National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

child abuse trauma prevention, intervention & recovery

"News of the Week"
EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day we bring you news articles, opinion pieces, crime stories and official information from government web sites. These are highlights, and constitute the tip of the iceberg .. a small percentage of the daily information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse, trauma and recovery. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" and every voice makes a big difference.
programs / projects
together we can heal
help stop child abuse
a little about us
join us, get involved
"News of the Week"  

October, 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.


13 men including Disney Resort worker arrested in Florida child predator sting

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – 13 men, including a former military police officer and a cook at a Disney resort, were arrested in an undercover online child predator operation in Florida, according to WFTS.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said undercover detectives posed as girls and boys on social media platforms and dating websites from October 2 through October 7.

During the six-day “Operation Cyber Guardian Fall Haul,” 13 men communicated with undercover detectives thinking they were children between the ages 13 and 14 and showed up to a Polk County location to solicit sexual acts from the “children.”

The sheriff's office said many of the suspects took condoms and lubricant but were greeted by detectives and arrested.

Those arrested included men in their 20's, 30's and 50's, and were from Kissimmee, Montverde, Lake Mary, Davenport, Winter Haven, Orlando, and Holiday.

Among them were:

A man who said he knew he was HIV positive and solicited a boy who he thought was 14 to engage in unprotected sex.

A former military police officer who had been previously arrested, convicted and is on federal probation for lewd/Lascivious Molestation of a child.

A Lake Mary man who was arrested in Seminole County in November 2017 for obscene communication with a minor.

A man who brought a new I-Phone 8+ as a gift along with sex toys, condoms, lubricant, and male enhancement pills.

A cook at a Disney resort.

A food runner at a restaurant in Disney Springs.

“These predators are out there, trying to sexually seduce and violate children. They lurk in chat rooms and online, ready to groom children for sex,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. “Fortunately, because of the great work of our detectives, at least 13 of them won't be doing that any time soon.”

“The things that these predators say to children they believe are 13 and 14 are vile and disgusting. Even seasoned, trained detectives are repulsed,” Judd said. “The bottom line is that these predators need to be locked up and kept away from children.”

The 13 men arrested face a total of 58 charges (57 felonies, 1 misdemeanor) which include: attempted lewd lascivious molestation, using a communication device to commit a felony, attempted uninformed HIV infected sexual intercourse, traveling to meet a minor for the purposes of sex, attempted lewd battery, and transmitting material harmful to a minor


Child abuse inquiry says orphanages were places of 'threat and abuse'

The Smyllum Park Orphanage closed in 1981

Children at Smyllum Park orphanage were sexually abused and beaten with leather straps, hairbrushes and crucifixes, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has found.

Nuns belonging to the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul ran the Catholic Children's home near Lanark, as well as Bellevue House, Rutherglen.

Lady Smith, who is chairing the inquiry, has published a report on evidence heard during the case study.

She said the homes were places of fear, threat, and excessive discipline.

The judge said emotional, physical and sexual abuse took place.

The children found "no love, no compassion, no dignity and no comfort," she said.

What is the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry?

The inquiry was set up in October 2015 to look at the historical abuse of children in care across Scotland.

It is currently in the process of looking at allegations of physical and sexual abuse at 86 institutions, including former children's homes and leading boarding schools.

The inquiry, which has cost £15.67m so far, was originally scheduled to end next year but the Scottish government has since said it can take as long as it needs.

From the end of November last year, the child abuse inquiry heard case study evidence over 20 days about the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

A total of 54 witnesses told of their experiences at Smyllum Park, which closed in 1981, and Bellevue House, which closed in 1961, and 21 written statements were submitted.

What did the inquiry report say?

Lady Smith's interim report into the Smyllum and BelleVue case studies concluded:

Children were abused while in the care of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

They were sexually abused in Smyllum by priests, a trainee priest, nuns, members of staff and a volunteer. The abuse was, in some cases, prolonged.
There was also problematic sexual behaviour by other children.

Children were hit with implements, the punishment being either excessive or for reasons which the child could not fathom.

The implements used included leather straps, the "Lochgelly Tawse," hairbrushes, sticks, footwear, rosary beads, wooden crucifixes and a dog's lead.
For some children, being hit was a normal aspect of daily life.

The physical punishments meted out to children went beyond what was acceptable at the time whether as punishment in schools or in the home.
Children who were bed-wetters were abused physically and emotionally.

They were beaten, put in cold baths and humiliated in ways that included "wearing" their wet sheets and being subjected to hurtful name-calling by Sisters and by other children.

Many children were force-fed.

Children were used as unpaid labour.

Many children were forced to queue in a state of undress for a bath and shared bathwater that was too hot or cold and dirty.

There was no system for marking children's birthdays. Some children didn't know when their birthday was.

Children were abused for being left-handed and forced to use their right hands instead.

Some were abused for being Protestants and one child was told the Jewishness would be knocked out of him.

The report names Charlie Forsyth, a former Smyllum resident who went on to work in the home, as someone who physically and emotionally abused children.

Forsyth, who is now dead, was said to have given out violent, angry beatings and called the children demeaning.

It was said that he had complete autonomy.

Lady Smith's report also highlights the case of Samuel Carr, a child in Smyllum, who died aged six as a result of contracting a severe and vicious E. coli infection after contact with a rat.

He was malnourished despite having been in Smyllum for a significant time.

He had received a severe beating from a Sister not long before his death, the report says.

Francis McColl, was 13 when he died in Smyllum after an accident in which he was hit by a golf club when it was being swung.

Patricia Meenan died aged 12 when she was hit by a car when she was running away from Smyllum to go back to Glasgow.

Lady Smith's said she would take her findings into account when she analysed all the evidence gathered by the inquiry and decides what recommendations to make within the final report.

Children were abused - three words from Lady Smith which will mean everything to former residents from the two homes.

For years they've alleged they were victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse - and now the chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has said she believes them.

Lady Smith described Smyllum Park and Bellevue House as places of fear, where many children found no love, no compassion, no dignity and no comfort.
For some, she said, being hit was a normal aspect of daily life.

The order which ran the homes, the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul have repeated their apology to anyone who suffered abuse in their care.

Smyllum and Bellevue complaints in numbers

20,000 - Number of children housed by the Daughters of Charity in Scotland between 1864 and 1999

11,601 - Number of children housed in Smyllum from its opening in 1864 to its closure in 1981

4,748 - Number of children accommodated in Smyllum from 1930 until its closure in 1981

6,585 - Number of children accommodated in Bellevue from its opening in 1912 to its closure in 1961

121 - Number of complaints of alleged historical abuse at Smyllum made to the Order between 1998 and 2002 That's 37 complaints against individual sisters, 23 complaints against lay staff, four complaints against priests and two complaints against scout leaders)

26 - Number of complaints of alleged abuse at Bellevue made to the Order between 1998 and 2002 (That includes 18 complaints against individual sisters and five complaints against lay staff)

99 - Number of civil actions raised against the Order in relation to Smyllum

18 - Number of civil actions raised against the Order in relation to Bellevue

A statement from the Daughters of Charity said: "Lady Smith's findings describe events and practices which are totally out of keeping with the fundamental values which underpin our life and mission and we are committed to giving this report our utmost attention.

"We most sincerely offer our heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse whilst in our care."


United Kingdom

Two-week-old baby in hospital after sexual assault. Infant has 'a number of serious injuries'

by Zamira Rahim

A two week old baby is in intensive care in a Belfast hospital after allegedly being raped.

Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are investigating the crime, which a spokesperson said had left the infant with "a number of serious injuries".

They have charged a 25-year-old man with with rape and grievous bodily harm with intent.

He appeared at Armagh Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

The infant is from the Annalong area of County Down and is understood to be receiving treatment at the paediatric unit of the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

A spokesperson for the Belfast Trust said: "We do have a child in our care but we will not be commenting further due to the family's request for privacy."


Opioids connected to half of child abuse and neglect cases in Washington

by Michelle Esteban

Half of the cases of child abuse and child neglect the state Attorney General's office handles involve opioids, a new survey reveals.

"The amount of opioids prescribed in our state is massive, the number we have seen, there are enough opioids prescribed in our state for every man woman and child to have a 16 day supply, that's insane," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

The AG said he isn't surprised by the survey results but insists it speaks the extent of the opioid epidemic.

The Pediatric Interim Care Center Nursery in Kent deals with drugs and families, too.

They see opioids and other drugs impacting newborns every day. Right now seven babies are being cared for at their Kent nursery.

Nurses are always with the babies and checking on them constantly. We watched as a nurse swaddled and settled a 36-day-old baby girl.

Her roommate, a 16-day-old baby boy is swaddled in a blue blanket and never budges from his sleep.

"This year and last year, all but two of the babies had heroin, an opiate and meth," said Barbara Drennen, co-founder of the Center, also known at PICC.

They are what she calls drug-affected newborns.

"They are shaking, they are crying...they're running a temperature because they are trying so hard to control their body," said Drennen. "You have to be able to read what that baby is telling you cause the baby is your bible and you need to move quickly."

Their 24-hour nursery weans babies off drugs, most of them were separated from their mother's due to neglect, they are what the state calls dependency cases.

In a news release the AG's office says, "A dependent child is one who has been abandoned, abused or severely neglected by their guardian, or has no parent or guardian capable of adequately caring for the child, such that the child is in danger. Each year, thousands of children in Washington state are victims of abuse, severe neglect or abandonment and are placed in the care of the state by the courts."

"We have thousands of those case around the state at any particular time," said the Attorney General.

He said those kinds of cases are just another example of the opioid crisis in our state.

Ferguson said in July assistant attorneys general estimated out of more than 6,800 dependency cases or child abuse and child neglect cases in nearly half of them opioids played a role.

"The impact on those children, that impact is significant and long lasting." said Ferguson.

He has been pushing to require practitioners in our state to check a database before initially prescribing any narcotic to determine if a patient is doctor shopping or in medical need. He thinks relying on the database known as the Prescription Monitoring Program and limiting pain pills prescribed could help to curb the crisis.

"When the babies leave here the drugs are out of their system, then we become the make-or-break-factor, parents, daycares, schools, grandparents," said Brennen.

And in many cases, the center works with mothers connecting them with their newborns whenever possible.

In 2017, 56 percent of the babies were placed in foster care after discharge from PICC, and 44 percent went home with parents or relatives.

For 28 years, the Kent nursery has weaned 3,100 babies off drugs, but even it wanted to the nursery can't reach every baby in need.

"The magnitude on future generations becomes pretty real," said Ferguson.

The AG's survey also estimated that the epidemic impacted nearly 40 percent of their parental rights termination caseload.


Tina Turner: Sex with Ike was ‘a kind of rape'

by Jessica Sager

Tina Turner has been open about the physical abuse and domestic violence she suffered at the hands of her late ex-husband, Ike Turner — but she only now revealed that she suffered sexual abuse as well.

Tina, 78, claimed that she was “too embarrassed” to admit the extent of Ike's behavior previously and that their marriage began on a dark note in a Tijuana, Mexico, brothel.

“What kind of bridegroom takes his brand-new wife to a live pornographic sex show, right after their marriage ceremony? There I sat, in this filthy place, watching Ike out of the corner of my eye, wondering: ‘Does he really like this? How could he?'” Tina recalled in her upcoming memoir, “My Love Story,” excerpted in The Daily Mail.

“It was all so ugly. The male performer was unattractive and seemingly impotent, and the girl — well, let's just say that what was on display was more gynecological than erotic,” Tina wrote. “I was miserable, on the verge of tears, but there was no escape. We couldn't leave until Ike was ready, and he was having a fine old time.”

When Ike and Tina returned to Los Angeles as a newlywed couple, she claims that she blocked the experience out of her mind and switched the narrative to become “a romantic elopement.”

Ike's sexual appetite was seemingly never satiated, and Tina claimed that in the early 1970s he began to use cocaine to increase his stamina in bed, which became a hellish experience for the “Proud Mary” singer.

“What had been ugly and hateful between us before became worse with every snort of cocaine. He threw hot coffee in my face, giving me third-degree burns. He used my nose as a punching bag so many times that I could taste blood running down my throat when I sang. He broke my jaw. And I couldn't remember what it was like not to have a black eye. The people closest to us saw what was happening, but they couldn't stop him: any attempt to help me would make him more violent.”

Ike and Tina split for good in 1976 after Tina snuck out and hid at a Dallas Ramada Inn after he'd allegedly beaten her.

Ike denied beating Tina in his autobiography, “Takin' Back My Name,” but admitted to slapping her.

In March, Tina said she forgave Ike for the years of abuse she'd suffered, but admitted she still had nightmares from the trauma.


