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“We are stunned here,” LAPD Detective Gus Villanueva tells The Daily Beast in the wake of the latest arrest. “We are dumbfounded. It [child sexual abuse] just doesn’t stop.”

In my very first diary ever written here entitled STOP!  NO MORE!! NEVER AGAIN!!!, I reported on a case out of California involving a teacher, Mark Berendt:

Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested at his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance on Monday, accused of abusing nearly two dozen boys and girls, ages six to 10, between 2008 and 2011, officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

Investigators have discovered a total of 390 photos in the case, and about 10 of the children depicted in the photos have not been identified, the Sheriff's Department said.

Berndt was formally charged on Monday with 23 counts of lewd acts upon on child, court records show, and was being held in jail in lieu of $2.3 million bail. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted on all counts.


In Miramonte: Blame the Victim, I told you about the Principal of that school, Ms. Linda Crowder, Blamed the young children for their abuse.  An excerpt:  
As I reflect on the disturbing occurrences at Miramonte, I am more confused over the fact that the children did not report. How is it that the children did not believe that what the teacher was doing to them was wrong? How could being blindfolded, placed in a closet, and having cockroaches placed on them not be wrong?
Well, it appears that was just the Tip of the Iceberg
The travails of the Los Angeles school district have become a Pandora’s box that can’t be shut. Dozens of lawsuits, involving more than 225 parents and students, have been filed in recent years. Most of them have been centered around Berndt, who was arrested last year after he allegedly made his young charges pose for photographs in which they were blindfolded, bound, and sometimes gagged.

Within a few days of Berndt’s arrest, another teacher at Miramonte, Martin Springer, was charged with three counts of lewd acts upon a child over a three-month period in 2009. He pleaded not guilty, and the case is still pending.

In 2005 Ricardo Guevara, a teacher’s aide at Miramonte, was convicted of lewd acts with three girls. He was caught putting his hand into the pants of one girl in the courtyard of the campus—but only after three earlier sets of complaints against him by students were discounted by school officials. The district shelled out $1.6 million to the families of the three female victims in 2009.

In another case, Stephen Rooney, a teacher and administrator at Foshay Learning Center, was transferred to another school even though it was discovered that he was accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. He was eventually charged and sentenced to eight years in prison for molesting three teenage girls and a minor, including the student at Foshay, in 2008.

Last December a jury ordered the district to pay a 10-year-old boy who was repeatedly molested by Forrest Stobbe, a LAUSD elementary-school teacher, $6.9 million. It was one of the largest payouts in the history of the Los Angeles school system.

In many of these cases, it was reported several times to school authorities but nothing was done.  "Attorney Luis Carrillo, who is representing the families of four of the most recent alleged victims, contends that the L.A. school district was negligent in not taking action sooner against Pimentel. Carrillo references the 2008 complaint, in which two different parents allegedly contacted Principal Hinojosa four years ago with concerns of inappropriate touching, but were apparently ignored.

It seems, according to Carrillo, that she “paid no attention to the complaints of the parents,” he said. “It shows a lack of sensitivity and compassion.”

And in a case involving an Olympic swim coach in Maryland - Rick Curl plead guilty to childhood sexual abuse today,

Attorney's for the woman released the following statement:

"Ms. Currin is pleased that justice is going to be carried out against Mr. Curl but there remains unfinished business. We hope that a similar fate is in store for those at USA Swimming who covered up for him over a period of literally decades. The current Vice President of USA Swimming has admitted in writing that knowledge about Mr. Curl "banging his swimmers has gone back to as early as the late 1980's. An untold number of childhood sexual abuse has occurred due to the callous inaction of those who knew about Mr. Curl's sexual predilections and did absolutely nothing about it. We urge the authorities, as they did with Penn State, to now look into possible criminal conduct that has occurred within USA Swimming."

Perhaps other states should follow Pennsylvania's model -

In response to the Jerry Sandusky and Philadelphia archdiocese scandals, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania pulled together a task force to thoroughly review state laws and procedures governing child protection and the reporting of child abuse.

The task force has recommended expanding the definition of those who are required to report suspected child abuse. And it's very important to understand that as this body goes forward, to get the message out that anybody can report child abuse -- anybody can report child abuse.
Follow me below the jump for more information on their findings and recommendations

Pennsylvania Makes Changes


Created by the general assembly, the task force was asked to:

◦Examine and analyze the practices, processes and procedures relating to the response to child abuse.
◦Review and analyze law, procedures, practices and rules relating to the reporting of child abuse.
◦Hold public hearings, accept and review written comments from individuals and organizations.
◦Submit reports which will include recommendations to improve the reporting of child abuse; implement any necessary changes in state laws and practices, policies and procedures relating to child abuse; and train appropriate individuals in the reporting of child abuse.

