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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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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The Breakfast Club 2.0

A black opera singer, a religion/philosophy major and homecoming queen walk into a bar. No, it’s not the beginning of a tired joke, nor did they walk into a bar. Actually, they and about 5-6 other people from equally different backgrounds sat in a student center of a private, liberal arts university. This conglomeration of typical American diversity decided to call themselves “The Breakfast Club.” Those of you old enough to get the movie reference will appreciate what they meant. For those that don’t, all you need to know is what they were, what they thought they knew and what they would all eventually become would not always be what was anticipated, assumed or expected. Life is full of surprises that way.

For those, who at the age of 18, declare themselves as Religion/Philosophy majors, the irony in it is that they think they know it all already. And yes, I speak from personal experience. What I learned over the next 7 years, was that I not only didn’t know it all, I hardly knew a thing. And to this very day I am constantly learning more and seeing things as I never have before. Thank goodness for that!

How sad would it be to have at 18 the complete understanding of all humanity. What a burden to bear with so little skills as yet gained. Over those 7 years I lived a couple of lifetimes. The college years are like that for most. Like a whole other life. It’s where most learn what they really believe, as opposed to what mommy and daddy told them. Some fall in lockstep with traditional roles. Doctors, lawyers, teachers – then there’s the rest of us. Those who didn’t figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up. I thought I had. Finished with a degree in journalism. Was going to charge hell with a squirt gun and take on all the worlds wrongs and injustices. I felt the “pen was mightier than the sword” philosophy would serve me well as i headed into the profession of broadcasting and journalism. Silly thing happened along the way. Got a shocking jolt of reality. People, at least those in power, don’t really want some sniveling nosed youngster stirring the pot and messing things up. Then a very sad thing happened. I, like so many others, got disillusioned. You think to yourself, it doesn’t really matter what I do because nothing’s going to change.

So we settle. We settle for a “job” that pays bills. We settle for a spouse who will tolerate us. We settle for an apartment because we don’t want to sacrifice what it would take to get a house. We settle, we settle, we settle. Any of this sound familiar? What happened to those dreams and aspirations of our youth? Of being a marine biologist, or a romance novelists or whatever your big idea was? We got disillusioned and settled. Screw that Carpe Diem BS, I got a power bill to pay!

Then 1 year becomes 5. 1 kid becomes 3. And now your 20 yrs. down the road, kids almost grown, and you’ve quite rightly “settled” in to this life. So what now. And why now? Why now are all those thoughts from my childhood creeping back into my mind? Why? Because now there’s nothing to distract me. No midnight keg party, no late night rendezvous, no diapers to change, no soccer practices, no business luncheons, no nothing. Just me and my thoughts.

Now I have the time to remember all the vile things done to me by my abuser. And the really, REALLY crappy thing about it…it’s too late to prosecute them. For you see, back in “our” day the statute of limitations ran out by the time we were 18, or maybe 23 in some places. But it’s too late now. So why bother? Why? Because as you sit here reading this, and as I’m writing it, they are probably already grooming another little “you” and another little “me”. Pedophiles don’t stop. They don’t get fixed. There is no cure.

I still have the majority of those friends who called themselves “The Breakfast Club”. I’m blessed in that. And even more so, they all have been willing to join me in this fight to protect children and help survivors of abuse. So, it took me a little longer than most to figure out what I was going to be when I grew up. Better late than never, right?

So it’s up to me, it’s up to you, it’s up to all of us as adults to stop them. To do what those children can’t do for themselves, speak up. Name your abuser, if it’s a possibility. Tell anyone who is in earshot who they are, what they did and warn those around them. If its not something that can be done, then reach out to other survivors to help them. Help educate the public and those around you about CSA. The children of this generation deserve our protection. And I’m not asking you to do something I’ve not been willing to do myself. I have made sure all those who are around my abuser know EXACTLY what he did to me and many other little boys. Please keep in mind that I’m only asking this of those who are in a healthy enough place to do so. Not those who have just come to terms with what happened.

And I’m asking the same of every person reading this who wasn’t a victim of CSA, but wants to know what they can do to help. Extend your reach to help groups like ours and others, volunteer your time, give of your talents, your resources, whatever you have at your disposal to help those in need.

And once you have gotten to that place of strength and confidence, ask yourself…

…as Sean Connery told Kevin Costner in the movie “The Untouchables” when all hell was about to break loose…

…”What are you prepared to do?”

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


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Pastor Admits “Rape The Gay Away” of Four Teen Boys – Serves NO JAIL TIME

If you want to know why we continue to raise awareness about childhood sexual abuse, and in response to those who seem to think we are crying “chicken little” when it comes to this issue, look no further than this one case. A pastor in Iowa who ADMITTED to raping four teen boys, and has had eight others come forward since, had his sentence reduced from 17 years to NO JAIL TIME.

Our judicial system is broken when it refuses to protect the most vulnerable of our society and if you don’t think it can happen to your children and in your neighborhood then don’t say you weren’t warned when it does. If we won’t stand up now for children like these, then who will when it’s your child, or your neighbors kids?

Please help us to get these judges and lawmakers removed from office and have the statute of limitations on sex crimes against children removed, nationwide.

http://www.inquisitr.com/946459/rape-away-the-gay-pastor-brent-girouex-gets-sentence-reduced/


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You Have Worth and Are Worthy.

I recently read an article from childabusesurvivor.net and in it they referenced a story from the Jewish Survivors of Sexual Abuse blog. It’s a story I had heard years before in a training seminar but as the author of the blog stated, “Sometimes we just need to be reminded!”

In the room filled with more then 200 people, a well-known speaker started off a seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill, asking, “Who would like this $20 bill?”
Hands started going up.
The speaker said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill.
He then asked, “Who still wants it?”
Still the hands were up in the air.
Well, he replied, “What if I do this?”
And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty and asked, “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.
The speaker stated: My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.
We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.
Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who LOVE you.

In the post, the author stated that, “The $20 bill is still worth $20, but once the speaker got done with it, it was different than when it started. Abuse does affect us, it does change us. It leaves scars, or dirt and creases to stay with the metaphor, but even with those effects, the value of the bill stays the same. It just takes some effort to smooth out the wrinkles.”

And I believe this is an excellent point that needs repeating. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), we often feel like that crumpled up bill. Like we’ve been run through the wringer and left out on our own. Which brings me to the point I really want to emphasize.

Alone…

It’s a horrible word and feeling for survivors of CSA. We talked about it in our monthly support group meeting this past week. We went around and talked about how each of us, in our own unique but similar ways, experience the feeling of being “alone”. Not loneliness, but truly “alone”.

As we went around I heard words and phrases like “rejection”, “not believed”, “discarded”, “isolation” and one that really stuck with me, “I felt like my core was stolen”. It was that last one that I could entirely relate. As I laid in that bed, time and time again, as the abuse continued, more and more of me felt like it was disappearing, like the core of who I was, was no more. So as the years went on I tried to fill that void with things, substances and people.

The things being objects of desire, whether it be a simple knick-knack I called a collectible or a new car. The substances were narcotics that numbed me from the feeling of being alone and pain that permeated every pore of my body. And the people were a series of failed attempts to feel loved and wanted. But no matter what I tried, nothing and no one could fill that void, that feeling of being alone.

It wasn’t until I finally came to terms with what had happened, the crime perpetrated against me that I could even begin to have some sense of who I really was, what my core was made of. And I believe most survivors struggle with this. So what do we do? How do we move forward if you, like myself and others, feel that “core” is not what it should be?

The first thing you MUST know is that you are NOT alone. Right now in the USA, there are between 55 and 75 million survivors of CSA. And that’s just the ones we can count based on statistics of those who’ve come forward. So know you have many people that have been through what you have. In addition, there are now many groups established to provide the help, support and guidance that once did not exist. Whether its Together We Heal, NAASCA, RAINN or the many others out there, you have a place to go, so please reach out, and find one that will help you.

And finally, what I found that helped me begin to move forward was getting some professional help. Therapy, in it’s many forms, is available to you. For some, you might have the funds to pay for it, or if you have insurance, utilize it. And for those that have neither, there are now groups that will help you at no cost. So whether you have the funds or not, there’s no reason to not find a therapist or group that can help guide you on a healing path. A path that will help you find your core, a path to no longer feeling alone. So take a little lesson from that $20 dollar bill…reach out and find your worth. You are worthy and deserving of it.

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Video of Admitted Child Molester in Jehovah’s Witnesses

More unfortunate proof that NO religion, denomination, or group of ANY kind is immune from the plague that is childhood sexual abuse (CSA). When will we as a nation finally take a stand and DEMAND that our children be protected and these pedophiles and sexual predators be prosecuted. Because up to now, it’s been the other way around. These same institutions that are supposed to be the protectors of our kids, victimize them further and hide these atrocities at any costs.

Please folks, wake up. Don’t wait until its your child or one that you know before you take action. Join us at TWH, or join some group working toward the same goal. 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the US alone are sexually abused before the age of 18. If that number doesn’t get your attention, maybe this one will, those numbers mean between 55 and 70 MILLION people alive today in the US are survivors of CSA. If that doesn’t get your attention obviously either nothing will, you don’t care or you don’t believe it.

But if you do, help us help protect our kids and get these survivors the help they need to begin to heal. And stand up, let your voices be heard by your lawmakers in making REAL change. Demand that there be NO Statute of Limitations on sex crimes against children. Until that happens and we actually prosecute these predators, no effective change will take place.

http://www.10news.com/news/investigations/team-10-obtains-video-of-admitted-child-molester-in-jehovahs-witnesses07222013


38 Comments

Grooming – How Do Sexual Predators Get Into Our Lives?

After posting my story of childhood sexual abuse, I was asked an important question by a concerned parent. How did this monster get into your life?

The answer is both simple and complex. The easy part is that they don’t have the appearance of a monster. They don’t look like some James Bond or Cartoon character villain, with beady eyes, horns coming out of their heads, or a big neon sign saying, “STAY AWAY, PEDOPHILE HERE!” Sadly, they almost always look like everyone one else. The gentle minister, the encouraging coach, the neighbor always willing to lend a hand or the family member who seems to be there just when you need them.

And this is where the complexity comes in. How do you distinguish genuine care from pure evil? While there are no set in stone answers, there are some clues to look for and ways to evaluate what is going on. And though nothing is fool-proof, I hope it’s at least a start for you to help figure out friend from foe.

One of the most frightening things about pedophiles/sexual predators is that they seem so “normal”. They are notoriously friendly, nice, kind, engaging and like-able. And they target their victims, often insinuating themselves into that child’s life through their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies. But don’t ever forget, pedophiles are professional con-artists and are experts at getting children and families to trust them. They will smile at you, look you right in the eye and make you believe they are trustworthy.

So let’s first define exactly what grooming is and then we will go into the steps involved.

Erika Lyn Smith, of the “Missing And Exploited Children Site”, gives a thorough explanation of what we are talking about.

The act of grooming a child involves spending time, energy, and money to make a child and even the parent or parents feel comfortable with the relationship. Only after a trusting relationship is established will the child predator start to become more intrusive and to test the boundaries of the relationship by pushing limits. These violations may include hugging, kissing, tickling, wrestling, and invading a child’s privacy while showering, dressing or toileting.

Initially a pedophile will begin to violate the physical boundaries, by accidentally touching the child through his or her clothes to see what kind of reaction he or she receives. If a child or parent questions the action the predator will likely back off and regain the trust of the child or parents before proceeding.

By befriending the parent or parents, the pedophile gains the trust of everyone in the family. Children are less likely to tell when the relationship turns sexual if the adult is someone he or she knows personally or is a friend of mom or dads. In addition, mom and dad may be less likely to listen to a child when it involves a good friend of the family.

Single parents, especially mother’s will be looking for a positive male role model if there is no father involved. Single mothers are more likely to accept offers from a child’s coach or school for help when offered. All parents needs to be vigilant when it comes to allowing someone access to his or her child, and question friendships or relationships that take up a lot of a child’s free time.

Signs that a pedophile may be grooming your child include:
• Telling a child, he or she is a “special” friend
• Bringing a child special mementos or gifts
• Talking to a child about adult issues like sex or marriage problems
• Giving a child alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
• Inviting a child to spend the night or go camping

A former F.B.I. agent named Kenneth V. Landing wrote about 5 steps he identified as the general process most sexual predators use in grooming children to be their ext victims. Below you will find this listed.

Stage 1: Identifying a Possible Victim
Although pedophiles differ in their “type” regarding age, appearance and gender, all pedophiles will look for a victim who seems in some way vulnerable.

Stage 2: Collecting Information
The next step is for the pedophile to collect as much information on the targeted victim as possible. This is most commonly done through casual conversations with both the child and the parents or caretaker.

Stage 3: Filling a Need
Once the individual has the information he needs, he then becomes part of the child’s life by filling a need. If the victim is poor, for example, the pedophile will provide him/her with expensive toys. If the victim is lonely, the pedophile will act as a friend.

Stage 4: Lowering Inhibitions
The pedophile will then start to lower the child’s inhibitions concerning sexual matters. He may come up with games or activities that involve getting undressed, make sexual comments or show the child pornographic images or pictures.

Stage 5: Initiating the Abuse
At this final stage, the pedophile begins to sexually abuse the child.

Another technique used by these predators is called the 4 “F’s”.

Friendship, Fantasy, Fear and Force.

“Friendship” is built through nurturing a relationship through bonding. The adult will usually give the child gifts, take them on special outings and show them a lot of attention.

Once a child trusts an adult, the adult can influence the child’s attitude regarding sexual behavior. Grooming may include introducing sexual content to the child as an example of what the perpetrator desires and to give the impression that the depicted acts are acceptable. If the child thinks that sex between children and adults is ok, it’s easier for the pedophile to victimize the child.

Then they will introduce “Fantasy”. They will manipulate the child with a false sense of security. They will pay a lot of attention to the child’s problems and personal matters and offer advice and counseling. They will tell the child how much they love them and that they want to have a long term, loving relationship with them.

Once the child has opened up to the pedophile, they will begin to instill “Fear” by threatening to share the child’s secrets with their classmates or their parents. Sometimes they will even threaten the life or safety of the child or of their family and friends It’s all a manipulation tactic to get the child to do what the pedophile wants them to do.

Ultimately, the pedophile uses “Force” to sexually exploit the child.

While these are by no means the only ways sexual predators work their way into ours and our children’s lives, they are at least a beginning place for parents to be on the lookout. The more information you have and the better educated you become, the more you will be able to best protect your kids.

Knowledge truly is power and we cannot give over our power to these heinous criminals. They will use every trick in the book so you have to know what they’re doing. Even more frightening, pedophiles and sexual predators work together to help each other figure out ways to gain access to our kids. Don’t believe it, read this article about a 170 page, “How To” publication put together by and for adults who prey on innocent children. They are making a concerted effort to help each other so we have to be more vigilant, more active and tireless in our work to combat these predators.

http://www.wbtv.com/story/18124513/underage-grooming-guide

I hope this is a good start on helping you to protect your children. God knows I wish my family had been told this when I was a child. Maybe they would have been able to stop my abuse before it began. So please take a page from our family history book, educate yourselves and talk with your kids.

—–

References:

Kenneth V. Lanning, Special Agent, F.B.I.

Erika Lyn Smith

America’s Most Wanted

WBTV

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Its All About Perspective, So Whats Yours?

As recovering addicts and/or survivors of childhood sexual abuse, we often compare what we went through to that of others. It’s human nature. We think to ourselves, well what they went through was so much worse than myself, what gives me the right to complain. Or conversely, we look at another and say, oh come on, that’s all? We constantly do this.

I remember sitting in my first few NA rooms, listening to story after story and thinking, I’m not like these folks at all. I’m no crackhead, walking the streets, selling my body for a $10 high. Or I would rationalize, I’ve NEVER shot junk in MY veins or shared a needle with a disease-riddled body. Then one day I heard a story not so different from mine. It’s what therapists and sponsors call “your moment of clarity”. It’s when you finally come to terms with your own addiction and figure out, an addict is an addict is an addict. It doesn’t matter what the drug is, or the background your come from or even what you’ve done to get high. It’s when you acknowledge that you have no control over the drugs that control you.

And being a survivor of CSA is no different. It doesn’t matter who abused you, how often it happened, what they did to you or they made you do to them. A survivor is a survivor is a survivor. One case is not “worse” or “lesser” than another. To illustrate let me share a story a trusted friend told me many years back. He asked me to answer what appeared to be a simple question.

Three scenarios:

First, a teen about to go on their very first prom date when, BAM! A huge zit appears at the very end of their nose. With no way to conceal and no time to heal, panic and anxiety set in.

Second, a young man has just been told by the Dean, his academics did not pass this semester and will be on probationary suspension for 1 term. How does he begin to explain this one to mom and dad? And did I mention, he’s on scholarship because they have no money to send him to college.

Third, a couple just received a $30,000.00 bill from the IRS. Evidently their CPA was didn’t file properly and no matter what, they are now liable for all monies, plus penalties. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it, they MUST pay and they don’t have enough savings to cover it. And oh yeah, their daughter just came home pregnant from college. Another two mouths to feed and bodies to keep warm and safe inside their home.

So the query is…which one is “worse”?

Being the bright young man I was at the time, I told him, oh this is easy! I’ve already had a “zit moment” that totally embarrassed me in high school. He or she will eventually forget all about that nonsense! As for the young man in school, I could relate. Got into some trouble in college and had to “sit out” a semester myself. No biggie! I went to Florida for that term, worked for my dad and when I’d “done my time and penance”, I reenrolled, finished up and graduated from the University! So the answer was clear, the couple with the 30k debt to the IRS. What a horrible position to be in. With no foreseeable way to pay, with a child and a grandchild returning “home” in need of mom and dads support, both emotionally and financially. This was a no-brainer.

Turns out, I was the only one with no brain! You see, we each “see” the prism of crisis through our own life experience. If we have already been through an event, we understand what lies on the other side. What potential outcomes there may be. Even what variety of options are available to us. But to each and every one of those folks, the situation before them was the “worst” they had ever faced at that point in their lives. With NO idea of how they were going to get through it. It’s truly relative when it comes to situational crisis. There is no such thing as a “bigger or lesser” problem. To whomever is going through what they are going through, at that moment, it’s the biggest challenge they’ve had to face.

So keep this in mind when working with others or when addressing your own struggles. Remember to be compassionate to those around you. And don’t forget to give yourself a break too. We all need some sympathy and empathy in our times of trials and tribulation.

One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. –Anonymous

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal