-putting to people due to his dark clothes, dreadlocks and sometimes sharp tongue – was pushed even farther afield, according to Van Heel. “People did not want to deal with him,” Van Heel said. “You tell people your kid has a mental illness, and everyone steps back 10 feet.”

The power of those labels – and people's responses to them – have made Van Heel rethink her decisions about Jack's treatment. “If I could go back, and change my mind and not allow him to be further diagnosed and labeled, and have to do special ed(ucation) because of emotional distress, I would do it in a heartbeat,” she said. “Being labeled as a manic depressive and (having) anxiety with suicidal tendencies was a huge red flag that screwed things in a lot of ways.”

Now, Van Heel knows there are things she would have done differently, from big picture decisions about diagnosis and treatment down to small choices of words. “I'd try telling him that things can always be worse, but that was the wrong thing to say,” she said. “To him, his problems were as bad as everyone else's.”

Nor is she sure how she could counsel a parent enduring with their child what she endured with Jack.

But she does know, for example, that parents of children with mental illness will have to be “cheerleaders” for their children, because they will need advocates. “You're going to have to defend them, and there's going to be crappy people you have to deal with,” she said.

She wishes there had been some sort of group counseling for kids in Jack's situation, if for nothing else than to assure them that they are not alone. She wishes the education system had a better understanding of and approach to mental illness, one that does not leave people like Jack feeling like an “outcast.”

There were some providers who truly cared about Jack and sincerely wanted to help him, but they were ultimately unable to do so. While Van Heel is grateful to those who tried, she also acknowledges that finding the best providers may mean going far from Montana.

Jack Pierre hated that “he did not fit into what society thought he should be, and nobody would accept him for what he was or allow him to just be,” shared his mother, Jennifer Van Heel in a recent interview. Jack, pictured with his snake, Ash, ended his life on Aug. 26, 2016. Jennifer Van Heel

Toward the end of his life, as he approached his 18th birthday, Van Heel knew Jack's situation was worsening and that there was little she could do to help him. As he abused pills and alcohol, she considered getting him into short-term inpatient treatment, but she also knew that it would take time to find him a bed in a facility. If he turned 18 before that could happen, the rules of the game would change. Jack would be an adult and could make his own decisions.

“That was the rock and a hard place I was in the last month of his life. I knew we were drowning, but he was done with the help… Yes I could get him a 72-hour commitment, but it would result in him walking out of there in 72 hours no better off,” she said.

On Friday, Aug. 26, Jack ended his life. Van Heel found his body at a neighbor's house.

She chose to celebrate Jack's life on Sept. 12, on what would have been his 18th birthday. About 100 people attended, from “all walks of life,” she said.

Those attendees included everyone from the local clergy he had discussed religion with, to officials from Montana's Office of Public Instruction who had helped Jack with his special education plan; from people he had worked with at his jobs over the years to the school cook who often ate lunch with him in elementary school because he usually sat alone; from his girlfriend, whom he met online but had never met in person, to the small cadre of friends who had stuck by him. “Jack would have been amazed at the people. He never would have guessed that it would have come to this,” she said.

The people at Jack's celebration all shared one thing in common. They had all taken the time to get to know Jack. They had discovered that his outward appearance may have seemed intimidating, but on the inside, he was just a young man trying to find answers and hoping to be respected.

It is because of Jack's desire for respect that Van Heel wants to talk about him and his death. “I want people's perspective of people who are different and have mental illnesses to hopefully change so it's not such a horrible label to have, and make you somebody society shies away from because they are scared of you and figure you're and freak and don't fit,” she said.

She worries that even within the mental health care system, patients are treated more like “a project or less than a normal person. It's not maybe the world around you that needs to do something different, but you are the problem. You need to change, you need to medicate, you need, you need, you need. That was Jack's struggle. No matter what he tried to change about himself and what he tried to do different, the people around him remained the same.”

What Jack craved was to be respected as an individual. Van Heel hopes people take that to heart. “It costs nothing to bite your tongue, smile and be decent. It can cost someone so much with one nasty remark,” she said.

To that end, his life and death have had ripple effects. His younger siblings, Xander and Melanie, have taken to heart the importance of kindness. Melanie tries to be kind to everyone and speaks out against bullying; Xander received a citizenship award at school for looking out for his classmates, Van Heel said.

Skiera went through a period of questioning whether she had missed warning signs. She and other classmates spearheaded an effort for Jack and another classmate who died to be remembered at their high school graduation ceremony in May 2017.

Jennifer Van Heel puts her hand on Xander Pierre's shoulder at Williamson Park. "Grief has kind of become a cloud in my life," she said. "Losing so many people in the past three years has changed my outlook. I look for the littlest positive thing.” Julia Moss

Now, she encourages compassion. “It's ok… to be scared as a friend of a person you are concerned about,” she said. “But you stepping out and lending a hand could save someone's life.”

Since Jack's death, Van Heel has counted each Friday as it passes. She thought she would stop her count at 52 – the one-year mark – but it has continued. Each Friday morning, she writes Jack a note to tell him what has happened in the last seven days. “Not that he doesn't know what's going on, but that's what I do,” she said.



If Your Mom Ever Says These 7 Things, It's Actually Abusive

by Lauren Schumacker

For many people, the things that their mom says to them matter a lot. Her statements can really affect you, for better or for worse. And since she's human, she might not always say things that are phrased the right way, or she might let her emotions or the circumstances of the situation get the best of her. But if your mom ever says these things, it's actually abusive , not just something that might sting you for a moment and then pass or something that can just be brushed off.

There are many things that your mom (or anyone else) could say to you that would qualify as abusive, but some are more obvious than others. In some cases, you might be surprised to learn that some insults or seemingly off-handed remarks can be abusive. Statements that are belittling, bullying, blaming, bashing, or something else that's so negative and hurtful can all be considered abusive, Lauren Dummit, LMFT, CSAT, the clinical director and cofounder of Triune Therapy Group , tells Romper by email. These comments are damaging and hearing them from your mom or someone else who should love you and who you should trust can be especially difficult. If you hear these kinds of comments from your mom, turning to a therapist and encouraging her to get help too can make a real difference.

1 "No One Will Ever Marry You"

This kind of comment is, of course, upsetting. Regardless of your feelings on marriage, hearing your mom say that no one could ever want you can feel crushing. Dummit says that the purpose of a statement like this one is to exert power. "This can take the form of verbal abuse, which is a form of overt, emotional abuse, in which one uses words as weapons to caustically cut the other person and to dominate [them]," she says.

2 "I Don't Remember It That Way At All"

Context matters here. But this kind of statement can be indicative of gaslighting, which is a sign of emotional abuse, as Sara Stanizai, MA, LMFT , a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper by email. Gaslighting makes you question your perception of reality and that's not something that your mom or anyone else who loves you should do.

3 "Shut Up"

"Shut up" just isn't a nice thing to say, generally. Dummit notes that if your mom yells this at you, it's definitely abusive. Working with a therapist to deal with your mom's lack of respect for you and anger towards you can really help.

4 "I Never Should Have Had Children"

No child (even if they're no longer a child) should have to hear their mom say that she regrets having children. This kind of statement is certainly emotionally abusive. "Overtime, this pattern of abuse impairs a child's emotional development and negatively impacts a child's sense of self-worth," Jamie Kreiter, LCSW , a licensed clinical social worker, tells Romper by email. It's not OK.

5 "You're Ruining My Life"

This kind of statement blames you for all of her problems, which is not acceptable. Dr. Deborah J. Cohan, PhD , an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina — Beaufort, tells Romper by email that the things that she does to "keep people walking on eggshells" is emotionally abusive.