They released their report on November 27, 2012 and testified at the:

JOINT HEARING OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AND CHILDREN AND YOUTH COMMITTEE - January 22, 2013


"Although there are some individuals in Pennsylvania whose professional responsibilities are to ensure the health and the well-being and the safety of children and they are mandated reporters, every citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can report any suspicion or concern they have about child abuse simply by calling ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313" ~ Dr. Cindy W. Christian, Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection

"If an individual believes that a child is being abused, until we can get some implemented changes to have consistency between the Child Protective Services Law and our Crimes Code, I would ask that they also reach out and contact their local police department to report those concerns, because many times cases that are referred to Children and Youth under the current law would not go to the police for further investigation. They would simply be handled as a civil investigation.  So we need to make sure that our children are being protected by law enforcement to the extent that we can as well as Children, Youth and Family Services" ~Jackie Bernard, ESQ. Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection
3

House Bill 404 PA


Based on recommendations from the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have voted unaimously to approve House Bill 404

An Act
Amending TITLE 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in falsification and intimidation, providing for the offense of intimidation or retaliation in child abuse cases.

This bill has received bi-partisan support and is now headed for the Pennsylvania Senate for a vote.  My brief summary of the amendments follow:

Intimidation


Under intimidation, a person commits an offense if:
1. The person has knowledge or does something that will obstruct, impede, impair, prevent or interfere with the making of a child abuse report

2. The person intimidates or attempts to intimidate any reporter, victim or witness from making a report, causes them to withhold information or give fale information, elude or evade the legal process, or causes the person to fail to appear at an investigation.

Retaliation


Under retaliation, a person commits an offense if the person harms another person by any unlawful act or commits acts which threaten another person with retaliation should they report suspected child abuse.

Definitions


Interestingly, under defintions, the new language defining child abuse strikes a previous "within two years of the date of the report to the department or county agency" seemingly lifting the statute of limitations of reporting child abuse.  It also adds Mandated Report, Reporter, Witness and Victim definitions.
State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Reading, is also a supporter of the bill but for much more personal reasons. Rozzi said he was abused when he was 13 years old by a priest.

He and a friend both suffered the abuse silently together when his friend eventually committed suicide, Rozzi said. Rozzi now strives to push for major legislation changes to help combat child sexual abuse and allow those who have been abused to come forward.

“I think it'll give somebody with the knowledge of child abuse the power to come forward knowing they can't be retaliated against,” Rozzi said. “I truly believe there's only one answer to dig at the root of child abuse and that's to open up the two year window [on the statute of limitations] to give all victims a chance to have their voices heard.”

The task force testified before the Pennsylvania House in January, a transcript of which is located here.  Some excerpts follow:
We've expanded that definition [of mandatory reporters] to include:
• Colleges, employees of colleges or universities.
• Coaches, those that are entrusted to work with children in athletic systems.
• Attorneys, and there is a caveat to that: unless you are receiving privileged
information.
• Librarians. We heard testimony about children coming into a library, and there are people there, they are in trusting situations andlearn of situations of child abuse, but they are not required to report currently.
• Persons working or volunteering in programs.
• The commercial film industry.
• Computer-repair individuals.
Pennsylvania looks great in the numbers [for reported child abuse]. When I was first appointed to the task force, I looked at the numbers for Pennsylvania and we looked wonderful. I was like, wow, we're really low in our numbers. And then it became evident that one of the reasons why we're so low in those numbers is those numbers only account for the work that is done by Children, Youth and Family Services, not by law enforcement. And those numbers only account for those cases where the children were specifically indicated on an abuse for a named perpetrator.
Right now, we have two laws.

We have a CPS law and we have a general protective services law. In the CPSL, cases get reported to ChildLine or a county; they get numbered; they get investigated. And then after they're investigated, if they are indicated or founded by a Judge, then they go on a registry somewhere. If they are not indicated, then they get expunged and they go away forever. So that 6 months down -- or no, no, 2 years down the line,
if another report comes in, nobody knows that there was a CPS investigation in the past.

On the GPS side, in the GPS law, those cases get reported often to the county, sometimes through ChildLine, but they don't get numbered. There's no statistical
recognition of them in our child abuse reports, in our State reports. And the county knows about them, but no other county knows about them. The State doesn't know
about them. And some of the fatalities we see, and I've reviewed plenty where there has been a CPS report, a CPS report, 12 GPS reports, another CPS report, a GPS, 4 more GPS reports, and then a death, but nobody is looking at everything.

Originally posted to Roxine on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:14 AM PST.

Also republished by TreeClimbers and House of LIGHTS.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

    by Roxine on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:14:30 AM PST

  •  If I might add - in several states, not only (10+ / 0-)

    can anyone report child abuse, but doing so is required by law.

    Just about no one I know who lives in one knows this, though, and I really wish they'd start putting "You, Yes You, Are A Mandatory Reporter Under The Laws Of This State" signs up in public places because so many people think it is just teachers, professors, health professionals, etc who are required and not EVERYBODY.

    Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

    by Cassandra Waites on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:24:32 AM PST

    •  Great idea, Cassandra. Perhaps I will start by (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sturunner, bakeneko, Avilyn, NapaJulie, weck

      putting them up in my state.  

      From Childwelfare.gov:

      Approximately 48 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands designate professions whose members are mandated by law to report child maltreatment.1 Individuals designated as mandatory reporters typically have frequent contact with children. Such individuals may include:

      • Social workers
      • Teachers, principals, and other school personnel
      • Physicians, nurses, and other health-care workers
      • Counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals
      • Child care providers
      • Medical examiners or coroners
      • Law enforcement officers

      Some other professions frequently mandated across the States include commercial film or photograph processors (in 12 States, Guam, and Puerto Rico), substance abuse counselors (in 14 States), and probation or parole officers (in 17 States).  Directors, employees, and volunteers at entities that provide organized activities for children, such as camps, day camps, youth centers,
      and recreation centers, are required to report in 11 States. Seven States and the District of Columbia include domestic violence workers on the list of mandated reporters, while seven States and the District of Columbia include animal control or humane officers. Court‑appointed special advocates are mandatory reporters in 10 States. Members of the clergy now
      are required to report in 27 States and Guam.  

      Four States now have designated as mandatory reporters faculty, administrators, athletics staff, and other  employees and volunteers at institutions of higher learning, including public and private colleges and universities and vocational and technical schools.

      To find out the laws in your state, click here.

      "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

      by Roxine on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:33:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In my state - it reads as follows: (6+ / 0-)

        Maryland

        Professionals Required to Report
        Fam. Law § 5-704
        Persons required to report include:
        • Health practitioners
        • Educators or human service workers
        • Police officers

        Reporting by Other Persons
        Fam. Law § 5-705
        Any other person who has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect must report.

        What does your state say?

        "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

        by Roxine on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:35:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I looked up the three states I spend (6+ / 0-)

          any real time in.

          Kentucky is a universal reporter state. They list a number of professions in the statute, but the language prior to the list makes it clear that everyone in the state is a mandatory reporter. The only legal carve-outs are the attorney-client relationship and confessional booth exemption - spousal or professional relationships to not remove the requirement.

          Tennessee is a universal reporter state as well, although they use different legal language to establish it. The specific language regarding sexual abuse includes "reasonable suspicion" from strangers that a child is being abused. There is a promise of anonymity unless a court orders otherwise for anyone reporting - only those in the legal system who have to know will know.

          Georgia is not a universal reporter state. Anyone may, not everyone must.

          Professionals Required to Report
          Citation: Ann. Code §§ 19-7-5; 16-12-100

          The following persons are required to report:

              Physicians, residents, interns, hospital and medical personnel, podiatrists, dentists, nurses, or nurse's aides
              Teachers, school administrators, guidance counselors, visiting teachers, school social workers, or school psychologists
              Psychologists, counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists
              Child welfare agency personnel (including any child-caring institution, child-placing agency, maternity home, family daycare home, group daycare home, and daycare center), child-counseling personnel, or child service organization personnel
              Law enforcement personnel
              Reproductive health-care facility or pregnancy resource center personnel and volunteers
              Persons who process or produce visual or printed matter

          The only carve-out in the statute is the confessional booth - and if the clergyperson has evidence from outside the confessional, the requirement to report holds.

          Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

          by Cassandra Waites on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:49:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In my church (Zen Buddhist) the confessional (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Avilyn, NapaJulie, Cassandra Waites

            exemption (sanzen) does not apply if the perp confesses a crime to a priest but evinces no remorse nor any intention of rectifying the situation in any way. We had a case a few year back of a felon out of prison for a day or two on furlough, who left a woman for dead and then told one of our priests, who reported the matter to the police, and may well have saved the woman's life.

            On the other hand, we have had sex abuse cases among our clergy, too. Everybody has a duty to report. If you think you are learning from someone who is abusing you, the fact is that the relationship is making your delusions worse, and his much worse than that.

            Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

            by Mokurai on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:39:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for posting these diaries (9+ / 0-)

    As upsetting as it is to read them, this is information that must be put front and center, so that action can be taken.  It's horrifying to think of how many children are abused every day in this country.  I am so infuriated by those that try to place (some or all of) the blame on the victims themselves.  

  •  This horrifies me a little: (7+ / 0-)
    How is it that the children did not believe that what the teacher was doing to them was wrong? How could being blindfolded, placed in a closet, and having cockroaches placed on them not be wrong?
    Does this person have no memory at all of what being a child is like?

    Parents, teachers, and other adults in positions of authority over you are always doing things to you that no adult is ever allowed to do to another, and that no child is ever allowed to do to another.  Even excluding things like corporeal punishment, there's still violation of privacy, confiscation of property, and any number of other things.  Authority acts as its own justifier, and young children do not have the necessary perspective to be able to distinguish between proper use and misuse thereof.

    •  This is why educating our teachers and administrat (6+ / 0-)

      ors is so very important.  Because people - even today - actually think this way.  They think that if a child is being abused that they will speak up.

      But it's JUST THE OPPOSITE.  Children are conditioned, trained, commanded not to question authority.  Now, when that authority figure betrays a trust - what choice does the child have?

      I wrote in "I was 5 when the grooming began"

      Oh, and why didn't I tell?  Anyone?  Because first he told me it was our little secret and no one would understand... our "special relationship".  And then he told me as I got older that no one would believe me - I was just a kid and would be labeled a liar, and then he told me that he would kill my mother if I told, that he would kill me - he held a knife to my throat once and the threats escalated each time.  And as a child - you believe these threats.

                                        He's a grown up.  Why would he lie?

      "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

      by Roxine on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 10:58:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (7+ / 0-)

        I have started speaking out in defense of kids who don't want to obey parental commands/suggestions to hug or be hugged by relatives or friends.

        Sure I would like it if my four-year-old niece would give me a hug, but if she does not want to, she should not be made to.  If she does not want a hug, or a pat on the head, or a kiss on the cheek, that needs to be respected ... because if you tell a kid that she has to submit to a hug she doesn't want, what you're really telling that kid is that she has to submit to any touch she doesn't want, if it comes from an adult and/or a family member.

        •  And sometimes worse - (5+ / 0-)

          the concept of 'they love you so you have to' can come up.

          Which can create all kinds of nasty situations later when someone starts dating, because they've been set up for a potential abuser's first 'I love you' to be a blanket self-granting of all sorts of physical and emotional privileges without a single bit of consent ever having been involved whatsoever.

          Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

          by Cassandra Waites on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:35:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yup. (4+ / 0-)

            And also "you have to if you love them."  Which: setup for very similar problems.

            •  Never told ex-bf I loved him. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Avilyn, Batya the Toon, Roxine

              He still got away with plenty of low-level repetitive no-one-else-stepped-in-to-stop-it stuff based on 'if they love you then you must allow things' teachings I'm not even sure he knew were the reason I was slow to fight back. And it only ended when he broke up with me, because when you don't have a personal toolbox for telling someone who's said "I love you" to 'stop doing that thing which distresses me' with the slightest authority, telling them to get out of your life is an impossibility.

              Looking back, I never really consented to the relationship moving past the friendship stage - everything was people telling me 'oh, you accepted that sort of gift for Christmas, cheap jewelry is jewelry so you're dating now, how awesome and congratulations' and the like.

              But I'd been told to put up with hugs and pinched cheeks from relatives 'because they love you', so...

              Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

              by Cassandra Waites on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:32:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I recommend Alfred Hitchock (0+ / 0-)

      Shadow of a Doubt for another perspective on the problem.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:45:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, these high profile (8+ / 0-)

    examples are important. What people need to understand is not only CAN anyone report suspected child abuse, they have an absolute moral obligation to do so, even if they are not mandated reporters.

    The consequences of not reporting-the abuse continues. Children CAN recover from CSA, and are remarkably resiliant but only if the abuse is stopped, their sense of safety is restored, and they are allowed to recover. If that does not happen, if it continues over the course of years, a child's development is disrupted so much that even after the abuse does stop (usually because they get "too old" and are thus discarded) they are then faced with the task of going through life without having mastered the milestones of human development. They emerge from it destroyed.

    This is what prolonged, unreported sexual abuse does to a child:

    The pictures on the left side are me, ages 5-7, before the abuse started. In just about every picture of me at that age, I am so happy, I always have a smile, I'm a typical curious, creative and joyful little kid.

    The ones on the right are all pictures from ages 8-10. This is the time period in which I was abused. There are no more pictures of me that are happy, I no longer smile. I barely even remember anything from those years-most of it is just a big black hole. And I was never the same. My abuser and his enabler robbed me of a childhood, and so much more. They killed the child I was. I don't even see those pictures on the left as myself. I do see my daughter in them, and the thought of someone doing to her what was done to me, as she gets closer and closer in age (she's six) my rage grows, the reality of it sinks in that much more.

    Victims of long term childhood abuse are also vulnerable to cycles of repeat revictimization and self harm. Judith Herman describes one aspect of this in her book "Trauma & Recovery":

    Almost inevitably, the survivor has great difficulty protecting herself in the context of intimate relationships. Her desperate longing for nurturance and care makes it difficult to establish safe and appropriate boundaries with others. Her tendency to denigrate herself and to idealize those to whom she becomes attached further clouds her judgment. Her empathic attunement to the wishes of others and her automatic, often unconscious habits of obedience also make her vulnerable to anyone in a position of power or authority. Her dissociative defensive style makes it difficult for her to form conscious and accurate assessments of danger. And her wish to relive the dangerous situation and make it come out right may lead her into reenactments of the abuse.

    For all of these reasons, the adult survivor is at great risk of repeated victimization in adult life.The data on this point are compelling, at least with respect to women. The risk of rape, sexual harassment, or battering, though high for all women, is approximately doubled for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. In Diana Russell’s study of women who had been incestuously abused in childhood, two-thirds were subsequently raped. Thus the child victim, now grown, seems fated to relive her traumatic experiences not only in memory but also in daily life. A survivor reflects on the unrelenting violence in her life: “It almost becomes like a self fulfilling prophecy—you start to expect violence, to equate violence with love at an early age. I got raped six times, while I was running away from home, or hitchhiking or drinking. It kind of all combined to make me an easy target. It was devastating. The crazy thing about it is at first I felt sure [the rapists] would kill me,because if they let me live, how would they get away with it? Finally I realized they had nothing to worry about; nothing would be ever done because I had ‘asked for it.’”

    And then there is the exponentially increased risk of developing serious mental illness, most commonly major depression, PTSD that persists throughout life, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, the list goes on and on...It destroys. People need to realize that. And locking the perpetrator up doesn't magically make it all better either. My monster has been dead for almost two decades, and he still hurts me every day.

    So yes, anyone can report child abuse. And everyone has a basic moral obligation to do so. Beyond just reporting obvious child abuse-it's important to know what to look out for. They might be too scared or ashamed to tell you, but if you see a child who suddenly stops smiling, retreats into their own world, or shows other behaviors that they did not previously display, there is probably something going on there, and as an adult you have to intervene. You just have to, and you can't sit around and wait and think about it and weigh options, you have to act. No excuses. If you enable you are just as guilty as the perpetrator.

    You must work-we must all work-to make a world that is worthy of its children -Pablo Casals Please support TREE Climbers for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

    by SwedishJewfish on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:14:18 PM PST

    •  This could - AND SHOULD be its own diary n/t (6+ / 0-)

      "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

      by Roxine on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:31:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No light... (5+ / 0-)

      ...I've got a picture of me about the time of the abuse, and there's absolutely no light in my eyes.  Someone I know saw the picture and knew immediately what had been done to me.  I won't complain about the era.  But now there's absolutely no excuse to keep quiet as a third party.  You're quite right in your quote of Casals.  Thank you!

      Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do. ― C.S. Lewis Much Love, Andrea Lena.

      by Andrea D on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:28:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was chilling, honestly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roxine, Cassandra Waites

        I'm at the point in my recovery where I have to remember and mourn. This seemed like an impossible task for me-I started off with really no concept of when the abuse started, when it ended, or anything. My early childhood memories are remarkably vivid and detailed, in a way that is actually rather unusual. Then at some point, it's all blacked out. There were a few unmistakable memories of abuse, but they had a surreal quality to them-I would be on the ceiling looking down at myself and what was happening. Traumatic memory is different than regular memory-it is sensation-like pain, for example, I remember and I would re-experience something akin to a phantom pain of an amputee. Then there were smells-actual odors that no one else could smell but they overpowered me so much that I would have to go throw up.

         I spent most of my adolescence up till age 21 numbing myself out through drinking and drugs and men and anything that could help me escape, so I don't remember much of that either...and within that time, there were subsequent traumas, which I remember more vividly but everything is so fragmented, nothing is in order.

        So the first thing I had to do was put the pieces back together. I had to reconstruct my life. That's where the pictures came in handy. I basically took every childhood photo I could find, and put them all in order according to the approximate age, and as soon as I did that it became immediately obvious when it started-and I remembered exactly how it did. It was actually these two pictures:

        This memory flooded back as soon as I saw the parrot. it was my abuser (I'll call him S) who took that photo, he took me to NYC with his daughter (my best friend) and I was so excited to be in New York for the first time. He somehow managed to buy that talking parrot off of the guy who had it and when he put me in the car, he tucked it up next to me...one of those little secret gifts he had started giving me at the time. I was being groomed, and I felt special. It was the summer of 1992 and I was 7.

        Then this one:

        This was taken around Christmas, I recognized the house as being my uncles and I remembered everything about it. I was out of control-acting out sexually on my older cousin, hiding in a closet and putting my cousins barbies and kens in sexual positions, then I ripped all of their heads off. We had to leave early because of how inappropriate I was acting. I know it had to have already started by then-you can see it in my body language-I'm tensed up and angry and ashamed.

        So that's how I narrowed down the timeline-it started sometime between the summer and winter of 1992, as I was just approaching 8 years old. My mom then confirmed this because she had copies of some medical records-I was acting very odd, I would go into trance-like states and had tunnel vision, and would tell her I was on the ceiling. She thought I had a brain tumor-took me to a neurologist and a few other doctors to find out what was wrong, but obviously they found nothing-I was just dissociating. I remember none of this. But per the medical record, this was in the fall of 1992. So that has to be around when it started. And because my parents remember the month and year that he moved away (he was bailing out of town because he was under investigation for his daughter) I know when it ended-when I was 10.

        So now I'm at this stage of recovery (Judith Herman again-my trauma therapist and I are using her book as a model for my treatment)

        The next step is to reconstruct the traumatic event as a recitation of fact. Out of the fragmented components of frozen imagery and sensation, patient and therapist slowly reassemble an organized, detailed, verbal account, oriented in time and historical context. The narrative includes not only the event itself but also the survivor’s response to it and the responses of the important people in her life. As the narrative closes in on the most unbearable moments, the patient finds it more and more difficult to use words

        Trauma inevitably brings loss. Even those who are lucky enough to escape physically unscathed still lose the internal psychological structures of a self securely attached to others. Those who are physically harmed lose in addition their sense of bodily integrity. And those who lose important people in their lives face a new void in their relationships with friends, family, or community. Traumatic losses rupture the ordinary sequence of generations and defy the ordinary social conventions of bereavement. The telling of the trauma story thus inevitably plunges the survivor into profound grief. Since so many of the losses are invisible or unrecognized, the customary rituals of mourning provide little consolation. The descent into mourning is at once the most necessary and the most dreaded task of this stage of recovery. Patients often fear that the task is insurmountable, that once they allow themselves to start grieving, they will never stop.


        And this is really, really hard. And that fear that it will just never end is exactly what I am experiencing right now. I have so much stuff to get through still, and it is not getting any easier :(

        You must work-we must all work-to make a world that is worthy of its children -Pablo Casals Please support TREE Climbers for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

        by SwedishJewfish on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 03:54:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh and here is the full quote from Casals (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roxine

        I tear up every time I read it, it's so beautiful:

        Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again

        And what do we teach our children?

        We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France.

        When will we also teach them what they are?

        We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are?

        You are a marvel. You are unique.

        In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you.

        Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move.

        You may become a Shakespeare, a Michaelangelo, a Beethoven.

        You have the capacity for anything.

        Yes, you are a marvel.

        And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel?

        You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.

        -Pablo Casals

        (Yup, right on cue I'm bawling...lol)

        You must work-we must all work-to make a world that is worthy of its children -Pablo Casals Please support TREE Climbers for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

        by SwedishJewfish on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 04:00:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for this... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roxine

          ...for your heart, for your tears, and for your hope.

          Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do. ― C.S. Lewis Much Love, Andrea Lena.

          by Andrea D on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:09:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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