France MPs vote to ban child smacking
French MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bill that would ban parents from smacking their children.
The bill on "corporal punishment or humiliation" seeks to ensure that parental authority is exercised without violence. It will now go the Senate.
Campaigners say about 85% of French parents resort to corporal punishment.
Previous attempts to outlaw smacking at home have failed, although the practice has long been banned in French schools.
French lawmakers backed the bill in a 51-1 vote early on Friday, following a late-night debate.
MP Maud Petit, who sponsored the measure, said the bill's main goal was educational, to encourage society to change its views on the issue, the AFP news agency reports.
Like other European states, France criminalises violence against children, but it also currently allows parents the right to discipline their children at a low level.
What constitutes low-level discipline and what constitutes criminal violence is left to the courts to decide - and often sparks controversy, correspondents say.
Last week, four members of the same family were arrested after a nine-year-old boy was beaten to death in the eastern city of Mulhouse.
Police sources told local media that the boy had refused to do his homework and was hit with a broom handle.
If the bill is adopted by the Senate, France will become the 55th country to outlaw corporal punishment of children, AFP says.
Sheffield & South Yorkshire
Sammy Woodhouse: Rotherham rapist access petition hits 200,000 mark
Sammy Woodhouse's son was conceived when she was raped by Arshid Hussain
More than 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for rapists to be denied access to children conceived through their crimes.
Sammy Woodhouse, a victim of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, is calling for a change in the law.
The man who raped her, Arshid Hussain, was reportedly contacted by Rotherham Council about care proceedings involving her son heard last year.
Ms Woodhouse tweeted: "Thanks so much to everyone for the support."
In the petition started on Wednesday, Ms Woodhouse says: "After rebuilding my life, I was made to relive the trauma again last year when the courts said my abuser Hussain could seek visits with my son.
"That's why I'm calling for a change in the law, a simple amendment to the Children's Act 1989 that would ban any male with a child conceived by rape from applying for access/rights."
Her petition has been backed several politicians including Rotherham MP Sarah Champion and Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron.
However, speaking on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, Lucy Reed, - family law barrister and head of the Transparency Project - said current legislation was clear.
"It is derived from our obligation under human rights legislation that a child - rather than a parent - has the right to family life," she said.
She said consideration needed to be given where, for example, a child already had a relationship with a parent who is later convicted of rape, and wanted that to continue.
Arshid Hussain was convicted of grooming and sexually abusing young girls in Rotherham.
Hussain, known around Rotherham as Mad Ash, was one of three brothers behind the grooming and sexual abuse of more than 50 girls, including Ms Woodhouse.
He was jailed for 35 years in 2016.
Ms Woodhouse, who waived her anonymity in an effort to help other victims, told the BBC on Wednesday she was "shocked" when she was informed of the council's approach.
Latest news from across Yorkshire
Rotherham Council said: "We must be clear that at no stage has it been the intention of the council to put any child at risk, or to allow any convicted child sexual exploitation offender to have care of any child."
The authority said it was seeking "clarification from the Ministry of Justice as to how legal directions relating to Family Court proceedings should be applied".
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said: "Local authorities can apply to courts to request permission not to notify parents without parental responsibility about care proceedings, and courts should consider the potential harm to the child and mother when making this decision."
Urgent efforts would be taken to "address the failings in this case", the MoJ said.
Catching a paedophile: The PSNI team tracking sex offenders
by Cormac Campbell, BBC News NI South East Reporter
Early morning in Mahon Road PSNI station in Portadown and Det Sgt Laura McPhillips briefs officers ahead of a planned search in County Down.
She is usually based at the Antrim Road station in Belfast but the nature of her work takes her all around Northern Ireland.
In the past year her Child Internet Protection Team (CIPT) has been involved in 120 searches.
The team has made 72 arrests for offences, including possession, making and distributing indecent images and sexual communication with a child.
Necessary but unpleasant
Today's target is arrested and charged with both of these offences.
It is necessary, if incredibly unpleasant work.
Officers must not only arrest those responsible, some must also view the material to verify its content.
The PSNI say support is available to them to maintain their wellbeing.
In the past year a number of groups have emerged, members of the public keen to take on this work themselves.
The police have not been impressed with the self-appointed paedophile hunters.
"We are specifically trained and I would leave it to the police officers to ensure that it runs through a smooth process throughout the court system," said Det Sgt McPhillips.
"We are trained to gather evidence to a high quality and we work with partner agencies to ensure that children are safeguarded on a day to day basis.
"That has to be at the forefront of all of our investigations."
As part of an initiative to highlight the scale of the online abuse problem and the efforts the PSNI are making to deal with it, the unit's doors have been swung open.
Among the most striking visuals is the team's evidence room.
This is just one of a number of such rooms filled from top to bottom with seized computers, smartphones, USB keys and disks.
Det Ch Supt Paula Hilman is head of the PSNI's Public Protection Branch which stands over the CIPT.
She says online sexual abuse is a growing problem.
"Public protection and cyber-crime are two areas of growth in PSNI and we are putting additional resources to that," she said.
"We still recognise that it is under-reported.
"We are seeing increased reporting of child abuse cases and of offences happening online.
"Last year we received 6,000 referrals. Those offences range from the neglect of children to the sexual and physical abuse of children both recent and historic."
During two weeks in November the CIPT conducted 17 searches - leading to 12 arrests. Those arrested were aged between 19 and 74.
The searches were conducted in five counties.
More are planned.
York & North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire Police drops 'victim blaming' abuse campaign
One Facebook post said: "Children don't choose angry fists, angry fists choose them."
A police force has withdrawn a child abuse campaign from social media after accusations of "victim blaming".
North Yorkshire Police posted images containing messages such as: "Which choice will you make? Birthday gifts or angry fists?"
A number of Facebook users criticised the campaign, with one posting a comment saying: "Children do not choose to be abused."
The force said it was "not the message we set out to give in our campaign".
Another post on the police Facebook page said: "Children don't choose angry fists, angry fists choose them. Target the abusers, don't blame those being abused."
The force said it would carry out more research following feedback over the campaign.
The NSPCC said it was essential to "raise awareness of the problem".
The charity added: "Child sexual exploitation is never the fault of the victim. Very often, young people are manipulated or coerced into sexual activity by groomers who gain their trust."
Rotherham Labour MP Sarah Champion thanked the police for removing the campaign.
Twitter post by @SarahChampionMP: .@NYorksPolice thank you for taking down your child sexual exploitation campaign. I suggest for V2 you create a focus group of survivors to guide you. They are the experts & we need to listen if we want to prevent this horrendous crime.
North Yorkshire Police said it had "received some positive responses to the campaign" but had withdrawn it to carry out "some more testing with our target audience".
"This deliberately hard-hitting campaign was to get across the message that exploitation is not a life that anyone has to live, and that the police are there to support people who are at risk, and who need help.
"No victim of child sexual exploitation is to blame, and that is not the message we set out to give in our campaign.
Scouting Ireland review uncovers alleged child abuse
A review has found evidence of more than 100 alleged child abuse victims at Scouting Ireland.
Katherine Zappone told an Oireachtas committee that an audit by an independent consultant uncovered evidence of 71 alleged abusers.
Most of the cases occurred between the 1960s and 1980s.
Ian Elliott, engaged by Scouting Ireland to examine past child protection files, said they were not contained to the Republic.
Some were in Northern Ireland and overseas, he said.
Ms Zappone said Ian Elliott's review was "based on his work to date and the numbers may change".
She said it was "devastating".
"I find it extremely distressing as the minister to have received that information," she added.
Ms Zappone told the Committee on Children and Youth Affairs that she had been informed of the cases on Tuesday night.
She said none of the alleged abusers were still working with Scouting Ireland and the child protection agency Tusla and the gardaí had been informed in light of alleged abusers who are still alive.
Mr Elliot told the committee that 14 of the alleged perpetrators had multiple victims.
He added that he did not think the figure of 108 would be the final figure.
Irish Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said the allegations were "devastating"
A serious perpetrator has been discovered, said Mr Elliot, and there was no awareness in the organisation that this person was a perpetrator. There was no file for this person.
The committee heard that an increasing number of alleged victims were coming forward and talking to them and had confidence in the process.
He said "although some of the perpetrators may be dead, most of the victims are alive".
'Very significant human suffering'
Mr Elliot told members to think of the figure of 108 alleged victims in human terms rather than numerical terms.
"That is 108 people who have suffered, who are suffering today as a result of situations they should never have been exposed to," Mr Elliot said.
"Very significant human suffering has taken place here," he said.
Scouting Ireland chairwoman Aisling Kelly apologised for the "hurt" caused as a result of "poor practice".
"When we last appeared before this committee, an apology was offered for the hurt that has been caused as a result of poor practice on the part of those involved in scouting.
'Radical governance change'
"Some of this occurred many years ago but the effects are still causing distress today," she told the committee.
"I want to reiterate that apology and add to it our sincere regret for what has happened, and our absolute determination to learn from those mistakes and make Scouting Ireland today as safe an environment as we can create for all of our members."
Ms Kelly said the organisation had undergone a "radical governance change" and was "working hard" to establish the full extent of the knowledge that exists in relation to the abuse.
A new board was elected for Scouting Ireland in October.
Ms Zappone also acknowledged the "extraordinary work" that does go on in the organisation.
"I've seen that first-hand throughout the country and the work that's gone on in supporting the children and young people and the volunteers and how important that is," she said.
"I want to assure people that I want to continue to support that."
However, she added that in light of the information she would be monitoring the situation.
The review is not yet complete.
Tumblr removed from Apple app store over abuse images
Tumblr said it discovered child sexual abuse images during a routine audit.
Tumblr has been removed from Apple's app store because it let some users post images of child sexual abuse.
The social network's app was removed on 16 November but the reason for it being unavailable has only just come to light.
In a statement it said the illegal images got through because its filters failed to spot them.
It said getting the app re-listed was a "priority" but has given no date for when it might be available.
Tumblr gave more details about why it was taken off Apple's store after being approached by tech news site Cnet with a claim that indecent images of children were the cause.
In its statement, it said that all images uploaded to Tumblr pass through a database of "known child sexual abuse material". It added that any matches to the database are detected and deleted - and would never appear on its platform.
In this case, it said, the images being uploaded were not in the industry database so its filters did not catch them. However, it said, the illegal content was discovered during a routine audit.
"We immediately removed this content," it said, and added: "Content safeguards are a challenging aspect of operating scaled platforms."
Tumblr has a reputation for allowing sexually-themed material to be shared on its service. This led to it being banned for a day in Indonesia over the mature content. South Korea has also asked it to do a better job of moderating adult content on the service.
HIA: Civil Service completes draft compensation legislation
by Gareth Gordon, BBC News NI Political Correspondent
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.
Methodist Children's Home Prepares Young Men for the Future
For some of Louisiana's children, life at home includes abuse and neglect. In 2016, that was the case for 11,289 of the state's children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
SULPHUR, La. (AP) — For some of Louisiana's children, life at home includes abuse and neglect. In 2016, that was the case for 11,289 of the state's children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2015, almost 11,000 boys and girls, age 17 and under, had a brush with the juvenile justice system, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Justice.
For these children, the Methodist Children's Home of Southwest Louisiana offers the kind of help that gives hope and touches the lives of future generations.
"We keep them safe, we earn their trust, and we teach them a better way," said Director Steven Franks, Ph.D.
Twenty-two boys between the ages of 12 and 17 call this Sulphur treatment center home.
The Methodist Children's Home of Southwest Louisiana is the first facility of its kind to be licensed in the state to help children with the greatest behavioral and emotional needs. Louisiana has only four such facilities, and three are Methodist Children's Homes.
"The things we're trying to teach them are life skills, coping skills, the ways to deal with life so they don't have to be cared for by another individual, to live in the outside world, move forward with their education and succeed in getting jobs," said Patrick Blanchard, director of development.