6 "You Can't Do Anything Right"

No one wants to hear their mom say that they can't do anything right, but if she does, that's actually more abusive than just a throw-away comment that hurts your feelings a little bit. Celeste Viciere, LMHC , a licensed mental health clinician, author, and podcast host, tells Romper by email that if your mom makes you feel like you can't do anything right, that can be emotionally abusive. It's repeated criticism of everything you do and that can really wear on you.

7 "You Don't Know Anything"

If your mom says anything about you being dumb, an idiot, or not knowing anything, that too is actually an abusive statement, Dummit says. She might not always agree with your choices, opinions, or behavior, but comments like these are crossing a line.

Hearing any of these things can be extremely difficult, but neither you nor your mom may have realized before that all can actually be abusive. Seeking the help of a qualified therapist can give you the support you need as you work through the damage done by these comments, and encouraging that your mom get help herself might help you both in the long-run.



Disgraced U.S. Marine Once Backed by White House Chief of Staff Sentenced to Prison for Child Abuse

by James Laporta

disgraced U.S. Marine Colonel forced into retirement and defended by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after  accepting a plea deal in an unrelated case stemming from allegations of aggravated sexual battery, three counts of indecent liberties with a child, and one count of felony cruelty to children that dating back to the early 2000s.

Former Marine Colonel Todd Shane Tomko, a 33-year career officer and former commander of Wounded Warrior Regiment in Quantico, Virginia, pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery by way of an Alford plea, a U.S. legal doctrine where a defendant maintains his innocence, but admits that the prosecution has adequate evidence to prove to a jury or judge that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Tomko case rose to national prominence early this year after Kelly fell under scrutiny for his handling of domestic abuse claims against former top White House aide Rob Porter. For Kelly's critics, Tomko was another example of Kelly's support of loyal colleagues, despite the allegations they faced. When Kelly praised Tomko in 2015, he faced charges of harassment and sexual misconduct.  

Kelly, who was originally brought into the White House back in July 2017 to impose order and plug a press leaky White House administration, was not able to skirt scrutiny for his handling of the Porter case and his statement of support praising the former staff secretary as “a man of true integrity and honor.”

Porter resigned his position after his two former wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, accused him of physical, verbal and emotional abuse.

In the aftermath, White House officials struggled to answer questions about what they knew and when they knew it, amid reports that allegations from Holderness and Willoughby were stalling Porter's security clearance.

“We didn't cover ourselves in glory in how we handled [Porter]," Kelly admitted in March, but said that he had only heard about the abuse allegations against Porter through media reports—a statement that further contradicted the White House's narrative after FBI director Chris Wray testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the agency delivered a partial version of its security clearance investigation into Porter to the White House in March 2017, with the full report being delivered three months later.

Kelly would concede that Wray timeline to Congress had been accurate, but added , "I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over.”

In February, the  New York Times cited the Tomko case as another example of Kelly defending the accused.

In 2016, Kelly, the retired U.S. Marine general and soon-to-be Trump appointed homeland security secretary, served as a character witness for Tomko on numerous occasions during Tomko's legal march towards a general court-martial hearing, according to court-martial transcripts obtained by Newsweek through the Freedom of Information Act and reporting from The New York Times.

Kelly described Tomko as a friend and a “great leader." Despite never having served in the same unit with each other at any time throughout their careers, the two men forged a decade-long friendship, but “were not close,” said Kelly.

In a pre-trial phone call, Kelly described Tomko as a “superb Marine officer,” saying, “I don't know exactly what the issues are, but I certainly have never seen him berate, demean or insult anyone whether it's been race, ethnic background, gender,” the Times reported. Kelly would recommend that Tomko remain in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Kelly's comments about Tomko were similar in nature to Kelly's original statement regarding Porter, saying, “I can't say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him.”

Towards the bottom of the court transcripts obtained by Newsweek , Kelly agreed that he understood Tomko was pleading guilty to alcohol abuse, driving under the influence at Marine Corps Base Quantico and unlawful command influence, a legal concept within the armed forces' hierarchical structure that prevents military commanders from attempting to influence the military justice system. “Colonel Tomko is a great Marine,” Kelly added.

Tomko eventually pleaded guilty to a number of charges at his court-martial, including conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman. He was sentenced to two months of jail time and paid a $10,000 fine before being drummed out of the U.S. Marine Corps. 

In November 2017, Tomko was arrested in Illinois on outstanding felony warrants from the Virginia Beach Police Department. He was charged with seven counts of child abuse, said his hometown newspaper, The Quincy Herald-Whig.

Tuesday's plea agreement sentenced Tomko to a total of 36 months for three counts of assault and battery, but the court suspended 18 of those months and gave Tomko credit for time served in the Virginia Beach City Jail and awaiting extradition from Illinois.



Signs of child abuse should be reported

by Leah McEwen

Child abuse can be difficult to detect, but knowing what to look for and reporting suspicious activity in a timely manner is essential.

According to an article by the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, there are multiple types of child abuse – some less obvious than others.

The article states that the most difficult types to identify are verbal and emotional abuse. Abuse that does not leave a visible mark can include name-calling, threats of harm, destruction of personal items and isolating them, among other things.

Physical abuse can include slapping and hitting a child, shaking them or tying them up. Physical abuse often leaves visible injuries such as cuts, bruises and burns, the article states.

According to the article, neglect is another form of abuse.

“Neglect means not meeting the basic needs of the child and is the most common form of maltreatment,” the article states.

Lack of medical care, supervision, nutrition, clothing, proper hygiene and a safe place to live are categorized as types of neglect, according to the article.

Tonya Gains, a social worker at the Pearl River County Division of Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, said that if anyone suspects abuse is occurring, they should immediately call the Mississippi abuse hotline.

“You can't go wrong. That's the first thing you need to do,” Gains said.

Once a call is made to the hotline, the caller will be directed to a place within their county where they can report the abuse.

Gains said that sometimes it can be difficult to determine if a child is being abused, or if there are other circumstances at play. So, a thorough investigation will need to be done. Regardless, for a child's safety she said it is always important to report any suspicions, even if they turn out to be false. Gains said when someone calls, they can choose to stay anonymous if they are afraid of backlash from the parents or guardian of the child.

According to Mississippi code 43-21-353, anyone who has a reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused is required to report it as soon as possible.

The Mississippi abuse hotline can be reached at 1-800-222-8000.



Jury Selection Begins For Disney Executive Charged With Child Sex Abuse

by Chris McCrory, Santa Clarita

Jury selection began Monday for the Disney executive who was charged last year with sexual abuse after allegedly assaulting two children over six years.

Jonathan Blake Heely, 58, of Saugus, was charged in December 2017 by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office with three felony counts of lewd acts with a child.

Jury selection is expected to last through at least Tuesday as lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense questions prospective jurors. Several were dismissed Monday by a judge during the first day of questioning, which focused on whether any potential jurors had been victims or were close with victims of sexual abuse.

After a panel of 12 is selected, Heely will fight the charges in court.

Heely is alleged to have “willfully, unlawfully, and lewdly commit a lewd and lascivious act upon and with the body and certain parts and members thereof (Victim 1), a child under the age of fourteen years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, and gratifying the lust, passions and sexual desires of the said defendant and the said child,” according to court documents.

The earliest of these incidents allegedly took place more than a decade ago.

Heely allegedly abused Victim 1 “on or between June, 2006 and June, 2010,” according to the criminal complaint.

Additionally, the charges detail another child, Victim 2, who was also “willfully, unlawfully and lewdly” acted upon by Heely.

Victim 2 was acted upon even earlier than Victim 1 according to the criminal complaint, with the alleged incidents occurring during a period from August 2004 to August 2005.