How Adult Survivors Of Childhood Trauma Forge Their Own Paths To Recovery

More people are aware of toxic stress in children – but adults who've been living with the effects of adverse childhood experiences have had to navigate a system that isn't well equipped for them.

by Caroline Covington

Mary Young, a trainer for Mental Health America of Greater Houston, experienced trauma as a kid and now shows teachers how to spot students in distress.

Just days before students came back for the new school year this August, Houston Independent School District teachers gathered at Houston Baptist University. They were there learning things like how to better track student data and prepare kids for standardized tests. Mary Young was there to talk to teachers about trauma. Young is a school behavioral-health trainer with Mental Health America of Greater Houston.

“How many kids do you think have experienced any type of trauma, including everything?” Young asks the teachers. “So, we know that over two out of three – so almost every kid has experienced at least one traumatic event in their life.”

Young is an energetic speaker and somehow finds a way to make a very sensitive topic interesting to the dozen or so teachers listening. That's because she can directly relate. As a kid, Young's mother lived with bipolar disorder and she neglected and emotionally abused Young. Today, Young is thriving with a family of her own, but she still lives with the scars of childhood.

“Especially when I was a younger adult [it] made relationships difficult because I was … insecure, you know, are you going to stay, are you not going to stay?” she says in a phone interview. “We know that the effects of trauma last throughout our lives.”

We know that primarily because of a landmark study by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – known as the Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE study. It was published exactly 20 years ago and was the first study to document the relationship between childhood trauma and the increased risk for things like heart disease, cancer or lung disease later in life.

Dr. Judith Herman is a Harvard psychiatrist who's studied trauma for decades. She says early trauma can also contribute to mental health problems, and for some, it can be the root of problems like addiction, depression or suicide.

“In the mental health population … they have very high rates of childhood trauma,” Herman says.

Herman says people who were traumatized as children can experience a complex from of post-traumatic stress disorder that's often misdiagnosed.

“You'll end up with people with multiple different diagnoses and multiple different medications and treatments that don't see the forest for the trees,” Herman says.

Herman says that's probably because their trauma was never discussed.

“They'll say, nobody ever talked to me about trauma, nobody ever put together that my symptoms are not just because I, for some unexplained reason have borderline personality disorder,” she says. “[They've] never had the kind of childhood care that helps children learn to regulate their emotions.”

Many kids who experience trauma move into adulthood without adequate support or tools to deal with its effects. Mary Young says mental health care in Texas is just starting to catch up with people's needs. She says there's only a small cohort of mental health professionals in Texas who treat adults with childhood trauma.

“There's not [a] significant amount of training that you can go to to get that additional skills …. When we're thinking about even more specialized therapists, you're then even more so raising the cost,” Young says.

That's despite just how common childhood trauma is. More than half of the thousands of people who responded to the ACE survey in the late ‘90s said they had at least one adverse childhood experience. That includes sexual, verbal emotional or physical abuse.

Kristina is a social worker and new mom who lives in Kyle. She's one of two people in this story who we're referring to only by first name for privacy reasons. Kristina says it took a lot of trial and error – and misdiagnosis – before she got proper help.

“By the time I finally found a counselor who understood, I was able to do many things different. Not be on all the medication for bipolar and be able to actually treat the trauma symptoms,” Kristina says.

Kristina used heroin off and on for years before she found trauma therapy. She says heroin made her feel better for a time, but it was also destroying her life.
“When you have overwhelming symptoms or things that you just can't cope with or don't know how to handle, you become willing to kind of do whatever to help. And so whether that means go to treatment or pick up drugs,” Kristina says.

Another reason PTSD from early childhood trauma goes unrecognized is because it doesn't fit the diagnosis for classic PTSD – that's the kind we associate with military veterans. Megan, who's a graduate student in her 30s, was sexually abused by a relative, and both her father and stepfather were abusive and controlling. She says the health-care system is just starting to recognize people like her.

“I, at seven years old was diagnosed with ADD … I did not have ADD. Looking back at my childhood, I'm like, I was sleep deprived, I was sleeping on people's floors,” Megan says.

Megan says despite the common symptoms shared by trauma survivors, recovery is a very personal process.

“Everything about my childhood says I should die 20 years early. I should have a heart attack or drug addiction or become a hooker …. And so I have to come back to a place of like, what does healing look like for me? What does it look like for me to be successful?” Megan says.

For her right now, it's pursuing a master's degree in clinical mental health at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin.

“I was trying to decide between mental health and priesthood, and I met with someone who said ‘Why not both?'” Megan says.

Helping others seems to be a common path for trauma survivors: Nearly half of the more than two dozen people who participated in research for this story are either mental health professionals themselves or mental health advocates. Kristina, for example, has worked for ten years as a social worker in juvenile justice.

And then there's Mary Young. Her professional life has been devoted to helping kids.

“I finally had an opportunity to have a safe and secure home, and [was] really shown the love that I had wanted as a young individual. And then went to college and became a social worker to help support kids,” Young says.

Back at the teacher training, Young asked the Houston ISD teachers to say the negative words that came to mind when they thought of mental health. They shouted out words like “crazy,” “unstable,” “space cadet.”

“No wonder we don't learn about it or we don't think about them getting treatment because our society doesn't think this way first,” she tells the teachers. “Really think about how, as a society, can we can erase the mental health stigma?”

That's a long-term, societal goal, but there are signs of slow improvement now. Seton Shoal Creek Hospital in Austin recently started its RESTORE program, which treats PTSD in adults with trauma. Its Medical Director Valerie Rosen says she also hopes to start a larger trauma-treatment program at UT's Dell Seton Medical Center.

“I knew we had an untapped need,” Rosen says.

That's because Rosen says evidence-based treatment programs for PTSD in Texas are mainly for military veterans.


Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops over child abuse claims

Pope Francis has stripped two Chilean bishops of their duties as priests amid claims that they are linked to the sexual abuse of minors.

They are Francisco José Cox Huneeus, archbishop emeritus of La Serena, and Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández, archbishop emeritus of Iquique.

The Vatican issued a statement on their defrocking after a meeting between the pontiff and the president of Chile.

The decision could not be appealed against, it said on Saturday.

It was announced as Pope Francis met Chile's President Sebastian Piñera in the Vatican, where the two spoke particularly about "the painful scourge of abuse of minors".

More than 100 Catholic clergy are being investigated in Chile over alleged sex crimes and attempts to cover them up.

All 34 of Chile's bishops offered their resignations to the Pope in May over the scandal. The pontiff accepted three resignations in June.

Police have raided offices and seized Church documents in the capital Santiago and the city of Rancagua as part of their investigation.

In September Pope Francis defrocked former priest Fernando Karadima, 88, for having sexually abused minors.

The move to defrock the two Chilean archbishops came a day after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Washington DC archbishop Donald Wuerl, who has been criticised for his handling of sexual abuse cases.

A Pennsylvania grand jury report on sex abuse released in August said he had allowed accused priests to be reassigned or reinstated.

He will reportedly retain his title of cardinal and continue in his role until a successor is found.

Allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy worldwide continue to affect the Church.

A leaked Church report in September revealed more than 3,600 children in Germany were assaulted by Catholic priests between 1946 and 2014.

Most of the victims were boys, and more than half were aged 13 or younger.

And in July, Australian Catholic archbishop Philip Wilson was sentenced to 12 months in detention for concealing historic child sexual abuse - the most senior Catholic globally to be convicted of the crime.

Pope Francis recently condemned the "atrocities" of child abuse in a letter to the world's 1.2bn Roman Catholics, addressed to the "people of God".


The legacy of child sexual abuse – and how to survive it

Child sexual abuse is frighteningly common and hugely damaging. But a new project is collecting survivors' stories – and revealing what is needed to heal

The first thing Sabah Kaiser does after sitting down at the table when we meet, is to pick up a pen, and write her name on the nearest sheet of paper. She does it almost unthinkingly, and only later will it come to seem significant.

When she was a little girl, Kaiser wrote her name a lot. She scrawled it defiantly on the wall at home, balancing precariously on a banister four floors above the ground to reach the wallpaper: “Sabah is the best.” Later, she wrote it in foster homes: “I would find the hardest place that I could reach, or the most beautiful or lovely area, and write ‘Sabah is the best'.”

It was a coping mechanism she learned young, without really understanding why. But now, at 43, she recognises it as a way of fighting the feelings of worthlessness and shame so many child abuse survivors experience. “It was saying: ‘Look at me, I belong here; I can do the same as you, if not better.'”

The name she writes now is not, however, the same one she had then. Kaiser changed it by deed poll years ago, borrowing inspiration from Keyser Söze, the character in the film The Usual Suspects who has a double life. Kaiser, she explains, means king; above other men, but below God. It is a powerful name, and the one under which she approached the Truth Project.

Set up by the government's Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the project gives individual victims and survivors a chance to be heard; to share stories in confidence, helping inform the inquiry's investigation into the widespread failure of institutions from churches to boarding schools to halt abuse. So far it has collected more than 1,000 stories (and remains keen to hear more), and while the details are often harrowing, they are striking in what they reveal about the lifelong consequences. As one survivor says in the report published this week by the Truth Project, it's “like pebbles thrown into a pond; the ripples keep on getting bigger”.

Last week, the World Health Organisation formally recognised the existence of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition from which it is thought many survivors of childhood abuse suffer. It differs from other forms of PTSD in that sufferers tend to have “a completely pervasive and rigid negative belief about themselves”, says the inquiry's chief psychologist Bryony Farrant. They may struggle with managing their feelings, trusting others, and with feelings of shame and inadequacy holding them back in school or working life. An analysis of Truth Project participants found that 85% had mental health problems in later life, including depression and anxiety, while almost half struggled with education or getting a job. Four in 10 had difficulties with relationships, with some avoiding sexual intimacy altogether, while others had multiple sexual partners; some suffered difficulty eating or sleeping, were dependent on alcohol, or were drawn into crime. One in five had tried to kill themselves.

Surprisingly, other research has shown survivors are at greater risk of illness, including heart disease and cancer, with years of chronic stress taking a physical toll on their bodies.

Farrant stresses that not every survivor's story ends badly, and that their fates are certainly not set in stone. “I feel very hopeful and positive that people can recover, and certainly in my clinical work I've seen that,” she says. “The brain is far more plastic than we've previously understood, which means there are far more opportunities for people to repair some of the impacts from childhood trauma.”

But if a new technology, drug or junk food were doing such damage, it would be classed as a public health emergency. It is striking, then, that the toxic legacy of child abuse gets less attention than theories about whether social media makes teenagers anxious or skinny models fuel anorexia. “For me, this is the most public secret we have,” says Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, a town still grappling with the aftermath of the child sexual exploitation scandal uncovered seven years ago. “I think people recognise and understand it, we're just not prepared to confront it.” The Truth Project is trying to bring it out of the shadows.

Kaiser remembers clearly the bedroom where it all started; at the top of the four-storey house she shared with her mother and five siblings (her father died when she was a toddler). After an older sister ran away from home, the room was left empty – and supposedly out of bounds – but she would sneak up. “In the room, there was a glass cabinet that had two shelves in – probably 4ft high – and books behind the glass. One on the train robbery, and a book about Tutankhamun. I'd sit crosslegged and just stare at my father's books – never touch.” She was seven years old, she says, when a male visitor to the house first abused her there. Over the next six years, she told the Truth Project, she was assaulted by three other men, both in Britain and when visiting Pakistan. She always felt that to tell would put her mother in danger.

On the surface, Kaiser's was a strict upbringing; if anyone kissed in a film, an adult would instantly switch off the TV. “There were no relationships outside marriage, no boyfriends and girlfriends of any kind, no untoward touching. Those lines were not blurred at any time. That act of touching, there's so much onus on it – literally, the respect of the household is put on it,” she explains. “There were lines that were drawn, and then there were areas that were just ... no-go areas, and it was able to breed and occur as it did because there were no repercussions. Nobody saying stop.”

Years ago, in Pakistan, she heard a story that she didn't understand at the time about a man caught abusing his toddler granddaughter. When the child's mother confronted him, “she was beaten to a pulp. That was a no-go area. It was ‘you didn't have the authority or the right, how dare you have the audacity to bring that up with me'. It was as if there was a place for men, and those men have their reasons.”

Initially, she interpreted the abuse as some kind of punishment, “like I was a bad child, that I was doing something wrong”. As she got older, she drew on her experience as a British Asian straddling two cultures to separate herself from what was happening. The girl at home enduring unspeakable things – withdrawn and always frowning – became separate from the popular, more assertive girl at school. “When I'm in my own home, the colours, the smells, the sounds are completely different. But once I step out of my door into the street, I'm in England, and everything looks and smells and sounds different. It was about being one person inside the house and, as soon as I stepped outside, I'm not that person.”

