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Female sexual abusers not as rare as widely believed

Posted by Sandra On January - 30 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

WINDSOR, Ont. — She gave him life and was the only parent he ever knew. In the way she snapped photos of him sleeping and playing happily, she was like any other adoring mother. But she also committed unspeakable acts to his little body, turning him into a human sex toy in her pornographic broadcasts.

The set of facts involving the Windsor-area mother who sexually abused her two-year-old son horrified both those involved in the case and those who’d only heard about it.

“Society expects the mother of a toddler would do everything in her power to make sure her child is protected from harm,” said the judge who Friday handed the 24-year-old woman a 3 1/2-year prison sentence.

He called her crimes “appalling” and “abhorrent.”

While female sexual abusers are rare in the court system, those who deal with child sexual abuse know the woman is not unique. She may be the first Ontario woman to be jailed for making child pornography featuring her own offspring, but she’s not the first mother to sexually abuse a child.

A national study released in 2005 shows that biological mothers were the perpetrators of sexual abuse in five per cent of the substantiated cases investigated by child welfare authorities.

The instance is probably higher, since researchers are certain that many cases of child sexual abuse never come to light. “A lot of people have difficulty believing women are capable of sexually abusing children,” said social worker Angela Hovey, whose doctoral thesis deals with a topic related to this theme.

Even victims of such abuse, looking back at it as adults, have a hard time talking about it.

In her past employment in federal prisons, she would ask inmates about any sexual abuse in their past. “Many men had been abused by women.” The problem, she said, was “they often had more difficulty identifying it as abuse.”

A U.S. report, entitled Child Sexual Abuse — The Predators, explains it this way. “Mothers generally have more intimate contact with their children, and the lines between maternal love and care and sexual abuse are not as clear-cut as they are for fathers.”

Therefore, the report says, “Sexual abuse by mothers may remain undetected because it occurs at home and is either denied or never reported.”

Hovey says it’s hard to get accurate data on the prevalence of female sex offenders, much less women who abuse their own children. The best information, she believes, may come from victims themselves.

A 2003 U.S. study questioned a random sample of adults to determine the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse. It found that of the 32 per cent of females and 14 per cent of males who identified themselves as victims, nine per cent of women and 39 per cent of men said they had been abused by at least one female.

While figures are usually inflated, studies of male sex offenders show 45 to 50 per cent were themselves victims of sexual abuse. Hovey is researching counselling practices for women survivors of sexual abuse to see if they should be asked if they’ve ever in turn abused anyone. She saw it in her private practice — women sexually abusing children.

“Do I think it happens a lot more than we hear about? Absolutely,” said Bill Bevan, executive director of the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society — which sees two or three such cases each year.

Most don’t end up in prosecutions because the young victims aren’t capable of testifying. “It could be a teacher. It could be a sister. It could be a babysitter. It could be a mother with her child.”

Society kids that teenage boys abused by women are somehow “lucky” and females, by nature, are too nurturing to commit such an offence. In any case of child sexual abuse, there’s “kind of gender bias” that automatically excludes women from suspicion, Bevan said.

“It’s not the first place you look. It’s the father figure you look at first.”

Canadians think of female sex offenders, and their minds automatically turn to Karla Homolka who, with her then husband, Paul Bernardo, abducted, sexually abused, tortured and murdered female victims, Bevan said.

“On the other end of the scale is where the female in the caring role takes in a partner who is abusing the child. . . . Some mothers might be kind of looking the other way.”

Justice Kathryn Feldman, in a Jan. 18 Ontario Court of Appeal case, said the Internet is providing greater opportunity to produce and distribute images of child abuse.

“The victims are innocent children who become props in a perverted show, played out for an ever-wider audience not only of voyeurs but of perpetrators,” Feldman said of a case involving a father who sexually abused his daughter and distributed the images over the Internet.

“The predominant offender in Internet child exploitation is males,” said Windsor police Det. Jason Belanger. “They’re out there, but if you do get a female offender, you’re surprised.”

Canwest News Service

Toll of child emotional abuse little understood

Posted by Sandra On January - 30 - 2010 3 COMMENTS

I don’t know what it’s like to be 10 years old and abducted by a supposedly loving mother. I don’t know what it’s like to be manipulated into telling lies about how your father sexually abused you and your younger brother, sometimes in ways that challenge reality.

And I don’t know what it’s like to need therapy at such a young age.

But there’s a St. Paul girl — a former classmate of my son’s whom I won’t identify here — who knows. Last week, she bravely took the witness stand and told a judge and jury that she lied about the sexual abuse because she did not want to disappoint or lose her mother’s love.

“She’s a tough cookie,” a relative of the girl told me this week.

Unfortunately, hers is not an isolated case. We know what physical and sexual abuse looks like. But the scars of emotional abuse and neglect, particularly at the handsof a parent, are often ignored and pretty much invisible to all but those closest to the child. And that’s what this child and countless others experience.

“Emotional abuse is very hard to substantiate and takes lots of forms,” said Connie Skillingstad, a former child-protection worker and executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, a St. Paul-based child advocacy group.

“In the extreme, (emotional abuse or neglect) can seriously interfere with a child’s cognitive, emotional, psychological and social development,” Skillingstad said.

“The effects of emotional abuse may include insecurity, poor self-esteem,


destructive behavior, withdrawal, poor development of basic skills, alcohol or drug abuse, suicide, difficulty forming or maintaining relationships, and unstable job histories.”From migraines to early death, researchers and public-health officials are assembling a growing body of credible evidence about the long-term, devastating effects of child abuse in all forms. A University of Toledo study published this month in a medical journal found that patients physically or emotionally abused as children have a higher prevalence of chronic migraines than people without such a history.

In fact, 38 percent of the 1,348 migraine patients who took part in the study reported being emotionally abused or neglected as children, the highest percentage among all other child-abuse types.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are about 12 years into perhaps the most ambitious and unprecedented childhood-abuse study of its kind. The study is tracking the link between adverse childhood experiences of 17,337 test subjects and health-related problems in later life. The experiences range from abuse to living in a dysfunctional household that includes substance abuse and incarcerated parents as well as divorce or separation.

The study so far has found that two-thirds of the study participants reported at least one such adverse experience and more than one in five reported three experiences or more. Nearly 11 percent reported emotional abuse.

Researchers so far have found that as the number of these forms of childhood stresses increase, so does the risk of alcohol abuse, depression, fetal death, heart disease, suicide attempts, domestic violence and a host of other health problems.

“The goal is to study and act on how adverse childhood experiences affect the things that society cares about — mental health, quality of life, longevity, substance abuse,” said Dr. Robert Anda, the study’s chief researcher and designer. “The list is long.”

Anda said society still has a perception of child abusers as alien, monstrous beings who do horrible things to children.

“In fact, it’s (largely homegrown) and an unfortunately common occurrence,” Anda said. Breaking the familial cycle of abuse as well as creating more effective programs or public policy addressing child abuse are other major goals of the ongoing study, he said.

Anda is scheduled to travel here next month to speak to Minnesota state legislators about the national survey results.


As a longtime guardian ad litem, businessman Mike Tikkanen applauds the research. He has seen firsthand the emotional and physical scars of child-abuse victims.

He has handled cases in which family court judges have ordered “Ritalin, Zoloft, Prozac and other psychotropic medications of 5-, 6-, 7-year-olds who the courts have decided might kill themselves without the meds.”

“My first suicide attempt by a 4-year-old was a girl who was sexually abused and who watched her sister being abused,” said Tikkanen, founder of Kids At Risk Action Group, a nonprofit devoted to protecting and advocating for the rights of abused children.

Tikkanen said he believes we are doing too little to prevent child abuse or protecting children after it happens.

“The U.S. system, institutions and people that work in them are trained to ignore or minimize the absolute horrors that follow these children for the rest of their lives because childhood traumas are not considered important,” he said. “Only when children have been subjected to extended exposure to violence and deprivation are they placed in protective custody.”

Though plenty of folks in the child-protection system may take issue with that statement, the case of the St. Paul girl has a frustrating if unjust element to it.

First off, a family court judge who granted the father physical custody of the child and the younger brother ruled more than two years ago that the sexual abuse allegations were repeatedly investigated and found to be untrue or lacking in evidence. The judge also found that the child’s mother was impairing the daughter’s development.

Yet the sexual abuse allegations were introduced in the woman’s defense at her trial last week on charges she abducted the two children and hid from the law for four months. Officials located them at a shelter in Fargo, N.D.

Little if any testimony was presented about where these kids were taken or what they experienced during an international manhunt to find them. The children spent more than six weeks in group- and foster-home settings before North Dakota officials, satisfied the sex-abuse claims were unsubstantiated, reunited them with their father.

So it’s not surprising that the father and his wife believe they were the ones placed on trial and less so the mother who abducted them in violation of a court order.


Though the mother was convicted of two felony counts of parental deprivation, a spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney’s office said it is unlikely the mother will face jail time.

Prosecutors reportedly told family members that the woman, who had no criminal history, would have to commit the same offense numerous times before jail or prison time is mandated.

The conviction also doesn’t bar the woman from asking a family court judge to grant her visitation rights. Family members I spoke with are not opposed to that as long as the visits are tightly restricted and supervised.

Why? There’s an acknowledgement that in spite of what these two kids went through, they still love their mother. That’s the bottom line, and that’s what makes these kinds of cases so sad and so damned frustrating.

Rubén Rosario can be reached at 651-228-5454 or rrosario@ pioneerpress.com.


To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, go to pcamn.org.

To learn more about the Kids At Risk Action Group, go to invisiblechildren.org.

To learn more about the adverse childhood experiences study, go to cdc.gov.

Molestation, Rape, Sexual Assault Myths

Posted by Sandra On January - 28 - 2010 1 COMMENT
Sociology of Rape
University of Minnesota Duluth

Rape myths are beliefs about sexual assault that wrought with problems. Some myths are just completely and blatantly untrue. What often happens is that beliefs surrounding circumstances, situations, and characteristics of individuals connected to rape are applied to all cases and situations uncritically. Myths exist for many historic reasons which include inherited structural conditions, gender role expectations, and the fundamental exercise of power in a patriarchal society. The best way to approach rape myths are to confront them honestly and frankly. Don’t deny their existence and don’t dismiss one ungrounded statement with another.

Confronting rape myths sociologically means looking at the data and reevaluating knowledge in the face of social facts. What follows are a list of rape myths and the facts that bring those rape conceptions into question. They are not always conclusive but provide the ground work for continued research.
Myth: Rape is sex.

Fact: Rape is experienced by the victims as an act of violence. It is a life-threatening experience. One out of every eight adult women has been a victim of forcible rape. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992) While sexual attraction may be influential, power, control and anger are the primary motives. Most rapists have access to a sexual partner. Gratification comes from gaining power and control and discharging anger. This gratification is only temporary, so the rapist seeks another victim.

Myth: Women incite men to rape.

Fact: Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned. Rape is the responsibility of the rapist alone. Women, children and men of every age, physical type and demeanor are raped. Opportunity is the most important factor determining when a given rapist will rape.

Myth: There is a “right way” to respond to a rape situation.

Fact:Since rape is life-threatening and each rapist has his own pattern, the best thing a victim can do is follow her instincts and observe any cues from the rapist. If the victim escapes alive she has done the right thing.

Myth:A victim should be discouraged from dwelling on the rape. She should “forget it”.

Fact: This advice generally comes from people who are more concerned with their own feelings than the victim’s. All victims should be offered the opportunity to talk about the assault with those personally close to them and knowledgeable professionals. Victims who are not allowed to talk about the rape have a much more difficult time recovering form it.

Myth:Support from family members is essential to the victim’s recovery.

Fact: A Victim Services study found that emotional and practical support offered by family and friends does not necessarily speed the recovery of rape victims. However, when the people that a victim relies on behave in un supportive or negative ways, the victim faces a longer, more difficult recovery process. These negative behaviors include worrying more about oneself that the victim, blaming the victim, withdrawing from the victim or behaving in a hostile manner, and attaching a stigma to the rape and demanding secrecy from the victim.

Myth:Rape trauma syndrome is a transient problem. Most healthy people will return to a normal state of functioning within a year.

Fact: Surviving a rape can lead a woman to a better understanding of her own strength, but rape is a life changing experience. Rape has a devastating effect on the mental health of victims, with nearly one-third (31%) of all rape victims developing Rape-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) some time in their lifetimes. More than one in ten rape victims currently suffer from RR-PTSD. (National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center)

Myth: Rapists are non-white. Rapists are lower class. Rapists are “Criminal types”.

Fact: Rapists that fit the myth are more likely to be prosecuted but a rapist can be anyone: doctor, policeman, clergyman, social worker or corporate president.

Myth: Men can’t be raped.

Fact: There were approximately 20,000 sexual assaults of males ages 12 and over in the United States in 1991. (Bureau of Justice statistics, 1992)

Myth: Incest is rare.

Fact: Incest is common and happens in every community. An estimated 77% of reported sexual abusers are parents (57% of the total being natural parents), 16% are other relatives, and 6% are non-related. In addition, males are reported to be the abusers in 60 to 95% of cases. (Thoringer, School Psychology Review, 17 (4):614-636)

Myth: Sexual assaults are rare deviations and affect few people. After all, no one I know has been raped.

Fact: Sexual assaults are very common. Most likely, someone close to you has been profoundly affected by sexual assault. Not only are victims reluctant to discuss their assaults but many succeed in totally blocking the assault from conscious memory. However, the trauma remains and may come to the surface at another crisis or when the opportunity to discuss it with a sympathetic person arises. An estimated 155,000 women were raped each year between 1973 and 1987. (U.S. Department of Justice, 1991)

Myth: Women often make false reports of rape.

Fact: According to FBI crime statistics, during the 1990s around 8 percent. The “unfounded” rate, or percentage of complaints determined through investigation to be false, is higher for forcible rape than for any other Index crime. Eight percent of forcible rape complaints in 1996 were “unfounded,” while the average for all Index crimes was 2 percent.

Myth: You can tell a rapist by the way he looks.

Fact: Rapists are not physically identifiable. They may appear friendly, normal, and non-threatening. Many are young, married and have children. Rapist types and traits however can be categorized.

Myth: Women fantasize about being raped.

Fact: No woman fantasizes about being raped. Fantasies about aggressive sex may be controlled and turned off if they become threatening. In rape, the victim is unable to control the violence and stop it.

Myth: A man can’t rape his wife.

Fact: Many states now have laws against rape in marriage. The idea that a man can’t rape his wife suggests married women do not have the same right to safety as do unmarried women. Most battered women have experienced some form of sexual abuse within their marriage. It is also known that estranged or ex-spouses sometimes use rape as a form of retaliation.

Myth: Only “bad” women get raped.

Fact: No other crime victim is looked upon with the degree of suspicion and doubt as a victim of rape. Although there are numerous reasons why society has cast blame on the victims of rape, a major reason found in studies is that of a feeling of self protection. If one believes that the victim was responsible because she put herself in an unsafe position, such as being out late at night, drinking alcohol, dressing in a certain way, or “leading on” the rapist, then we are able to feel safer because “we wouldn’t do those things.” But, the basic fact remains that without consent, no means no, no matter what the situation or circumstances.

Myth: Rape is just unwanted sex and isn’t really a violent crime.

Fact: Rape is a lot more than an unwanted sex act, it is a violent crime. Many rapists carry a weapon and threaten the victim with violence or death.

Myth: Rape only occurs outside and at night.

Fact: Rape can and does occur anytime and anyplace. Many rapes occur during the day and in the victims’ homes.

Myth: Sexual assault is an impulsive, spontaneous act.

Fact: Most rapes are carefully planned by the rapist. A rapist will rape again and again, usually in the same area of town and in the same way.

Myth: Sexual assault usually occurs between strangers.

Fact: By some estimates, over 70% of rape victims know their attackers. The rapist may be a relative, friend, co-worker, date or other acquaintance.

Myth: Rape only happens to young attractive women.

Fact: Rape can and does strike anyone at anytime. Age, social class, ethnic group and has no bearing on the person a rapist chooses to attack. Research data clearly proves that a way a woman dresses and / or acts does not influence the rapists choice of victims. His decision to rape is based on how easily he perceives his target can be intimidated. Rapists are looking for available and vulnerable targets.

Statistics were obtained from various sources including the study Rape in America, 1992, National Victim Center, The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the National Crime Survey.
Myth: Rape is a crime of passion.

Fact: Rape is an act of VIOLENCE, not passion. it is an attempt to hurt and humiliate, using sex as the weapon.

Myth: Most rapes occur as a “spur of the moment” act in a dark alley by a stranger.

Fact: Rape often occurs in one’s home – be it apartment, house or dormitory. Very often the rapist is known by the victim in some way and the rape is carefully planned.

Myth:Most rapists only rape one time.

FACT Most rapists rape again, and again, and again – until caught.

Myth: Only certain kinds of people get raped. It cannot happen to me.

FACT Rapists act without considering their victim’s physical appearance, dress, age, race, gender, or social status. Assailants seek out victims who they perceive to be vulnerable. The Orange County Rape Crisis Center has worked with victims from infancy to ninety-two years of age and from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Myth: Only women and gay men get raped.

FACT The vast majority of male rape victims, as well as their rapists, are heterosexual.Male rape victims now represent 8% of the primary victims served by the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Rapists are motivated by the desire to have power and control over another person, not by sexual attraction. Male rape is not homosexual rape. Many male victims do not report the assault because they fear further humiliation.

Myth: Rape is an impulsive, uncontrollable act of sexual gratification. Most rape are spontaneous acts of passion where the assailant cannot control him/herself.

FACT Rape is a premeditated act of violence, not a spontaneous act of passion. 71% of rapes are planned in advance. 60% of convicted rapists were married or had regular sexual partners at the time of the assault. Men can control their sexual impulses. The vast majority of rapists are motivated by power, anger, and control, not sexual gratification.

Myth: No woman or man can be raped against her or his will. Any person could prevent rape if he or she really wanted to.

FACT In 1991, 14% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center involved the use of a weapon. 74% involved physical force and/or threats of force. Women are often physically weaker than men and are not taught to defend themselves or to be physically aggressive. Furthermore, some women are not willing to hurt another person, especially if the offender is someone they know.

Myth: Most rapes occur when people are out alone at night. If people stay at home, then they will be safer.

FACT 44% of rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991 occurred in the victim’s home.

Myth: Rapists are strangers. If people avoid strangers, then they will not be raped.

FACT In 60% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991, the rapist was known to the victim. 7% of the assailants were family members of the victim. These statistics reflect only reported rapes. Assaults by assailants the victim knows are often not reported so the statistics do not reflect the actual numbers of acquaintance rapes.

Myth: If the assailant, victim, or both are drunk, the assailant cannot be charged with rape.

FACT Forcing sex on someone who is too drunk to give consent is second degree rape in North Carolina. [It carries a prison sentence of up to 17 years.] Rape is a crime. People who commit crimes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not considered free from guilt.

Myth: Most rapes involve black men and white women.

FACT 77% of the rapes reported to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in 1991 involved persons of the same race.

Myth: Rapists are abnormal perverts; only sick or insane men are rapists.

FACT In a study of 1300 convicted offenders, few were diagnosed as mentally or emotionally ill. Most were well-adjusted but had a greater tendency to express their anger through violence and rage.

Myth: Rape is a minor crime affecting only a few women.

FACT It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will be raped in her lifetime. Because of low reporting rates, it is not known how many adult men are assaulted. It is also estimated that 1 out of every 4 girls, and 1 out of every 8 boys are sexually assaulted in some way before they reach adulthood. Rape is the most frequently committed violent crime in this country.

Myth: Women frequently cry rape; false reporting of rape is common.

FACT The FBI reports that only 2% of rapes reports are given falsely. This is the same report rate for other felonies.

Myth: Most rapes occur on the street, by strangers, or by a few crazy men.

FACT Over 50% of reported rapes occur in the home. 80% of sexual assaults reported by college age women and adult women were perpetrated by close friends or family members. There is no common profile of a rapist. Rapes are committed by people from all economic levels, all races, all occupations. A rapist can be your doctor, your boss, your clergyman, your superintendent, your partner, your lover, your friend or your date.

Myth: You cannot be assaulted against your will.

FACT Assailants overpower their victims with the threat of violence or with actual violence. Especially in cases of acquaintance rape or incest, an assailant often uses the victim’s trust in him to isolate her.

Myth: Women secretly enjoy being raped.

FACT No woman/ man/ child enjoys being raped. It is a brutal intrusion on the mind, body and spirit that can have lasting trauma.

Myth: It is impossible for a husband to sexually assault his wife.

FACT Regardless of marital or social relationship, if a woman does not consent to sexual activity, she is being sexually assaulted. In fact, 14% of women are victims of rape committed by their husband.

Myth: If a person doesn’t “fight back” she/he wasn’t really raped.

FACT Rape is potentially life-threatening. Whatever a person does to survive the assault is the appropriate action.

Myth: A person who has really been assaulted will be hysterical.
FACT: Survivors exhibit a spectrum of emotional responses to assault: calm,      hysteria, laughter, anger, apathy, shock. Each survivor copes with the trauma of the assault in a different way.

Women “ask for it” by their dress or actions.

FACT Rapists look for victims they perceive as vulnerable, not women who dress in a particular way. Assuming that women provoke attacks by where they are or the way they dress is victim-blaming. No person, whatever their behaviour, “deserves” to be raped.

Myth: Women “cry” rape.

FACT Only two percent of reported rape and related sex offences are false (which is approximately the same rate of false reports for other crimes). Although many cases are dropped because of insufficient evidence for conviction, this should not be confused with false reporting.

Myth: Gang rape is rare.
FACT: In 43% of all reported cases, more than one assailant was involved.
Myth: Women who are drunk are willing to engage in any kind of sexual activity.

FACT The fact that a woman has been drinking does not imply consent. Alcohol and drugs can render a woman incapable of consent.

Myth: Only young, pretty women are assaulted.

FACT Survivors range in age from infancy to old age, and their appearance is seldom a consideration. Assailants often choose victims who seem most vulnerable to attack: old persons, children, physically or emotionally disabled persons, substance abusers and street persons. Men are also attacked.

Myth: It is impossible to sexually assault a man.

FACT Men fall victim for the same reasons as women: they are overwhelmed by threats or acts of physical and emotional violence. Also, most sexual assaults that involve a male victim are gang assaults.

Myth: As long as children remember to stay away from strangers, they are in no danger of being assaulted.

FACT Sadly, children are usually assaulted by acquaintances; a family member or other caretaking adult. Children are usually coerced into sexual activity by their assailant, and are manipulated into silence by the assailant’s threats and/or promises, as well as their own feelings of guilt.

Myth: Most rapes involve black men raping white women.

FACT The majority of rapes are same race; womewhere around 3 to 4% are not same race.

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When STEP-PARENTS abuse the children

Posted by Sandra On January - 27 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

abuse.jpg abuse image by iluvmiley123

Tell any group of people that stepparents are about one hundred times more likely to fatally abuse their children than are “true” parents and you can’t expect an easy audience — especially if you suggest that the key factor could just be the lack of a genetic relationship. So the questions rained down thick and fast on Canadian psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson when they floated these conclusions (gleaned from their twenty years of research) at a Darwin Seminar at the London School of Economics. The questions were as varied as the audience of scientists, historians, undergraduates, and interested passersby that these provocative seminars invariably attract.

“How can you know such a thing?” people asked. “What makes you think that genetic relationships play a part, as opposed to a hundred other possible confounding variables, such as the poverty of the parents and the duration of contact between parent and child?” “What about adopted children?” “What use is such information, anyway?” “Aren’t you just stirring things up for no good reason?”

Daly and Wilson, from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, did not arrive at their conclusions casually. In the 1970s, about ten years after the “battered child syndrome” had been officially recognized, they set out to see if children were more likely to be abused by stepparents than by biological parents. In addition, they wanted to explore a specific Darwinian hypothesis. There had been new developments in Charles Darwin’s idea that human behavior, as well as our physical appearance, has been shaped to a significant extent by natural selection. In particular, in the 1960s, William D. Hamilton, now professor of zoology at Oxford University, had put a new construction on the phenomenon of altruism — the process by which individuals apparently sacrifice their own self-interest, and even their lives, to benefit others.

Hamilton showed that natural selection could and would favor genes that promoted altruistic behavior, provided that the individuals who benefited from the altruism had a high chance of containing the same genes. In fact, such altruistic behavior is not altruistic at all, in the sense that moral philosophers use the term, but is entirely selfish. The gene that promotes the apparent self-sacrifice is simply promoting its own replication, by enhancing the survival of copies of itself — albeit copies contained in other individuals. Thus, said Hamilton, we might expect individuals to compromise themselves if doing so benefited their own kin, who would indeed contain copies of the gene that promoted the self-sacrificial behavior. The final mist is that parental care, and the self-sacrifice that goes with it, are merely special examples of the altruism that any organism might be expected to show toward its own kin.

Although stepparents in some societies are related to the children, Daly and Wilson reasoned that stepparents are not generally kin to their stepchildren, at least not in most Western societies. Therefore, we might expect that they would show no predilection to sacrifice themselves (in large or even small ways) on a stepchild’s behalf. They sought to find out if this hypothesis, based on Hamilton’s extension of Darwin’s ideas, was true.

Wilson says, “We were astonished to find that it was not easy even to begin to explore this hypothesis. Official statistics from the United States didn’t reveal whether parents who abused children were step or biological. It just didn’t occur to criminologists that the nature of the relationship was important, so they generally didn’t bother to record it.” She and Daly had to took beyond the official statistics, to the raw data of case histories. By 1980 they had demonstrated that children under three years of age are at least seven times more likely to be abused by stepparents than by biological parents.

Daly and Wilson believed, however, that statistics for child abuse in general might be biased by underreporting or incomplete reporting. After all, parents don’t want to admit that they have beaten their children; there are plenty of ways to conceal abuse or to explain away injuries. To gain a truer picture, the researchers decided to focus specifically on a form of abuse that is exceedingly difficult to cover up: homicide. Once again — even more astonishingly — most official statistics, including the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports, the U.S. national archive, did not differentiate between killings by stepparents or by biological parents. But Statistics Canada from 1974 to 1990 did contain relevant data.

Its figures showed that children under the age of two were at least one hundred times more likely to be killed by stepparents — particularly stepfathers — than by biological parents.

“Of course,” Daly stresses, “most stepparents take to the task extremely well, and generally make loving substitute parents. The incidence of abuse is low.” Nonetheless, for stepparents the homicide rate comes out at about 600 per million parent-child groups living together, compared with just a handful for biological parents. Further examination of records in the United States and Britain revealed an increased risk for children with stepparents. Moreover, a closer look at the case histories reveals that while biological parents who kill their children are often severely depressed and, Daly and Wilson reported, “may even construe murder-suicide as a humane act of rescue,” stepparents who are homicidal “are rarely suicidal and typically manifest their antipathy to their victims in the relative brutality of their lethal acts.”

That there is a difference in incidence of fatal abuse between stepparents and genetic parents seems undeniable, but what are the reasons for it? Daly and Wilson have explored all the obvious, possibly confounding variables of the kind that their Darwin Seminar audience seized upon. Is poverty the real cause? Certainly, it is a risk factor in child abuse. And the breakup of previous marriages that often lies behind stepparentage obviously can be costly, reducing economic status. But, according to Daly and Wilson, the case histories show that child homicide is vastly greater among stepparents than biological parents at an levels of wealth. Poverty emerged as an independent, additional factor, but a relatively weak one.

Well, is remarriage itself then a factor, suggesting some fickleness of personality that might predispose a person to abuse? Apparently not. The case histories show that people who remarry typically continue to treat their own children well even when they abuse their stepchildren. Or does the difference lie in early opportunities for bonding? Are biological parents conditioned to respond well to their children because they are exposed to them from birth? “There isn’t much evidence on this,” says Wilson, “because not many stepparents see their stepchildren at a very early age, so it is hard to make a direct comparison. The few cases there are — although not statistically significant — suggest that stepfathers are at least as likely to abuse their stepchildren even when they are present at the actual birth.”

Don’t adopted children provide a cogent comparison since, as with stepchildren, they are generally unrelated to their substitute parents? In fact, their risk is roughly the same as with natural parents. Surely this negates the notion that the added risk of stepparentage has genetic origins? “It might seem to,” Daly acknowledges, “but there are two big, additional factors in adoption. First, adopting parents are obviously highly motivated and extremely closely monitored before they take on a child. Second, they tend to return children to adoption agencies far more often than is generally appreciated.” This would weed out “unbonded” adoptive parents. So, although the data from families with adopted children appear to contradict the Darwinian idea that lack of genetic relationship reduces the likelihood of care, confounding variables make direct comparison impossible.

To test the genetic hypothesis to the full, Daly and Wilson asked their own question in reverse. Why is it that the overwhelming majority of stepparents treat their stepchildren well? After all, parenthood is a huge investment, an enormous burden to shoulder for the genetic offspring of somebody else. In Darwinian terms, at least, parenting means one thing only: perpetuating yourself by reproduction. But Daly says, “We know that when some other male animals take over a new family they will kill any existing offspring of previous matings — as male lions will do. It’s easy to see why: it is in their own genetic interests to impregnate the females themselves, and existing cubs simply get in the way. Not all male animals behave this way. Incoming male baboons, for example, treat existing children well. This seems to be part of the mating effort; the females will not accept males that do not demonstrate parenting skills. This model seems to fit the human case as well. But, although stepparents do take on the task, Darwinians would predict that the full expression of parental feeling is liable to be buffered. Sometimes it’s buffered too much.”

Daly and Wilson reiterate that the overall rate of homicide by all parents of their children is low, and that most stepparents treat their new families well. Nevertheless, stepparentage emerges not only as a key risk factor in parental child abuse and homicide, but as the biggest factor. The Darwinian hypothesis — that the explanation may lie in the lack of familial relationship, and not primarily in economic or social factors — has stood up so far to the more obvious criticisms.

Finally we can ask — as the Darwin Seminar audience did — “Of what use is such knowledge? After all, most stepparents are good parents, so what good does it do to target them?” Margo Wilson answers, “In general we feel that it is better to know than not to know. It must be bad in principle to shy away from discovery just because the knowledge gained may seem uncomfortable. In fact, we can envisage good, practical reasons for this kind of knowledge. For one thing, social workers worldwide are invariably overworked. Anything that might help them to focus their efforts more accurately has to be worthwhile. And it can’t be good that everyone has been overlooking the biggest risk factor for so long.

“We might also suggest that a mother who is thinking of remarrying should bear in mind that she cannot take her new partner for granted; she cannot expect that he will automatically treat her children as if they were his own. Actually women know this already of course — but perhaps the point needs more emphasis.”

In short, if Wilson and Daly’s ideas are applied sensibly and humanely (and are not used to make stepparents feel bad), then, in principle, they could save much human misery and perhaps human life. If this proves to be so, then those who object to this kind of insight should acknowledge that by objecting, they are allowing human suffering to take place unnecessarily — and they should take moral responsibility for so doing.

As for the Darwin Seminars, they provide one of the best forums yet devised for academics in Darwinian studies to take their ideas beyond their own scientific discipline and expose them to experts from other fields — and, vitally, to the public at large. The Seminars, established at the London School of Economics two and a half years ago by Helena Cronin, are open to everyone and are already acknowledged on both sides of the Atlantic as intellectual and social salons of key importance. Cronin is herself a scholar of the new “evolutionary psychology” and author of The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today, a reappraisal of Darwin’s idea of sexual selection. She says, “Darwin always wanted his ideas ‘to throw light on man,’ and we aim to help realize his dream. We don’t yet know how much light Darwinian hypotheses win spread, but there’s already good reason to think they will be very illuminating indeed. Daly and, Wilson’s studies are among those showing that the ideas win be useful too. They can save lives.”

Colin Tudge is a science writer and research fellow in the Centre for Philosophy at the London School of Economics. His latest book on human evolution is The Day Before Yesterday (Simon and Schuster).

Colin Tudge “Relative danger“. Natural History. FindArticles.com. 27 Jan, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1134/is_n8_v106/ai_20147994/

COPYRIGHT 1997 Natural History Magazine, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

Sexual Abuse Survivors Wait Too Long To Report

Posted by Sandra On January - 26 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

If you were a victim of sexual abuse as a child, did you ever tell anyone? If you did, how long did you wait until you reported the abuse?

A recent study from Quebec finds that half of sexually abuse individuals wait up to five years and one quarter never reveal they were sexually abused as children.

Sexual abuse survivors often find it very difficult to tell anyone they have been violated, and the longer they wait, the more lasting and severe will be the impact on their lives. To evaluate this phenomenon, researchers from three institutions—the University of Montreal, the University of Quebec in Montreal, and the University of Sherbrooke—collaborated and reported on their interrelated studies.

In one study, the investigators surveyed 800 men and women and found that 22 percent of women and 10 percent of men were survivors of sexual abuse. Of this group, one-quarter had never told anyone they had been sexually abused as children. Abused males were more likely to remain silent than women: 16 percent of women and 34 percent of men never shared their story.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, up to 80,000 cases of child sexual abuse are reported each year, but the number of actual cases is higher because children are afraid to tell anyone. Children who are sexually abused are more likely to report they have been abused if their abuser is a stranger. Unfortunately, serious cases of abuse (e.g., rape) are usually committed by someone the victim knows, including a family member or friend. In fact, 85 percent of female victims and 89 percent of male victims know their abuser.

Children who have been sexually abused can develop a wide variety of psychological problems and physical problems and behaviors related to the abuse. When the abuser is someone the child knows and cares for, the young person becomes torn between affection for the person and the sense that the sexual activities are wrong. Sexually abused children often develop low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, a distorted view of sex, sleep problems or nightmares, conduct disorders, depression, or suicidal behaviors or thoughts. Some become child abusers themselves or prostitutes.

A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine looked at the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) retrospective study evaluated data from 17,337 adults in San Diego, California, who completed a survey about abuse or household dysfunction during childhood. The researchers noted that men and women sexual abuse survivors were at a 40 percent increased risk of marrying an alcoholic, a 40 to 50 percent increased risk of reporting marital problems, and more than twice as likely to attempt suicide.

In the second study, Professor Isabelle Daigneault of the University of Montreal Department of Psychology investigated the likelihood that young victims of sexual abuse would become adult victims of sexual or physical abuse. She examined 9,170 women and 7,823 men throughout Canada and found that female survivors of childhood sexual abuse are three to four times more likely than male survivors to be victims of physical or sexual abuse as adults.

This was the first study that combined data on childhood sexual abuse with relationship problems in adulthood, according to Daigneault. Although male survivors of sexual abuse are three times more likely to be victimized as adults, the number of men who reported sexual abuse as adults was too small to establish a statistically significant correlation.

Overall, the number of sexual abuse survivors who wait many years to report their abuse or who never do so is great, according to Mireille Cyr, a co-author of the first study and a psychology professor at the University of Montreal. “This is regrettable,” she notes, “because the longer they wait to reveal the abuse, the harder and more enduring the consequences will be.”

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Daigneault I et al. Child Abuse & Neglect 2009; 33(9): 638
Dube SR et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2005 Jun; 28(5): 430-38
Hebert M et al. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2009; 54(9): 631-36


Mental Health “Expert” Claims That Child Sexual Abuse is Rarely Painful or Terrifying

Posted by Sandra On January - 25 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

Mental Health “Expert” Claims That Child Sexual Abuse is Rarely Painful or Terrifying

Susan Clancy

Psychologist and associate at Harvard University, Susan A. Clancy, proposes in her new book that it is not the sexual abuse itself that causes trauma, but “the narrative that is later imposed on the abuse experience.” She writes in a letter to the Boston Globe, “For children, sexual abuse is rarely painful or terrifying at the time it occurs.”

Pedophiles and child sexual abusers have often tried to assert that children are not traumatized and harmed by the sexual abuse. Perpetrators say the child develops problems because of society’s view of sexual abuse. Clancy appears to share this belief and says that most victims do not report fear or panic.  I have to question where she gets her interview subjects because, out of the hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse that I have corresponded with, virtually every one of them has expressed feeling some kind of fear, panic, terror, or they dissociated from the abuse because their mind could not handle the trauma.

Clancey alleges that the child usually only experiences confusion because the child does not understand the sexual encounter, and she says that because the child usually sexually accommodates the perpetrator, the child will feel intense shame when they become an adult and are told by professionals and society that the abuse was wrong.

Clancy has titled her book, The Trauma Myth. This was her first mistake. She is already saying with her title, “It is a myth that children are traumatized by child sexual abuse.” She is essentially saying that the rape,  sodomy, and sexual violation of a child’s body does not harm the child, is not painful for the child, and does not create fear or terror.

Ms. Clancy has obviously never been raped by a full grown man when she was a child, or vaginally penetrated with a foreign object by her father or step-father. She has obviously never endured being straddled by a man four times her size while she sleeps, only to be awakened by one of his hands over her mouth, and the other groping her vagina. Susan Clancy has never been forced by her older brother to perform oral sex on her own sister. These kind of cases are not rare –any mental health expert knows that. For this psychologist to say that it is a “myth” that child sexual abuse is not traumatizing, is not only ignorant but it places children in danger. This belief system places countless children in harm’s way because pedophiles and child sexual abusers will embrace this “myth” theory and use it to sexually violate children.

Ms. Clancy, I can attest to the fact that many children do feel pleasure mixed with confusion over being sexually assaulted by an adult. I was a victim of incest and rape by my father, and I have felt the inner turmoil and feeling through my body like melted butter when my father touched me sexually -and later in my childhood- when his rapes turned into sexual intimacy with my own dad, it felt good. However, contrary to your ignorant opinion, and contrary to the endless amounts of evidence –rape, sodomy, and a toddler having a man’s penis shoved down its throat is NOT rare, NOR a myth. If you are saying that forced fellatio is not traumatizing for the child, then someone ought to revoke your license. Contrary to your absolutely irresponsible belief system, when my father first placed his penis in my mouth at age three, I was traumatized, choked, and terrified. When he raped me on a cold bathroom floor at age seven, and I thought I was dying because I did not know what was happening to me, I experienced terror beyond description.

Ms. Clancy, if trauma experienced by a victim of child sexual abuse  is a myth then how do you explain the millions of survivors of child sexual abuse who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so severely, that it affects their entire lives with abnormal fears, flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares, nervous system disorders, ringing in the ears, chest pain, insomnia, bladder problems, heart trouble, exaggerated startle response and hypervigilance? These survivors developed their trauma-based symptoms because their vagina or rectum was ripped open by a man’s penis, or from having a penis shoved down their tiny mouth, or by having their chest nearly crushed by a man’s body when he climbed into bed with them and lay his heavy body on top of them. Some of them were traumatized by sexually degenerate women who violently abused their bodies, like Greg Milligan, whose mother beat his genitals when she could not have an orgasm with him.

You are correct Ms. Clancy, I liked the pleasure, affection and attention that I received from some of the abuse that I endured by my father, but I also experienced deep confusion and guilt, not because of what society taught me about child sexual abuse, and not because of anyone in my family telling me it was wrong –but  because, as a child, I instinctually knew that what was happening between my father and me was wrong. I knew as a child that it was unnatural. More importantly, I experienced a tremendous amount of pain and fear during those years –enough to induce decades of PTSD symptoms that eventually stopped my life and sent me to countless medical doctors and mental health experts.

Please also see: Harvard Psychologist Says Children Are Willingly Abused

I urge all survivors of severe child sexual abuse, all victims of adult rape, and all parents to write Susan Clancy and tell her what you feel about this book and its title. You can reach her by writing:

Susan A. Clancy

Associate of Psychology

William James Hall

33 Kirkland Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

In the letter to the editor reprinted below, The Leadership Council’s advisory board member Dr. Philip Kinsler responded to a Boston Globe Letter to the editor by Dr. Susan Clancy, in which she stated, “For children, sexual abuse is rarely painful or terrifying at the time it occurs.”

Children are Harmed by Sexual Abuse

The Boston Globe
Letters to the Editor
Children are Harmed by Sexual Abuse
February 27, 2005

AS A PROFESSIONAL who has devoted many years to trying to aid in the healing of child sexual abuse survivors, I was surprised by the peremptory tone and deficient scholarship in Susan Clancy’s Feb. 20 letter regarding child sexual abuse (”The concept of repression”).

The notion that child sexual abuse is usually not harmful is ignorant at best and provides pernicious support to pedophiles at worst. This pseudoscience was thoroughly debunked in the controversy over the infamous Rind study in 1998 alleging similar notions to Clancy’s. Clancy states she does ”not believe that repression exists.”

Personal belief does not belong in scientific discussions.

There are more than 85 studies in the literature, conducted using multiple research paradigms, that verify the phenomenon of fragmentary or total traumatic amnesia. No study that has asked survivors the question has failed to find a robust number of persons reporting the phenomenon.

The difficulty of creating this phenomenon in laboratories using word lists with college sophomores is a problem of research design and paradigm; not a lack of effect of trauma on memory. And Dr. Jennifer Freyd has shown that word-list experiments carefully done do find traumatic memory effects.

As a therapist, I have worked with survivors of priest abuse and seen first hand their shattered faith in themselves, in the priesthood, in the church, in God. The notion that most victims of sexual abuse are gently groomed for an experience they do not find distasteful is shocking in its ignorance. Studies of the natural history of abusive families indicate that in familial abuse there is typically a mixture of family violence, parental alcoholism, and child sexual abuse.

Tell me that my clients who have been raped at gunpoint by drunken relatives firing guns near their heads to obtain compliance have not been harmed. Clancy’s letter is a biased document whose errors of logic and scholarship do not reflect the state of the science and serves to support the dangerous notion that children can give consent to and are not harmed by sexual abuse.


Lyme , N.H.

http://www.psyfil.net/(Dr. Kinsler is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at  Dartmouth Medical School, where he supervises psychiatry  residents’ diagnostic and therapy work.  Dr. Kinsler is an experienced expert witness and testifies  broadly on criminal, civil, and family court matters.  Dr. Kinsler is extensively published in the fields of  psychological trauma, suggestibility in interviews of children  and adults, relational psychotherapy of trauma survivors, and ethical forensic practice.)


Posted by Sandra On January - 20 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS




Home: Society: Issues: Children, Youth and Family: Child Abuse: Directory

The Connection Between Poverty and Child Abuse, Neglect

Posted by Sandra On January - 20 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

The Connection Between Poverty and Child Abuse, Neglect

Submitted by Denise Reynolds RD on Jan 12th, 2010

In Michigan, the “Kids Count” data report for 2009 was released this week, which examines trends in child well-being in 83 counties. Overall, childhood poverty increased by 6% between 2005 and 2007. In some areas of the state, particularly rural counties, more than one in three children live in poverty and confirmed cases of neglect and abuse are rising – up 16% between 2000 and 2008.

Kids Count in Michigan is a collaborative effort between the Michigan League for Human Services and Michigan’s Children, with funding in part from local United Way agencies.

Diane Dykstra, President of the local Wexford-Missaukee Child Protection Council, where the number of families investigated has risen from 894 in 2000 to 1,146 in 2008, was not surprised by the report. The mission of her program is to reduce child abuse and neglect through community education. She states that she has also seen an increase in the number of children removed from homes related to parent substance abuse.

According to the report “Primary Prevention of Child Abuse”, about 3 million cases of abuse are reported in the United States each year, with the majority being classified as neglect, which includes physical, emotional, and educational neglect. High poverty rate is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect – children who live in families with an annual income less than $15,000 are 22 times more likely to be abused or neglected. Stressors such as unemployment, single parenthood, limited access to health care, housing instability, and exposure to environmental hazards contribute to neglect. Substance abuse is another known risk factor, with an estimated 40% of confirmed cases of child abuse being related to parental substance abuse.

Poor economic times do not only result in struggling families. Continued budget cuts to social service programs may further exacerbate the problem. Jane Zehnder-Merrell, study director and researcher at the Michigan League for Human Services says, “Going forward, this is not going to be good news when…you’re slashing all of those programs that give these kids a fighting chance.” The positive outcomes of the Kids Count report, including a drop in teen birth rate, is credited to public awareness programs, better health care and after-school activities that keep children off the streets.

Author and activist Pearl S. Buck said, “If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.”
Children who are subject to abuse are up to 6 times more likely to drop out of school and be delinquent or criminal as adults.

The first provision for children should be basic human needs, such as shelter, nutrition, education, and safety. Primary prevention programs also focus on strengthening family and community connections and support. Respect for the integrity of the family is vital, as parents should be encouraged to contribute to their child’s growth and development. Parents need to be given the opportunity to participate in community programs that empower them and provide training for skills that may be lacking in parenting practices.

For more information about the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, visit www.childabuse.org. For more information about the Child Welfare Information Gateway, see www.childwelfare.org.

child abuse
physical child abuse
child abuse prevention
child neglect

SOURCE:  http://www.emaxhealth.com/1506/50/35091/connection-between-poverty-and-child-abuse-neglect.html

Child Protection Agencies Rely on Trained ‘Mandated Reporters’ to Identify Abuse

Posted by Sandra On January - 20 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Child Protection Agencies Rely on Trained ‘Mandated Reporters’ to Identify Abuse

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Information supplied by “mandated reporters” trained to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect give child protection agencies a better shot at helping endangered or abused children, according to Lori Lower, long-time administrator of the Perry County Children & Youth Office.

Lower said most of the abuse and neglect investigations her agency handles are initiated as result of outside reports.

“The earlier we can intervene, the better it is for the child and the family,” Lower said. “If the agency isn’t aware, we’re not going to be able to do anything about it.”

Early intervention, she explained, can be the difference between being able to address and help solve problems and keep a family intact versus placing a child in foster care.

Basically, mandated reporters are the eyes and ears of a community. They’re people who come into contact with children in the course of performing their jobs and are required by law to report suspected abuse and neglect. They include nurses, health and social service workers, teachers and other school employees, law enforcement authorities, and members of the clergy.

Lower has worked with the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) for the last seven years providing training to mandated reporters. PFSA programs trained 7,880 mandated reporters throughout Pennsylvania during the past year.

She said training helps mandated reporters understand the reporting process and their responsibilities and gives them confidence in their judgment. “People want to know how they can help,” she said.

PFSA recently went on record in support of state Senate Bill 1137, which would require three hours of abuse-identification training every five years for teachers and other mandated reporters employed by or under contract to public school districts, intermediate units, vocational-technical schools, charter schools, and private schools.

Lower said she was wholeheartedly in favor of the proposed legislation. She said that in her experience, the more training that mandated reporters receive “the more vested they are” in their responsibilities.

More than 25,650 cases of suspected child and student abuse were reported in Pennsylvania last year. Slightly more than 16 percent of those reports—more than 4,200—were substantiated.

Fifty children died from abuse, four more than 2007 and 19 more than 2006. Abuse also accounted for 6,140 injuries to children. Physical injuries ranged from bruises and abrasions to broken bones, skull fractures, and scaldings. The majority of injuries were sexual in nature, ranging from sexual assault to rape and incest.

For more information, visit the PFSA Web site at www.pa-fsa.org.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted by Sandra On January - 20 - 2010 1 COMMENT

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

ptsd.jpg ptsd image by crazycowgirl_wtx

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), once called shell shock or battle fatigue syndrome, is a serious condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened. PTSD is a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster. Families of victims can also develop post-traumatic stress disorder, as can emergency personnel and rescue workers.

Most people who experience a traumatic event will have reactions that may include shock, anger, nervousness, fear, and even guilt. These reactions are common; and for most people, they go away over time. For a person with PTSD, however, these feelings continue and even increase, becoming so strong that they keep the person from living a normal life. People with PTSD have symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as before the event occurred.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

Symptoms of PTSD most often begin within three months of the event. In some cases, however, they do not begin until years later. The severity and duration of the illness vary. Some people recover within six months, while others suffer much longer.

Symptoms of PTSD often are grouped into three main categories, including:

  • Re-living: People with PTSD repeatedly re-live the ordeal through thoughts and memories of the trauma. These may include flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares. They also may feel great distress when certain things remind them of the trauma, such as the anniversary date of the event.
  • Avoiding: The person may avoid people, places, thoughts, or situations that may remind him or her of the trauma. This can lead to feelings of detachment and isolation from family and friends, as well as a loss of interest in activities that the person once enjoyed.
  • Increased arousal: These include excessive emotions; problems relating to others, including feeling or showing affection; difficulty falling or staying asleep; irritability; outbursts of anger; difficulty concentrating; and being “jumpy” or easily startled. The person may also suffer physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.

Young children with PTSD may suffer from delayed development in areas such as toilet training, motor skills, and language.

Who Gets PTSD?

Everyone reacts to traumatic events differently. Each person is unique in his or her ability to manage fear and stress, and to cope with the threat posed by a traumatic event or situation. For that reason, not everyone who experiences or witnesses a trauma will develop PTSD. Further, the type of help and support a person receives from friends, family members and professionals following the trauma may influence the development of PTSD or the severity of symptoms.

PTSD was first brought to the attention of the medical community by war veterans, hence the names shell shock and battle fatigue syndrome. However, PTSD can occur in anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. People who have been abused as children or who have been repeatedly exposed to life-threatening situations are at greater risk for developing PTSD. Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk for PTSD.

How Common Is PTSD?

About 3.6% of adult Americans — about 5.2 million people — suffer from PTSD during the course of a year, and an estimated 7.8 million Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. PTSD can develop at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than are men. This may be due to the fact that women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, abuse, and rape.

How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

If symptoms of PTSD are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical exam. Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose PTSD, the doctor may use various tests to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.

If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for an anxiety disorder. The doctor bases his or her diagnosis of PTSD on reported symptoms, including any problems with functioning caused by the symptoms. The doctor then determines if the symptoms and degree of dysfunction indicate PTSD. PTSD is diagnosed if the person has symptoms of PTSD that last for more than one month.

How Is PTSD Treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce the emotional and physical symptoms associated with PTSD, to improve daily functioning and to help the person better cope with the event that triggered the disorder. Treatment for PTSD may involve psychotherapy (a type of counseling), medication, or both.


Doctors use antidepressant medications to treat PTSD and to control the feelings of anxiety and its associated symptoms, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil, Celexa, Luvox, Prozac, and Zoloft; and tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil and Doxepin. Tranquilizers such as Ativan and Klonopin; mood stabilizers such as Depakote and Lamictal; and neuroleptics such as  Seroquel and Abilify are sometimes used.


Psychotherapy for PTSD involves helping the person learn skills to manage symptoms and develop ways of coping. Therapy also aims to teach the person and his or her family about the disorder, and help the person work through the fears associated with the traumatic event. A variety of psychotherapy approaches are used to treat people with PTSD, including:

  • Cognitive-behavior therapy, which involves learning to recognize and change thought patterns that lead to troublesome emotions, feelings, and behavior.
  • Exposure therapy, a type of cognitive-behavior therapy that involves having the person re-live the traumatic experience, or exposing the person to objects or situations that cause anxiety. This is done in a well-controlled and safe environment. Exposure therapy helps the person confront the fear and gradually become more comfortable with situations that are frightening and cause anxiety. This has been very successful at treating PTSD.
  • Psychodynamic therapy focuses on helping the person examine personal values and the emotional conflicts caused by the traumatic event.
  • Family therapy may be useful because the behavior of the person with PTSD can have an affect on other family members.
  • Group therapy may be helpful by allowing the person to share thoughts, fears, and feelings with other people who have experienced traumatic events.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a complex form of psychotherapy that was initially designed to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories but is now also used to treat phobias.

What Is the Outlook for People With PTSD?

Recovery from PTSD is a gradual and ongoing process. Symptoms of PTSD seldom disappear completely, but treatment can help sufferers learn to cope more effectively. Treatment can lead to fewer and less intense symptoms, as well as a greater ability to cope by managing feelings related to the trauma.

Research is ongoing into the factors that lead to PTSD and into finding new treatments.

Can PTSD Be Prevented?

Some studies suggest that early intervention with people who have suffered a trauma may reduce some of the symptoms of PTSD or prevent it all together.

PTSDSupport.jpg PTSD image by tinker_1985

SOURCE:  http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 1 COMMENT


*1 in every 3 girls will be sexually molested before the age of 18
*1 in every 6 boys will be sexually molested before the age of 18
*Every 10 SECONDS a child is raped or killed in the U.S.
*Today up to 5 children will die from abuse or neglect
*In 13 seconds, another child will be abused in the U.S
*There were 2.9 million child abuse reports made in 1992
*ONLY 28% of the children identified as harmed by abuse are investigated
*Boys are at a greater risk of serious injury and of emotional neglect than are girls
*85% of the 1.2 – 1.5 million runaways are fleeing abuse at home
*80% of perpetrators are biological parents
*60 % of male survivors report at least one of their perpetrators to be female
*Natural mothers are the perpetrators of 93% of physical neglect, 86% of educational neglect, 78% of emotional neglect, 60% of physical abuse, and 55% of emotional abuse.
*Children in mother-only households are 4 times more likely to be fatally abused
*Female abusers are typically younger than male abusers.
*The median age was 30 years for women and 33 years for men
*Today 6 children will commit suicide
*Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death (ages 15-24)
*Untreated child abuse increases the likelihood of arrest for a violent crime by 38 percent
*60 MILLION survivors are former victims of child sexual abuse in America today
*71 % of child sex offenders are under the age of 35
*38% of women & 20% of men have been sexually abused during adolescence
*It is estimated that 3%-6% of the clergy population has abused a child
*The typical child sex offender molests an average of 117 children–most of whom do not report the offense

~~~ Imagine the outcry if these statistics represented a disease, which was wiping out 5 children per day, victimizing millions, and who’s by-products where disabilities & expanding violence. Youth rights are really about human rights, and simple empathy is a giant first step to the benefits of increased awareness. The high jump in child abuse statistics shows the importance of youth rights by showing cases of frightening lack of knowledge!!~~~

….Go ahead….


Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Grooming Articles

Many people think that child molesters are strange men who hide in bushes and snatch unsuspecting children off the streets. But in truth, a child is much more likely to be molested by someone he or she knows.

Before the molestation takes place, the perpetrator goes to great lengths to cement his or her relationship with the child to insure compliance. This behavior is called “grooming.” According to INTERPOL, “The majority of sex offenders groom their victims.”

In his publication, “Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis,” former FBI agent Kenneth V. Lanning lays out five stages of the grooming process: identifying a possible victim, collecting information about the intended victim, filling a need, lowering inhibitions, and initiating the abuse. The good news is that there are several opportunities during the process for savvy parents to spot what is going on and put a stop to it.

Famous, Notable Celebrity ABUSE Survivors–You are NOT alone!

Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 5 COMMENTS

Notable Survivors

Here is a listing of famous and infamous survivors of child abuse, sexual abuse, spousal/dating abuse, and rape.
If there is a link for you to click, that means there is a profile for you to read. If you know of a notable survivor I don’t have up here, please let me know.
To return to the main page, click here.

  • Alexander Pushkin (poet) abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Alice Walker (author/activist) abuse

  • Andrea Dworkin (author/activist) rape

  • Angela Rose (activist) sexual assault (visit Angela’s site here )

  • Angela Shelton (actress/model/director/actvist) incest

  • Angie Dickenson (actress, etc) emotional abuse

  • Anne Heche (actress) incest

  • Anne Sexton (poet) child sexual abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Antwone Fisher (author) emotional abuse/child sexual abuse

  • Axl Rose (musician) child sexual abuse (according to IMDB.com)

  • Baby Lyssa Chapman (famous bounty hunter/daughter of Dog) statutory rape

  • Beethoven (composer) unspecified child abuse

  • Beth Chapman (famous bail bondswoman/wife of Dog) domestic violence

  • Bill Clinton (former U.S. President) secondary domestic violence

  • Billie Holliday (singer) childhood rape

  • Billy Connoly (comedian) incest

  • Brett Butler (actress) domestic violence

  • Carlos Santana (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Carrie Otis (model) rape

  • Chester Bennington (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Christina Aguilera (singer) unspecified child abuse/secondary domestic violence

  • Christina Applegate (actress) dating violence

  • Christina Crawford (author) emotional abuse

  • Cindy Williams (actress) emotional abuse

  • Clara Bow (actress) incest

  • Connie Francis (singer) rape

  • Dave Mustaine (musician) child physical abuse/secondary domestic violence

  • Dave Pelzer (author) multiple forms of abuse

  • Derek Luke (actor) child sexual abuse

  • Desi Arnaz, Jr. (actor) emotional abuse

  • Dog the Bounty Hunter (famous bounty hunter/reality TV stars) child physical abuse

  • Dorie VanStone (author) multiple forms of abuse

  • Drew Barrymore (actress) unspecified child abuse

  • Eleanor Roosevelt (former First Lady) unspecified child abuse

  • Elizabeth I (Queen of England) teenage sexual assault, info courteousy of AEST

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning (poet) abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Elizabeth Loftus (psychologist) child sexual abuse

  • Ella Fitzgerald (singer) abuse

  • Emme (model) emotional abuse

  • Erin Gray (actress) unspecified child abuse

  • Eve Ensler (playwright/actress) incest

  • Fantasia (singer) teenage rape

  • Farrah Faucett (actress) domestic violence

  • Fiona Apple (musician) childhood rape

  • Florence Holway (artist/activist) rape

  • Fran Drescher (actress) rape

  • Gabrielle Union (actress) rape

  • Gavin DeBecker (violent crime expert) psychological abuse

  • George Orwell (author) unspecified child abuse

  • Greg Luganis (athlete) abuse

  • Halle Berry (actress, model) domestic violence

  • Henry Miller (writer) abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Henry Rollins (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Janice Dickenson (model) child physical & emotional abuse

  • Janice Mirikitani (poet) incest, Janice’s story is featured on a DVD sold at RAINN’s site

  • Johannes Brahms (composer) child sexual abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Jonathan Davis (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Joyce Meyer (evangelist, author) child physical abuse & incest

  • Kirk Hammett (musician) child physical & sexual abuse

  • Laveraneus Coles (athlete) child sexual abuse

  • Leslie Triber (author/poet) abuse

  • Lorena Bobbit – marital rape

  • Lynn C. Tolson (author) incest/domestic violence/sexual assault

  • Marie Waldrep (poet/activist) incest/domestic violence

  • Marilyn Manson (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Marilyn Monroe (actress) child physical & sexual abuse/childhood attempted rape (according to IMDB.com)/domestic violence

  • Marilyn VanDerber Atler (former Miss America) incest

  • Mary J. Blige (singer) emotional abuse/childhood rape/secondary domestic violence

  • Mary Wollestonecraft (author) child physical abuse

  • Mata Hari (famous spy) domestic violence

  • Maya Angelou (author, poet) childhood rape

  • Maynard James Keenan (musician) child sexual abuse

  • Meat Loaf (musician) peer abuse/parental physical abuse (?)

  • Mike Patton (musician) neglect/child sexual abuse

  • Missy Elliot (rapper, producer) child sexual abuse/secondary domestic violence

  • Nicole Brown Simpson – domestic violence (very likely murdered by OJ)

  • Oprah Winfrey (talk show host) child sexual abuse

  • Ozzy Osbourne (musician) emotional abuse

  • Pamela Anderson (actress) rape/domestic violence

  • Patricia Weaver Francisco (author) rape

  • Patsy Cline (singer) domestic violence

  • Patty Duke (actress, etc.) multiple forms of abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Paula White (evangelist, author) child sexual abuse

  • Queen Latifah (rapper/actress/model) child sexual abuse

  • Rain Pryor (actress) child physical abuse/teenage sexual abuse

  • Richard Nixon (former U.S. President) unspecified child abuse

  • Rita Hayworth (actress) incest

  • Robert Blake (actor) multiple forms of abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Rosanne Arnold (actress) child sexual abuse

  • Rose McGowan (actress) religious related (SRA?) abuse

  • Rosie Perez (actress) child sexual abuse

  • Rudyard Kipling (author) unspecified child abuse

  • Sandra Dee (actress) incest

  • Sinead O’Connor (musician) multiple forms of abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Stasi Eldredge (author) rape

  • Suzanne Somers (actress) emotional abuse

  • Teri Hatcher (actress) incest

  • Tina Turner (singer) domestic violence

  • Tom Arnold (actor, etc) abuse, info courtesy of AEST

  • Toni Childs (musician) abuse, info courteousy of AEST

  • Tori Amos (musician) rape

  • Virginia Woolf (author) incest

  • Viva (actress) child sexual abuse

As Waters Passing By > Notable Survivors

A Guide for Parent’s Whose Child has been Sexually Abused

Posted by Sandra On January - 19 - 2010 4 COMMENTS



Your child has been sexually assaulted. You may be feeling a broad range of emotions—outrage, anger, hurt, and a sense of responsibility. Several questions may also remain unanswered. Why did this happen to my child? Could I have prevented it? Will there be any long-term effects?
When the offender is a parent, the effects on the family are even more traumatic. Did it really happen? Should I leave? Will he go to jail? How could he do this?
Your immediate concern, however, must be for the child. When a child is
molested, parents often feel uncomfortable with talking about the abuse. Yet, the future adjustment of the child depends upon the responses of the parents. When a parent can be emotionally supportive and comforting, long-term negative effects can be lessened.
Studies show that one in four girls and one in six boys will become a victim of sexual assault before they reach the age of eighteen. Unfortunately, parents are neither encouraged nor taught how to talk to children about sexual assault.
The intent of this guide is to provide suggestions to parents in talking with their child, anticipating physical and emotional needs, and deciding if professional counseling is needed.

When a child reports a sexual assault, parents often question whether the child is telling the truth or not. However, evidence indicates that children rarely make up stories about being sexually abused. Usually they are too fearful of the consequences to the offender, themselves, and the family members.
If your child tells you about being sexually assaulted, let them know that you believe them. If you question whether the abuse really occurred, talk with a child protection worker or mental health counselor.

Parents often feel they are the last to find out about the abuse. After the sexual assault is reported, children are generally interviewed by a child protection worker and law enforcement officer. Within the initial interview, children are asked to give a detailed account about the sexual assault. Your child may or may not be upset about this interview.

Children often do not directly tell a parent about the molestation. They sometimes feel embarrassed, responsible, or fearful of a parent’s response. Do not blame your child for not telling you sooner. Try and understand what your child has experienced. Ask how he or she felt about the interview and try to determine if anything in the interview was confusing.

When a parent talks with a child about the sexual assault, the child is helped by:
— Understanding what actually happened
— Expressing feelings about the abuse
— Knowing a parent cares
— Realizing that he/she is not responsible for the abuse

Your ability to listen to your child is important because sexual abuse evokes strong feelings in everyone. The following guidelines suggest ways a parent can talk with a child about sexual abuse.

1. Find a time and place to talk with your child as soon as possible. Choose a
place where you will not be interrupted and allow sufficient time to talk.
2. Ask your child to tell you about the sexual assault. Let your child tell you
what happened in his/her own words and try not to interrupt.
3. Do not pressure your child to talk. Discontinue the discussion when your
child indicates a desire to stop.
Example— “I can see it’s hard to talk about this. We can talk more later if
you want.”
4. Do not contradict your child’s story. Listen and be supportive to what your
child says about the abuse.
5. Do not blame your child for the sexual assault or ask “why” questions.
Some-times in talking with a child, parents express anger. It may be con-
fusing to the child as to whether you are angry with the offender or the
child. Children are NOT responsible for the sexual abuse even though
they may often feel to blame. A child should be assured that the offender
is the one responsible.
6. Understand that your child may care about the offender. When the
offender is a parent or close friend, a child may be concerned about what
will happen to that person. Frequent expressions of anger by a parent
about the offender may be upsetting to the child. Help your child under-
stand that what the offender did was wrong and he needs help to stop
this type of behavior.
7. Reassure your child by letting him/her know that you are sorry this has
happened to them and you will protect him/her from further abuse. Let
your child know that they can tell you if anyone tries to touch them in this
way again.
8. Talk with other children in the family. When the offender is a parent,
brothers and/or sisters need to understand that the offender, not the child is
responsible. The child who has been abused should be included in the
discussions if he/she wants to be.

Generally, children are not seriously injured by a sexual assault. However, it is advisable to have your child examined by a medical professional to check for
injuries. A medical exam can reassure a child that no physical damage has
occurred. An exam, however, does not necessarily confirm or disprove a child’s
story of sexual assault.

Each child reacts differently to a sexual assault based on the child’s personality, age, type of abuse, relationship with the offender, and reactions of family and friends.
Effects may occur over a period of weeks, months, or years following the abuse.

Common symptoms that may occur immediately following the abuse include:
— Sleep disturbances
— Loss of appetite
— Depression
— Fears
— Physical problems such as stomach aches and migraine headaches
— Regressive behaviors such as thumb-sucking, bed wetting, and baby talk
— Sexual acting out behaviors such as inappropriately kissing or touching other
children or adults
— Problems at school

Children’s reactions to therapy vary and some may not want to attend. However, when possible, it is important that a child discuss the abuse. Very few children have no feelings about the abuse. Parents can aid in their child’s healing by:
— Stating that therapy can be helpful and encouraging attendance.
— Recognizing that a child may feel angry, depressed, or physically upset during
treatment. When a child begins to talk about the abuse, these symptoms are
frequently present.
— Talking with your child during or following counseling if needed.
— Letting the therapist know if the child has misunderstood what is said in treat-
ment, if symptoms continue, or if the child does not want to continue.

Parents must also be concerned about their own feelings about the abuse. Following the reporting process, parents often experience many negative feelings toward their child. Even the most caring parents may feel:
— Angry that the child did not tell them sooner
— Upset that the child did not tell them first
— Fearful that the child initiated the abuse
— Hurt and embarrassed that the child was abused
Such feelings should not be expressed to the child. Parents need to find friends or a counselor with whom they can talk about these and other feelings. Talking to someone who understands will benefit you and in turn, your child.


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DREAMCATCHERS FOR ABUSED CHILDREN, INC. is an official non-profit 501(c)3 child abuse & neglect organization. Our mission is to educate the public on all aspects of child abuse such as symptoms, intervention, prevention, statistics, reporting, and helping victims locate the proper resources necessary to achieve a full recovery. We also cover areas such as bullying, teen suicide & prevention, children\'s rights, child trafficking, missing & exploited children, online safety, and pedophiles/sex offenders.

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