"They're learning the kinds of things here about becoming independent adults that many young people learn at home from parents," added Mark Morris, assistant director. "The simple things such as money management, keeping their clothes clean and learning to cook."
Blanchard said The Methodist Children's Home recently partnered with Louisiana Cat. The company will test certain Methodist Children's Home residents to determine which have a knack for technical skills. Those who show aptitude will be trained for jobs.
"With all the industrial growth in this area, I'm hoping we will see more opportunities for these young men," Blanchard said.
Residents pursue their high school diploma or high school equivalency diploma through the Calcasieu Parish School system homebound department on the Methodist home's campus.
In addition to preparing the young men for the future, the intense therapy offered at the Methodist Children's Home of Southwest Louisiana helps them deal with their past.
Many of the residents come from the Department of Children and Family Services and the Office of Juvenile Justice.
"The Sulphur treatment center specializes in delivering individualized treatment to children with sexualized behavior," said Catherine Heitman, DCFS. "In most situations, the behavior is secondary to the child's own sexual victimization, or to undisclosed sexual abuse."
Residential treatment may be necessary for overcoming trauma from sexual abuse and to overcome any additional struggles, including self-injury, suicidal thoughts, disassociation, impaired ability to engage in healthy, trusting or meaningful relationships with others, and substance use disorders or eating disorders, according to Hietman.
"LMCH provides a caring and therapeutic space where kids can separate from the stressors and triggers they face on a daily basis and move toward recovery," she said.
None of the residents are violent sex offenders. However, each resident is carefully supervised, and the environment is secure. Once a young man is in the care of the home, he receives individual, family and other therapy, 24-hour nursing care and weekly psychiatric care.
"Young people are much different from adults," Franks said. "Developmentally, they're not finished."
"We learn from our environment," Morris said. "Behaviors can reflect a need for love, for acceptance or for nurturing. We help teach these kids that you can get these needs met in a positive way."
Residents at LMCH also receive pastoral care, mentoring and visits from local churches.
Funding has been challenging at times. The home accepted its first residents in 2011 on property and a facility made possible by donations from a Sulphur family.
When asked what the residents at the Methodist Children's Home need most, Franks answered:
"Yes, you can donate," he said. "But we also like it when you show up. That's one thing kids benefit from, knowing there are people out there who care for them and consistently show up. They volunteer without any financial return and come back again and again."
Franks said he's grateful for the churches that are helping the residents and especially the men's groups.
Schools must be prepared for pupil-on-pupil sexual assault
by Emma Banister Dean
It's an uncomfortable subject for many, but a recent court case has highlighted the need for schools to have robust guidelines in place that address the problem of sexual abuse perpetrated by young children, says Emma Bannister Dean
With Barnardo's reporting to the House of Commons science and technology committee that children as young as five are perpetrating sexual abuse on their peers, and this week's reports of a high settlement paid to parents of an abused pupil, it's important for schools to know how to protect themselves and their pupils.
Sexual assault on children is an emotive and highly charged issue. When that assault is committed by another child, adults often shy away. With the recovery of the victim being so strongly linked to the way in which these incidents are dealt with, schools need to ensure the availability of adequate training, sanctions and counselling. This is particularly the case in primary schools, where the perpetrators are below the age of criminal responsibility and the school may be the only organisation that is able to send a strong signal about the acceptability of behaviour among its community.
Schools can feel so conflicted by their obligations to both parties that they are unable to make decisions
The increasing use of social media and the internet by primary-school children unfortunately results in some children becoming sexualised or learning sexual behaviours at a very young age.
Safeguarding policies and procedures are often designed to protect children from adults. While behaviour policies might cover allegations of sexual assault, they often do not deal with allegations where the perpetrator and the victim are both pupils.
In my experience, both when advising on these situations and when dealing with them as a governor, schools can feel so conflicted by their obligations to both parties that they are unable to make clear and timely decisions. Preparation is the key to protecting all parties.
To minimise the fallout:
• Adapt behaviour policies to deal with situations where both parties are pupils.
• Train staff in how to identify and challenge risky behaviour.
• Enable staff to understand when to escalate and report concerns.
• If the worst does happen, follow your adapted policies and procedures. They provide you with a clear decision path and justify your actions.
• Don't assume that waiting for it to go away will be the best way of protecting the school's reputation.
• Engage early with professional advisers who can provide you with the toolkit to interact with parents and pupils.
If you don't get it right, what are the risks?
The most serious risk is to the victim and their recovery.
In the current reported case of the girl known as Bella, who was repeatedly sexually assaulted at her primary school by two fellow pupils when she was aged six, staff had witnessed inappropriate sexual behaviour by the boys towards Bella but failed to report their concerns or to intervene. They had also failed to notify her parents. When the abuse did come to light and Bella's parents asked for counselling to help their daughter, they were told that she was not entitled to counselling because she did not come within the “child in need” criteria.
We all find the idea of hyper-sexualised primary-school children an uncomfortable one. With prevention and adequate responses to assaults being so critical, the lack of training, counselling and robust enforcement of behaviour policies cannot continue. Staff need adequate training to enable them to fulfil their safeguarding role and we all need to put our discomfort aside and tackle these issues.
There is an understanding among parents that schools take on an implied duty of care for their children while on school premises. It was in response to a claim by Bella's parents for breach of that duty that the primary school in question paid a large settlement. The press reported this case as the first example of a settlement being paid in these circumstances. Those of us advising schools know that unfortunately this was not the first.
Evidence of what the school has done to minimise the risk of such assaults and to maximise the victim's chances of recovery will all help to protect the school as well as potential victims. The messages sent to pupils will also contribute to making the school community a safer space.
Government increases funding for rape and sexual abuse victims
Funding increased by 10% to £24 million over 3 years.
Specialist rape and sexual abuse support services will receive a £800,000 (10%) boost to help more victims across England and Wales under government plans announced today (Wednesday 7 November 2018).
Over 150,000 sexual offences were recorded by police last year with 1 in 5 women having experienced some type of sexual assault in their lifetime and a 200 per cent increase in the number of men and boys accessing support*.
The additional funding – now totalling £24 million over the next 3 years – will go towards vital services providing advice, support and counselling to help victims cope with and, as far as possible, recover from these devastating crimes. It will also increase the resilience of the wider sector supporting vulnerable individuals to provide timely, wrap-around support.
In addition, dedicated support organisations will now benefit from longer-term funding with government extending the funding period from 1 to 3 years. Ministers have acted to provide support organisations with greater stability and security to ensure they can focus on delivering their essential services.
Justice Minister Edward Argar said:
Rape and sexual violence are devastating crimes, so I am encouraged that more victims are coming forward to get the support they need.
By providing additional and longer-term funding we are ensuring that victims can access these vital practical and emotional services, so that fewer are left to suffer in silence.
Today's announcement builds on the government's commitment to further devolve justice powers. Five Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) (Greater London, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire) are to be given full commissioning responsibilities for sexual violence and abuse services as government recognises the importance of identifying local need when providing support.
In 2018/19 the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) allocated around £7.2 million towards independent, specialist support to female and male victims of sexual violence, including victims of child sexual abuse. This will now increase to £8 million annually over the next three years and is part of £96 million funding towards victim support services which has doubled since 2012/13.
Faye Maxted OBE, Chief executive of the Survivors Trust, said:
The announcement of this funding is very welcome and the fact that it will be awarded for a three-year period will allow specialist agencies to plan ahead and feel some security in offering support for victims and survivors. Rape and sexual abuse can have a devastating impact on someone's life, affecting their health and wellbeing for years and impacting on their ability to live a fulfilling and happy life. Security and safety are such vital elements in recovery for victims and survivors and this means that specialist support agencies themselves need to be sure the services they offer are well supported too.
Duncan Craig, CEO of Survivors Manchester & Co-Founder of Male Survivors Partnership, and survivors of childhood sexual abuse:
The government's announcement of the investment it's making in tackling rape and sexual abuse is more than welcome. Increasing the amount of money available for organisations to access and extending the grants to three years gives a clear message that the Minister is taking our needs as survivors seriously. Organisations like mine, those members of networks such as Male Survivors Partnership or Rape Crisis England and Wales are struggling to meet the increasing demand on our services from people who often, are speaking out for the first time. This announcement feels like help is on its way and gives me hope that we will be able to not only continue to provide the support services to men and women, boys and girls who have been sexually violated, but in doing so give people hope that healing is possible.
Katie Russell at Rape Crisis England & Wales said:
Demand for independent, specialist sexual violence and abuse support services is at unprecedented levels and continues to rise each year.
In 2017-18, our member Rape Crisis Centres provided over 650,000 sessions of specialist support, counselling and advocacy to more than 78,000 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, rape and all forms of sexual violence.
This is the only dedicated, central government funding for sexual violence and abuse organisations and recognises the significant need for these vital services, and the considerable expertise and experience of our specialist sector.
Three-year core grants also provide some much-needed stability for centres like ours, enabling them to focus more energy on service delivery and further development, and less on survival.
APCC Victims Lead, Dame Vera Baird QC said:
I welcome the 10% increase, and it is particularly positive that funding for rape support will now be for a three-year period. Longer-term funding will provide these vital organisations with the stability they require, and free them from the burden of making fresh bids every year, so they can devote their time and resources on better serving victims.
Notes to editors
A grant funding competition will allow providers to compete for grant funding for 3 years, rather than the one-year grants previously awarded, providing greater long-term security.
MOJ funding for victim support services has almost doubled since 2012/13 (by increasing revenue raised from offenders). This year, we plan to spend about £96 million on these services.
MOJ provides a contribution to 97 rape support services across England and Wales and the level of grant funding varies. In 2018/19 we allocated around £7.2 million to these centres to provide independent, specialist support to female and male victims of sexual violence, including victims of child sexual abuse. This will now increase to £8 million annually.
In 2018/19 we allocated Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) around £68 million funding to locally commission emotional and practical support services for victims of crime as they are best placed to respond to local need.
In 2017/18 PCCs reported spending £8.40 million from the MOJ grant in supporting victims of sexual violence and abuse and £4.86m supporting victims of child sexual abuse (recent and non-recent)
*The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16, equivalent to an estimated 3.4 million female victims and 631,000 male victims.
Ministry of Human Rights prepares action plan to end child abuse
ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Human Rights has drafted an action plan for ending child abuse in the country with a focus on prevention, protection, recovery, reintegration and participation in society.
The action plan has been formulated for ensuring the rights of children under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Child (UNCRC) ratified by Pakistan in 1990.
“The ministry plans to conduct workshops, hold multimedia campaigns for raising for the general public awareness, ensure access to education for all, hold workshops and seminars, integrate child rights and personal health, protect ongoing education, and sensitise high-ranking officials, members of the parliament and provincial assemblies and also police and court officials by raising their awareness of the matter for the prevention of child abuse,” said a document presented before the special committee on the issue of increasing number of child abuse cases.
In addition to this, the ministry has also planned community mobilisation to develop a local vigilance and protection system as well as the establishment of school protection committees through parent-teacher associations (PTA).
For the protection of children, the ministry is considering the effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice System (JJS), establishment of child-friendly courts, conducting training of law enforcement personnel and judiciary on an improved implementation mechanism, publicity of laws against child abuse, taking special measures against child pornography, and monitoring regional trafficking mafias.
For their recovery and reintegration, the ministry would develop a national core group of master trainers on psychosocial recovery and rehabilitation of child abuse victims in addition to the development of training packages for health care providers, training multi-disciplinary service providers and establishing child protection committees in all major hospitals.
For participation, under the new action plan Ministry of Human Rights planned to consult children on their needs and priorities when developing policies and implementing activities besides providing support, information and training of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and other partners to the enable those to support children's active participation in implementing and monitoring of action plan.
Furthermore, the ministry has planned to publicise the available services, develop a referral system for child abuse victims, develop and implement a code of conduct for shelter homes, provide life skills-based education, counsel survivors of child assault, develop peer support groups to encourage children's participation in their recovery and establish a document centre on child abuse and exploitation.