It was a school sex education lesson at 13 that finally provided words for what was happening. She walked out in the middle of it, and not long afterwards summoned the courage to tell her mother. The only time her voice quavers is when she describes her mother's reaction.

“My mother was a seamstress, she sewed Asian women's clothes. At any point of the day or night you would find her at her sewing machine in her bedroom and that's where I went. I sat down on this little cushion by the gas fire and started to tell her. I didn't quite know how to explain. The words I used were: ‘What a man and wife does in their bedroom to have children, is what he's doing to me.'”

Her mother did confront the man, Kaiser says, asking if he had “touched” her. “He went into this tirade about how if I was raised in Pakistan, I wouldn't be saying these things; how living in England ruins girls.” She realised that her mother was not going to back her up, and that in effect the subject was closed.

So she started fighting at school, skipping lessons, waiting for someone to notice. Someone did, but she says the teacher appointed to counsel her then abused her all over again; she was eventually taken into care aged 15, after months of shuttling between foster families and home. If new acquaintances asked about her parents, she would say she was an orphan. At 19, Kaiser found herself pregnant by an older boyfriend who had no idea of her history.

She struggles to forgive the social worker who, on learning of her pregnancy, told her to get counselling or she might abuse her own child. (Perpetrators are disproportionately likely to have been abused as children, but the idea of the cycle repeating itself is a sensitive one, says Farrant: “The research doesn't support that abused people are highly likely to go on to abuse other people. Often it's such a harmful narrative, and it intensifies the sense of shame and guilt.”)

With that warning ringing in her ears, Kaiser suffered postnatal depression after her son was born. “I could barely touch him; I couldn't breastfeed him because I felt that every time I did, I was abusing him. I loved him so much, there was this fear that I was going to hurt him because there was something wrong with me.”

But she went on to have a second son, and this time it was easier, because she had learned that there were places not to go in her head. “If I didn't close those doors, I'm not sure who would be talking to you today, it would be a completely different story. That's what tends to happen to children like me. We become damaged goods, broken beyond repair.”

And yet she did not break. Kaiser now works as a translator, and volunteers for a survivors' charity; she is proud of her two grown sons and is on good terms with their father, from whom she later separated. However, she has had another relationship that she describes as highly abusive, but realised during counselling that she was unconsciously mirroring her childhood experience. Adult survivors are, she says, vulnerable to predators because of their desperation to be loved: “I don't think it ever stops shaping you. Just the impact is different.”

What saved her, Kaiser thinks, was being reconciled with her mother in her late 30s. She won't call it closure – “for me, it would be for my mum to say she believed me and that she was sorry, and she never said those words” – but it meant more to her than she can describe to be mother and daughter again. After years of anger, she now feels “love and respect” for her mother, wondering what experiences drove her response. “There was never a time when I didn't feel her love. Even though there were times – years – when I didn't feel it for her. I don't believe for a second that she didn't care.”

Two years after she got back in touch, her mother died, and when Kaiser subsequently saw adverts for the Truth Project, she felt ready to talk. “It was almost like I had chains around me, and it was her passing that made me feel I'd broken free.”

Survivors can choose how and where they talk to the Truth Inquiry as a way of returning the control that was brutally denied them as children (Kaiser deliberately picked a town four hours' drive from home). They are asked beforehand about objects that might trigger disturbing memories, and staff adapt accordingly; if an abuser carried rosary beads, nobody in the room can wear beaded jewellery. Some people can't ultimately go through with it and that's fine, says Farrant. It's no good rushing people who aren't ready, since the impact of a “bad” disclosure can be immense. The inquiry has heard over and over again from survivors saying that being disbelieved or rejected was “just as, or in some cases more, traumatising” than the abuse itself.

Support workers will call before and after survivors share their stories to see how they're coping and, if necessary, refer them on. Farrant is pleased that complex PTSD was officially recognised by the World Health Organisation, potentially leading to more research and better treatment for sufferers.

But beyond the auspices of the Truth Project, NHS mental health services remain overstretched, struggling with demand as historic abuse is brought to light. In Rotherham, Champion says there is a seven-month wait for the main specialist local abuse counselling service – and that's the tip of the iceberg. “A lot of survivors can't begin to unpick what happened to them. They're just very aware that they struggle to hold down jobs or relationships, that they might have drug or alcohol dependency. A package to deal with those issues is needed.”

Meanwhile, as survivors become parents themselves, some are coming into conflict with the very social services that failed them as children. “There's this assumption, particularly if they have been involved in gang grooming, that somehow they're going to be a bad mother, whereas if they'd been raped [in other circumstances] people wouldn't think that at all.” She wants a one-stop centre in Rotherham, bringing together multiple agencies under one roof to offer early support rather than “deal with the symptoms 10 or 20 years down the line”.

What she is talking about is essentially a public health approach, recognising the sexual abuse suffered by an estimated 7% of children as a significant hidden cause of mental and physical illness, just as tobacco is the underlying cause of many cancers.

If all forms of so-called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – both sexual and physical abuse, or neglect – could somehow be eliminated overnight, the results would be transformative. Public Health Wales estimates it could reduce high-risk drinking by a third and heroin and cocaine use by two thirds, plus almost halving unwanted teenage pregnancies and slashing prison populations.

“When we know these things underpin the problems so many people are suffering, we're really treating consequences, not causes,” says Dr Mark Bellis, director of policy research and international development at Public Health Wales and a leading expert on ACEs. “We don't think about what's driving people towards drugs; we might think about regulating access, when actually it's the consequences of something that happened to someone as a child.”

Abused children often become hyper-vigilant, Bellis explains, knowing survival may depend on seeing trouble coming; and that affects both neurological development and hormone levels. “If your experience of life is fear, it's not unusual to develop a more cautious approach to things. But there are physiological changes, too. The way I explain it is if you set any system on a high alert, it wears out more quickly. If it's permanently running on high alert, it's producing particular immunological responses or proteins which seem to be higher in people who are exposed to these traumas in early life.” Since these are also linked to higher rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, survivors' risk of physical illness increases.

But that chemical response may also help explain why abused children who had at least one adult they could trust and relax around – leaving behind that state of high alert – seem to have better prospects of recovering. Other protective factors, he says, include feeling connected to a wider community or “if you can see a way out of things, being able to set your own destiny; if you feel you've got a pathway out, maybe through school”. It is important for survivors to know, he says, that there is hope. “The more we understand about things like resilience, the more we know there are things in children's and in adult lives that can counteract this. You are not on a set course.” Children and adults do not have to be broken beyond repair. And it is not beyond society's means to mend them



The child abuse survivor fighting to save others

Purnima Govindarajulu says the abuse has "torn" her life

In India, child sexual assault must be reported within three years or a case cannot be brought against an abuser. But for adult survivors who struggle to come to terms with their ordeal this means their abuser, frequently someone close to the family, will never be brought to justice. The BBC's Geeta Pandey met one survivor campaigning for a change in the law.

A 53-year-old Canadian woman of Indian origin recently met with India's Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi. Her mission was to lobby for a change in the law so that adult survivors can report childhood sexual abuse.

Purnima Govindarajulu, who grew up in the southern Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras) before moving to Canada in 1986, says she was abused by her cousin's husband regularly between the ages of six and 13.

After meeting Ms Govindarajuluin in Delhi, Mrs Gandhi said her ministry was "considering measures that will help child abuse survivors report their abusers, many years after the crimes had been committed". The law at present says a case must be brought within three years of abuse.

"I would wake up at night to find him sitting next to me in the dark. He would put his hands and mouth on my private parts," Ms Govindarajulu, who works as a conservation biologist for the Canadian province of British Columbia, said.

Although the "more intrusive penetrative acts took place at night or while travelling during the holidays", the abuse continued during the day too.

"Whenever he would find me alone, he would stick his fingers into my panties. There would be fondling, groping."

Growing up in conservative Chennai, she says she had no clue that what was happening to her was wrong and was not her fault.

"I never thought of protesting because I believed I was evil, I was dirty, I was bad. I had no idea about sex. I had three older brothers and when at the age of 13, I began menstruating I thought I had cancer.

"I thought I was about to die but that came as a relief to me because I was so miserable in my life."

But then an aunt showed up and saw her "blood-soaked panties and assured me that I was not going to die".

"She said you are a woman now. She told me it was normal. She said this means you can have a baby. She also told me don't let anyone touch you."

It was advice that had come too late for Ms Govindarajulu, but it was still good advice.

"For the first time it made me feel I had some sort of power. So the next time he tried to touch me, I told him to stop."

And he did. "He said, 'Okay if you don't want it, I'll stop.' I realised I could have done it earlier. And that made me feel terrible that why didn't I do it?"

So all through her teen years, she says, she struggled with self-hate, and was "depressed and suicidal".

Ms Govindarajulu's elder brother Karun Thanjavur says his "biggest regret" is that he had "no inkling" that his sister was being routinely abused by a relative
Incest and child sexual abuse are huge problems in India.

According to a 2007 government study, 53% of children surveyed said they had been subjected to some form of sexual abuse . The study also revealed that a substantial number of abusers were "persons in trust and care-givers" which included parents, relatives and school teachers.

But there's a general reluctance to talk about the topic and abuse by family members is rarely reported.

It's not surprising then that Ms Govindarajulu had no idea that what had happened to her was not unique.

It was only in the late 1980s when she had moved to Canada and saw a television programme on child sexual abuse that the penny dropped.

"I was sitting on the couch in my brother's home with his wife, we were flicking channels and we came across this show. I realised I wasn't alone. I wasn't evil or bad or dirty."

Marrying a cousin is not uncommon in some Hindu communities in southern India and her sister-in-law is none other than her childhood friend, her abuser's daughter.

"She said, 'This would never happen in India.' I contradicted her, 'It does, it happened to me'. She asked me, 'It was my father, wasn't it?'," Ms Govindarajulu says.

It made sense to other family members too because, as they all said, "he doted on you while you hated him".

It still took her - and her family - years to do something about it.

In 1999, when her brother visited Chennai, he confronted the abuser about it.

"Initially he denied it. Then he said, 'Yes I touched her, but always with love.' My brother asked him if he'd also touched his daughter that way. 'Of course not,' he said.

"My brother asked him if he'd touched others too? 'None of your business,' he told him. "And then he added, 'At least I never used my penis.' Maybe he was trying to tell him that he had done nothing illegal," Ms Govindarajulu says.

"When my brother spoke to my abuser's wife, my cousin, she said, 'That makes sense. I'd see him around her bed at night but he always said that he was comforting her because she'd had nightmares."

Ms Govindarajulu says her cousin called her to say it was best to let bygones be bygones.

"She said, 'I've forgiven him, you forgive him too. He's god to me. I'm married to him.' I have not spoken to her since. It's been a huge loss for me. She was a big sister to me."

On his return from India, her brother sent out an email to the wider family. And a cousin, who didn't want to go public, confided in him that she too had been abused by the same man.

Her brothers and the rest of the family rallied around Ms Govindarajulu, offering her support, and everyone vowed that they would make sure the man had no access to children again.

But in 2013, when Ms Govindarajulu visited his house to meet her aunt who was bedridden and couldn't leave home, she felt that little had changed.

So in 2015, she took the tough decision to go public. "I went to the police in Canada, I told them I wanted to file a case but they said they had no jurisdiction" since the abuse had happened in India and that all the people were based there.

"But they were extremely supportive, they counselled me and wrote out a report for the Chennai police."

Ms Govindarajulu says the Chennai police were also "very sympathetic", but they said they couldn't register a complaint because the statute of limitations had run out.

So last August, she filed a petition on demanding that the law must be amended to allow adult survivors to report childhood abuse to stop repeat offences by molesters.

Her petition has received more than 120,000 signatures and her cause has also won support from the women and child development minister.

Member of Parliament Ms. Kanimozhi and Purnima, an adult survivor of child sexual abuse, met me recently with a request to help adult survivors to report incidents of child molestation even after many years.

Purnima told me that she could not overcome the trauma she faced decades ago. Children who are abused don't find the courage to report their abusers till they become adults. In many cases, like in Purnima's, they realise that they have been abused only after they become adults. The trauma continues for life.

In recent days, some of the Indian press has reached out to the man, but he has refused to respond to Ms Govindarajulu's allegations. "I have already spoken to the police about this last year. There is nothing more that I would like to say," he told one website.

Ms Govindarajulu, however, says she's not seeking just personal justice. Moreover, she says she has little hope that she will ever see her abuser prosecuted.

"He's 75 and even if a court case is brought against him, it will take a long time and he may not even live that long. But such people are almost always repeat offenders and I feel guilty about not being able to protect other children. At least we can stop him from abusing other children in future."

