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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Cover-Up Equal To The Crime

Two months ago I wrote an article called “Liberty Has Sold Its Soul for Football.”. Yesterday, those who chose to believe the words of victims over that of bureaucratic administrators like Ian McCaw and Jerry Falwell, Jr., of Liberty University, were PROVED to be on the side of truth…and that’s a shame.

It’s a shame on so many levels, it’s not possible to include them all here. So I’ll do my best to hit the “low-lights” of why Liberty hiring Ian McCaw goes against anything ANY Christian, or human with a moral compass above Charles Manson would stand for.

Yesterday, the public was given access to the texts between Baylor University’s former Head Football Coach Art Briles, Athletic Director Ian McCaw, and Assistant Athletic Director Colin Shillinglaw. Additionally, the reports of the investigation came to light. Within these texts and reports, we discover that not only did Briles, McCaw and Shillinglaw lie about not knowing that crimes were committed under their watch, they WERE ALL INVOLVED IN COVERING UP THE CRIMES!!!

These crimes involved in the texts and reports include drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure, academic fraud, 52 acts of Rape, and 5 Gang Rapes.

But don’t take my word for it, read for yourself Ian McCaw’s OWN WORDS:

On September 20, 2013, after a player was arrested for assault and threatening to kill a non-athlete, a football operations staff official tried to talk the victim out of pressing criminal charges. Meanwhile, Coach Briles texted Athletics Director Ian McCaw: “Just talked to [the player] – he said Waco PD was there – said they were going to keep it quiet – Wasn’t a set up deal… I’ll get shill (Shillinglaw) to ck on Sibley (local attorney Jonathan Sibley).” Athletics Director Ian McCaw replied: “That would be great if they kept it quiet!”

Would be great if they kept it quiet. Ian McCaw wanted the assault and potentially life threatening situation of a student at Baylor to BE KEPT QUIET!!!

And let me remind you of what Jerry Falwell Jr., said when he introduced McCaw as Liberty University’s Athletic Director.

Falwell called McCaw, “a godly man of excellent character,”

Falwell went on to say, “I spoke with regents at Baylor who could not say enough good things about this man’s character.”

“There will be a time, no doubt, for Ian and his attorneys to address questions about what happened at Baylor but we don’t intend to litigate those facts with the press.” “If he made any mistakes at Baylor, they appear to be technical and unintentional, out of line with an otherwise distinguished record.”

In a statement to InsideHigherEd.com about the end of his tenure at Baylor, Liberty said that it is “completely satisfied” that McCaw is the “perfect fit” and right athletic director for the school.

So according to Jerry Falwell Jr, President of Liberty University, Ian McCaw is a “godly man and is completely satisfied that he’s a perfect fit for Liberty”. That begs the question…

What kind of school is Liberty and what kind of school does it want to become to hire McCaw as the “perfect fit”?

All I can say, if I had a daughter, I would keep her as far away from that campus as possible. And if I had a son that played football, Liberty University would be the LAST school I’d allow him to represent.

And even more disturbing is how Liberty University proclaims its supposed high-moral, Christian standards to any with ears that hear.

How do they sleep at night?

I guess the allure of football revenue is greater than the reality of the evil they hired in McCaw. Seems to me the leaders of Liberty University should read their own bible, 1 Timothy 6:9-10:

“Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. By craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”

If Liberty University keeps Ian McCaw as its Athletic Director, or hire anyone else like him in his place; ruin and destruction, according to its own theology, is what Liberty will get and what it will deserve…

 
But please, do your own research. Learn for yourself I’m not writing just an opinion. It’s opinion based on facts. And please keep your children away from Liberty University until or unless they change.

 
http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/docs-reveal-art-briles-baylor-coaches-actively-involved-in-covering-up-player-incidents/

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/columnists/dialcreech/article/Truth-doesn-t-lie-and-regents-say-Art-Briles-did-10904097.php

Leaked Art Briles Text Messages Paint Ugly Picture Of Baylor Tenure

 

Copyright © 2017 Together We Heal


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Liberty University Has Sold Its Soul for Football

Monday, November 28th 2016. That date will go down in Baptist history as the beginning of the end. Not of the end of baptists; but something more tragic, and much more sinister. It’s the end of women being safe on Liberty University’s campus.

It was on Monday that Liberty University gave the middle finger to all victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault and told “whoever has ears to hear” that THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE SAFETY OF WOMEN ON CAMPUS.

On Monday, Liberty University and Jerry Falwell, Jr., joyfully welcomed Ian McCaw as its new Athletic Director.

Falwell, Jr. said of McCaw, “He’s a Godly man of excellent character and I could not be more excited about this announcement!”

Just in case you don’t know Mr. McCaw, let me catch you up to speed.

He was up until recently the Athletic Director for Baylor University. Yes, the Baylor that bears the same Baptist support as Liberty. And yes, it’s the same Baylor who fired its President, Ken Starr; Head Football Coach, Art Briles, and depending on which media outlet you believe, the aforementioned Athletic Director, Ian McCaw.

So why did this “Godly man of excellent character” leave Baylor?

GREAT QUESTION!!

Here are the football totals.

While McCaw was AD, Baylor football went from averaging 3 wins a season, to 9 wins a year. This is what Liberty wants everyone to focus.

But these are the human totals of a McCaw administration.

Reporter Jake New of Inside Higher Ed reported on Tuesday:

“McCaw resigned as athletics director at Baylor in May. His resignation came days after Baylor’s Board of Regents fired the university’s head football coach and forced out its president following allegations that the world’s largest Baptist university mishandled — and sought to suppress public discourse about — reports of sexual assaults committed by its football players and other students.

Baylor officials said earlier this month that, in total, 17 women reported 19 sexual or physical assaults involving football players since 2011, and that four of the reports involved gang rapes.”

Tragically it gets worse…

New’s report went on to say, and folks this is the crux of the issue…

“Baylor said McCaw was told about at least one of those gang rapes, which involved five football players, but he did not report the allegations to the university’s judicial affairs office or anyone else outside the athletic department, as required by federal law.”

So now you know the truth about Ian McCaw. Well, at least as much as we know for now. Pending litigation and the unknown number of silenced victims will probably prevent us from ever knowing the TRUE number of victims. But this is how they operate.

This is the organizational strategy of the Baptist Convention, its Churches and now we can see, it’s Colleges and Universities. They manipulate, they silence and they cover-up anything having to do with sexual abuse and sexual assaults within its walls or by those in power.

I know this to be true because they tried to silence my voice also.

Mark my words, starting on Monday, you will begin to see an increase of sexual abuses and assaults and the ensuing organizational coverup of them that Baptist have become so adept. Or so they believe. Lives will be ruined if not worse. And certainly souls will be tarnished, if not lost.

Monday, November 28th 2016. The day where mothers and fathers can no longer send a daughter to Liberty University with the belief she will be safe.

Welcome to the pursuit of FBS football Liberty. How pathetic that you traded your soul for it.

As a dear friend said to me recently…

“Sadly, None of this resembles Jesus.”

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal


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Does a Sexual Predator Have the Keys to Your Front Door…

…and do you even know?

What if I told you that the people who own the property where you live knowingly hired a convicted sexual predator and they don’t have to tell you?

What if I told you a convicted sex offender has the keys to your front door and you were powerless to know or stop them from having access?

Unbelievably, I may have just described your home if you rent in Florida, and many other homes across the USA.

Even though in Florida, as in most states, sex offenders are prohibited from living within a certain distance from schools, playgrounds and other places where children gather; what they CAN do, is work where your children play and live, without your knowledge. And that’s not the worst of it.

Under Florida law, owners of rental apartments and homes are NOT required to warn you or your family that an employee at the property is a pedophile or sex offender. Children in Florida have been raped by sex offenders who were literally provided the keys to rental units, where the owner knew that the employee was a convicted sex offender. You and your family have the right to make an informed choice of whether to live in housing that employs convicted
sex offenders.

It is because of the irrational and dangerous law as written, that Linda and I ask for your support of “The Florida Sex Offender Rental Notification Act.”

Below you will find a link. Help us to set Florida Law requiring tenants be notified when property owners employ sex offenders.

http://www.saferenting.org/

I would further expound if I felt necessary, but this is pretty darn self-explanatory to myself and Linda. We hope you feel the same.

No matter where you live, PLEASE SIGN and pass along to EVERYONE you know! Then find out what the law says where you live.

http://www.saferenting.org/

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal, Inc.

 


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Why Do We Only Put Up Traffic Lights After a Tragedy

Impotent Georgia Act Protects Sexual Predators, Baptist & Catholic Churches and the Insurance companies that underwrite their policies.

Usually when my wife and I travel to Atlanta it’s for visiting friends and family. Atlanta is where we grew up, were high-school sweethearts and eventually where we wed. (Even if it did take me over 25 years to muster the courage to ask her to marry me!)

But this week my wife and I will be in Atlanta with an additional purpose. Actually it will be a two-fold mission.

As with almost every Together We Heal event/conference/etc., we will be teaching parents, guardians, and adults of various leadership and authority positions over children, on how to talk with kids about childhood sexual abuse and better identify the grooming methods of sexual predators.

In addition to this, we’re going to have the opportunity to lobby local representatives and their constituents about making a change that would have permanent, positive benefits for all of the children of our home state. We want to help them see how imperative it is that they pass a law eliminating the statute of limitations on all sex crimes against children.

I know, sounds like a no-brainer, right? Tragically, you’d be wrong. When myself and my wife were sexually abused as children, not one single state had such a law on the books. And it’s only been in last few years that states started passing said laws. Sadly, the pressure from “higher powers” had a greater hold on state assemblies than did the courage to do the right thing.

Based on Together We Heal’s non-profit designation, Federal law limits the amount of time we are able to spend lobbying for laws to protect children and assist victims in attaining any measure of justice. Therefore, we quite literally must make the MOST of every second of time we put forth on this type of effort.

So this week, we will be making one such effort at a DeKalb Women’s Meeting with 2 legislators in attendance. It’s our hope, that since we will be speaking to people who live where our abuse occurred, it will resonate with them on a more personal level.

That being said, here is the reason why Georgia needs to eliminate statute of limitation laws regarding sex crimes against children. And by the way, my personal example is just one in millions that have happened. I’m telling you my story so you can know that this happens all too often.

When I FINALLY gathered enough strength to come forward, name the man who sexually abused me as a child; I did what I was told to do, I went to the police because everyone said that’s what you do and certainly they would help me.

I went to DeKalb County Police Headquarters, the original one on Memorial Drive, and spoke with a detective in the Major Felony division (now called Special Victims Unit). After over 2 hours of excruciatingly painful memories being drawn out, vile detail by vile detail, it finally came to an end.

And that’s when she asked me the question she should’ve started off by asking, ”when did this crime take place?”

I told her from 1981-1984. That’s when she said the words that ripped my heart and stomach COMPLETELY out of my body and threw them in the sewer.

Her reply, “Sorry, but we can’t help you. You waited too long to report this crime.”

WHAT!? I WAITED TOO LONG?! How could I have done anything WRONG here?!?!

She said, “it’s not that you did anything wrong, you just didn’t know. There’s a law called statute of limitations. And in Georgia, since you didn’t come forward by the age of 18, the time limit is up and he can no longer be criminally prosecuted for the offense. No matter what he did to you. No matter how many times or for how many years. You’re just too late.”

Tragically the police, even when they genuinely want to help, have no way of doing so because of the laws OUR legislators keep on the books.

Ask yourself this simple question and let logic dictate the answer.

WHY?

Why would OUR representatives allow such laws to protect the perpetrator and further victimize the abused???

Recently a piece of legislation was passed in Georgia called the Hidden Predator Act (HPA). It was spoken of as some amazing Act, enabling any and all previous victims to come forward and get the justice they were for so long denied.

Turns out it was smoke and mirrors to make one Georgia representative appear good, but the bill is toothless and practically worthless. Although literally a couple of survivors have been able to utilize this bill, in a state of over 10 million, the VAST MAJORITY of Georgia victims will receive no such justice. Meanwhile, their perpetrators, and the ones protecting them, will remain happy all the live long day.

Why? Because the Southern Baptist Convention, Georgia Baptist Convention, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Roman Catholic Church and the Georgia Lobby for Insurance made it so. They “persuaded” YOUR representatives to remove all language that would give victims the ability to go after the churches, institutions, schools or companies that had any role in enabling, hiding or protecting the predators. By doing this it eliminated the possibility for almost any survivor to get representation. And with no attorney, no justice. Just all of the predators free and clear, to continue abusing, molesting, raping children and murdering their innocence and souls.

Most victims don’t have the strength to come forward, if they ever do, until their 30’s or 40’s, and by then it’s “too late” with the existing laws.

Sexual predators, Baptist & Catholic leaders, the Chamber and Insurance companies know this statistic, so their bean counters and leaders “convinced” legislators to orchestrate the law to read as it does. With the current language, it protects THEIR INTEREST.

And what, might you ask is their interest.

M-O-N-E-Y, NOT Y-O-U.

If these leaders actually cared about their constituents, parishioners, etc., this would not be the case. So to these “so-called” groups of faith and elected officials I say this…

“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

If we work together to do what’s right, protect potential future victims and enable justice for past ones, then we must pass a LAW, not a temporary bill like the one that expires in a little over a year, that does what should’ve been done already.

That’s right, the current HPA expires July 1st 2017, and at that time Georgia goes back to being one of the WORST states in the union for protecting child victims of sexual abuse.

So pass a law that ELIMINATES the statute of limitations on ALL sex crimes against children. And include language that allows for another 2-year window, only this time enable the revival against organizations & institutions and cap the claims at victims aged 53 (18 + 35). Georgia’s current bill allows victims to pursue litigation against the perpetrator only, not the people or organizations that covered it up or assisted them in any way. This is the only way to truly begin to stop this epidemic of abuse, to punish their enablers. If these predators had no protection, they most likely would’ve been caught.

Some very smart folks, who could explain the math about capping the age at 53 much better than I, have set that age for the reasons of how long it takes for most victims to be able to come forward and the age at which the perpetrators would be at that time. This gives the best chance for as many victims as possible to get the Justice that’s been denied them.

And maybe just as important, to expose the predators so that they can’t harm another child. Litigation shines the light and truth on them and that’s what they fear the most. And contrary to what certain church leaders and media members would have you believe, Pedophiles do not “age out” of abusing children.  Fr. John Geoghan in Boston was abusing children in his 80s. The only 2 things that stop them are incarceration and death.

And to the people who inaccurately claim that enabling this 2-year window would inundate the court system with copious amounts of claims. I refer you to Marci A. Hamilton’s website for the facts – If you look at the “Relative Success” document and especially at the chart at the bottom, http://sol-reform.com/data/

you can see (1) the civil revival windows that have been opened against individuals AND institutions have not resulted in an avalanche of claims; (2) there are no false claims that have made it through the system; and (3) Georgia’s window has been relatively ineffective so far because it is only capable of being brought against individual perpetrators and aiders and abettors.

Want to know how many victims in Georgia have been able to file litigation against their abusers?

9

That’s 9 in a state of 10 million with AT LEAST 2 million victims. So far the Baptist & Catholic churches, Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Insurance lobby is winning. And Georgians are losing.

Going back to the question I had you ask yourself, what is the logic in these representative not already passing a law like this. What do THEY have to hide or be afraid of? If nothing, then it should pass unanimously, if not, then please give SERIOUS consideration to replacing your current legislator. Unfortunately, that’s the only language most lawmakers understand. Only when told they won’t be reelected will they actually listen to THEIR constituents.

I wish I could expose my abuser through the courts, but it’s too late for me. And because of this, he has gone on to molest, abuse and rape AT LEAST 7 others. Those are just the ones I know of. God and Frankie Wiley are the only 2 who know how many little boys’ childhood’s he’s murdered.

It’s too late for me, but there are approximately 2 million of your fellow Georgians who need your help. The only way this will happen is if YOU, make a stand, demand your representative pass this law or you vote in someone who will. It’s up to you. What will you do? Please don’t wait until it’s happened to one of your children or grandchildren. I beg of you.

Because I promise you, if you don’t, it WILL happen. The facts are the facts. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys WILL BE sexually abused by the age of 18. The only way this changes is with the ability to prosecute predators. The only way that happens is for the laws to be changed. And the only way that happens is when it matters to you. Will it be before or after it happens to someone you know; someone you love.

Don’t let this be another example of putting up a traffic light AFTER a tragedy has happened. You have the ability to do something now. Will you?

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal, Inc.


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Decisions…Decisions…

This week I received a phone call from a grandmother in turmoil. It was evident in her voice just how scared and desperate she was for help.

 Her dilemma was the same I’ve heard, tragically, too many times before. She said, “my son-in-law is sexually abusing my grandchildren but I have no proof, I just KNOW it.”

So I continued the conversation with her as I had done so many times before, by asking questions.

 

I asked, “Have you seen him touch them inappropriately? Have the children told you anything to alert you? Have you spoken to your daughter, their mother? Have you filed a police report?” And on and on we went.

And again, her responses were like ones I’ve heard countless times. “Yes, I’ve seen him touch one child in a way I knew was wrong and he smiled at me while he did it, knowing there was no way I could say anything. He was a cop so he knows people. They’ve stopped letting me see the kids. My daughter doesn’t believe me.”

As we went further, she said the following statement that made me want to cry. She said, “I’m scared that if I do something about this, if I go to the police, who I don’t think will help anyway, that I will lose the relationship with my daughter. I want to have a relationship with her. What do I do??”

 

So I paused…and I answered her question with a question. I asked her what I’ve asked of parents and guardians, churches and parishes, person after person…

 

What is your priority?

 

What is more important to you; the safety of a child, or a “relationship” with your child built on denial and the potential enabling of a sexual predator?

 

Because it’s more likely than not that one day you will have to choose…what is more important to you, what is more sacred to you. If what you believe in your heart of hearts is true, then you can’t have both if your child chooses to stay with and protect the one harming your grandchildren.

 

And let’s say, worst case scenario, you’re wrong. Then what? Will a child who truly loves you hold it against you forever that you were trying to protect their
child? I don’t believe so. And if so, then the relationship has many more
issues than this one.

 

Now, if you just don’t like your son-in-law and this is some sick, perverted way to drive a wedge, then you will be held accountable for that one day. But if not, if your intentions are pure, as are your concerns, then you really only have one choice.

 

Those babies have NO VOICE, NO DEFENSE, NO ONE TO PROTECT THEM. And you MUST be THEIR defender, THEIR voice. If not you, then who???

 

It’s what we all must ask ourselves…IF NOT US, THEN WHO?!?

 

God how I wish someone who had concerns back in 81 or 82 or 84 or 85 or 91 or 92 or, or, OR (and there were PLENTY of them) would’ve had the courage to stand up and say, what the hell is this man doing with these little boys at his house overnight?!?!

 

So that leaves us with these decisions…decisions…

 

…what will you do?

 

 


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“It’s Easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”

One of my favorite quotes is by Frederick Douglass who said,

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Please keep these two things in mind when you begin to think, “it’s just too hard to talk with my kids about sexual abuse”.

Here in the USA, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be victims of childhood sexual abuse before they turn 18…don’t let your child be another statistic, don’t let them become another David, or Linda, or or or…

They need your strength and guidance…you CAN talk with them and they will be grateful you did!!

 

If you’re finding it challenging to talk with your kids, please read this post for some guidance:

How To Talk With Your Kids about Sexual Abuse

You are NOT your abuse.

You are NOT what they did to you.

You are NOT your trauma.

You ARE the cleverness that survived.

You ARE the courage that escaped.

You ARE the power that hid & protected a tiny spark of your light.

You will fan that spark into a bonfire of righteous rage and love,

and with it you will burn all their lies to ash!

Do you feel the heat yet Frankie Wiley???

Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


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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.

 

 

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