School supt., parks supervisor arrested in separate Suffield child abuse probes
Suffield Superintendent Karen Berasi and Parks and Recreation Department supervisor Cynthia Fisher were arrested as part of separate child abuse investigations. Police said they failed to report suspected abuse.
by Karen Berasi and Cynthia Fisher
SUFFIELD, CT (WFSB) - Two people were arrested for not reporting separate cases of child abuse in Suffield.
School superintendent Karen Berasi, 68, and the parks and recreation supervisor, 58-year-old Cynthia Fisher, were arrested on separate warrants.
Both were were charged with "report of abuse or neglect by mandated reporter" for the different investigations.
They surrendered themselves to police on Thursday and were released on promises to appear in court.
One complaint Channel 3 first reported about was made over the summer and said several school administrators, including the superintendent, failed to report an act of suspected child abuse or neglect.
According to court documents, the incident happened back in May after a 17-year-old student told their parent a conversation with the school psychologist turned risqué, when the psychologist allegedly talked about an adult store and adult toys.
The student's parent wrote to Berasi, who assured them the school would launch an investigation and “As a mandated reporter, the district will be calling the Department of Children and Families.”
Documents show that wasn't done until after the parent followed up, telling Berasi that they would contact DCF directly.
The day after, documents show Berasi did indeed call DCF, even if it was well after the required 12-hour window to report.
In that conversation, she told DCF she was prompted to call because of the attention to the Montville fight club, where administrators there were arrested for failing to report.
Court documents show Berasi said “ordinarily, I would not report this and so before I report it, I want to tell you, I think this is a false claim.”
"It's not for us to determine if it happened or didn't happen, this person is not telling the truth. It's up for us to report that to the Department of Children and Families," said Captain Christopher McKee, Suffield Police Department.
Berasi then explained that she believed the student had a tendency to lie and that the student's mother had credibility issues, while describing the psychologist as “a breath of fresh air” and “flawless.”
Police said the risqué conversation itself, even if true, was not criminal, but the act of failing to report to DCF the concerns was.
“They have a responsibility that if there's an act of suspected abuse or neglect, it's not for us to determine if it happened or didn't happen, this person is not telling the truth, it's up for us to report that to the Department of Children and Families,” said Suffield Police Capt. Christopher McKee.
Berasi, who is on paid leave, decided to resign in June 2019, meaning she'll likely be collecting her six figure salary.
She was placed on paid leave in August.
In a letter to families, school official said "We wish to assure the community of Suffield that the safety and welfare of our students remains our foremost concern. We are focused on moving our district forward in the best interest of our students."
Parents can hold their educators accountable.
There are 37 different types of mandated reporters, which can all be found here.
The mandated reporters are required to report any instance of abuse or neglect.
Legal definitions of abuse can be found here.
While re-training is ongoing in Suffield, many parents are wondering if the re-training should be done state-wide.
"It's needed, because as a parent, we're worried about what's happening in school. So, if they report if, we'll know what's happening," said Nandhini Venkataraman.
Police investigate alleged gang rape of 4-year-old girl in hospital
by Associated Press
LUCKNOW, India — Police in India said Sunday they are investigating allegations that a 4-year-old girl was gang-raped while being treated in an intensive care unit at a hospital in the country's north.
Local police official Mahesh Srivastava said the girl told her grandmother she was raped by a hospital attendant and four others when she was alone Saturday night.
He said one man was in custody and police were looking for others. Police also have asked for CCTV footage and are trying to determine why the girl was left alone in the ICU.
He said the girl had been in the hospital for four days and was being treated for a snake bite.
The hospital is located 155 miles southwest of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
India has been shaken by a series of sexual assaults in recent years, including the gang rape and murder of a student on a moving New Delhi bus in 2012. That attack galvanized a country where widespread violence against women had long been quietly accepted.
While the government has passed a series of laws increasing punishment for rape of an adult to 20 years in prison, it's rare for more than a few weeks to pass without another brutal sexual assault being reported.
Responding to widespread outrage over the recent rape and killings of young girls and other attacks on children, India's government earlier this year approved the death penalty for people convicted of raping children under age 12.
HIA: Civil Service completes draft compensation legislation
by Gareth Gordon
David Sterling is the head of Northern Ireland's civil service.
Stormont parties have been told civil service officials have completed work on draft legislation intended to set up a compensation scheme for victims of Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA).
In 2017, Sir Anthony Hart recommended compensation should be paid to victims.
No action was taken due to the collapse of power-sharing devolved government at Stormont.
The Northern Ireland secretary said it was a matter for devolved government.
The HIA had been tasked with investigating allegations of abuse and neglect in children's residential homes, run by religious, charitable and state organisations.
Its remit covered a 73-year-period from 1922 to 1995.
Led by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, it recommended that a tax-free compensation payment should be made to all survivors of institutional child abuse, with lump sums ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.
The HIA heard evidence from hundreds of people who spent their childhood in residential homes and institutions.
David Sterling, the head of Northern Ireland's Civil Service, has now written to parties to inform them of the move.
The letter added that draft legislation for other support measures for victims is now ready.
Mr Sterling said a consultation will start later this month.
The two bills would set up a redress board to oversee the compensation and create a Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse.
So far, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has given no suggestion that Westminster will implement the legislation.
Northern Ireland 'lags behind in helping abused kids' says DUP report
by Robbie Meredith
The report calls for more understanding of why children may end up in trouble.
Northern Ireland lags well behind Wales and Scotland in helping young children who are neglected or abused, a report released by the DUP suggests.
Hope for Every Child looks at the support available to those who suffer Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
"Wales and Scotland are well ahead of NI in terms of ACE awareness and the levels of subsequent support and training," the report concludes.
Its author, a DUP councillor, said NI needs to become "trauma-informed".
'Brick through window'
That means more understanding of why children may end up in trouble, and putting in place appropriate interventions to reduce this.
"Proactive prevention is more efficient, effective and fiscally sound than reactive cure," said the report by Cllr Peter Martin.
"Very often this is about firstly identifying and then supporting both young children and parents in extremely difficult circumstances," it added.
"To give an illustrative example, is it the child's fault that they have put a brick through someone's window?
"It is because they perpetrated the act against an innocent person, but equally, we need to consider why they did it?"
The report cites figures from the Department of Justice which show that 2,568 of offences recorded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2015/16 were committed by young people aged 10-17.
Mr Martin also cites research from Public Health Wales which suggests that children exposed to abuse, neglect and family dysfunction are 20 times more likely to end up in prison than children who suffer no ACEs.
"If we want to make Northern Ireland a safer place, we do not require bigger prisons," he said.
"Instead we need to look at the children in our society and ask how can we better support them."
The report recommends a number of measures including:
All government departments producing policies targeting the first three years of a child's development
Increasing the number of educational psychologists and health visitors in Northern Ireland
Protection of funding for early intervention programmes
An increase in the number of school nurture units which help small groups of vulnerable children in schools
More programmes aimed at reducing domestic violence
Better support for mothers suffering post-natal depression and anxiety
he report suggests that a "reasonably modest" amount of government funding - £5m a year for 10 years - could pay for many of the recommendations.
Mr Martin does note that there is good work being carried out to support at-risk young people in Northern Ireland, but said there had to be a willingness from politicians and others working in the health and education sectors to drive change forward.
He also said that greater investment in early childhood interventions could also result in falling rates of childhood abuse and neglect, drug abuse, alcoholism and mental health problems in future.
Abuse 'normalised' at Quarriers children's home, inquiry hears
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has been taking evidence from former care home residents
A man who was sexually abused at a children's home in the 1970s has said some of its staff ran it like a military institution where physical abuse was normalised.
David Whelan gave evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry about Quarriers Village in Bridge of Weir.
Another resident, Stephen Findleton, has told BBC Scotland the memories of his time there "never go away".
Quarriers has apologised to residents who were abused while in its care.
Plan to compensate child abuse victims -- Orphanages were places of 'threat and abuse'
The inquiry heard, Mr Whelan, who has waived his right to anonymity, was sent to Quarriers in 1969, aged 11, and remained there until he was 16.
Now in his early 60s, he struggled to control his emotions as he described his early years at the home.
He said they were regimented, like something from a military institution, where physical abuse was normalised.
Punishments included beatings with a belt and baton, being locked in a shed and being told he was unwanted by his parents.
Residents were also subjected to hair-pulling and being made to stand outside in a shed, sometimes until dawn.
Mr Whelan also told the inquiry he suspected the home may have been linked to a paedophile ring.
He said: "I believe I was being groomed to be passed on.
"At the time, you try and understand what was going on here, try to read what's going on here.
"I'm as clear as daylight - I was going to be passed on.
"I just wonder if there was a paedophile ring operating out of Quarriers, with some former residents."
The inquiry is chaired by High Court judge Lady Smith
Mr Whelan also spoke of strict rules and carers who would lash out with violence, often leaving him "petrified".
He said: "This was supposed to be a care home. From start to finish it was like being in a military establishment.
"They used derogatory language just to demean you, to belittle you.
"We weren't soldiers - we were children."
"There was no affection. It was like from a Victorian era, where the child was seen and not heard."
'Brutality and Cruelty'
The witness described physical abuse as being "normalised" and went unchallenged by those in higher authority at the orphanage.
He added: "Bruises heal, but what happens with the psychological stuff is it stays with you."
"It was beyond the bounds of what was reasonable."
"It was brutality and cruelty."
A former member of staff was later convicted of lewd, indecent and libidinous behaviour towards Mr Whelan at Quarriers.
Opened in 1878, Quarriers was a network of Victorian villas, called "cottages", run by members of staff referred to as "house mothers".
Stephen Findleton told BBC Scotland his memories from his time at Quarriers will never go away
Another former resident, Mr Findleton, has also waived his right to anonymity and spoke to BBC Scotland after giving evidence to the inquiry on Thursday.
He went in to care in 1965, aged seven, and spent six years at Quarriers.
The 61-year-old grandfather, who lives in Stranraer, said: "At night time, if you spoke in your beds, you were brought down to the bottom of the cottage by the house mother."
"You were given a smack and you would be crying with the pain and then she would take you down to the back of the cottage and lock you in a dark room for an hour and you would be crying because you were scared of the dark as well."
"I would plead with her 'please let me go, please mummy' and she wouldn't listen to me."
'Abuse across generations'
Mr Findleton said he witnessed other children being abused.
He added: "Memories of Quarriers are in my head every day. It never goes away."
Seven former members of staff at the Quarriers home have been convicted of offences against 23 former residents.
In a statement read out at the beginning of the latest phase of child abuse inquiry Quarriers said it acknowledged that children "were subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse" whilst in its care.
It said: "It is acknowledged that abuse occurred across generations at Quarriers Village.
"Quarriers acknowledges that there were shortcomings in its historical policies and practices which did not prevent abuse from occurring."
The inquiry before Lady Smith continues.
For child abuse survivors, it can be tough to overcome trauma. Here are ways to cope
by Arti Patel
For adults who are child abuse survivors, it can be tough to overcome trauma.
There can be serious trauma that follows childhood abuse.
Research has shown at least 26 per cent of Canadians experienced childhood physical abuse, Statistics Canada noted in 2014. The majority of childhood abuse survivors (65 per cent) reported being abused between one and six times, while 20 per cent said they were abused seven to 21 times.
And in a majority of these cases, most survivors (67 per cent) didn't tell anyone the details of their abuse, including family and friends.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Dr. Jillian Roberts, founder of Family Sparks and an associate professor at the University of Victoria, said adults who experienced childhood abuse often experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as adults.
“These symptoms include nightmares and flashbacks of the abuse,” she explained. “Adults also avoid situations that reminded them of the abuse and this avoidance behaviour can be very problematic.”
Licenced marriage and family therapist Dr. Susanne Babbel previously wrote in Psychology Today that child-abuse trauma can be lingering. She added child abuse can result in PTSD for a number of reasons.
New Calgary exhibit lets people experience child abuse from the perspective of children
“The degree of the threat, the developmental state of the child or even the response to the abuse can all play a role. For instance, an elevated heart rate post-abuse has been documented as increasing the likelihood that the victim will later suffer from PTSD,” she wrote.
Roberts added some adults can also become hyper-vigilant, often expecting something in their life to go wrong.
Coping with the trauma
Coping isn't always clear-cut either, as some people are able to manage their PTSD, while others have a harder time accepting their past. For starters, Roberts said all survivors should know they did nothing wrong.
“A hundred per of cent of the blame goes to the abuser,” she explained. “In order to process the traumatic experiences, it is often helpful to speak with a trained mental-health professional.”
Look into benefits and resources
Some companies offer employee assistance programs or extended health benefits that cover counselling. “Alternatively, you can speak to your family doctor and seek a referral to a therapeutically oriented psychiatrist,” Roberts said.
“It can be helpful to go to counselling with your loved one or loved ones in order to receive couple-based or family-based therapy.”
Avoid indulging in drugs and alcohol
It is common for adult survivors of childhood abuse to seek comfort and numbing in drugs and alcohol, but this could also be detrimental for people who can't control their intake.
Avoid turning to drugs and alcohol for comfort, Roberts said. Instead, reach out to a person you can talk to.
Find yourself closure
Experts like social worker Robert Taibbi previously wrote that finding some type of closure can also help survivors heal.
“You want to begin to heal some of the trauma by trying to create closure, expressing what you could not express at the time,” he wrote in Psychology Today.
He recommended writing a letter to someone, addressing what you couldn't say in the past.
“Then write a second letter, from them to you, saying what it is you most want them to say — that they are sorry, that it wasn't your fault, that they loved you. Make the letters as detailed as possible, and allow yourself to write down whatever comes to mind.”
Step out of your comfort zone
Taibbi also suggested stepping out of your usual comfort zones. “Speak up rather than being passive, open up and lean in rather than being closed and isolated, focus on the present rather than constantly looking ahead to the frightening future, or experiment with letting go of anger and control.”
Roberts added trauma can result in survivors feeling terrible about themselves, as well as making meaningful relationships with others. “They may also struggle to understand how to set healthy interpersonal boundaries.”
Don't lose hope
Roberts said it is important to know that there is hope. “Approximately one out of four people experience abuse and many of these people survive and have healthy and positive outcomes.”
Where to get help
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.
Child sex abuse survivor speaks out to help others
Public talk comes amid calls for legislation passage
BEDFORD — A self-identified survivor of alleged child sexual abuse shared his story Monday to a packed room, describing his outspokenness as a way to help others.
Tommy Williams, 15, told the crowd at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort that the sexual assault, which reportedly spanned two years, began when he was 8 years old. His attacker was also a juvenile.
“I help other victims find a voice and let them know that someone will listen,” Tommy told the crowd.
His speaker series event, hosted by the nonprofit Tommy Talks PA founded by his mother, comes in the midst of the #MeToo nationwide movement and state legislative changes and hoped-for changes.
Tommy's mother, Kelly, said the speaker series is intended to give all survivors a voice and to offer information and resources to those affected by sexual abuse.
“The biggest thing is bringing everyone to the table,” Kelly said. “Our goal with this is not to just get Tommy's story out there.”
“It's more about inclusion of all victims and survivors and their families,” she added. “Because the biggest thing about this all is support.” Kelly stressed the mission of Tommy Talks PA is to provide support to everyone affected by sexual abuse.
A few audience members applauded Tommy for speaking out and coming forward, including Patricia Lynn Brown, who said she is a co-founder of a local child abuse task force.
“I want to applaud you. You are an amazing young man,” she told Tommy while tearing up. “There's been child abuse in my own family. And you, 15 years old, you're going to have a good life because you have a strength in you. You have a power in you. You will persevere. And you will win.”
Representatives from various victim advocacy centers and other entities in attendance also spoke at the event, educating attendees on local resources and pending legislation.