The Ministry of Human Rights will also monitor and coordinate the situation by working on strengthening the institutional capacity of the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development.
After pornography, major child trafficking scandal surfaces in Kasur
Initial investigation reveals minor girls are bought for prostitution
by Muhammad Shahzad
LAHORE: After child pornography and assault-cum-serial killing of children in Kasur, another scandal of trafficking of minor girls for prostitution has emerged in the city.
An officer of the Child Protection Welfare Bureau (CPWB) told The Express Tribune that a team of the bureau received information about ‘sale' of two minor girls in Shareef Pura Mohalla for prostitution. The site is just two kilometres away from City Pattoki Police Station.
The team along with police secured a search warrant of three victims and conducted a raid.
“We have recovered two girls, one is aged 12 and the other is three and a half years old,” he added. However, one of the suspects managed to flee from the scene with the third victim.
Over 700 cases since 2015: What makes Kasur a hub of child abuse?
The initial investigations revealed that the victims had been bought for the purpose of prostitution, he added. The CPWB registered an FIR of the incident under 371 (prostitution) and other sections of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
The officer added that the first victim was staying with a woman identified as Zahida Parveen.
“Her husband Akram had purchased the victim about five years back from an old man living somewhere on Depalpur Road for Rs50,000,” the officer revealed. Police have arrested Akram. However, they were searching for the old man, he added.
A suspect identified as Manzooran Bibi had bought the other minor girl from a midwife for Rs80,000.
The midwife had taken the child from a Christian couple, the initial investigations revealed. The authorities had yet to search for the parents of the victim to precede the investigations, he added.
The officer raised serious reservations about the role of authorities in cases of sexual violence against children across the country, Kasur in particular.
FIA arrests child ‘pornographer' on Interpol Spain's tip-off
“The local authorities especially police should have been more vigilant after the case of Zainab and Hasnain Khanwala pornography scandal. However, the situation was opposite,” he added. He also complained of non-cooperation by the local police.
However, SHO Saqlain Bukhari denied any such allegations. He said they were taking action according to law. “We also fully cooperated in the operation for recovery of the victims,” he added.
Sexual violence against minors is a serious issue in Pakistan. The issue gained national attention after flashing of child pornography scandal in Hasnain Khanwala village and murder of at least eight girls by a suspect Imran Ali in Kasur.
Despite this abysmal state, the situation is worsening with each passing day. A report by Sahil organisation revealed that child sexual abuse cases in Pakistan had increased from nine cases per day in 2017 to 12 cases per day in the first six months of 2018.
The report named ‘Cruel Numbers', containing data from January to June 2018, has been compiled by Sahil, an NGO working for the protection of children against violence.
School principal in Okara faces charges of filming students having sex
This year from January to June, a total 2,322 child abuse cases were reported in newspapers from all four provinces including Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan. The six-month data showed that out of the total reported cases, 1,298 (56%) of the victims were girls and 1,024 (44%) were boys.
The report, quoting newspaper articles, stated that the major crime categories of the reported cases from the first half of 2018 are 542 case of abduction, 381 cases of sodomy, 360 cases of rape, 236 cases of missing children, 224 cases of attempt of rape, 167 cases of gang sodomy, 112 cases of attempt of sodomy, 92 cases of gang rape and 53 cases of child marriages.
Man kidnaps daughter, 6, to force wife into prostitution
The data also revealed that children in the age brackets of 6-10 and 11-15 are most vulnerable to abuse.
Provincial statistics show that 65% cases were from Punjab, 25% cases from Sindh, 3% cases from Islamabad, 3% cases from K-P, 2% cases from Balochistan, 21 cases from AJK and 2 cases were reported from Gilgit-Baltistan.
Out of the total reported cases, 74% were from rural areas and 26% cases reported from urban areas.
Report statistics also showed that 89% of the cases were registered with the police. In 32 incidents the police refused to register the cases, 17 cases were unregistered with the police and the registration status of 196 cases was not mentioned in newspapers.
The horrific mental health aftermath of child sexual abuse: Jarad Grice shares his story
Rape or sexual assault: what do I do now?
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.”
AN INNOCENCE STOLEN
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.
THE HEALING PROCESS
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.
Addressing Sexual Abuse in Alaska Native Families
EDITOR'S NOTE: Alaska has a sexual assault rate 3 times the national average and a child sex assault rate 6 times the national average.
Steve Huey, North Pacific Union Conference Native ministries director, discusses sexual abuse in Alaska with Tandi Perkins, Alaska Conference director of development.
HUEY: I understand that sexual abuse in Alaska is a major problem. How did you learn first-hand of what women face in this area?
PERKINS: Steve, the best way to answer this is to share a story I heard when traveling around Alaska. One night Mary (a pseudonym), 13 years-of-age, was fast asleep at her family's fish camp, downriver from a tiny village northwest of Fairbanks while a group of adults drank and caroused in the next room. She awoke to someone tugging down her pants, reaching between her legs. She struggled and kicked, and he lumbered out of the room. Mary says she's been grabbed, chased, followed and molested so much in her short life that she's now made it a habit to lock the bedroom door at night and shove a chair under the knob so no one can come in. She'll wait up, trembling, until everyone at a party is passed out before she can comfortably fall asleep. She's learned to avoid being alone with friends' dads, or with grandpas at village potlatches, or with boys at basketball games, who've repeatedly groped her. “It's just random, like, you'll think everything's all normal and then you'll feel something on your backside,” she says. “You just freeze.”
HUEY: Share with us how pervasive sexual assault is in Alaska, particularly within the Alaska Native community.
PERKINS: A report from the Alaska Department of Public Safety says that 54 percent of Alaska's sexual assault victims are Alaska Native, making Alaska Native women almost 10 times more likely than other Alaskans to be victims. It should be noted that although these statistics are remarkable, they are likely conservative as most cases go unreported. Mary never reported the many instances of sexual abuse to her parents — she was afraid of what would happen. When she did tell one of her sisters, the response she received was a shrug and a comment: “It happened to all of us. Just leave it alone.”
HUEY: This is shocking! How does this happen?
PERKINS: It is very difficult to understand the complexities of sexual abuse in Alaska, particularly in bush Alaska. These villages are remote, with little to no police presence. There's also significant trauma across generations and a pattern of victims tragically becoming perpetrators themselves. There's widespread substance abuse. Finally, there is the continued trauma of colonialism, which has upended traditional subsistence lifestyles and disrupted norms in ways that have made this kind of sexual violence more likely to take place.
Based on stories I have heard while visiting some of the native villages, women who are sexually abused are strongly discouraged from naming their abuser. In one village, a young girl was brought into the frontier medical post by her family, for treatment. The forensic nurse on duty asked the girl to name her abuser. She remained silent and stoical. Simultaneous to the girl's treatment, the village elders called the girl's parents, demanding that the perpetrator not be named. In turn, the parents pressured the girl to stay silent. The question of silence is complex across America, but especially as it relates to villages in bush Alaska. Members of these villages rely heavily on collective subsistence hunting and fishing. These tasks are primarily carried out by the men in the villages and when big game (musk ox, whale, and bear) are bagged, the entire village benefits. If a known perpetrator is named, brought to justice, and jailed, the village loses a provider. Women and girls who name the abuser are often shunned and ostracized from village and family social circles. The effects of being sexually abused are manifested through many behavioral outcomes, including suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity, mental instability and physical abuse towards others.
HUEY: What is Arctic Mission Adventure doing to help women in need?
PERKINS: Arctic Mission Adventure, or AMA, is a ministry outreach for bush Alaska. We have several volunteers in place, but I would like share how God led in having a prominent singer/songwriter help raise awareness on abuse. My role in AMA is director of development, and as such, I am tasked with promoting the program throughout Alaska, the North Pacific and across America, as well as raising funds to support this ministry. After traveling to the villages and repeatedly hearing stories of abuse, God put on my heart to use this to reach those that need to hear of His love. Susan Aglukark, a well-known singer and songwriter in Canada who has experienced sexual abuse, shares her story through song and spoken word on how she was able to survive and even thrive after such a harrowing experience. A born-again Christian, she places considerable emphasis on her spiritual foundation. She says: “I know for a fact that if it had not been for God in my life, I would not have been able to take on the changes that have occurred in the last three years of my life.” Long story short, in just a few weeks, we were able to secure Susan to perform the weekend before the Alaska Federation of Natives — the largest annual gathering of Native peoples in Alaska.
The next challenge was finding a venue. Anchorage is a relatively small town, and venues during this time are at a premium. People kept saying to me “Oh, you are going to have a really hard time finding a venue at this late date.” We prayed that God would open doors and He gave us the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on the campus of the University of Alaska. In truth, He also gave me a huge faith challenge because this auditorium seats 900 people! I have only been in Alaska and my position for six months. So, our challenge with trying to schedule an event of this magnitude is simply not having enough time to get the word out to the community and across Alaska. We haven't really had enough time to fundraise and gain sponsorship, or sell tickets to fill 900 seats! But we serve an awesome God! In the last few weeks, doors have opened. We are moving forward in faith that we will be able to cover the cost of the event and sell tickets enough to fill the seats.
HUEY: What do you hope to come out of Susan's performance?
PERKINS: AMA is a faith-based nonprofit with a mission to encourage, empower, and equip village communities through physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental support from resident volunteers. We have identified a need throughout Alaska to raise awareness of and advocacy against sexual abuse. We believe Susan's story provides a spirit of hope and an example of how survivors of sexual abuse can heal enough. “Healed Enough” is a 60-minute speaking and singing presentation by Susan. During the performance, she sings and talks about re-connecting with her Inuit heritage, how the challenges in the early years of her career became the catalysts and how meeting these challenges became her healer.
There are a couple of key things that makes this outreach unique. One, we are striving to bring Susan's story of hope to the people who really need to hear it. We are seeking sponsorships/donations to cover the attendance costs for survivors of sexual abuse who reside in the Anchorage and Mat-Su Valley areas and who can't pay to see Susan. We are working with local shelters to identify these folks. We are also seeking support to livestream, via Facebook live, the performance to as many bush villages as robust internet connections will allow. As such, we have coordinated with workers in Bethel, Togiak, Nome, Selawik, Copper Valley, and others along with Lower 48 Native American communities to promote this night of solidarity and hope.
Finally, part of the proceeds from this event are designated to initiate a pilot program called “Safe Haven” in villages where AMA has workers. This program will partner with state and local programs for training and support that enables our workers to help someone in crisis. Safe Haven provides a temporary place to go, food to eat, and clothes if needed, to get out of a hostile environment and provide resources for longer term help. AMA currently has volunteer workers in Dillingham and Togiak and will reach out to those communities and individuals in need.
HUEY: How can we help with this wonderful event?
PERKINS: We are asking folks in the lower 48 to help us spread the word about this special event! We are inviting you to become an ambassador for the Arctic Mission Adventure event "Healed Enough" by hosting a viewing of the live event in your church and school. We are also seeking sponsors who can provide a free ticket to someone who cannot afford it. For example, $100 will sponsor five people to attend "Healed Enough." Finally, and most importantly, we are asking folks to pray for this event. We have never attempted something this big, and it will take God's hand and blessing to reach those hurting from the trauma of sexual abuse.
Letters: Bring back program to protect children
Bring back program to protect children
Around year 2000, the agency now known as La Piñon Sexual Assault Recovery Services expanded their prevention outreach. One of the programs included the Body Safety presentation for elementary school children.
The curriculum taught medical names of body parts, body autonomy, and what to do if they are being mistreated. Presenters utilized atomically correct puppets and a script written with respect of the age and developmental stage of the audience to be sensitive yet effective. Presenters have noted that children had disclosed instances of abuse after the presentation, creating the opportunity to intervene and stop the violence.
