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September 18, 2014



A childhood shaped in violence

Recently, a hashtag titled “#WhyIStayed” trended on Twitter.

The hashtag's purpose was to bring awareness and put a face to victims of domestic violence.

My personal tweet read, “I didn't know I could leave, I didn't think anyone cared.”

I am a survivor of child abuse and neglect.

This topic is difficult for me to write about because it triggers many bad memories from my childhood.

It is also something personal but I feel it is important to talk about.

There is an ongoing debate about the difference between spanking and abusing a child.

My personal experience with child abuse was more a form of control, which showed that simple disciplining of a child could lead to something a lot worse.

I cannot speak on the subject of raising children because I am not a parent.

But I can remember the exact moment when being spanked turned into a beating and me hiding under my bed from my abuser.

Whether it is physical, mental or emotional abuse, according to, most children become victims of abuse and neglect at 18 months or younger.

More than likely, these childrens' parents believe it is their right to hit and even beat their children to earn respect.

Now that I am an adult, I have absolutely zero respect for my abuser and I know a lot of my issues are connected to the abuse . states that 80 percent of 21 year olds who were abused as children met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder.

For me, it is depression, anxiety and a definite lack of self-esteem.

According to, there are more than 3 million reports of child abuse in the U.S. involving more than 6 million children, since a report can involve more than one child.

Amongst industrialized countries, the U.S. has one of the worst records when it comes to this topic.

Humanium is an international child sponsorship, non-governmental organization dedicated to stopping violations of childrens' rights throughout the world.

Their website states that the League of Nations, now the U.N., adopted the Declaration of the Right's of Children on Sept. 16, 1924.

Commonly known as the Geneva Declaration, it was the first time specific rights for children were recognized.

The international treaty also detailed the responsibilities of adults.

Every time I think back to my childhood, I am utterly disgusted by the way I was treated.

And what makes my situation worse is the fact I was a ward of the state living with a legal guardian.

Basically, my abuser was not my actual parent.

Growing up, I felt like no one cared about me, especially since my mom died when I was five years old and I never knew my dad.

I felt as though I somehow deserved the treatment I received.

Every day I was physically abused, told I was worthless and had many racist words said to me.

I am honestly amazed I am alive and not mentally deranged.

Everyone has a story.

I want everyone to stop putting the blame on the victim when it comes to topics like abuse, domestic violence and rape.

Everyone has some sort of history that shapes who they are as adults.

My experience has made me a strong and cautious person.

I escaped my living situation and I am still working on “fixing” the 16 years of abuse I experienced.

It takes a lot for me to trust people, especially men, but I am constantly surrounding myself with people who love and care about me.

For those who and survived child abuse, in any form, you are capable of doing so many great things.

Your abuser does not dictate how you live your life.

The only person stopping you from doing good in life is yourself.



Newschannel5's holds town hall meeting on domestic violence

by Michael Baldwin

CLEVELAND - A crowed room approaching nearly 100 people gathered at the Newschannel5's studios on Wednesday to discuss a topic that has surrounded news headlines the past few weeks: Domestic violence.

Prompted by the brutal beating caught on video between Ray Rice and then finance turned wife Janay Rice, Newschannel5 felt a town hall discussion of such an important topic was necessary.

“Domestic violence is a pattern of cohersive behavior,” said Linda Johanek, CEO of the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center in Cleveland.

She explained to the audience the many forms the abusive behavior can take. “It's physical, violent, financial, sexual, emotional, verbal, and psychological.”

The town hall was moderated by Newschannel5 anchor Danita Harris and featured six panelist from educators to survivors of abuse.

Harris gave each a chance to tell their story including that of Quiana Rivers. She met her abuser at the age of 15.

Rivers told an emotional story of the pain she went through while they were together.

“Before I became an adult he had manipulated me and molded me into what he wanted,” said Rivers. The relationship lead to, “emotional, verbal and psychological abuse,” for the 15 years they were together she said.

The abuse included, “getting hit with a car, him kicking me down the stairs, throwing me up against a table and strangulation.”

The night also featured Cleveland native Beverly Gooden. She started the hashtag that went viral on twitter #WhyIStayed. She told the room of her own experience with abuse.

“My ex-husband would choke me, slap me, push me around, bite me.” She even said her ex-husband tried to push her out of a moving car. Her hashtag had many asking why she didn't leave.

Johanek explained that leaving an abusive relationship is not as easy as some make it out to be. “There are a lot of people who say, ‘if that happened to me I would leave after the first slap,'” Johanek explained. “A lot of victims and a lot of victims we work with say that they once said that, but once your caught in this web it's really difficult because the number one reason woman stay is fear,” she continued.

The U.S. Justice Department released numbers, which said in 2012, there were nearly 665,000 victims of domestic violence. The department said that works out to about 75 women an hour.

70 percent of those cases don't end in prosecution because the victims choose not to press charges.

“We see so many reasons why victims come in and recant what they say,” said Cynthia Oliver, a detective with the Cleveland Police Department. “Sometimes they come in and say, ‘I didn't call the police or this didn't happen or I tripped and fell,'” she continued.

If you are in an abusive relationship there is help for you.

You can call the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center at 216-391-HELP. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.



The Unadulterated Facts About Molestation

by Lisa Pecchenino

Editor's Note: Warning. Child molestation and sexual abuse is a difficult subject to talk about. As difficult as it is we hope that not only parents read this, but also encourage their kids to read it and discuss it afterwards. Some of the names have been changed to protect the identity of these brave individuals in our community who want to share their story and perhaps help someone along the way.

Silvia is 55; she was seven when her older brother molested her.

She started her story by saying, “Everyone should know there is life after bad things happen.” With a shy smile on her face she added, “What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.”

“I even attempted suicide several times; my parents never had a clue,” explaining how she had taken a bottle of pain pills in one attempt. She shook her head and went on to say how lucky she was that they only made her sleep for three straight days.

“My parents didn't even think that was weird, when I got up and went to take a shower on the forth morning they acted like nothing had gone on at all.”

Silvia advises that anyone who has been molested or is being molested should get help, speak up, and if they can find the courage, to face their attacker.

She talks about how she didn't want to tell her parents. It might upset them or make them look bad. They passed away never knowing what a monster their son was. After they passed, she didn't want all the drama it would cause with her family. She never said any thing and never saw or talked to her brother again.

The worse part was yet to come. She discovered years later when her brother died that he had been running a children's ministry for several years. With his death it was discovered that many of the children in his ministry had been molested over the years. In addition, it was discovered that his son was also molesting children. She figured it was because more than likely, his own father had molested him.

“And the circle continues,” she added with a sad look on her face.

Silvia has forgiven and moved on with her life a long time ago but she still carries the guilt of knowing that had she spoken up she could have saved others from expiring the same horror she did. It is something she struggles with everyday to forgive herself for.

Today Silvia is a freelance writer that works closely with Homeland Security. She said there was one more thing she wanted to caution parents on, kids using social networks.

“Parents should be aware of who their children are talking to and they need to monitor their children's social networks closely.” She said.

She shared a story about a recent operation. The FBI was able to rescue 168 children who were lured into sex trafficking by people and friends on the Internet.

The last thing Silvia said before the interview was over is, “I will never be a victim again.”

Molestation is a devastating crime whose victims are those least able to protect themselves or speak out and whose perpetrators are most likely to be repeat offenders. Many victims feel guilt and shame.

Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is also a significantly under-reported crime. Most perpetrators of child molestation, incest and child rape are never identified and caught. The almost 90,000 cases of child sexual abuse reported each year fall far short of the actual number. Abuse frequently goes unreported because victims are afraid to tell anyone what has happened.

Child sexual abuse usually involves coercion and occasionally violence. Perpetrators offer attention and gifts to manipulate or threaten the child and in addition to sometimes behaving aggressively. Sexual abuse involves many forms of sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18 by a perpetrator whether that individual is an adult, teen, or another child.

