Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


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God Made All Of Me: Empowering Children Against Sexual Abuse

Our great friend Boz Tchividjian’s latest blog post is a MUST READ for parents! After you read the interview, please see how the article we wrote in 2012, “How To Talk With Your Kids” brings up many of the same EXTREMELY important points and shares so many COMMON GOALS regarding talking with our children about sexual abuse. This just reaffirms to me the importance of all of us working together to protect our children from sexual predators. We simply cannot convey this message often enough, nor can we talk with our children too much about their safety.

 

From Boz:

One of the many challenges parents and guardians have in protecting those in their care is how to educate younger children about sexual abuse. Not only can the topic be incredibly uncomfortable to bring up with 5-year-old, but most of us simply don’t know how to do it in an effective and non-traumatizing way. As a result, oftentimes these critically important conversations never take place. My dear friends, Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, have written a beautifully illustrated book that gives parents and caregivers the tools to have these necessary conversations in a manner that will effectively empower little ones without fear. I am thrilled to be able to post this interview with Justin and Lindsey as this God Made All of Me is released on Monday. I hope that this interview will be an encouragement and help to parents and caregivers as they seek ways to protect their little ones from abuse. Enjoy. – Boz
Boz: Thank you both for joining us for this important conversation about God Made All of Me. Who should read this book and why?

Justin & Lindsey: We highly recommend that parents and caregivers of 2 to 8 year-old children should read this book. We wrote it as a tool so they can explain to their children that God made their bodies. Because private parts are private, there can be lots of questions, curiosity, or shame regarding them. For their protection, children need to know about private parts and understand that God made their body and made it special.

Boz: Why was it important for the two of you to write a book about empowering children against abuse?

Justin & Lindsey: Parents need tools to help talk with their kids about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. It allows families to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes.

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Justin & Lindsey Holcomb

Our hope is that parents and caregivers will use this book as a tool to help protect their child from sexual abuse in a way that is not frightening. We want parents and caregivers to be smarter and better prepared than those who would want to harm children. While we know that actions by adults can be more effective than expecting children to protect themselves from sexual abuse, children still need accurate, age-appropriate information about child sexual abuse and have the confidence that parents and caregivers will support them. That is why we used the storybook approach.

Boz: What are your respective backgrounds and how did they prepare and qualify you to write this book?

Justin & Lindsey: We have two young children and wrote the book we needed for them. Lindsey was a victims’ advocate at a sexual assault crisis agency and a case manager at a domestic violence shelter. In both settings, she dealt with the issue of child sexual abuse. Lindsey also earned a Master in Public Health.

Justin is a minister and teaches courses on recognizing, preventing, and responding to abuse for seminaries. Also, when Justin was younger he was abused by an extended family member. So, this topic is not just professional but also personal.

Boz: What do the statistics about child sexual abuse tell us about the importance of tackling this topic with our kids?

Justin & Lindsey: Child sexual abuse is much more prevalent than most people realize. Also, offenders are usually not strangers. They are often people who are known and trusted by both parents and children. For example, one research study found that 34 percent of assailants were family members, 58 percent were acquaintances, and only 7 percent of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.

Approximately 1 in 5 children will be sexually abused by their eighteenth birthday. Of child sexual abuse victims, approximately 10 percent of victims are age three and under, 28 percent are between ages four and seven, 26 percent are between ages eight and eleven, and 36 percent are twelve and older.

Boz: I have found that many parents want to have this conversation with their children, but are too uncomfortable to talk with them about specific body parts, etc. Others are apprehensive about frightening their child. How can parents address these concerns in order to have this critically important conversation with their children?

Justin & Lindsey: We are convinced that a major reason why parents don’t have these conversations is the “embarrassment factor.” They feel awkward talking about private parts to their kids so they avoid the conversations.