The abuse, she says, has affected her entire life. "I struggled with relationships, I couldn't have children."

But she draws some satisfaction from the fact that after she went public, his social status has suffered and her other cousins no longer socialise with him.

But her decision to go public has not found favour with her eldest brother who says it could embarrass the abuser's son and daughter.

"But I say there's only one criminal in this story and that's not me," says Ms Govindarajulu.



Talking about child sex abuse is the only way to stop stigma

Child Victims Act is once again a topic in Albany. There are millions of adult survivors who carry shame and guilt that doesn't belong to them.

Let's destroy the stigma and shame and stop the suffering.

by Sue Fort White, executive director of Our Kids

What if I told you one in four girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused by age 18?

Would you believe? Most people don't.

At Our Kids, this jarring fact challenged us to start a conversation about child sexual abuse in this country. We know silence and secrecy are the weapons of abusers. We also know talking about the issue is the only way to stop the stigma and suffering this epidemic causes daily.

As Our Kids begins its fourth decade as a leader treating the medical and emotional needs of children and families affected by child sexual abuse, we want to do more to bring attention to the issue.

So we created a beautiful, startling video that tells the truth about child sexual abuse.

The stirring narrative, brought to life by Creative Communications, speaks to the traumatic impact of child sexual abuse and amplifies the resilience and courage of children and adult survivors.

We want this video to have a national impact, and as a small nonprofit, we needed help to make that happen, and Nashville stepped up.

This spring, the organizers of Craft Content Week selected Our Kids as the beneficiary of Design-a-thon. During the 14-hour pop-up shop, 12 volunteers focused on graphic design, web development, social media and content.

We left that day with a website that holds vital information about how to report sexual abuse, learn more about the issue and connects adult survivors with support and information.

Believe and protect the child; embrace the adult

This journey has been an important one for Our Kids. We know this movement is not about us. Rather, it is about the one in four girls and one in seven boys who will experience child sexual abuse.

We feel strongly that, at this point in our 31-year history, it is time to start this conversation. Parents and loved ones can't protect the children in their lives if they don't know that child sexual abuse is a reality.

There are millions of adult survivors who carry shame and guilt that doesn't belong to them.

As the "What If I Told You?" video says: “Believe and protect the child. Embrace the adult. They are courageous. It's never too late to heal.”

"What If I Told You?" is an opportunity for this country to finally acknowledge and address the complex and tragic reality of child sexual abuse.

It is time to affirm and support adult survivors everywhere. Silence and secrecy are the vehicles of abuse, betrayal and exploitation. Let's destroy the stigma and shame and stop the suffering, starting right here in Nashville when we launch the national campaign Sept. 13



The horrific mental health aftermath of child sexual abuse: Jarad Grice shares his story

Rape or sexual assault: what do I do now?

by Shannon Molloy

The street Jarad Grice grew up in Sydney's western suburbs was like most others in Australia in the late 1980s.

Children ran between each other's houses, jumped fences chasing each other and sped down the stretch of suburban bitumen on their bikes.

“We were latchkey kids,” Jarad, now 37, explained.

“We roamed and did our own thing and we thought we were pretty free. But there were points we knew we weren't allowed to venture beyond. As it turned out, the point was the furthest mother in the street who could still see us.”

A kind of neighbourhood watch of parents kept an eye on the kids, who spanned all ages, to ensure they were protected from harm as they played.

But for Jarad, the real danger lurked nearby.

An older boy befriended the youngster, who was on the cusp of adolescence, and pretty soon began sexually abusing him.

“It was the kind of street where all kids of all ages played together, so it wasn't unusual that he was around.”

In the beginning, before the abuse, it was cool to hang out with him. He'd talk about his girlfriend, offering a rare glimpse into what it meant to be a young man.

“I liked the attention of an older kid,” he said. “There was cool stuff to do at his house. It was fun.”

Jarad can't precisely recall the very first instance of sexual abuse, but he has a vivid recollection of the countless other times and how it made him feel.

Shame. Guilt. Disgust. Confusion.

“I was afraid I would get in trouble for it. I didn't like it. I didn't understand it. I had a fear of him. At some point I got in my head that I should avoid playing because he would invite me over if he saw me.”

Jarad can also clearly remember the last time he was abused.

“The last time he tried it, he came out looking for me in the street. I was with my friends and he lured me to some bushes at the end of the street, pulled me away from everyone, and tried it on in the open. I said no, no way.

“He was very predatory and very premeditated.”

Then mercifully, his family moved house not long after and he didn't have to see the older boy again — until decades later.

When he was 14, Jarad saw a television news story about childhood sexual abuse and something inside his head clicked.

“I remember realising, like kind of, hang on a second — I was a kid. There was a small sense of relief in that. I'd always felt guilty that it was my fault and I'd let it happen. I felt deeply ashamed.

“I realised I didn't have choice in that matter and when I was in the situation, I was totally powerless.”


The day Jarad was abused was the day his childhood died. Carrying the heavy burden of what happened to him — and the pressure to keep it secret — made his teenage years a powder keg.

“They were very fraught,” he said.

“I just sat on it all. I didn't say anything to anyone. I had so much going on that my parents didn't know about and I think it made things tough with them.”

When he was 17, he got “rip-roaring drunk” for the first time while out with a group of mates. The dam wall holding in all of that upset, shame and aggression finally burst.

Heavily intoxicated, Jarad jumped in front of a car.

“My friends didn't know what was going on. As far as they were concerned, I was happy,” he said. “On the outside, I was the good boy. I was the eldest so I was responsible. I got good marks at school. Then something changed when I was drunk. It all came out.”

While sat in the gutter with his best friend, Jarad spoke about the horrific abuse for the very first time.

Having grown up in the church together, his mate encouraged Jarad to tell the youth leaders, who he was close to. He did, and then eventually he told his parents.

“It wasn't pretty. They were, naturally, devastated,” he said.

Jarad began seeing a counsellor right away but for a long time it seemed things were getting worse, not better. At 19 there was a fairly serious suicide attempt that led to a scary realisation afterwards about just how much he was struggling.

“My 20s were messy,” Jarad said. “I would cycle through these deep feelings of shame and guilt. The level of distress I would feel at times was hard to comprehend.

“I struggled with super self-destructive behaviour. I was smart enough never to get into drugs. I think I was educated and scared enough. But at times I drank a lot.”

After the suicide attempt, Jarad began seeing a psychologist, who he says “worked to keep me alive every day”.

When he was 22, Jarad went to the police without telling anyone and made a report about the abuse he had suffered. No one has been convicted over his complaint.


After facing a legal mountain, Jarad said he began climbing the emotional one with the help of his psychologist and his family.

The legal process was devastating and he experienced a deep depression after, but laying out every single allegation of the abuse made it possible to eventually “start working through it”.

Looking back, he feels fortunate that his family moved away from that neighbourhood when they did, when he knows many victims of abuse are stuck with their abusers and have no way out.

The most recent national figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicate that there were 5559 substantiated cases of child sexual abuse across the country in 2016.

The rate of notification of all kinds of abuse against kids rose by 11.2 per cent that year, when the number of substantiated reports hit 60,989 — the highest on record.

Jarad credits a big part of his recovery to the support of his mum and dad, who rose to the formidable challenge of supporting him from the moment they found out.

“Every step of the way during my 20s, they were one ahead of me,” he said.

“If I struggled about something in particular, they'd have already read about it or spoken to someone and were ready to help me.”

A few years ago, he went to a support group in Sydney called SAMSN.

“I sat there and I was 34, I think, and there were men there who were 10, 15 or more years older than me and hadn't ever spoken about the abuse. Most were speaking for the first time.

“I'd never spoken to anyone else who had been through it before. All of the fears and concerns I felt were shared. It was incredible.

He then participated in the Polished Man campaign, which encourages men to paint one of their fingers nails to highlight the issue of violence against children.

Globally, one child dies every five minutes as a result of violence, and 90 per cent of all sexual violence against kids is perpetrated by men. Last year, he signed on as an ambassador.

“The first time I participated, it was kind of like testing the waters. Everyone close to me knew about it at that point, but it wasn't public by any means,” Jarad said.

“Becoming an ambassador last year kind of upped the ante. I thought I could do more. I wanted to do more.”

This year, he spoke an event to launch the month-long initiative, in which he's aiming to raise $10,000 for various charities, and shared his personal story.

It marked another significant milestone in what has proven to be a daily recovery.

“I had never said the words, ‘I was sexually abused' in public before the opening night. To speak about it from the point of view of a survivor, not a victim, has been so empowering.”

These days, Jarad is an architect whose life is in a “pretty good place”.

“More and more, definitely. I'm always going to have dark days, that's the reality I'm coming to grips with. But it's a process,” he said.

“I'm super keen to keep turning this into a positive thing in some way. I can't undo what was done but I don't have to live in the shadow of it anymore.”



It Happens to Boys conference

Local church speaks out after former valley priests accused of abuse

Former priests from six Coachella Valley churches were 'credibly accused' of sexual abuse.

According to Carol Teitelbaum, a licensed marriage and family therapist, statistics show one out of every four boys will experience sexual trauma before the age of 18.

The "It Happens to Boys" conference brings together mental health and other practitioners to hear the stories of men who survived childhood sexual abuse. Experts will explore the links between child abuse and addiction, depression, low self-esteem, relationship and intimacy challenges, sexual dysfunction and compulsion, pornography use and more.

The 10th Annual "It Happens to Boys" conference will be held Friday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the ABC Recovery Center at 44359 Palm Street in Indio.



Kicking Off Child Abuse Prevention Month, Boost CYAC Releases Report Outlining How Child & Youth Advocacy Centre Model Created Millions in Community-Wide Benefit While Providing Better Support to Victims

Canada's leading centre for children who are victims of abuse and exploitation poised to expand across Toronto with a model that created $4.6M in annual community-wide benefit while providing better support to victims

To mark the beginning of Child Abuse Prevention Month – and to shine a bright light on a dark and largely unseen issue that afflicts tens of thousands of Ontario children and families each year – the country's leading child abuse and exploitation prevention and intervention centre is preparing to expand across the city of Toronto as a recent study uncovers the economic and social benefits of the child & youth advocacy centre model.

Toronto-based Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Center (Boost CYAC) is the national leader in responding to child abuse and providing recovery services to their families. The centre co-locates all professionals involved in investigations and recovery services under one roof for a coordinated, interdisciplinary, best-in-class response to this terrible issue that afflicts tens of thousands of Ontario children and youth each year.1

“This model is the best possible response to victims of sexual abuse and exploitation and their families,” explained Boost CYAC Chair, Peter MacKay. “As Justice Minister, I supported and prioritized funding for child & youth advocacy centers across the country. Based on my experience in this role as well as my time as a Crown Attorney and working with legal aid, it is eminently clear that Boost CYAC sets the national gold standard when it comes to their comprehensive approach in addressing this widespread and devastating plague for our country's children and their loved ones.”

In 2017, Boost CYAC and its partner agencies worked with Deloitte to study the impact and benefits of the CYAC model. The report, Reducing Trauma, Improving Lives: The Social Value of Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre found that Boost CYAC has a significant positive return on investment to society.

For every $1 spent on the CYAC, there is a value to society of up to nearly $3. Specifically, this includes:

nearly $5m (730k-4.6M) in benefits to the city in three years;

increased tax revenues of up to $3,500 per child, per investigation; and

reduced healthcare costs of up to $500 per child, per investigation.

The report goes on to reveal that compared to the traditional model of serving children and their families, the Boost CYAC model led to:

further improvements in reducing the emotional, financial, and physical hardship on children who have been abused, and their families;

increased access to services, and potentially better-quality services due to integration; and

increased capacity of its partner agencies (higher efficiency and effectiveness).

“Boost CYAC has supported children and their families for over three decades. We know what works. We know what families need and we know the best way to provide it. Our proven model, combined with the commitment of our seven partner agencies, has enabled us to create a safe, accessible space where children can get the help and treatment they need under one roof. We are excited at the possibility of expansion so we can help the increasing number of families who require our services,” explained Boost CYAC President & CEO, Karyn Kennedy.

New centre set to expand to offer best-practice service to families in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke

While Boost CYAC has been operating in Toronto since 1981, it was only in October 2013 that this child-centered, co-located model was launched. Given staffing and space restrictions, when the centre opened, it could only offer this best-practice multidisciplinary approach to children living in the central core of the city. This meant that children living beyond the central core (e.g. Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke) did not receive this coordinated response and as such they were required to go to many different places to access required services. Nearly twice the size of the original centre, Boost CYAC's new family-friendly facility is set to accommodate enough staff to provide the CYAC model to children, youth and families across the entire city of Toronto.


About Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre (Boost CYAC)

Boost CYAC is the recognized leader for responding to child abuse and providing necessary recovery services. A partnership with community and government agencies, it co-locates all professionals involved in child abuse cases under one roof, for a coordinated, interdisciplinary response to child abuse victims in Toronto. Boost CYAC partner agencies include Toronto Police Service, Children's Aid Society of Toronto, Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto, Native Child & Family Service of Toronto, Jewish Family & Child, the SCAN Program at The Hospital for Sick Children, and Radius Child & Youth Services. In addition to housing Ontario's largest child & youth advocacy centre, Boost CYAC offers a number of direct services including, primary prevention, public education, trauma assessment and therapy and court preparation for child witnesses. For further information, visit



Trauma 101 in the Aftermath of the Ford-Kavanaugh Saga

Christine Blasey Ford, with lawyer Debra S. Katz, answered questions at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, September 27, 2018 on Capitol Hill.

Brett Kavanaugh is now a US Supreme Court justice. His contentious confirmation followed emotionally charged testimony to a US Senate committee from the judge and Christine Blasey Ford after she came forward to allege he'd sexually assaulted her while they were in high school.

As the dust begins to settle, it's important to remember everything we learned from the gripping events — in particular, the causes and the impact of trauma.

Here are six of the biggest lessons on traumatology, or the scientific study of trauma, that were illuminated by the testimony of both Ford and Kavanaugh.

Lesson 1: Trauma has a neurobiological footprint

In a harrowing account of the assault, Ford described vivid imagery of Kavanaugh's alleged behaviour. At other times, she said she did not remember all of the details.

This disparity in memory is due to the interaction of brain structures known as the hippocampus (which stores our processed and time-stamped memories) and the amygdala (which stores emotional memories). Ford herself explained to senators how it worked:

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two. And their having fun at my expense.”

Under extremely traumatic conditions, stress neurotransmitter levels become too overwhelming for the hippocampus, and prevent it from processing and storing sequential details.

However, the same processes increase sensory memory encoding in the amygdala, resulting in vivid traumatic memories. For this reason, Ford could recall certain aspects of her alleged assault in great detail and other aspects only vaguely.

Lesson 2: Trauma is related to substance use

The drinking mentioned in both Ford's and Kavanaugh's testimonies illustrate the gender differences in sexual assault victimisation and perpetration, particularly when intoxicating substances are present.

Of course, as articulated by the US National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drinking does not cause sexual assault, but it is a “major contributing factor.” Any serious initiative to curb sexual assault must also take a close look at binge-drinking culture. It's been estimated that more than half of the sexual assaults on college campuses involve alcohol consumption by the victim, perpetrator or both.

Lesson 3: Trauma causes blame, victimisation

NIDA notes that it's imperative to end stigma and victim-blaming around assaults that involve alcohol.

Towards the end of her opening statement, Ford discussed the vile comments and threats hurled at her, and the victim-blaming she faced after coming forward.

This is a classic representation of “secondary victimisation,” or the systematic re-traumatisation of victims via behaviours of others that damage the recovery process and compromise psychological well-being.

Research has demonstrated that re-victimisation perpetuates the psychological consequences of trauma and also prevents victims from disclosing their trauma or seeking help.

Lesson 4: Trauma extends to families, over time

Both Ford and Kavanaugh are parents and spouses. Ford's family is still receiving death threats. Kavanaugh lamented that he will no longer be able to coach his daughter's sports team.

For victims and perpetrators, trauma produces a ripple effect that emanates across the family and flows across generations. The research evidence in this area is also clear.

Children of parents who have experienced high levels of trauma are more likely to experience trauma themselves, largely due to family disruptions and stress. As is often the case, children are caught up in complex social tragedies that invariably infiltrate the family system.

Lesson 5: Trauma often involves betrayal

Before his confirmation, Kavanaugh was a circuit judge for the US Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. For many, seeing him further elevated to the highest court in the land represents a failure of the legislative process.

This highlights two important ideas in traumatology.

The first is betrayal trauma, which occurs when a perpetrator is trusted by the victim — perhaps the accused is a sports coach, a local civil servant, a close friend or family member.

The second concept is institutional betrayal, whereby civic institutions systematically perpetuate the traumatisation of a particular group. Examples here include the killing of young Black men by police, residential schools for First Nations children, and the historical treatment of women by male-dominated legislative bodies and by men in positions of authority.

Lesson 6: Trauma hurts women, men differently

This final point will surprise no one in the era of #MeToo.

Decades of research has demonstrated that, at the population level, women are more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for a post-traumatic stress disorder. They are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse and child abuse, and have higher levels of trauma symptoms in relation to any particular traumatic event.

That being said, this same research demonstrates that men are more likely to experience certain types of trauma, including accidents, non-sexual assaults, injury or death, from disasters or fires and combat or war.

Research on the idea of male “victim-perpetrators” suggests that males who have experienced trauma (including child abuse), are more likely to perpetrate in later life.

The Ford-Kavanaugh saga clearly highlighted several lessons from traumatology and the complex consequences of traumatic events across society.

One final lesson, however, is that when dealing with trauma we must “speak the unspeakable,” raising our voices to have these difficult conversations


Sex trafficking: Police get special training


There are several warning signs for human trafficking, including poor physical and mental health, a lack of control over their lives and harsh working conditions. If you see any of these signs, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

When Barbara Amaya was being sold for sex as a child in New York City, she hated the police.

The blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl ran away from her abusive Fairfax, Virginia, home the summer she turned 12. Vulnerable, young and alone in Washington, D.C., she made for an easy target for sex traffickers.

Amaya was sold to a pimp in the nation's capital, then taken to New York, where she was trafficked for more than a decade. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s as a child and young adult, she was arrested multiple times on charges of loitering for the purposes of prostitution.

"I was told by my trafficker that I would be treated like a criminal," said Amaya, now living in the Washington, D.C., area as a trafficking advocate who helps train law enforcement agencies on sexual slavery. "And I was."

Each time she was arrested, the booking was quick: She'd throw police a name, address and age that didn't match hers. They never took a second look, which "validated" what the trafficker had programmed into her worldview, Amaya said.

It's possible Amaya could have escaped sooner than she did, at 24 years old, had those officers been trained to look for the warning signs of trafficking: Maybe she had no identification or her trafficker kept hold of her personal belongings. Did she avoid eye contact with law enforcement? Was her purse full of condoms? Was she really as old she claimed to be?

'No clue what human trafficking is'

These are just a few of the many indicators police officers and other first responders across the country are being trained to identify. The increased awareness and training reflects a shift as law enforcement agencies focus more on catching the trafficker than arresting victims as prostitutes.

This fall, Delaware State Police will begin training its sworn officers and cadets on how to spot and handle sex trafficking incidents. Trafficking-specific training is now required to graduate from the academy.

"We have law enforcement in the state who have no clue what human trafficking is," said Detective Joshua Rowley, who met Amaya in August at Wilmington University's Human Trafficking Symposium, where she was the keynote speaker.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police is providing DSP with an online training course on recognizing and responding to sex trafficking.

Delaware passed anti-trafficking legislation in 2014, even though it's been a federal crime since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

Human trafficking cases regionally, nationally

There have been 74 reported cases of human trafficking in Delaware since 2007, including 21 last year, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

In 2016, DSP charged Rashawn B. Davis and George L. Dunn with human trafficking after an eight-month investigation with the Ocean City Police Department revealed a trafficking ring operating in Sussex County.

Dunn and Davis "used coercion, verbal abuse and the withholding of heroin to control the behavior of the victim," and all money incurred from the victims went back to the two men, according to a DSP release.

Nationally, more than 8,500 human trafficking cases were reported last year, the majority of which were sex trafficking-related. Maryland accounted for 115 of those cases, while Virginia totaled 156, though those numbers are likely higher in reality, experts say.

"We've met detectives from other jurisdictions," said Cpl. Chris Heid of the Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit. "It's happening everywhere whether you know it or not."

Changing the mindset

Before the Delaware legislation, traffickers were often not prosecuted and victims were arrested as prostitutes.

"It takes time," Rowley said of the slow progress Delaware has made to address the crime, adding that half the training involves changing the mindset of officers.

That means no longer seeing a 19-year-old woman on the streets of Wilmington and assuming, "Oh, well, she's just a prostitute" but instead developing a more holistic approach.

"Where did that girl come from?" Rowley said, echoing what officers should be thinking. "What situations was she in? And what can we do to help — rather than writing her off."

Just 15 years ago, Rowley said law enforcement had similar perception flaws when taking domestic violence calls: Why can't the wife just run away, the husband's at work?

While those mindsets have since changed, both officers and the general public ask the same about trafficking victims: Why can't the girl just leave?

"They don't understand the control of the trafficking," Rowley said. "That will change as more public awareness comes out."

The training program for Delaware State Police, which Rowley said has no associated costs, will focus on the types of human trafficking situations most encountered in Delaware through scenario-based modules, from street-level "prostitution" in Wilmington to intrafamilial trafficking, which has become more visible, Rowley said, as Division of Family Services workers are now being trained on how to identify the crime.

"Nobody ever wants to think about a mother prostituting her daughter, but that type of (trafficking) is occurring as well," Rowley said.

Delaware hospitals are also working to address trafficking by creating universal screening questions so doctors and nurses can better identify victims, just as they do for domestic and child abuse.

Local health care providers believe these screening guidelines could be implemented in the coming year.

"Training goes the entire gamut," Rowley said. "We need to train the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the judges, the people picked for jury. Everybody needs to have (trafficking-specific) training."

Even language has an impact on the way first responders approach a victim, Amaya said, remembering a law enforcement training session in Chicago, when an officer used the term "child prostitute" to describe a minor.

"There's no such thing as a child prostitute," she said, her voice blatantly incredulous over the phone. "That's an oxymoron."

Helping victims

When Cpl. Heid, the officer with Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit, approaches someone who is potentially being trafficked, he isn't dressed in uniform, and he doesn't introduce himself as a police officer.

"We try to play the persona that we're 'regular' people," he said. "We sit on their level. We don't envision this as a crime."

Maryland State Police have been training troopers for the last five years. They learn about indicators and how trafficking victims should be approached with particular sensitivity.

Out of the 2,000 girls Heid has encountered in the last eight years, he estimates five of them were actual sex workers.

"Typically these girls are doing this for someone else," Heid said. "We've had women doing it to support a child at home, or to go to school. Very rarely do they do it because they want to."

Police officers in Maryland try to help these women through referrals rather than handcuffs. If they have an addiction, they'll encourage them to seek counseling. If they don't have a home, the officers will try to get them in contact with an agency that can help.

"We joke sometimes that most of what we do is not being a police officer: It's being a social worker," Heid said.

Helping victims won't happen in a five-minute conversation at the police station, said Amaya, who now helps train law enforcement agencies. Sex trafficking is one of the most notoriously difficult crimes to prosecute, according to several law enforcement officials and advocates.

That's because victims will often develop trauma bonds with their manipulative and coercive traffickers, a phenomenon Amaya likens to Stockholm Syndrome.

Many times when a victim is sitting across from an officer, "getting back to the trafficker is all they're thinking about," she said.

So it takes time to break that bond and escape, especially if the victim is in love with or afraid of the trafficker and depends on them for money, drugs — even a sense of family.

But if a police officer gives that victim their phone number and tells them to call if they're in danger, or if they just want to talk, that can "get the ball rolling," according to Amaya.

"Later, when they're beaten to a pulp or thrown out a window by a trafficker, they'll think back to that officer," she said


9 Steps to Help Adults Can Heal Their Childhood Trauma

The healthiest response to childhood emotional wounds is also the rarest...

Trauma generates emotions, and unless we process these emotions at the time the trauma occurs, they become stuck in our mind and body. Instead of healing from the wounding event, the trauma stays in our body as energy in our unconscious, affecting our life until we uncover it and process it out. The healthy flow and processing of distressing emotions, such as anger, sadness, shame, and fear, is essential to healing from childhood trauma as an adult.

The healthiest response to childhood emotional wounds is also the rarest: When the trauma first occurs, we recognize the violation it has caused to our sense of self, feel the natural emotions that follow, and then realize that the violation doesn't say anything about us personally — and thus we don't make negative meaning of it and can let it go.

But because emotions like anger and sadness are painful — and because crying or confronting others is often not socially acceptable — this process doesn't happen automatically. Instead, we may suppress our emotions, rather than feel and process them. As a child, this process is even more difficult. What can feel like a pinprick to an adult — an insult about one's appearance that we can brush off at 40 — can feel like a stab wound to a child and create lasting damage (body dysmorphia, depression, etc.).

Then we carry these emotional stab wounds with us into adulthood, and they affect our relationships, career, happiness, health . . . everything. That is, until we process them and heal by feeling our feelings.

Why we don't always feel our feelings

Even the most loving and attentive parents can do lasting damage to our sense of self. Meaning well and hating to see us hurt, our parents may have rushed in after an upsetting episode. “Don't feel bad — it's okay,” our caregiver said when we started to cry. The truth is, feeling bad can be good for us. We needed to feel bad for a while and to think about why we felt the way we did.

Or maybe our parents weren't loving and attentive, and they demanded that we stop crying when we felt hurt. Either way, we didn't learn how to feel our feelings productively. We didn't learn that emotions are temporary and fleeting, that they have a predictable beginning, middle, and end, and that we will survive. When we don't learn how to feel our feelings, we may start to interpret all emotions as terrifying.

As children, we can't distinguish our feelings and our “self.” We think we are our feelings. If our feelings aren't treated as acceptable in a certain situation, we may decide that we aren't acceptable.

To heal from childhood trauma, we have to complete the process that should have begun decades ago, when the wounding incident happened. I developed this exercise based on my decades of experience helping patients heal from childhood emotional wounds. (Find an expanded version in my book, Mindful Aging.) The first time you try this exercise, I suggest starting with a small trauma. When I work with clients in my private practice, I like to start small and move toward bigger traumas once they have mastered the technique and feel comfortable with it.

1. Ground it.

For this process to work, you must be in your body and in the now. To begin, find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, and take several deep breaths, bringing your awareness into your body. Squeeze and release your muscles, and feel the heaviness in your arms. Let yourself feel connected to the ground under you. Imagine a stream of energy going from your tailbone all the way down into the center of the earth. Once you feel that you are centered in your body, go to Step 2.

2. Recall it.

Think of a situation that you've been upset about recently. Find something that provoked a mild to strong emotional reaction, or that would have if you didn't feel emotionally numb. Review what happened in as much detail as possible, and imagine yourself back in that time and place. Experience it all again with your senses. When emotions begin to arise, go to Step 3.

3. Sense it.

Continue breathing deeply, and spend a moment in quiet relaxation. Then, mentally scan your body for any sensations. I call this process “percolating” because of the way your emotions will stir and bubble up inside you. Observe any physical response you experience — tingling, tightness, burning, etc. Each of these sensations is a bit of information you need to understand your past experience. Explore these sensations, and silently describe them to yourself in as much detail as you can. Once you've explored and described all of your physical reactions, you can move on to Step 4.

4. Name it.

Associate an emotion with each of the sensations you feel. Is the tightness in your chest anxiety? Is the heat you feel traveling up your arms anger? Before starting this exercise, you may want to print out this list of emotions you can find this list on the bottom right side of the page. It's important to recognize the often subtle distinctions between sometimes similar emotions. This will give you a greater sense of your experience and a richer knowledge of yourself. Once you've named your emotions, go to Step 5.

5. Love it.

As part of a mindful approach to healing from trauma, we need to fully accept everything that we feel. Whether it's true to your conscious mind at this moment or not, say, “I love myself for feeling (angry, sad, anxious, etc.).” Do this with every emotion you feel, especially the harder ones. Embrace your humanness, and love yourself for it. After you've accepted and loved yourself for each of your emotions, you can move on to Step 6.

6. Feel and experience it.

Sit with your emotions and their sensations, letting the feelings percolate and flow. Don't try to change or hide them; observe them. Acknowledge and welcome any discomfort you feel, knowing it will be gone soon and will help you to heal. Let your body respond the way it wants or needs to. If you feel the urge to cry, cry. If you feel the need to yell something or punch something, you should yell or punch the air. Expressing your emotions — in a productive way — is key to getting them moving inside you and to fully process them. When you've fully felt and experienced your emotions, move to Step 7.

7. Receive its message and wisdom.

Do the sensations or emotions you're experiencing right now connect with one or more experiences in your past? Do they give you any insight into the root of the trauma or a negative, limiting belief about yourself? Right now, you might be thinking, “I'm not getting anything.” Ask yourself: “If this sensation or emotion were going to say something to me, what would it be?” If you still have trouble, do some free writing. Journal about what the feeling means, for a full 10 minutes without stopping. When you think you've heard all the messages your emotions are sending you, move on to Step 8.

8. Share it.

If you feel comfortable sharing your reflections with someone else, do that. Otherwise, write about them on your own. Describe what happened when the wounding incident first occurred, how you reacted at the time, and what you've come to see about it now. Talking or writing about your experiences and emotions is an important step in healing. Writing letters (but not sending them) to those who hurt you can be a very effective method for moving an emotion out of your system. Once you've shared your reflections ...

9. Let it go.

Visualize the energy your trauma took up inside you leaving your body, or perform a ritual of physical release, like (safely) burning a letter you've written to the person who hurt you, or casting off the trauma in the form of an object into the sea. You can borrow a ritual from Judaism called Tashlikh. During the period of repentance, many Jews cast off their sins into a natural, flowing body of water in the form of breadcrumbs. Instead of sins, you can cast off traumas and the emotions and sensations that go with them.

The process of healing emotional wounds can feel uncomfortable at first, but I promise it will be a very rewarding journey. The energy we currently spend on trauma will be released, and the space inside ourselves that trauma took up can instead be filled with new, more positive energy that can help us build a life that we will love


6 Ways Childhood Abuse and Neglect Leads to Self-Blame in Adulthood

by Darius Cikanavicius, Author, Certified Coach

Trauma victims commonly blame themselves. Blaming oneself for the shame of being a victim is recognized by trauma specialists as a defense against the extreme powerlessness we feel in the wake of a traumatic event. Self-blame continues the illusion of control shock destroys, but prevents us from the necessary working through of the traumatic feelings and memories to heal and recover.

What is self-blame

An overwhelming amount of people routinely experience mild or complex trauma symptoms from the environment they had in their formative years. One of such symptoms is toxic self-blame.

Self-blame is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, feeling responsibility, guilt, or shame keeps us from hurting others and lets us learn from our mistakes. It helps us be more empathetic to each other. It keeps us human.

However, it can be, and often is, a problem when we blame ourselves for things we didn't do or objectively shouldn't feel responsible for or ashamed about. In this article we will talk about toxic, unhealthy, unjust self-blame and its effects.

The origins of self-blame

When children experience trauma, whether extreme like sexual and physical abuse or “mild” like lack of attention, they often are not allowed to feel how they feel, which is hurt, angry, enraged, betrayed, abandoned, rejected, and so on. Or if they are allowed to feel some of those emotions, they usually don't receive proper soothing and mental resolution to be able to heal and move on.

It is especially prohibited to feel angry at the people who hurt you if they are your family members. And yet the child is dependent on their caregivers, even if they are the very people who are supposed to protect them and meet their needs yet are failing at it in some form.

Moreover, human beings want to understand, and here, too, a child wants to understand what happened and why. Since a child's psyche is still developing, they tend to see the world revolving around them. This means that if there's something wrong, they tend to think it's somehow related to them, that perhaps it's their fault. “If mommy and daddy are fighting then it's about me. What did I do wrong? Why don't they love me?”

On top of that, the child is often explicitly blamed for feeling hurt. Directly or indirectly we all have heard phrases like, “There's nothing to be upset with.” Or, “(S)he is lying.” Or, “I'll give you something to cry about.” Or, “You made me do it.” Or, “It doesn't hurt.” Or, “Quit making stuff up.” “Or, “If you don't stop, I'll just leave you here.”

Not only all of that is the opposite of what a hurt child needs, it makes the child blame themselves for what happened and repress their true feelings. Then, since they're unresolved and often not even identified, all of these issues are carried into a person's later life.

If properly unaddressed, they can follow them into their adolescence, adulthood, and even older years, and manifest in numerous emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal problems. Here are six ways how self-blame manifests itself in a person's life.

1. Toxic self-criticism

People who suffer from unhealthy self-blame are prone to toxic self-criticism.

Because a person has been overtly criticized, unjustly blamed, and held up to unrealistic standards when growing up, they internalized these judgments and standards and now that's how they see and relate to themselves.

Such a person often thinks something to the following: “I'm bad.” Or, “I'm worthless.” Or, “I'm not good enough.”

False beliefs like these can be debilitating and a sign of low, skewed self-esteem. They often come up in various forms of perfectionism, such as having unrealistic, unattainable standards.

2. Black and white thinking

Black and white thinking here means that the person thinks in strong extremes where there is more than two options or an issue is on a spectrum yet they don't see it.

In relation to self, a chronically self-blaming person may think, “I always fail.” “I can never do anything right.” “I'm always incorrect.” “Others always know better.” If something is not perfect, everything is perceived as bad.

3. Chronic self-doubt

Because of all these thoughts, a person has many doubts. “Well, am I doing it right? Am I doing enough? Can I really do it? I seemingly failed so many times. Can I be correct? I mean I know that sometimes I tend to overreact and think the worst—but maybe this time it's really true?”

4. Poor self-care and self-harm

People who were taught to blame themselves for being hurt are prone to taking poor care of themselves, sometimes to the degree of active self-harm.

Because they lacked care, love, and protection when growing up, such a person has difficulties caring for themselves. Many people like that are raised to take care of others, therefore they often feel that they are not even worth of getting their needs met.

And since such a person tends to blame themselves, self-harm in their unconscious mind seems like a proper punishment for “being bad,” just like they were punished as children.

5. Unsatisfying relationships

Self-blame can play a big part in a person's relationships. At work, they may take on too many responsibilities and be prone to being exploited. In romantic or personal relationships, they may accept abuse as normal behavior, be unable to constructively resolve conflicts, or have unrealistic understanding how healthy relationships looks like.

Other related interpersonal problems are codependency, people-pleasing, learned helplessness, Stockholm syndrome, poor boundaries, inability to say no, self-erasure.

6. Chronic shame, guilt, and anxiety

People with a tendency to self-blame often struggle with overwhelming or otherwise painful and intrusive emotions. The most common emotions and mental states are shame, guilt, and anxiety, but it can also be loneliness, confusion, lack of motivation, aimlessness, paralysis, overwhelm, or constant alertness.

These feelings and moods are also closely related to phenomena like overthinking or catastrophizing, where the person lives in their head more than they are consciously present in external reality.

Summary and Closing Words

Having a wanting or otherwise traumatic upbringing makes us prone to self-blame, which is only one of many effects of such a childhood environment. If unaddressed and fully unresolved, the tendency to self-blame, then, gets carried in a person's later life and manifests itself in a wide range of emotional, behavioral, personal, and social problems.

These problems include, but are not limited to, low self-esteem, chronic self-criticism, magical and irrational thinking, chronic self-doubt, a lack of self-love and self-care, unhealthy relationships, and such feelings like toxic shame, guilt, and anxiety.

When a person correctly identifies these issues and their origins, then can start working towards overcoming them, which brings more inner peace and overall satisfaction with life.


Traumatised children can go on to lead better lives.

Children with severe trauma can be fostered, and recover with the right treatment and care

by Kathomi Gatwiri and Lynne Mcpherson

Being a foster carer for children who have experienced early life trauma – such as emotional and physical violence – can be challenging, complex and confusing. For children, experiencing severe early trauma can manifest in difficult behaviours, resulting in unsuccessful foster care placements.

We were commissioned to evaluate the effectiveness of a Victorian, home-based therapeutic program that only accepts children who aren't suitable for traditional foster care because their needs are deemed too complex. These children are either already in residential care – a system of care that involves rostered staff as carers, and group living – or are eligible for it.

In residential care, a child may be exposed to other young people with high-risk behaviours and can be disconnected from family, culture, school and community supports. This delays their recovery and puts them at risk of further trauma.

The Treatment and Care for Kids (TrACK) program was developed as an alternative to residential care for children with complex needs. Some children in the program have experienced severe trauma including witnessing murder by their parents and being subjected to chronic sexual assault (with some being involved in paedophile rings organised by their parents).

Among the 48 children who have been fostered through the program, 19 had come from residential care where they had multiple placements. Fifteen of these children had lived in more than six placements before TrACK and seven had experienced more than ten placements. One child had experienced 18 and another 30 placements within five-and-a-half years.

A review of their case files identified a shift from placement instability to long-term placement stability after joining TrACK. The program showed encouraging results in other domains too, including education, forming peer relationships and emotional regulation.

These results show complex trauma can be healed.

In Australia, one in every 32 children has received child protection services. By the time they are in residential care, they have often experienced physical, sexual and emotional violence in early childhood, as well as severe neglect from their caregivers.

After ageing out of care at 18 years, many of these young people are over-represented in the criminal justice system. They experience homelessness, unemployment, mental illness and poor social relationships at greater rates than the rest of the population.