Bedford County District Attorney Lesley Childers-Potts told attendees that Bedford County like others in the state are required to have a multidisciplinary investigative team that handles unresolved cases.
Paul Lukach, Crime Victim Center of Erie County executive director, urged attendees to speak to their local legislators to pass Senate Bill 261, which includes an amendment to establish a two-year window for now-adult victims of child sexual abuse to file civil claims against their alleged abusers.
Jennifer Riley, state director for Marsy's Law, urged the passage of Marsy's Law — legislation that calls for amending the state constitution to offer protections to crime victims.
Riley said the law would give victims the ability to petition the court to be heard and notified of court proceedings involving the accused.
Under the proposal, if a victim was not notified about the accused's sentencing hearing and unable to testify, the victim could petition the court to testify and a judge could then decide if a resentencing could occur, said Riley.
“We're not creating new rights for victims. We're just simply elevating what we have,” Riley said, noting that victims have a statutory right to be heard and notified, but not a constitutional right.
Riley said the law passed the House and Senate this legislative session, but it will need to pass a second legislative session in 2019 before going to voters.
While a decision is yet to be made on SB 261 and Marsy's Law, Tommy's speech Monday follows the passage of the Safe Harbor law, which takes effect next month and prohibits the prosecution of child victims of trafficking.
According to documents shown to the Mirror, Tommy's alleged attacker was adjudicated on multiple felony charges of rape and statutory sexual assault.
Two of the felony rape charges apply to Tommy's case, while the other counts stem from two other cases involving different victims, the Mirror was told.
Under the Juvenile Act, if a child is 14 years or older and charged with a felony, the public has access to certain information including the name and age of the juvenile, address of the juvenile, offenses charged and disposition of the case.
Although Tommy told the crowd he experienced depression due to the abuse, he said he loves and prays for his alleged attacker to get better. He also thanked those who have showed him support on his journey.
'Not all sex involving children is abuse': Gay Rights activist Peter Tatchell is forced to deny 'advocating paedophilia' after 1997 letter about Papua New Guinea tribes emerges
Andrew Gillum WITHDRAWS his concession as recounts are ordered in Florida's Senate and governor races after chaotic election, and Trump promptly accuses officials of 'trying to STEAL two big elections'
by Claire Anderson For Mailonline
Peter Tatchell, 66, has been slammed for his comments about sex with children. He wrote in the Guardian in 1997 that it is 'not unwanted, abusive or harmful. The activist has since apologised for the letter which has been 'misinterpreted
Gay rights acitivist Peter Tatchell has been slammed for suggesting sex with children is not 'unwanted, abusive or harmful'.
His opinion emerged yesterday from a letter he wrote to The Guardian in 1997 when he defended a book which challenged assumptions of paedophile sex.
The 66-year-old has since apologised for his comments and said the book he was referring to was not 'a paedophile handbook' but written by psychologists and anthropologists.
Peter Tatchell, 66, has been slammed for suggested child-adult sexual relationships are not 'unwanted, abusive or harmful' in a letter to The Guardian in 1997
The letter read: 'Young boys have sex with older warriors as part of their initiation into manhood' in the Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea.'
He also mentioned that 'positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures' explaining that his friends had 'sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13'.
The activist has since apologised for the comments which he says have been 'misinterpreted'
Mr Tatchell told The Sun: 'The printed version did not include my point that I oppose adults having sex with children. Empathise with victims of child sex abuse and agree for the vast majority of children, sex with adults is neither wanted nor joyful.
'My letter was in response of an attempt to close down a debate – my argument was that academic discussion of these issues, based on research and evidence is legitimate and should not be misinterpreted for any form of child sex abuse.
'I am disheartened that some people are misrepresenting it to portray me as advocating paedophilia. I've supported child abuse survivors groups, and campaigned for stronger action against abuse.
Clergy sex abuse victims slam Catholic church plans for compensation funds
Earlier this year, when Attorney General Josh Shapiro released the findings of a grand jury investigation into clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania, he underscored one key recommendation issued by investigators.
Victims who had long ago been sexually abused by priests should be given a retroactive reprieve during which they could file lawsuits against predators, the grand jury said.
That recommendation seems destined for the dustbin for now. Pennsylvania lawmakers haven't been able to agree on changes to state law that would allow victims to go to court.
And the decision by virtually every diocese investigated by the grand jury to establish victims compensation funds is drawing the ire of the state's top law enforcement official and clergy sex abuse victims.
“It's now clear that the Dioceses acknowledge the Grand Jury accurately unearthed horrific and extensive abuse and cover up and, as a result, victims deserve compensation no matter when their abuse happened,” Shapiro said Thursday. “However, the Grand Jury recommended that victims deserve their day in court – not that the church should be the arbiter of its own punishment."
Shapiro also urged lawmakers to return to Harrisburg and pass legislation to allow victims to sue.
The Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and other dioceses, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, announced Thursday that they would create victim compensation funds.
The grand jury report implicated six Pennsylvania dioceses in the widespread abuse of children and concealment of crimes. Victims and advocates say that a compensation fund would fall short of addressing the needs of all adult victims who were sexually abused as children.
“The victims fund does absolutely nothing for the overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse survivors whose abuse has zero to do with the Catholic Church,” said Kristen Pfautz Woolley, who was abused for two years starting at the age of 10 by a friend of the family.
None of the dioceses have disclosed how much money would be put invested into the compensation funds, but the money reportedly will not be drawn from the donations that parishioners make to their churches regularly.
The announcements of the funds follows a failed, months-long effort by victims and their advocates - as well as lawmakers in the Legislature - to reform the statute of limitations to allow victims timed out of the legal system to have a day in court. Under state law, victims must pursue criminal cases by the age of 50 and civil cases by the age of 30.
With few exceptions, almost all cases unearthed by the 18-month-long grand jury investigation fall outside the bounds of the statute of limitations.
“The fund is a way to escape accountability, it simply protects the Catholic Church from lawsuits," Woolley said. "All child sexual survivors deserve their day in court to face their perpetrator and any institution who knowingly and intentionally covered the abuse up. Victims heal from speaking their truth and taking their power back.”
Benjamin Andreozzi, an attorney who is working with victims from each of the dioceses that were investigated by Shapiro's office, said he had spent the day on the phone with victims, explaining to them the compensation program.
“Many clients have already decided that they want to give the claims program a try, although they are not optimistic that they will be treated fairly by the church,” said Andreozzi, who also represents victims in the Archdiocese of New York. “After all, the program is an example of the criminal determining his own sentence.”
He said it was doubtful the compensation program would be totally successful.
“For some people the fund may help to get them back on their feet,” he said. “But for many others it feels like the doors to justice are being slammed shut in their face.”
State investigators found that bishops and church officials for some seven decades had turned a blind eye to some of the most horrific cases of sexual abuse of children by priests, often concealing the crimes from the public and law enforcement.
Among their four suggestions, investigators recommended that the statute of limitations be reformed so these victims could have a short window for legal recourse.
Shapiro excoriated church officials for bypassing that recommendation with the compensation funds.
“These undefined compensation funds do not give a pass to lawmakers – the Legislature should return to Harrisburg, do their jobs and pass the Grand Jury's four reforms,” Shapiro said Thursday in a written statement.
The Legislature this fall failed to reach a compromise on legislation that would have reformed the state's child sex crime laws. Victims and their advocates were pushing for a retroactive component in the law, but that proposal met widespread opposition in the Senate.
The Republican-controlled state Senate in October came under fire by victims after it advanced a proposal that would have allowed victims only a limited ability to sue predators.
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, who had earlier said a retroactive window to file lawsuits would be unconstitutional, pushed a proposal that would have reformed the laws but prevented victims from suing institutions, including the Catholic Church. Victims and advocates condemned the proposal and in the end, Senate leaders fell short of rounding up enough votes in the chamber to ratify the measure.
By virtually all accounts, any such proposal is now kicked over into the new legislative session that begins in January.
In a statement from the Harrisburg diocese on Thursday, Bishop Ronald Gainer explained how the program is slated to be operational early next year. It will be led by attorney Kenneth Feinberg and associates, who administered the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund as well as a similar compensation fund for the Archdiocese of New York.
Settlements from victims funds typically come nowhere near the compensation offered to victims out of court settlements. Victims, however, are typically open to the narrower criteria required by victims funds - including considerably lower levels of proof.
Woolley excoriated church officials and lawmakers and said she would be willing to share the “graphic” details of her abuse and the “memories that linger to challenge their lack of conscience."
“I highly doubt they have the courage to hear the truth and what will continue to be done to every child in my perpetrator's reach,” she said. “Stop putting an arbitrary dollar amount on victimization in an attempt to make this all go away.
Childhood abuse never ended for thousands of Australian adults
by Tracey Shelton
After surviving years of abuse at the hands of her family, Sarah has started a family of her own.(ABC News: Tracey Shelton)
Sarah is living proof that "life after hell" is possible.
For more than 20 years she says she endured beatings, rape and degradation at the hands of her family.
She tells of being locked in sheds, made to eat from a dog's bowl and left tied to a tree naked and alone in the bush.
Her abusers spanned three generations and included her grandfather, father and some of her brothers. She has scars across her body.
"This is from a whipper snipper," she says, pointing to a deep gouge of scar tissue wrapped around the back of her ankle. Higher up is another she says was caused by her father's axe.
But Sarah survived.
Now she is speaking out in the hope of empowering others trapped in abusive situations.
"There is life after hell, but you need to learn how to believe in yourself," she says.
A reality for many Australian adults
As confronting as Sarah's case may be, she is not alone.
While most people assume child abuse ends at adulthood, it can bring control, fear and manipulation that can last a lifetime.
Incestuous abuse into adulthood affects roughly 1 in 700 Australians, according to research by psychiatrist Warwick Middleton — one of the world's leading experts in trauma and dissociation. If that estimate is accurate, tens of thousands of Australian adults like Sarah are being abused by family members into their 20s or even up to their 50s.
"It's a mechanism of ongoing conditioning that utilises every human's innate attachment dynamics, and where fear and shame are used prominently to ensure silence — particularly shame," says Professor Middleton, an academic at the University of Queensland and a former president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation.
He has personally identified almost 50 cases among his patients, yet there was no literature or studies on this kind of abuse when he began publishing his findings.
Hidden in 'happy' families, successful careers
Sydney criminologist Michael Salter has found similar patterns in his own research. He said cases of incest are "fairly likely" to continue into adulthood, but this extreme form of domestic abuse is unrecognised within our health and legal systems.
"It's unlikely that these men are going to respect the age of consent," says Mr Salter, who is an associate professor of criminology at Western Sydney University. "It doesn't make sense that they would be saying, 'Oh you're 18 now so I'm not going to abuse you anymore'. We're just not having a sensible conversation about it."
The ABC spoke with 16 men and women who described being abused from childhood into adulthood.
They said their abusers included fathers, step-fathers, mothers, grandparents, siblings and uncles.
Medical and police reports, threatening messages and photos of the abuse supported these accounts. Some family members also confirmed their stories.
Sarah says her father and his friends photographed some of her abuse. One image shows her beaten and bloodied with a broken sternum at five. In another photo (pictured here), she cowers as her father approaches with a clenched fist.
Most victims described their families as "well-respected" and outwardly "normal-looking", yet for many the abuse continued well after their marriage and the birth of their own children, as they navigated successful careers.
"You see a lot of upper-income women who are medical practitioners, barristers, physiatrists — high functioning in their day-to-day lives — being horrifically abused on the weekends by their family," Mr Salter says.
Helen, a highly successful medical professional, says she hid sexual abuse by her father for decades.
"They didn't see the struggle within," she says.
A mental 'escape'
Professor Middleton describes abuse by a parent as "soul destroying". In order to survive psychologically, a child will often dissociate from the abuse.
Compartmentalising memories and feelings can be an effective coping strategy for a child dependent on their abuser, says Pam Stavropoulos, head of research at the Blue Knot Foundation, a national organisation that works with the adult survivors of childhood trauma.
The extreme and long-lasting nature of ongoing abuse can result in dissociative identity disorder, which on the one hand can shield a victim from being fully aware of the extent of the abuse but can also leave them powerless to break away, Ms Stavropoulos says.
Claire*, 33, describes her dissociation as both her greatest ally and her worst enemy.
"You feel like you've keep it so secret that you've fooled the world and you've fooled yourself," she says.
In her family, women — her mother and grandmother — have been the primary physical and sexual abusers and she says some of her abuse is ongoing.
"In a way you have freedom, but at the same time you are trapped in a nightmare," she says.
'It's like he's melted into my flesh'
For many, the attachment to an abuser can be so strong, they lose their own sense of identity.
Kitty, who was abused by her father for more than five decades until his recent death, says she did everything her family said to try to win their love.
"I thought I was some kind of monster because I still love my father," she says. "It's like he's melted into my flesh. I can feel him. He is always here."
Mr Salter says the conditioning is difficult to undo, and often leaves a victim vulnerable to "opportunistic abuse" and violent relationships.
"If the primary deep emotional bond that you forge is in the context of pain and fear then that is how you know that you matter," he says. "It's how you know that you are being seen by someone."
Many of those the ABC spoke with were also abused by neighbours or within the church or school system. Others married violent men.
"They don't have the boundaries that people normally develop," Mr Salter says, adding that parental abuse could leave them "completely blind to obvious dodgy behaviour because that's what's normal for them".
'You believe they own your body'
Professor Middleton said premature exposure to sex confuses the mind and the body and leaves a child vulnerable to involuntary sexual responses that perpetrators will frequently manipulate to fuel a sense of shame, convincing them they "want" or "enjoy" the abuse.
For Emma, violent sexual assaults and beatings at home began when she was five and are continuing more than 40 years later.
"When you are naked, beaten, humiliated and showing physical signs of arousal, it really messes with your head. It messes with your sexuality," she says.
"Your sense of what is OK and what isn't becomes really confused. You come to believe that they literally own you and own your body. That you don't deserve better than this."
A medical report viewed by ABC shows Emma required a blood transfusion last month after sustaining significant internal tissue damage from a sharp object. The report stated Emma had a history of "multiple similar assaults".
She said medical staff do want you to get help and sometimes offered to call police.
"What they don't understand is that for me police are not necessarily a safe option," she says.
As a teenager she had tried to report to the police, but was sent back home to face the consequences.
She said a "lack of understanding about the dynamics of abuse and the effects of trauma" mean victims rarely get the response and help they need.
While Emma has been unable to escape the abuse, she has made many sacrifices to shelter her children from it. But they still suffer emotionally, she says.
"It makes it hard for anyone who cares about you having to watch you hurt over and over again."
Incest after marriage and kids
For Graham, it was devastating to find out his wife Cheryl* was being sexually abused by both her parents 10 years into their marriage.
"I had no idea it was going on," he says, of the abuse that continued even after the birth of their children. "The fight between wanting to kill [her father] and knowing it's wrong wasn't fun. I don't think people know what stress is unless they've been faced with something like that."
With Graham's support, the family cut contact with his in-laws. He says the fallout of this abuse ripples through society impacting everyone around both the abused and the abuser.
Mr Salter urges anyone suffering abuse to reach out for help, and for those around them to be supportive and non-judgemental.
"You can get out — don't take no for an answer. Keep fighting until you find someone who is going to help you keep fighting," he says.
A new life
Sarah met Professor Middleton after a suicide attempt at 14, but it took many years for her to trust and accept that things could change.
"I just couldn't grasp I was free. It didn't matter what anyone did," she says.
"I still felt overall that my family was in control of me and at any moment they could kill me."
Through therapy with Professor Middleton — who she spoke of as the only father figure she has ever known — and the support of her friends and partner, Sarah finally broke away from her abusive family to start a new life of her own.
"You need people to help you through it. In the same way that it took other people to cause you the pain, it takes new people to replace them and help you give yourself another go," she says.
"If I can give hope to one other person out there, then all my years of pain will not have been for nothing."
Bristol Rovers one of first clubs to partner with child abuse charity
"I have never known such a forward-thinking approach in 25 years."
by NEIL MAGGS
Bristol Rovers Community Trust CEO Bristol Rovers has launched a ground breaking partnership with a charity which supports adults who have suffered historic child abuse.
The club has teamed up with the Southmead Project, in order to fundraise, offer support and raise awareness of this vital issue.
This is a radical step and makes Rovers one of the first professional clubs to do this in the country.
The reputation of football with high-profile child abuse cases and ongoing actions, is at an all-time low. The FA chairman Greg Clarke has called it “the biggest crisis in the history of the Football Association.”
The Southmead Project
In the aftermath of a number of adult professional players breaking silence and publicly disclosing the abuse they suffered as children at professional clubs, the FA Commissioned a report in 2016.
The report led by Clive Sheldon QC looked into allegations of historic child abuse and the possibility of a cover up in football. They initially contacted all 65,000 FA affiliated clubs, but narrowed the focus down to 12 case studies of specific interest. At present, due to a number of legal cases the review has been delayed indefinitely because of a pending retrial and further allegations in the Barry Bennell case.
So what Bristol Rovers are doing should not be underestimated, and could create an influx of similar partnerships happening nationally. Lots of professional clubs haven't covered themselves with much glory in their dealing with historic cases, so for Rovers to be on the front foot is a big step.
Whilst there hasn't been any cases involving the club itself, for Bristol Rovers Commercial Director Tom Gorringe this move still, “sets a precedent, and sends a clear message that Bristol Rovers are committed to safeguarding and feel it's paramount to encourage those who have suffered in silence to feel supported and able to talk. It is the right time to be bold and make this step.”
New CEO Martyn Starnes sets out his philosophy for success at Bristol Rovers
It is believed that Bristol Rovers are the first club in the Football League to make this step. And why Southmead Project?
“Because it resonates with the values of the club. The Southmead Project has a long standing history of providing first class support to people. It's in traditional Rovers territory, embedded in it's community and we were impressed by founder Mike's story, who is a remarkable person.” Tom talks often of the ‘authenticity' of Bristol Rovers, a family club, with real community values, and partnering with the Southmead Trust reflects this, particularly of it's founder Dr Mike Pierce MBE.
Mike Pierce founded the organisation in 1994. He is himself a child abuse survivor: a remarkable character, who has pushed forward and lobbied for greater support, research, and focus for adult victims of child abuse.
The Southmead Project is a service that provides free therapeutic and practical support to adults who were abused as children, and have turned to drugs, alcohol, and other self harming as a consequence of this trauma. The area in which it operates, Southmead, falls within the top 10% most deprived wards, and has the lowest life expectancy in Bristol.
The charity was formed in 1994 as a backdrop to this and located in the heart of the estate. The charity work closely with people who following a variety of often extreme forms of abuse, who often have an “ inability to engage emotionally with others including their own children compounded by extremely poor employment prospects.”
Bristol charity working with child sex abuse victims calls on Prime Minister to end 'unforgivable' funding shortage
In Mike's life he hasn't known anything other than abuse.
He tells me, “at birth I was at immediate risk," and whilst originally being placed with an Aunt for his own safety he was moved to Southmead where he experienced “all forms of abuse.”
His story is remarkable, and his early life as an adolescent to adulthood was one where domestic abuse was a constant. He experienced severe trauma, and turned to drugs and alcohol to self medicate, and ended up addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Eventually after a long hard struggle he came out the other side and went on to study, and specialised in working with the aftermath of sexual abuse at Bristol University. He says, “I now have the dual qualifications of direct experience of abuse and the study to marry it.”
Football is in crisis according to Mike.
Abusers such Bennell and others, are “highly skilled at getting themselves into positions where they can manipulate situations that will lead to access and ultimately abuse of children.”
"Football is an obvious environment, with access to young boys, and indeed girls.
"With high profile ex players like David White, Andy Woodward, and Steve Walters coming forward to publicly disclose their experience of abuse in football, Mike salutes the "incredibly courageous guys who have broken the silence that had prevailed too long in the game."
What Bristol Rovers are now doing is “essential for getting a handle on abuse, and the FA and players associations would do well to follow the example the club is setting and help ensure the impetus is maintained.”
Survivor of child sex abuse is paddling 100 miles to Parliament to demand more funding
So how will this partnership look in a practical sense?
In the early stages Tom Gorringe explains, “we will be doing fundraising, match day bucket collections, and hosting events in the hope of raising funds for the charity.”
In the longer term the club want to invite victims to give them a match day experience, and offer opportunities for them to tell their story. It is hoped that this will educate fans, and make it a safe space for potential victims who could now feel ready to come forward more.
In effect the club is making talking about and acting on child abuse ok.
There is also a role for players as well, Gorringe would like players to visit the Southmead Project to meet victims and just engage in day to day. Skipper Tom Lockyer who lives nearby is someone who can pop in and visit, but its important “that it's meaningful, not just a gesture, but something that has impact. And we are sure it will.”
Any partnership is a two way street, and the Southmead Project, and Mike, who plays a national role in lobbying for greater focus on this area, would like to see this “become a trend setter, with similar partnerships set up with other agencies across the country.”
The Southmead Project has been in Bristol for two and a half decades and it has never been approached before, and Mike provides high praise to the current staff at Bristol Rovers saying, “I have never known such a forward thinking development; casting aside caution, indecision and lack of resolution” like many football clubs have responded, and “in favour of tackling the problem head-on and coming out on the side of children and survivors of abuse.
Why teens keep the secret of sexual abuse
Child-abuse prevention shouldn't be the responsibility of victims who feel powerless, experts say
by Libby Dowsett
“I didn't know it was wrong until another man did it.”
As a young girl, Connie Ferris (name has been changed to protect her identity) didn't realize her father's strange touches and secret talks about the birds and the bees were anything unusual, until she was sexually abused by her boss when she was 15 years old.
Her employer owned a popular small-town convenience store and was more than friendly to Connie. He bought her a cashmere sweater and an extra-small T-shirt, both of which Connie said fit a little too snugly. She said he took pictures of her wearing them. He also brought her an Appaloosa horse. Along with the gifts, Connie said, there were inappropriate hugs, pinches and comments.
One night, Connie's boss told her parents that he would drive the teen home after her shift. Connie said she had to sit close to him in his pickup because there was a big box on the floorboard. She said that once he pulled into her long driveway, he stopped his truck and sexually assaulted her. Connie said he told her not to tell anyone because no one would believe her.
“At that moment in my life, I just didn't want to live anymore,” said Connie. “I knew my parents weren't going to believe me.”
“I mean, this man…everyone loved this man,” she said.
In desperation, Connie said, she swallowed a bunch of aspirin that night from her family's medicine cabinet. When her mother noticed something was wrong, she told her about the assault.
Connie said her mother told her to go to bed and assured her they would tell Connie's father and the police the next day, after their house guests went home. Connie still hadn't connected the dots between what was happening with her father and what had happened with her boss.
The next day, her parents didn't call police.
Connie said her father simply told her to go back to the store, thank her boss for everything he had done for her and resign.
“It made me feel terrible, like we were hiding it,” said Connie. “I was told if I talked to anyone, I would be homeless.”
Connie was alone with her secret.
Sexual assault remains the most underreported crime for teens and adults, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Nearly 70 percent of all reported sexual assaults happen to children age 17 and younger, according to Darkness to Light, a national child sexual abuse prevention program.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network says teens may drop hints to find out if the response will be supportive. If they feel supported, they may choose to share more information over time.
Sue Lewis, a licensed clinical social worker and forensic interviewer supervisor for the Children's Center of Clackamas County, says there are many barriers that keep teens from disclosing abuse.
“They are afraid to tell because they fear it can't be proved,” said Lewis. “They worry they won't be taken seriously.
“They may blame themselves or think they will be blamed. If they were drinking, they might feel it was somehow their fault.”
Lewis has more than 20 years of experience as forensic interviewer in the field of child abuse. As a supervisor, she helps train other interviewers in the technique of talking to young people in a child-friendly, neutral manner in order to learn about their experience in a forensically sound manner.
She said the child gets to decide what they want to talk about and tells their story without the listener tainting their recollection with assumptions or judgment.
“We try to ask questions in the most open-ended manner,” Lewis said. “Tell me why you're here today? Tell me what happened?”
The interviewer has already informed the child that their disclosure is being digitally recorded by a discreet camera. The child is also shown that law enforcement and representatives from the Department of Human Services are watching from the next room through a one-way window.
“We don't keep any secrets,” said Lewis. “We ask them to be honest, so we are honest with them.”
Lewis says one of the main goals is to minimize the number of times the child needs to be interviewed.
“Research tells us, by having them tell their story over and over, they begin to feel like they're not being believed,” said Lewis. “They can shut down, saying, ‘You know what, this didn't happen.' They recant.”
By the time a teenager gets to the Children's Center, Lewis said, they typically are ready to talk about what happened, but they may have faced many challenges to get to that point. Lewis said teen girls often first talk about the abuse with their friends, rather than their parents. Then, those friends might keep the secret, not wanting to violate their friend's trust.
Lewis said teenage boys face different barriers. The sexuality piece is a big concern, with many boys worrying about a stigma of being presumed gay.
“It actually might have felt good physically, yet it doesn't feel good in their head and their heart,” said Lewis. They might feel responsible for the way their body reacted to the abuse.
Similar to Connie's situation, many children might not realize that they are being abused. Or, teenagers may say they didn't realize it was a big deal. Some don't understand the seriousness of the situation, Lewis said.
Another reason for not telling is a desire to protect their mothers. A daughter sees that her mother loves her boyfriend, and she doesn't want to cause a problem between them.
“Many of the barriers have to do with fear,” said Lewis. “Fear of the consequences, fear of the offender. Will they be removed from their family? Will someone be taken to jail?”
There is also the concern among teens and younger children for their physical health. Those who come into the Children's Center are offered a non-invasive medical exam with the center's specially trained staff. Lewis said many teens are reluctant and always have the choice to decline the exam. But, she said, it is a good way to assure children that everything is OK with their bodies.
For Connie, her abuse affected her self-esteem, leading to weight issues throughout her teen and adult years. She began wearing big clothes to prevent men from looking at her. When she began to get in shape and feel good about herself, she shut down again when a man would offer a compliment.
Her relationship with her mother also deteriorated.
“I just wanted her to believe me,” said Connie. “But she never said she believed me, even as an adult.”
Connie finally decided to share her secret nearly four decades after her abuse began. She and her family returned to her hometown to attend Connie's 30-year class reunion. As she drove by her old house with her husband and children, the one question that had been on Connie's mind since the age of 15 finally needed to be answered.
“I thought, what if I tell my story and it helps one person?” Connie asked herself.
She enrolled in the Darkness to Light child abuse prevention training course, which she had heard about during a work luncheon. It turned out to be her catalyst for change. During that first training, she realized she wasn't the only one needing support: Her brother had recently confided in her that his daughter had accused him of sexual abuse, which he denied.
“I realized, oh my God, we're going to go through this again,” said Connie.
Connie knew how important it was to tell her niece that the teen would be supported and believed. Connie told her niece's mother that she was available to answer any questions her niece might have. She even helped her niece pursue charges – something that never happened in Connie's case – by enlisting the help of the Children's Advocacy Center.
Weeks after taking that initial Darkness to Light training course, Connie said, her brother was arrested on charges of abuse of six people, some children, including his daughter. He eventually struck a plea deal with the court.
Empowered, Connie decided it was time to put her story down in writing and share it with more people – 300 more people, in fact. She agreed to read it during the Children's Advocacy Center annual luncheon. The room – filled with law enforcement officers, business people and elected officials – fell silent as she finally decided to tell her truth.
“I felt like this black cloud I'd been carrying with me all these years was gone,” Connie said. “I just felt lighter.”
Connie said organizations, including the Children's Center and the Children's Advocacy Center, are the key to helping communities learn about child abuse prevention. The centers also offer survivors invaluable resources for health and healing.
Lewis agreed there needs to be a shift in society to stop putting the responsibility of preventing child abuse on the victim, who may feel powerless, especially if their offender is an authority figure.
“We parents need to tell children there are bad people, people with touching problems,” suggested Lewis. “If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, you need to come tell me, and I will deal with them.”
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) recommends parents talk openly with their children about sexuality, boundaries and consent, and inform teens that they can talk to you about difficult situations and you will be available to help them, even when they break a rule.
Lewis said teen brains are still developing, so teenagers are going to practice poor judgment at times. Parents shouldn't blame them for it.
Child sex trafficking identified in every Wisconsin county
Morgan Young, victim services training officer from the Wisconsin Office of Crime Victim Services, was in Prairie du Chien Oct. 30 for a two-hour public presentation about human trafficking, how it looks and what can be done about it. Horrors of human trafficking crimes not exactly like what you see in the movies.
by Correne Martin
People ordinarily interpret human trafficking to be something like the horrors of the action-thriller movie “Taken.” Though it absolutely happens, that's not what human trafficking looks like in Wisconsin, according to Morgan Young, victim services training officer with the Wisconsin Office of Crime Victim Services.
The film portrays the kidnapping and sex trafficking of mainly young, privileged white women into an international human slavery ring, from which—in true Hollywood fashion—a rescue constitutes the end of the story.
In reality, the definition of human trafficking is the recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining or attempting to maintain a person through force, fraud and coercion for labor, services or commercial sex acts, Young said.
“Child sex trafficking has been identified in every Wisconsin county,” she said.
The speaker was in Prairie du Chien Oct. 30, for a presentation on the recognizing and reporting the signs of human trafficking to about 50 individuals from various public sectors. The mission of Young's program was to share the raw truths of this violent crime as well as the fact that every sector of society can play a role in combating this problem.
Representing Crawford, Grant, Vernon and La Crosse counties, attendees were advocates for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, probation and social work clients, the aging and disability population, and the low-income and homeless communities. Professionals from the law enforcement, medical, legal, faith-based and economic development fields also participated.
Who are the victims/survivors?
Recent studies show that 15 is the average age a female becomes trafficked. Though traffickers are disproportionately male, they aren't always, according to Young. They can be men, women, husbands, wives, neighbors or coworkers of all races, genders and cultures.
Young said the LGBTQ community, illegal immigrants, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, low-income individuals, children from broken or foster families, and drug addicts are some the most vulnerable. She said this is because the traffickers believe they can more effortlessly control, bribe or threaten these types of people's needs.
“Kids who have experienced trauma, for example, already have confused feelings, low self-esteem, susceptibility to addiction, or their needs aren't being met,” she discussed. “That's easier for someone to exploit.”
Other risk factors of people who may be swept up into trafficking include impulsivity, interest in risk-taking, desire for love and acceptance, low self-worth, family conflict, mental health issues, physical abuse history, substance abuse, loneliness, poverty, limited language abilities, a lack of understanding rights and laws, criminal records, minimal education and workforce skills, cultural shame and more.
“Sometimes it's really hard to reprogram people [to believe] they have more to offer than [sex],” Young said. “They can feel like they've chosen this.”
What does it look like?
“There's a lot of imagery out there about human trafficking that shows young, blonde white girls in shackles, ropes or binding, beaten and crying out for help. We need to think beyond those images; trafficking also means threatening to cause harm,” Young implored.
“Immigrants who are here legally are not going to report crimes if they don't have official documents available to them. That's one of the first things traffickers take from them,” she continued. “If a girl is in sex work or conducting a theft, the trafficker uses that as intimidation to not leave because they're violating laws. A trafficker can also control an addict by promising the girl her next ‘bump' if she get's him $12,000. Or oftentimes, he can use threats to harm a child in order to control a mom.”
In non-scripted real life, it's not that common for traffickers to “sell off” their victims. The simple fact is that it is more profitable to force victims into prostitution, where they can be “sold” over and over again.
According to Young's power point, human trafficking involving minors may also include dancing, videography and exposure, aside from sex, even if the child “consents.”
“They can't legally consent,” she declared. “If something of value is exchanged, it's commercial (sexual exploitation). If the victim needs something to eat, a couch to sleep on or shoes—any commodity that's traded—it's commercial (sexual exploitation). And it doesn't matter if it's promised for the victim or somebody else. They're being abused and manipulated; they're not making their own choices.”
That hierarchy of power and control is the reason most victims are not easily convinced that law enforcement, social workers or other crisis professionals are there to help them. A young woman might need help and services, but as Young said, she still may feel like a “bad kid who is going to be punished.”
“We want to break that cycle before someone slips into it,” Young said, “before they feel like the trafficker is someone they love and trust, and how dare any of us gets between that relationship.”
She added that these cases look a lot like domestic violence situations: “It takes a victim of domestic violence an average of seven times to leave and get out for good. It oftentimes takes trafficking victims longer than that.”
How does it happen?
Human trafficking can begin in any seemingly innocent way, as Young described.
A confident “recruiter” sits in a public space like a mall food court, watching for targets, and eventually engages in a flirtatious and caring conversation with one he selects, based on downcast body language, for instance. He asks to exchange numbers, and they start a text conversation or interaction by way of a mobile application.
“If he sees a girl who's all hunched over and sad-looking, these non-verbal cues are the perfect signal for him,” Young expounded.
Once the trafficker feels solid in his enticement of a target, grooming begins. He invests time and money on gifts and works to build trust and a sense of belonging with the victim. He might say things like, “It's you and me against the world,” or “No one else values you like I do.” This breaks down the individual's identity so he can rebuild it how he wants it. Manipulation increases an, eventually, the trafficker tests his victim's sexual boundaries.
The actual trafficking happens at the point when the relationship fully shifts to psychological control and the victim being “lured into a hell they have little to no hope” of escaping, Young explained.
What can be done?
Knowing that 95 percent of human trafficking victims are chemically-dependent and 90 percent have prior criminal records, Young is a proponent for more intensive substance abuse treatment in Wisconsin.
Such survivor assistance is only part of a coordinated statewide strategic force through the Department of Justice that is “six mighty officers strong,” Young said.
Additional goals of the response team are to identify, target and prosecute traffickers; connect with service providers like Catholic Charities, Passages and social services to build a greater team; relocate survivors across the state; continue shutting down and making sex-buying websites illegal; and record and report the signs that are “hidden in plain sight.”
Shedding light on those signs, Young said general citizens can look out for the following instances common around places like hotels, casinos and truck stops:
1) a constant flow of men into a room at all hours of the night;
2) individuals being constantly monitored;
3) couples and groups who don't seem age-appropriate;
4) extended stays of individuals with few or no personal possessions;
5) signs of physical abuse, fear, malnourishment or dehydration;
6) people rarely leaving a hotel room;
7) exterior side and back doors propped open;
8) minors under the influence and in the company of adults;
9) rooms paid by cash or prepaid credit cards;
10) someone who doesn't know her whereabouts or has no sense of time;
11) tattoos or other matching branding of young women; or
12) patrons asking about access to adult sex services.
Young followed up these indicators by saying, “Evil flourishes when good people do nothing. We have to stand up, rally around these vulnerable individuals and do something.”
She cautioned, however, that good Samaritans should never intervene. They should call law enforcement if they see something suspicious.
In recording observations, concerned citizens should record what raised their concerns; dates, times and locations; names, phone numbers and room numbers; vehicle descriptions; trafficker and victim descriptions; direction of travel and by what transportation mode; if they asked for directions, etc.
Young said this is because investigators need a lot of evidence to make a case—a process than can take months or even years before someone can be taken into custody for human trafficking.
She concluded, “Usually, once one victim discloses, other (victims or sex buyers) will come forward, because it's rare for traffickers to have just one victim.”
All Survivors Day
First All Survivors Day Aims To Empower Sexual Assault Survivors To Speak Up, Speak Out
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Survivors of sexual assault were recognized Saturday in Center City for the first ever All Survivors Day.
I am the first know victim of Olympic team Doctor Larry Nassar,” said Philadelphia native Sarah Klein.
Klein spoke at the inaugural event, opening up about her now very public story of sexual abuse.
“Myself and many of us here today were victims of institutions who failed us. Institutions who value money, reputations, and [in] my case medals, more than the safety and innocence of children,” added Klein.
All Survivors Day aims to empower other sexual assault survivors to speak up and speak out because as another speaker and survivor explain, a survivors voice can result in justice and change.
“After eight years of fighting against my abuser and bishops that covered up, the Pope went to our country in Chile,” said Juan Carlos Cruz. “The Pope in front of the world said Juan Carlos Cruz is a liar.”
Juan Carlos Cruz refused to stop speaking his truth.
His relentlessness led to an investigation against the Chilean Catholic Church clergy and then last March a different message came from the Pope.
“He issued a letter to the world saying he had made a big mistake. He wanted to apologize to me and my two friends and he wanted to invite us,” added Cruz. “After we left summoned, summoned the whole bishop's conference and fired all them. Thirty-one bishops.”
In solidarity with Philadelphia's All Survivors Day, almost 40 other cities throughout the country and world held similar All Survivors Day events.
Anti-Child Abuse Group 'Disgusted' by Delays in Ian Venter Sentencing
The George Regional Court postponed proceedings to next year after dentist Ian Venter appeared on charges of sexual assault.
by Shamiela Fisher
CAPE TOWN - An anti-child abuse group has voiced its frustration at yet another setback in sentencing proceedings against a George man who is convicted of sexually abusing a minor.
The George Regional Court postponed proceedings to next year after dentist Ian Venter appeared on charges of sexual assault.
Venter molested a 13-year-old boy at his Herald's Bay home three years ago.
The previous year, Venter was placed under house arrest for molesting a 15-year-old boy.
The Women and Men Against Children Abuse's Joanne Barrett says the constant delays are outrageous and that the group is disgusted by the length of court cases involving child sexual abuse.
“The delays are totally unacceptable for the victims and their families.
Data Project Aims to Stop Human Trafficking Before It Occurs
Computer giant IBM Corp., financial services company Western Union Co. and European police launched a project Thursday to share financial data that they said may one day be able to predict human trafficking before it occurs.
The shared data hub will collect information on money moving around the world and compare it with known ways that traffickers move their illicit gains, highlighting red flags signaling potential trafficking, organizers said.
"We will build and aggregate that material, using IBM tools, into an understanding of hot spots and routes and trends," said Neil Giles, a director at global anti-slavery group Stop the Traffik, which is participating in the project.
Data collection, digital tools and modern technology are the latest weapons in the fight against human trafficking, estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global business, according to the International Labor Organization.
The U.N. has set a goal of 2030 for ending forced labor and modern slavery worldwide, with more than 40 million people estimated to be enslaved around the world.
Certain patterns and suspicious activity might trigger a block of a transaction or an investigation into possible forced labor or sex slavery, organizers said.
The project will utilize IBM's internet cloud services as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning to compare data and to spot specific trafficking terms, said Sophia Tu, director of IBM Corporate Citizenship.
With a large volume of high-quality data, the hub one day may predict trafficking before it happens, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"You can't do it today because we're in the process of building out that amount of data and those capabilities, but it's in the road map for what we want to do," she said.
While law enforcement is teaming up with banks and data specialists to chase trafficking, experts have cautioned that it can be a cat-and-mouse game in which traffickers quickly move on to new tactics to elude capture.
Also, less than 1 percent of the estimated $1.5 trillion-plus laundered by criminals worldwide each year through the financial system is frozen or confiscated, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
Along with IBM and Western Union, participants include Europol, Europe's law enforcement agency; telecommunications giant Liberty Global; and British banks Barclays and Lloyds, organizers said.
IBM's Efforts To Fight Human Trafficking
by Prableen Bajpai
Nelson Mandela said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
The denial of human rights is visible around us with millions of people being victims in one form or another. However, it grows grave when it takes the form of human trafficking or bondage that not just deprives people of their basic rights, but questions the basis of their humanity.
Here's how IBM (IBM) is looking to leverage technology to make a difference to the lives of millions of such people affected.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation.”
The International Labor Organization estimates that more than 40.3 million people worldwide are victims of forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking. This means that there are 5.4 victims for every 1,000 people in the world with 20% of all trafficking victims being children.
A UNODC report mentions that sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking (79%) followed by forced labor (18%).
The problem isn't region or country bound, it is present even in the most developed countries across the globe; in the U.S., more than 40,000 cases of human trafficking have been reported to Polaris hotline since 2007.
Human traffickers generate billions by victimizing vulnerable people gripped by poverty, oppression or war—by use of deception, violence or debt bondage among other ways. The high demand in such markets, huge margins combined with perceived low level of risk continue to fuel human trafficking and illegal profits; ILO estimates that the private economy generates $150 billion in profits per year.
The movement of money through various channels feeds this heinous industry and thus identification and tracking of money related to this business can provide a huge breakthrough in efforts to stop human trafficking. Over the years, global financial system has been tightening anti-money laundering measures to ensure that funds from illicit sources do not enter and mingle with money from legitimate businesses.
However, loopholes exist, and these are manipulated to benefit the wrongdoers. In addition to the efforts of financial institutions, a number of NGOs and government agencies have been working to support the victims while targeting criminal traffickers.
Those efforts have broadly remained scattered with disconnects in information. Thus, effective information sharing is critical in the process of identification and exposure of such activities and people.
To that end, IBM is collaborating with Stop The Traffik (STT) and Western Union, Barclays, Lloyd's Banking Group, Liberty Global, Europol, University College London to form the Traffik Analysis Hub (TAHub), a platform to facilitate the exchange of information about human trafficking across organizations. Traffik Analysis Hub is powered by advanced technologies such as augmented intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing.
The TAHub has been trained by IBM using Watson Natural Language for human trafficking incidents using search terms by STT and other contributors. Based on machine learning capabilities and using structured data, TAHub identifies such incidents which is further analyzed with additional data sources to “identify trafficking networks, patterns and hotspots to drive intelligence-led collaboration.”
The cloud-based platform can only be accessed by authenticated partners for uploading non-personal data related to such activities which is aggregated and interpreted to convert into actionable information using AI for use by NGOs, financial institutions and governments.
Some other efforts involving technology players include the PhotoDNA technology by Microsoft (MSFT) in 2015. Microsoft's PhotoDNA technology, a cloud service that helps find and remove online images that exploit children. PhotoDNA uses “hash” matching technology can identify known illegal photos even if someone has altered them.
In June 2018, global technology companies (such as Microsoft, Nokia, British Telecom), civil society organizations (RESPECT, BSR), and UN agencies (International Organization for Migration) joined hands to launch “Tech Against Trafficking”, a collaborative to support the eradication of human trafficking. As the first step, the consortium is looking to map and analyze the landscape of existing tech-focused initiatives to tackle modern slavery.
While these serious problems do not have a quick fix solution, one way ahead is a make collaborative effort in the right direction and that is something that we are beginning to witness. The analysis of unstructured data and sharing of actionable results on IBM's platform is a constructive step in the efforts to combat human trafficking.
Sexual violence is a widespread weapon of war – it's time international law caught up
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two campaigners against gender-based violence in wartime – but international treaties are still yet to prohibit it in a way that is legally binding
by Daniela Nadj
The decision to award the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege – two campaigners against sexual violence in war – has rightly been hailed as a much-needed signal that the international community recognises the severity of this problem in an increasingly conflict-ridden world.
Violence against women has been a topic engaging feminist legal scholars and international lawyers for a long time. A sustained feminist advocacy emerged around widespread reports of sexual violence experienced by women during the armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the early 1990s.
So giving this prestigious prize to two frontline human rights activists does highlight the growing global recognition of the widespread and endemic sexual harms women suffer during wartime. But despite this welcome recognition – and the widespread reporting of sexual violence incidents in conflict – the international legal system lacks a binding convention on the prohibition of violence against women. There is therefore a gap between symbolism and legal reality.
Murad was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in relation to her experience as a Yazidi-Kurdish woman who had survived sexual violence and assaults – including numerous rapes and prolonged sexual enslavement at the hands of Isis in northern Iraq in 2014. In 2016 she became UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking, using her appointment to raise awareness of the trafficking of women before the United Nations Security Council.
In 2017 she published her memoir, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, in which she recounts her ordeal at the hands of Isis and advocates for the prosecution of Isis fighters before the International Criminal Court. She has also continually reiterated the idea that rape and sexual slavery need to be conceptualised as weapons of war and treated as such by international criminal law.
In a recent interview she said: “Rape has been used throughout history as a weapon of war. I never thought I would have something in common with women in Rwanda – before all this, I didn't know that a country called Rwanda existed – and now I am linked to them in the worst possible way, as a victim of a war crime that is so hard to talk about that no one in the world was prosecuted for committing it until just 16 years before Isis came to Sinjar.”
Mukwege gained worldwide acclaim for his work as a surgeon, gynaecologist and women's rights activist. He founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1999 as a clinic specialising in gynaecological and obstetric care, performing complex surgeries on women who had been raped and suffered vicious sexual assault during armed conflict in the DRC from 2003 to 2016.
Having treated 40,000 survivors of sexual violence, he is today considered one of the world's leading experts on “repairing” the internal physical damage caused by gang rape. In addition to restorative surgery, the hospital also provides psychological support for victims and offers a one-stop hospital for rape survivors, as well as providing financial support for the women affected in order to enable them to reintegrate into society.
Both activists have brought to the world's attention the gendered nature of armed conflict and have shone a light on a pervasive phenomenon of modern wars. This has also been one of the central concerns of the UN Security Council, which has passed eight resolutions on its Women, Peace and Security agenda since 2000.
Time for action
But despite the powerful symbolic victory of the Nobel Peace Prize, the reality on the ground remains that a binding convention on the prohibition of gender-based violence in all its forms is still lacking. The 1979 Women's Convention (CEDAW), often heralded as the most significant treaty for the elimination of discrimination against women, does not contain a specific prohibition against gender-based violence.
Neither does the 1992 CEDAW Committee Declaration No 19 – a landmark declaration defining gender-based violence, which is symbolic rather than binding in nature. The UN resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, such as UN Resolution 1325 – which calls on all state actors and those involved in post-conflict reconstruction efforts to incorporate a gender-based perspective into the transitional peace process and emphasises the full and equal participation of women in all peace-related efforts – have not led to the securing of a binding resolution on the prohibition of gender-based violence.
There remains a persistent moral gap between rhetoric and practice when it comes to addressing gender-based violence. What is lacking is a clear political will to implement a multilateral convention that would impose obligations on state parties. As former UN special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo told me when I interviewed her in 2015: “One of the challenges is that, whereas the rhetoric is that violence against women is a human rights violation, the reality is that there is an absence of responding to that in a deeper way that demands a different response. So when the rhetoric is that it is a human rights violation, and we do not acknowledge that it is pervasive, that it is systemic and that it has numerous structural causes, including socioeconomic causes, then actions must reflect this reality.”
This is especially important in light of the fact that gender-based violence almost always exists on a continuum of violence. Frequently, there is a link between the prolonged incidents of domestic violence in peacetime and the levels of sexual violence seen in armed conflict. This has been seen time and time again, in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as well as in the DRC.
The recent recognition of the advocacy efforts of the two Nobel laureates therefore serves as a vital reminder that the actual work of drafting and putting into effect a binding convention for the prohibition of violence against women is an urgent priority, which can no longer go unaddressed by the international community.