A Disney spokesman said the company suspended Heely after being informed of the charges when they were first reported by Variety.

Booking records indicate that Heely was released on $150,000 bail in December 2017.



(Video on site)

58 Hawaii priests accused of child sex abuse; deadline to file a civil claim extended

by Brigette Namata

HONOLULU (KHON2) - Allegations of Hawaii priests sexually assaulting children date as far back as the 1950s. 

A detailed report compiled by law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates PA and the Law Office of Mark Gallagher reveal 58 men associated with the Diocese of Honolulu who have been accused of sexually abusing children.

The report also shows a letter written by a priest with Maryknoll Fathers, dated November 6, 1959, to another priest on the mainland. In the letter, the priest admits Hawaii was considered a "dumping ground" for troubled clerics from the mainland and the Philippines and Guam. He warned against transferring two troubled priests to the islands, adding "these two men might be most dangerous out here."

The letter went on to continue: "If you decide to send them out, I would ask that it is made plain that we will not stand for any nonsense out here." 

Lawmakers have now extended the window for survivors of sexual abuse. Victims have until April 24,2020 to come forward and file a civil claim. 

The extension has helped victims like John Pedro, 69. 

"Being an altar boy, and the confessional, I believe that was the open door for them." 

The Kailua man spent decades harboring a secret.  In the 50s, he says he was molested by 2 priests at Saint Anthony's Church in Kailua. 

"He wanted to touch you, stuff like that. I was always questioning: how was this supposed to help me? I caved in, I said wow, ok. You know? He's the smarter one."

Pedro credits his wife of over 40 years for coming forward with his story. He hopes others will do the same. 

"I encourage everyone to not only validate but also come forward. Because as my wife told, they need to be held accountable."

Attorney Mark Gallagher says dozens of survivors have come forward in recent years. 

"That is the type of change we're working toward. This law will enable survivors to continue making in our community. And other organizations will step forward and do the right thing and protect children."

We reached out to the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii, but have not yet heard back.



Child sex abuse victims encouraged to come forward after Ige extends window to file claims

by Star-Advertiser staff

After the state this month extended the window to file child sex abuse claims in Circuit Court for a third time, a group of lawyers today plans to encourage more alleged victims to come forward.

Last month, Gov. David Ige signed into law Act 098 (18), which again extended the statute of limitations — this time until 2020 — for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits for assaults that occurred in Hawaii.

Kailua attorney Mark Gallagher and attorneys with the Minnesota law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates planned today to encourage more alleged victims to file claims.

As of July 1, alleged victims now have another two years to sue alleged assailants or “an institution, agency, firm, business, corporation or other public or private legal entity that owed a duty of care to the victim” according to the law previously known as Senate Bill 2719, SD 1, HD 1, CD 1.

“There is a window that's going to be open until April 24 of 2020,” said Kailua attorney Mark Gallagher, who estimates that he has represented 70 childhood sex abuse victims since the first window for lawsuits was extended in 2012 to 2014.




Don't prosecute a mother for reporting suspected child sexual abuse — Women's Aid Organisation

Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) is outraged that Maya Fuaad has been charged for “false reporting” under Section 182 of the Penal Code, after she lodged a police report about her child's complaint of sexual abuse.

This case could set a disconcerting precedent which deters other parents, or affected parties, from coming forward to report child sexual abuse.

“A parent should never have to feel afraid to come forward and report abuse of their children, sexual or not. This has been nothing more than the abuse of our justice system, and does not protect the child,” says Maya.

As child sexual abuse is already greatly underreported, the authorities must facilitate, and not hinder, reporting. The authorities must also protect individuals who report child sexual abuse in good faith.

The Child Act 2001 mandates family members to report, if they “believe on reasonable grounds” that a child is being abused. In fact, it is an offence if family members fail to report.

Meanwhile, under the recently passed Sexual Offences Against Child Act 2017, everyone has a duty and is mandated to report child sexual abuse. The Act states: “any person who fails to give information of the commission of any offence under this Act to the officer in charge of the nearest police station, commits an offence”.

The actions of the authorities seem to reinforce the gender stereotype that women who report sexual abuse are lying and not credible.

WAO is also concerned about recent efforts to limit and control Maya's access to her children. Controlling access to children is a common tactic in domestic violence situations.

As this is a public interest case, WAO, the Association of Women Lawyers (AWL), and Voice of the Children (VOC) have appointed watching brief lawyers to monitor the court proceedings.



Formar Carmel Coach Charged with Sexual Exploitation, Child Pornography

by Jared Anderson

Former Carmel, Indiana swim coach  John Goelz  has been charged with child sexual exploitation and child pornography, according to reports.

Goelz was arrested earlier this month after authorities say an investigation uncovered evidence he was in an inappropriate relationship with one of his athletes. Goelz was a coach with the well-known Carmel Swim Club and a volunteer assistant with the Carmel High School swim team. U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said that investigators obtained screenshots of text messages allegedly between Goelz and a female swimmer that indicate a sexual relationship. Goelz has been removed from his posts at both Carmel Swim Club and Carmel High School, and was banned permanently by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which now governs investigations into coaching abuse and bans coaches throughout all Olympic sports. The ban itself is not a temporary or interim suspension, though the U.S. Center for SafeSport list does indicate that the ban is still subject to appeal.

Now, the local ABC affiliate reports that Goelz was charged on Thursday, July 12 and remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals. He had a detention hearing on July 10 and could now face a minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted, an assistant U.S. attorney says. The local NBC affiliate adds that the charges are “child sexual exploitation” and “possession of child pornography.”



Comfort teaches child sexual abuse prevention

by Angie Holland

OSKALOOSA — Child Sexual Assault Prevention Specialist Martha Comfort's program, Care for Kids, is an evidence-based child abuse prevention program for children ages 3–8.

Comfort said she teaches the program in area schools. She also teaches a parent's class.

"If you're telling kids to go and ask for help, you'd better to have the tools to answer questions," she said. "So basically we're bonding families. But we know that it's better to put money into prevention and to try to prevent. It's less traumatic for the family."

The first thing Comfort teaches children is to ask for help.

"There are some programs that'll say 'go tell.' Well with kids, that's tattling," she said. "So we teach them to ask for help in anything."

Children are also taught about feelings, Comfort said.

"Children that are sexually abused, we know that they feel mixed up at some point or confused because, especially it's going to be 93 percent of the time somebody they know," she said. "So if it's their uncle molesting or touching them and this is their favorite uncle and everybody loves that uncle and that creates this mixed up, confused feeling, then they know 'I'm feeling [this way] I need to ask for help.' So we're trying to normalize these things."

The hardest thing for adults to understand, Comfort said, is that children need to be taught the correct anatomical names for the genitals.

"We teach penis and vagina. Parents think we're teaching sex ed. We're not," she said. "Kids that can verbalize, we are giving them the vocabulary to disclose abuse. So that the moment they're at a friend's house and a friend's brother sticks his hands down and touches the little girl, the little girl can say 'that's my vagina.'

More importantly, Comfort said, the child knows she can go to her parents and ask for help.

"She comes home and says 'this is what happened' and they can prevent it. They know exactly," she said. "It's not saying 'oh he touched my woo-hoo, he touched my pookie.' So we know it can be prevented from going any further. And it's just good kids know this."

Some prevention programs don't teach that, Comfort said, which can create difficulties for law enforcement. Children are often sent to Blank Children's Hospital for examination and also a forensic interview.

"These people are trained with children. So they don't try to re-traumatize them, but they have to get them to verbalize it more because it's probably going to be a case, a court case," she said. "Now, a defense attorney could say 'you've coerced them into saying that,'" she said. So if the child comes in and says 'yeah he touched my penis,' well that's it, we don't have to go any further. We've not traumatized the child."

