Friday, February 21, 2014

sex abuse education

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I believe in sex abuse education. I've said it before but I'm going to go into more detail of why I believe it and who I think should teach it. The majority of childhood sex abuse happens by someone the child knows, a lot of times within their family. If we leave the education up to the parents, what is the child to do if it is the parent who is abusing them? The parents wont teach what to do and how to get help. That's why I believe it should be taught in schools. Not by teachers who don't know anything about sex abuse and what it can do to the child. I  believe it should be taught by a child psychologist. I think it should be in small groups, and not putting girls with boys. At most I believe there should only be 2-3 students being taught at a time. A large group would just be distracting for the children and they really wouldn't learn anything that they need to. It is important for children to know what touching from an adult or another child is appropriate and what isn't. It is also important that they know they have somewhere safe to report the abuse. We live in a society filled with na├»ve people. They believe this is something that should be taught at home. And I agree, a good parent would already have taught their child about things that can harm the child and how to get help. Again, I stress that most sex abuse victims get victimized by someone in either their home or a trusted position within their circle, a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a family friend, a babysitter. There are multiple people who are trusted with children these days. The only way we can truly help prevent the abuse is to teach the kids what the abuse is. We also need to teach them how to get help so they can get help earlier than most children would without the knowledge. I think a lot of my pain could have been prevented had I known it was wrong and how to get help at an earlier age. I believe parents should also be educated on the silent cries for help. By that I mean the things kids will do subconciously to get help because they don't know how to say it out loud. I'm talking about behavioral changes, wetting the bed, different eating habits, acting out, and many others. Basically children who have never been taught about the abuse don't realize that it's wrong and wont tell anyone because of the threats they hear from the perpatrator. Deep inside them, their subconcious knows it's wrong and will show some outward signs. I beg of anyone who has children or plans to have them in the future to seek information on this subject. Parents are the first line of defense for children against any form of abuse. The more the parent knows, the more that can be taught to the child, and the more these things would be prevented or caught early on so the children can start receiving psychological help right away.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

As a survivor...

I believe every child should be taught about sexual abuse. When a child is sexually abused, the bruises do not show on the outside and unless you are looking for the indicators that something is wrong with your child you probably wouldn't know. Most children who are victimized are told if they tell, someone will get hurt, usually a sibling or parents, pretty much anyone who is special to the child will be threatened. The other thing they are told is that if they tell, they themselves will be hurt. That is why most sexual abuse of children goes unreported until they are older. Kids need to be taught at an early age what is appropriate in their relationships with other people and what isn't. They should also be taught what to do if it is happening or has happened to them. Even if it is a family member. Sexual assaults are usually done by someone they know. What most people don't realize is that it doesn't just affect the childhood of the victim, it affects the rest of their lives.

I'll use myself as an example so people can understand the full scope of what a sexually abused child goes through in life. As I am only 28 I can't tell you what happens after that but I will tell you what I've experienced so far. My biggest problem is trust. I am different than some victims because I was physically and emotionally abused also but any abuse hurts a person for their entire life. When a child is hurt they will give warning signs; wetting the bed, overly emotional, acting out, etc. I did not have those and I believe even if I had, nobody would have noticed because of the neglectfulness of the adults in my life. The way I dealt with it when I was going through it and just after, was by blocking it. Not only did I block every bad experience, I also blocked the good ones. I have very few memories of the first 6 years of my life and the ones that I do have are the bad ones. I was very happy when I went to live with my grandparents. I was spoiled rotten and I was finally in a stable home. I had abandonment issues but my grandparents proved to me that they were not going to leave me. I was ok until I hit about thirteen. Then the memories started to come back. My counselor said that in situations like that, the victim will start remembering things when they are ready to deal with them, which could mean years of dealing with horrible things since you don't remember everything all at once. To this day, I will still have flashes of memory and each one makes me relive everything horrible that I remember. Thirteen was a horrible age to start remembering being sexually abused. Early teenage years are when you start noticing boys, but in my case, I had a very hard time getting personally involved. Sure, I had guy friends but they really didn't know anything about me. At that point, I don't think anyone but my family knew me completely. Each year brought new memories. By the time I was sixteen I was severely depressed; more than any teenager should ever be. I wasn't very active in school and hardly had any friends. I did have a few good ones who did help as much as they could. That year was the year I started counseling. Not one counselor I have ever seen has personal experience with sexual abuse. They knew the steps that the books talked about but when I asked if they actually helped, they couldn't really tell me. At one point, I began cutting myself. I wasn't doing it like kids do it today because it's "cool". I did it because I was hurting so much on the inside, I needed a way to let some of it go. I felt better as the blood ran out of my body because it felt like some of the pain was going with it. For me it was a relief and something only I could control. This continued everytime I had what I call a flareup. Just like any injury, you have certain times the pain will come out of nowhere. I've been told this will happen for the rest of my life. At the age of twenty I ended up in the psych ward on a 72 hour suicide hold. This was my sort-of rock bottom. At that point I realized I really needed to deal with what happened to me, not just play at dealing with it. So I started the process. The bad thing is that I will never fully deal with it. It will be part of me for the rest of my life. I will have good moments, bad moments, and really bad moments. I still have trust issues. When a family member hurts you in that way it makes you feel like you can't trust anyone. Before I will get close to people these days, I will make sure that I can trust them. This is earned over time and through experiences together. I have yet to have a serious relationship because I have not found a guy I trust completely. Also because the Mormon church has taught that sexual activity makes you "unpure". Even though logically I know it was not my fault and I wont be held accountable for what happened to me, there is still a part of me that is the little girl who will always ask "what did I do to have this happen to me?"

I am announcing publically to friends and aquaintances who have no knowledge of my childhood and what was done to me. This has not been easy, but I believe this is a necessary part of the healing process. I know I will never be able to have a healthy relationship with a man until I can talk about what has happened to me. I know I have strong beliefs on anything that can hurt children and I hope through these blog posts you can understand why. I am going to start advocating strongly for children to be taught about abuse and how to get help. Children and women who have been sexually or even physically assaulted do not report this because of fear; fear of what people will think of you, fear of being hurt by the perpetrator, and even fear of not being believed, which happens more than it should. I know that if I hadn't been through the experiences of my childhood, I would not be the person I am today. This has made me want to become a child psychologist who specializes in abused kids. I will help children who have been abused the same way I was. I will be able to tell that child that it's not easy to deal with it, but you can work through it and have a happy life based on personal experience. If you, or anyone you know, have questions feel free to ask. There are some I might not be able to answer but the majority of them I feel like I can.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Elder Tad R. Callister,

Does this look like a girl who is asking to be sexually abused?

Today I am writing because I am well and truly pissed. Here I am considering going back to the Mormon church and up comes a news story about an article that will be part of the March issue of the Ensign. The article is by Elder Tad R. Callister. In his talk he states “Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self­ respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.” So I take this to mean that if I don't dress to the church's exact standards, I don't deserve a good man for a husband. There is nowhere in the scriptures that states I have to wear clothes that cover up my shoulders, are not lowcut, are not too short or tight. They want me to consider my body a temple so I have respect for myself. I do have respect for myself and my body. I do believe that sex is meant for marriage and committed relationships. And guess what?! I have a tattoo and more than one earring in each ear. I do not believe I am going to hell for something I did to my own body. I believe that if I act the way I believe the Lord wants me to or the best that I can then I will have the same chance at heaven as others who follow those same beliefs. It is also sexist to believe only women have to dress modestly. He's taking away all the responsibility of men.
In the article Tad R. Callister also stated,   "Our dress not only affects our thoughts and actions, but the thoughts and actions of others." and went on to say, "the dress of women has a powerful impact on the minds and passions of men, if it's too low, too high, too tight it might prompt improper thoughts in the mind of a young man striving to be pure." The fact that he is putting it all on the women is almost stating that it's ok to rape a woman who is wearing a tank top because she asked for it by the way she dressed. That was the point of the picture at the top. I can never see myself going to a church who teaches it's young men that the sexual relationship they have with women is up to the woman. Men have brains just like women and stating that it is up to the women to dress accordingly so as to not tempt them into an action they don't want to commit is degrading to everyone. It's almost like stating it's the child's fault you couldn't control your urges. This is coming from a little girl who has survived all kinds of abuse including sexual abuse. These teachings have made it very hard for me to get into a real relationship for fear of rejections because I'm not "pure". I believe Elders who have these kind of beliefs are sending the younger generation away from the church. This feels like a last straw for me. I've done really well on dealing with my childhood considering everything I went through but this is like telling me that my actions caused me to get physically, mentally and sexually abused.