The National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), defines child sexual abuse as a crime which “encompasses different types of sexual activity, including voyeurism, sexual dialogue, fondling, touching of the genitals, vaginal, anal, or oral rape and forcing children to participate in pornography or prostitution.”

Girls are the victims of incest or intra-family sexual abuse much more than boys. Between 33-50 percent of perpetrators who sexually abuse girls are family members. Intra-family abuse seems to continue for a longer period of time, and has been found to have a more serious and lasting consequences.

Everyone needs to be aware that perpetrators come from every age group, gender, race, ethnicity, educational and socio-economic backgrounds. Though the majority are men, women also sexually abuse children. Both boys and girls are most vulnerable to abuse between the ages of seven and thirteen.

Despite what children are taught, “stranger danger” is a misnomer for the vast majority of child sexual abuse offenders. Most child victims are abused by someone they know and trust. The results of a three-state study of reported rape survivors under age 12 revealed the following about their offenders that 96 percent were known to their victims, 50 percent were acquaintances or friends, 20 percent were fathers or siblings, 16 percent were relatives, and four percent were strangers. Think about that, only four percent are strangers. It gives a new insight to “stranger danger.”

Sexual Assaults Reported to Law Enforcement

67 percent were under age of 18

34 percent were under age of 12

14 percent were under age of six

40% of children are abused by family members

60% are abused by people the family trusts

40% are abused by older or larger children

One in five children are sexually solicited on the Internet

Youth are 2.5 times more likely to be raped than adults

9% of 10-17 year-olds receive sexual requests on the Internet

Remember this is only the numbers of reported cases.



Ask Mary Jo

You're pregnant, now what?

Q.I'm pregnant. I'm sure you've heard that once or twice. The problem isn't just that I'm young (I'm in 10th grade). The real problem is my stepmom doesn't believe me when I tell her I was raped. She said I went with this guy and it was my fault. But I didn't want to have sex. She said if I was raped I would have had bruises or something. OK, so I didn't fight back. But, I didn't say yes. I did say no. For real, I was yelling, but no one was around. I was just so scared. He was all mean and strong and pushed me down. Afterwards he said nice things like we should do that again. I was just crazy to get away from him, and I walked home and then pretended it never happened. Until I missed my period. Should I try to talk to my dad? Since I'm pregnant, he hardly even looks at me. I've never even had a boyfriend, and he knows that. I don't want to cause trouble, and the guy's gone now anyway because he moved schools. I don't think he's a bad guy, but I do think he's messed up about women. I thought about abortion but changed my mind. I can't do that, and now it's too late anyway. So, there's these two things. I'm scared to death about labor. I hate pain. And I kind of want to tell someone at school about the rape, but I'm scared my stepmom will get real mad at me. I haven't told an adult yet. My friends are standing by me, but other kids at school who don't really know me call me names and stare. I don't care. Most of the time. But, I have this friend who is a peer educator with you, and she said I should do something about it because he might hurt another girl. What if I told my guidance counselor? That kind of scares me. My friend told me to Facebook message you and said that you're for real and I should ask you. So I did. If you answer me I want to say thanks!


Mary Jo's response: I believe you. Blaming you for a rape isn't OK. No person should be forced into anything sexual without consent. Not fighting back physically is actually smart; with some rapists physical resistance can make the attack more violent. The fact that there were no bruises has nothing to do with whether or not a person was raped. This was not your fault. You were not to blame.

I see four areas where support would make your life easier. The first deals with the trauma of the rape. Counseling is really, really important. A trained therapist can help you deal with what happened. Denial means you put the assault out of your mind as if it never happened. The pregnancy made it impossible to continue pretending. Meeting with a counselor doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It means you need some help to deal with sexual violence. I know young women like you who have moved on with their lives and now have healthy relationships with partners who care for their children. You deserve happiness.

I'd like to meet with you in person as soon as you're able. And yes, I think talking with your dad would be smart, as long as you feel safe doing so. I can help you talk with him. Sometimes a person outside the family can buffer a tough conversation. I wouldn't judge your stepmom. I'd simply try to teach your dad about sexual assault. If he's interested, a good website for dealing with rape is the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at .

Do you have another family member you can trust? A grandparent, older sibling, aunt or uncle could bring you to our office or help you talk with your dad. I'll meet with you alone and then with your dad or trusted adult. If you agree, then we can all talk together. I won't ask you to talk about anything you don't want to share.

Let's discuss with whom you should share this situation. You could share with your school guidance counselor, of course. Whether or not your stepmom is angry, you have the right to seek help. It might be wise to line up family support before you talk to someone else.

Second, you have the legal right to press charges. When we meet we can discuss the how and why of doing so. If you “cause trouble” for him, that's OK. Your peer educator friend is correct. When survivors of sexual assault have the courage to share they might stop another person from being raped. You don't need to face this alone. There are wonderful professionals who can help you with legal issues.

You didn't mention the young man's age. Statutory rape in Pennsylvania occurs when two people have sex and one is less than 16 (the age of consent in Pennsylvania) and the other person is four or more years older. If he was over four years older than you, the sex would be considered rape even if you had said yes.

Third, my staff are trained to help prepare young mothers for labor, birth and parenting. Our program is totally free. All you need do is connect with us. Our office number is 724-222-2311, or I can register you for the program. We'll need parental consent, so that will give me a chance to talk with your dad. We will help you understand what's happening. We'll teach you ways to cope during labor and birth. Giving birth after sexual trauma can be challenging – your health care provider needs to know your history. We can help you disclose (tell) your doctor. You should be treated with care and respect.

It may sound strange, but your body knows how to give birth. You will find the strength to have your baby, but you won't be alone. A doula is a person who stays with a woman throughout her labor. I've been a doula to hundreds of young women. We can prepare a family member or friend to be with you in labor, but if you have no one you can trust, we will go with you.

Fourth, I'd like to spend some time with you and talk about your sexual health. You may not be interested in a relationship right now, but the trauma of sexual assault could follow you. I want you to have a healthy relationship someday.

Finally, I'm so happy you contacted me. Thank you for the compliment. Being told I'm “for real” is a nice gift.

Let's meet this week. Both you and your peer educator friend have my cell number. Please don't hesitate to use it. You may give it to your dad. Please take care of you and your baby.

Peer Educator response:

I told her to connect with you. I've been talking with her ever since I found out she was pregnant. I made her doctor's appointment for her. I love being a peer educator. I'm happy I'm her friend.



Time to stop playing games with child abuse


Four children will die. They will die today, like they did yesterday and like they will tomorrow.

The children are not dying of cancer or heart disease; they are dying at the hands of loved ones who are abusing them. You guessed it. I am talking about the Adrian Peterson abuse situation.

Adrian Peterson tells us he is just raising his children like his parents raised him. Wrong. He isn't raising children at all. He tells us he is just disciplining his kids. He isn't.

Study after study tells us he is slowing the cognitive development of his own children. That's right. Peterson is increasing the likelihood of anxiety, depression and antisocial behavior. Another worrying statistic: Children who get “whooped” — Peterson's description — are nine times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.

Adrian Peterson said he hit his child with a tree branch “10 to 15” times. However, he said, he doesn't “ever count how many pops I give my kids.” Look at his son's leg. It has at least that many marks where the switch caught his thigh. Use your senses and let's consider this 4-year-old — a 4-year-old who was beaten by a man who is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds.

The police report notes defensive wounds to the hands. I wonder how able this child was to defend himself against a guy who rushes through 300-pound giants.

I won't attack the game, but we need to realize that if the players cannot control their impulses at home, they need to find a new line of work. I hate to interrupt this young man's ability to carry a ball down the field just to save the life of his child, but let's consider his child for a second.

Take a look at the pictures of his child. If you can stomach it, take a look. Take a second and let the images sink in. Now, what would you do if you sent your child to a friend's house and he came back with those injuries? Would it be acceptable for your neighbor to “whoop” your child like that if he got out of line? Peterson did that to his own son.

Listen to his son. He didn't want to talk to the police because he was “afraid of Daddy Peterson.” Forget the statistics for a moment about learning difficulties. Forget about long- term psychological issues. This child is afraid of his own father.

Yes, I am silly enough to think the National Football League should clean up its act. They should suspend Mr. Peterson for a year and make him complete a parenting program. Yes, I am silly enough to think that the NFL should keep this man from his profession.

Of course, for now, things appear headed in the opposite direction for Peterson. The Minnesota Vikings reinstated him on Monday, a day after they lost 30-7 to the New England Patriots without their star back.

“I understand that this is a very difficult thing to handle,” said Rick Spielman, the general manager. “Whether it's an abusive situation or not, or whether he went too far disciplining, we feel very strongly that that is the court's decision to make.”

Right now, the league is lost. It's lost like a child afraid of his or her own parent, and that should scare every fan and every family.

Maybe we should stop playing games until we learn how to deal with abuse.

Four children will die today, just as four died yesterday. Let's make it the last day.

Death at a Parent's Hand

A federal report released in April, uing data from 2012, says:

1,640 children died from abuse and neglect nationwide that year, 2.2 for every 100,000 children in America. That's 4.5 children killed per day.

50 percent of deaths reported as unintentional are later reclassified as due to maltreatment.

Of all children who died from neglect and abuse:

77 percent are age 3 or younger.

80 percent suffer at the hands of their parents.



South Ogden police seeking information in sex abuse case

SOUTH OGDEN - A Utah man is suspected of child sexual abuse in Louisiana.

Matthew Todd Wallis, currently of South Ogden, Utah is believed to have committed the crimes of aggravated incest and oral sexual battery, during of 1999-2000, when he lived Belle Chasse, Louisiana.

Wallis' arrest is the result of an investigation by the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office Sex Crimes Unit.

The PPSO believes there may be additional victims out there and are urging them to come forward so Wallis can be brought to justice.

Investigators say Wallis allegedly abused a relative when she was about 4 or 5 years old.

On September 8, Wallis was extradited back to Plaquemines Parish and booked into jail in Louisiana.

The South Ogden Police Department is also asking for the public's assistance with any information that may be pertinent to this investigation, and above all are seeking anyone who may have fallen victim to Matthew Todd Wallis in any manner regardless of time frame.


South Carolina

South Carolina Father Arrested for Killing 5 Children Feared they Would Kill Him

by Vishakha Sonawane

The South Carolina father arrested for killing his 5 children said he feared that the kids would murder him; the court documents released Wednesday state.

The 28-page arrest warrant obtained by WIS read that Timothy Ray Jones Jr. told the investigators that he believed his children would "kill him, chop him up, and feed him to the dogs." The confession was apparently made by him to the police Aug. 28 near Walmart in Lexington County. He then told them that he forced his children, aged between 1 and 8, to the backseat of his car, reports the New York Daily News.

However, 6 days later the mother of the children reported them missing from Jones' Lexington County home. Authorities at traffic checkpoint stopped Jones in Raleigh, Mississippi, Sept. 6. The investigators had found "a large amount of blood and hand written notes with directions to kill and mutilate bodies" inside the SUV, Lexington County sheriff's deputies stated, reports NBC News. Three days after the arrest he led police to Oak Hill, Alabama, where he dumped their bodies.

"The defendant was subsequently located in Mississippi without the children and no ability to confirm their well being. The suspect's vehicle contained a large amount on blood and hand written notes with directions to kill and mutilate bodies," the warrant stated, reports

The prosecutors did not say whether they planned to seek the death penalty for Jones, who is detained in South Carolina Department of Corrections after waiving his right to a first court appearance last week due to "intense media scrutiny."

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