Comfort said there are far too many kids with aggression.

"The aggression part is also seen by juveniles being perpetrators on other juveniles. So within that curriculum, we talk about being empathetic," she said. "In one class we teach about babies. How much you've grown since a baby, but babies need to be cared for and deserve to be cared for. And we talk about empathy because what we call normal, healthy sexual development is all about feelings, so we're trying to reduce aggression."

Comfort said children are also taught about consent.

"Nobody touches you and you don't touch anybody without asking. So if you want to give somebody a hug you ask and if they say 'no' then you say 'ok,'" she said. "But the whole thing is to build upon the premises of if somebody touches you and you said no, that creates a mixed up or confused feeling and we ask for help from mom or dad or a teacher. And we help them isolate those healthy things."

Comfort said the intent is to not shame the children.

"The kids learn these things and they just go and tell," she said. "They go up to the teacher maybe and say 'hey, you know what...?' So it normalizes it.:

The heartbreaking thing, Comfort said, is when people say the child is lying.

"No. If you look at statistics, they will tell you it's very small, very small. A lot of times kids will recant because of the disruption of the family and they feel they've caused this so they just want it to go back to the way it was," she said. "And then they feel they're going to be blamed, that it was their fault, and it wasn't."

There's a log of things that go into play, Comfort said, and child sexual abuse takes place in every community.

"It affects kids lifelong, unless we, obviously, get them help. It might help them through depression, suicide, self-harm, cutting, there's a lot of things," she said. "In schools, it might be a kid not being able to focus on class and behavior problems because this is going on in the home or they're worried about it. So this is the problem and this is what we're trying to do is bring in prevention education."

In Mahaska County, Comfort is also part of a group called Community Partners for the Protection of Children (CPPC), which meets at noon the first Tuesday of each month at New Hope Community Center.



NSW releases long-awaited sexual assault strategy

by Alexandra Smith

Adult survivors of child sexual assault will be prioritised for social housing and the NSW school curriculum will include content related to sexual violence as part of a long-awaited strategy.

NSW's first sexual assault strategy, to be released on Friday, will focus on raising awareness about consent, as well as protecting victims and preventing sexual assault and harassment in universities and workplaces.

The current laws around consent will also be considered by the NSW Law Reform Commission.

The government referred the laws to the commission in May following the high-profile acquittal of Luke Lazarus, the son of a Kings Cross nightclub boss.

Saxon Mullins, who accused Mr Lazarus of raping her in an alleyway behind the Soho nightclub, spoke to the ABC's Four Corners  to promote a discussion about NSW sexual consent law.

Other measures in the strategy include trauma training for frontline community services workers and a review by the Mental Health Commission into links between mental health and sexual abuse.

The government will also work with NSW universities and residential colleges to help implement the recommendations from the 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission report.

The 2017 report found one in five students experienced sexual harassment at university in 2016 and 1.6 per cent of students reported being sexually assaulted on at least one occasion in 2015 or 2016.

It made nine recommendations to universities and university colleges aimed at gaining a high-level commitment to prevention, response and support as well as ongoing monitoring.

The strategy says input will be provided into the NSW Education Standards Authority review of the K-12 curriculum to provide content related to sexual violence and future teacher training.

The government will also launch a community education campaign on social media.

"The campaign will identify the continuum of sexual harassment to sexual assault, consent and address the role the bystander and community can play in identifying sexual offending and speaking out," the strategy says.

"The campaign will highlight gender inequality as a driver of sexual assault and harassment."

The minister for the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, Pru Goward
said the strategy focused on protecting child victims and abuse survivors as well as prevention.

“The impact of sexual assault on victims is profound and long-lasting, and it requires a whole of community response if we are to reduce the number of incidents and the damage caused by this crime,” Ms Goward said.

“The NSW Government's Sexual Assault Strategy proposes an integrated response that is not just focused on the crisis point of the system, but also in the critical areas of prevention and early intervention.”

The strategy says that in the 12 months to March, 13,309 incidents of sexual offences were reported to NSW Police, with women and girls nearly four times more likely than males to be a victim.

Two-thirds of victims were children. Girls were victims of reported sexual offences at more than three times the rate of boys and males made up 97.5 per cent of alleged perpetrators.



Last night, Australia saw a man share his child abuse story. He died two months earlier.

by Sophie Aubrey

When ABC viewers settled in to watch Wednesday night's You Can't Ask That, they knew it would be difficult viewing. But they didn't know just how heartbreaking things would become.

Sexual assault was the theme of this week's episode of the popular show, which sees regular Australians answer tough questions on difficult subjects.

Dr Stuart Kidd, a 60-year-old child sexual abuse survivor from the Blue Mountains, was among those to share his story. And tragically, it has emerged that he took his own life two months before the episode went to air.

A statement released by the ABC said the interview with the retired orthopaedic surgeon, during which he shared deeply personal insights into the long-term trauma of repeated childhood sexual abuse, was filmed in November last year.

The broadcaster shared an email they received from Dr Kidd after he and his wife, Janet, viewed the episode in February before it aired.

“WOW! Gobsmacked. Speechless. Brilliant. A.MAZING!… Janet and I are both so very impressed and very grateful. WHAT a special ‘ministry' you guys have of bringing these stories to everyday Aussies…Thank you,” it read.

And on Wednesday, Australians watched Dr Kidd open up about the harrowing abuse he and his little brother suffered, beginning from when he was just a toddler.

“I was raped both ends by men 30, 40 years older than myself. And then by an older boy who I thought … I thought was a friend. And then by older men again as a teenager,” he said. “I was just being myself being a boy, paying the consequences for it.”

Dr Kidd spoke of the feelings of self-hatred he has desperately tried to work through over the course of his life.

“I tried to suicide when I was 11 three times because I was such a piece of filth that the world needed to be rid of me,” he said.

“Deep down, despite 30 years of therapy, I still think it's my fault.

“I still haven't been able to come to a place of being able to hate them (the abusers), I just hate myself.

“Unless you have had some sort of similar experience, it's almost incomprehensible.”

Dr Kidd said when he saw photos of himself as a little boy, he could see he was not to blame.

“I dug out some photos recently of myself of that age, confronting that I see myself too often as ugly and naughty. And I wasn't ugly and naughty, I was a cute little fella and I was full of fun and I was innocent and I was brutally assaulted.”

Towards the end of the episode, Dr Kidd said he'd taken solace in being able to acknowledge his own personal strength.

"The most useful fact is that my therapists, the repeated line has been 'we cannot believe that you have performed, that you managed to get through university, to become a doctor, to work overseas, to work in a third world country in an appalling environment and you've managed to carry on a career for 35 years'," he said.

"Because I'm a fucking miracle."

You Can't Ask That 's series producer/director Aaron Smith paid tribute to Dr Kidd and the "profound impact" his appearance on the show would have on raising awareness of abuse survivors.

“In the very short time we knew Stuart, we were struck by his honesty, openness, strength and resolve in dealing with traumatic childhood experiences," Mr Smith said.

"Stuart's contribution to You Can't Ask That will have a lasting and profound impact on the audience, helping to reduce stigma and increase awareness and understanding for survivors of sexual assault. We share our heartfelt condolences with Stuart's family and friends.”

Dr Kidd's wife said she was "proud" of her husband for "putting his story out there".

"My husband was a survivor of complex early childhood trauma for over 55 years. He had been sexually assaulted from a disgustingly early age. He never stopped trying to find help and healing. He was acutely aware of the terrible effect his struggles had on us, his family," Janet said.

"In the 1990s, he found support through ASCA, now the Blue Knot Foundation; and I was told that my children and I were secondary survivors of his abuse. Years later, after putting an enormous effort into being the very best doctor, husband, father and grandfather that he possibly could be, my husband became even more deeply depressed as he saw the struggles of our adult children to find healing for themselves, from the consequences of growing up seeing him struggle."

She said the Survivors And Mates Support Network had started a fund in her husband's memory to support relatives of male survivors.

"Please help by making a donation. We needed it, others need it, too."

To donate, please visit the the Survivors And Mates Support Network.

You can watch Dr Stuart Kidd tell his story on You Can't Ask That on ABC's iView.

If this article has raised any issues for you, you are urged to contact the Survivors and Mates Support Network on 1800 472 676, 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or  beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. If you need urgent crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.



When is the right time to start talking to children about sexual abuse?

by Zehra Kamal Alam
The writer is a clinical psychologist and has worked for 19 years with children and adults in Pakistan especially on trauma and violence.

Age-appropriate communication with children about child sexual abuse is among one of the key protective measures that adults can undertake.

The implications of not giving age-appropriate information and transferring skills to children can be very damaging.

Silence on this issue can perpetuate further abuse, and leave children suffering over long periods of time for something that can be stopped with timely intervention.

Having worked in Pakistan with both child and adult survivors of sexual abuse, I observed that individuals who were provided basic body protection information as children or timely support by adults after an incident reported fewer clinical complications than those who disclosed abuse for the first time during therapy.

An oft-asked question is about when, what and how to broach this subject with children so that they are not left feeling scared and overwhelmed.

What is the right age to start the conversation?

Having conducted awareness sessions with children of all ages, I found that the more comfortable, open and engaging an adult was, the more comfortable a child became in speaking and openly asking questions.

Children as young as three years old can learn basic age-appropriate information and skills. The right information about body safety and the opportunity to practice skills for dealing with potentially abusive situations are two important aspects of an effective awareness programme for children.

Children aged 3 to 5 years need to learn the basics, i.e. the difference between a good, bad and secret touch; the role of feelings in determining this difference; what to do and most importantly which adult to tell.

Confidently saying ‘no', shouting out for help, talking to a trusted adult are some of the skills practiced with children.

Stories through books, puppets and cartoons can further reinforce this information.

For children aged 5 to 7 years , basic information about bodily rights, private parts, difference between safe and unsafe situations, assertive communication skills and practice of skills through role-plays should be additionally covered.

An important thing taught to children is to identify more than one person who they can talk to, just in case an adult is unavailable or is unable to believe them. This helps build a support network for children.

Since anyone can be an abuser, with most being someone that the child knows, the emphasis of information should be on the abuse itself, regardless of who the person is.

For children older than 7 years, some myths should be clarified. For example, children should know that abusers are rarely strangers or that boys can also be sexually abused, or that abusers do not always physically threaten children but lure through affection and gifts.

What kind of information should be shared?

Various forms of abuse including vulnerability through cyberspace should be shared with children. Teenagers, for example, should be provided additional information about consent and respect in relationships.

Children with special needs should not be left out of these discussions, since evidence indicates them being more vulnerable to sexual abuse.

Being vigilant and aware of the adults around the child and their nature of interaction with them can be a helpful and protective measure, especially for those with mental disabilities.

Most importantly, no matter what the age, children need to be clearly and repeatedly told that the fault for the abuse does not lie with them, even if they have accepted gifts, enjoyed the abuser's company, or could not say ‘no', etc.

Building children's overall self-esteem, providing them opportunities to express their opinions and think critically can be considered as important foundations for the work on body protection for both girls and boys.

The importance of two-way communication

Providing information through open, two-way communication that allows children to share their views and feelings about the issue is extremely critical. This allows adults to find out what children already know and what needs to be clarified.

When adults give this information in the form of a lecture, or in a manner where children sense that the onus of responsibility for preventing abuse lies on them, there are more chances that they will not disclose such incidents.

Adults may not always be around and children may not always be able to speak to adults due to feelings of shame, fear, helplessness, and their relationship with the abuser.

Always try and take out time to talk to children about their day-to-day activities, their feelings, their challenges and achievements.

This can further create an overall atmosphere of trust and confidence enabling them to talk about difficult issues.

How to identify signs of sexual abuse in children

There is no single indicator of sexual abuse, since abuse can be of many different forms and may affect children differently.

However, any sudden change in a child's behaviour, academic performance, sleep, appetite or emotions, for which no other reason can be found, should alert an adult to the possibility of sexual abuse.

In addition, age-inappropriate sexual information, sexual acting-out with peers, toys, adults, and inexplicable bruises or marks on the body should also be investigated.

Adults often feel anger, guilt and helplessness at a child's disclosure of abuse. Blaming the child, scolding her for not revealing the issue earlier or asking her to not discuss or forget about it are unhelpful and detrimental responses.

Sensitive and effective ways to respond to a child's disclosure of the abuse include listening openly, appreciating and not blaming the child, and normalising the feelings evoked by abuse.

Necessary steps for ensuring the child's safety should also be taken. For example, helping him develop a safety plan in case he comes across the same situation, confronting or reporting the abuser, and blocking access of the abuser.

This becomes complicated when the abuser is related to the child. However, calling out on the abuse and taking safety measures are essential.

If critical thinking, values, self-confidence and life skills are essential for children's personality, then bodily safety and protection should be seen as part and parcel of that development.

While the need for effective laws, sensitive reporting and response mechanisms in Pakistan cannot be denied, it would be negligent not to do our bit by empowering children through basic safety and protective measures.

The writer is a clinical psychologist and has worked for 19 years with children and adults in Pakistan especially on trauma and violence.

If your child has been a victim of sexual abuse, you can contact the following organisations for assistance: Sahil, Konpal, Aahung and pediatricians and child & adolescent psychiatrists at The Aga Khan University.


United Kingdom

Historic abuse at Sherborne Prep: Newly released reports from 1990s detail further allegations of sexual abuse and assault at school

Documents record allegations of assault, claims of conspiracy and chaotic running of the school

by Laura Linham

Documents from the 1990s about Sherborne Preparatory School and its former headmaster Robin Lindsay have been released following a Freedom of Information request by Somerset Live.

The papers include witness statements used in a tribunal against Lindsay - who was later branded a fixated paedophile and banned from teaching.

There are 81 pages of statements about the headteacher, which document his inappropriate interest in the boys in his care, and include a disturbing allegation of sexual assault against him.

Also included in the bundle is the 1997 inspection report by Dorset County Council's social services team - a 47-page document which prompted legal proceedings against him; notice of his appeal against his ban from teaching and details of a complaint put in by Lindsay after he was forced out of teaching.

The documents in detail

Released after 20 years - a report decribes a headteacher who was determined to watch boys showering and visit them in bed .

Witness statements include a disturbing account of sexual abuse of a pupil.

Robin Lindsay 'retired' from the school in 1998, in the wake of a Department for Education tribunal that saw him branded a "fixated paedophile" who posed a serious risk to children.

Lindsay, who died in 2016, never faced police charges.

What happened?

Head teacher and owner of the school Robin Lindsay was accused of committing a serious sexual assault against one pupil of the school, encouraged children to share his bed and joining them naked in the showers.

Police had investigated him in April 1986, but he claimed the accusations against him had been made maliciously.

When investigated again in 1993, he admitted a string of allegations and accepted his physical intimacy with pupils was open to misinterpretation.

Dorset Social Services had also warned Lindsay about his behaviour in 1993, while their follow-up report in 1997 was 'damning in the extreme'.

It was not until 1998, when concerns over his behaviour became so extreme that the Department for Education held a tribunal and barred him from teaching.

As a result he retired from the school, saying he wanted to concentrate on clearing his name.

Despite the tribunal finding him unfit to run a school and branding him a 'fixated paedophile' and 'serious risk to children' parents of pupils at the school rallied to his defense.

They wrote to newspapers covering the story in their hundreds, with one claiming: "his only fault is to have a little of the eccentricity that we British are famed for."

When he was ousted from the school at a service in Sherborne Abbey 700 people sang 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow' and gave him a standing ovation.

Lindsay never faced police charges, and died in July 2016.

The newly revealed witness statements record:

  • Staff raising concerns about Lindsay's inappropriate interest in young boys
  • That Lindsay would invite them into his bed, and give them sleeping pills if they could not sleep
  • The 'chaotic' day-to-day running of the school
  • Lindsay would give higher marks to his 'favourite' pupils
  • A boy at the school made allegations of being attacked by pupils at the school, then forced to relive the attack for Lindsay, who then spanked him.

The questions Dorset County Council refused to answer

We invited Rebecca Knox, leader of Dorset County Council, to say if she believed the council had done enough to help and protect the children who were at Sherborne Preparatory School during Lindsay's reign.

She did not respond to us directly but the council's press office did get in touch, to offer a no-comment statement.

Here's the questions they refused to respond to:

  • How do you feel about Dorset County Council's role in what is said to have happened in the school?
  • Can you explain why the second report has gone missing or been destroyed?
  • Why was Lindsay was able to continue in his role as headmaster at the school given the extraordinary allegations against him in the '93 report?
  • Why didn't social services not go back into the school to find out if there had been any progress on the recommendations in the report?
  • Do you support calls for an inquiry into the case, as made by Sherborne's MP and former pupils at the school?

The draft Dorset County Council Social Services Report from 1997 into conditions at the school reveals:

  • Lax staffing arrangements
  • Pupils' concerns about the headmaster's behaviour towards them
  • Staff and pupils at the school were pressurised by Lindsay not to co-operate with school inspector
  • Lindsay was 'obsessed' with the development of pupils and their physical appearance, including pubic hair and genital size
  • He continued to supervise the boys showering and would run his hands up their legs
  • He invited pupils who could not sleep into his bed and routinely gave them sleeping pills - something he called 'sleep treatment'.
  • Badly behaved pupils and a culture of bullying

The Notice of Complaint

Dated May '98, this document notifies Lindsay that the Secretary of State for Education and Employment believe he is not a 'proper person to be proprieter of an independent school, or teacher or employee in any school.

It says he has failed in his duty to safeguard the welfare of children in his care.

It outlines the complaints against him, including:

  • Engaging in behaviour of an inappropriate nature, including supervising the boys showering, sleeping in the boarding house, inappropriate physical contact with boys, possession of photos of young boys in swimming costumes, possession of condoms and accusations of sexual assault.
  • Lindsay had refused to take action recommended in previous inspection reports
  • Manifesting an uncooperative and hostile attitude towards public authorities and attempted to undermine inspections.
  • Inadequate and confused management of the school
  • Irregular discipline
  • Unequal and unfair treatment of pupils
  • Excess consumption of alcohol, dubious personal hygiene and appearance

Lindsay's Appeal

Dated June 3, 1998 Lindsay lodged a notice of appeal against the complaint - which he later dropped.

In it, he outlines the basis of his appeal, claiming:

  • Denying the accusations and complaints against him
  • He was planning to transfer the management and control of the school to a governing body
  • The school's academic achievements were not called into question
  • His overriding consideration was for the welfare of the school and its pupils
  • He had not been interviewed by any official on behalf of the Secretary of State prior to the complaint being issued.

Despite Lindsay withdrawing his appeal, it went ahead in his absence and found against him.

Complaint upheld

Dated January '99, this document from the Independent Schools Tribunal explains why the complaint against Lindsay was upheld.

It noted that Lindsay had claimed he had been treated unfairly in proceedings and had been unable to put his case across - something the findings describe as 'not correct'.

The findings include:

  • He failed to implement the changes recommended by Dorset Social Services and Ofsted
  • He was uncooperative and hostile to public authorities
  • Lindsay enjoyed a substantial level of support from parents of pupils at the school
  • The school's academic prowess was an effective smokescreen to divert attention from serious abuse being perpetrated against some pupils.
  • Parents convinced themselves that Lindsay was the victim of some kind of conspiracy on the part of authorities
  • The police, OFSTED and the Department of Social acted fairly throughout their investigations.
  • Experts had concluded Lindsay represented a 'serious risk to children' and was a 'fixated paedophile'
  • The tribunal was concerned that IAPS, who had made findings and recommendations as long ago as 1985 had taken no action against Lindsday.
  • The findings note: "The parents did not have the same authority of opportunity to talk at length with other pupils or members of staff. They did not have access to evidence and did not have access to evidence to reach considered and informed judgements. Furthermore, in many cases, they did not want to look too closely.
  • The school was achieving the academic success the parents were looking for and a number of them were enjoying substantial reductions in fees.

Finding help

If you or someone you know is a survivor of abuse or violence, help is available from the following organisations:


Broadway World

Nickelodeon Star Hillary Hawkins Releases MOLESTATION MONOLOGUES

by BWW News Desk

Nickelodeon Star Hillary Hawkins known as Robyn, former Host of Nick Jr. and Kate from Nickelodeon's "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" recently released MOLESTATION MONOLOGUES.

The Molestation Monologues are dark comedic monologues based on true events, geared for an adult audience and mature teens. Some of the monologues include "Clown," "Bra Strap" and "Treasure Hunt." They deal with a girl trying to cope with being an adult survivor of child sexual abuse and teen relationship abuse, while using comedy to mask the pain. When asked if any of the events were from the Nickelodeon Star's life, she released the following statement, "They are based on true events and the survivor wishes to remain anonymous, at this time."

Hillary Hawkins, who has her Black Belt in Karate, was most recently seen on-camera as a female martial artist in a Star Wars Target Commercial that's all about women and girls empowerment. Prior to returning to the screen, Hawkins worked in social services.

A former Bilingual Interviewer for Safe Horizon, Hillary interviewed hundreds of survivors of interpersonal violence while working on a Risk Assessment Validation Experiment funded by the US Department of Justice. She also worked in Child Protective Services and managed a large caseload of children and families impacted by abuse / neglect while employed by DYFS, now known as The Division of Child Protection And Permanency (New Jersey's Child Protection and Child Welfare Agency). While Hawkins is no longer working as a Bilingual Family Service Specialist/Caseworker for the State of New Jersey, she is still very passionate about helping children and women and survivors and is now effectuating change through the arts.

The artist activist, who is currently based in Los Angeles, quoted Proverbs 31:8 as a motivating force in creating and releasing courageous new works on subjects such as rape, child sexual abuse, teen relationship abuse, sexual assault, depression and even suicide. "I want to get people talking about those issues which they may otherwise not have a chance to talk about. I want people to hear a monologue or a song and be able to come forward and tell a friend what they went through and know that they're not alone. I want people to understand what it's like to be a survivor so that they can in turn be more compassionate and listen and then open their mouths to effectuate change and save lives."

Hillary Hawkins, who graduated with a Dual BA in Spanish & Creative Writing from Smith College in just 3 years on the Dean's List while working as a Radio Personality / On-Air Talent for WEIB 106.3 Smooth FM, founded Hillary Hawkins Production, LLC on December 9, 2013 and has written and produced several projects pertaining to social issues/sexual abuse, even years before the me too movement went viral. Hawkins states that the Molestation Monologues and the Molestation Monologues Discussion Topics have been complete for over a year now, but that she was just not ready to release them until now. "I guess I wanted to wait until people were ready to really listen... I think people are finally ready to listen."

The Nickelodeon Star did however release Secrets Unleashed Game: Talk, Play, Heal back in 2014 in effort to help survivors come forward and heal as well as How To Help A Friend Who's Been Raped, Abused or Traumatized in effort to help guide friends and loved ones of survivors looking to be of some support. Both titles made the Amazon Bestseller's List. Then in 2017, the singer-songwriter released a Pop Album entitled "Survivor" with catchy songs like "I Just Wanna Dance" which she admits also had been complete for years and Signs of Sexual Abuse A to Z an e-book which recently made the Amazon's Bestseller's List in three categories: Books > Teens > Social Issues > Sexual Abuse; Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children's eBooks > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Difficult Discussions > Abuse; and Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Children's Nonfiction > People & Places > Social Issues. One project she did release as soon as it was ready is the award winning short film "A Pill For Two", now available on Amazon.

"A Pill For Two", directed by Larry Rosen, was nominated for 7 awards and won actress/screenwriter/producer Hillary Hawkins Best Actress Award in a Drama in 2016. The short film is based on playwright/lyricist/composer Hillary Hawkins ' full-length play "Jaded The Musical" which won actress Nicole Renee Thomas Best Actress Award at The Secret Theatre during the UNFringed Festival back in 2013 and also was in the DC Black Theatre Festival and Scratch Night at Theater for the New City. The short film version "A Pill For Two", which revolves around a teenage girl with anger issues who finally confronts her mother about the root of her problems, was filmed by Tyrell Jason, who recently won runner-up best cinematography, Brightside Tavern Film Festival. There are rumors that the Molestation Monologues are in negotiations for both TV/Film and stage productions... In the meantime, you can listen to the audiobook version narrated by voice actress/dramaturg/producer Hillary Hawkins on Amazon, iTunes and Audible.

When asked what's next, the former Nick Jr. Host replied, "using my voice to help save the children." Voice Actor Hillary Hawkins is a 2X Voice Arts Awards nominee represented by VOX, Inc.


Mental Health Matters

Sexual abuse has long term effects on young survivors

by Gloria Ogunbadejo

Over the past few years, there have been numerous stories, articles, revelations of rapes, and other sexual abuses on young girls. It was beginning to feel uncomfortably and perversely as if it had become fashionable and somehow we were getting accustomed to hearing or reading about it.  I have written about this topic a few times but I feel it is a topic that needs to be addressed on a regular basis because it continues to happen on a regular basis and people need to be aware of the impact it has on the victims. I am convinced people don't really understand the totality of losses involved in the savagery of the act. A survivor's emotions, behaviour, sexuality, attitudes and spirituality are all damaged.

For many of the clients I see, sometimes the aftermath of their experiences is their reason for seeking therapy even though their presenting problem may be quite different. What has led me to revisit this serious topic is a letter I received from a reader recently and one I received some time ago.

Dear aunty Gloria,

I am an avid reader of your column which I have been attached to for the past four years or more. I read the Bible every day and I read your column every Sunday! I am in my forties. I have been through two marriages and several relationships that have all collapsed. I have always thought I just was not one of those people who had the luck of sustaining a successful union. After my last relationship ended, I decided I had had enough and I was not going to attempt to have any further relationships. I am well educated and relatively successful professionally. I would consider myself a catch for any man but I could never keep one.

The most incredible thing happened to me a short while ago reading one of your articles. I suddenly recalled two of my uncles and a nephew sexually abusing me from the ages of 12 to 14. I was horrified at the memory. I thought I had imagined it and it was just a waking nightmare. Once the thoughts came into my mind, I remembered many of the things that happened around that time. I decided to verify the memory by asking family members about the relatives and the things I remembered of the things going on at the time. Everything was confirmed.  I could not believe that nothing was done to support me and to punish the relatives. I was angry that I started drinking to get rid of the thoughts and to deal with the anger.

I started to understand why I have been unable to feel trust or safe with any man. I have problems with all relationships. Even with female friends, I just cannot trust anyone. I went through a period with my husbands where I was physically unable to enjoy intimacy. I would just go through the actions like a robot and it affected all my relationships with men. I just thought I was one of those women who didn't enjoy sex.

The more I read your articles, the more I understood more about myself and when I travelled abroad for three months I decided to get professional help. I went to see a therapist and I made a break through. I have returned home now and I reading your column I was thinking that the issue of child sex abuse is quite rampant in our country and we don't really pay enough attention to it. I think the work you are doing in your column is fantastic and I would be honoured to meet you.

— Name withheld


Dear ma,

I want you to share my story with your readers but please don't use my name and contact details. I trust you and you have helped me a lot with your articles so I feel maybe someone might find my story helpful.

I am now 57 years old, married with five children. My husband is a God-fearing man and has been a good husband and father. Sadly our marriage was doomed from the beginning. The fact that I have five children will probably make people thing we have a healthy sex life. This is far from the truth. I can say for each pregnancy it was close to a rape situation because I have never had sex willingly with my husband.

I was sexually abused by my grandfather when I was eight and it continued for five years.  I am sure the family knew because I used to hear them talk about him and what they needed to do to stop him from his sinful ways. I was always afraid to report because I did not feel I would be believed or they would send me away. But I felt my mum knew from the way she used to look at me. I grew up very angry and unable to trust men, and I hated being touched by anybody especially men. I never had a chance to enjoy sex so I grew up avoiding it and associating it with pain and disgust.

— Olayinka (not real name)

The survivors of sexual abuse have borne many losses. Some may be more obvious than others. Many report feeling ‘different' from other people as if the abusive relationship sets them apart from others. Right from the beginning of the abuse, the victim undergoes a crisis of identity and an ultimate loss of a sense of being normal or like everybody else. Another obvious loss is the loss of innocence. Survivors of sexual abuse are caught in a very complex and bewildering situation where they are trying to cope with adult experiences and feelings but only having the resources of childhood. They are not actually catapulted into true adulthood as may be thought, with its mature understandings and motivations. Instead, survivors of sexual abuse are caught in a no man's land where they are confronted with events that they are not equipped to deal with.

The loss of innocence in childhood sexual abuse is physical as well as emotional and has repercussions at every level. Survivors tend to believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with them for anyone to have treated them in that way. Sometimes this belief is deeply buried and may resurface in self-destructive behaviours such as eating disorders, drugs and alcohol abuse. Others may engage in promiscuity, become suicidal, or may find huge difficulties in maintaining healthy relationships. What is clear is the devastation sexual abuse causes to every aspect of a person's attitude and life.

One way in which our psyche protects us is by repressing or denying truths or events which it would be unbearable to acknowledge. If in the right environment, feeling safe and contained, maybe with a counsellor or a trusted person, tiny fragments of memories of abuse might begin to surface.

Most people will assume that the victim's strongest feelings of betrayal and exploitation would be towards the perpetrator. However from what the majority of my clients say, the strongest sense of outrage is directed towards the mother. Whether the mother is seen as having a direct part to play in the abuse or of turning a blind eye or remaining ignorant, survivors feel  the mother had failed at performing her vital role of  creating and maintaining a secure environment for her child. Obviously in the cases where the mother is the perpetrator, the effect on the victim is almost overwhelming.

For some survivors of sexual abuse, loss is a continuing experience. Though sexual abuse is generally thought of as something occurring in infancy or childhood, it is a perfectly valid term for unwanted sexual contact at any age. Victims of rape, sexual harassment in the work place, or sexual brutality within marriage could all be described as having been sexually abused. Their self-esteem usually deteriorates, and they feel sullied. Rape victims sometimes develop fears such as going out alone, and women abused by their partners can find satisfying, loving relationships hard to achieve or sustain. All these have their parallels in childhood sexual abuse.

The impact and ramifications on survivors of childhood sexual abuse vary, particularly because of the age at which the abuse occurs. The sense of powerlessness and of intimidation or menace, while quite real for an adult victim of rape, loom even larger for a child, who has far fewer resources and coping strategies.

It is useful for family members or those around survivors of sexual abuse to bear in mind common psychological processes such as transference (Where a person transfers an emotion meant for one person on to another). It is also important not to minimise the awfulness of sexual abuse, or to turn away from survivors or to try to deny how they are feeling. It is important that they feel able to express how they feel and for them to be validated.  If you have a similar story you can share, I invite you to send in your letters in confidence and also welcome any comments to the readers' stories.



5-month-old baby rescued after being left partially burried on Montana mountain for at least 9 hours

by Cassidy Gard

A 5-month-old infant boy was found partially buried on a mountain after sheriff's deputies heard the faint cry of a baby after an hours-long search, authorities said.

"This was a huge miracle and we are thankful to everyone that came out to search and the people who made the 911 calls,” Brenda Bassett, a sheriff's department spokeswoman in Missoula County, Montana, told ABC News.

Facebook post by the sheriff's department."The sheriff's office became aware that a baby might be buried somewhere in a mountainous area after they received a call Saturday night about a man acting strangely in the Lolo Hot Springs area, according to a Facebook post by the sheriff's department.

Upon arrival, deputies discovered the suspect, 32-year-old Francis Carlton Crowley, had left the area and that a 5-month-old who had been left in his care had not been seen for several hours," the sheriff's office said in the post.

Deputies apprehended Crowley after he was found to have returned to the area.

When trying to question Crowley, he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers," the sheriff's statement said. "Statements made by Crowley indicated the baby was possibly buried somewhere in the mountains."

A search was launched that included members of the county search-and-rescue team, the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Montana Highway Patrol and the Missoula County sheriff's office.

For more than six hours, teams of people scoured the woods on foot. Then an officer heard the faint cry of a baby, the sheriff's post said.

“He followed the sound and found the baby alive, face down, buried under a pile of sticks and debris. Clothed in only a wet and soiled onesie, the baby was found at approximately 2:30 am, putting the infant in the woods unattended and in the cold (approximately 46 degrees) for a minimum of 9 hours,” the statement on Facebook said.

“When we brought him out, we took him right to the hospital, he had some scratches and bruises but otherwise in good health," sheriff's office spokeswoman Bassett told ABC News. "He is expected to make a full recovery.”

No information has been released about the child's family except that Bassett said Crowley is not the biological father.

Crowley is being held at the county detention facility on charges of criminal endangerment with other charges to follow, the sheriff's statement on Facebook said.

Crowley is to appear in court Tuesday. It is unclear if at this point if he has a lawyer.



Child abuse cases continue to rise in Lancaster County, with 209 substantiated in 2017

by Heather Stauffer

The number of substantiated cases of child abuse in Lancaster County increased from 146 in 2016 to 209 last year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

The overall number of reports also increased — from 1,938 in 2016 to 2,057 last year — according to the report.

Fatalities rose from one in 2016 to four in 2017, with near fatalities increasing from two to three, the report shows.

Crystal Natan, the head of the county's Children & Youth Agency, said numbers fluctuate from year to year depending on specific cases, and this increase wasn't unusual.

Overall, for every 1,000 children here, 16 suspected cases were reported and 1.6 were found to have merit, according to the report.

Statewide, there were 17.6 reports per every 1,000 children, with 1.8 substantiated. The tally was 47,485 reports and 4,836 confirmed, with 40 fatalities and 88 near fatalities.

The report does not identify by name any of the children, including those who died, or their abusers.

Fifty-nine percent of substantiated reports here involved sexual abuse, according to the report. Physical abuse or bodily injury was second, at 18 percent, and reasonable likelihood of bodily injury was third at just under 12 percent.

Positive changes

Behind the scenes, Natan said Lancaster County has been working to make the system more stable.

For instance, she said, caseworker pay went up roughly 10 percent last year and now is at about $35,000 after six months on the job.

Turnover had been at 35 to 40 percent, she said, but now it sits at about 15 percent, which is where it was before the more stringent child abuse reporting laws inspired by the Sandusky scandal at Penn State took effect in 2015.

There are still some open positions, she said, but overall the situation has stabilized and most caseworkers have just 12 to 18 cases, which is only about half of the maximum the state currently allows.

“Filling our positions is key to keeping caseloads down,” she said.

As LNP previously reported, the agency added 10 new caseworkers and two new supervisors over the past two years. Currently there are about 90 caseworkers, she said.

Natan also noted that cooperation among community partners has been helpful, including through the Joining Forces coalition created to fight the opioid crisis.

Statewide problems

In the past few years, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has repeatedly drawn attention to serious problems in child welfare systems across the state, which have struggled to keep up with an exploding case load thanks to new laws and the opioid epidemic.

His most recent report has 28 recommendations for improving conditions and keeping children safer.

In addition to measures like Lancaster took to support and pay staff better, recommendations include making it easier for caseworkers to get necessary records, giving county agencies more flexibility in spending state funds, and increasing state investment in programs proven to prevent child abuse and other problems.

By the numbers

Highlights from the latest Child Protective Services report by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Service.

•  The state spent $306 million on child abuse and general protective services investigations, of which $4.9 million was in Lancaster County.

•  Of Lancaster County reports that were substantiated, 59 percent involved sexual abuse and 18 percent involved physical abuse or bodily injury.

•  Of 40 fatalities statewide attributed to child abuse in 2017, four were here.

•  Of 88 near fatalities statewide attributed to child abuse in 2017, two were here.

•  Statewide from 2013 to 2017, reports of suspected abuse rose 75 percent, from 27,182 to 47,485, and the number of reports that were substantiated rose 54 percent, from 3,147 to 4,836.



ICAC team makes 62 child sexual abuse arrests in 2018

by Hannahpub

More than 60 child sexual predators have been arrested this year as part of “Operation Broken Heart,” a two-month long national investigative and prevention effort by federal, state and local authorities.

Joined by members of the Louisiana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, Chief Deputy Attorney General Bill Stiles announced the Louisiana Department of Justice (LADOJ) made 32 arrests between the months of April and May on a range of crimes associated with production, distribution, and possession of child sexual abuse images and videos.

“The LADOJ is committed to finding and arresting child predators throughout our State; and I am grateful to our agents, examiners, and investigators who work tirelessly to keep Louisiana's children safe,” said state Attorney General Jeff Landry. “Operation Broken Heart is a reminder of how dangerous the Internet can be and how important it is for parents and guardians to be aware of what your children are doing and with whom they are communicating.”

As a whole, the ICAC Team made 62 arrests throughout Louisiana during the 2018 Operation Broken Heart.

“The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most vile and disgusting acts of human behavior in any society,” said United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana Brandon Fremin. “I am extremely proud of the work of our partners here in the Middle District of Louisiana and across the nation in these efforts. This is just another example of the profound impact law enforcement and prosecutors can have when we focus the resources provided by local, state and federal law enforcement.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Rommal of the New Orleans Field Office said the FBI would continue to investigate claims of child sexual abuse.

“Our office maintains a strong posture when it comes to pursuing child predators and we have made it clear that this behavior will not be tolerated,” Rommal said. “The safety and security of our children is paramount and through our dedicated resources, we must do whatever it takes to keep them from harm's way and defend those who cannot defend themselves.”

“Child sexual abuse inflicts life-long mental and physical scars on its victims and stopping those who do harm to innocent children is one of this agency's top priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Jere T. Miles of Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans.