The Queen who Survived violence
A message from the Founder The social plague of domestic violence and abuse is something we wished never existed, the reality, it is here amongst us, around us, in many of our homes, organizations, religious, and secular institutions. No longer can we sit on the sidelines and nibble our thumbs as did Nero while Rome burnt, No longer can we stick our heads in the sand like the Ostrich, we need to get involved, we need to be a voice, we need to advocate for the victims and against the perpetration of abuse. This subject is not an easy one nor is it a comfortable one to discuss but it must be dealt with, two of the main keys in dealing with this issue is education and empowerment, empowering persons to use their voice and become literate about the subject. Through education persons will be empowered to use their voice. As a people, as a nation, as a society, and world we have failed to educate the population to be empowered to use their voice in this global fight against abuse. O.A.B.I. VOICES UNITED in global unity against abuse aims to empower persons to use their voice, we aim to bring together victims, advocates, and organizations from around the globe to spread the message that we are no longer accepting this atrocious behaviour. With our monthly publication, O.A.B.I. VOICES UNITED in global unity against abuse, we aim to spread the message through the social networks and internet and also through the printed press, to this end we sincerely would like to thank every contributing writer, every organization, every individual who contributed their time and talents in making this magazine a tremendous success. 4
We say thank you to the editors and the individuals who laid the pages and columns, we also would like to thank our readers in advance without you the reader the proposed target audience and numbers would not be reached, thank you very much for your support on this first issue and we look forward to your continued support in the future. This journey has been a challenging one, it called for hard work, patience, dedication, and sacrifice, to all the volunteers who gave of their time and experienced the long nights, thank you for your service and labour of love. To the international community who selflessly assisted with this project we say thank you for coming onboard and networking with us in this global fight, many persons looked for this project to fail but it has only just begun the roses has just begun to blossom . To the board members, directors, sectaries, and advisers for your unwavering support and faith in this dream, your prayers, your encouragement and words of wisdom even through the darkest hours, you never left our side but you pushed this dream to become the reality it is today, words fail me to express our gratitude and thanks and we SHOUT WE HAVE MADE IT! As advocates may we continue to UNITE to be global voices and a global force against abuse which is perpetrated daily towards our fellow human beings, let us remember we were once victims and it is our DUTY, now that we are free to speak out, reach out, educate, and help those who are still bound, it is our duty to remove the myths and misconceptions of abuse, it is our duty to set the record straight. If we fail to do this it is the greatest crime one can commit against themselves, their fellowmen, but more so against God and humanity. As the saying goes I left the best for last for he has been my continued strength. 5
I publicly say thank you to God for being the driving force behind this project and giving me the strength when I felt like giving up, showing me that I was designed for a purpose and with a purpose which is to serve God and then my fellow men. Showing me that if I kept silent then I was upholding the hands of the many abusers around the world and persecuting the victims of abuse, for showing me that I could not be neutral on such an important subject. For bringing me through some rough patches, when men and women who have been untouched by your grace have persecuted and wished this organization and many other organizations shut down, it goes to show me that whether you believe in God or not there is a special place in HELL for all those who unite and seek to tear down and persecute persons who are advocating for victims and against the evil of abuse. I pray that abuse never slips into the cracks of their homes for it is only then will they know and truly understand the seriousness of this cause and the trail of death, damage, and demise which it leaves in its path. In such times they may seek someone to be a voice for them but as the word say KARMA has now come full circle. No one knows when abuse will touch our lives, what we need to do is to unite no matter the creed, race, social standing, economic class, or religious persuasion whether you communicate with individuals or not once there is a cause you need to lend your voice and give support, let our children know and see that despite all around us we supported a cause of worth which will make their communities, schools, homes, and nations a safer place for them and future generations to come. From the bottom of my heart and with a grateful heart I say thank you. Sherna Benjamin Founder/Ceo O.A.B.I: Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals 6
Photographer for the SIN BY SILENCE Article
All credits go to Misty Dameron
Contributing Writers Sherna Benjamin
Photographer for the SYNFUL PHOTOGRAPHY Article
All credits go to Sunita Ramlakhan
Brenda Clubine Brianna Nisham KazII
Other photos are by Upright Productions which is operated by Vanessa Kent
Gillian Craig Britto
Daleen Berry Michal Madison
Patricia McKnight Akinsola Oyelakin Kristen Paruginog Shelby Patterson Natasha Baine Jay Sanders Dr. Mary Jo Odom-Dull Martina Singh Connie Lee
On the Cover The Purple Reign Campaign 74 Sin By Silence 14 The Queen who Survived violence 34 Sister of Silence 44 The Dream Catchers 68 UNITE 174
Abigail Laurare Karen Smith
Breaking the Silence 82 7
June What’s in THIS ISSUE A message from the founder …………………………….. 4 Editors Note …………………………………………..… 12 Sin By Silence …………………………………………. 14 Trinidad’s Invisible Victims ……………………………. 28 A Survivors Story ……………………………………….. 32 Living Nightmare ……………………………………….. 33 The Queen who was touched by Violence ……………….34 Silent Screams …………………………………………... 38 The Cry …………………………………………………. 39 Groans to Glory Ministry ……………………………….. 40 Sister of Silence ………………………………………… 44 The Silent NO More Foundation ………………………. 51 8
The Art of Expression, The Michal Madison Story …….. 56 DreamCatchers …………………………………………. 68 The Purple Reign Campaign …………………………… 74 Escaping the Realm of Abuse ……………………………78 Silence Broken ………………………………………… ..82 Surviving is what I do …………………………………. ..86 Uniting women for a common purpose ………………… 90 Synful Photography ……………………………………. ..96 Some Secrets should Never be Kept …………………... 102 My Prayer ……………………………………………… 110 My story B.B ………………………………………….. .112 Lela Ann Albert ………………………………………. . 113 FACSA ………………………………………………… 116 Graceful Reflections ………………………………….. .118 9
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and it’s happening right here in the United States.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) 1-888-3737-888 email: NHTRC@PolarisProject.org TOLL-FREE | 24 Hours/day, 7 Days/week Confidential | Interpreters available
WHO ARE THE VICTIMS? Victims are forced to provide labor or commercial sex, and can be: • U.S. citizens or foreign nationals • Men, women, or children
WHERE DOES HUMAN TRAFFICKING HAPPEN? Human trafficking can happen in many situations, including in: • Commercial sex industry (street prostitution, strip clubs, massage parlours, escort services, brothels, internet) • Factories (industrial, garment, meat-packing) • Farms, landscaping, or construction • Peddling rings, begging rings, or magazine crews • Private homes (housekeepers, nannies, or servile marriages) • Restaurants, bars, and other service industries (nail or hair salons)
Call to report a potential case, get information or resources, request training or technical assistance, or receive referrals. FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.TraffickingResourceCenter.org This publication was made possible in part through Grant Number 90XR0012/02 from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Office of Refugee Resettlement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Office of Refugee Resettlement, or HHS.
Health and Wellness …………………………………… 121 Dear S.B ……………………………………………….. 123 Living with Rage ………………………………………..126 So Rage It Is All Around ME……………………………139 Alison …………………………………………………. 140 History Maker My Story, My Life ……………………. 150 Erin’s Law The Crusade of Erin Merryn ...……………. 156 Reading Corner ………………………………………...168 UNITE …………………………………………………. 174 Healing Gods Men …………………………………….. 182 Volunteer Openings ……………………………………. 185 Website: www.oabivoices.org BlogtalkRadio http://www.blogtalkradio.com/oabivoicesunitednetwork Contact us: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please send your Articles to: 11 Oabi.email@example.com
Gratefulness. An Editorâ€™s Note Gratefulness came to mind after days of contemplation as I wondered what to write as one of the editors of this magazine, the atmosphere of gratefulness overwhelmed me. Why am I grateful? I am grateful because even though I was sexually abused as a child in the most horrific way, today I can use my voice to speak out against this atrocity which happened to me and is happening to hundreds even thousands. I am grateful that I can bring awareness even if it is only to one person and if from my pain and torture of my life experience I can help prevent abuse, help a victim heal, and be a voice to the voiceless then what happened to me was not in vain. Despite all the odds against me I did not give in nor give up from forming O.A.B.I.: Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals, this organization is opening its wings and getting ready to take flight. Grateful to all the advocates, survivors, organizations, and even victims whom I have met over the years and in recent months, as we continue to network together to be voices, global voices in unity crying in the wilderness for the voiceless, the problem that we face is that this wilderness is filled with people, many of whom seem not to care. 12
Never the less we will lift our voices in such a melodious chorus that even Angels will join in with the refrain â€œI am saying No to ABUSEâ€? While I was being abused there was no one to be a voice for me, there was no one who delivered me from years of damage and post abuse trauma, disastrous, and damaging life choices. I am grateful to all the young people online who can find comfort and get the boldness to speak out about their abuse, may your voice NEVER remain SILENT for a child is counting on you may your voice never remain silent for the victims of human trafficking are counting on you. May your voice never remain silent for our fellow soldiers who are prisoners of war are looking out for us and as advocates we never leave a solider behind. Thank you for your continued support of VOICES UNITED, I look forward for your articles, survival experience, organizations reports and so much more as we work together to make this magazine a huge success and a voice for the voiceless. From the Editor and the entire team of O.A.B.I.: VOICES UNITED In GLOBAL UNITY against Abuse.
SIN BY SILENCE Written by The Sin by Silence Team
The normalization of violence against women, relationship complexities and the pervasive cultural ideology that private matters should remain private have made domestic violence the number one cause of injury to women today â€“ more than rape, muggings and automobile accidents COMBINED. With unprecedented access inside the California Institution for Women, SIN BY SILENCE offers a unique gateway into the lives of women who are domestic violenceâ€™s worst-case scenarios: women who have killed their abusers. Brenda Clubine endured broken bones. Skull fractures. Her face bruised and battered. By the time Brenda was put behind bars, for killing her husband in 1983, she felt worthless. She received a sentence of 15 years to life. She had to give up her son for adoption. She thought she was the only one in her situation. But, Brenda soon discovered that she shared common experiences of love turning violent with many of her fellow inmates. After years of meeting on the yard and telling each other their whispered stories, an inmate-initiated and led group was born inside the prison in 1989, called Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA). 15
Brendaâ€™s revelation inspired this support group, the first group of its kind in the entire US prison system. The goal of the group is to help women inside prison break the silence about abuse and learn more about how they can help others stop the cycle of violence. Over the past 20 years, since the group was established, many familiar faces remainâ€Ś
LaVelma killed her husband, a pastor and pillar in the community. She never spoke a word to her family, or church members, that her husband beat her on a regular basis. She was embarrassed what others would think about what was happening behind closed doors. She had faith that her husband would change.
Joanne tried to leave, but there were no options available to her. No shelters. No hotlines. No help from the police. Yet, she knew she couldn't live in her car with two kids and temperatures dropping. So she continued to go back and the abuse for her, and her kids, got worse.
Glenda ran over her husband with her car in a public parking lot. He died at the scene. A cut and dry murder case. Yet, why would a 45-year-old woman with no prior criminal history brutally kill her husband?
Instead of fighting a system that does not fully comprehend the complexities of abuse, CWAA led an initiative to help educate the system. Through careful orchestration of letter writing campaigns, media coverage, and senate hearings, a movement was born and laws were changed. And, finally, for Brenda Clubine the flicker of hope begins to grow that her freedom from prison lies moments away. Like many of the CWAA women, Brendaâ€™s years of inflicted abuse were never fully revealed in her trial since, prior to 1992, California law did not allow a legal defence to include evidence of battering. But because of CWAAâ€™s advocacy, news laws was set in place in 1992 and 2002 that allows incarcerated survivors to utilize the defence of Battered Womenâ€™s Syndrome and even challenge their original conviction. Because of those efforts, battered women across the country are currently receiving lesser sentences and are now permitted to seek a new trial if they were convicted before the laws recognized the importance of expert testimony on the effects of battering. After 26 years on October 22, 2008, Brenda became the 20th CWAA member to gain her freedom. A chance to walk on the beach. A chance to be with her son that she was told died by the adoptive parents just after her incarceration. A chance to continue her advocacy and be a voice for the women of CWAA in the free world. SIN BY SILENCE continues the CWAA legacy as an emotionally packed documentary that tells the personal and shocking stories of these courageous women who have learned from their past, are changing their future and, most importantly, teach us how domestic violence affects each and every person. Through their stories of terror and hope, the viewer can begin to understand the cycle of violence, the signs of an abuser, and how each and every one of us is responsible for changing the tragedy of domestic violence. 17
The director of SIN BY SILENCE, Olivia Klaus, spent over ten years volunteering with the CWAA group and built incredibly close relationships with each of the women. The incredibly poignant stories are expertly orchestrated to reveal the complex cycle of violence, the signs of an abuser and how each and every one of us is responsible for challenging the tragedy of domestic violence. The film has helped connect the personal stories of convicted survivors with millions of people to reveal the simple fact that these women could be your grandmother, your mother...or even you! From national media to social media the conversations were ignited - “That could have been me,” “That was my sister...” The conversations sparked so much more than a passive experience, as these women’s stories have now been catalyzed into a new movement - “I never knew this was going on.” “How can I help?” “This injustice must stop!”So, what will you do to carry on the message of SIN BY SILENCE? How will you get involved to help make sure that other women don’t follow the same path as the women of CWAA? How will you make a difference to change the statistics of violence? Taking that step to make a difference will ensure that lives change, women’s roles will transform, and the next generation will be empowered to act with courage. Special thanks to: Olivia Klaus Director/Producer Brenda Clubine Brianna Nisham Outreach Coordinator SIN BY SILENCE Credit: Misty Dameron for all PHOTOS in the SIN BY SILENCE Article. Telephone contact 310.776.5013 Sin By Silence www.sinbysilence.com 18 Every 9 Seconds
Watch Sin by Silence on Investigation Discoveries
The Director/Producer of SIN BY SILENCE
Olivia Klaus is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who passionately believes in the power of visual stories to create positive social change. Her various roles in production have helped create projects that have dealt with such issues as human rights, incarceration, poverty, and domestic violence. Her work has been seen on various networks like CNN, HLN, Showtime, and The History Channel. She was recently listed by Pixel Project as one of the "Top 16 Influential Leaders" in the movement to end violence against women. Olivia Klausâ€™ career began with extensive travel throughout Central and South America, gathering stock footage and interviews for various nonprofit organizations that serve social justice issues in poverty-stricken areas of these regions. Her work continued as she returned to the United States to participate in the establishment of the Plus 8 Digital location in New York City. While managing this office, she was part of the pioneering efforts in high-definition technology emerging in the late 1990s. Plus 8 Digital has most recently merged with Panavision, but still retains a sterling reputation as the pioneer in high-definition technology and resources for countless high definitions productions. Olivia founded Quiet Little Place Productions, an independent production company devoted to producing innovative and socially relevant stories for the screen and the web. In 2009, Olivia directed and produced Sin by Silence as the companyâ€™s first documentary endeavor. The journey of creating the film started in 2001, when Olivia began attending Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA) meetings at the California Institution for Women and built close relationships to capture each of the stories of the women featured in the documentary. The film went on to win numerous film festival and advocacy awards, as well as be featured in People Magazine and CNN. The Stop the Violence campaign, created to enhance the filmâ€™s movement and impact, was a catalyst that significantly furthered the fight against domestic violence through a national community tour and innovative online initiative. Sin by Silence is distributed by Women Make Movies and continues to be an essential educational resource on domestic violence that is utilized across the world in classrooms, training agencies and nonprofits. Olivia also serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Cinema and Digital Media department at Vanguard University of Southern California, her own alma mater, where she received numerous awards for her undergrad work. Her teaching specializations include high-definition and digital production. She was a resident at the Working Films and Fledgling Fund Grantee Residency and has been a guest speaker at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, USC, ASU, and various national conferences 20
BRENDA CLUBINE Founder of Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA) and Every 9 Seconds
When Brenda Clubine’s husband Robert died, there were 11 restraining orders against him and a warrant for his arrest. Brenda knew she should have trusted her instincts that night, when she met him to sign their divorce papers. She knew the abuse would never end. Defending herself, she hit Robert on the head with a wine bottle and fled for safety. In 1983, Brenda Clubine received a sentence of 15 years to life after refusing a plea bargain that would have imprisoned her for only eight years. Brenda knew she was innocent. Her husband was twice her size, a retired police detective respected in the community, but a terror behind closed doors. During the years of abuse, Brenda endured broken bones, skull fractures, nights in hospitals. She had medical records, photos and witnesses. Yet, was still found guilty of murdering her abusive husband. Upon incarceration at the California Institution for Women in Chino, Calif., Brenda was sure that she was the only one in her situation. Yet Brenda soon discovered that she shared common experiences of love turning violent with many of her fellow inmates. They shared their whispered stories in the yard, but didn't have a way to work through their pain and learn from it. Brenda knew this was a crucial step in their recovery and she decided to organize a group where the women could learn about the cycle of violence and free themselves from its clutches. A prison support group had been never created from the inside, and Brenda endured a three-year battle with the prison bureaucracy to ensure that the women who needed help could find solace. In 1989, the first weekly meeting of Convicted Women Against Abuse began with just a few inmates and has now multiplied to over 60 members. This support group, the first of its kind in the entire US prison system, began to help women inside prison break their silence about abuse and learn more about what they needed to do to help others stop the cycle of violence. Brenda, and many others, wanted to heal from their past and look forward to a promising future…even if that was in prison. Brenda, and the CWAA women, played an active role in a statewide clemency movement for battered women in prison in the early 1990s. By 1992, Battered Women’s Syndrome had become legally defined to recognize the psychological condition that describes someone who has been the victim of consistent and/or severe domestic abuse. This defense had become widely used in the cases of battered women who kill because it helps explain to a jury the circumstances that possibly lead to their crime. Yet, there was cause for protest from the women of CWAA since the majority were convicted prior to the availability of the Battered Women’s Syndrome defense being given its proper weight in court. Brenda, and the women of CWAA, took a stand for what could be their improper convictions, since battered women who kill would now be receiving, on average, a 6-8 year sentence of involuntary manslaughter. In 2007, after spending 11 years at an institution in Northern California, Brenda was transferred back to the California Institution for Women and became involved in the documentary SIN BY SILENCE. The filmmakers, who were completing what they thought would be their last shoot inside the prison, realized Brenda completed a missing piece of the film, and they continued production in order to include the legacy of CWAA from the founder herself. 22
Making a difference Written by Brenda Clubine
In retrospect looking back at my childhood and understanding that I am an adult who was not only molested as a child, but married an abuser who attempted time and time again to kill me. In one night, in a matter of moments, I was forced to protect my life and I served 26 years in prison because of it. While I was in prison, I wanted to understand about being victimized and why I was someoneâ€™s victim over and over again in my life. I wondered what normalcy meant and how I would have the chance to obtain the elusiveness of it. I knew that there was a brokenness inside of me, that I could not begin to understand, and I was not at all sure even if I could. Would I be able to emotionally handle what it would all mean? I knew that I had a voice, although no one would ever listen to me, and that if I had the chance I would make a difference. But, I was still not sure how that would happen. After facing the worst that could possibly happen in my life I knew that I never wanted anyone else to ever live the nightmare I had lived. I petitioned the prison system to allow me to start a support group for my fellow inmates who were abused women. This was not an easy decision. The system did not care when a little girl reached out for help and no adults would listen, then to be abused by my adoptive mother, and then as an adult when my husband was abusing me on all levels that you could possibly ever imagine. I had faith in a system that put me on trial for believing I deserved to live and then sent me to prison sending me the message loud and clear that I was wrong. My spirit cried out many nights wanting to have answers and yet they continued to elude me. I was shot down over and over by the prison bureaucracy. They would not allow a support group and that was essentially all their was to it. 23
Finally, my then supervisor gave me the chance, and from their Convicted Women Against Abuse was born. This was an amazing group of survivors that wanted to find a way to make change to make a difference - and that we did. In January 1992 â€œBattered Womenâ€™s Syndrome Admissibilityâ€? went into effect. This would mean that if another woman had to protect her life against her abuser , she would have a chance. It meant there was more work to be done but that we were bridging the gap between a system that did not and could not begin to understand. We were kept silent by living in a war zone in their own homes knowing there's more protection today. Since the inception of Convicted Women Against Abuse, the first of its kind within the U.S. Prison system, there have been further laws passed for the protection of women and children. There remains more than 4,700 women in the United States still incarcerated for protecting their life against their abuser. The correlation between being a survivor and emergence of spirit is so huge. What does this mean? It means that once you have been at the absolute pit of despair and feel as though no one can understand, there is a still quiet voice within you. You had not listened to this voice or could not hear due to the pain you were experiencing, but can listen now and with a renewed fervour. I remember many days would come and go and I would feel all alone. Yet, I also knew there was a reason that I would awaken the next day maybe not knowing exactly why. But, I would. I did not realize then it was the emergence of my spirit waiting for me to listen and know that I would be okay. 24
That I had a voice, that people wanted to hear my words of pain and that all was not in vain. That I could actually do something from in prison and share my story with the world through the documentary Sin By Silence. When I was ultimately released in October 2008, I knew for years that I wanted to continue my advocacy and yet I was not sure just how I could do it. I had the amazing opportunity to travel across the U.S. with the Director and Producer of Sin By Silence, Olivia Klaus. We arrived in state after state, educating communities about the silent epidemic of abuse and the toll it takes not only on the victim who feels there is no way out, but also the loved ones who want to help and have no idea how to make the difference. It was life changing to feel the change take place from one event to the next. I hated to see our travels end at the time. I knew there was still so much we had to do. Olivia gave me the encouragement to begin a non-profit for victims of abuse with special attention to women worldwide who are incarcerated for protecting their lives. Finally in March of 2011 Every 9 Seconds became official and today proudly I have partnered with Sin By Silence to give victims of abuse of all types a voice that WILL BE HEARD. I remember too clearly what it felt like being alone and that no one could ever begin to understand the hell I was being forced to live in from my childhood through my adult life. Today, I listen. I learn. I must help! It is all of our responsibility to make a difference so that NO VICTIM ever feels alone again, that they matter and are worth saving. If you or someone you know is trapped in an abusive situation, tell someone. You deserve better. I know what it feels like to be trapped in a situation feeling like there is no way out, but today there is. You matter! Together we can make change...one life at a time! 25
Trinidad’s Invisible Victims By Krystal Allicock-Gittens He calls her every hour on the hour, just to make sure she’s safe he says. He always has an opinion on what she wears (“too short”, “too tight”, “like you looking for man or what?”) Her friends are a problem too (Why those girls always minding our business? Why you want to lime with them when you have me?) He reminds her constantly about how lucky she is to be with him, and how easily he could replace her. When he gets angry (and it happens more frequently now), he replaces words like ‘smart’, ‘beautiful’, and ‘sexy’ with words like ‘fat’, ‘stupid’, ‘slut’. But he always apologizes after, promises it won’t happen again. She believes him because he had a hard day and if she was a better girlfriend he wouldn’t get so angry. One of the few friends she still talks to calls her boyfriend abusive, but she dismisses it. He’s never hit her, and he only gets jealous because he loves her so much, right? Teen Dating Violence is fast becoming a major problem around the world, but unlike issues like HIV/AIDS, crime, teen pregnancy and suicide it’s not gaining as much publicity as it should. We tend to hide behind the idea that teens shouldn’t be “checking man” in the first place, so if they do end up victims of relationship abuse, they’re afraid to tell. 28
But what exactly is teen dating violence? It is “a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, perpetrated by an adolescent against a current or former dating partner, in order to gain power and maintain control over the dating partner.”1 According to research, 1 in every 5 females in high schools in the US reported having been physically or sexually abused by an intimate partner 2. But that’s America, you’re probably saying, those kind of statistics don’t apply to Trinidad. Do they? A preliminary study carried out among students at two private high schools in Trinidad showed that 11% of students surveyed admitted having been on the receiving end of physical violence in a relationship. Not great, but not as bad as 1 in 5 you say. Don’t get too happy yet; of the students surveyed, 52% reported having been verbally abused by an intimate partner. Add to that the fact that 65% of students surveyed said that they knew someone who was being abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend. So, we’re definitely not in the clear in Trinidad. What makes relationship abuse such a threat is that the majority of partners who physically abuse their victims don’t start with physically abuse. It often begins gradually, a bad name here, a cuss out-there, so most teens don’t recognize that they’re being abused. 29
Indeed, they think it’s just part of a normal relationship; a significant of teens in the study said they would not leave a relationship unless they encountered physical violence. For them, as long as it wasn’t physical it wasn’t abuse. Unfortunately, usually by the time physical violence enters the relationship, most victims have been broken down to the point that they think they deserve what they get and try even harder to fix the relationship instead of getting out. Furthermore, because the abuse was not constant, but was interspaced with periods where the abuser showed remorse for his actions, promising that it would never happen again, teens felt it would be unfair to give up on the relationship. Also, there was the fact that many victims genuinely believed that they loved their abusers; they wanted the violence, not the relationship to come to an end. To their way of thinking, if they loved their boyfriend enough that love would eventually bring the violence to an end. Facts and figures on teen dating violence are hard to come by in Trinidad and Tobago. For whatever reason, it’s just one of those things that we’re not supposed to talk about in polite society. If we talk about it, it means that it’s a problem that we’ll need to deal with. But the price of not talking about it will be much higher.
NRCDV. (2004).Teen Dating Violence: Resource Packet. Retrieved from http://www.vawnet.org/Assoc_Files_VAWnet/NRC_TDV.pdf 2
Silverman, J. G., Raj, A., Mucci, L. A., & Hathaway, J. E. (2001). Dating violence against
A Survivors Story By Kazii Over the years I have suffered both physical & emotional abuse - mostly emotional abuse. My Stepfather never loved me and let me know it whenever he could. He showed his 'affection' for me by taking every opportunity to destroy my self confidence - something I am still trying to get back even now. Whenever he could he would invent reasons to 'punish' me for things that I hadn't done & then used the buckle end of his belt usually on the backs of my legs. Once after a Mother/ Daughter issue, I remember him coming to my room - I was standing in my doorway - I remember him yelling at me saying 'Look what you've done to your mother, you upset her & made her cry' - the next thing I knew I hit the bedroom wall about eight feet behind me - He had backhanded me across the face. This wasn't the worst thing he ever did to me - but I still find it hard to talk about - Instead I wrote a poem about it that I have included. Today I have a failed marriage behind me & numerous relationships that never worked out, the most recent being an on/off relationship over twelve years that was full of emotional abuse, mistrust, cheating, blame & soul destroying knowledge that I was never the girl he wanted until I finally had enough courage to leave him - then he decided he loved me - I never went back. It's been almost two years now since the children & I escaped. My children have just finished up counselling, my daughter has depression but is too scared to get counselling - Mine will be ongoing for a while yet. But on a positive note, I've gone back to study, I now want a career in Alcohol & Other Drugs &/or Youth work. I am also active in many other programs & have been called a 'volunteer extraordinaire'. With the support of family & friends & those I volunteer with, I am finding strength I forgot I ever had. For those who have also gone through any form of abuse or are still in that environment - I do know how you feel - I know that it's not easy to get out of - only you will know when it's the right time to get out. You can do it - there are people waiting to help you - Take care, be strong. You can do it ! 32
Living Nightmare I was eighteen. I was innocent It ended all too soon I came to say good-bye In your caravan with no room I was going on a holiday When I came back you would be gone What I didn't realize then Was that a week could be so long. We had never been that close, Because I wasn't yours And when it came to hurting me You rarely ever paused This day was no exception I didn't know what was in store Now I really wish I'd never gone through your door. You said that you were leaving That you were never coming back And all that I could smell Was cigarettes and coffee - black You put your arms around me I should have turned and run Then I wouldn't have had to suffer Torture inflicted just for fun. You held me much too tight I couldn't get away Too shocked to even call out For someone to save the day But you didn't let it end there You had to twist it more You touched me and you kissed me While I was frozen to the floor. I was scared I was frightened When you finally let me go Should I tell or should I not I really didn't know I looked calm on the outside When I walked out of there The feelings deep inside me I knew I couldn't share. I went away on holiday Forgetting was a must But there was no escaping That men I didn't trust You gave me a life sentence It really made you glad I see you in my nightmares ...The man that I called Dad. ÂŠ Please do not reproduce, if you desire to use this poem please contact us. 33
The Queen who survived violence
A Successful Survivor By LaQuisha Hall, Mrs. Maryland Beautiful 2012
A survivor is a person who has not only overcome an obstacle, but a person who has grown from an obstacle. Not only has a survivor overcome the obstacle, but a survivor plans to successfully move forward in life. Many call themselves survivors simply because they lived through a catastrophe. However, living through a catastrophe does not indicate that the person lived after the catastrophe. A person can physically breathe in air, soak in sunlight and release a dozen smiles, but be deceased on the inside. I considered myself a survivor of sexual abuse the day that I ran away from the environment, my motherâ€™s home. While residing with my dad, I was frequently depressed and only pretending to be a happy teenager. I was dying on the inside for family love, recovery, revenge and deliverance for desiring the revenge against the pedophile. By the time I went to college, my depression evolved into contemplating suicide. Late in my freshman year, I swallowed 119 Motrin IBs. I was not only dying on the inside, but I wanted to die on the outside. Survival cannot be declared by a person who does not desire to live or who does not know how to live. 36
A survivor not only lives through catastrophe, but moves forward with their goal. A survivorâ€™s purpose is to not only heal them, but also to help others survive. Once a survivor has overcome a catastrophe, they then want to ensure that the same issue does not occur in someone elseâ€™s life. I lived through two and a half years of sexual abuse. After coming to terms with what happened to me and realizing that my sisters were still in the home, I decided that I was going to make sure they would not be affected in the same way. I began calling home frequently and making sure they understood that I would always be available to them and that they could talk to me about anything. My desire was to form a close relationship with my sisters. My passion to help sexual abuse victims evolved after I married. As a teacher, I encountered many students who confessed being abused to me. I was seen as a person who could be talked to and who could help. I took on pageantry as a means to not only share my survival story, but also to help promote sexual abuse awareness. In 2009, I won the Maryland Galaxy Pageant and placed first runner up at the national pageant. Currently, I was appointed by the Maryland State Director, Carolyn Battle, as Mrs. Maryland Beautiful 2012 to compete at nationals this August. I have learned that a shining crown will stop others in their tracks to talk about difficult issues. My platform, Silent No More, presents a two-pronged approach--educating the public about the realities of sexual abuse and domestic violence and encouraging survivors through the recovery process. I have worked alongside several groups, including international organizations, Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), and local organizations, Turn Around, Inc., and the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. I also founded a program, Queendom T.E.A., assisting teenage girls with self-esteem, etiquette and violence. A large part of my presentation is devoted to dispelling myths about abuse and sharing recovery options such as counseling, hotlines and support groups. It is not only important to survive a catastrophe, but to survive successfully. 37
Silent Screams By Kazzii
On the outside I look fine, Appearances are deceiving. I'll smile and say hello while on the inside i am screaming. On the outside I'm well dressed, Appearances are deceiving. My make up done just right while on the inside i am screaming. On the inside I'm not fine, Appearances are deceiving. My head is in a spin on the inside I am screaming. On the inside I'm a mess, Appearances are deceiving. Can't you see me struggle don't you hear me screaming.ÂŠ Please do not reproduce, if you desire to use this poem please contact us
The CRY By PTS
A cry has gone out to the parents of children, A cry from the throne of God, What have you done with my little ones ? where have they gone ? I hear the cry of the child, the cry of a million children, I created the beauty on their faces, now all I see is pain. Come up here you men and women, what is that on your hands, The colour of blood, you spread abuse and death throughout the land. You have taken the right to live out of My hands, Do you realize what you’ve done ? Many a child of blessing has never seen the sun. Yes, they live with Me; they will live forevermore, and before you they shall stand, on the day of judgement, to condemn you, merciless and sinful parents. So arise you who would repent of this sin, And I’ll forgive you if you will change your demonic ways, For the cry of the children has come to my ears And My face from them I will not hide.© Please do not reproduce, if you desire to use this poem please contact us
GROANS TO GLORY MINISTRY It's the place where women are Better and NOT Bitter! By Gillian Britto In October 2006, the President of Groans to Glory Ministry, Gillian Britto was invited to share her testimony at a conference entitled â€œHealing Conversationsâ€?, hosted by Madonna Sampson Doyle. After sharing her testimony on her experience of childhood rejection, abortion, incest and adultery; many women approached her for advice and encouragement. Eventually she began ministering to these women via telephone. These women began telling other women and the numbers increased. On August 1st. 2007, Groans to Glory Ministry was launched at San Juan Deliverance Assembly, Corner Globe Lane & Saddle Road, San Juan. Approximately 60 women attended the launch. Groans to Glory Ministry meets on a monthly basis. The structure of the meeting includes distribution of literature on a chosen topic and discussion of the same. Also the women individually share on the challenges they are still experiencing, also testimonies are shared . Every effort is made at our meetings to ensure the women who attend feel loved and special. Over the years the ministry has grown and now we minister to women generally, walking them through to break away from being a victim of their past circumstances. During the period of time between meetings, the women are sent text or voice messages as a method of encouragement and motivation. Follow up is done by calling the women to enquire how they are coping. Those who have court matters, the president attends court with them as a form of support. 41
From a social standpoint, we go to movies and we have â€˜ladies evening out. Since the inception of the ministry, we have seen marriages and families restored, we have seen women empowered and not devoured by their situations, we have seen women dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ. There has been growth in many areas of this ministry but we are committed to make Jesus Christ known to ALL. Groans to Glory Ministry provides a place where the love of Jesus Christ is shown. We also bring hope, help, guidance, encouragement, love, acceptance and peace to women who are hurting, depressed, frustrated, confused, wounded, heartbroken, battered, and divorced. It's the place where women are Better and NOT Bitter! Groans to Glory Ministry remains determined to Reconcile, Restore and Transform the lives of people to manifest the mind of Christ. We would preach, teach and equip women to manifest the mind of Christ through connecting, unifying, edifying, equipping and empowering. We desire and purpose to empower, uplift, and encourage each woman during every stage of her faith journey. Our desire is to bring women to a place where they can feel contentment on their journey. We explore 'root issues' from our upbringing and expose the schemes of the 'enemy of our souls' through biblical teachings. We emphasize forgiveness and moving forward in our Christian growth and development. At our Empowerment Sessions we encourage interaction through sharing and asking questions and also provide a time of fellowship! GTGM operates solely on freewill offerings and presently one of our major needs is a facility to host our Empowerment Sessions for women. 42
UPCOMING EVENTS 30th June 2012 - Health Fair & Women's’ Rally San Juan Promenade 21st – 24th September 2012 - Women's’ Retreat 7th October 2012 - Women’s Conference Day of Empowerment for Women Empowerment Sessions for women are held once monthly : Last Sunday of the month at #146 Second Street, Barataria First Saturday of the month at The Marabella Crisis Centre, #62 Union Park, Marabella Radio Program every 3rd Thursday of the month at 8:30 pm on Isaac 98.1 – The Promise CONTACT INFO Phone numbers : 638-9455 / 760-1810 / 362-7813 / 753-6926 Email address : firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/groanstoglorymin
Daleen Berry Author and Advocate By Sherna Benjamin
Daleen Berry is a California native who grew up in Appalachia. She is working on her second book, and also recently began blogging for online news journal, The Huffington Post, and has also written for Newsweek’s online journal, The Daily Beast. Berry has been writing professionally since 1988, but her awardwinning work first appeared in public in 1979, when she became a high school correspondent for two local newspapers. Since then, Berry wrote and published law enforcement journals for the West Virginia Deputy Sheriffs' Association and the West Virginia Fraternal Order of Police during the 1990's. Among her awards include first-place for investigative journalism from the West Virginia Press Association, two second-place awards from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association for her weekly newspaper column, and as a student editor, she also led her staff to a record number of awards from the Society for Collegiate Journalists. Her memoir took first-place in the Appalachian category at the West Virginia Writers’ Competition. Berry has appeared on The Bob Edwards Show (March 8, 2011 on Sirius XM Radio); TV30‘s “In A Word” (Sept. xx, 2011); and Susan Milano Murphy’s show, “Hear Women ” ( Berry has also spoken to students at Johns Hopkins University, West Virginia University, and Las Positas College, as well as at important conferences such as, “Hope For the Future: Ending Domestic Violence In Families,” hosted by the AIA (UC Berkeley) and “The Many Faces of Domestic Violence,” hosted by the Association of Batterers’ Intervention Programs (ABIP). 45
I encourage all to purchase this book those living in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean can contact me it is very detailed, Daleen holds nothing back where her abuse and survival is concerned, I asked her the question Why did you write the book Sister of Silence and she responded, “I have been writing stories, articles or poems since I was a small child. I like to think that telling stories is what I do best. But it took me twenty years to write Sister of Silence, a memoir about overcoming domestic violence and sexual abuse. That’s almost half of my life! In part, it took that long because I was a single mother rearing four small children on a limited budget. But it’s also because it was a hard story to write—and then read again, as I rewrote it during the revision process. In addition, I was healing myself from all those years of abuse, which meant I had an incredible amount of emotional work to do! There were times when I thought about giving up, but every time I met another victim who seemed to be struggling, and who needed to know they could survive their own abuse, I knew I couldn’t give up. So while I initially wrote my story for me, ultimately I wrote it for every woman. That’s because I believe every woman—in some way—has been abused. As women we are viewed as insignificant and treated as unimportant. Our contributions rarely make headlines like those of our males counterparts. That is changing, but it is happening so slowly that it is painful to watch. So we have to help ourselves. There simply is no other way. I’m no stranger to helping myself—or asking others for help. That’s why I escaped my abuser, and why I have an inner strength that’s been tested and found to be stronger than steel, during times of great trial. 46
I’m no stranger to helping myself—or asking others for help. That’s why I escaped my abuser, and why I have an inner strength that’s been tested and found to be stronger than steel, during times of great trial. Sister of Silence, the book that tells all about this, reads like fiction, yet it’s a real-life crime story. That’s because domestic violence and sexual abuse are both crimes. I was raped at thirteen, and my own mistaken beliefs, along with our rigid society, forced me into a shotgun wedding after my high school was featured on national television for having the highest number of pregnant teens in the U.S. But instead of offering me comfort and safety, I found myself married to a coal miner who kept me barefoot and pregnant. Think of the famous singer, Loretta Lynn, since my story is very similar. By the time I was twenty-one, I had four children. Sister of Silence is the story of my personal journey. It tells readers how I went from being a teen mom in a home where the violence was so bad and the silence so loud, that I nearly killed myself and my four children. But then, simply by reaching out and asking for help, I entered the workforce—where I learned to believe in myself. I became an award-winning journalist, and I covered the trial of another woman, Wanda Toppins, whose death made such an impact on me, I knew I would never return to my abusive ex-husband. During that time, while I worked as a news reporter, I became determined to break the silence that still shatters women and children's lives. I’m traveling around the country to share my story and my book with other people—so victims, survivors, educators and others know this is a valuable tool—one that people say is changing their lives. That means my dream of helping others, and making a real difference, is finally coming true!”
Sister of Silence has received some wonderful reviews if I were to quote all the reviews there will be no space in this magazine for anything else but I had to place some of the reviews and important facts about the book. QUOTES: About Sister of Silence “Almost never is an interview subject so open or so candid about the most intimate details of the most horrible moments of her life. Daleen is a very brave women and I hope her story will help other girls and women . . . Daleen you are a magnificent storyteller.” —Bob Edwards (Author of Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio) “In Sister of Silence, author Daleen Berry gently guides us through the dark corridors of her life, so that we can emerge in the light, as she has courageously done, with a sense of hope, authenticity and courage. Sister of Silence is a brave book, written from the heart. It’s a must read for the brave-hearted.” —Asra Q. Nomani (Author of Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam) “Sister of Silence is wonderful! It's an inspirational story about an amazing woman. In bravely telling her story, Daleen helps us truly understand all the conflicting emotions and seemingly incongruous behaviors that anyone would experience when challenged by such a horrific situation. She found strength in the face of overwhelming destructiveness to protect both her own future and that of her children—but the silence had to be broken first. What courage and resourcefulness her journey entailed, and what a tribute this book is to Daleen and those who helped her. It’s a wake-up call for all of us to help end the silence, to make it easier for our sisters to speak up when this happens to them, and to confront the violence against women and girls!” —Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, Johns Hopkins University Nursing Professor, Domestic Violence Researcher and Advocate 48
Important facts about Sister of Silence: *Ken Lanning wrote the foreword. Lanning’s a retired FBI special supervisory agent who spent more than twenty years teaching about family violence at Quantico, Va., the FBI headquarters. He’s also an FBI profiler and is only one of maybe three people with this level of expertise. He says Sister of Silence is “ultimately a story of survival and hope.” *Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, a Johns Hopkins University nursing professor and one of the country's leading family violence researchers. Dr. Campbell was the first professor to place the book on her syllabus. Sister of Silence is being used at the University of Louisville, and is gaining popularity in high schools around the country. *Sister of Silence was banned briefly at Livermore High School in California and removed from library shelves in September 2011. *Dr. Jean Shimosaki, LCSW, MSW, a Bay Area therapist, is using it in her practice, because she says it provides “a step-by-step guide for healing.” Hearing Dr. Shimosaki say that made me realize my book is doing exactly what I hoped it would: help other women see they can heal from their abuse. CHAPTER ONE: White knuckles clenched the crib rail as I stood looking down at my newborn. Leaning over, I lifted the sleeping bundle and held it against my breast, feeling the softness of new skin as he pulled tiny legs up against his body. The small silky head turned as he continued breathing slow and evenly, and I felt the whisper of his warm breath against the pillow my neck provided. Cradling him lovingly, I slowly walked over to the open window, held out my arms, and let go. 49
“Sister of Silence shows every woman who reads it that she is not alone, that all over the country she has sisters in her pain and fear and shame. For professionals, it offers precious insight into an achingly common theme in their clients' lives. I look forward to using Daleen's story as an inspiration for my clients, to show that they matter and that what they've survived isn't their fault. With her gritty honesty and compelling style, Daleen has given my women a way to say, 'If she made it, I can, too.'” —Mental Health Case Manager, Women's Correctional Facility “Ms. Berry captures her extraordinary personal journey from pain and bewilderment to resilience and peace. Sister of Silence honors women everywhere, especially the resilience of rural women and their very human spirit. This is a very important book.” —Hilda Heady, Senior Vice President, Rural Health Policy and Research Chair, Atlas Research “Sister of Silence is authentic, compelling and necessary.” —Richard Currey (Author of Fatal Light) “For marketing purposes, nothing better can happen to a book than having it banned. A banned book is a sure sign that you’ve done something very right.” —Lee Maynard (Author of Crum) “A dramatic memoir told in a matter-of-fact, yet strikingly compelling, manner.” —Appalachian Heritage (Summer 2011 Issue) “What drives a woman to kill her own child? . . . Sister of Silence is an intriguing look at tragedy and what it means.” —Midwest Book Review (January 2011 issue) I end this article by saying, each one of us has the responsibility to get involved in breaking the silence, getting educated about the issue and helping where we can , it is up to you will you join the fight or remain on the side lines. 50
The “Silent No More Foundation” Written by Daleen Berry
Today we are fighting a war inside our own homes, inside our own families. It is the war of domestic violence, which includes sexual assault and abuse. This problem has reached pandemic level, and there is not a corner of the world where it can’t be found. Before we can begin to make a dent in this problem, and end this war, we must help ourselves. In helping ourselves, education plays a key role. Yet time and again, we as parents fail our children when it comes to teaching them how to protect themselves from such dangers as sexual predators. We fail to teach our daughters what to watch for when it comes to weeding out bad-guy boyfriends, because they learn from our actions. And while our words may be telling them to stay away from troubled boys, our daughters can’t hear us, because our actions are telling them it’s okay to be abused, as we stay with the men who abuse us—often at the expense of our children. But we’re also failing our sons, because we don’t always teach them that women are not chattel, to be treated like possessions or playthings. That they deserve respect and dignity, and have a right to make decisions about their own bodies. 51
I left my abusive ex-husband because, by abusing me, he was also harming our children. I refused to stay with him, even though that would mean having more income and a bigger home, along with other amenities. I was determined my children would have a better life, for they deserved that much, and while they didn’t always have much in a physical way, they were rich when it came to love, empathy, and emotional support. My wish is for other families to have the same thing. Yet they cannot—not when the silence is so loud it’s practically screaming from the rooftops. Last year after my memoir, Sister of Silence, came out, a Cleveland, Ohio, schoolteacher was so touched by it that he formed an online support group for survivors of violence. Rick Kanuch named it “Sister(s) of Silence,” and said this is why he began it: “All revolutions begin in Silence. Victims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse overwhelmingly keep their abuse secret and suffer in hellish Silence. Survivor Daleen Berry courageously speaks out against such abuse in her new memoir: Sister of Silence. Daleen's book celebrates the survivor in each victim of abuse and reminds them that their life is worth rescuing. Help us end the Silence and the abuse it protects by: reading and sharing her story, speaking out against these atrocities, and standing up for anyone who has fallen prey to such predators.” I became the group’s administrator and the above words have become our mission statement. It’s a great place for people to come who want to help break the deadly silence that accompanies abuse. But I realized more was needed. That’s why I recently formed a non-profit group. The “Silent No More Foundation” will educate parents and their children, about domestic violence and sexual assault.
It is my hope that this organization will become the conduit for parents to open up and begin having candid discussions with their childrenâ€”about their bodies, about sex, and about loving versus harmful relationships. This, I believe, will be the first step toward stopping violence against women and ultimately, against families everywhere. While many other tools will be used to help educate people, my book, Sister of Silence, will be one of the most important ones. My goal is to see my organization being used around the country first, and then around the world. I hope to supplement the online educational tools with real-life workshops and possibly even charter schools where children as young as two and three years old can be taught to protect themselves from sexual abuse. This, of course, is a distant dream. First and foremost, we have to get our website Silent no more foundation off the ground. From there, where we go is anyoneâ€™s guess. While first goal is education, I believe this organization also has the potential to help other victims become survivors who harness the power to thrive. After all, the skyâ€™s the limit.
No matter who does it, it is abuse and the individual must be held accountable
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The Art of Expression, The Michal Madison Story By Michal Madison
Abuse has plagued my life, from the time I entered this world until just over a year ago! The people who were supposed to & some even promised to love & cherish me, didn’t! It’s been a journey from surviving, just existing, to transformation & freedom. The journey hasn’t ended! In some ways, it’s just beginning! I’m learning who I am; discovering truths that were covered in lies! Reaching into the depths of my soul & finding the strength & courage, the passion to live in freedom! Throughout my life, music & art have given me a place to express my emotions, to discover & share my voice, when words were difficult to find! Today, I’m still healing! I’m not an expert! I don’t have a degree in psychology… I’m just a fellow survivor… sharing my life & my heart with you. So often, people think that the crazy guy, in a trench coat, lurking around the school ground or playground, is the main source of child sexual abuse, when in fact only 7% of children are abused by a stranger. 97% of children are abused by someone they love & trust ~ often someone in their own home. Child abuse knows no boundaries ~ it happens in wealthy, middle class & poor families; all races & nationalities, in every country, in every part of the world. It happens in homes that don’t believe in God & very religious homes. It can happen to any child, anywhere, anytime ~ no one is immune to child abuse! No one is immune to child sexual abuse! That’s why I think my story is important to share. I grew up in a conservative Christian home, with parents who were active in the church & in the community. 58
Highly respected educators with charismatic personalities, they rose to the top wherever they went. No one, & I mean NO ONE, would have ever expected abuse in our home. Yet, from infancy & throughout my teen years, I was molested, raped & silenced by the people who were supposed to take care of me, my parents! My mom sexually stimulated me when she was changing my diaper. My dad would get into my crib, to comfort me when I was crying & masturbate against my tiny body! They molested me together & separately. When I was three, they raped me together! My dad continued raping me. For years… If this can happen to me, in what looked like from the outside, a loving Christian home ~ it can happen to any child! &believe me, it is! “One of the messages from my abuse was, "You belong to me and I can do to you what I want." What I wanted, what I needed, what I felt, what I thought didn’t matter. Anyone who wanted a piece of me owned me. I knew myself as property to be used instead of a unique person to be loved. Abuse demolished my sense of self, which isolated me from myself and from others.” That’s what Christina Enevoldsen said & I couldn’t agree more! Everyone responds differently to sexual abuse. Some people remember every detail & never forget anything! & there are others, like me, who dissociate & shut-down, making memories fuzzy & flashbacks very scary, because even though you’ve been through it before, it feels like it’s happening for the first time! I still have flashbacks! I had one just a couple of weeks ago, of my dad raping me & my mom helping him ` abusing me too!!! About a year ago I had a flashback of lying in bed between my parents. They’d taken my panties off & were both molesting me! My dad was on my right side, my mom to the left of me. I was only two. They called it love. I can still see the curtain & how they hung in the window; the light starting to come through the window & cast shadows on the wall. They were talking in low tones over me & I just slipped away, dissociated, shutdown. 59
E. Sue Blume in her amazing book Secret Survivors, describes dissociation & shutting down this way, “frequently, individuals who are forced to endure a trauma numb themselves to the experience. They close off the perceptual or emotional reception so that the event is not fully experienced.” Emotional shut-down is an internal process where the person’s awareness of – even her experience of—her own feelings is dulled. With one, the experience is not felt; with the other, feelings themselves are not felt. So as an adult abuse survivor, one may not know what she are feeling or truly feel nothing inside. Others shut down in a crisis becoming emotionally paralyzed when clarity is needed! & anything can become a crisis! I’m the survivor who shuts-down! Thank God for the ability to dissociate! Often, I could just feel myself slipping out of my body; therefore, it wasn’t happening to me anymore. This amazing gift helps survive childhood trauma. So, if you cannot remember things clearly… this may be why. & if you find yourself dissociating or shutting down in the present… be gentle with yourself ~ you learned it as a child! It was one of the ways we survived the abuse we endured. I remember having a vivid dream when I was four, of Jesus coming to rescue me. Jesus was smiling, with His arms wide open, I just ran to Him & He took me away! I wanted to escape! I did in my mind! & I’m grateful that God gave us the ability to shut-down when horrific things are happening to us as children. But it’s a survival tactic that doesn’t serve us well as adults, living in a real world! When I was 18 months I had a major confrontation with my mom. I said “NO!” But let me tell you about my little sister, because I remember her “NO!” confrontation much better! She was a year old, running around the house using the inside cardboard of a paper towel roll as a trumpet. We were headed to my grandma’s & my mom asked my sister to throw the trumpet away, so we could go. She said “NO!” & threw her trumpet on the floor! At my house “NO!” was an unacceptable answer! She got spanked for an hour until she said “yes” & threw her trumpet away. I believe in discipline ~ but beating a child’s independence out of their soul, is not discipline! It’s abuse! 60
These experiences & childhood incest taught me what Blume calls “guardedness & manipulation of reality – a reality that is seen as everchanging without reason or order. The child learns NOT to make choices, not to reason, & not to assess & understand. She learns how to survive in a war zone, how power can be abused & robbed by others. How powerlessness feels & how women are helpless!” A child must learn boundaries – but incest completely obliterates them! ~ teaching a child that she is an extension of everyone with whom she is close. It is as if she does not exist as a separate self. That was me. When I was five I remember sitting in the sandbox with my cousin, asking her all kinds of questions. One question was, “what is your favorite color?” she said blue. She asked me what mine was, & I said blue too. I was close to her at that moment & became an extension of her. I copied every answer she gave. I had none of my own opinions! This followed me throughout life! I agreed with others, nodded, had no opinions & avoided confrontation at all cost! I continued no making choices ~ not reasoning ~ assessing or understanding. At five I also remember going on a business trip with my dad. We left very early in the morning before the sun came up. We stopped to eat breakfast, but before we ate, dad said he had a surprise for me he took me in the back of the van & raped me. I can still see the shiny silver door handles glistening in the light from a streetlamp! Focusing on other things let me escape what was happening to my body. When he was finished, I didn’t want to move & I didn’t want to get out of the van to get breakfast, but dad took me by the arm & we went inside to eat. Sitting across from my dad, NO ONE would have imagined what I had just endured! Because no one would have ever thought this wonderful looking, clean cut guy would ever do anything to his daughter. Later that day, I was talking to my dad a mile a minute, as only a five-year-old can. He was listening to NPR ~ National Public Radio. I don’t know when I realized he wasn’t listening to me at all, but I leaned back in my seat, devastated! I was terrified of guys getting close to me my whole life. When I was 11, a guy who had been my good friend for three years, told me that he “liked” me! It turned our friendship upside down! I never spoke to him again. 61
I’d turn & walk the other way if I saw him coming down the sidewalk. A guy liked me when I was a sophomore in high school. I’d cry in my room every time he came over to visit & wouldn’t come out to even say “hi”! This craziness continued even into college. Playing cat & mouse with guys~ I’d be their friend, until they liked me too much & then I ran! I’d be friends again when I thought it was safe & end up running again… During high school & the first part of college, I was nervous, shaking inside, & hoping people couldn’t tell; wondering if my shaking showed on the outside! I was friendly, but shy! & in college people thought I was stuck up! Yep… there’s not a stuck up bone in my body! But that’s what they perceived. The beginning of my sophomore year in college, my body broke down in full blown PTSD! I went to several doctors trying to figure out what was wrong. No one knew. One day I went to a new Physical Therapist. I was lying on my back, fully clothed, on the massage table. He was working on my stiff neck & shoulders. When he touched my collar bone I flew off the table like he had just attacked me! I drove home crying hysterically! Ran into my room & collapsed on the floor. So often, when we’ve been abused as children, we’ll get triggered by someone & think they are a monster abuser or perverted! We get things mixed up & blame the wrong person! The PT came to my parents’ house, where I was still living, the next day. He asked my parents if I had ever been sexually abused, because the only people who reacted as I had were abused! Of course they said “no” & proceeded to tell him that they watched me like a hawk & never even left me with a baby sitter as a child ~& both of those things were true. They never did let me out of their sight! I was with them at home, at school they were my teachers (elementary, high school & even in college). They controlled my life! I chose a degree in college ~ they said “no” , so I changed it! I wanted to be a student missionary ~ they said “no” so I didn’t. I lived at home long after most people, are on their own. Most of my friends were married & some even had children!
The first person I let get close to me was another female college student. She came & sat next to me in choir, we became best friends! I let her into my life & opened up to her as much as I knew how! Her life taught me so many things about friendship! I never knew that it would make people feel good if someone came & sat with them. I felt like I would be imposing or in the way. I had such respect for other people’s boundaries that I’d never even ask questions that would show a normal interest in another person. In reading, I’ve found this is common with many abused individuals. She opened up a whole new world for me! Well in my conservative home, this relationship was unacceptable! She was the love of my life, but I knew I had to be with a man to be accepted by my family! So I started dating guys. I always had one or two waiting in the wings before I broke up with whomever I was with. Relationships were shallow. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who doesn’t know who she is ~ with someone who feels like property to be used. One time a guy asked me to tell him a story. My mind went completely blank. I totally shut-down. I had nothing to say, nothing to share. Often I would lose my ability to communicate ~ it was like I became an infant again. I finally moved out of the house & got a job. One evening I had some friends over to my house. A few extra people came who I didn’t know well. One of these extra guys wouldn’t leave. He ended up spending the night on my couch, but I woke up with him in my bed. I never thought to call 911 or ask anyone for help. It didn’t even cross my mind. He was a man. He was bigger than me & I reacted as a child would. He told me we were getting married. Saying “no” had long since been removed from my vocabulary. So, I said nothing. I shut down at that point & snapped back into reality saying “I do” in some back room. I think it was about two weeks that I went through the motions of surviving without being present. It’s amazing how we can do that! He raped me on our wedding night & the next morning. But I was married, so I decided to make the best of it! thru the years I was with him, he choked me, held guns to my head, threw things at me, kicked me across the room. 63
He took food back to the store to get money, so he could buy drugs. I didn’t have food to eat. He wouldn’t let me have toilet paper in the bathroom. I had to wash my clothes in the bathtub because I had no money for laundry .For months I had no phone, no car. He used to lock me in the bedroom…one night I peed in a glass because I was too afraid to ask to be let out of the room. He terrified me! I was isolated from everyone I knew & again… watched like a hawk & controlled every moment. What I wore, what I said, what I did, was all his decision! I was a puppet, not a person. He took everything I had & gave me nothing. He continued the brainwashing that had started in my childhood: That I needed constant guidance & couldn’t make it on my own. After raping me so badly that I ended up in the hospital & he in jail, I knew I had to leave before he killed me. When I got home… I wanted to pack some stuff & leave, but he was already there ~ out of jail in only a few hours. He started yelling at me how I’d ruined his life. That now he would have a police record for life & it was my fault. I actually said I was sorry ~ & he was the one who had raped me! I didn’t know how I was ever going to get away! He started sleeping in front of the door & never let me go anywhere by myself. But one day, in God’s mercy, I was alone for five minutes. During that time, I grabbed my purse & ran out the door. I left with the clothes on my back, $10, & my purse! I hid with people I knew from church, until I could get into a shelter for abused women. If you are in an abusive situation & are not leaving because you because he constantly tells you, that you can’t make it on your own! Know that he’s lying! You are the strong one! Look at what you have survived! You are so much stronger than you think & far braver than you feel! You can & will survive! Look at what you’ve already survived! You are strong! & Life is so much better on the other side!!!The divorce was final, but I should have continued to go to counseling when I left the shelter! Because two & a half months is not long enough to break the cycle of a lifetime of abuse! It wasn’t long before I met another guy, who promised to protect me & provide for me! He did neither. I moved into his house thinking I’d be safer. He had a couple of roommates. 64
As soon as we got married, he moved out of his three-bedroom home & into a fifth wheel, where we lived for nearly 4 ½ years~ until I left! He was an incredibly selfish person, who was so verbally abusive. I felt worse than the scum on the bottom of his shoes! He continually raped me & belittled me! He controlled every move I made! He had an agenda for me to follow everyday & would check to see what I’d accomplished & scream at me for what wasn’t done. He burned all of my books & told me I could only read the King James Version of the Bible. He made me read that out loud from several hours a day. Meanwhile he was looking at pornography in secret. I knew, confronted him & he lied to me about it, until I caught him looking at it in Kinkos! He told me that I was incapable of making a good decision ~ any decision really ~ & he would never let me! He kept that promise! I wasn’t allowed to use the toilet in the fifth-wheel because he didn’t want to empty the tank ~ so I had to go to the bathroom outside, even when there was four feet of snow on the ground! He was addicted to pornography & not only wanted to change who I was, but what I looked like. I left him six times! & came back six times! He would always promise me that he would change! & I so desperately wanted to believe him. I thought I had nowhere to go. How could I forget so quickly that I had just started over with nothing in a new state a few years before. He even bought me a piano one time, to entice me to come home. There is a cycle that abuse usually goes in: The Tension Building Phase, The Angry Phase where most of the abuse happens, & The Honeymoon Phase.
Abuse damages a child and leaves a shadow upon them for a lifetime. 65
At first the length of the Tension Building Phase lasted a few months before he’d Blow up in violent anger. Then beg me to forgive him & be kind for a couple of weeks. Then the cycle would start all over again. But as time went on the Tension Phase blended with the Angry Phase & we get stuck in constant Abuse. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d leave. He’d beg me to come home & six times I did! I was in a brainwashed survival mode. But the honeymoon phase rarely even lasted two weeks & we’d be right where we had left on before, onto bigger & far worse abuse! Finally I realized that things were never going to change, never going to get better! Again, I knew if I don’t leave & stay gone, I could end up dead. This time I didn’t run! I told him I was leaving him. He said that if I went back to live near my family, he would kill himself. He helped me packed up some things in the car ~ which was in his name, everything was ~ & I moved in with some friends who lived nearby. This time I didn’t go back! He tried hard to get me back ~ roses, jewelry, kept showing up from him. He even went to counseling for a few weeks! But this time I stayed strong & moved on. I got into counseling right away & moved out of town two months later. I continued counseling when I moved! There are many reasons why we stay & why we choose to be in abusive relationships. One of the main reasons is because we’re trying to survive! We’re not sure how to leave safely & we’ve been brainwashed to believe that we can’t! Another reason is that we are attracted to the same kind of people we grew up with ~ whether we like it or not! I hated the abuse, but I was used to it! Somehow these guys could tell that I would be easy to control & consumed my life within hours of meeting me! We should never judge another person for being the way they are! Unless we’ve walked in their shoes, we don’t understand what they’re going through. Where a person has been, what they’ve grown up enduring can & does affect so much of who they are today! Please, please do not stay where you are being abused! Leave! So many women stay because they think that God wants them too! You & I were never created to be controlled by another god or to be abused! 66
We were created in freedom, for freedom! We can never become who God created us to be while living in bondage! So, if you’re still in that kind of situation. Figure out a way to GET OUT! Pick up your purse & your babies & leave! Life is valuable! You are valuable! You deserve to be safe! You deserve to be free! You are capable of making good decisions! & you will survive! God will take care of you! You will find people you never even knew, reaching out to help you, if you take the first step to GET OUT & GET HELP! & if you, like I did, have found yourself in another relationship that is abusive, regardless of what people think! Or the stigma of being divorced so many times; Get out again! You are worth so much more! Once I was free I started creating a “freedom journal”! You can do this too. It’s incredibly healing & fun! I used a three ring notebook, plastic page covers & cardstock. But you could just as easily use a bound journal to do this ~ the other things you’d need are old magazines, glue & scissors! I cut out pictures & words that resonated with my soul & created collogues of what I wanted my life to look like! I also made collogues of how I was feeling right then~ all the anger & rage I had inside needed to be expressed in a healthy way! Art is an excellent way to express our emotions & the feelings too deep for words! Now that many of us are no longer in those abusive relationships, we need to deal with those emotions which have become toxic! The first step is acknowledging that we have a problem and seeking ways to address and deal with it. Unhealthy feelings can take over our life if you don’t deal with them. For me Art is a great way to get those feelings out!
Dream Catchers We give children back their life and dreams, by Donna Kshir In a world where knowledge easily lies at our fingertips it's hard to comprehend how anyone could still be naive to the words child abuse, but the harsh reality is they are. Those same people believe abuse only happens to those in poverty stricken homes and to uneducated people, but the reality is these, too, are all myths. Child abuse does not discriminate, unlike people. Abuse happens in the best of homes by both men and women, regardless of race, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Child abuse is much more than bruises or broken bones; it's a lifetime of harsh, unspoken, deep, emotional, long lasting scars. As a child abuse prevention advocate, it becomes disappointing day in and day out to pick up a newspaper, turn on the radio or television and see the dramatic increase in child abuse headlines. There are people tying their children up with ropes and extension cords, breaking their tiny limbs, burning them with cigarettes, stabbing them with knives, beating their tiny bodies black and blue; there are people killing their children, daily, ultimately stealing their lives. But, what really upsets me, as a advocate, a wife, a woman and a mother, is few media outlets provides the public, parents, caregivers and these abused children an actual solution. The mere thought of child abuse prevention or education to create public awareness to prevent child abuse has never even crossed their minds, and if it had, it too, went completely unspoken. It's hard to rationalize, but statistics show 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be molested by the age of 18, every 10 seconds a child is abused. Currently there are 60 million survivors of child sexual abuse and each pedophile will molest an average of 117 to 120 children. And, today, sadly, 5 children will die from some form of abuse or neglect. 68
How can we, as a society continue to fail our children and continue to empower these child abusers and pedophiles? How can we continuously allow these monsters to succeed and rob yours; mine and our children of their innocence and lives? We as a society need to stand together and we need to stop turning our heads, turning a blind eye and pretending child abuse doesn't exist or happen in our community. Just because child abuse doesn't affect us personally it doesn't mean it doesn't happen to innocent children around the globe. I am pleased to write to you about an amazing organization that I am proud to represent, Dreamcatchers for Abused Children. Dreamcatchers is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit child abuse and neglect awareness organization dedicated to educating men, women and children on the signs, symptoms, statistics, intervention and prevention of abuse. Dreamcatchers is Michigan's largest child abuse awareness, prevention and resource center. This amazing organization was founded by bestselling author and child abuse expert, Sandra Dawn Potter, in December 2007. Dreamcatchers has enjoyed a significant growth within the last year providing services and resources reaching over 75,000 members; has proven the effectiveness of leadership; development and advocacy, reaching over 88 countries around the world. Our organization has demonstrated that community outreach programs make an impact on victims, survivors and their families. Dreamcatchers is continuing to expand; opening a branch office in Clinton County, Pennsylvania; continuing successful campaigns; BlogTalk Radio Programs, educational books, educational websites, providing educational materials to give families, victims and survivors; treatment for recovery; coping skills; family and peer support; prevention, communication skills; empowerment; and the power of advocacy. 69
Through my work with this organization, I know the only way to fight child abuse is to expose the truth, lies and secrets child abusers and pedophiles use to lure the innocent children into their deceitful web. The public needs to know how manipulative and cruel child abusers can be, how to fight back, how to protect our children and how to survive. I strongly believe in this non-profit organization and the knowledge it can provide to be in the best interest of children in the United States, and around the globe. I am asking personally each parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother and sister to take a stand, educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of child abuse and stop this ongoing epidemic. All people, including children, have the right to live in a happy, healthy and safe environment, and to conduct their lives without emotional, physical or sexual abuse or living in fear of a parent or caregiver. The mission of Dreamcatchers is to work towards eliminating domestic violence, child abuse; physical, emotional and sexual assault, and to reduce the effects through crisis intervention, services, education and community involvement to assist victims and survivors in locating the proper resources to help achieve and enable a full recovery. The need for child abuse awareness, prevention and education cannot be overstated. Donna is a Bestselling, Platinum Level Expert Author, Executive Producer, Child Abuse Prevention Advocate, Animal Rights Advocate, Radio Talk Show Host, President and Chief Development Officer at Dreamcatchers for Abused Children. Danna's goal is to educate society on domestic violence, teen dating violence and child abuse by creating a series of educational books. Currently she has 12 published books, and recently opened her own publishing company; K-Pott Books. Barnes and Noble & Amazon Bestselling Author, Non-Profit Management/Financial Advisor/Grant & Proposal Writer. - Volunteering - 16 years Keystone Central School District - 16 years KCSD after school activities & sports - 5+ years Dreamcatchers for Abused Children - 5 years Hometown Heroes Renovo Division - Renovo Kids 70
Dreamcatchers for Abused Children Blog Talk Radio Education, Prevention, Intervention Healing & Family Support for all effected by Child Abuse/Bullying/Domestic & Teen Dating Violence. http://www.blogrtalkradio.com/dreamcatchers The Dreamcatchers for Abused Children Blog Talk Radio is just one way that our organization reaches out to educate the public on the rising epidemic of violence and abuse. We strive to bring some amazing authors, advocates, organizations and survivors to help us share and inspire everyone to carry this information forward. We are Michigan's largest online radio program dedicated to bringing education, awareness, prevention, intervention, healing and support by a diverse and unique method along with a highly dedicated team of experts, advocates, survivors and organizations determined to abolish a child's nightmares and create a global awareness to end this abuse and save lives. Our Executive Director & Host, Patricia "Tricia" McKnight is not only a strong advocate in this mission to end the silence attached to abuse, but is also the author of her own personal horror story of a life stolen by violence and cruelty. She shared her story in the novel "My Justice" and now shares her encouragement and knowledge with our listeners and the public by joining our team. She puts forth amazing dedication each day to coordinate information and special guests to help share our education, inspiration and empowerment to others. Tricia has given the month of April, Child Abuse Awareness Month, a highly educated and encouraging group of guests, as she does every month. She has directed attention to the life long effects of abuse with Mental Health Experts and Advocates such as, Michael Skinner. 71
The awareness of personal safety and adult responsibility to protect our children with Safety Expert and Steward of Children, Anny Jacoby. Amazing authors joined her such as Sharon Newkirk-Wells and Judith VanTonder to share their empowerment of survival with others. Also Male Child Sexual Abuse education and prevention with Tom Scales and Petra Luna.She also hosted a special broadcast with the Author/ Advocate/Law Maker, Erin Merryn and was joined by Andy Hudson, a survivor who just got a small piece of justice in the U.K. by prosecuting his abuser after more than 20 years. To close out the very special month of April Awareness Programming, she is visited by Pastor/Leader/MMA Fighter, Joey Primak of Fighters Against Child Abuse on Monday, April 30th. Tricia has become a great host and asset to our team. Her devotion to ending Child Abuse is deeply passionate. She continues her excellent guest line up and touches on some other subjects of abuse throughout the month of May. Our blog talk programming will be discussing the impact of Bullying, Teen Dating Violence and Domestic Violence as well as some programs on Missing and Exploited Children, International Parental Abduction and dealing with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You can view our upcoming events and special programs on our Event Calendar through our main website at http:// www.dreamcatchersforabusedchildren . The link to our calendar of events can be found under the drop down key "Support Us" as one of the many links across the top of our home page. If you would like to listen to any of our archive shows, our Executive Producer & President of Dreamcatchers for Abused Children; Author & Advocate Ms. Donna Kshir, has created the 24/7 Live Stream Archive Broadcast @ http:// www.wix.com/dreamcatcherstalkrad/dreamcatchers . All of our members, volunteers and specialists, at Dreamcatchers for Abused Children want to remind everyone that we all deserve to be Safe and Loved in our lives; each soul is a beautiful rose just waiting to open and blossom, one petal at a time. Our Executive Director & Host of Dreamcatchers Blog Talk Radio: Ms. Patricia "Tricia" McKnight Author/Advocate/Survivor 72
DreamCatchers is a Non-Profit Child Abuse Organization with a 501(c)3 status Website:ww.dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com Contact Phone:(618)304-7438 To contact Patricia McKnight by Email Email: email@example.com Patricia is also the Founder/Mgr: Survivors World â€“ online private womenâ€™s support group facebook.com/triciagirl62
The Purple Reign Campaign By Sherna Benjamin When I saw the Purple reign Campaign over a year ago I was truly impressed and thought immediately what a unique and ingenious way to spread the message and bring awareness about Domestic Violence and Abuse. Immediately this phrase came to mind “It’s a bird, NO! it’s a plane, NO! it’s Purple Reign for victims now have a voice”, I saw her strength and determination to make a difference and to be a voice for the voiceless in society and around the world. As we know Abuse is a global problem and it needs global solutions and unity. Soon after reading her article I knew we needed to connect as we had many things in common as I communicated with Purple reign our friendship and respect for one another grew and I am happy to be writing this article about her campaign. In most comic books, a tragic event occurs which shapes the rise of a hero. In the case of real life superhero Purple Reign, the abuse she overcame transformed her from victim, to survivor, to hero as she now she now dedicates her life to stopping domestic violence. Purple Reign is co-founder of the Rain City Superhero Movement in Seattle, WA alongside her husband Phoenix Jones. The group is active in stopping violent street crime and aiding victims of crime. Nearly all members of the group have been victim to crime or abuse themselves. These are real people, who are passionate about their communities, and stepping up to make a difference in the world. They chose a symbol that would separate them from the criminals and give hope to those around them, a symbol of all that is good, just, and moral: The Superhero. Purple Reign has taken her crime fighting adventures to a more personal level. She started a non-profit, The Purple Reign Campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence and give funds and resources to victims. 75
She also speaks at schools about bullying with her husband Phoenix to reach children at a young age, teaching them the value of human life and how to behave with noble character, putting others before yourself. Purple encourages other people that they too can be a hero to victims. She nearly lost her own life to the hands of the man who manipulated her, controlled her, and abused her psychologically and physically. He threatened her death if she were to ever speak out against him and his criminal actions. However, she found strength and resources from a few heroic friends who were brave enough to speak up, rather than stay silent about the abuse they suspected she was enduring. They connected her with advocates, law enforcement, and even legal counsel. She was able to leave her abuser, file a restraining order, and went into hiding where he could not find her. She got stronger, gained her confidence back, and began studying to become a domestic violence advocate so she could share her new found strength with victims who haven't found their own voice yet. She decided to take it a step further by taking on the persona of Purple Reign in an effort to bring as much attention to the crime of domestic abuse as possible. "I'm tired of people staying silent about domestic violence, people are dying. I was silent for too long, nearly losing my own life. My neighbors heard my cries for help when I was attacked and no one called the police or came to rescue me. My friends were my heroes, who finally helped me to escape. I vow to make domestic violence everyone's business. If someone is being abused, it is our responsibility as human beings to speak out against the abuse and help the victim" says Purple Reign. The Purple Reign Campaign has resources on its web site along with a blog recognizing heroes in the community in an effort to focus on positive and inspirational news. www.PurpleReignCampaign.org They have raised awareness and funds through comic art contests, heroic stories, t-shirt sales, silent auctions, and music concerts. 76
The Healing Reign Music Benefit & Auction brought in celebrity Rainn Wilson, star of hit show The Office, to help spread their message against domestic violence. The funds raised in their current campaign 'Everyday Heroes Against Domestic Abuse' goes to NW Family Life, a non-profit organization that has been providing relief to abuse victims for over 20 years. Also, at the Healing Reign Music Benefit & Auction (May 12, 2012) Purple Reign makes her first unmasked appearance in an official unveiling. As crime fighters, her and the Rain City Superheroes work anonymously - but as an advocate for victims of abuse, she felt it was time to unveil. Wearing a mask over her mouth is not the symbol she wishes to portray in her work. She speaks out loud and clear against abuse and she is sending a symbolic message in her unveiling that we should all join forces and speak up. Whether you are with or against costumed activists, one thing you can not deny is that domestic violence must be stopped. Lives are being lost and the world needs heroes. The creative efforts of The Purple Reign Campaign are reaching people across the world. There are villains and heroes in the imaginary world of comics just as there are in the real world - and its time to decide which side you are on. "As
a survivor of abuse, I wear the color purple to symbolize my determination to speak up for Domestic Violence victims. I use my 'superhero persona' to raise awareness about this cause. It is my dream to inspire victims and to give them the resources and strength to transform into survivors. " - Purple Reign 77
Escaping the Realm of Abuse. By Akinsola Oyelakin
Do you know where food comes from?! Simple question eh? Okay... try asking a group of people, and I can bet you, you'll get as many different answers as there are faces of the people you ask. Just to make sure I wasn't mistaken, I asked a number of friends this question and here are a few of what they said: "Food? Food?! Food comes from the soil!" "?! Is it a Philosophical inquisition or a practical question?" "Food comes from various sources but most notably via produce grown from the earthâ€? A particular person was trying to play safe, and he wrote "From God, - the Farm, - the Kitchen" Someone else wrote; "Hard work I think, but God gives strength" The last person to respond wrote this: "I think food comes from Nature, (the sea, the land etc.), and consequently from God. I refer to Genesis chapter 1" Now to think I got these answers from a handful of people over a period of five minutes says something about how many more I will get if I should ask more people. To think that our lives depend on a balanced nutrition, and we do not agree on where food comes from is an indication that just because something is important to us doesn't mean we thoroughly understand what it is all about. All we want to do is to enjoy it. Unfortunately, we treat relationships that way too. We want to enjoy it, but we seldom take the time to thoroughly understand what it means and where it came from. We view relationships as something that exists between people who are in daily contact with each other. Like friends for example, or coworkers, or lovers or even enemies. But do you know that you have a relationship with people you have never met?! Yes... they are called strangers. That's the relationship you have with them. 78
What about the relationship you have with animals, and plants? Oh, you never thought about that too? Well maybe you did a little bit of elementary science before you finally decided to focus on making money or building firms... so you have probably heard of "Food-Chain" or "FoodWeb". That's right; your food comes from plants and animals. So the relationship you have with them is that you need them to survive. Okay, you get the point. The word â€˜relationshipâ€™ is bigger than you imagined. So frankly, when I hear people say the words 'I am in a relationship', I personally think they haven't said anything. In my opinion, they need to define what that relationship is, for it to make sense to me. I define a relationship as an interaction whether positive or negative between two entities. It may be enhancing, elevating and beneficial to both parties; in which case it is called a healthy relationship. Now, for both parties to benefit from a healthy relationship, it means they are both giving and receiving. That means they are looking out, not only for themselves but for the other person also. On the other hand, a relationship may be degrading, demeaning or destructive to one or both parties; in which case it is an unhealthy one. That means either one or both parties are more/entirely concerned about receiving than they are about giving. This follows that in an unhealthy relationship, personal gain is the focus. It is a predatory relationship where one benefits at the expense of the other. Thus, Abuse in its myriad forms is a classic example of an unhealthy or predatory relationship. One in which an entity benefits at the expense of the other. While many of us will frown at a child molester, or an abusive parent, we would never imagine ourselves to be abusive. Yet in many ways, we are! In our relationships, whenever we act from selfishness, or a desire to look out for ourselves first, we are already in the realm of abuse. When we, want to get all there is to get and leave little or nothing for others to enjoy, we are already in the realm of abuse. When we, keep that which would be of benefit to others from them because we want to exercise the control, we are already in the realm of abuse. When we, by violence and force make others do what they are unwilling to do, we are already in the realm of abuse. 79
When we, by our words and action, limit the capabilities of others, we are already in the realm of abuse. When we treat people with contempt just because they are not like us, or because we have been placed in a position of authority, we are already in the realm of abuse. When we restrict people from living a normal life just because we have the power to do so, we are already in the realm of abuse. When we manipulate people just because they happen to look up to us and trust our judgment, then we are already in the realm of abuse. I know by now you must be thinking, so how do I make sure I do not enter into this realm, since it looks like everything I do can easily place me there? Well here's a very simple principle that is sure to keep you out of this realm. It is found in the Bible book of Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would have them do to you" This principle is restated in different ways throughout the Bible. Matthew 25:39 says it in a slightly different way: "Love you neighbor as yourself" 1Cor 13:5,7a "love does not dishonor others... It always protects" Let love be the guiding principle in your relationships and you will never tread an inch in the realm of abuse. Leave the realm of Abuse and let's live in the LOVE of God. Someone may be wondering; so what if I am the victim here, what should I do? I personally encourage dialogue as the first approach to resolving problems. Talk about it, preferably with someone/people who is/are able to help. Proverbs 11:14 says "Where there is no counsel, the people fail; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety". It may also help if you talk to the one who is being abusive. Most times people do not even know that what they are doing is wrong. A healthy dialogue aimed at educating usually ends the vicious cycle. Proverbs 18:17 says: "The first to present his case seems right, until another comes and proves him wrong" Encourage an open discussion that will adequately inform both parties of the situation, and give room for honest investigation. Make sincere efforts to maintain a positive relationship; because after the investigation has ended you are still going to be in a relationship with the person. That you cannot change, but you have a choice to make it a positive and healthy one. 80
Proverbs 18:24 "He that has friends must shew himself friendly..." Above all remember that if the abuse continues, remember that you have a duty to protect yourself. Most people will say the best form of defense is attack, but I always insist that an eye for an eye leaves every one blind! Therefore retaliating is not a noble option. It only reduces you to the level the one you are trying to protect yourself from. Besides, it is easy to take revenge; any fool can do that. It takes a man with wisdom and immense courage to do good things to those who have deliberately hurt him. Proverbs 19:11 "A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense." Matthew 5:44 â€œLove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" It may be necessary for you leave in order to live so as to escape the realm of Abuse. If this is necessary, then by all means please do so. It is never an act of cowardice to run when your life is danger. There is an African Proverb that states "A truly valiant warrior know when to fight and when to run" I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. It is my sincerest desire to see every reader leaving the realm of abuse so that we can all live a meaningful and productive life.
Akinsola Oyelakin is a Graduate of Biochemistry from Babcock Univeristy in Nigeria who loves the word of God, and strives to daily conform to it's requirements. He lives in New York where he works as a Support Counsellor for individuals with developmental disabilities. He is currently serving alongside a number of deeply committed Christians as an Administrative member of an Adventist dating group page on face book called Adventist Seeking Black Mates. He loves to read, write and discuss religious ideas, and in this article, he has shared some of his deepest thoughts about abuse and relationships.. 81
Silence Broken Miss San Diego 2011 By Kristen Paruginog Across the world and so many secrets once withheld from family and friends because of the fear of embarrassment that her past once comprised. She lives a life well experienced and filled with successes that young women and girls often admire and aspire to become. She has been a motivational speaker since the ripe age of 16 and has competed in a wide range of scholarship pageants to fund her academic career at one of San Diego’s most prestigious universities – San Diego State University. Her drive and motivation has led her to accumulating thousands of hours of service, winning over $15,000 in monetary scholarships, and being recognized as a Polynesian Dancer since the age of 3. But, beyond her successes and milestones, Kristen Paruginog, has become a part of widely acclaimed statistic. For three years she fell victim to domestic violence, it is a given fact that 1 in 4 women will a become victim in her lifetime. “I endured physical, mental, financial, and emotional abuse that still carries with me today,” says Paruginog. Overcoming the abuse and getting out of the relationship was difficult, but it had to be done, because her life was on the line. “I remember having my hands and legs tied behind my back, as if I was a prisoner to him. He then, put a pillow over my face and held it their while I screamed and gasped for air. My life flashed before me, I knew this was it,” in tears she says. 82
While this was going on the police knocked on their apartment door, but similar to the many other police encounters, his stern demeanor assured her she wasn’t allowed to make any sounds that would trigger the police to invade the scene. Instead of disobeying, she was forced into complying while sitting on the floor in their bedroom. People need to realize that domestic violence isn’t purely physical and it ranges from religious, financial, mental, or even emotional abuse. “Cuts and bruises hurt but only last a short time, those who fall victim to abuse may live with the emotional or mental disparity for years to come,” Paruginog emphasizes. We need to educate our youth about healthy relationships and rebuild love and respect in our households, Kristen Paruginog created a social media campaign that promotes domestic violence awareness and hopes to gain worldwide support through her efforts. Breaking the Silence against Domestic Violence was started by Kristen Paruginog because she was a victim and now is a survivor telling her story to inspire others to break their silence. She is using her strength and courage to educate the community about possible warning signs and referencing her life experience as an example and testimony for others to relate to. We need to educate our youth and shed light on this serious problem because it is more common than we think. As a part of this campaign, Paruginog has created a series of short films that share the stories of survivors, praises their strength and are a testimony that they have broken the silence. 83
These films have gained much support from San Diego State University and have featured Kristen on their campus website at http://www.sdsu.edu. The Breaking the Silence campaign wants to attract national attention by receiving support from television networks and talk show hosts, in particularly Ellen Degeneres. â€œMy message to Ellen video was the first video I launched as a part of our movement and we have gained national support from people residing across the country and even in Trinidad and Tobago! I made this video because I want Ellen to help me spread the word about this powerful campaign. Her platform against bullying shows that she is passionate about anti-violence, so this relationship is much neededâ€? says Paruginog. If you are interested in learning more about Breaking the Silence Against Domestic Violence or supporting our campaign through financial contribution please visit http://www.facebook.com/breakthesilence1 or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have been hand selected to be one of the speakers for this years National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Conference: Women of Color Caucus in Denver, Colorado in July!. The Breaking the Silence Campaign is just over five months old with its rapid success it just goes to show how networking, support, and people who truly care about people can make a difference. As a victim, survivor and now Advocate I encourage all persons wherever you may reside to support those organizations who are trying hard to make a difference especially those which have not been fully established as yet but are making an impact on the lives of many to make a difference and bringing awareness, education, and support to victims and families of Domestic Violence and Abuse and the public in general. Support them break not their spirits by your silence and withholding of your support. 84
Surviving is what I do By Shelby Patterson Hello, my name is Shelbey Patterson and as my friends would say I am a bubbly and sweet girl. But behind my hazel eyes lays pain and hatred, In this story, I am going to tell you what happened to me in my short life. Two years ago my parents divorced and moved on with their lives. My father got together with my present step mother, she was employed at the job as my father, But as for my mother, she got together with a low life alcoholic and drug addict. As for me; Shelbey I was back and forth with a custody battle. When my father left that night I was left with my mother, but not long after that I moved in with my father. I suddenly realized I wasn't happy living with my father. So I made the decision to move in with my mothers mom. My father at the time still had full custody of me, but he agreed to let me live with my grandmother and he would get me every other weekend, and my mother had supervised visits with me, then came the weekend I regret! It was the visitation weekend with my father. Everything went great, until Sunday afternoon came around. As was scheduled my grandmother was to come and get me at 2:30 P.M. that afternoon. But, it wasn't my grandmother that picked me up. That's right you guessed it, my father and his current wife had scheduled for my mother and her low-life pig to pick me up. But, that's not all they were there for, I was forced to move in with my mother and her scum bag boyfriend. See both of parents knew what I thought of him, but what was 86
For one, I was scared to death of my father at the time. For two, What was I too say? I shut up and did what I was told to do, which was call my grandmother and tell her what was going on. Both my grandmother and myself was not happy with this situation, But, I sucked it up and went to my grandmothers and packed up my belongings and off to mom's place I went. That's when my life started slowly going down the slopes. Not only did I have to worry about the custody dispute or my parents disagreements and concerns about me, but I had to go through a lot within the household of my mothers. See I was promised happiness and a safe environment, But, what I got was lies, stories and lots more! At the time of me being forced to live with my mother she was currently employed at the Washington Big Lots, and worked mainly the night shifts and we only had one vehicle. SO of course her boyfriend drove the car which he never HAD a drivers license, but that didn't stop him from driving. Mind you when I say driving I mean everywhere we went he drove. Her boyfriend would drop my mother off at work and of course I was left with him while she worked. While my mother was at work I was used as as her boyfriends second wife, meaning I was expected to cook his dinner, clean the house, and anything else he wanted. But it doesn't end there, I am just getting started!! If his meals weren't prepared to his expectations or the house wasn't cleaned to his expectations I was then forced to face serious consequences. He would abuse me, he would smack me, punch me, choke me, throw knives at me, and etc. This would happen six days a week. Also, I was sexually abused. He would either do it in my room or on the couch. When it took place in my room, he would come in and lock my bedroom door behind me and hold me down with one arm while he used the other arm to inappropriately touch me. He would threaten me at the time of the abuse, he would tell me " If you tell anyone I will kill you and your mother will come home to your dead body." 87
So I didn't say anything to any one. But I began wearing foundation to cover up the cuts and bruises on my face and heavy make-up, and I'd wear long sleeves and pant to cover up the bruises and cuts on my body. I just smiled and pretended to be happy like nothing was wrong, and I buried all the abuse deep down in my heart. All the abuse lasted about a month. I finally decided to go to my fathers mother and fathers and call my dad. Well, I packed my clothes and agreed to go to Deep Creek Maryland with him and played it off like it was a long vacation, but really I was moving out of my mothers place. My dad had no idea as to why I wanted to move out of my mothers because I refused to tell him. When we got to Maryland I made the decision that I wanted to reside with my grandmother ( my mothers mom), and my father agreed to let me reside there. My grandmother was very worried about me when I moved back into her residence. I was quiet and when I did talk I spoke with anger. I would often question the security system which wasn't something I would do knowing it always was up and running. I was very suicidal and depressed and often my family would question my actions, and I would not tell them about what had happened to me in my mothers household. As most would think I was protecting him, but I most definitely was not protecting him I was very frightened to tell. So, as a concerned guardian would, my grandmother took me to my family doctor. She recommended to put me on 25 mg of Zoloft for the depression. It indeed calmed me down in an immense amount, but it didn't take away what had happened. A year went by and I still wasn't the Shelbey everybody knew. I had changed and not in a good way. I was a mean, angered, and self-cantered person. So in my own way I tried to change and have thank goodness. Two years went by and my grandma started to question why I wanted nothing to do with my mother, because when my parents were together my mother and I were inseparable. 88
My father and I over the passed two years have made a bond, a good healthy father-daughter bond. So, June 21st,2011 I had my mother come over so we could talk. So, she did and her first question was "Why do you hate me so much". I did not respond to that question. That was until she asked " Why do you hate my fiancĂŠ (my abuser) so much?" That's when I informed her about what he did to me when I lived with her. Her reason was, " That happened two years ago, you can't press charges now the only thing you can do is get a PFA." That is when I got my grandmother involved and she and I went straight to the Pennsylvania State Police. Of course my mother had to come along just to get the scoop! But, anyway I spoke to Trooper Sara Teagarten and she took down all the information, and then came the time for the family to ask her any questions that may of came to mind. But, first the trooper had an interesting question for my mother, and that was " What is your relationship status with your fiancĂŠ, especially now that you know what he did to your daughter?" My mother's answer to that question was " He's sick for what he did but I still love him and I'm going to go see him on Friday." From the answer she gave the Trooper showed right there how much she really cares about her daughter. She also had the nerve to ask the Trooper," Does she have to take a lie detector test?" When she asked this I thought gee mom I love and trust you too mom. But I am still going through the court process today and he is still currently incarcerated and by the looks of it is not going to be getting out any time soon. I just keep telling myself in the long run justice is mine. It will be a long time consuming process but is all worth it. Thank you so much for what you do Sherna you truly are an inspiration to many of us out here who have gained the courage to speak out against our abusers', Shelbey
Uniting WOMEN for a common cause By Natasha Baines BettyJean is the Founder/President of the TMU organization (The Majority United) nonprofit organization with a 501 (c) (3) status. TMU has an all volunteer staff and provides educational / support/and referral services to WOMEN ( Women Organized Mobilized Empowered Nationwide) a coalition of independently operated and self controlled groups each specializing in specific services helping families victimized from violence, sexual assault, stalking, child custody and courtroom abuse to name a very few. The goal of TMU is to provide nationwide support, encouragement and referrals to find help such as attorneys, counselors, support groups, guidance, geared toward what each family needs for their specific case. Through their weekly radio show, they highlight phenomenal women who have overcome challenges and used their experiences to develop programs and solutions to assists others to solve similar problems. TMU also educates the community on prevention of stalking, domestic violence, rape, Legal Abuse Syndrome, child sexual assault, homelessness, and a myriad of other social injustices through a coalition of programs such a: Louisa’s Law The Good Touch/Bad Touch Program from Child Help USA; Kid’s Safe ID Kit’s from the National Exploited Children’s Foundation; Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome Judges Resource Binders Natasha’s Justice Project Date Safe Project 90
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence Mothers On a Mission to Stop Violence (MOMSV) Final Salute Inc Security On Campus, Inc Eagles UP Protective Mother’s Alliance International Ratify ERA Natasha’s Justice Currently the statistics say the direct cost of sexual assault in America costs taxpayers 24.3 billion in direct cost and 69.7 in indirect costs. TMU say that this figure may be incorrect because 90% of victims do not tell from fear, shame, afraid of losing their family, or the perpetrator is someone they love. The organizations says the staggering cost affects every state, corporations, businesses, educational systems, welfare systems, mental health systems, and the criminal justice systems; and this is why this program format is so important to the development of our nations and children’s future. TMU’s founder has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Education; she is a retired special education teacher, radio host, public speaker a lifelong woman’s advocate, wife mother , grandmother and a wanna be author who many call friend. I asked the TMU President What exactly is the Majority United and what is the benefit to any woman or group who join’s them? And she had this to say. “We would like to invite each of you to become a TMU Representative in your state. Our representative include RID’s Republicans, Independents and Democrats, however we never ask nor are we concerned about a member’s politics in fact we prefer not to discuss politics. 91
This group is not about politics – it’s about women – all women –women of every stripe, color, nationality, race, religion and persuasion. And we’re about uniting all women behind equality and justice for all women regardless of any of the above! Our program includes a Coalition of called “WOMEN” Women Organized Mobilized Empowered Nationwide. WOMEN is composed of autonomous groups each working independently on their own projects while at the same time benefitting from the Quasi Franchise model hereinafter called coalition partners but without the monetary/financial consideration toward Umbrella Group hereinafter called WOMEN’s Coalition. For coalition partners, the primary benefit is the ability to use WOMEN’s Coalition to expand the brand more rapidly than they could either on their own or in addition to on their own. The ongoing donations or funds coalition partners collect allow coalition partners to build their autonomous brands without sacrificing control to outsiders or the WOMEN’s Coalition. For coalition partners, benefits include: a higher chance of success as part of a nationwide women’s coalition than in a single issue group; shorter time to opening; initial training and ongoing support; assistance in building an optimal site; the selling power of a known brand under WOMEN’s Coalition; lower costs through group purchasing of the WOMEN’s Coalition; use of an established business model; national and regional advertising campaigns as WOMEN’s Coalition under a shared expense of WOMEN’s Coalition ; customer lead generation through websites and centralized contact centers; and a network of peers (coalition partners) to provide advice and moral support through a WOMEN’s Coalition intranet, annual conferences, and WOMEN’s Coalition associations; and, increasingly, assistance with securing funding through grants for the WOMEN’s Coalition toward gaining passage of an Equal Rights Amendment and DV reform . 92
We will construct an empowerment guide for coalition partners, so coalition partners can become part of our national network. It is a great way to help organize a larger block of women as national non partisan presence and to support one another, gain strength, prevent violence against girls and women in our communities while we fight collectively for equality and justice “. Betty Jean had this word for individual groups who are speaking out against abuse of children and women in the United States, “Women and children are facing brutality and injustice at the hands of family, friends, intimate partners, agencies and the justice system at alarming numbers, it’s a pandemic. Brave individual and independent groups are struggling to be heard, large bureaucracies need the limited funds to fund the bureaucracy while the folks who really need the funds often find the funds depleted to operational costs. Independent unfunded volunteer groups which are springing up often find themselves jockeying for attention to our desperate plight rather than working together for the desperate plight of all women. Rather than being divided on which issue demands more of our attention women need to understand all injustice toward all women and children must be stopped. The injustice of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, rape, family and divorce court reform, sexism, misogyny, media sexualization and pedophilia, to name a few, affects every woman and child directly or indirectly one way or the other. Women and girls are under attack from every flank, and yet all these groups stand alone rather than uniting nationwide demanding justice for all of womankind in this the great America claiming to be a beacon of women’s rights! At The Majority United, our only issue is “Women's rights are human rights.” We know that as citizens of the United States we too have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and we too have the right to a representative government and equal justice and we are not getting it. 93
TMU has formed WOMEN as an umbrella group inviting all groups to unite under the umbrella individually so the majority can show a united front while each group remains itself independent and dedicated to its own cause but bolstered by the strength of a national united women's nonpartisan non- issue group. Whatever battle women are facing, we know that we are stronger when we have an organization behind us. We are stronger when that organization has no single issue partisan ax to grind but instead is fighting only for human rights and Justice. We know we stand a greater chance of being heard and taken seriously when we are strong. And we know we are stronger when we are united than we are when we are fighting alone! We invite your group to join our women's coalition of groups united in solidarity of Women Organized Mobilized Empowered Nationwide (WOMEN) working toward justice and human rights for women and children in the United States.
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Sunita Ramlakhan-Pierre has been actively involved in photography for the past five years. After leaving a promising career in accounting, she decided to pursue her life-long dream of becoming a photographer. Her photographs speak for themselves. Her passion for the art has driven her to traverse the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago, highlighting the islandsâ€™ natural beauty. Food and culture also form a major part of her work. Sunita takes her chosen profession very seriously and is available for a wide variety of events â€“ weddings, birthdays as well as conferences and private functions. Contact information:
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Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept By Jayneen Sanders As a mother of three girls I have always talked to my children (from a very young age) about 'body safety'. They were told that their body was their body and no one had the right to touch it. I assumed other parents had the same conversation with their children. I was horrified to find out that this was not the case, and that many young children now and in the past were never told that inappropriate touch was very, very wrong. As parents we have a duty of care to protect our children. We teach them water safety and we teach them road safety - why didn't parents in the past and why don't parents today teach their children body safety? To those survivors who were abused as children, with all my heart I want to say to you: it was NEVER EVER your fault. The adults who cared for you failed and the perpetrator was absolutely and totally to blame for their actions. As survivors it is now your turn to speak out against the sexual abuse of children as it continues today. How can you help? You can help by encouraging and lobbying parents and educationalists to teach body safety to the children in their care. Abusers want us to keep this subject out of the media; secrecy and our fear of the topic is what they rely on. Let's work together and speak out about the abuse of children. Let's educate our children about body safety! Forewarned is forearmed! If little children know inappropriate touch is wrong they WILL tell. 103
Perpetrators rarely target confident children who know their rights. Let's all work together to make body safety a normal part of our parenting conversation and let's make sexual abuse prevention education a part of every school's curriculum. We teach our children water safety and road safety — it is equally important to teach our children ‘body safety’ from a very young age. As both a teacher and a mother, I strongly recommend to all parents that ‘body safety’ become a normal part of your parenting conversation with your children. Three years ago, when I was on my children’s school council, I broached the subject of sexual abuse prevention education. I asked my fellow committee members why we did not have such program in our primary school. No-one could give me a satisfactory answer, and time and time again the topic was placed to the bottom of the agenda. I decided then and there that I personally would try to do something about educating our children and our community about the importance of body safety. The statistics of 1 in 4 girls and I in 7 boys will be sexually interfered with before they reach the age of 18 (Australian Institute of Criminology 2004) is truly frightening. And what is even more frightening is that 93% of children will know their perpetrator. It will often be someone in their immediate circle and someone they trust. The community’s focus has so often been on the ‘stranger danger’ issue as this is less confronting than the fact that an abuser may be someone in their immediate family. However, as the statistics show, it is not always going to be a stranger our children need to be wary of. It most likely will be a person in their immediate and extended family circle, and their family’s group of friends; as well as community members the child is in contact with. Child sexual offenders spend a great deal of time and effort grooming both the child and the family in order to gain their trust. It is calculated and contrived. They are very patient and may wait years until the trust is secure. Remember if their ‘secret’ is ever exposed or revealed by a child, they are ruined; so they are extremely careful and calculating about the child and the family they target. 104
As one perpetrator said when interviewed, “ I am your friendly neighbour next door, your kind bank manager, the person who goes camping with your family and then one day you can’t come and I take your kids camping…’ Our children need to know their body is their body and no-one has the right to touch it inappropriately. Unheard by community, I challenged myself to write a picture book that broached the subject of sexual interference. I felt qualified to do this as a published author, teacher and mother. I wanted to write a story that was neither confronting nor frightening for both parents and children, and a book parents could use as a tool to broach this subject with their children. I had seen picture books used in philosophy classes with kinder and primary school-aged children, and I knew it was a powerful medium when discussing difficult topics. But getting my message out into the community has not been easy. Mainstream publishers did not want to publish the book because of the topic and the two illustrators I approached also declined. Finally I was fortunate enough to find a talented illustrator who was willing to tackle this delicate topic, and I am eternally grateful for the sensitive, beautiful illustrations included in the book. Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept was published in October 2011 under my family’s own imprint: UpLoad Publishing. To further help parents, here is a summary of the very important body safety skills every parent should teach their child. Please note, these skills can be taught gradually and in daily conversations as your child grows. 1. As soon as your child begins to talk and is aware of their body parts, begin to name them correctly, e.g. toes, nose, eyes, etc. Children should also know the correct names for their genitals from a young age. Try not to use ‘pet names’. This way, if a child is touched inappropriately, they can clearly state to you or a trusted adult where they have been touched. 105
2. Teach your child that their penis, vagina, bottom, breasts and nipples are called their ‘private parts’ and that these are their body parts that go under their swimsuit. Note: a child’s mouth is also known as a ‘private zone’. 3. Teach your child that no-one has the right to touch or ask to see their private parts (and if someone does, they must tell you or a trusted adult (or older teenager) straight away. Reinforce that they must keep on telling until they are believed. (Statistics tell us that a child will need to tell three people before they are believed.) As your child becomes older (3+) help them to identify five people they could tell. These people are part of their ‘network’. 4. Teach you child that if some-one (i.e. the perpetrator) asks them to touch their own private parts or shows their private parts to the child that this is wrong also, and that they must tell a trusted adult (or older teenager) straightaway. Reinforce that they must keep on telling until they are believed. 5. At the same time as you are discussing in appropriate touch, talk about feelings. Discuss what it feels like to be happy, sad, angry, excited, etc. Encourage your child in daily activities to talk about their feelings, e.g. ‘I felt really sad when … pushed me over.’ This way your child will be more able to verbalise how they are feeling if someone does touch them inappropriately. 6. Talk with your child about feeling ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’. Discuss times when your child might feel ‘unsafe’, e.g. being pushed down a steep slide; or ‘safe’, e.g. snuggled up on the couch reading a book with you. Children need to understand the different emotions that come with feeling ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’. For example, when feeling ‘safe’, they may feel happy and have a warm feeling inside; when feeling ‘unsafe’ they may feel scared and have a sick feeling in their tummy. 7. Discuss with your child their ‘early warning signs’ when feeling unsafe, i.e. heart racing, feeling sick in the tummy, sweaty palms, feeling like crying. Let them come up with some ideas of their own. Tell your child that they must tell you if any of their ‘early warning signs’ happen in any situation. 106
Reinforce that you will always believe them and that they can tell you anything. 8. As your child grows, try as much as possible to discourage the keeping of secrets. (Perpetrators rely heavily on children keeping secrets.) Talk about happy surprises such as not telling Granny about her surprise birthday party and ‘bad’ secrets such as someone touching your private parts. Make sure your child knows that if someone does ask them to keep an inappropriate secret that they must tell you or someone in their network straight away. 9. Discuss with your child when it is appropriate for someone to touch their private parts, e.g. a doctor if they are sick (but making sure they know you must be in the room). Discuss with your child that if someone does touch their private parts (without you there) they have the right to say: ‘No!’ or ‘Stop!’ and outstretch their arm and hand. Children (from a very young age) need to know their body is their body and no-one has the right to touch it in appropriately. Lastly, sexual abuse prevention education is not only a parent’s responsibility, it is also the community’s responsibility. Ask your child’s kinder or school if they are running such a program. If they are not, ask why not. And PLEASE lobby for it. Note: copyright Jayneen Sanders UpLoad Publishing Pty Ltd 2012 The above points are a summary of the body safety skills your child needs to learn. If you wish to learn more, go to such organizations as Child Wise (www.childwise.net) and Australian Childhood Foundation (www.childhood.org.au). They have intensive courses in protective behaviours for parents and professionals. Grooming techniques to be wary of: • Be aware of any person who wishes to spend a great deal of time with your child, seeking out their company and offering to take care of them. 107
• A person who pays special attention to your child, making them feel more special than any other child; providing them with special treats, presents, lollies, etc. • A person who is always willing to help out and ‘babysit’ when you are extremely busy and pushed for time. Note: Sexual offenders will always plan who they target, they will work hard at getting both the child and the family’s trust. They will create opportunities to be alone with children or groups of children and may well target vulnerable communities. They frequently change jobs and address to avoid detection. They will often spend a lot of time with children outside of their jobs. Sex offenders may well set up a scenario where a child has a reputation for lying so as to discredit them if they ever should disclose. Statistics to note: Up to 95% of child sex offenders are male. They can be married and have children of their own, or be single. Up to 6% of reported offences in Australia are by females. Up to 1/3 of offences are committed by adolescents. 93% of children will know their perpetrator. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually interfered with before they reach 18 (this statistic is very conservative). In the US it is 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys. A child will have to tell 3 people they are being touched inappropriately before someone will believe them. About Jayneen Sanders Jayneen (Jay) Sanders is an experienced primary school teacher, editor, author and publisher. She started her teaching career in the 1980s as a primary school teacher in rural Queensland, Australia. She then moved to Victoria, Australia and taught at a number of inner-city schools. In 1985, Jay had a change of career and became an educational editor and publisher. 108
In the early 90s, Jay and her partner moved to Japan to work as English teachers. They lived and worked in Japan for over three and a half years. In fact, Jay’s first daughter was born there. On returning to Australia, Jay began work as an educational author/packager. Since that time, she has authored and produced numerous award-winning titles for the educational publishing industry. Jay is also an accomplished children’s book author, writing a number of titles for such literacy series as ZigZags, Totally Kidz, Deadly and Incredible, and a children’s picture book series for Penguin. During 2008 and 2009, Jay returned to teaching. That experience refreshed her understanding of issues facing children, teachers and parents. She is currently working with Hinkler Education to produce a new literacy series entitled Engage Literacy. Jay writes under the name of Jay Dale for this series and has written over 60 titles. Jay is more importantly a mother of three teenage girls and has been a school councillor at her local primary school for over seven years. This time spent in primary schools both as a teacher and a parent inspired her to ask the question of her community: ‘What are we doing in schools to protect our children from sexual interference?’ When she realised very little was actually being done, she decided to use her authoring and publishing skills to write a book to help parents, carers and teachers to broach the subject of self-protection and to encourage children to speak up. Jayneen has written many children’s books over the last 20 years and is currently the lead author of Engage Literacy —a new P–3 literacy series for schools. Jayneen is the author of the children’s picture book ‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’ To be read to children from the ages 3 to 12 years. The book includes discussion questions to guide parents, careers and teachers. Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept is a beautifully illustrated picture book that sensitively broaches the subject of keeping our children safe from sexual interference. This book is an invaluable tool for parents, careers, teachers and health professionals when teaching children about inappropriate touch. The discussion questions at the back of the book are an excellent support guide. See www.somesecrets.info for more information about the book and teacher's pack. 109
My Prayer By Dr. Mary Jo Odum-Dull,M.Ed, PhD, CQE
My name is Dr. Mary Jo Odom-Dull. I am the President and CEO of VESICLE Learning Inc. I am a proud and blessed Mom of two sons and I have raised and I am raising them to be, men of God and Global citizen. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. I have BSBA in Business Management and BSBA in Human Resource Management, Master in Education (MAED) and Four Graduate Certifications in Leadership, Human Resource Management, Diversity Studies and Counselling. I have a PhD in Training and Performance Improvement with a specialization in Diversity and Globalization. I created the VESICLE Learning Approach Theory during the PhD process. I received my Post-Doctoral Certification from North-western University and Six Sigma "Yellow, Green, and Lean/DFSS Belt. In addition to being a Diversity Consultant, I have taught diversity to Pastors and aspiring servants of God for over seven years at a Christian University. I continue to teach and design "Diversity", Christian Education Courses, and Academic courses for a Christian University and Diversity and Business courses for two secular Universities. I have an extensive background as a Consultant and Trainer of Diversity, Operations Management and Human Resource Management. I have always been fascinated with globalization, appreciating diversity and human performance. I am a author in the human performance, business and education community. I have been in top management and Diversity Training for over 15 years, in addition to sitting on a couple of Boards of Directors, I am a volunteer for a few not-for-profit organizations. 110
I am a volunteer part-time Pastor for a major hospital. It is a rewarding and humbling experience. This is a joyful responsibility and it strengthens my abilities, diversity skills, and it allows me the opportunity to work with all religious denomination. I can tell you, the process of speaking or praying with patients, provides you with the ability to see God's mercy and grace. In addition, I am the creator of Christian Unity Day "One in the Body of Christ" My Christian Diversity business, teaches pastors, leaders and their congregation the importance of understanding diversity and how to avoid ethno-cultural and social mistake. I am looking forward to my second book release, "Heaven is Not Segregated: The First Christian Diversity Workbook". The Master Potter is still moulding and fixing me, I am a work in progress and I take much delight in my continued spiritual transformation I am also a survivor of child physical and sexual abuse and a domestic violence survivor it has been a long journey for me, going through the transformation from victim to survivor to victor the under mentioned prayer has helped me on my journey, may you also find comfort in these words which I have written for myself and am now sharing with you. Morning Prayer for Help My God, I have been betrayed, beaten, cheated, slander, ridiculed, and demeaned, by family and friends. I am surrounded by enemies so many I no longer look for kindness, even in strangers eyes. He laugh and mock me because I talk about your power, goodness, glory and grace. I am down and he believe that my condition determines my position in your eyes. I know you will protect, provide and restore me. I call out to you because they do not know of your mercy, grace, provision, and kindness. For I have seen it even in your creations, a blossoming lily in a pile of trash, the smell of fresh roses, the moon, a sunset, the stars, and the beauty of your love and power. I call out to you humbled that you can hear me. I know for peace, is what you have given me in the midst of the storm. I know joy comes in the morning and I shall not be afraid of my enemies because I know you will answer and rescue me. Save me, and let my enemies know that I do not walk alone and that you alone are almighty God. Remove their weapons, shut their mouths, reveal their plans, destroy their plots, humble them and show them your face, let them know, it is you who rescued me, for I will praise you in their presence and may you alone receive the glory.
â€œWhen I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say, "I used everything that you gave me."- Erma Bombeck 111
My Story By B.B I still carry the scars from domestic violence, although you cannot see them. I grew up in a poor family, we were three children, living in a small house, at first there was lots of visitors, then parties and drinking. My father had a bad temper. He was a very hard worker. Somewhere things got out of hand, so to speak. I can remember waking up to hearing screaming. I would see fighting , things being thrown around , sometimes it was my mother being thrown across the room like a rag doll. I tried to break it up many of their fights but I was only a child and had no luck in that area. The fighting's went on for years, I thought I would lose my mind. I tried to get my mother to leave my father she said she had no finances, hadn't worked for many years, and spent many years raising her children. She would tell me over and over how badly he treated her, father would tell me about her foolishness, and her drinking, I was stuck in the middle receiving complaints from both my parents, I was a child what was I to do, what advice could I give, when I needed answers and protection for myself and my siblings. I felt my life was a nightmare I knew if things did not change something terrible was going to happen. It did, in 1981, I got a knock at my door upon opening the door I was informed that my mother had died in a fire. The house burnt flat my worst fear in the world came true that day! If only she would've got out and left my father, if only she had gotten help for herself, if only. She was an alcoholic I knew at the end, but I also knew she loved her children very much, she was so kind and soft hearted, and generous with everyone. I was 28 at that time. Nothing was ever the same after that with my birth family; as well her relatives did not associate with us, so we were lost again! She never got to see her only granddaughter, how sad! I miss her so much. If only people would leave an abusive situation and seek help before it's too late. she was only 52 , too young to die. Iâ€™ve truly lost out on many years without a mom ! 112
Lela Ann Albert By Martina Singh
Lela Ann Albert, this name may not be a popular one however it is an important one, she is a silent hero and a living success story. As a wife and mother Lela was exposed to extreme violence in the confines of her home as it is said “behind closed doors”, many of us cannot even comprehend the many horrors which go on behind closed doors. Her children were traumatized for years as they witnessed the physical and verbal abuse which their mother had to endure at the hand of their father, how could the man whom they love as a father be so cruel and abusive to the woman he swore to love, cherish, and take care of? They asked themselves. Being a Christian Lela thought it was her duty to remain because she had taken a vow before God and man, as she began to search the scriptures, and seek counselling she realized that it was not God’s desire for her to be a victim of abuse. She thought if she prayed hard enough or do all that was required of her then the abuse would cease and her husband would be that loving man which she meet and courted before marriage. She also felt if she left that would mean she was a failure as a woman, wife, and mother, she thought about what her family would say and how she would be accepted into the church family as a woman who left her marital home and abandoned her vows to remain “for better or for worse, richer or poorer”, no one would look at the husband as the one who abandoned the marriage vows when he began to brutally abuse his wife, but most pressing on her mind was fear, fear for her life and her children’s life. Various thoughts flooded her mind, her husband was the sole provider for the family she stayed at home and took care of the children, did all that was expected of her as a wife and mother during the years she made several attempts to leave as her children had also become the subjects of their fathers abuse but she remained, 113
Why did she remain? There are various answers to what may seem to be a simple question: She feared for her life and the life of her children. She had no resources to take care of herself and her children after she left. She feared what society had to say and how she would be branded or accepted. She feared how the church would label her and her children. She thought he would change. She was convinced that it was her fault. Lela began to literally break down she was faced with a difficult decision, stay and endure continued abuse and maybe death leaving her children without a mother and to be abused by her abuser their father or leave not knowing where to go. As the abuse intensified and after a most horrendous attack where she saw her life flash before her she knew that the time had come the decision was made and leaving was now the only option, it was not any easy road after she left, and her husband did not just sit back and accept it he fought, he threatened, he begged but she had come to a breaking point and embracing her freedom even though life was difficult financially and her children and herself did not have the comforts of a physical home she was now free and loved the feeling she looked forward to her healing knowing that it would be a long and arduous task but she was determined to survive and to give her children a safe, healthy, and loving home. As a way of healing Lela began to speak out about her abuse and in speaking out her eyes were opened and she was shocked to know that there were so many Christians who were experiencing abuse and also were perpetrators of abuse. Lela was not happy or contented to being a static she wanted to make a difference so she went back to college and is now pursuing a Criminal Justice degree at Richard Stockton College of NJ, (USA). In this enlightened age no victim should be carrying the extra burden which society layâ€™s upon them because of the myths and misconceptions of abuse which permeates the atmosphere, it is a criminal act and should be counted as one when society seeks to silence the victim of abuse thus strengthening the hands of their abuser. 114
Lela says: “Another major part of restoration was the ability to be motivated to write my Domestic Violence story in a book, detailing major events of what happened when married to Dan. I sat down in front of my computer one day in the summer of 2000, writing my experiences using notes that I had written to document certain events. In the more recent years, due to advocacy work online, sharing my story has become a way of life for me. It has opened the doors for others to be empowered to share their stories. I belong to several groups that have websites where I have shared my DV story and always given positive feedback. This opportunity has given me varies types of closure and healing, but also assisting others who have experienced abuses. Overall, writing for me has given me a ‘voice’ to empower myself then others to leave their abuser. I share my story in person, online, and through my writings that are posted online at advocacy groups and my own groups. Over the years, when I do share my story, it brings others to speak up about their experiences of abuse. One time after sharing my story with a friend, many months later, she finally disclosed more details of what really happened to her and I felt honored that she trusted me enough to share something that was so personal. Every time I share a part of my story, it empowers me to keep on moving forward, validated what happened to me and brings me in the reality of how evil abuse really is. One thing I have come to realize about writing this book, I found that domestic violence issues are more common than one would think. So many of the circles of female friends have been in an abusive relationship or at least know of someone who has been. God has brought me to a place of allowing me to hear other survivors stories and know that we are not alone, we are making a difference. God has brought me friends where we share similar experiences when it comes to abuse. I am learning that we truly do need each other.” From "Lies, Deception, and Restoration" Lela Albert's DV Story. Lela Albert is a DV Survivor, Advocate, mother, Criminal Justice student, Poet, and founder of Restoring His People Ministries. 115
FACSA By Connie Lee
The FACSA Foundation (Family and Friends Fighting Against Child Sexual Assault) was founded upon a vision and has grown into this incredible organization. We recently had our third birthday, and I am very excited as we are seeking to have a global presence we assist families and organizations in the State of Louisiana, and across the USA. My name is Connie Lee and I am the Founder/President of the FACSA Foundation (Family and Friends Fighting Against Child Sexual Assault), in Springhill, La. We are a non-profit 501 (c) (3) status organization, with an all volunteer staff. The FACSA Foundation provides support services for families of child sexual assault, such as attorney’s, counsellors, support groups, guidance, and what each family needs for their case. We also educate the community on prevention of child sexual assault, through our programs such as the Good Touch/Bad Touch Program from Child Help USA; Kid’s Safe ID Kit’s from the National Exploited Children’s Foundation; and the FACSA Defence Program, where we go to schools for free to teach teens about abusive dating relationships, warning signs, and 30 minutes of hands on self defence. I have a Bachelors of Science in Psychology; I am a public speaker and an event planner. We began with trying to change the no statute of limitations law and free DNA testing and processing for children of sexual assault. We hope to have enough signatures by the end of this year to make that possible. 116
We hold Rally's in DC to get people motivated to Break The Silence surrounding child sexual assault; break the stigma of child sexual assault; and to untie child sexual assault organizations, advocates, and supporters. In our local communities we began making our presence known with community education and prevention fund raisers and events. We have one program which is â€œThe Impact Springhill Dayâ€? where volunteers from businesses, organizations, and the local community meet for breakfast and lunch, to serve the local widowed, elderly, disabled, and terminally ill in our community. We choose One major project and a few smaller projects to help them with repairs around their home. Not only are we able to serve our community, but also gain volunteers and spread more education and prevention about child sexual assault. August 1, 2012, we will be kicking off the "Holocaust of Innocence Tour" from Shreveport, Louisiana. http://theholocaustofinnocence.blogspot.com We would love for you to join us on this incredible journey! For more information, you can contact us at the address and number below. Our dream is to make the world a safer environment for children, which will enable them to fulfill their dreams of making this world a better place; for they are our future. You can email FACSA at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Candice Stevens is a survivor of domestic abuse during the years there werenâ€™t any laws for protecting a woman from violent acts inflicted by her spouse. Many times she ended up with broken bones, bruises and black eyes. But the worst pain she endured through all of this was a broken heart and a broken spirit as her abuser caused her to lose what really mattered to her most: her children. When one nightmare came to an end, another one began as Candice had to live through the welfare and court system, then finally live with the consequences from this time in her life for over the last twenty years. However, instead of letting these painful events tear her down and cause her to fall by the wayside, she has been filled with Godâ€™s grace and strength to help other women of domestic violence. 118
There are no graceful reflections for those who are going through domestic abuse, or are being traumatized through the Social Services and the court system. The only time any kind of reflections, (good or bad,) can come to those, is after everything is all said and done. In most cases, it comes later as opposed to sooner of a heart breaking battlefield that has been lost. It took me quite a few years afterward before I could even sum up the courage to examine what had happened and examine myself closely. In the beginning of my self-discovery, I learned, don’t waste your whole life trying to get back what was taken away...just do the best you can to pick up the pieces and continue on. That sounds really hard, doesn’t it? What if I were to tell you, it is completely possible? Would you believe me? I think at the time of me losing everything that was the dearest to my heart, I may not have even wanted to read, hear or would have thought of this as a bunch of garbage. I was so sunk down in my own self-pity for what I had lost, and I was filled with regret, hatred, anger, plus any other negative emotion known to mankind. Then one day, a fact of reality slapped me hard in the face while I was working on my book, Graceful Reflections. The reality was, I was still being held a victim of my abuser! I jumped up from my chair, letting it crash to the floor and began to pace. If my family would have been home at that time, they would have thought I turned into a mad woman! Anger filled me, like you would never believe and I screamed out, “NO WAY!! I WON’T GIVE YOU THAT SATISFACTION, YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH!!” That’s when I realized that I was still being held prisoner of mental and emotional abuse. I thought I had left that behind when I had left him many, many years ago, but I was very wrong. I still carried his abusiveness with me and was allowing it to torture me daily for all of that time I thought I was free. It was time to completely and totally free myself… 119
In my book, Graceful Reflections, there is a part in there where Candice, the main character, is a Domestic Abuse Speaker and is speaking to a group of women. She poses three very important questions to her audience. “How many of you can find it in your heart to forgive your abuser for all of the emotional, mental and physical suffering that he has inflicted on you…How many of you can truly and completely forgive him? “The room became quieter and more still as many women sat stunned by this question. Candice looked around at the familiar sights she had seen of herself in earlier times of her life. Dull eyes, broken hearts and bruises were her audience. “Now, how many of you can forgive yourself?” Gasps were emitted from among the group, Candice chuckled quietly as she could almost read their thoughts. “I know, you’re probably thinking, you must be crazy woman! I’m the victim here… forgive myself? …Right?” Candice paused before she continued, “that’s exactly what I’m saying. If you can learn to forgive yourself then the healing can begin. It’s time for change and this is the starting point… Maybe a better us can bring about a better government. A better government, better laws… We need to pave the way for others to not have to suffer as we have. -Abby
Health and Wellness By Karen Smith Many persons look at health and wellness as only physical and think it is what they achieve from eating nutritiously and going to the gym, health and wellness deals with every aspect of the individualâ€™s life. Mind you while healthy eating and physical exercise are important aspects of health and wellness there are other aspects which are left out. If one are of our health and wellness is left out then we are not truly whole none are we one hundred percent healthy, it is a fact that no one can truly achieve perfection in all areas but what we need to do is strife for perfection and try hard to reach a goal in attaining health and wellness which we are able to be a productive citizen and a well balanced individual to our family and society achieving this is hard work but the benefits are priceless and will last throughout our life and go to future generations as we teach what we have learnt along the way. All areas of health and wellness must be given priority to have true all round health and wellness. Every month I shall deal with one of the areas as to enlighten us all along this wonderful journey. 1. Health and Spiritual Wellness 2. Food and Nutritional Health 3. Physical Fitness Health 4. Mental Health and Emotional Well-being 5. Financial Health and Wellness 6. Family Health and Personal Relationship Wellness 7. Career and Work Health and Wellness 8. Marriage Health 9. Social Network Wellness 10. Intellectual Health 11. Hobbies Health 12. Relaxation Health 121
Many of the areas listed is in its own right a topic by itself and is a broad subject and has various categories and sub-categories and they shall be covered as such, what I shall try to do is to explore the important aspects of health and wellness and the fundamental role each play in our daily personal life to bring us to a complete and holistic individual. Wellness can best be described as a process that involves the improving and maintaining a perfect level of harmony and balance across all the areas of your life. When all of the above areas of health and wellness are in harmony, you achieve a true balance that enables you to live and enjoy your life to the optimum. This is the true definition of wellness. â€œHealth is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.â€?
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Dear S.B, I feel a bit weird writing this letter but I am in need of some advice and I do not know what to do, I have a friend we have been friends for over three years and I have begun to have strong feelings for him I believe he also knows this as at one time we kissed and then dismissed it as nothing but all my thoughts are of him and I dream of him also and find myself daydreaming we are having sex. The problem is I am married and I have found myself comparing him with my husband, my husband is very loving, kind and considerate and cherish me dearly I do not want to make a foolish mistake please tell me what to do. Trapped. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Trapped, I understand fully the position in which you are presently in and it is clearly not an healthy one for anyone involved, you must remember that you are married and the closeness between you and this friend must stop there must be boundaries in any relationship, you must search deep within your heart and see if you are seeking something which your husband may not be supplying or if it is your own problem have a chat with your husband, I am sure he will do all that he can to make you happy. You did say he is kind and loving and cherish you much if it were your husband which had this flirtatious relationship how will you feel think of his feelings and love for you and your years of growth and experience together before you throw away your beautiful marriage over a fantasy. After the chat you both can seek counseling as the best of marriages have their problems some are spoken and some are hidden. ~S.B 124
Dear S.B, I am 16 years of age my stepfather has been sexually abusing me for the past two years, he took my virginity and I feel so ashamed, and dirty and now no one will want me, I am afraid if I tell my mother she will not believe me as she thinks he is the best and only man in the world for her. He lavishes her with great gifts and treats her as a queen, she has had a hard life and I am also afraid to destroy what she has now, but I cannot take this anymore having his filthy hands all over me and his mouth on my body I try to pretend that I am in another place every time he comes into my room, Please tell me what to do. From Afraid. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Afraid, You are placed in a position which no child should be in, you must realize that this is NOT YOUR FAULT, you are not to be blamed and never accept the blame for this abuse, however you need to seek counsel and speak to a trusted adult, a teacher, minister of religion, a family member who does not live with you, or even a police officer. You can also try to have a heart to heart talk with your mother when your Step father is not around I am sure her love for you will look beyond all the gifts and pampering of this man, what you have been doing is dissociating yourself from the trauma of the abuse while this may get you through when you are being abused the reality is you are being abused and it is hurting you this is why you have written and asked for advice. The decision is up to you only you can break the silence whether you are believed or not breaking the silence is not an easy decision, it is not a popular choice but it is the right thing to do. Be strong for help is just around the corner. ~S.B 125
Angelica Harris and Living with Rage A Quest for Solace By Sherna Benjamin
Anger is something which each of us have experienced however rage is something which every victim of abuse lives with each victim manifest this rage differently but inwardly they are crying out for help and for this rage to cease and leave them alone. Some victims get flashbacks and triggers and may go into a fit of rage the individual who may seem to be quiet and reserved may instantly give an outburst which will shock many. What other’s may take for granted and seem to think it is no big deal and the reaction manifested was uncalled for, they may wonder why did the individual take something so serious when it may seem but a simple matter, however to the victim of abuse it brought flashbacks of their abuse. As a victim of child sexual and physical abuse I dealt with rage for a great part of my life there were times when I actually felt that rage consuming me and seeking to swallow me up and for a time the individual has no control over the rage, to those who are dealing with rage I know what you are experiencing I began to get healing from the rage just a few months ago and it truly has been a liberating feeling, I am not one hundred percent whole but I am greatly advanced from where I was. My advice to you is that you cannot do it alone, you need a support group, you need to have persons around you who understand what you have been through and they in turn must work with you to overcome the rage which you are living with, one thing is evident and that is you need to get away, run as fast as you can from all negative environments be with people and in an environments which will strengthen you and not break you down. While I was dealing and coming to terms with me living with rage I was shocked to see my friend Angelica Harris published her Memoir titled “LIVING WITH RAGE A QUEST FOR SOLACE” her story has brought great comfort to me and the bond and friendship we have grown to develop I will not exchange it for the world, there is a saying which goes like this “A prophet is not honoured in his own country” 127
And this has been true for me those whom I thought would have been there to support me and help me through some of the most difficult times in my life were not and it took persons whom I was never expecting to be there for me to hear my cries and to place my hands in theirs and my head on their shoulder and say I will walk with you, we will get through this together. One of the greatest gifts to mankind is to have a friend who will truly love you, support you, encourage you even with all your faults because they see that rose waiting to blossom. There is no greater gift than to be accepted, appreciated, not judged based upon peoples misconceptions and myths, and to be pushed to excel. The group of women of which I am fortunate to be in their presence are some of my best friends there is a saying which goes like thisâ€? a friend is not the one whom you have known the longest but the one who has stood with you in the presentâ€?, we share a bond, we share common goals, we seek to have each other excel there is no greater feeling than to be amongst persons with whom you feel so comfortable that they are able to read even your unsaid thoughts, that never utter a negative word, that bear you up when you get down and that always see the good in you and push you to walk in excellence. Angelica is such a person we recently had a wonderful discourse and I will share part of our conversation with you. Sherna: What prompted you to become an advocate against domestic violence and abuse? Angelica: As a child from the ages of 11 years to 20 years of age I had several abusers, my uncle molested me from the time that I was 11 until I was 13 while I cared for my ailing Grandmother. 128
My mother who was descending into mental illness, tried to kill herself and me on 3 separate occasions and running away from her I ended up in the arms of a man that I thought loved me, but was yet another abuser in my life. He date raped me one evening, after using drugs and later I found out that I was pregnant. Coming from such an abusive home I could not have the child and in an act of survival I had an abortion. Coming from a strict Catholic upbringing it sacred me spiritually for most of my adult life. I began writing about my abuse in poetry, when I was young and hid it from the world, only to find in my adult years that the pain wanted to be released and it was then that as I wrote my first book, The Quest for Ex calibur, a story about a woman from Glendale, Queens NY who finds Excalibur, King Arthurâ€™s sword in our time. The sword takes her back in time where Merlin the Wizard and the Lady of the Lake tells Arthur who Arianna really is. It was in this chapter that I revealed my rape. It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life, yet it helped relieve a heavy burden that I carried for over 25 years. Sherna: Have you any regrets in speaking out and writing about your ex perience of abuse. Angelica: In the beginning I was worried how my family would take it. But they have all supported me especially my children. I have a 26 year old daughter and a 23 year old son. At first they were shocked at the new information about me, but with the times we live in, both Andrea and John were proud of me for lifting my voice about a horrific crime against human kind. As long as my children support me as I support them I HAVE NO REGRETS AT ALL. The only thing more powerful than rageâ€Ś IS A VOICE!!!! ~Angelica Harris. 129
Sherna: Do you feel that you have shamed the family in someway by speaking out your abuse at the hand of a family member? Angelica: In the beginning I thought I would bring shame on them, but I found out the more I spoke to my husband, son and daughter about the issues the more they supported me. The only real problem I had was with my younger brother, he is still in denial as to what we went through at home with our mother and when I talk about it , he feels â€œjust leave the past aloneâ€? but I know to keep it silent only festers the evil to make more evil. That is why I have a voice now and will not allow the shame and blame I harbored for so many years control me now. My voice is unleashed and that is forever!! Sherna: What made you keep silent for such a long time? Angelica: I was a child when the abuse started with my mother who had an abusive temper, then an uncle who molested me and a mother who tried to kill me. My uncle threatened me with my own life and from there on FEAR HELD MY VOICE LOCKED. Besides the shame of my mother wanting to kill her own child. Sherna: Now that you have spoken out how do you feel about yourself? Angelica: I am proud of myself and feel empowered to help others. I no longer hid behind the mask of abuse, the veil of shame, embarrassment, self doubt, and guilt of what these issues and how these issues consume the abused child or adult. I always had a voice, but it was silent and now I have shattered my silence, never again to walk in fear, or doubt again. Sherna: What advice would you give to someone who is presently in an abusive situation and is afraid to speak out? 130
Angelica: First if it is a spouse who is abusing you…seek a shelter and get out, before it is too late. If you are a child seek counsel through a trusted friend, a teacher, a parent of a friend that you trust with your life. For an adult, a friend, maybe a clergyperson, a social worker, the police department, and social services. You can go to your Council Members office in your community and speak to someone in the office. They can direct you to proper housing or a shelter, where you can find solace, and people who understand you and your pain. From there they will help you with your family to be in a safe and healthy environment. But I say this—you must want this freedom because it comes with a price—YOU HAVE TO PAY IT FORWARD AND HELP YOURSELF TO A BETTER LIFE AND THEN HELP OTHERS THAT ARE LIKE YOU TO THEIRS!!! Sherna: You have written the book “LIVING WITH RAGE - A QUEST FOR SOLACE”, can you tell us about the book and the reason for writing and publishing this wonderful piece of what I call art? Angelica: This is the blurb from the back of the book…I believe it will explain it all “In Living With Rage: A Quest for Solace, successful author, entrepreneur, and children's advocate Angelica Harris dares to examine the life that almost killed her. As a teenager in Queens, New York in the 1970s, Harris bore two secrets: the beatings of a mother swiftly descending into mental illness, and her uncle’s year-long sexual abuse. The burden of silence would continue as she later hid her rape and abortion, and shelved her own dreams to support her family. Always on the brink of exploding, Harris sought relief through literature, theater, and hard work, but she couldn't eradicate the rage that simmered inside her. In candid, revealing prose, Harris tells the story of a life haunted by violence but that also shimmers with all the complexities of love. Ultimately, Living With Rage is a powerful, redemptive act of both finding a voice and giving a voice to others.” 131
Sherna: What activities, groups, or organizations are you involved in which can be beneficial to persons who are or have been abused? Angelica: I am the founder and owner of the Excalibur Reading Program an exiting 501c3 Literacy and arts program here in my home town, and the Founding Mother of the Women’s Center The Unicorn ProjectRaven’s Hope. Am a member of my Glendale Kiwanis Club. Amnesty International Human Rights Organization. IVAT (Institute Against Violence Abuse and Trauma) on the planning committee for the September 2012 conference in San Diego. I also belong to the Center for the Women of New York and am building a curriculum for the schools here in NY to teach domestic violence here in our city schools. Sherna: What is your vision for eradicating abuse? Angelica: MY VOICE TO SHATTER THE SILENCE. MY CENTER TO HELP OTHERS AND TO WRITE ABOUT THE ISSUES SO THAT THERE IS THE WRITTEN WORD FOR OTHERS TO READ AND TO BE EDUCATED ABOUT WHAT ABUSE IS REALLY ABOUT. IT IS THE DEMORALIZATION OF HUMANKIND AND IN ORDER FOR US TO HEAL AND NEVER SEE IT AGAIN IT IS TO PUT IT OUT THERE IN THE EYES AND EARS OF ALL WHOSE EYES AND EARS HAVE BEEN CLOSED TO IT. THIS IS MY VISION. Sherna: Do you believe that someone must be an expert to speak out against abuse and give advice on the subject, and also what measures and laws do you believe should be put in place to help victims and prevent abuse on a global level? 132
Angelica: YES WE HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT MANY OF US HAVE BECOME EXPERTS THROUGH OUR EXPERIENCE THE ANSWER IS YES, TO TALK ABOUT IT, YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT THE PAIN IS OF ABUSE TO SPEAK ACTIVELY IN ORDER TO ADVOCATE! DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT NEED LONG JAIL SENTENCES. THOSE WHO ABUSE NEED TO BE LOCKED UP FOR A LONG TIME IN ORDER TO SUFFER JUST AS THE PEOPLE TO WHOM THEY HAVE AFFLICTED SUFFERING. THE WORLD HAS TO COME TO AN AGREEMENT, AND THOSE CONVICTED HAVE TO BE MADE EXAMPLES FOR OTHERS TO KNOW IT IS TIME TO STOP LEST HUMAN KIND HAS NO FUTURE. OUR CHILDREN ARE IN DANGER, AND WE HAVE TO MAKE A SAFE HAVEN OF OUR WORLD FOR THEM TO LIVE AS FREE SPIRITS, THOSE WHO CAME IN THE WORLD THROUGH THEIR RIGHT THAT GOD GAVE TO THEM AND HUMAN KIND TOOK AWAY. Communicating with Angelica brought back so many memories and flashbacks for me but today I am stronger and much wiser for I have travelled a long and hard road which was not made an easy journey by society and the many who claim to be Christians but it is a marvelous thing how God turns a tragedy into a victory and pain into rejoicing. I share with you Angelicas' first poem this poem means a lot to her and also to me as these were some of the questions which I also asked myself while growing up and even as an adult. What’s wrong with me? Am I so hideous no one will look at me I am horrendous Why am I slighted, pushed aside Cast away like a rag I am horrendous Who will look at me Will someone see me for who I am I am horrendous. 133
Angelica says “That was my first poem– the day I became a writer. I was sixteen years old. As time passed, I wrote more and more poems and feared my mother reading them. I could not stand anyone reading my poetry. This was the only way I could say what I wanted without my mother slapping me in the face or expressing my opinions. The older I got, the more she beat me, and the more I retaliated, the worse the abuse. My body was wearing down. I felt old already, and- someplace in my horrendous world- I needed a place for solace.” Here are two excerpts from the book “Living with Rage a Quest for Solace” 1.“Uncle Thomas went over to the stove to pour another cup of coffee. Then he took a piece of pie from the fridge. He ate his pie and drank his coffee as he watched me wash the dishes. I wanted to finish quickly and go home. I had homework to do and needed to catch the bus. When he finished eating, Uncle Thomas put his plate in the sink, and he lightly tickled my neck. Laughing, I cocked my neck and pushed his hand away. “What was that for?” “Just wanted to see you laugh. You look so serious!” I continued to wash the dishes, and he touched me again, this time caressing my upper arm. I pulled away. “Uncle Thomas, c’mon, I have to get this done.” He snickered and did it again. I moved a few inches away. I felt as though Uncle Thomas were sucking the space away from me. Uncle Thomas moved behind me and began to stroke my hair and then my shoulders. I could feel his warm breath on my neck, and a peculiar chill ran down my back. It made me shiver, and I felt strange: the tickle felt good and not so good at the same time. I didn’t know what to think. I shut off the water, turned, and pushed his hand away. “Stop!” I said as I pushed him toward the bathroom door. “Uncle Thomas, leave me alone, okay?” His face was blank. He walked back to his chair and took a sip of his coffee, then left the room for a minute. I returned to washing the dishes, but my heart was racing and I began to sweat. I felt as though an alien had entered my body. I shook it off.” 134
2. “When I woke up, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I could still see Greg on top of me, but there was a time span that I could not remember – why? I sat up in bed and looked out my window into a clear afternoon sky. My back and the insides of my thighs ached badly, like a sore that wouldn’t go away. I got up to go the bathroom, my head pounding as if I had a horrible hangover. I pulled down my panties and noticed that I was bleeding. I wanted to cry but was afraid my mother would question it. Instead, I ran a shower and tried to rinse every thought, word, and deed of Greg from my body. But even the water hurt me. Afterward, as I wrapped a big bath towel around me, all I could think was, Why did this happen to me? It was Thursday morning, and I called in sick. I had never done that before and hated how bad I felt lying to my boss, but my stomach felt as though I could heave at any moment. My face in the mirror was monstrously exhausted. All I could think was that if my uncle, my mother, and now even my own boyfriend could wish me harm, maybe my life was not worth living.”
Angelica’s endorsements: “Angelica Harris adds another chapter to her own oeuvre of courage, love and redemption with Living with Rage: A Quest for Solace. The highest form of spiritual alchemy is to transform one’s own psychic pain into healing for others. This is exactly what Harris has spent her adult life doing, and what she expands upon with this painful, honest and hard-hitting memoir about her own horrifying adolescent experiences. She is letting us know that no matter how difficult things might get in our life, we (like her) can make it through, can heal and then can learn to give love to others, where once there was only pain. Thank you Angelica!” –Tom Block, Founding Producer, Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival “What an inspiration Angelica is! This is an honest and candid memoir…a book that will have you in tears but will also have you cheering for this strong and successful woman who is now sharing her story in order to make a difference in the lives of others. This book is a gift!” –Jennifer Geronimo, Speaker/Author Manager, Life Enlightenment Living With Rage – A Quest For Solace is a beacon in the darkness for those who are struggling to emerge from their own abusive situations. When I asked a family member about my own childhood abuse, I was told, ‘Just forget it—it’s not part of who you are now.’ I was shocked at this dismissive attitude. It is always a part of me and will always be a part of me, because it makes me want to show the world that I HAVE survived and thrived despite it! Thank you, Angelica Harris, for pouring out your heart to show this positivity to the millions of other survivors. And God bless the millions of poor souls who weren’t lucky enough to survive their abuse. Let this book be a prayer for them.” -–Patricia Gatt, Queens Chronicle 136
“In one snapshot of an afternoon moment, Living with Rage: A Quest for Solace, gives the reader the history of a teenager caught in physical and verbal abuse. The young girl’s desire to save her parent is tangled with self-preservation. There are no answers to be found in this web and the reader immediately understands the reason for Angelica Harris’s quest. They want her to find the solace she deserves. This is a novel for those who know the experience and those who can’t comprehend a world so many children know.” –Jeanne McElvaney, author of Spirit Unbroken: Abby’s Story and “Sexual Abuse Insights” blog at GoToSpirit.com “The inspiring life of Angelica Harris, which she generously shares with others, brings truth to the issues of abuse and offers hope to all who read her book.” –Lela Albert, Founder of Restoring His People Ministries Living with Rage: A Quest for Solace, by Angelica Harris, is a must-read for any individual who suffers from RAGE caused by abuse. Angelica takes the victim out of victimhood and instead turns suffering into victory for the Lord. Her unfaltering love for her family and her faith in God sustained her through situations that would have destroyed most. Angelica shows the reader that we may not like the storyline unfolding in our lives, but that through Gods grace He has the perfect ending. Angelica personifies the scripture Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Angelica shares her personal story of abuse with her readers with compassionate writing that does not sugarcoat her experiences or her own struggles with rage. This author shares that through God’s grace she was able to heal the rage that bubbled within her and find purpose to help others heal from abuse. Angelica has proven that we are not alone in our challenges but that with God’s help all things are possible, including forgiveness of those who have wounded us. –Leslie Brunolli, Rachel’s Hope: After Abortion Healing and Reconciliation
You can visit Angelicaâ€™s website and get more information she will be more than happy to hear from you www.angelicaharris.com, book her for speaking engagements, and speak directly to her, you too will realize that she is a kind, compassionate, caring, and humble soul. Gods children are in every nation and in every quarter of society the only barriers amongst people are people themselves, in your healing process network and connect with persons who will not be barriers but will be a positive influence in your life. Rage kills and it kills slowly each day that we harbor rage we lose out on living and the abuser wins, when you shed the old skins of your rage you will blossom and flourish like a cedar in Lebanon, shedding the skins of rage is not an easy process and you will be knocked down many times but never give up, no matter how many times persons may repeat â€œyou have not changedâ€? continue fighting, continue progressing for you will be transforming while the eyes of others are focused on the skins which you have shed and they will never see nor acknowledged your new beauty for the skins which you have shed have blinded them even when the brightness of the sun light of deliverance and change is around you and the rays surround you.
So Rage It is All Around Me! By Angelica Harris ÂŠ Angelica Harris Inc 2008 Rage it is all around me Coursing through my veins Like poison surges through its victim Before taking its life Rage it is all around me Forcing itself as it wells up In the caverns of my being Stalking, pestering, until I purge it forth Rage it is all around me Fixed on engulfing me Wanting, waiting, preying on my affections Rage it is all around me Sweeping, all-encompassing, chilling Taking me from who I am Castrating my humanity Entrapping me like a beast in a cage Rage it is all around me Toiling, ravaging, oppressive Rising like a wolf howling on the prairie Calling for the hunt Rage it is all around me It spears me, impaling my heart Sorrow, death, mournful harmony Shadows, looming in the dust Forming, manifesting its anger In the depths of my soul Rage it is all around me Crying, lamenting, sadness Piercing my core Tearing away at my flesh Bleeding, haemorrhaging, spilling forth Rage it is all around me. lace. The highest 139
Free Education For ALL By Sherna Benjamin
ALISON is becoming more and more popular as individuals around the globe seek to be certified in various fields, many persons are also unable to pay the high tuition fees which many learning institution charge. The cost of education has been a set back for many a bright minds who are financially crippled but desire to be educated to better their position for themselves and their family. This is where ALISON comes in with over one million users even Universities around the world are now beginning to notice ALISION and the tremendous work which they are doing in the area of education. As a student of ALISON I can attest to its benefits and please do not think for one minute because ALISON courses are free that the work is easy oh NO!, you have to work hard to be certified, you must be dedicated and a serious student, like everything else in this world you must work hard and hard honest work pays off at the end of the day or at the end of the course. ALISON was established by Mike Feerick in 2007 with six courses and no students today five years later ALISON has many awards and credits under its belt. When you think about free education you can definitely think about ALISION, they have a mission to give free education to all, and this is what they are doing growing fast and moving forward they are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the area of education. 140
ALISON was voted one of the world’s top 50 Social Enterprises and this is what the founder Mike Feerick had to say. “Most of our users are in the developing world – India, the Philippines, South Africa and Nigeria,” says Feerick, who established Alison in 2007 with six courses and no students. “We also have a quarter of a million UK users and around 200,000 in the US. “Our focus is on enabling skills – these are not PhDs. These are practical courses to take into a job. However, we also look to bring their skills forward – if a student comes to us looking for a typing course, they can end up with the skills to build a web page and set up a business online.” ALISON.com free online learning provider was awarded the prestigious UNESCO Prize. Free interactive learning provider ALISON.com was among the four winners of the 2010 UNESCO-King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for innovation in ICT for Education. Mike Feerick, CEO & Founder of ALISON was presented with the “Honourable Mention” Diploma Award by the Director General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, and representatives of the prize sponsor, the King of Bahrain at a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France on Jan 12th last. ALISON now has registered learners in 200 countries worldwide providing over 150 courses at Certificate & Diploma level. Although primarily focused on Digital Literacy & IT Skills, ALISON also provides courses on a wide range of course categories including English language, Health & Safety, Business & Entrepreneurship, Maths, Law, Accounting and Basic Science. Although most learning is presented in the English language, courses in Arabic and French are also provided. ALISON partner organisations include Microsoft, the British Council and the Irish Health & Safety Authority. ALISON has over 40,000 registered learners in Ireland, primarily studying Health & Safety and ABC-IT, ALISON’s free equivalent to the wellknown ECDL Certification. 141
In the award citation, ALISON is recognised for “providing a new world of free online learning opportunities to improve employment flexibility and skills worldwide” In his acceptance speech, Mike Feerick said “In 1948, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights declared in Article 26, that “Education shall be free”. Through technical expertise and innovation, ALISON has developed a learning ecology that allows education, training and testing, to be freely accessed online by anyone, anywhere, in a sustainable manner”.
Acceptance Speech by ALISON CEO, Mike Feerick, at UNESCO beside the flags of award winning countries- United Kingdom, Venezuela, the Philippines and Ireland.
Congratulating ALISON, Mary Coughlan TD, Irish Minister of Education and Skills stated that “the success of ALISON in this prestigious international award showcases the innovation in the education sector in Ireland and its growing impact worldwide”. The Irish government was represented at the Award Ceremony by Mr Paul Murray, Permanent Ambassador from Ireland to UNESCO & OCED. “ 142
After seeing and reading about the wonderful work and awards which ALISON is receiving I am sure you are eager to find out more about this free learning institution well I am one step ahead of you I shall now proceed to tell you a bit more about this wonderful and engaging learning resource. What is ALISON? ALISON* is the world's leading free online learning resource for basic and essential workplace skills. ALISON provides high-quality, engaging, interactive multimedia courseware for certification and standards-based learning. The mission of ALISON is to enable anyone, anywhere, to educate themselves for free via interactive, self-paced multimedia. It is our belief that through ALISON, the cost of access to high-quality education can be removed. Through the ALISON learning platform we can assist people around the world in educating themselves, thereby creating a more equitable and sustainable global society. We believe that all certifiable or standards-based learning for every subject can be made available for free online. We also believe that Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free..." will, through ALISON, become a reality. * ALISON stands for "Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online". You may now be asking yourself if I do register with ALISON are their certificates recognized?, well here is your answer: FACT: Over 80,000 ALISON certificates have been ordered/downloaded around the world in 2010. ALISON Certificates are becoming well known and trusted by many employers around the world. 143
ALISON courses track well-known, accepted standards of learning. The main standards we adhere to â€“ which apply to over half our courses - are those instituted by the ECDL Foundation / Microsoft Corporation, (IT Literacy), the British Council ((English Learning), and the Australian High School standards (maths courses, science courses, etc.). To keep the courses freely accessible online, we do not issue, and cannot issue, certifications directly from these particular institutions (as they would all involve fees which would have to be passed on to the learner). However, we do provide a Certificate of Completion to state that the individual has learned the same required knowledge/skill-set. Where ALISON has a distinct advantage on all institutional certification is that an ALISON graduate can be challenged to sit an ALISON test at anytime online to prove that they retain the standard of knowledge certified by the Certification of Completion. With other certificates, what a certification suggests is that at one time, in the past, the holder achieved a particular standard. In many cases, ALISON courses match the exact curriculum requirements of well-known certifications. In other cases, the curriculum chosen by ALISON is deemed by experts as the most appropriate for the level of course offered. As our methods of teaching and testing are non-traditional (predominately because they are online and free to access), they cannot be directly compared with most traditional certifications where providers charge learners substantial fees for both training and testing in traditional test centres. The ALISON validation process of knowledge and skills is also much more powerful than these traditional methods. If you have passed an ALISON assessment and obtained a certificate, potential employers have the opportunity to challenge your knowledge at any time, anywhere, by asking you to sit a Flash Test to prove your skills. No other method of learning offers such a dynamic validation of competence and knowledge. 144
ALISON keeps the quality of its learning high and is increasingly attracting well-known brands of learning to the free-learning platform. In summary, the certifications are not just validated by any awarding body, but through Flash Testing, by anyone who has the permission of the learner to set a test. This type of simple testing is made possible by the free accessibility of the high-quality interactive learning on the ALISON platform. Who issues ALISON certificates? ALISON certificates are issued by Advance Learning, (ALISON is an acronym for Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online). What institution endorses courses available on ALISON? These courses are endorsed by Advance Learning and the relevant publishing organisations including British Council, Microsoft, Health and Safety Authority and the Construction Safety Partnership. Who signs certificates? After verification of the learning activity and scores achieved in assessments, certificates are signed by a Certification Director of Advance Learning. Accreditation There are a range of for-profit and non-profit organisations for accreditation that provide guidance for the evaluation and/or accreditation of learning programmes. These differ greatly in their qualification requirements and you should review them with care, based on your goals. ALISON provides a stringent internal review system for its interactive learning platform and completion programme.
What is Accreditation? Educational accreditation is a type of quality assurance process, performed by an external body, to determine if the service and operations of an educational institute or programme meet applicable standards. In most countries this is done by a government organisation. In the USA it is done by private accrediting agencies. Through accreditation, an education provider can maintain and improve its standards and practices. Accrediting bodies develop criteria or standards by which an organisation can be measured. It is the responsibility of the accrediting body to audit the programme or educational institute on the basis of quality, accountability, and improvement. Why is Accreditation important? Accreditation is important to various groups because it represents an organisation's commitment to quality and control. Being an accredited programme/organisation helps show those interested that the quality and control criteria set by accreditation agencies are being met. Business and industry leaders are interested in the quality of programmes and consider accreditation status an important factor. Individuals are assured of accountability and of value for their efforts through the arrangement between the programme and the accrediting entity via procedure and policy control and compliance with established standards. Knowing something about the accreditation of a programme or institute can tell a student a lot about the value of the course for which (s)he is paying. It is also important to make sure that the accrediting agency that has approved the institute is reputable. 146
On which basis is Accreditation offered? Accrediting agencies or boards establish certain standards which are required to be met by an institution in order to get an accredited status. Their core function is to promote high-quality education by identifying standards that outline best educational practices. These boards or agencies evaluate the institute/organisation for the following areas:
institution’s mission or vision educational practices administration faculty financial stability policies and student services. Institutions fulfilling the requirements for these areas are then granted accreditation.
ALISON Standards Accreditation generally means that a provider or programme has been evaluated by an independent group, and meets the standards of that accrediting agency. As seen, there are many options for accreditation. The process is VOLUNTARY; it is not required to operate. Smaller programmes often cannot fund the cost of such an ongoing review process. In an effort to keep programme costs down and to retain the current motivational-based format of ALISON, ALISON has not sought to be, nor been, approved by the US DOE, CHEA or DETC provider and does not represent itself to be an “accredited” programme of any of these organisations. 147
ALISON has built a reputation around the world for providing highquality learning services. ALISON courses are devised in accordance with best practices worldwide. Standards applied mirror those instituted by the ECDL Foundation / Microsoft Corporation, (IT Literacy), the British Council (English Learning), the Australian High School standards (our school curriculum courses) and the Health and Safety Authority. ALISON maintains and builds upon the highest standards of courseware pedagogy and relevance. Many ALISON courses match the exact curriculum requirements of leading certifications. For other courses, the curriculum chosen by ALISON is deemed by experts as the most appropriate for the level of course offered. ALISON Certificates of Completion provide evidence that the learner has acquired the relevant knowledge/skill-set. ALISON offers an additional feature, not available from traditional course providers; this is the ALISON Test feature which enables the testing of the knowledge level of ALISON graduates online, anywhere, at any time. The facility is used by employers and organisations and institutions around the world. No other method of learning offers such a dynamic validation of competence and knowledge. Recognition by UNESCO (ICT Excellence in Education awards) and the Ashoka Foundation is further endorsement of a world-class service from ALISON. ALISON courses are availed of in every country by every type of organisation including universities, schools, and private and public organisations of every size. 148
ALISON incorporates an internal review or “self-auditing” approach to ensure consistent standards that include - but are not limited to-: creating impetus for organisational improvement and assisting in the general raising of standards for granting awards, offering an equal opportunity for anyone to receive evaluation and an education programme. When choosing a course to study it is important to consider your own educational goals and learning needs, as well as accreditation status. Lack of accreditation does not mean that an educational provider is inferior or illegitimate. Accreditation is not essential for many training courses where learners acquire a skill that is of enormous benefit in a personal capacity. Because of the constant advancing in technology very soon the traditional classroom will become a thing of the past, ALISON is preparing a generation to meet these changing and challenging times. The choice is yours are you willing to run with the developing time and embrace technology or will you recline, the door is opened the opportunity is before you get certified, get educated and be ahead of the rest. In the comfort of your own home you can enter into the classroom to the stay at home mother, or the educator the world is at your finger tips head on over to www.alison.com and register today. My referral code 990481. From understanding Skype to building a website the courses are endless but it is all up to you, as for me I am making the best out of the free courses offered and will encourage all those whom I come in contact with to also use ALISON if they desire to be educated and have not the funds to do so. 149
The History Maker Sherna Benjamin My Story My Life Prevention requires a clear vision of what we're working for, not only what we're working against and a commitment to social change. My name is Sherna Benjamin I am a wife and mother and also a survivor of child sexual and physical abuse, my abuse began at the age of 6 until the age of 15. At this point you may be saying in your mind “why did she not do or say something” you may also be saying “her abuse was not so serious” or you may be saying in your mind “If I was there I would of done something”. Many of us know that in the 60’s, 70, 80’s, and early 90’s abuse was a taboo subject, there was a gag order on the topic, there are many who are adults today who did nothing about the abuse which was happening next door or they were not even aware that abuse was going on. I grew up in what was termed a middleclass home in Saint James my stepmother was well respected by the neighbours and all her co-workers at the Port of Spain General hospital where she worked, however she was an abuser. My step sister was a beautiful person physically and was a hand model for a very prominent jewel store she too was respected by her co-workers in a prestigious company in Newtown where she worked however she also was an abuser. My father’s friend was looked upon as the saviour and the leading man of the family and he took this role very quickly upon the passing of my father he was loved by many, respected by many and deemed as a good man by society even by the family doctor, no evil could of been spoken about this man, however he was an abuser and it was years later that I realized that he was a child molester and paedophile. 150
At school when I thought safety would be in sight, there was a male teacher who was loved by all yet he touched the female students in places making them very uncomfortable as children we kept silence fearful to speak and also confused because the adults are looked upon as persons of trust and those who know everything and the super heroes. Domestic violence and Abuse is not a new problem nor is it a new social issue, on the contrary it has been prevalent for many generations in families and communities and nations. Abuse was mainly set to being a "Women's Issue", the problem was swept under the carpet for generations and only recently has it come to public awareness, because information and education on the subject is being disseminated. We are seeing and hearing of many cases which we find as a nation very reprehensible and startling and many demand direct intervention however for there to be direct intervention persons must be educated and this education begins with and in the families, communities, and then as a whole nation. There is also the fact that men are also abused however this issue is classified in the minds of many as a â€œWomenâ€™s only Issueâ€?, even today, many in society has turned up their nose against the abused. The protective services, health services, the court and the mental health systems largely ignore domestic violence and abuse in the family. This induces feelings of shame and guilt in the victims and "legitimizes" the role of the abuser whether male or female. There is also the abuse of parents by their children in such cases the roles are reversed and the parent or guardian becomes the child while the child holds the reins of power and discipline within the family circle, shame, fear, guilt are also felt by the parents in such cases. For there to be direct intervention there must be education, illiteracy is not acceptable where domestic violence and abuse is concerned. We must be educated about what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. 151
Our children need to be educated as to good touch and bad touch, good secrets and bad secrets, positive behaviours and negative behaviours, we must be educated to be empowered to use our voice and be an engaged bystander and not a passive bystander. Many Parents, teachers, guardians, the clergy, and those in authority must admit that they have failed many of the nation’s children but we must not only remain with the acknowledgement of this failure, we must apologize to the hundreds of victims for the failure and finally we must get the education and seek to implement this education by precept and example. Through teaching, workshops, campaigns, networking, proposing policies and measures to help the victim, to prevent abuse, and make the perpetrator accountable for their actions. Without education only chaos, myths and misconception will reign on this subject of Domestic Violence and Abuse. As a child there was no one to protect me and for years even when the abuse stopped and I sought counselling and did various researches on the subject one question kept gnawing and gnawing at me until a few months ago when I received the answer to this question. The question was “Why were there so many persons within the household and no one intervened to help me and stop or prevent the Abuse?” I was recently asked by a wonderful young lady who attends San Diego State University and runs the campaign “Breaking the Silence against Domestic Violence” to write about being a victim and survivor I will share with you what I sent to her : “My name is Sherna Benjamin and I am a Survivor of child sexual, emotional, and physical Abuse, I live in Trinidad and Tobago which is in the Caribbean, abuse has no immigration borders and needs no visas to enter for it is a universal plague which only desires to destroy and kill, it creeps in unawares and takes its victims captive. 152
For years I kept silent about my abuse, as a victim I felt and know by experience the pain, mental and physical torment of being abused and raped, I have experienced the emotional roller-coaster and the suicidal thoughts, the emotions of not being able or willing to trust anyone, the feelings of inadequacy and shame. I felt like a piece of merchandise which each tester had to firmly approve by using it before anyone else, I felt nasty, fearful, and for a period of time in my life I felt devoid of emotion. I went through an identity crises for years as my identity was stolen that first night when I was raped being just six years old, I was abused until the age of 15 years; I experienced uncontrolled rage like never before. Unlike today, years gone by was a time when the word ABUSE was never spoken nor heard off!! Why? One may ask, and this is a great question, but I guess only the adults, professionals, ministers, politicians, teachers, and educators who have gone to their graves can answer and those still alive I guess their conscience does not allow them to sleep in the night and shame has cut their speech. Many of whom are afraid to speak because of the shame of not getting involved and it shows their inadequacy as guardians and professionals and I guess to keep silent is much better than the shame of admitting they did nothing to help the many victims who have been abused in years gone by and who are being abused today. To them I guess ignorance is bliss but the conscience is torture. To keep silent is much better than to admit failure. Today the struggles and fight to speak out against abuse and educate persons is a tough one, it has its pains and it joys, the pain of seeing and hearing about the perpetuation of abuse, the pain of seeing and hearing the ignorance about the subject but the joys of seeing victims find themselves and having the power and courage to break the silence. 153
The joy of seeing a child smile again and that smile comes from within because they are no longer afraid to be a child, the joy of seeing women and men stand in the gap for those broken, bruised, and voiceless and joining together in global unity as a mighty army against abuse, and to educate about abuse. Today I can now stand tall and boldly declare that I am a survivor and each day which dawns I am embracing my survival with authority and love I now experience peace, joy, love, and knowing and loving me is a wonderful feeling. Finding who I am and accepting the fact that the abuse was not my fault, finding my voice which was silent because of the abuse and by the abuser and also by society, being free of all those demons as I call them, which haunted me for years and now I have found my purpose which is to empower people to use their voice. I am turning my shame into a blessing, what my abuser taught would of killed me is now fuelling me to fight for the many unheard of victims, those without a voice and those who have been forgotten, it is fuelling me to be a voice to bring awareness and education on the subject of domestic violence and abuse. Being silent is the greatest crime to humanity, it is because I am now free that I am duty bound to speak out, duty bound to help those affected by abuse and to educate persons on this issue. It took me much time and many years to research information on this issue and speak to various persons and to receive my healing step by step. I do not know everything I will learn as I go and also share as I go but remaining silent is not an option for me anymore breaking the silence is not a popular choice but it is the right choice.
And because of these things I was moved with great passion and care to form an organization called O.A.B.I., to educate and inform persons about the seriousness of abuse. I firmly believe that education and networking are two of the main keys when dealing with this subject of abuse, and violence against women, children, and men, without education and information people will not be able to act. As they will not be informed as to how to act, why to act, when and where to act as they have no knowledge about the issue, they will also continue to maintain ignorance, myths, and misconceptions on the given subject and the subject at hand is domestic violence and abuse. We teach and train people to be doctors and lawyers, we train our children on good manners and etiquette, we train persons to prepare for hurricane and earthquakes but seldom do we train people to be prepared for abuse. We need to train people to be empowered to use their voice when abuse happens, and to also use their voice as a preventative measure against abuse, in the voice there is much power so I encourage you to take the unpopular stand and break the silence for every grand reformation, new organization, and work began with taking the unpopular side and soon the unpopular became and will become popular..©” I invite you to join us on this mission and as we disseminate information embracing the social networks and internet as this is a Facebook generation we must utilize the tool to spread the message. We must also meet people face to face one on one to educate them on this most serious subject, I end by saying “If there must be war let it be in my days so that my children may have peace”. Get on board use your voice get informed and let us dispel the darkens by spreading the light. ~Sherna Benjamin 155
Erin’s Law the crusade of Erin Merryn I met Erin Merryn a few years ago via twitter when I logged unto my account and saw that my followers increased by one, I did what I would normally do and that is to see who is following me so that I can return the courtesy. I was amazed to see the name Erin Merryn but more so to see the boldness and determination of this young lady whose life had been scared by sexual abuse, not by a stranger but by a family member. Because of her experience she knew that she needed to do something to protect other children from feeling the pain of abuse and having their life dashed to pieces. I was immediately humbled to know that this young beautiful, intelligent, and active advocate saw something of worth in my post to take the time to follow me. Erin is presently on a crusade to get Erin’s law passed which will make it mandatory for every school in the United States of America to implement and educate students on sexual abuse, School boards will adopt age appropriate curriculum on sexual abuse education to students grades pre-k through 5th grade. Education in schools is an effective method for preventing children from falling prey to sexual abuse silence is NOT an option and as Erin's says “I will not keep silent until every state has passed this law.” While fighting in this war she has won some battles and made some huge impact thus far, but this is only the beginning, because the war is still in effect so the battles must be fought, with persistence despite all the odds against her she continued on this journey Erin’s Law must be passed and when it did get passed in a few states Erin did not just sit and accept this as the victory the fight was still on the battle raging the war was not over. 157
What has drawn me closer to Erin and to truly admire her is her selfless character but more so her heart of forgiveness, and not because she forgave her abusers did she remain silent OH NO! She became fueled by her experience of pain to have politicians and lawmakers implement Erin’s law to protect children. She is an accomplished author of two detailed books “Stolen Innocence Triumphing Over a Childhood Broken by Abuse: A Memoir” in this book Erin details her abuse and holds nothing back it is raw, factual, and truthful. “Eleven-year-old Erin Merryn's life was transformed on the night she was sexually abused by her cousin, someone she loved and trusted. As the abuse continued, and as she was forced to see her abuser over and over again in social situations, she struggled with self-doubt, panic attacks, nightmares and the weight of whether or not to tell her terrible secret. It wasn't until a traumatic series of events showed her the cost of silence that she chose to speak out-in the process destroying both her family and the last of her innocence. Through her personal diary, written during the years of her abuse, Erin Myrren shares her journey through pain and confusion to inner strength and, ultimately, forgiveness. Raw, powerful and unflinchingly honest, Stolen Innocence is the inspiring story of one girl's struggle to become a woman, and a bright light on the pain and devastation of abuse. Stolen Innocence is written with conviction and clarity. [Erin Merryn] doesn't hold back, and I respect her honesty and openness...By the end of the book, I thought I was reading passages from a much older adult than a high school senior. Erin has grown into a strong, wise, intelligent, perceptive, spiritual, caring adult." --Susan Reedquist, The Children's Advocacy Center 158
Her second book “Living for Today: From Incest and Molestation to Fearlessness and Forgiveness” Erin speaks about confronting her abuser and the power of forgiveness in the process of healing from victim to victor, and why it is so important to forgive even yourself. “HELP FOR INCEST SURVIVORS IS HERE Fans of Erin Merryn's heartwrenching debut memoir Stolen Innocence were left wondering what would become of an emotionally fragile Erin after her confrontation with the reality and repercussions of being a child of incest and molestation. In Living for Today, Erin chronicles how she cultivated the strength to face her abuser and eventually found relief from years of emotional restlessness, while also igniting the beginnings of a new fearless journey. Living for Today chronicles that journey, which began with the unearthing of private shame, releasing of ugly memories, letting go of guilt, and becoming the mouthpiece of millions of her generation.In Living for Today, anyone who has felt victimized, ashamed, isolated, and silenced by their abusers will receive a roadmap for selfdiscovery, forgiveness, and empowerment. With real compassion and wisdom, this book can help readers overcome trauma and live fully and fearlessly for today.”
What would Erin's Law do? 1. The purpose of this law is to inform and protect students from sexual abuse. To mandate school districts implement and educate students on sexual abuse. School boards will adopt age appropriate curriculum on sexual abuse education to students grades pre-k through 5th grade. Education in schools is an effective method for preventing children from falling prey to sexual abuse or stay silent if it does occur. 159
Language of Erin's Law SB2843 SB2843 Enrolled LRB096 16940 MJR 32253 b AN ACT concerning education. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly: Section 5. The School Code is amended by adding Sections22-65 and 1023.13 as follows: (105 ILCS 5/22-65 new) Sec. 22-65. The Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children. The Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children is created within the Department of Children and Family Services. The Task Force shall consist of all of the following members: (1) One member of the General Assembly and one member of the public, appointed by the President of the Senate. (2) One member of the General Assembly and one member of the public, appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate. (3) One member of the General Assembly and one member of the public, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. (4) One member of the General Assembly and one member of the public, appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. 160
(5) The Director of Children and Family Services or his or her designee. (6) The State Superintendent of Education or his or her designee. (7) The Director of Public Health or his or her designee. (8) The Executive Director of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority or his or her designee. (9) A representative of an agency that leads the collaboration of the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child sexual and physical abuse cases, appointed by the Director of Children and Family Services. (10)A representative of an organization representing law enforcement, appointed by the Director of State Police. (11) A representative of a statewide professional teachers' organization, appointed by the head of that organization. (12) A representative of a different statewide professional teachers' organization, appointed by the head of that organization.
(13)A representative of an organization involved in the prevention of child abuse in this State, appointed by the Director of Children and Family Services. (14) A representative of an organization representing school management in this State, appointed by the State Superintendent of Education. (15) Erin Merryn, for whom Section 10-23.13 of this Code is named. Members of the Task Force must be individuals who are actively involved in the fields of the prevention of child abuse and neglect and child welfare. The appointment of members must reflect the geographic diversity of the State. The Task Force shall elect a presiding officer by a majority vote of the membership of the Task Force. The Task Force shall meet at the call of the presiding officer. The Task Force shall make recommendations for reducing child sexual abuse in Illinois. In making those recommendations, the Task Force shall: (1) gather information concerning child sexual abuse throughout the State; (2) receive reports and testimony from individuals, State and local agencies, community-based organizations, and other public and private organizations; (3) create goals for State policy that would prevent child sexual abuse; and
(4) submit a final report with its recommendations to the Office of the Governor and the General Assembly by January 1, 2012. The recommendations may include proposals for specific statutory changes and methods to foster cooperation among State agencies and between the State and local government. The Task Force shall consult with employees of the Department of Children and Family Services, the Criminal Justice Information Agency, the Department of State Police, the Illinois State Board of Education, and any other State agency or department as necessary to accomplish the Task Force's responsibilities under this Section. The members of the Task Force shall serve without compensation and shall not be reimbursed for their expenses. The Task Force shall be abolished upon submission of the final report to the Office of the Governor and the General Assembly. (105 ILCS 5/10-23.13 new) Sec. 10-23.13. Policies addressing sexual abuse. To adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse of children that may include age appropriate curriculum for students in pre-K through 5th grade; training for school personnel on child sexual abuse; educational information to parents or guardians provided in the school handbook on the warning signs of a child being abused, along with any needed assistance, referral, or resource information; available counselling and resources for students affected by sexual abuse; and emotional and educational support for a child of abuse to continue to be successful in school. Any policy adopted may address without limitation:
(1) methods for increasing teacher, student, and parent awareness of issues regarding sexual abuse of children, including knowledge of likely warning signs indicating that a child may be a victim of sexual abuse; (2) actions that a child who is a victim of sexual abuse should take to obtain assistance and intervention; and (3) available counseling options for students affected by sexual abuse. This Section may be referred to as Erin's Law. Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon becoming law. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Governor Quinn Signed Erin's Law February 14, 2011 Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri Signs Erin's Law July 14, 2011 Governor Daniels of Indiana signs Erin's Law April 11, 2012 Erin's Law passes New York Senate 55-1 April 30, 2012 Erin's Law is currently being introduced and voted on in 8 states. We shall continue to keep you abreast of the progress of Erinâ€™s law we do however encourage you to join Erin on this campaign give her your support and push to get this law passed in your state which will protect all our children and grandchildren. Equip them with the tools of empowerment to use their voice let the generations to come know that we stood firm for them to live free from abuse and molesters, and that we did not fail them, child sexual abuse is a growing pandemic but with each of us speaking out and supporting the cause we can make huge inroads to stem the tide. 164
There are not enough advocates in this way you need to enlist and let your voice be heard use the unique gifts and talents given to you to spread the message of awareness and education, for only when the population is educated can they be empowered. I end with the words of Erin Merryn; â€œNone of this could have been possible without my Faith in God. He has blessed me with an amazing life thus far and I am glad to call it my life. A life not defined by evil but how I have risen above evil and have embraced it with what I have discovered and that was my purpose in life and I'm just getting started. God has opened my eyes and heart more then I could have imagined showing me my purpose. A purpose that everything in our life happens for a reason even when it hurts so bad you question if this life is really worth living anymore. Believe me it is! The only way for this silent epidemic to change is for some people to make some noise and I cannot do it on my own. I need the voices of other survivors making some noise. The media addressing this epidemic and not ignoring it. Schools educating their students not pretending it doesn't happen. I came into this world screaming and I plan on screaming my crusade to end the silence until my final day not allowing anyone or anything to get in my way. Nothing and I mean NOTHING will stop me.â€? â€œWhen I was raped weeks before my 7th birthday and was molested from 11-13 by my older teenage cousin I DID NOT know what to do because I was never educated in school on sexual abuse so I stayed silent under their control and power. I was warned never to go look for the lost puppy when the stranger approached, I was warned never to take candy from a stranger, but it was not strangers that stole my innocence and took my childhood from me. 165
These were monsters I knew. Monsters no one warned me about and 93% of the time when a child is sexually abused it is by someone they know and trust. Only 7% of the time the abuser is a stranger. So why I ask, do we focus so much on stranger danger and not the bigger issue of sexual abuse as a whole? We cannot leave it up to the parents. Many parents are the ones who are the abusers, avoid this conversation or are in the mind frame of only warning their kids about stranger danger. It needs to be in the schools. It is impossible to end this evil of child molesters. So if we cannot stop these monsters from hurting kids what can we do to prevent sexual abuse or get children to speak up instead of being locked in silence and carry it for years or even into adulthood alone? That is why we need Erin's Law passed” “Growing up in Illinois public schools every year I was educated with my classmates on tornado drills, fire drills, bus drills, stranger danger, and learned the 8 ways to say "NO" to drugs through D.A.R.E. As a child I never had to take cover because of a real tornado. I never had to stop, drop, and roll or run out of a burning building. I never had to evacuate a school bus due to an emergency, but I had the knowledge to know what to do if any of those situations happened. Where was the drill on how to escape a child molester? Where was the lesson plan on sexual abuse, safe touches, and safe secrets? It never came. I was not educated on “How to Tell Today or How to Get Away.” I was never educated on “My Body Belongs to Me.” When a grown man lay on top of me at 6 1/2 years old and threaten to tie me to a bed if I did not lay still and be quiet as he raped me or when my teenage cousin locked me behind closed doors and warned me, "this is our little secret, no one will believe you, this will destroy our family" as he sexually abused me on a bed I stayed silent and lived in that silence alone. When I was raped and sexually abused as a child I did not know what to do. I was confused and scared. My body seemed to belong to the men that used and abused it was the message I learned, because I was getting no other message. ” Written by Sherna Benjamin 166
The Reading Corner
Every month we shall highlight some recommended books for reading we firm
enough books out on the market which can make for interesting and reflective r
experiences and how they overcame it encourages you to continue knowing tha
to go to go join goodreads as there are a variety of books which you can dive i
many professors, counsellors, psychologist, and educators are using the memoi
Reading is not a substitute for any medical professional but it helps the spirit he http://www.goodreads.com/
â€œTo read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.â€?
- A C Grayling, Financial Times (in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel)
â€œGive me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed.â€? - Anne Rice, The Witching Hour
mly believe in education and development of the mind and soul, there are
reading, reading does something to the mind when you read of individuals life
at all is not lost. To the victims of abuse and their families we encourage you
into and enjoy. And also use in your book club, what we are also seeing is that
irs written by victims of abuse in their classroom and with their patients.
eal along the way.
Memoirs of a Sex Industry Survivor By Anne Bissell
For Juliet, the "life", or the world of prostitution, started off as a game. But then the "game" took over. First she became addicted to the fast, constant, easy money, then to turning tricks into "sugar daddies". As Juliet begins to heal from her life as prostituted teen, she meets other sex industry survivors. Their similarities change her perspective on the sex industry for good. For most sexes industry survivors, prostitution is a re-enactment of childhood sexual exploitation. Like Juliet, these women mistakenly believed that prostitution would help them regain the power that had been stolen from them. Ultimately, this decision often proved to be soul-destroying, self-destructive, and for far too many, lethal. 170
After Silence: Rape & My Journey Back
BY Nancy Venable Raine â€œSilence
has the rusty taste of shame. The words shut up are the most terrible words I know. . . . The man who raped me spat these words out over and over during the hours of my attack--when I screamed, when I tried to talk him out of what he was doing, when I protested. It seemed to me that for seven years-until at last I spoke--these words had sunk into my soul and become prophecy. And it seems to me now that these words, the brutish message of tyrants, preserve the darkness that still covers this pervasive crime. The real shame, as I have learned, is to consent to them." After Silence is Nancy Venable Raine's eloquent, profoundly moving response to her rapist's command to "shut up," a command that is so often echoed by society and internalized by rape victims. Beginning with her assault by a stranger in her home in 1985, Raine's riveting narrative of the ten-year aftermath of her rape brings to light the truth that survivors of traumatic experiences know--a trauma does not end when you find yourself alive. Just as devastating as the rape itself was the silence that shrouded it, a silence born of her own feelings of shame as well as the incomprehension of others. Raine gives shape, form, and voice to the "unspeakable" and exposes the misconceptions and cruelties that surround this prevalent though hidden crime. With formidable power and in intimate detail, she probes the long-term psychological and physiological after-effects of rape, its tangled sexual confusions, the treatment of rape by the media and the legal and medical professions, and contemporary cultural views of victimhood. For anyone, female or male, who has suffered from or witnessed the shattering effects of rape, After Silence inspires and points the way to healing. This landmark book is a stunning literary achievement that is a testimony to the power of language to transform the worst sort of violation and suffering into meaning and into art. 171
I Promise Not to Tell By Brenda M. Weber â€œAt the age of nine, Brendas mother dies in the family home. The trauma of it results in most of her childhood memories being repressed. At the age of sixteen an event happens that triggers the return of one memory. Over the next several years, most of her memories come back in bits and pieces. Many of these are laden with guilt and shame. She begins to understand the complexity of her adolescence and comes to know the little girl that haunts her. With the loss of her mother at such an early age, she carries a sense of being alone and unloved. Her sexual adventures lead her into abusive relationships and withdrawal from her family. One of these relationships imprisons her for ten years, with a deplorable view of her life. With her revelation of many secrets, this is her journey to freedom and inner peace.â€?
Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here By Brinda Carey
Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here is a memoir focused on the sexual abuse by my biological father. The story begins at the funeral of my first baby. Snapshots of events from my earliest memory at age five until the age of 21 are described using narrative prose and dialogue. Events detailed in the manuscript include three pregnancies and the subsequent deaths of two sons conceived via my father. The first baby was stillborn and my other baby died in my arms just before his third birthday. My brother was taken off life support and died at the age of 13 while I was pregnant and is therefore incorporated as a significant event. My father introduced me to alcohol and prostitution. He dreamed up get-richquick ideas and believed in UFOs. Sometimes I was afraid of him, sometimes I hated him, but he was my Daddy and I loved him. His tactics to keep me at home varied, but the predominant feature of his arguments were that losing me would kill him. When I finally broke free of his control, he committed suicide by digesting rat poison. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been my iron rod through recovery and I would be remiss to exclude Him from this book. A chapter at the conclusion of my story contains scriptures for reference. Also included will be a section listing books and resources that the reader may find of interest. My intentions in writing this book is to give a voice to all survivors of incest as well as inspire anyone who was a victim of child abuse. Hopefully, my story will offer healing words of comfort and inspiration for adult survivors and the people who love them. 173
UNITE Why should we UNITE? It is SIMPLE…...
We need to UNITE to END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN and CHILDREN. “There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.” SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ About UNiTE Launched in 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Kmoon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign is a multiyear effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. UNiTE calls on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. By 2015, UNiTE aims to achieve the following five goals in all countries:
Adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of vio lence against women and girls Adopt and implement multi-sectoral national action plans Strengthen data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls Increase public awareness and social mobilization Address sexual violence in conflict.
UNiTE Goals States are failing to meet their responsibility to end violence against women and girls. Violence against women must be prioritized at all levels. It has not yet received the priority required to enable significant change. Leadership and political will is critical. The most effective way to fight violence against women is a clear demonstration of political commitment by States, backed by action and resources. To address the problem, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has identified five goals which his UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign aims to achieve in all countries by 2015. Goal 1: Adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls Goal 2: Adopt and implement multi-sectoral national action plans
Goal 3: Strengthen data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls
Goal 4: Increase public awareness and social mobilization
Goal 5: Address sexual violence in conflict
UNiTE brings together a host of UN offices and agencies to end violence against women: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women [UN Women] Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality [IANWGE] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR] United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence [UN Action] United Nations Children's Fund [UNICEF] United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] World Health Organization [WHO] What We Do United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonâ€™s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign calls for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. UNiTE brings together a host of UN agencies and offices to galvanize action across the UN system to prevent violence against women. Through the campaign, the UN is also joining forces with individuals, civil society and Governments. Some of the UNâ€™s many efforts towards putting an end to violence against women in all its forms are highlighted below: Influencing laws and policies Mobilizing Partnering 177
What can you do? You can Take Action Action For Governments and Local Authorities
Adopt national and local plans of action for ending violence against women, including allocating funds and resources for prevention and awarenessraising programmes and activities. Review existing legislation and identify gaps and areas to be strength ened, working with civil society groups. Develop policies and regula tions to implement legislation at all levels, including by health, police and justice officials. Ratify relevant international treaties to which your country is not al ready a party. Improve data collection on violence against women and girls, includ ing through population-based surveys. Inaugurate an annual award to recognize women and men working locally or nationally to end violence against women. Create cross-sectoral coordinating committees to address the issue of violence against women, working with civil society groups. 178
Action For Schools and Universities
Hold conferences, seminars and workshops to ensure that educators at all levels are trained in gender and women’s issues, including recognizing and addressing violence against women. Organize panel discussions, symposia and debates for students on the issue of violence against women, inviting experts from local NGOs, the government, academia or the private sector to participate as guest speakers. Include activities to raise awareness and promote prevention of violence against women in your curriculum. Organize a public speaking contest on the issue, targeting male students in particular. Run an essay-writing contest on the topic of violence against women. Winning entries could be posted on your website or offered to a local newspaper for publication. Organize an art/poster contest, asking students to conceptualize the issue. Ask students to create a flash animation presentation or e-postcard to highlight the problem of violence against women, especially in a local context. 179
Action For Civil Society
Work with government officials at the local and national levels to establish legislation to help end violence against women in your country or community. You can consult the violence against women database. To find out about your country’s legal framework, policies and programmes on the issue, as well as data and statistics.
Initiate an SMS/text message campaign to create awareness about gender-based violence in your country or community. Produce a compilation of real-life stories of women and men working to end violence against women, and send it to government officials, NGOs and media. Organize seminars and speaking events that focus on issues such as national legislation on violence against women and the role of men in stopping violence against women in local communities. Ask local artists to create a piece on violence against women and organize an exhibit to display the work. Screen a film which highlights the issue, and follow it with a panel discussion or question and answer session with the filmmakers. Run a workshop for local journalists to sensitize them to issues of gender and reinforce the importance of the role of the media in ending violence against women. 180
Action For Business
Hold mandatory gender awareness workshops for all employees in your company. Implement a zero-tolerance policy towards gender discrimination and harassment in your workplace. Ask staff to nominate a women’s representative for your employees. Select a local NGO which is working to end violence against women as your company’s chosen charity for the year.
Go to the website and do get involved UNITE to end violence against women. http://endviolence.un.org/
Healing Gods Men By Healing Gods Men
Abuse is not the will of God it never was and never will be! Many if not all religious denominations need to apologize to the victims of abuse for as ministers many of us are guilty of silencing them. Many have used the pain of victims and their families as an emotional tool to keep them subjected under the leadership of ministers of religion, but many ministers have not put measures and groups in place to truly help the victims of abuse heal and become liberated, they congregate but they remain victims and bound for years, sadly many die in this state. As a minister and also a survivor of physical abuse I apologize to all victims of abuse, as a young boy my parents had eleven children we grew up in extreme poverty along with a father who was physically abusive. He was a good Christian to the people on the outside and in the church but at home he was a tyrant and a monster, his constant abuse pushed his children to hate him with a passion but also have that love for which a child should have for their father. I grew up as a young man very angry and full of rage, I was also very loving, kind, and tender as abuse does this to you it gives you rage but inside you become kind somehow believing that your kindness will remove the touch of abuse, but there was that rage, not being able to communicate and rationally solve life's problems, there is a saying â€œthe thing which you hate shall suddenly come upon you.â€? I hated the conditions which we grew up in, I hated the abusive lifestyle of my father and vowed to be a different man but I must admit I have made numerous mistakes on the way. 182
As men, very rare do we want to speak out about abuse because we were taught that to speak about our abuse is weakness, then there is the shame, fear and guilt. To speak of our shortcomings and faults then we are not true men because we need to keep that ego pumping for all to see. But a real Godly man will have no shame in acknowledging his life of physical abuse, sexual abuse or his failures as a man along the way, it is in acknowledging that we heal, grow and fulfill the promise of God and reach our full potential. There is no perfect home in this world while sin is prevalent, as long as there are men who are not subdued by the grace of God then chaos will run rampant. As long as men continue to be ambivalent towards the ten divine principles of life the ten commandments then chaos will continue to reign. What we as children and saints of God can do and become by his grace is a work in progress as we travel life's rough roads. What makes one family differ from another? It is their ability to hold the secrets of the family well, so what you will see on the outside, is the looks of a well rounded loving family but inside behind closed doors there is so much tumult that many a congregations and people will marvel. The other family will be transparent they try not to hide and speak things as it is if there is a misunderstanding they may speak about it even in public, the difference is there are those around who know your family business, and may condemn you for not having tact in dealing with family problems and issues. I will personally chose the open family over the closed one on any given day, as when you are open then counseling and healing can take place you realize that you are but human and even if you are a minister you can make mistakes getting up and dusting off the pants and moving on is the what you need to do to grow and reach to the full stature of the Creator. 183
but more so seek that spiritual help and cleansing, as with all healing it begins on the inside and your spirit must be at peace within you for that full healing to take place, you cannot be completely healed if you leave off one area of health and wellness. Abuse kills and destroys the fabric of society and the family all my siblings were damaged in one way or the other because of our fathers abusive behavior I have seen it put brother against brother and sister against sister while every one was crying out within to be made whole, loved, accepted, appreciated, and acknowledged. Age truly brings reason and education but you must also be willing, accepting, and seeking to change from a product of abuse to a product of the KING OF KINGS. I encourage you to join me on this journey of bringing healing to the men of the world, showing them what makes a man is having the spiritual healing and peace within the soul, when this is achieved then all other healing will truly be beneficial to the man. Because of abuse men have abandoned their rightful place and position in the family, and society join with me as I venture on this journey to bring healing to the men of God and restoration of mind, body, soul, and spirit. Join me as the Lord humbly uses me to explore the many hurts which our men pass through causing them to abandon their position in the family and the nation, the time has come for the men of God to be healed and stand up and be counted. This is not your life, abuse will not have dominion over you, you may contact me via email, I am looking out to hear from you. Email: email@example.com
Volunteer Openings O.A.B.I.: VOICES UNITED In GLOBAL Unity against Abuse is inviting you to partner with us as we take this journey volunteer for the cause and let your voice be heard. We need you! We invite the following persons from around the globe to join us: Journalist Photographers Editors Heads of Organizations Advocates Victims Survivors Authors Researchers Graphic Artist Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org subject line “Volunteer Openings”, we are looking forward to hear from you as we cannot do it alone we all need to work together, to make change happen. As the saying goes “One hand cannot clap” and “No one man is an Island” 185