However, to teach children about sexual abuse it is important to explain about private parts. Clearly identify for your child which parts of their anatomy are private. Explain to your child that “some places on your body should never be touched by other people—except when you need help in the bathroom, or are getting dressed, or when you go to the doctor.” You can do this with young children during bath time or have your child dress in a bathing suit and show them that all areas covered by a bathing suit are “private.” The bathing suit analogy can be a bit misleading because it fails to mention that other parts of the body can be touched inappropriately (like mouth, legs, neck, arms), but it is a good start for little ones to understand the concept of private parts.

To teach about sexual abuse offenders, it is important to teach your kids about “tricky people.” Tricky people are grown-ups who ask kids for help or tell kids to keep a secret from their parents. It is really important to let your children know that even adults that they know and love can hurt them. Repeatedly encourage them to talk to you if any adult ever hurts them or makes them feel bad or uncomfortable, regardless of whether that adult is a family member or dad’s best friend. Also, teach your kids not to do anything or go anywhere with any adult at all, unless they ask for permission first.

Boz: What are some of the mistakes parents make when talking to their children about their bodies?

Justin & Lindsey: A common mistake parents make is not taking with their children about their bodies and body parts. Parents cannot afford to wait on this conversation with their children and the conversation needs to be often. Use the correct words for your children’s genitalia so that they can identify if something happens as well as not have confusion over their bodies and the parts that God created. Promise them that they will never be in trouble and can talk with you about anything anytime. It is so important for us to remember to listen to our children when they tell us things even if it is something small so they will feel comfortable telling us the big things that happen in their lives. Check in with your kids often about people in their life. Ask them how their babysitter or teacher or coach makes them feel so you can gather if they feel safe around them or worried.

Boz: Some parents may believe that it is enough to simply read this book and tell their children to let them know if anyone ever touches their private parts? Do you agree? Why or why not?

Justin & Lindsey: This book is a great start, but it is not enough to read it once and tell children to inform parents if they are touched inappropriately. Talking about private parts and appropriate/inappropriate touch is not a one-time conversation that you get done so you can move on to something else. This book is a tool for the larger responsibilities that parents have. Instead of having “THE talk” and being done, parents need to keep the conversation going, invite questions, and keep lines of communication open.

In addition to personal safety training, parents must become vigilant, educated, and aware of potential risks and threats to their children’s safety.

Boz: What are some facts parents need to know about child sexual offenders? Also, what and how much should they tell their children about offenders?

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Justin & Lindsey: Although strangers are stereotyped as perpetrators of sexual assault, the evidence indicates that a high percentage of offenders are acquaintances of the victim. Also, most child sexual abuse offenders describe themselves as religious and some studies suggest the most egregious offenders tend to be actively involved with their faith community.

Dr. Anna Salter, a psychologist who has been studying sexual offenders for decades, states it is important for parents and child-serving organizations such as churches to avoid “high risk situations.” This is because “we cannot detect child molesters or rapists with any consistency” and thus “must pay attention to ways of deflecting any potential offenders from getting access to our children.”
Many youth organizations have prevented the abuse of children in their care simply by limiting the access of potential offenders to boys and girls. Child abusers count on privacy to avoid detection of their criminal behavior. When churches or other faith institutions remove this privacy it becomes more difficult for the offender to succeed.

Boz: What advice do either of you have for parents who want to create an open environment in their home, so children always feel comfortable talking to them about issues related to their sexuality or body?

Justin & Lindsey: We remind parents that some people are out their looking to prey on our children. We have a duty to protect and prepare them for the world and to fight for them. By talking with them candidly (and again developmentally appropriate) about their bodies, we are setting up safe guards around them.

Boz: As you both write and speak about child sexual abuse, what are some of the unique challenges facing the Christian community about how to better understand and respond to this issue?

Justin & Lindsey: Too often the churches ignore physical, sexual, emotional, and even spiritual child abuse, despite the prevalence of abuse within faith communities. Even worse, Christians have often unwittingly contributed to the suffering of victims because of a failure to protect children and adequately respond to disclosures of sexual abuse. Too many don’t do background checks or have effective child-centered safeguarding policies and procedures.