Due to the complexity of their trauma, every child in TrACK has a therapeutic plan tailored to their needs and a team of specialists who support them and their family. For children who are placed in care, complex trauma has mostly been acquired through repeated traumatic experiences in the context of a relationship that's meant to be secure and trustworthy.

TrACK's approach to treating complex trauma is informed by the science of neurobiology, which suggests trauma develops in a relationship and can also be healed in a relationship. This is also referred to as the neurobiology of love, where love isn't just a simple emotion but a deep sense of care, concern and connectedness to the child.

We are all wired for connection. However, most children in care have been denied this opportunity. The neurobiology of love, in this case, is about accepting their complexities and vulnerabilities, providing comfort and constantly nurturing the relationship between the carer and the traumatised child.

The success of a placement is mainly based on the carer's capacity to respond to the complexity of the child. TrACK carers are trained in several key areas. This involves knowing ways to counter some of the negative self-perceptions the child may have; having appropriate expectations of the child and showing them love and acceptance even if their behaviour isn't changing; avoiding escalation; and noticing and responding to the child's emotional needs.

TrACK only recruits carers who are prepared to commit to the long-term care of children with significant adversity. In return, they are offered “round the clock” support. This includes specialist training on parenting children with complex needs and individualised coaching.

What we found

Our key finding was a considerable reduction in the number of placements children experienced after joining TrACK. It fell from a median of 6.1 to 1.9 (remember seven children had over ten placements before joining the program).

We also found all children in TrACK at the time of the evaluation were attending school full-time. A 2012 Victorian report showed 49% of children in residential care, and 88% in other home-based care programs, were going to school every day.

All children in TrACK experienced enhanced emotional stability and capacity to regulate their own emotions. Although this was hard to measure, carers reported their children were less volatile than when they first arrived in their care.

Stability of relationship with carers was another key outcome. All the children in a TrACK placement at the time of the evaluation were able to develop trusting relationships with their carers. This result is encouraging because many of these children had previously been identified as being too complex, volatile and aggressive for a home-based care placement.

One young person in TrACK, Daren, said:

I definitely think I am part of the family, from the first time I walked in, they were welcoming […] had a joke which was amusing and funny […] and not leaving me out of anything pretty much […] they let me know everything that involves me and [even] when it does not involve me, [they tell me] what they are doing in their lives […] there are no secrets.

Daren now continues to live with his foster parents despite his foster care arrangement ending at the age of 18.

One of the carers said his strategy for reassuring his foster sons that he will never leave them is by speaking to them in future tense.

I talked to [our foster son] when he was 14 about how I'm going to teach him how to drive [when he is older] and he knows he is welcome to stay here for the rest of his life.

Our interviews with young people and reports from their carers showed recovery started when the young people felt the foster family would never abandon them, reject them, retraumatise them, hurt them or withdraw their affection, regardless of how slow or complex their healing journey was.

It's critical that locally grown programs do not fall off the agenda as viable and cost-effective strategies for reform. Often, our systems are criticised for what they do not achieve for children; they also need to be acknowledged when they do something well.



Families Live In Fear As Children Suffer Abuse At Greece's Biggest Refugee Camp

by Chantal Da Silva

At Moria refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece children comprise more than a third of the population living at the overcrowded camp.

When the sun disappears each day at Greece's largest refugee camp, so too do the women and children who live there.

Taking refuge in their tents and caravans, mothers living at Lesvos' Moria refugee camp say they spend their nights lying awake, wracked by fears for their families' safety after hearing widespread reports of violence and sexual abuse against women and children across the camp.

Since mid-May instances of sexual assault have skyrocketed at Moria refugee camp and at the "Olive Grove," an unprotected overflow site where hundreds of families have been living in tents outside overcrowded Moria.

Médecins Sans Frontières' Greece Medical Coordinator Dr. Declan Barry told Newsweek that since mid-May, the organization has seen an average of one reported case of sexual assault per week, which adds up to at least 21 cases reported to MSF alone in less than five months.

Barry said that those cases involved women, men and children at the Moria refugee camp, but nearly half, or at least 10, have involved boys and girls under the age of 18, with at least two incidents involving five-year-old children, Barry said.

Some of the reported incidents of abuse against children involved penetrative rape, while others involved "inappropriate sexualized touching."

"In one particular case, it was a single father and he had just left his tent to get food... And he came back to find his child had been sexually abused," Barry said.

Abuse followed by self-harm, suicidal thoughts

The revelation comes after MSF recently raised the alarm that a growing number of children and teenagers at Moria had been found to have attempted suicide, self-harmed or struggled with suicidal thoughts.

Asked whether any of the children believed to have suffered sexual abuse were part of that group, Barry said several had in fact self-harmed or expressed suicidal thoughts after the alleged abuse.

"One case is not acceptable, let alone one a week," Barry said of the reported abuse. "And I'm sure it's happening a lot more frequently than that," he said.

"We need to acknowledge that this is a systemic failure," Barry added.

'Women and children here live scared'

Across Moria and the "Olive Grove," the feeling that Greek authorities have failed the nearly 8,500 people living there is deeply felt, with women, children and many men too afraid to even make the journey to the few portable toilets available across the camp at night.

“It's very bad. Moria is not safe,” one 32-year-old Afghan mother who fled to Greece from Iran with her husband and infant child told Newsweek.

The mother, whose name has been withheld to protect her identity, said her family has been living in fear after hearing stories of children being abducted and abused on the grounds.

“I have heard men go to the jungle and drink and throw stones… That they [steal] children and girls,” she said.

“People tell me they take children,” she said. “It is very bad. All the women and children here live scared."

A 21-year-old man walking by to his tent roughly 100 meters away felt compelled to join the conversation after overhearing the mother's comments.

“It happens a lot...And not just rape,” he said.

The 21-year-old, who also fled Iran as an Afghan refugee, said he has also heard of children as young as 12 and 13-years-old engaging in sexual acts for money.

He said he has overheard men from a section located in the south portion of the Olive Grove, where only single men live in shared tents below the northern family area, talk about such exchanges.

“I hear about it from the single men in that section,” he said. “They talk about how, ‘oh last night I brought a girl',” before describing details of the alleged abuse.

He said that he believed sexual abuse was widespread at the camp, adding: "When you're here long enough, then you know."

'We couldn't see any hope there'

One mother who had lived at Moria for three months with her husband and three children before being transferred to Kara Tepe, a refugee camp roughly 3 miles from Moria set up for vulnerable families, told Newsweek that she too had lived in fear at Moria after another Afghan family they knew had their lives turned upside down by alleged child abuse.

The 29-year-old mother said she and her family had risked their lives to make it to Greece from Afghanistan over fears of political persecution only to arrive at Moria and spend sleepless nights living in constant fear for their safety after hearing that family's account.

She said the family's daughter, who had been 6 or 7-years-old at the time, had been sexually abused by a man at Moria refugee camp. The man, she said, had been arrested by Greek police, while the family had been relocated to a home outside the camp in nearby Mytilene.

"They were abusing children in the jungle," she said of men living at the camp. "They took the children to the jungles and they were abusing them."

Of Moria, the mother said "the only thing that we understood was that maybe we would die there."

"But we couldn't see any hope there,” she said.

The 29-year-old, who had previously worked at an NGO providing services for women in Afghanistan, said her children still struggle with the memory of their time at Moria, as well as their treacherous journey to Greece.

“The children got some bad memories and I'm sure that they have mental [health] problems now,” she said.

Even at Kara Tepe, the mother, who had been working for an NGO for women's services in Afghanistan, before fleeing the country with her family, said she and her husband “never” leave the confines of the camp and that she refuses to let her children stray “because we are afraid.”

Barry told Newsweek that any time a case of sexual abuse is reported to MSF, the organization reports the incident to the police, takes the alleged victim to the hospital for treatment and provides psychological support to survivors and their families.

"It's devastating. And for the parents, they come here with the expectation that they were making the right choice to protect their children," he said. "Then to realize when they get here, 'oh my gosh, I may have taken my children to a worse place...'."

"Parents have an instinct to protect their children and that's why they are here. Then to take their children from war zones to here, they feel like they are failing," he said.

The MSF medical coordinator says he places much of the blame for the systemic failures that have allowed Moria to become an overcrowded and dangerous site on the EU-Turkey Agreement, which has been in place for more than two years since it was signed to address the refugee crisis in 2016.

The controversial deal was meant to operate as a "one-for-one" program that would allow Greece to to send an irregular asylum seeker back to Turkey for every Syrian refugee in Turkey resettled in Europe.

That plan, Barry says, has largely failed, with thousands of asylum seekers still arriving at Lesvos' shores, despite the island having little space left to shelter them.

"It's a toxic mess," Barry said. "It is the deal that is holding people in containment on the island. But while they are holding people it does not stop more people from arriving."

"There is a huge level of suffering in Moria," he said. "And the fact that this suffering and this violence is happening because of a European policy, well, there is no way of finding acceptance in that at all."

At Moria, children comprise more than a third of the nearly 8,500-strong population, with asylum seekers from Syria and Afghanistan making up the largest dominations of residents.

More than a month ago North Aegean Regional Governor Christiana Kalogirou threatened to close Moria, giving government officials a 30-day deadline to finally address the "dangerous" living conditions uncovered at the camp by public health inspectors.

However, with the deadline passed, little has changed at the camp, with overcrowding, sanitary issues, limited healthcare and safety concerns continuing to plague Moria's weary residents.


Betrayed and broken: Healing the wounds of child abuse

by Misha Pillai

CHANDIGARH: “I was a quiet child. Too quiet for my own good. On the outside, life was good. Inside, it was festering. With both parents working, I was frequently left in the care of elderly neighbors. Their son, who played with me every day, took the game to an entirely new level, whispering into my ear that I had to keep it to myself. The ‘game' was played again and again. With time, the players changed. But the injunction was the same. There were chocolates, threats and helplessness.”

Aashna, (name changed), who recounted years of abuse at the hands of close friends of the family, turned out fine. Her parents dote on her and do not know about the nightmare she lived for years. Her occasional spells of anxiety are attributed to eccentricity. That is just about it. Others are not so lucky though, such as the 10-year-old mother of a baby, the girl raped by her stepfather, the 14-year-old who got pregnant after being raped by a cousin and more.

Living with trauma

Cases of child sexual abuse are as common as they are shocking. In most cases, the abuse remains hidden. Victims rarely tell anyone and when they do, the emotional trauma is rarely addressed.

“Such abuse leads to major emotional disturbances, with victims developing trust issues. They become frustrated, impulsive and reactive. Personality disorders are common in the long term,” says Dr B P Mishra, a psychologist based in Ludhiana who takes up cases of minor victims of abuse.

According to him, there's a time frame to minimise emotional damage to victims. Children less than 10 years of age are comparatively more resilient, so they can be treated up to one year after the abuse (depending on its severity). Children above the age of 10 need to be counselled up to six months after or as soon as possible. If this window of opportunity for emotional healing is lost, they will carry scars for life,” he says.

Dr Mehak Bansal, a doctor from Ludhiana who works to create awareness about child sex abuse at government schools warns that victims typically do not resist. This is all the more so because the abuser is generally a trusted member of the family or part of the close friend circle.

“Children either become too withdrawn or too aggressive. If they do not receive the psychological help they need, they are likely to be either chronically depressed or prone to depression throughout their lives,” she explains.

Aarti Anant, an activist who works to engender awareness about child sexual abuse throughout the country has encountered several cases of victims unable to come to terms with their emotions.

“They are fragile, even as adults. As parents, they may be too casual or too protective. They associate shame with their bodies from a tender age and harbour that feeling in the long term. They are also prone to substance abuse,” she says.

The challenge

According to experts, victims tend to blame themselves for the abuse. A complex set of factors, including familiarity with the abuser, fear of not being trusted and victim shaming, which is an all too common response to sexual molestation, exacerbate the pain. Parents, caregivers and teachers have to be vigilant to behavioural changes.

“Parents have to watch out if children start avoiding them and prefer to remain alone. They may also develop unusual fear, which they project to someone else,” says Dr Mishra.

Given the demands on parents, particularly if both are professionals, this is easier said than done.

“Parents do not have much time these days and are dependant on others to take care of their children. In fact, a child spends a major part of the day with others,” he says.

When the subtle signs are not registered, it is often injury to the body that alerts parents and family members to the abuse, says Dr Mehak.

However, there are times when there are no symptoms whatsoever, given the naturally high resilience children have.

“Children cope really well. The healing process is good, especially if the child is healthy. If the abuse happens early in life, the child actually feels it is ‘normal'. In fact, a child can go and play shortly after being molested. Also, abusers don't hurt or harm the child right away. The victim and the family are made to trust the abuser and the abuse starts slowly. There is a lot of mental manipulation involved. Therefore, parents have to make sure they bond with their children really well so that children confide in them,” says Arti Anant.

The symptoms

Regardless of demanding lifestyle and biased reports, there are certain sure signs to watch out for.

-- Inability to trust close family and friends

-- Difficulty in maintaining relationships

-- Poor body image

-- Anger management issues

-- Need for control

-- Substance abuse

-- Developing harmful sexual behaviour

-- Marital issues

-- Anti-social behaviour

Scale of abuse

A 2007 study by the NGO Prayas and UNICEF, which studied 12,447 children in 13 states found:

-- 2 in 3 children are physically abused

-- 88% by parents

-- 65% by teachers

-- 66% are emotionally abused

-- 53% sexually abused – 47% girls and 53% boys

-- 21% of all respondents have reported severe sexual abuse

-- Abuser is usually in no hurry to start abusing children. Spends time to gain trust

What can be done:

-- Name body parts

-- Talk to children and don't associate shame with body parts

-- Respect children, listen to them

-- Tell them about boundaries

-- Make sure they don't feel too scared to talk to you

-- Give them sex education

-- Make sure teachers are trained in detecting abuse

-- Give them a happy environment


Legal Help / Your Rights

EDITOR'S NOTE: Although NAASCA does not give legal advice, we certainly do provide members with a general understanding of how to get help and what our rights are. Here's an article and web site that might help. They also have a newsletter.

Remember .. not everyone can get 'justice' .. but all of us can heal !!

Legal Help for Child Sexual Abuse

As a survivor or care-giver of a child being abused, it is important that you understand your rights, the recourse options available to you, and how the legal justice system works in general. Below are some resources to assist you in understanding the laws of your state, and reporting past or present abuse.

Criminal versus Civil Cases

The first thing you need to understand is the difference between criminal and civil lawsuits.

Criminal cases are filed by the state when abuse is reported to the authorities and sufficient evidence is available to build a case against the abuser. Although you may have filed the report of abuse and the case feels personal to you, it is not your case. The case is owned by the state and you have very little control over the way it is handled. It is important to understand this differentiation for your own personal mental and emotional well-being.

When the state files criminal charges against an abuser, the state's case is handled by a prosecutor, who is employed by the state.  While the prosecutor will advocate to convict the abuser of the charges, the prosecutor represents the state, not the survivor.  Therefore, the prosecutor may make decisions about the disposition of the case without the survivor's knowledge or consent.

You can, however, hire your own lawyer to represent your interests in the case (e.g., privacy concerns, such as the release of medical/mental health records, etc.).  Some jurisdictions provide a court advocate to assist you through the criminal process but the advocates typically are not attorneys.

Civil cases are filed by you against your abuser(s) for monetary compensation for losses such as lost work wages, costs for medical and psychological care, and also for pain and suffering. While we realize no amount can ever undo the damage done by child sexual abuse, compensation can help to offset financial difficulties directly or indirectly attributable to the abuse.

Legal Rights for Adult Survivors and Child Victims

When it comes to your legal rights, where you live makes a difference. From the legal definition of “child seduction” (which covers a broad range of child sexual abuse crimes) to the statute of limitations for a particular sex crime, each state has it's own separate laws.

The RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) legal rights database provides a clear and concise guide to many aspects of the child sexual abuse laws in your state, including state-specific information on:

  • Rape and Sexual Assault Crime Definitions

  • Criminal Statutes of Limitations

  • Termination of Rapists' Parental Rights

  • Mandatory Reporting

  • Confidentiality Laws

  • HIV/AIDS testing of sexual offenders

Click here to ==>  View Your Legal Rights

Civil Statute of Limitations

In civil cases, any lawsuit arising from an accident or injury must be filed within a certain time limit or the injured person's legal claim will be barred and his or her right to sue will be lost forever. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations.

RAINN's legal rights database (see above) includes information on the statute of limitations for criminal cases . Each state also has a separate statute of limitations for civil cases.

For civil cases involving child sexual abuse (injury to minors), the filing time is typically extended to begin at the time the minor turns 18 (if the abuse was known prior to the child turning 18), or the moment when the survivor knew (or should reasonably have known) that they had suffered harm, and the nature of that harm.

So, for example, if you had repressed memories of your abuse until your 40th birthday when they suddenly came flooding back, it is possible you would have the normal statute of limitations period to file a civil suit against your perpetrator beginning on the day your memories resurfaced sufficiently to know that you had been abused and the nature of your abuse.

Statute of limitations may be updated year to year and vary for certain special types of crimes, so you will want to consult with an attorney to get more detailed information on your specific situation. However, the general statute of limitations can be found for your state using the button below.

Click here to ==>  Find your Civil Statute of Limitations

*Note: Statute of Limitations is only one hurdle in filing civil cases for child sexual abuse damages. Please read the rest of this page and consult with an attorney before taking any action.

Legal Advocacy Support

At some point you may come to a place in your healing where you just want to scream out loud to the world that John or Jane Doe sexually abused you as a child. You may have a number of reasons for this inclination. You might believe that revealing them is the only justice you will ever have for their actions. You might be feeling trapped by your own silence. Or you simply might feel compelled to protect other children from being harmed if your abuser is still alive.

Whatever your reasons are, if you are considering revealing your abuser, it is highly recommended that you understand the risks and benefits of publicly disclosing your abuser's identity BEFORE you do it. Whether you choose to report the abuse to police, file a civil suit against your abuser, or simply make a public announcement via social media posts, letters or emails, or even talking with friends, acquaintances or co-workers, there can be significant legal ramifications.

Vertigo Charitable Foundation, LLC (VCF) is a legal advocacy support organization for adult survivors of child sexual abuse. They offer guidelines and tips–from both a survivor's perspective and a legal perspective–on what to expect if you expose your perpetrator publicly. VCF can also direct you to people and services that can assist you if you choose to pursue pressing criminal charges or filing a civil case against your abuser(s).

Single Filing versus Group Filing

Often adult survivors have a hard time trying their cases because without substantial hard evidence to support their claims, offenders cannot be convicted. Litigation can sometimes take years with cases taking a toll on the survivor who filed the suit.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't report your case. It just means that you need to be prepared mentally and emotionally for a potentially long and arduous journey through the legal system. However, as we've seen in recently publicized cases, when multiple survivors ban together to report an abuser, justice is more likely to be served .

Creating a Group Action Against Your Abuser

The legal advocacy and support organization, Vertigo Charitable Foundation, LLC , has created a unique system ( by which child sexual abuse survivors can anonymously identify their abusers and be notified when other survivors report their abuser as well.

If you choose to participate and identify your abuser in the me2csa database, VCF will notify you immediately each time a new user reports your abuser. Once notified, you will have the opportunity to share your contact information with the other user who reported, or to decline.

Sharing your contact information allows you to collaborate with other survivors of abuse by your perpetrator–for anything from emotional support and confirmation, to collectively reporting your abuser to the authorities, or filing a civil suit as a group action. You decide how far and how fast you go.

Remember, the only information shared is the contact information you provided when reporting, which could be nothing more than a fictitious name and a useable email address. Regardless, it is recommended that you take it slow as you reach out to the other reporting survivors to make sure you feel safe and confident with the people with which you are communicating. Meet in public places. Slowly learn more about each other and go from there.

If you do not choose to share your contact info with the other survivor(s) reporting your abuser, no one outside of the survivor advocates responsible for matching abuse reports will ever see the information provided.

To find out if your abuser has been reported, click here ==>  Anonymous Predator Reporting


Massachusetts - from our NAASCA Ambassador

Meet Lisa Zarcone – Author/Advocate/Public Speaker/Inspirationist/Blogger –

I am from Western Massachusetts

Today we'd like to introduce you to Lisa Zarcone.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don't you give us some details about you and your story.

I am the author of The Unspoken Truth A Memoir. My story is raw, riveting and real. I grew up in a very dysfunctional household as I describe in my book as the house of horrors. My mother was severely mentally ill and the abuse I sustained by her hands as well as others is nothing short of hideous. Unfortunately, my mother did not get the proper help and support and her poor judgment let me down a path that opened me up as prey for others who came to claim what was never theirs to take in the first place. I write my story through the eyes of a child giving the reader the child's perspective of abuse right in the moment. My story starts out at the tender age of 6 years old losing my brother to Leukemia. That is when my little world came crashing down around me. I was young, innocent, scared and confused, with only loss of innocence and blind faith leading me through this unbelievable journey.

I decided to write my story about 8 years ago after the death of my father, with his passing it brought up a lot of old memories and feelings that I had buried so many years ago. I lived with this silent pain for far too long the emotional damage burst into overdrive. I did seek counseling and during that time I began to write down my story, and as I made it through the process I not only began to heal but I wrote my memoir! I became dedicated to seeing it through to publication, which I did on my own. I had to learn everything from soup to nuts. What a huge task, and learning experience, as this is my first book. I read, researched and studied everything that I could to help me through the process, and I made it happen. I am now a published author and with this accomplishment under my belt I pushed forward becoming a public speaker and Child Advocate/Massachusetts Ambassador through NAASCA (National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse). I use my title as a platform to share my story and raise awareness to these strong subjects that need to be talked about repeatedly until change can happen. My motto is “Embrace The Journey” because you never know what life may throw in your path.

Great, so let's dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you've had to overcome?

The road that I traveled to get here was extremely hard in many ways. First of all writing my story through a child's eyes I had to dig deep and tap into these old disturbing memories and not only write about it in the truest form, but deal with it at the same time. I had to mentally and emotional work through each memory one by one and it was really hard, painstaking at times. There were times when I would have to step away for a bit to take a breath. My story is so profound that some of my own writings still take my breath away and I have to remind myself I am OK.

Also, the process of writing, editing, formats, query letters, marketing, this was all new to me, and I had only myself to rely on. I did the research and I put in a lot of time studying in between living my daily life which is filled with my family. My husband and I are raising two of our grandchildren, so we are doing it all over again. They are ages 10 and 5. Our 5 year old grandson has autism, so I had to step away from the workforce to stay at home and care for him. This was another path of learning through ABA Services, learning sign language and a picture binder so we could communicate with him. This alone was a huge task, so I call myself the constant juggler of many hats. I spend my days continually switching from one mode to another.

The balance between all that I have to do daily, as well as my writing, advocating and blogging can prove to be challenging some days, but I am a firm believer in organization so I try to prioritize and stay in the moment of what I am trying to accomplish. This is easier said than done, but I manage to squeeze it all in. My grand-daughter calls me “Super Memah”

Lisa Zarcone – Author/Advocate/Public Speaker/Inspirationist /Blogger – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?

As an advocate for child abuse/safety and mental health illness/stigmas I network every single day trying to get the word out there to raise awareness. As the Mass. Ambassador for NAASCA I use my voice to help others who have the same unspoken truth as myself. Our organization is on a mission to help, support those who struggle and offer hope. We are a guide helping others through the personal storm they are on. I also speak publicly and travel all over sharing my story to help promote healing, educate and bring awareness. Through my work I get people talking and that is what it is all about. The people who have suffered silently may feel now they have a voice because I raised mine. Others will talk because something I said resonated with them on such a level that now they want to stand up and ask the questions. As for educating, there is so much to learn from my story and  my next goal is to get my book into the hands of educators so that they can use my book as a teaching tool for our future social workers, therapists, health care workers, law makers/law enforcement.

I am well known for my Facebook Inspirational page, my poetry, and my blog on my website I reach people and touch their lives on a very special level. I am always amazed how people share their personal stories with me, feeling safe to do so.  I know I am doing something special because people are responding in a positive way.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?

There have been many proud moments like after I give an author talk and someone will come up to me and share something deep and painful, then tell me this is the first time they have ever said it out loud. How profound when you are the one inspiring someone else to finally step into the light and share. That is when the true healing can begin and to be a part of that is truly awesome.

I am proud that I accomplished this goal for myself being a published author of this very deep, dark story and to stand in front of a room full of people to talk about it with strength, conviction and confidence talk about coming full circle!

I am also proud to say that since the release of my book I have not had a “non-selling month”, which is exciting because its not about the money its about spreading the word! I am talking and people listening. This means that as my story continues to get out there into the world, I am promoting change. The next generation deserves to be safe, loved and protected and I am now a part of that.

My book is now in The Yale University Book Store and The Lillian Goldman Library at the Yale Law School, in New Haven CT. What a great accomplishment. Our future lawyers and law makers will now have the opportunity to read and study my book and help educate them what can happen behind closed doors. Also teaching should be where the responsibility lies when children are in need, and how easily it is for them to fall through the cracks. It all goes back to education.