Currently, teachers, school professionals, and students express desire to bring the program back, but the prevention team at La Piñon is unable to do so. In the past year, funding for this program has been completely cut. Children and schools now do not have access to the empowering education that has given children the chance to seek justice for themselves. Oftentimes, children do not tell a trusted adult when they are being abused for many reasons to include being scared, confused, or simply not understanding what is happening. Without it, children go without the basic understanding of the rights they have over their own body. I hope as a community, we can pull together to educate the young about their bodies, their rights, and their power. I also hope that through advocating, donation, lobbying, and public action we can support La Piñon in their fight to end sexual violence. Lastly, I encourage you to extend a hand to the children in the community, educate them, hear them, believe them, and most of all, protect them.
Need more oversight of kids' medication
I am currently an NMSU Social Work student completing my field practicum hours. While on my journey I have found that many children are often being medicated when they are found to have behavioral issues versus going a different route, for example, implementing therapy.
Many children in foster care suffer from trauma, which tends to correlate with the previous home environment, abuse, neglect, poverty, domestic violence, in-utero and in drug exposure. This issue is of great importance to me because children in the foster care system have an extremely high rate of emotional and behavioral disorders and therapy seems to not be a choice of intervention worth trying to implement for these children.
Research has found that New Mexico has one of the highest poly-pharmacy rates. It was also found that psychotropic medications prescribed to children and preschoolers have had a high increase over the last decade. Although these medications can help these children alleviate emotional or behavioral symptoms the secondary side-effects that follow the medication consumption over time can lead to irreversible effects.
I found that New Mexico does not have a Psychotropic Oversight Policy. Thus leaving children in general to be left unmonitored when under the influence of these medications. Medication should not be implemented on a child before exhausting all other approaches to address the issue.
Sex trafficker used violence and drugs to command his child prostitution ring
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.
by STEPHANIE DICKRELL.
Willie Charles Blackmon Jr. of Jackson bought a runaway minor for $500. The 36-year-old recruited other runaway minors.
Then he used a gun, drugs and violence to force them to have sex in exchange for money.
On Thursday, a federal jury following a four-day trial in Jackson found Blackmon guilty of two counts of sex trafficking minors through force, fraud, maintaining and harboring the minors for commercial sex acts, and two counts of advertising and promoting prostitution, according to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze with the FBI in Mississippi.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves will sentence Blackmon at 9 a.m. March 4. He faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison, and fines of up to $1 million.
From July 2014 through March 2016, federal agents and state law enforcement in Mississippi and Louisiana investigated Blackmon's prostitution ring, according to a Justice Department news release. Blackmon rented rooms at local hotels in Jackson and Vicksburg for the minors for days at a time and kept most, if not all, of the money the minors earned from the sex acts, according to the release.
The release cites evidence that Blackmon physically harmed the minors and threatened them by holding a gun to their heads if they did not perform or if they disrespected him. He also provided them drugs.
This case was investigated by the FBI Jackson Division's Child Exploitation Task Force, with assistance from the Mississippi attorney general's office, the FBI New Orleans Child Exploitation Task Force, Clinton Police Department and Ouachita Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff's Office.
The case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a the Justice Department's nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.
The Trump administration is taking bold action to combat the evil of human trafficking
by Ivanka Trump
The International Labor Organization estimates that worldwide, nearly 25 million children and adults of all ages and backgrounds are victims of human trafficking, including forced labor and sex trafficking. Every government in the world has a moral obligation to do all in its power to stop these heinous crimes within its borders.
That is why President Trump took strong action on Thursday to hold accountable those governments that have persistently failed to meet the minimum standards for combating human trafficking in their countries.
Specifically, the president will limit the number of national-interest waivers and restrict certain types of foreign assistance for nearly two dozen governments of countries identified as “Tier 3” by the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report. The report, the world's most comprehensive resource for governmental anti-trafficking efforts, places each country in tiers to highlight best practices and urge greater action to combat human trafficking. Tier 3 countries are those that have neither met the minimum standards nor made a significant effort to adequately identify and protect trafficking victims, punish the traffickers or prevent human trafficking.
The United States is an extraordinarily generous nation, but this administration will no longer use taxpayer dollars to support governments that consistently fail to address trafficking. The most urgent types of assistance to these countries will continue, including humanitarian aid and lifesaving global health programs such as HIV treatment and Ebola preparedness and response. But the new restrictions will hold these governments accountable while providing further incentive for them to live up to their responsibility to end this scourge. The United States will encourage Tier 3 countries to step up efforts to eliminate human trafficking, including the establishment of new laws and national action plans.
President Trump thanked survivors of sex trafficking and the supporters of legislation to fight online trafficking on April 11. (The Washington Post)
The president's directive is the latest in an administration-wide push — including diplomatic, financial, educational, intelligence and law enforcement efforts — to confront this evil.
In his first month in office, the president said he was “prepared to bring the full force and weight of our government” to end human trafficking, and he signed an executive order directing federal law enforcement to prioritize dismantling the criminal organizations behind forced labor, sex trafficking, involuntary servitude and child exploitation.
Following the president's directive, the Justice Department secured a record 499 human trafficking convictions in fiscal 2017, a 14 percent increase over the previous year. The director of national intelligence elevated human trafficking to a top priority for the U.S. intelligence community. Despite a deeply polarized political climate, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act-Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act championed by the White House gained strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill this year, and in April, the president signed into law this landmark legislation to fight online sex trafficking.
The administration is also working to better identify, protect and assist trafficking victims on their paths to safety and recovery. In fiscal 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services identified 13,314 potential victims of human trafficking through local community coalitions, and between July 2016 and June 2017, the Justice Department helped more than 8,000 survivors receive services such as housing, medical care, legal assistance, advocacy and case management.
Last month, President Trump hosted at the White House the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons , marking the first time a president had participated in this meeting. More than 15 federal agencies, along with members of Congress, pledged to take additional action to address human trafficking.
The Trump administration is working on many other fronts in this effort. It has committed more than $45 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, a public-private partnership that catalyzes global efforts to remove the economic incentives behind these horrific crimes. The administration is also moving to modernize data collection and analysis. Only with complete data and timely analysis can we identify criminal actors and provide comprehensive services to victims.
The president's insistence on negotiating smarter trade deals has included a special focus on strengthening the obligations of U.S. trading partners to set fair labor standards and keep supply chains free of goods produced by forced labor. The recently announced United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement sets the bar high for future trade negotiations, reinforcing the Fosta-Sesta Act and ensuring U.S. workers won't have to compete with foreign competitors who profit from forced labor.
Finally, the Trump administration, in collaboration with the resilient survivors who serve on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking , is prioritizing efforts to ensure law enforcement, immigration authorities and customs officials have the training and resources to identify victims of trafficking at U.S. ports of entry and in local communities.
President Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionist movement gave America a unique inheritance: a principled commitment to fight slavery in all its pernicious forms. This administration is continuing the fight to end modern slavery and using every tool at its disposal to achieve that critical goal.
Locally, there are ways to fight sexual exploitation, trafficking
by Patrick Henry
“Sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere; regardless of age, ethnicity, economic status, lifestyle, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or gender."
These words, from the “Overview” section of the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center website (cmsac.org), provided the context for a presentation I heard in late October by Peggy LaDue, the center's executive director.
The focus of the presentation was human trafficking and prostitution. The St. Cloud area is in many ways a “regional center.” I learned we are identified by survivors and local law enforcement as a “training hub” for prostitution, and that CMSAC serves 70-100 victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking each year.
At LaDue's suggestion, I spoke with Rebecca Kotz, the center's trafficking services coordinator. Kotz began to get involved in advocacy while in college when she became aware of how pervasive sexual violence is.
“What do you most want my readers to know?” I asked her.
First, forget what you've “learned” from movies.
“Pretty Woman” (1990) glamorizes and normalizes the sex industry. Nobody “forces” Vivian Ward into the relationship with wealthy businessman Edward Lewis, and she and Lewis end up living "happily ever after.” Media portrayals of prostitution and the sex industry often depict women who choose the life, make lots of money and say they feel “empowered.”
When Kotz started working with women in the sex industry, she discovered the truth is entirely different. In nearly every case it's not choice, not lucrative and in no way empowering. It's exploitation.
In “Taken” (2008), former CIA agent Bryan Mills tracks down his teenage daughter Kim and her friend Amanda. Albanian sex traffickers kidnapped them while they were in France on vacation. Such things happen, but they are uncommon.
Trafficking, including in our area, rarely involves random abductions or stranger kidnappings. The vast majority of victims/survivors are sold and bought by people much closer to home. Traffickers are usually people they know, trust, care about, even love —such as boyfriends, husbands, friends, family members and respected authority figures.
So: Despite what you see on the screen, prostitution is not glamorous and most trafficking is not arbitrary.
Second, judgment is not warranted and serves no purpose.
Fortunately, Minnesota has a Safe Harbor law, under which any Minnesota youth age 17 or younger who engage in (regardless of whether they agree to it or are forced) the exchange of sexual activity for money or “something of value” is considered a crime victim, and will not face prostitution-related charges. Youth age 24 and younger are eligible for safe housing, advocacy, counseling and support services.
The partial decriminalization model (commonly known as the "Nordic Model”) is the legal analog to moral non-judgmentalism. This paradigm is advocated by survivors of the sex industry and prostitution — it is a social justice-based approach that doesn't blame the victim, offers support services and holds exploiters accountable.
In nearly all cases, the person being prostituted or trafficked, whatever their age, is on the edge of survival. The promise of “something of value” — money, a place to stay, food, clothes, rent, transportation, drugs, alcohol, medication — is literally irresistible.
When you have to survive, you're going to agree to things you don't want to do. If I really understand “why people do that,” my sense of superiority evaporates. And I realize that their seeking help requires an almost superhuman bravery.
So: Survivors aren't subject to my appraisal. Admiration, not verdict, is appropriate.
Third, pornography is far more prevalent and way more insidious than is commonly thought.
Pornography is full of violence. Women are objectified and degraded. For too many men, pornography has become sex education. What CMSAC hears over and over again from men who have purchased prostitution is their desire to imitate what they have seen onscreen.
The common demographic is a white middle- to upper-class man with disposable income, who pays someone who can't say no to the acts with which pornography has filled his imagination. Buyers can be more violent than traffickers.
The main reason there is trafficking and prostitution is that many men are raised to believe they are entitled to sex, and if they pay for it it's OK. Demand is what drives any kind of product. In this case, the “product” is women and children, and it's a brilliant business plan. The trafficker or pimp has a product that can be used over and over again, and pornography is free advertising.
So: Pornography feasts on — and feeds — sexism, rape culture and sexual objectification.
I asked Kotz: When you hear “What can I do to help?” what do you say?
First, parents: Overcome your discomfort in talking to your kids about sex and healthy relationships, and about the harm of pornography. You don't want the internet to be their sex educator, but if you're silent, it will be.
Second, professionals in all lines of work: Learn to recognize red flags and how to work with survivors.
Third, everyone: Learn the truth; volunteer with CMSAC (there's thorough training) and donate supplies and/or money. The center's services are free. Your gift can help keep it that way.
“Sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere.” That means us, and it means Central Minnesota.
How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime
by JULIE K. BROWN
A decade before #MeToo, a multimillionaire sex offender from Florida got the ultimate break.
On a muggy October morning in 2007, Miami's top federal prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, had a breakfast appointment with a former colleague, Washington, D.C., attorney Jay Lefkowitz.
It was an unusual meeting for the then-38-year-old prosecutor, a rising Republican star who had served in several White House posts before being named U.S. attorney in Miami by President George W. Bush.
Instead of meeting at the prosecutor's Miami headquarters, the two men — both with professional roots in the prestigious Washington law firm of Kirkland & Ellis — convened at the Marriott in West Palm Beach, about 70 miles away. For Lefkowitz, 44, a U.S. special envoy to North Korea and corporate lawyer, the meeting was critical.
His client, Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of young female recruiters — to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day, the Town of Palm Beach police found.
Facing a 53-page federal indictment, Epstein could have ended up in federal prison for the rest of his life.
But on the morning of the breakfast meeting, a deal was struck — an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein's crimes and the number of people involved.
Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein's sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.
The pact required Epstein to plead guilty to two prostitution charges in state court. Epstein and four of his accomplices named in the agreement received immunity from all federal criminal charges. But even more unusual, the deal included wording that granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators'' who were also involved in Epstein's crimes. These accomplices or participants were not identified in the agreement, leaving it open to interpretation whether it possibly referred to other influential people who were having sex with underage girls at Epstein's various homes or on his plane.
As part of the arrangement, Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls — or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it.
This is the story of how Epstein, bolstered by unlimited funds and represented by a powerhouse legal team, was able to manipulate the criminal justice system, and how his accusers, still traumatized by their pasts, believe they were betrayed by the very prosecutors who pledged to protect them.
“I don't think anyone has been told the truth about what Jeffrey Epstein did,'' said one of Epstein's victims, Michelle Licata, now 30. “He ruined my life and a lot of girls' lives. People need to know what he did and why he wasn't prosecuted so it never happens again.”
Now President Trump's secretary of labor, Acosta, 49, oversees a massive federal agency that provides oversight of the country's labor laws, including human trafficking. Until he was reported to be eliminated on Thursday, a day after this story posted online, Acosta also had been included on lists of possible replacements for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned under pressure earlier this month.
Acosta did not respond to numerous requests for an interview or answer queries through email.
But court records reveal details of the negotiations and the role that Acosta would play in arranging the deal, which scuttled the federal probe into a possible international sex trafficking operation. Among other things, Acosta allowed Epstein's lawyers unusual freedoms in dictating the terms of the non-prosecution agreement.
“The damage that happened in this case is unconscionable,” said Bradley Edwards, a former state prosecutor who represents some of Epstein's victims. “How in the world, do you, the U.S. attorney, engage in a negotiation with a criminal defendant, basically allowing that criminal defendant to write up the agreement?”
As a result, neither the victims — nor even the judge — would know how many girls Epstein allegedly sexually abused between 2001 and 2005, when his underage sex activities were first uncovered by police. Police referred the case to the FBI a year later, when they began to suspect that their investigation was being undermined by the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office.
NOT A ‘HE SAID, SHE SAID'
“This was not a ‘he said, she said' situation. This was 50-something ‘shes' and one ‘he' — and the ‘shes' all basically told the same story,'' said retired Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter, who supervised the police probe.
More than a decade later, at a time when Olympic gymnasts and Hollywood actresses have become a catalyst for a cultural reckoning about sexual abuse, Epstein's victims have all but been forgotten.
The women — now in their late 20s and early 30s — are still fighting for an elusive justice that even the passage of time has not made right.
Like other victims of sexual abuse, they believe they've been silenced by a criminal justice system that stubbornly fails to hold Epstein and other wealthy and powerful men accountable.
“Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,'' said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein.
Over the past year, the Miami Herald examined a decade's worth of court documents, lawsuits, witness depositions and newly released FBI documents. Key people involved in the investigation — most of whom have never spoken before — were also interviewed. The Herald also obtained new records, including the full unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation and witness statements that had been kept under seal.
The Herald learned that, as part of the plea deal, Epstein provided what the government called “valuable consideration” for unspecified information he supplied to federal investigators. While the documents obtained by the Herald don't detail what the information was, Epstein's sex crime case happened just as the country's subprime mortgage market collapsed, ushering in the 2008 global financial crisis.
Records show that Epstein was a key federal witness in the criminal prosecution of two prominent executives with Bear Stearns, the global investment brokerage that failed in 2008, who were accused of corporate securities fraud. Epstein was one of the largest investors in the hedge fund managed by the executives, who were later acquitted. It is not known what role, if any, the case played in Epstein's plea negotiations.
The Herald also identified about 80 women who say they were molested or otherwise sexually abused by Epstein from 2001 to 2006. About 60 of them were located — now scattered around the country and abroad. Eight of them agreed to be interviewed, on or off the record. Four of them were willing to speak on video.
The women are now mothers, wives, nurses, bartenders, Realtors, hairdressers and teachers. One is a Hollywood actress. Several have grappled with trauma, depression and addiction. Some have served time in prison.
A few did not survive. One young woman was found dead last year in a rundown motel in West Palm Beach. She overdosed on heroin and left behind a young son.
As part of Epstein's agreement, he was required to register as a sex offender, and pay restitution to the three dozen victims identified by the FBI. In many cases, the confidential financial settlements came only after Epstein's attorneys exposed every dark corner of their lives in a scorched-earth effort to portray the girls as gold diggers.
“You beat yourself up mentally and physically,'' said Jena-Lisa Jones, 30, who said Epstein molested her when she was 14. “You can't ever stop your thoughts. A word can trigger something. For me, it is the word ‘pure' because he called me ‘pure' in that room and then I remember what he did to me in that room.''
Now, more than a decade later, two unrelated civil lawsuits — one set for trial on Dec. 4 — could reveal more about Epstein's crimes. The Dec. 4 case, in Palm Beach County state court, involves Epstein and Edwards, whom Epstein had accused of legal misdeeds in representing several victims. The case is noteworthy because it will mark the first time that Epstein's victims will have their day in court, and several of them are scheduled to testify.
A second lawsuit, known as the federal Crime Victims' Rights suit, is still pending in South Florida after a decade of legal jousting. It seeks to invalidate the non-prosecution agreement in hopes of sending Epstein to federal prison. Wild, who has never spoken publicly until now, is Jane Doe No. 1 in “Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2 vs. the United States of America,” a federal lawsuit that alleges Epstein's federal non-prosecution agreement was illegal.
Federal prosecutors, including Acosta, not only broke the law, the women contend in court documents, but they conspired with Epstein and his lawyers to circumvent public scrutiny and deceive his victims in violation of the Crime Victims' Rights Act. The law assigns victims a series of rights, including the right of notice of any court proceedings and the opportunity to appear at sentencing.
“As soon as that deal was signed, they silenced my voice and the voices of all of Jeffrey Epstein's other victims,'' said Wild, now 31. “This case is about justice, not just for us, but for other victims who aren't Olympic stars or Hollywood stars.''
In court papers, federal prosecutors have argued that they did not violate the Crime Victims' Rights Act because no federal charges were ever filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, an argument that was later dismissed by the judge.
Despite substantial physical evidence and multiple witnesses backing up the girls' stories, the secret deal allowed Epstein to enter guilty pleas to two felony prostitution charges. Epstein admitted to committing only one offense against one underage girl, who was labeled a prostitute, even though she was 14, which is well under the age of consent — 18 in Florida.
“She was taken advantage of twice — first by Epstein, and then by the criminal justice system that labeled a 14-year-old girl as a prostitute,'' said Spencer Kuvin, the lawyer who represented the girl.
“It's just outrageous how they minimized his crimes and devalued his victims by calling them prostitutes,'' said Yasmin Vafa, a human rights attorney and executive director of Rights4Girls, which is working to end the sexual exploitation of girls and young women.
“There is no such thing as a child prostitute. Under federal law, it's called child sex trafficking — whether Epstein pimped them out to others or not. It's still a commercial sex act — and he could have been jailed for the rest of his life under federal law,” she said.
It would be easy to dismiss the Epstein case as another example of how there are two systems of justice in America, one for the rich and one for the poor. But a thorough analysis of the case tells a far more troubling story.
A close look at the trove of letters and emails contained in court records provides a window into the plea negotiations, revealing an unusual level of collaboration between federal prosecutors and Epstein's legal team that even government lawyers, in recent court documents, admitted was unorthodox.
Acosta, in 2011, would explain that he was unduly pressured by Epstein's heavy-hitting lawyers — Lefkowitz, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, Gerald Lefcourt, and Kenneth Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton's sexual liaisons with Monica Lewinsky.
‘AVOID THE PRESS' PLAN
That included keeping the deal from Epstein's victims, emails show.
“Thank you for the commitment you made to me during our Oct. 12 meeting,'' Lefkowitz wrote in a letter to Acosta after their breakfast meeting in West Palm Beach. He added that he was hopeful that Acosta would abide by a promise to keep the deal confidential.
“You ... assured me that your office would not ... contact any of the identified individuals, potential witnesses or potential civil claimants and the respective counsel in this matter,'' Lefkowitz wrote.
In email after email, Acosta and the lead federal prosecutor, A. Marie Villafaña, acquiesced to Epstein's legal team's demands, which often focused on ways to limit the scandal by shutting out his victims and the media, including suggesting that the charges be filed in Miami, instead of Palm Beach, where Epstein's victims lived.
“On an ‘avoid the press' note ... I can file the charge in district court in Miami which will hopefully cut the press coverage significantly. Do you want to check that out?'' Villafaña wrote to Lefkowitz in a September 2007 email.
Federal prosecutors identified 36 underage victims, but none of those victims appeared at his sentencing on June 30, 2008, in state court in Palm Beach County. Most of them heard about it on the news — and even then they didn't understand what had happened to the federal probe that they'd been assured was ongoing.
Edwards filed an emergency motion in federal court to block the non-prosecution agreement, but by the time the agreement was unsealed — over a year later — Epstein had already served his sentence and been released from jail.
“The conspiracy between the government and Epstein was really ‘let's figure out a way to make the whole thing go away as quietly as possible,' '' said Edwards, who represents Wild and Jane Doe No. 2, who declined to comment for this story.
“In never consulting with the victims, and keeping it secret, it showed that someone with money can buy his way out of anything.''
It was far from the last time Epstein would receive VIP handling. Unlike other convicted sex offenders, Epstein didn't face the kind of rough justice that child sex offenders do in Florida state prisons. Instead of being sent to state prison, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail. And rather than having him sit in a cell most of the day, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office allowed Epstein work release privileges, which enabled him to leave the jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day, to go to a comfortable office that Epstein had set up in West Palm Beach. This was granted despite explicit sheriff's department rules stating that sex offenders don't qualify for work release.
The sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, would not answer questions, submitted by the Miami Herald, about Epstein's work release.
Neither Epstein nor his lead attorney, Jack Goldberger, responded to multiple requests for comment for this story. During depositions taken as part of two dozen lawsuits filed against him by his victims, Epstein has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, in one instance doing so more than 200 times.
In the past, his lawyers have said that the girls lied about their ages, that their stories were exaggerated or untrue and that they were unreliable witnesses prone to drug use.
In 2011, Epstein petitioned to have his sex offender status reduced in New York, where he has a home and is required to register every 90 days. In New York, he is classified as a level 3 offender — the highest safety risk because of his likelihood to re-offend.
A prosecutor under New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance argued on Epstein's behalf, telling New York Supreme Court Judge Ruth Pickholtz that the Florida case never led to an indictment and that his underage victims failed to cooperate in the case. Pickholtz, however, denied the petition, expressing astonishment that a New York prosecutor would make such a request on behalf of a serial sex offender accused of molesting so many girls.
“I have to tell you, I'm a little overwhelmed because I have never seen a prosecutor's office do anything like this. I have done so many [sex offender registration hearings] much less troubling than this one where the [prosecutor] would never make a downward argument like this,'' she said.
THE HOUSE ON EL BRILLO
The women who went to Jeffrey Epstein's mansion as girls tend to divide their lives into two parts: life before Jeffrey and life after Jeffrey.
Before she met Epstein, Courtney Wild was captain of the cheerleading squad, first trumpet in the band and an A-student at Lake Worth Middle School.
After she met Epstein, she was a stripper, a drug addict and an inmate at Gadsden Correctional Institution in Florida's Panhandle.
Wild still had braces on her teeth when she was introduced to him in 2002 at the age of 14.
She was fair, petite and slender, blonde and blue-eyed. Wild, who later helped recruit other girls, said Epstein preferred girls who were white, appeared prepubescent and those who were easy to manipulate into going further each time.
“By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years,” said Wild, who was released from prison in October after serving three years on drug charges.
The girls — mostly 13 to 16 — were lured to his pink waterfront mansion by Wild and other girls, who went to malls, house parties and other places where girls congregated, and told recruits that they could earn $200 to $300 to give a man — Epstein — a massage, according to an unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation obtained by the Herald.
The lead Palm Beach police detective on the case, Joseph Recarey, said Epstein's operation worked like a sexual pyramid scheme.
“The common interview with a girl went like this: ‘I was brought there by so and so. I didn't feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn't feel comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid,' '' Recarey said.
During the massage sessions, Recarey said Epstein would molest the girls, paying them premiums for engaging in oral sex and intercourse, and offering them a further bounty to find him more girls.
Recarey, in his first interview about the case, said the evidence the department collected to support the girls' stories was overwhelming, including phone call records, copies of written phone messages from the girls found in Epstein's trash and Epstein's flight logs, which showed his private plane in Palm Beach on the days the girls were scheduled to give him massages.
Epstein could be a generous benefactor, Recarey said, buying his favored girls gifts. He might rent a car for a young girl to make it more convenient for her to stop by and cater to him. Once, he sent a bucket of roses to the local high school after one of his girls starred in a stage production. The floral-delivery instructions and a report card for one of the girls were discovered in a search of his mansion and trash. Police also obtained receipts for the rental cars and gifts, Recarey said.
Epstein counseled the girls about their schooling, and told them he would help them get into college, modeling school, fashion design or acting. At least two of Epstein's victims told police that they were in love with him, according to the police report.
The police report shows how uncannily consistent the girls' stories were — right down to their detailed descriptions of Epstein's genitalia.
“We had victims who didn't know each other, never met each other and they all basically independently told the same story,'' said Reiter, the retired Palm Beach police chief.
Reiter, also speaking for the first time, said detectives were astonished by the sheer volume of young girls coming and going from his house, the frequency — sometimes several in the same day — and the young ages of the girls.
“It started out to give a man a back rub, but in many cases it turned into something far worse than that, elevated to a serious crime, in some cases sexual batteries,'' he said.
Most of the girls said they arrived by car or taxi, and entered the side door, where they were led into a kitchen by a female staff assistant named Sarah Kellen, the report said. A chef might prepare them a meal or offer them cereal. The girls — most from local schools — would then ascend a staircase off the kitchen, up to a large master bedroom and bath.
They were met by Epstein, clad in a towel. He would select a lotion from an array lined up on a table, then lie facedown on a massage table, instruct the girl to strip partially or fully, and direct them to massage his feet and backside. Then he would turn over and have them massage his chest, often instructing them to pinch his nipples, while he masturbated, according to the police report.
At times, if emboldened, he would try to penetrate them with his fingers or use a vibrator on them. He would go as far as the girls were willing to let him, including intercourse, according to police documents. Sometimes he would instruct a young woman he described as his Yugoslavian sex slave, Nadia Marcinkova, who was over 18, to join in, the girls told Recarey. Epstein often took photographs of the girls having sex and displayed them around the house, the detective said.
Once sexually gratified, Epstein would take a shower in his massive bathroom, which the girls described as having a large shower and a hot pink and mint green sofa.
Kellen (now Vickers) and Marcinkova, through their attorneys, declined to comment for this story.
One girl told police that she was approached by an Epstein recruiter when she was 16, and was working at the Wellington mall. Over the course of more than a year, she went to Epstein's house hundreds of times, she said. The girl tearfully told Recarey that she often had sex with Marcinkova — who employed strap-on dildos and other toys — while Epstein watched and choreographed her moves to please himself, according to the police report. Often times, she said, she was so sore after the encounters that she could barely walk, the police report said.
But she said she was firm about not wanting to have intercourse with Epstein. One day, however, the girl said that Epstein, unable to control himself, held her down on a massage table and penetrated her, the police report said. The girl, who was 16 or 17 at the time, said that Epstein apologized and paid her $1,000, the police report said.
Most of the girls came from disadvantaged families, single-parent homes or foster care. Some had experienced troubles that belied their ages: They had parents and friends who committed suicide; mothers abused by husbands and boyfriends; fathers who molested and beat them. One girl had watched her stepfather strangle her 8-year-old stepbrother, according to court records obtained by the Herald.
Many of the girls were one step away from homelessness.
“We were stupid, poor children,'' said one woman, who did not want to be named because she never told anyone about Epstein. At the time, she said, she was 14 and a high school freshman.
“We just wanted money for school clothes, for shoes. I remember wearing shoes too tight for three years in a row. We had no family and no guidance, and we were told that we were going to just have to sit in a room topless and he was going to just look at us. It sounded so simple, and was going to be easy money for just sitting there.”
The woman, who went to Epstein's home multiple times, said Epstein didn't like her because her breasts were too big. The last time she went, she said, one girl came out crying and they were instructed to leave the house and had to pay for their own cab home.
Some girls told police they were coached by their peer recruiters to lie to Epstein about their ages and say they were 18. Epstein's legal team would later claim that even if the girls were under 18, there was no way he could have known. However, under Florida law, ignorance of a sex partner's age is not a defense for having sex with a minor.
Wild, who worked for Epstein until she was 21, said he was well aware of their tender ages — because he demanded they be young.
“He told me he wanted them as young as I could find them,'' she said, explaining that as she grew older and had less access to young girls, Epstein got increasingly angry with her inability to find him the young girls he desired.
“If I had a girl to bring him at breakfast, lunch and dinner, then that's how many times I would go a day. He wanted as many girls as I could get him. It was never enough.''
THE PYRAMID CRUMBLES
Epstein's scheme first began to unravel in March 2005, when the parents of a 14-year-old girl told Palm Beach police that she had been molested by Epstein at his mansion. The girl reluctantly confessed that she had been brought there by two other girls, and those girls pointed to two more girls who had been there.
By the time detectives tracked down one victim, there were two and three more to find. Soon there were dozens.
“We didn't know where the victims would ever end,” Reiter said.
Eventually, the girls told them about still other girls and young women they had seen at Epstein's house, many of whom didn't speak English, Recarey said. That led Recarey to suspect that Epstein's exploits weren't just confined to Palm Beach. Police obtained the flight logs for his private plane, and found female names and initials among the list of people who flew on the aircraft — including the names of some famous and powerful people who had also been passengers, Recarey said.
A newly released FBI report shows that at the time the non-prosecution deal was executed, the agency was interviewing witnesses and victims “from across the United States.” The probe stretched from Florida to New York and New Mexico, records show. The report was released by the FBI in response to a lawsuit filed by Radar Online and was made available on the bureau's website after the Miami Herald and other news organizations submitted requests, said Daniel Novack, the lawyer who filed the Freedom of Information Act case pro bono.
One lawsuit, still pending in New York, alleges that Epstein used an international modeling agency to recruit girls as young as 13 from Europe, Ecuador and Brazil. The girls lived in a New York building owned by Epstein, who paid for their visas, according to the sworn statement of Maritza Vasquez, the one-time bookkeeper for Mc2, the modeling agency.
Mike Fisten, a former Miami-Dade police sergeant who was also a homicide investigator and a member of the FBI Organized Crime Task Force, said the FBI had enough evidence to put Epstein away for a long time but was overruled by Acosta. Some of the agents involved in the case were disappointed by Acosta's bowing to pressure from Epstein's lawyers, he said.
“The day that a sitting U.S. attorney is afraid of a lawyer or afraid of a defendant is a very sad day in this country,'' said Fisten, now a private investigator for Edwards.
Now, a complex web of litigation could reveal more about Epstein's crimes. A lawsuit, set for trial Dec. 4 in Palm Beach County, involves the notorious convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, in whose law firm Edwards once worked.
In 2009, Epstein sued Edwards, alleging that Edwards was involved with Rothstein and was using the girls' civil lawsuits to perpetuate Rothstein's massive Ponzi operation. But Rothstein said Edwards didn't know about the scheme, and Epstein dropped the lawsuit.
Edwards countersued for malicious prosecution, arguing that Epstein sued him to retaliate for his aggressive representation of Epstein's victims.
Several women who went to Epstein's home as underage girls are scheduled to testify against him for the first time.
Florida state Sen. Lauren Book, a child sex abuse survivor who has lobbied for tough sex offender laws, said Epstein's case should serve as a tipping point for criminal cases involving sex crimes against children.
“Where is the righteous indignation for these women? Where are the protectors? Who is banging down the doors of the secretary of labor, or the judge or the sheriff's office in Palm Beach County, demanding justice and demanding the right to be heard?'' Book asked.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Villafaña, in court papers, said that prosecutors used their “best efforts'' to comply with the Crime Victims' Rights Act, but exercised their “prosecutorial discretion'' when they chose not to notify the victims. The reasoning went like this: The non-prosecution deal had a restitution clause that provided the girls a chance to seek compensation from Epstein. Had the deal fallen through, necessitating a trial, Epstein's lawyers might have used the prior restitution clause to undermine the girls' credibility as witnesses, by claiming they had exaggerated Epstein's behavior in hopes of cashing in.
Acosta has never fully explained why he felt it was in the best interests of the underage girls — and their parents — for him to keep the agreement sealed. Or why the FBI investigation was closed even as, recently released documents show, the case was yielding more victims and evidence of a possible sex-trafficking conspiracy beyond Palm Beach.
Upon his nomination by Trump as labor secretary in 2017, Acosta was questioned about the Epstein case during a Senate confirmation hearing.
“At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within a prosecutor's office decided that a plea that guarantees someone goes to jail, that guarantees he register [as a sex offender] generally and guarantees other outcomes, is a good thing,'' Acosta said of his decision to not prosecute Epstein federally.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in opposing Acosta for labor secretary, noted that “his handling of a case involving sex trafficking of underage girls when he was a U.S. attorney suggests he won't put the interests of workers and everyday people ahead of the powerful and well-connected.''
Marci Hamilton, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who is one of the nation's leading advocates for reforming laws involving sex crimes against children, said what Acosta and other prosecutors did is similar to what the Catholic Church did to protect pedophile priests.
“The real crime with the Catholic priests was the way they covered it up and shielded the priests,'' Hamilton said. “The orchestration of power by men only is protected as long as everybody agrees to keep it secret. This is a story the world needs to hear.''
This article has been updated to acknowledge Radar Online's role in securing the release of FBI documents on Jeffrey Epstein.
Child Predators - "The Child Predator Report"
Exposing the Partnership between Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation and Men Who Sexually Abuse Underage Girls
by Mark Crutcher
NOTE: Full footnotes and annotation are available on original web page.
For several years Life Dynamics has been conducting an investigation into the issue of teen pregnancy. What we have found can only be described as sickening. Underage girls, some as young as 10 years old, are being sexually exploited by adult men in numbers that are unprecedented in American history.
According to the most reliable studies, among girls 15 and younger who become pregnant, between 60 and 80 percent of them are impregnated by adult men.
We have also uncovered data showing that as the age of the victim goes down, the age of the perpetrator goes up.
In America today, we have reached the point where a junior high school girl is more likely to become pregnant by an adult than by someone close to her own age.
One study concluded that the average age of men who father children with girls under 14 is now higher than the average age of men who father children with 18-year-olds.
By almost any standard, our country is experiencing an epidemic of child sexual abuse. In this report you will see that the driving force behind this tragedy is the fact that men who prey on underage girls have powerful national organizations that are willing to harbor them. Our investigation has uncovered irrefutable evidence that both Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation – often operating on taxpayer dollars – knowingly conceal these crimes while aiding and abetting the sexual predators who commit them.
CONSEQUENCES & CAUSES
When underage girls become sexually involved with adult men they are exposed to a devastating array of physical and emotional injuries. These illicit relationships set them up to be life-long victims who tend to view their self-worth solely in terms of sex.
When compared to girls who are sexually active with boys near their own age, these girls are more likely to:
- have multiple sex partners
- drop out of school
- engage in dangerous sexual behaviors
- become pregnant
- run away from home
- be lured into prostitution
- abuse drugs or alcohol
- end up on welfare
- be estranged from friends and family
- be in physically abusive relationships
- become divorced
Other data shows that among sexually active girls between 11 and 13, those who are having sexual relationships with men more than five years older than themselves are significantly more likely to attempt suicide.
Another consequence is that underage girls involved with adult men suffer from sexually transmitted diseases at a far higher rate than girls having sex with boys close to their own age. In fact, studies now show that the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in America is found among females ages 15 to 19, and that the overwhelming majority of these girls contracted these diseases from adult males.
This epidemic of child sexual abuse is being driven by several factors, one of which is technology. The image most people have of men who prey on underage girls is that of a pervert in a trench coat lurking around a school playground. The reality is, today that pervert is far more likely to be lurking around an Internet chat room. For men who prey on young girls, technology is making it much easier for them to acquire victims, while dramatically reducing the chances they will be caught.
Police departments nationwide are now saying that child molesters trolling the Internet for underage girls is a major problem, and they don't have the budgets or manpower to keep up.
Another factor in this epidemic is that young girls simply have more contact with unrelated adult males than ever before. Because of America's high divorce rate, a large number of minor girls live in homes with either stepfathers or the boyfriends of their mothers. This is compounded by the fact that the majority of these moms work outside the home meaning that their daughters have substantially more unsupervised time than did girls in previous generations.
Absent fathers also play another important role. When a sexual predator targets a girl with no father at home, he knows two things. First, he can count on his victim having a heightened need for adult male attention. Second, the one person the perpetrator has the most reason to fear – the victim's father – is generally not in the picture.
Even girls who live in intact families with their biological fathers or in homes with caring and involved stepfathers are not immune from becoming the targets of sexual predators.
Children are much more involved in activities outside their homes and schools than ever before, and our research indicates that girls who are sexually exploited by adult men very often meet their abuser as a result of one of these activities.
There are many other factors that contribute to this epidemic, but the basic problem is that we live in a sex-obsessed culture in which girls are more vulnerable to sexual predators than at any time in our nation's history. Any parent who thinks their daughter is not a potential victim is fooling themselves. The data is absolutely clear that victims are black and white, rich and poor, urban, rural and suburban and that they come from every cultural and socio-economic background.
In all 50 states, sexual activity with underage children is illegal. Also, every state mandates that if a healthcare worker has reason to suspect that an underage girl is being sexually abused, they are required by law to report that information to a designated law enforcement or child protective services agency. That agency is then responsible to investigate the possibility that the child may be the victim of sexual abuse or statutory rape.
Because the pregnancy of an underage girl is evidence that she is the victim of sexual abuse, any healthcare worker who has contact with a pregnant underage girl has an obligation to initiate a report to the state.
The important point here is that the healthcare worker is required to report the incident, not investigate it. The responsibility of determining whether or not the circumstances that led to this girl's pregnancy are criminal lies solely with the state agency to which the report is mandated.
Additionally, the fact that a minor girl may be lawfully allowed to have an abortion or secure birth control without her parents being informed is irrelevant. The law still mandates reporting of the sexual activity to the state.
With the information we now have, it is simply undeniable that Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation have made a conscious decision to conceal the sexual exploitation of children and protect the men who commit these crimes.
We have uncovered an overwhelming body of statistical evidence showing that the rate at which these two organizations fail to comply with mandatory reporting laws is in excess of 90 percent. This data was obtained from government sources, medical journals, independent researchers and the abortion industry itself.
To test this conclusion we conducted a covert survey in which we called over 800 Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation facilities across the country. Our caller portrayed a 13-year-old girl who was pregnant by her 22-year-old boyfriend. Her story was that she wanted an abortion because she and her boyfriend did not want her parents to find out about the sexual relationship. In every call the ages of the girl and her boyfriend were made perfectly clear. It was also made clear that the motivation for the abortion was to conceal this illicit sexual activity from the girl's parents and the authorities. Additionally, our caller never said a single thing that might suggest that her parents would become abusive if they discovered her sexual activity.
The results of this survey were appalling. Even though many of these clinic workers openly acknowledged to our caller that this situation was illegal and that they were required to report it to the state, the overwhelming majority readily agreed to conceal this illegal sexual activity.
Some employees of these organizations even coached our caller on how to avoid detection, how to circumvent parental involvement laws and what to say or not say when she came to the clinic. In a significant number of instances she was encouraged to lie about – or conceal – her age or her boyfriend's age or to give false names.
One of the clinic representatives who acknowledged that she was required by state law to inform at least one of our caller's parents in writing that their daughter was seeking an abortion, went on to advise our caller that the best way to hide this from her parents was to use a fictitious address when she checked-in for her abortion.
During these calls it was not uncommon for the Planned Parenthood or National Abortion Federation representative to warn our caller that if someone were to find out about this situation her boyfriend could go to jail. In those situations it was unmistakable that our caller was being instructed to be more careful about what information she gave out and to whom. It was also not uncommon for the employee to interrupt our caller when she started talking about her age or the age of her boyfriend. On those occasions the obvious indication was that the employee did not want to hear this information.
In other calls the facility employee advised our caller that she had already provided too much information for them to be able to help her. In those instances she would often be given the number of another family planning facility and encouraged to tell a different story when she called there. At times, this advice was quite specific with the employee telling her exactly what to say – or not say – to the people she talked to at the second facility.
In states requiring that parents be informed when their underage daughters seek abortions, the law allows those girls to have abortions without their parents being notified if they get permission from a state judge. This is called a judicial bypass. During our calls to states with parental involvement legislation in place our caller was often informed about this option while also being instructed not to voluntarily tell the judge about the age of her boyfriend. In some instances these employees even encouraged her to lie to the judge if specifically asked for that information. Other employees advised her that neighboring states have no parental involvement requirements and that if she went there and either concealed or lied about the age issue, she would have no problem getting a secret abortion. In other words, these people were suggesting to a minor girl that she travel outside the state in order to cover up a crime that was being committed against her.
In some calls she was given instructions on how to circumvent the parental involvement requirement altogether, even to the point of suggesting that she bring someone along to sign for her who looked old enough to impersonate one of her parents. In one particularly egregious case, the clinic worker lamented the fact that because our caller's boyfriend was only 22 he wouldn't look old enough to pass as her father. She went on to suggest that our caller look for an older person to help her out. When our caller said her boyfriend had a 50-year-old uncle who would do it, the employee said that would be okay as long as the uncle was instructed to not say anything while at the clinic to indicate he was not really her father. The employee stated that the uncle could even drop by, sign the papers, and leave before she actually came in for the abortion, and that the clinic's notary public would notarize the uncle's signature for the state's required documentation – despite knowing that it was a fraudulent representation.
In a number of cases the employee would not react at all to the age issue, causing us to question whether it had registered with them or not. At that point our caller would simply ask outright if her age or her boyfriend's age was a problem. Generally what she got was a very cavalier “wink and nod” type of response.
Sometimes she would be told that, technically speaking, the clinic was required to report this activity to the state but that if the caller would either lie about her age or just keep her mouth shut when she came in for her abortion, no one would ask any questions. Several times she was told that the facility had no interest in the ages of the parties involved or that they do not verify ages or check IDs and would accept whatever she told them at face value. One employee went so far as to tell her that if she came in with the cash she could be any age she wanted to be.
Unfortunately, during these calls, responses like those described here were neither rare nor isolated. In the final analysis, virtually every Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation facility we contacted was willing to illegally conceal the sexual abuse of this 13-year-old girl.
In every case, the clinic representative had never met this child, knew virtually nothing about her, had only engaged in a very brief telephone conversation with her, and was told nothing to indicate that her parents would be abusive if they discovered the sexual relationship. Nevertheless, they were willing – and in many cases eager – to help this child hide from her parents and the authorities the fact that she was being sexually exploited. Toward that end they provided step-by-step instructions on how to circumvent state laws that were enacted specifically for the purpose of protecting children exactly like her in situations just like this.
Perhaps even more disturbing is that we identified a willingness by abortion industry employees to facilitate ongoing criminal behavior. At some point, our caller would raise the possibility that she might not be pregnant and asked whether the clinic would help her get birth control. Over 90 percent – a number identical to our statistical findings mentioned earlier – agreed to supply her with birth control and thereby help her conceal this illegal relationship. This offer was made even by people who had earlier in the call correctly identified this situation as sexual abuse or statutory rape.
In many of these instances, they told our caller that her adult boyfriend could come with her to pick up the birth control, and some even offered to let him pick it up without her.
In other words, even though they had evidence that a sexual crime was being committed against a 13-year-old child, they were not only willing to conspire with the perpetrator to cover it up but they offered to provide him the means by which he could continue the abuse.
When we had completed our phone survey, one of the most alarming observations we made was about the manner in which they handled these calls. From start to finish, the attitudes of the employees we talked to made it brutally obvious that this is an issue they deal with routinely. In fact, several of them even volunteered that they get calls like this all the time.
To fully appreciate the gravity of this, imagine that employees of a convenience store were caught giving minors advice on how to circumvent laws designed to keep them from buying alcohol or tobacco, or a gun dealer was found to be teaching minors how to purchase handguns. These are perfect analogies to how Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation are treating sexually exploited underage girls.
In addition to this phone survey and the statistical data mentioned earlier, we have gathered an incredibly large amount of material directly from the abortion industry confirming that they are fully aware of the laws which require them to report these instances to the state.
In addition, we have admissions by them – in their own materials – that they have rarely complied with these laws in the past and have no intention of complying with them in the future.
Beyond that, we have also obtained materials recommended by these organizations or furnished at their conferences, which encourage clinic staff to either circumvent or ignore state reporting requirements.
Additionally, some Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation facilities actually maintain web sites and produce advertising materials telling minor girls that their sexual activity can be covered up by patronizing one of their family planning clinics.
Earlier in this report we listed a few of the factors driving the epidemic of adult men sexually exploiting underage girls, but what our investigation has shown is that the single most important factor is the willingness of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation to conceal these crimes.
Among law enforcement and others who are knowledgeable about this issue, it is well established that once someone starts preying on young girls for sexual purposes they almost never stop on their own.
In effect, what the abortion industry does is make certain that no one else stops them either. In practical terms, the American abortion industry has chosen to become paid accomplices of the pedophiles and sexual deviants who target underage girls.
As tragic as this situation is, the pro-life movement has an opportunity, and perhaps even a responsibility, to step in and do something about it. In the area of legislation, one possibility is that we may be able to stop these organizations from receiving state and federal funding. Recipients of these funds are required to see that the money is used in accordance with all state and federal laws. The fact that these family planning facilities are in clear violation of child abuse or statutory rape reporting requirements creates an environment for us to demand that their funding be immediately cut off.
Given their heavy reliance on state and federal tax dollars, losing that money would be nothing less than a financial catastrophe for these organizations.
Better yet, their failure to adhere to state and federal law means that funds allocated in past years were obtained fraudulently. Because of that, we may be able to force a return of those funds. Needless to say that could literally cripple the entire abortion industry.
As for litigation, the possibilities are nothing less than staggering. To capitalize on this, Life Dynamics is developing several exciting new litigation strategies and support services to be used by attorneys who represent the girls and parents victimized by these two organizations. Interestingly, a perfect model for one of our litigation strategies is being created at this very moment.
We are all aware of the firestorm currently swirling around the Catholic Church regarding the issue of pedophile priests. Already, dioceses have either settled or lost lawsuits totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, and some have been forced to close schools and sell property to pay off these awards. If you look at these suits, what you find is that these Catholic dioceses are not being sued because their priests molested children. They are being sued for negligence because they allegedly knew about the sexual abuse of children and failed to report it to the authorities. These suits contend that by protecting pedophile priests and concealing their behavior, these dioceses were in effect guaranteeing that there would be additional victims in the future.
Obviously, any organization or any individual that harbors pedophiles and conceals the sexual abuse of children deserves to be prosecuted. But right now that is not what is happening. Instead, Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation are being given hundreds of millions in tax dollars while doing exactly the same things for which huge awards are being levied against Catholic dioceses.
For the pro-life movement, our duty is to go into the civil court system and see that the legal standard currently being rigorously and justifiably enforced against the Catholic Church is also enforced against Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation. If we are successful at that, there are several reasons why it could toss these organizations into a financial tailspin from which they would never recover.
First, the number of potential plaintiffs is immense. By their own admissions, Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation have had contact with millions of sexually active underage girls every year for almost three decades. That fact alone could easily spawn an unimaginable number of individual suits or one of the largest class-action suits in American history.
Additionally, every time another underage girl is given an abortion or birth control without a report being made to the state, both she and her parents become potential plaintiffs in a lawsuit. As we can prove, the abortion industry's own data shows that this is happening several thousand times a day, and those figures are backed up by government documentation.
To fully understand the incredible potential represented by these numbers, consider the fact that the Catholic Church is currently being financially decimated by these kinds of suits and no one is claiming that they have created anywhere near as many victims.
Another consideration is that, so far, most of the allegations being brought against priests are for conduct that occurred many years ago. But the charges we are making against the abortion industry are for conduct that is still occurring thousands of times every day and in every state of the union. Also, while the vast majority of the complaints against priests have little or nothing in the way of evidence, the documented evidence we have against Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation is overwhelming, current, and fully verified.
On the civil litigation front, there is also another factor we should not overlook. To put it bluntly, these organizations have the kind of money, insurance, and assets that are certain to make them very attractive to America's personal injury trial lawyers.
At Life Dynamics, we also think there are other ways American courtrooms can be brought into this battle. For example, we intend to alert attorneys general and district attorneys across the country about the criminal activity of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation.
We will ask them to conduct their own investigations with an eye toward criminal prosecution, by pointing out that providing clandestine birth control may place someone in more legal jeopardy than providing clandestine abortions. Failing to report an abortion may suggest that they are only guilty of concealing a crime that has already been committed. But providing birth control to a child without reporting might be interpreted as participating in an ongoing or future crime.
If that is so, the issue is no longer simply a failure to report child sexual abuse or statutory rape, but actual complicity in child sexual abuse or statutory rape. That could be viewed as a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
From a public relations standpoint, this issue provides a platform for the pro-life movement to show the American people exactly what the abortion industry is really about.
To capitalize on that opportunity, Life Dynamics is launching a nationwide public education campaign. The public has a right to know exactly how vicious and how cynical Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation are when it comes to protecting their financial and political agendas. The fact is that the abortion industry sees the harboring of sexual predators and the destruction of their underage victims as nothing more than the cost of doing business, and we intend to bring that reality into the light of day.
A second goal of our public education campaign is to educate children and parents who may have been victimized by these organizations about their litigation opportunities. The ChildPredators.com web site was specifically designed with that purpose in mind. It is also a venue for employees and former employees of family planning facilities to come forward. We think there is a strong possibility that many of these people have either participated in or witnessed these crimes – some without even realizing it at the time.
Another educational opportunity relates to the nation's 16,000 school districts. It is well known that many of them allow Planned Parenthood and similar organizations to come on campus and teach sex ed or provide counseling. In addition, many school districts refer their students to these types of family planning organizations.
We have already completed a nationwide direct mail campaign to inform every one of these school districts about the legal exposure they have created for themselves by associating with these organizations. They need to know that should the organization in question provide services to an underage student without reporting to the state, the school district could be brought into any subsequent litigation.
In the second phase of this campaign we sent a certified letter to every school district in America alerting them to the fact that they should examine their legal liability for failing to report abuse, as an entity which comes in contact with underage children. Hopefully, this will cause their attorneys to advise them to take a second look at their sex education, abortion referral, birth control and condom distribution policies.
In addition, we are setting up a nationwide program to make sure that grassroots activists in every school district are able to make sure that the actions of their local school district do not result in lawsuits being filed by the child victims of unreported abuse or their parents
THE BOTTOM LINE
This document reveals only a fraction of the evidence we have uncovered so far and every day we are finding new data – including some which indicates that this problem is getting worse. In time we will release this information to the public along with additional data from our undercover investigation.
What is already clear is that this is a tragedy of enormous proportions. When young girls are sexually abused like this, they lose their innocence, their childhood, their dignity, and sometimes even their lives.
While it seems almost unthinkable that anything positive can come from this, we have an opportunity to see that it does. At the very moment Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation chose to participate in these crimes, they sowed the seeds of their own destruction. Today, the challenge facing the pro-life movement is to make certain that those seeds bear fruit. And Life Dynamics is committed to leading that charge.
11 Ways Child Abuse Survivors Emotionally Self Harm
Lilly Hope Lucario
- Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD
There is a fairly good understanding in society about physical self harm – such as cutting, burning etc.
But, there isn't anywhere near as much insight and understanding, as to all the many ways child abuse survivors – emotionally self harm.
The following are ways survivors of child abuse – harm themselves. Often completely unaware they are self harming. It is often not a deliberate act of self harm.
When considering whether a behaviour or thinking is harmful, it is necessary to look at the result of it. Is there something negative occurring, as a result? If there is, and the survivor keeps repeating it, then this is emotionally self harmful.
I want to make it clear prior to anyone reading this – there is no judgement about any of this. I am simply pointing out what I see are understandable – but unhealthy ways child abuse survivors harm themselves. And only in identifying these, can a survivor choose to change and heal.
This is a particularly common form of emotional self harm. It understandably results, from being treated badly as a child. When adults have harmed us, especially caregivers – this can result in the survivor hating themselves. They can see themselves as ‘bad', ‘damaged', ‘unlovable'.
The survivor needs to address this, by starting to understand they are worthy of treating themselves with compassion and care. The survivor needs to learn they are worthy of being treated kindly and with dignity. And that starts with self.
Blaming Self For The Abuse
Again this is common when children have been abused by adults. They often blame the child for the abuse. They can make the child feel the abuse is deserved. This emotional abuse – can continue on in the survivors ‘inner critic voice' – perpetuating the emotional abuse in childhood. The belief system of the child being the problem and deserving of the abuse, is a typical and very harmful abusive tactic of toxic people.
Challenging the belief systems and the inner critic, is how the healing of this begins. Until the survivor can accept 100% they were never to blame, the shame of self blame will continue.
Survivors of child abuse, understandably cope in many ways. A child does not have the capacity to cope with abuse and trauma, as well as an adult can. This can result in coping which may have been adaptive at the time of being a child. But, when that continues on into adulthood, it is a problem. This can be being continually angry, withdrawing from people and remaining alone. The survivor may use methods to dissociate from their inner pain, such as unhealthy levels of gaming, watching TV etc.
These need to be addressed in order to reduce them and to find more healthy ways of coping, that lead to a better quality of life.
Drugs & Alcohol
It is very understandable that survivors of child abuse, would turn to drugs and/or alcohol to cope with the pain and many mental and physical health issues that result. Self medicating is common with child abuse survivors. But, this is dangerous, can lead to death and if the drugs are illegal – this could lead to criminal proceedings and jail/prison.
Long term use of drugs and alcohol, cause further health issues. Often professional support is required to deal with addiction and substance abuse.
Failing to seek help, is self harm.
Working Too Hard
Some child abuse survivors, learn to minimise and avoid their pain, by working too hard. The work fills that void within and helps reduce the emotional pain. However, this means the survivor is not dealing with their trauma. They are avoiding it. Which does not lead to healing. And many survivors who use work as an avoidance method, can fall apart, and no longer maintain their excessive work behaviours.
Exercising Too Hard
Exercise is good for physical and mental health. That is well known. However, some child abuse survivors exercise in excess. They punish their bodies and themselves, with unhealthy levels of exercise.
Exercise can be addictive for some survivors. But, this is unhealthy and can cause further physical health issues. Over-exercising can cause heart attacks, muscle damage and other health issues.
Confronting the addictive nature of over-exercising, and choosing to change to more healthy levels of exercise, is how the survivor will begin to address this.
Some child abuse survivors, use sex as a way of dealing with the pain. This can be addictive and it can be harmful and unsafe. If they allow people to treat their bodies in a harmful way, they are self harming. Survivors can also fail to ensure they are safe, and this can lead to being sexually violated.
Child abuse survivors often seek love and attention, in unhealthy ways. They often are targeted by people who abuse this, and use and abuse the survivor again. This is re-traumatising.
This is especially common with child sexual abuse survivors. When a child's body is violated in this heinous way, it can lead to the adult survivor putting themselves in continually traumatic situations, not protecting themselves, and continuing the abuse they endured in childhood. They often do not understand why they do this.
This requires compassion, and for the survivor to begin to know their body is precious, is not to be used and abused, and that only healthy and appropriate treatment is then considered.
This may require very sensitive and empathic therapy.
Anger is a necessary emotion for child abuse survivors to feel, as part of their healing. It is necessary to be angry at being a vulnerable child and abused.
Anger is okay, unless it is being directed at people who are not responsible for the abuse. When survivors are continually angry, they hurt others and they are hurting themselves.
Learning to control anger and manage it, is vital.
A survivor is not going to have healthy relationships with others, if they are continually angry. This means the survivor is hurting themselves and unable to form healthy relationships.
Excessive anger also affects the physical body. There is an increased risk for heart attacks, stokes and other health issues, when a person is consumed with anger to an unhealthy level for longer than is needed for healing.
Being Consumed With Thoughts Of Revenge
Some survivors of abuse, do have thoughts of wanting revenge, or for the perpetrator to have something happen to them back, so they know how the pain of abuse feels.
Excessive thoughts about this, and being consumed by this need for revenge, only harms the survivor. It keeps the survivor locked in pain. It keeps the survivor bound emotionally to the perpetrator.
Understanding that healing is not about the perpetrator at all, but about how the survivor improves their life, is how someone will change this thinking.
Lack Of Self Care & Lack Of Healthy Boundaries
Child abuse survivors often struggle with self care. This can be physical self care and emotional self care. A lack of healthy diet, exercise, body hygiene, caring for appearance etc.
Often child abuse survivors often don't have any self worth, so they don't care for themselves with love and kindness.
A lack of healthy emotional boundaries can lead to further abuse and harm. Especially as toxic people sense these soft boundaries, and use them fully for their own toxic needs. And when toxic people are your ‘normal' from childhood, this is often all the survivor knows. So they continue to engage with toxic people in adulthood.
Some survivors of child abuse have very strong inflexible emotional boundaries, and these keeps them from forming healthy relationships, and often keeps them stuck in isolation. Missing out on the good that comes from healthy attachment and loving relationships.
The survivor needs to learn healthy self care, healthy boundaries, and how to implement them.
Using An Identity To Cope & Avoid Dealing With The Trauma
All too often I see survivors of child abuse, taking on a persona/identity to cope. This often will be described as a ‘warrior survivor'. This is understandable, but not healthy if the survivor is using this identity as a protection shield, and is failing to process the trauma, failing to grieve the trauma.
This ‘identity' can feel like a very strong thought process, yet it often keeps the survivor in a state of avoidance.
In self reflecting and truly looking at all the behaviours and thinking a survivor of child abuse can have, this promotes changes to healthier ways.
A survivors needs to have self compassion and understand, they were doing the best they could within this terrible situation of child abuse.
As the adult we become, we can choose to look at what will help our lives improve. And know we deserve to have good lives.
It takes time and often support, to make these changes. To form healthy and true beliefs. To develop healthier ways to cope and live. I always suggest trauma informed therapy as this can provide the safe place and relationship, within which to process the trauma.
It is possible, and it is my hope for all survivors, to know if they have any form of self harm, they can change and this will promote such healing.
(And please also note, this is not an exhaustive list, there are more ways of self harm).
For more information about child abuse, complex trauma and more, see my website: https://www.healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.com/