Additionally, clergy and lay leaders often overlook the many needs of those within their congregations who are adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Pastors don’t discuss the issue of abuse and how the Gospel can bring hope and healing to those who have suffered sexual abuse. Even worse, some blame victims for the sin done against them.

Boz: Where can parents turn if they have any questions regarding this topic or if they simply want additional resources on issues related to sexual abuse or on how to most appropriately address this subject with their children?

Justin & Lindsey: GRACE has helpful material available on the site as does the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center.

Boz: What a thrill it was for me to learn that you both dedicated this book to GRACE. Thank you!

I’ve had the privilege to serve on the board of GRACE for a few years. We admire the work GRACE does in empowering the Christian community through education and training to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse. The ministry of GRACE is important and has helped so many.

Justin is a minister and teaches at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Lindsey now works at home, but previously served as a case manager at a sexual assault crisis center and a domestic violence shelter. Learn more about Justin at http://www.justinholcomb.com and follow him at @justinholcomb. Follow Lindsey at @lindseyholcomb.

Learn more about God Made All of Me at http://www.godmadeallofme.com.

 

 

Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.

 


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The Abused Addict: CSA info too important to miss!

Radio Show Recording with David Pittman and Rachel Grant – January 29th, 2014

The Abused Addict: One Man’s Journey of Recovery from Sexual Abuse

Discovering the Correlation Between Childhood Sexual Abuse and Substance Abuse/Addiction

We cover not only abuse and addiction, but also issues with sexuality, access to counseling, sexual predators grooming kids for abuse, churches that protect sexual predators, creating support groups in your local areas and so much more! Please set aside some time to listen to what I genuinely believe is valuable information for both survivors of childhood sexual abuse and those that love them.

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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3 Steps to Let Go of the Pain of Sexual Abuse – Radio Show Recording

On Wednesday, December 18th 2013, it was my honor to have facilitated a tele-seminar with my friend, colleague and fellow advocate, Rachel Grant.

In addition to the topics covered below, there was also a Q&A session that had some extremely challenging issues Rachel and I addressed with the callers that I know you will find insightful and helpful.

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Do you feel worthless, undeserving, unfixable, or unlovable? Are you ready to let go of the pain of sexual abuse?

If you are beyond sick and tired of feeling broken and burdened by the past, this tele-seminar is for you. You will be taught the three steps you need to take in order to let go of the pain of childhood sexual abuse. Rachel will also share with you her secret to becoming a ‘beyond survivor’.

You will learn:

• Why sexual abuse is akin to an unhealed wound and the steps required to healing that wound.
• How your brain processes experiences and how this affects your thinking, feelings, and behavior.
• To challenge the false beliefs that keep you disconnected from your genuine self.
• To develop new ways of thinking in order to shift your focus, listen to yourself, and to use affirmations that really work.
• 3 steps, rooted in science, which will lead you out of the pain of abuse.

This show is perfect for you if:

You are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and are frustrated because it seems nothing you do is helping.

You desire to reconnect to your genuine self in order to move on with your life and be the person you were meant to be.

It is my hope and desire for you to be able to make radical and amazing changes as you take back your life and realize your ability to make powerful choices about who you are and how you live.
Please don’t miss the opportunity to listen and gain this invaluable information. As I mentioned, Rachel is not only a colleague, she is also my friend. I know how much she has helped me and I know she can help you too.

Here is the link to the show: http://rachelgrantcoaching.com/media/3-steps.mp3

If you want to learn more about Rachel and how she might help you move froward in recovering from CSA, please check out her website: http://www.rachelgrantcoaching.com/brokentobeyond


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Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) Radio Appearance

Tonight we had another amazing opportunity to share with everyone what we are doing to help survivors of CSA. For the second time, Bill Murray of NAASCA (National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse) and SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) had us as a guest on his radio show. If you didn’t have the chance to hear it live, Bill archives each show and below is the link to tonight’s episode. Additionally we have provided the link to NAASCA.

I consider Bill a true friend and warrior advocate for those who have suffered childhood trauma. He has assembled an incredible team that genuinely cares for survivors and wants to see real change take place to both protect our children and help survivors find their way to a healing path.

Thanks again Bill! And to those that didn’t hear it, take a little while and tune in to find out how you might help others.

http://www.naasca.org/index.html

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bill-murray/2013/08/29/stop-child-abuse-now-scan

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Why Do We Give Interviews and Who Cares?

As a public advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I’m often asked to give interviews. I’ve done local and regional newspapers, local and online radio shows, heck I’ve even been on national T.V.! Whoop dee do, right?! My feelings exactly. So have mass murderers and folks with no teeth and no shirt explaining how tornados sound. (some of which were my relatives by the way!)

Even less talented folks get syndicated T.V. shows making hundreds of thousands of dollars an episode. So you ask, why do I tell you about giving an interview? Because every once in a while, when the planets are aligned and you tilt your head the right way. It all comes together and something good comes from it!

Such was the case this Monday, April 29th, 2013. I was asked by another advocate for survivors of CSA to appear on her radio show to do an interview. She wanted me to tell my story of abuse, teach parents how to better protect their children from sexual predators…the usual path for my regular interview. But this one turned out to be anything but ordinary.

I have grown to know and respect Trish McKnight over the last couple of years as we crossed paths several times doing similar endeavors to raise awareness for our mutual cause. But with April being Child Abuse Awareness month, she wanted to make sure her slate was full of folks that were either experts in the field, had been running organizations to benefit survivors, were survivors of CSA themselves or some combination of all the above. It’s been a pretty steady cast of folks I respect and admire, so when she asked me to be a part, I was humbled. As any survivor can tell you, we have a hard time accepting our own self-worth. And this for me was no exception.

But I deferred to her wisdom, and to benefit those who receive help from the efforts of “Together We Heal”, and said, “sure! I’d be happy to do the interview with you!”

It began as most do, she had an overview of what TWH does, who it benefits, how we help survivors, etc. And throughout, everything ran perfectly. We had callers, we had those with input from online. Trish and I had good chemistry on-air. And I genuinely enjoyed the entire hour and a half we talked. And we TALKED! Non-stop the whole time! It was great! We gave a lot of important information to help parents, we talked with a caller on how we could help their child. I’m telling you, it was perfect. Or so I thought.

After we went off the air. The emails, calls, tweets came pouring in! Folks were reaching out locally and from one end of an ocean to another. The U.K., New Zealand, Venezuela, you name it, we were being inundated with comments about the show, and ALL of them were positive. Which is exactly what you want. To reach as many folks as you can in an effort to help as many as possible. But not EXACTLY what you want when you are in the business to help people. Don’t get me wrong, those encouragements mean the world to me. They are a part of what keeps us going. But there was something missing, something major.

But then, as the calls, emails and tweets started to decline, there in the midst of them was IT. THE reason why myself, Trish, Rachel, Bill, Marci, Andrew, Margie, Blair, Patricia, and so many to name here its impossible to list them all, get up each morning and do what it is we do. A simple, short email stating…

…I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I need help. Can you help me?

Then shortly after that, a second email and a third, all asking the same thing. All with their own unique, yet similar stories. We have been sexually abused and we need your help.

I immediately responded and will be arranging for their individual needs over the next week. But that’s not the point. The point is that either they were listening to the show, or someone who cares about them was, made a point to get our contact info and then followed up, making sure they had the ability to reach out to us. That’s love folks. That’s people who care about their family and/or friends.

And that’s why we do interviews.

Because we never know when someone who desperately needs our help will be listening. The point – don’t EVER pass on an opportunity because you might not get a second chance. You’ve heard the phrase, either from the Robin Williams movie, “The Dead Poets Society”, or from Latin class if your old enough, Carpe Diem – Seize the Day. Make the most of every opportunity you have. It’s when you least expect it that you get that surprise. The opportunity to help your fellow man or woman. Don’t ever waste that moment.

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal