Tag Archives: sexual abuse

5 Questions Every Modern Parent Should Be Asking

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.00.44 PMDo you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re sort of uncomfortable but you don’t complain, don’t leave, don’t speak up because you don’t want to cause a scene or make anyone feel bad?

Even when we have concerns that are legitimate, sometimes we hold our tongues to avoid awkwardness or confrontation. We don’t walk away because we believe our departure implies criticism, judgment or lack of trust in another’s decisions or lifestyle.  We take care not to step on anyone’s toes. We don’t want to be rude or offensive by questioning what folks are doing. Maybe we assume that the other person knows better – or knows something we don’t.

Of course we know just fine ourselves. Our little voices whisper to us, “Get out of here. This feels wrong,” or, “This guy has no idea what he’s talking about. We’re in danger.” And our little voices are usually right on target. Those voices become especially useful when it comes to our kids. But sometimes, just as we ignore it when it comes to our own safety, we ignore it when it comes to theirs.

Even though we like to think that we’d never put our babies in harm’s way, it happens to every parent at some point. That moment when we know we should be changing course but we stay put instead because we don’t want to make waves. At times like these it’s important to remember that there’s nothing rude or offensive about being a good advocate for our children. After all, our kids trust us implicitly and believe that when we send them off into the world that we are sending them off to safe place with responsible people. They never say, “Momma, will I be safe?” They move through the world with confidence, knowing for certain that we have their little backs.

We are our children’s best advocates. We are responsible for our children’s safety. And knowing about the world and how it spins in 2013, we can initiate some pre-emptive, full-disclosure conversations that will provide us with comfort and trust as our children explore the world independently. These are five “little voice” questions that every parent should be asking without hesitation or fear of imposition:

1. “Can you please not drive and text or talk on the phone while my child is in the car?”  

We all know the stats. Distracted drivers hurt people. Carpools being a vital part of parenting, often times we toss kids into minivans assuming that the drivers are responsible behind the wheel simply because they are responsible for children. Do you know if the parents or guardians in your carpool are texting while driving? I admit, while I’ve asked this question to friends on occasion, for the most part I assume that people are doing the right thing. But there’s nothing wrong with asking. We have every right to protect our kids.

2. “Do you keep a gun in your house?”  

The Newtown tragedy was not lost on anyone, certainly not parents of small children. Let’s use this tragedy as a lesson to us all when it comes to gun safety. A few weeks ago, my son was eagerly anticipating a play date with a new friend. The night before the big day, I received an email from the boy’s mom, “Don’t take this the wrong way. But in light of everything that happened this year, do you keep guns in your house?” I was so happy that I wasn’t the only parent asking that question. There is nothing intrusive about ensuring our children are playing in a safe environment. I assured her I don’t have any weapons in my house and we cleared the way for a terrific conversation about modern parenting.

3. “Will there be any other people in your home during the play date?”  

Listen, I’m not a paranoid parent, but when I drop my kids at someone’s house, I want to know about older siblings, friends, visiting uncles or handymen hanging around. When we are alert, we pass this awareness onto our children and we give them a beautiful gift called confidence. When their heads are up, they are better prepared to protect themselves if placed in an uncomfortable position. Abusers seek opportunity.

I always tell my kids this: When you go to pick out a puppy, do you want to take home the puppy who is nipping and barking? Or do you want to take home the puppy that curls up in a ball in your arms? Of course they vote for the snuggly puppy. And then I tell them that abusers think this way when they pick out victims. They want easy prey. When we are confident, when we look people right in the eye and use our strong voices to tell them when we don’t feel comfortable, we are unbreakable. Knowing who is in the house, we can prep our kids with an easy conversation and remind them that if they are ever in a place where they don’t feel right, they should go to a parent and ask for help.

4. “Will the birthday cake have nuts in it? Will nuts be offered at the party?” or, “Does your child have a food allergy?”

According to Food Allergy Research & Education, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy – that’s about two kids in every classroom. With this in mind, the likelihood that an allergy sufferer attends your child’s birthday party is pretty darn good. Peanut is obviously the most prevalent allergy in children, though lots of other issues are out there – eggs, shellfish, gluten, dairy, soy… how can we do the right thing? Some kids know enough to ask the right questions. My son, for example, has been asking, “Are there nuts in this?” since he was two years old. He has a genetic allergy and knows to be vocal. Other kids might just trust that the food is safe. So it’s important for us parents to clear potential danger out of the way by asking about allergies ahead of time. This way the party host has a chance has full disclosure.

But even though the party host may not have an allergy kid, it’s also important for her to ask guests ahead of time. Because the last thing anyone wants to do is serve a strawberry cake with almond extract to a kid with a nut allergy and sit there helplessly while the child breaks out in hives and gasps for air. This is the world we live in now, and these are the precautions we need to take. We can no longer take the “I didn’t know better” approach. Because we do know better. Ask the questions. Protect the child. Protect yourself.

5. “Can you please not use your cell phone or go in my bedroom while babysitting?”  

We may be comfortable assuming that our babysitters know better than to text, play “Words with Friends” and chit-chat on their iPhones while caring for our children. But most likely, this is not the case. Very rarely do teens log out. But it is absolutely acceptable to ask them to turn off electronics while watching our kids. We are paying them to give their full attention to our children, after all. And if there is an emergency, they can use the house phone.

We may also assume that sitters respect our privacy when they’re in the house. But I’ve been shocked to hear many adult friends confess that they used to rifle through bedside goodie drawers and personal spaces of parents for whom they sat as teens. If it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss casually, write down a short list of expectations for the sitter like this:

  • chicken soup for dinner
  • PG movies only
  • no texting or phone calls while kids are awake
  • be sure toys are put away and kitchen is clean
  • kids in bed by 9pm
  • my bedroom is completely off limits
  • we’ll be home by 11 but call for any problems

By taking time to create clear boundaries, we are letting others know that we value ourselves and our families. This is a good thing. And really, when we share our expectations we are helping everyone by avoiding uncomfortable situations. It’s okay to speak up. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to advocate for our kids’ safety. Safety is the last thing on their minds so it needs to be the first thing on ours.

How One Doctor Is Giving A Voice to Victims of Rape

Bulbul Bahuguna, M.D., is a Chicago-based psychiatrist and author who has specialized in helping victims of sexual abuse for the past 22 years.

She is giving a voice to the many silent victims of sexual abuse through her sobering book, The Ghosts That Come Between Us. Her main character, Nargis, narrates on the complexities of sexual abuse from a firsthand perspective, giving the reader a rare inside look at the heart of a victim.

In the interview below, Bulbul explains the multifaceted nature of sexual abuse and the importance of female empowerment in healing.

MM: Bulbul, can you talk about the psychological aspects related to recovering from sexual abuse? Does it differ depending on the type of abuse, such as incest versus molest by a stranger or rape?

BB: Sexual abuse can involve molestation or rape, either by a stranger or by a family member. While each patient is different and has her own unique story of abuse and victimization, there are several common themes in her clinical presentation.

Symptoms vary depending on the age of the victim at the time of the sexual assault, age of abuser, relationship with perpetrator, concomitant verbal, physical, and emotional abuse or threats, family constellation and dynamics, level of education, intensity, extent, frequency, and duration of the abuse, and finally, access to a support system or mental health professionals.

Usually, the perpetrator is not a stranger and is well-known to the victim.

MM: As a practicing therapist for 22 years, what are some ways society can begin to de-stigmatize sexual abuse?

BB: Sexual abuse often happens in the secrecy of the home and goes unreported.
It is critical to enhance the awareness of abuse issues, which I hope to accomplish through my novel, The Ghosts That Come Between Us.

The role of social media in furthering the awareness of child and women abuse issues is crucial, and the platforms now available can deliver this awareness at unprecedented speed.

The key is to have such platforms accessible across all socioeconomic strata of society. Fighting the war against child abuse through film, television, and radio is equally critical, as is easy access to mental health in schools and communities.

MM: How do you think this greater awareness could assist victims and societies in the healing process?

BB: People have been coming forth and telling their stories of abuse. This helps other victims have the courage to come forward and talk about their own abuse issues, understand and learn new coping tools to deal with these very difficult issues in their own lives, and take solace in the thought that they are not alone.

All these efforts help reduce the stigma associated with sexual abuse, galvanize people resources, and direct people to getting the right kind of help and attention they deserve.

MM: How did your work as a psychiatrist influence your novel, The Ghosts that Come Between Us, and its main character, Nargis?

BB: I have been a psychiatrist for over 22 years, and have treated scores of patients with abuse issues. I have seen people struggle with family dysfunction and sexual victimization; i.e., having to cope with blame, guilt and shame, as well as secrecy, stigma and self-flagellation, feeling stuck and having difficulty in moving on.

Listening to these heart-wrenching stories helped me to create a fictional character, Nargis, who is molested by her father. I was able to step into the shoes of the protagonist, which enabled me to tell as authentic story as is possible with multiple points of view reflected in a layered manner.

Holding her hand, I walked with Nargis through the same streets, sights and scenes that she did – through agony, hate, and love – through fear, heartache, and longing. Through self-talk Nargis says it all: the most brutally honest thoughts and the most floridly distorted ones as well. Sometimes she expresses feelings that other victims may have also felt, but are afraid to acknowledge.

MM: What are the most effective methods a woman can employ to deal with and overcome childhood trauma, such as sexual molestation?

BB: Empowering a woman is the first step on the path to recovery.

First of all, it is important to recognize that it takes a lot of courage for a victim to talk about sexual abuse. She feels excessive guilt and shame because of her body being sexually aroused.

Often times, the victim has a lot of difficulty with trusting others and does not believe that other people can help. She is afraid that most people will either not believe her, like her family, most likely, did not believe her. Or that most other people will blame her for what happened, like her family probably also did.

It is important for her to understand what happened: that the victim was not the instigator of the crime.

MM: What is the first step to preventing sexual abuse as a society?

BB: Society can prevent the tragedy of sexual abuse through education, education and education, of both men and women.

As a National Trustee of the American India Foundation, a leading charity involved in accelerating social change in India, we work with local NGOs in India to empower women through education and livelihood to help families. This promotes self-esteem and self-reliance in women.

MM: Do you feel the stigma of abuse is diminishing?

BB: People across the globe are working toward a society that does not discriminate based on gender. The stigma of sexual abuse is slowly diminishing, and there is a greater willingness not only to get help but also to help the victims and survivors.

The recent national outcry in India against the gang rape of Braveheart speaks to this societal change, and it is a tribute to the Indian media that it did not disclose her name. Millions of men and women came out on the streets demanding that rape cases not languish in court for 10 years, but be put on a fast track for justice.

But there is a lot of work ahead. Silence only enables the crime.


Photo credit: Bulbul Bahuguna

photo by: Katie Tegtmeyer

Rape Culture: Bay Area Teens Publish Exposé and End Up on NPR

1-art-verde-rape-culture-coverRape is a heavy topic for teenagers to take on in a school magazine or newspaper. Some might even say it’s too advanced or inappropriate in such a setting. The reality, though, is that 80% of rape victims are under the age of 30; and 44% are under 18. So perhaps the problem is that teenagers aren’t discussing this critical issue enough.

In the latest edition of Palo Alto High School’s Verde Magazine, several brave young journalists confronted rape culture head on, focusing specifically on two recent cases from their own school community. The featured piece, “You can’t tell me I wasn’t raped” by Lisie Sabbag, discusses at length the ways in which victims are often blamed for their attacks (and called names like “attention whore,” “liar,” and “slut.”) According to an online survey cited in the article, more than 25% of students questioned agreed that a woman who is raped while drunk is responsible for her assault. These numbers are deeply troubling. By silencing victims, protecting perpetrators, and ascribing to a “boys will be boys” ideology, Sabbag argues, both boys and girls – and society at large – perpetuate a culture of rape.

The nature of high school journalism, even in the largest of schools (Paly hovers around 1,800 students), is that the community is small. Those affected by a certain piece of news in New York City are bound to be dispersed and often anonymous. In a high school setting, almost everyone is affected in some way, and anonymity is not always guaranteed. Sabbag took measures to ensure the two girls included in the article remained anonymous, along with their attackers – also members of the community. But it is a delicate topic in the hands of an unpredictable audience, and too many victims have further suffered from the coverage of their attacks.

But as the students discussed this morning on NPR’s “Forum,” they believe it is essential to create public discourse around sexual assault and rape culture. We applaud these young journalists for confronting the issue courageously and tactfully, and hopefully their work will inspire broader discussion about rape in our culture.


Photo credit:  Paly’s Verde Magazine Staff

How NY Teens Use Yoga to Overcome Domestic Violence

One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Men make up roughly 15% of domestic violence victims. And about 75% of Americans personally know someone who is or has been the victim of such abuse.

But statistics don’t paint an accurate picture. For many who read this article, domestic violence is a current reality, a past traumatic experience, or witnessed through a friend trapped in a toxic relationship. What you might not know is how young the victims of domestic violence can be. These patterns can begin as early as middle school and high school, in the some of the first relationships of a person’s life. Today’s episode of URBAN YOGIS on The Chopra Well features New York teenagers who have been or are at risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. The students are participants in RAPP (the Relationship Abuse Prevention Program) which falls under the Center Against Domestic Violence. RAPP educates teenagers about  relationship abuse and works to rehabilitate those who have already experienced the effects of violence. As it turns out, one of the techniques employed in this endeavor is yoga.

Teenagers in the RAPP program learn the many faces domestic violence can assume – from jealousy and possessiveness to full-on physical abuse. They also develop the vocabulary to discuss these issues, and the confidence and self-esteem to demand respect in their relationships. As a way of fostering physical and emotional strength, interested students receive weekly yoga lessons from Ashtanga instructor Eddie Stern, which gives them the opportunity to develop stress reduction and self-soothing techniques. And after breathing through difficult sequences and allowing themselves to rest in the final moments in Savasana pose, they can return to their iPods and friends and teenage lives with a growing sense of their own strength and power to overcome.

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Sexual Abuse in the catholic church

I watched the film ‘Deliver us from Evil’ last night about sexual abuse in the catholic church in America. It was horrifying and very very sad. My heart goes out to all the people effected.

I was shocked to hear that Oliver O’Grady (the priest who sexually abused children over a period of many years) was deported to Ireland and is now ‘roaming free’ on the streets of Ireland. He is not in prison for his crimes. Why? The film showed a shot of him in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, standing beside children. He could abuse again and the church doesn’t care nor do the authorities it seems. This is criminal and should be stopped. Children have to be protected from known and convicted paedophiles.

The cover ups, deception and the lies are just incredible. I have no words to express my outrage that this happened and continues to happen and most likely will happen because the catholic church is more concerned with image, hypocrisy and repression than anything else. Not enough is being done. That is an understatement.

There have been so many cases of sexual abuse in Ireland too. When the church ‘came to know’ about it, they just moved the priest to another parish where the priest got the opportunity to abuse again. The catholic church is very good at deceiving people and covering up horrific ‘mistakes’. Brendan Smyth, another priest who abused many children over a period of 40 years, pled guilty to 17 counts. Who knows how many he actually abused during that 40 years. Another case was when the Dublin archdiocese paid 35,000 Euro to Andrew Madden, an altar boy who had been abused, to keep him quiet about three years of sexual abuse by the "Rev" Ivan Payne.

On and on and on, far too many lovely innocent children who were not protected. Too many priests who were and are not convicted and put out of harm’s way. This is shameful.

What I cannot comprehend is the ridiculous notion that many people seem to hold; that if priests were allowed to marry, none of this would happen. In other words, sexual frustration ‘makes’ priests either gay or paedophiles. This thinking is very dangerous but is so typical of the catholic church and its sickness. How they can equate a gay priest with a paedophile priest is beyond me. Being gay does not make you want to go out and sexually abuse small children.

What really saddens me is that the catholic church is supposedly acting in the name of God. What a cruel joke. All this has nothing to do with God, it has nothing to do with Love and it has nothing to do with protecting beautiful innocent children who are tomorrow’s future.


Standing Up For Change!

Tomorrow morning, Thursday May 28th, I travel to Oregon’s Capitol in Salem, to testify in support of House Bill 2827. This bill will lengthen the Statute of Limitations for those who have suffered sexual abuse. It is being met with much opposition from the Catholic church, the Mormon church and a few Senators who are siding with crooked individuals in order to protect the funds of their institutions.

 What about our children? That question will be my main focus. Sexual abuse needs to be prevented and this Bill is a small but a grand step. I am asking for your support: a prayer, love, a good thought. This will be my testimony tomorrow morning at 8 am: 

“Good morning. My name is Lauren Simon. I am a mother of two, stepmother of four. I am an author, therapist (who meets with sexually abused adults), speaker and screenwriter. I am also a survivor of sexual abuse who was not honored by the system because of the statute of limitations.  

I am not here as a member of any organization or institution. I am here as a mother, wife, and therapist. I am someone who personifies the families who are yet to deal with such a tragedy, the very families who will be helped by passing this bill.  

If you want to know how a woman at 43 years of age becomes suddenly conscious of the dark truth of her sexual abuse, then I am your expert. Three years ago, my daughter came forward about her own abuse at the hands of my step father. In that instant, I was gutted, and the truth of my own abuse spilled out onto the floor in front of me.

For years, I believed my parents were perfect and loving. It is only in the last few years that certain triggers have made me remember that I went to my mother to stop my abuse and she did nothing. My brain had created a perfect family so I could survive and continue to endure the abuse.

Moments of crisis throughout my life triggered awareness of my past. I always knew it was back there somewhere, but it wasn’t present in my daily conscious life. I do know, for myself, as well as through those I work with in my sexual abuse support group, that usually someone in their twenties or thirties doesn’t have a stable enough base to deal consciously with the horrid betrayal and truth of sexual abuse. That usually doesn’t happen until we hit our forties or even fifties.

One thing I know for sure personally, and through the survivors I work with, is that three years is not enough after a crisis triggers awareness to honor a survivor and assist with healing.

And….. there is one other thing that I know for absolute sure: God wants us to heal. This means we all have the responsibility to see that House Bill 2827 is not only voted for but that it is passed without amendments. This isn’t a huge step, but it is an improvement in the legal system that can make grand leaps in the lives of those who have been harmed by sexual abuse.”


An Alien Encounter Revisited, A New Family Emerges

I am here to talk about a new kind of family to be honored and it isn’t always your birth family. You need to, if need be, give yourself permission to feel that. I am thinking of the Chopra family now who has reached out into the world and shared their stable base with us all. Intent.com certainly has become a new family to me and many others.

 And yet, prior to that, I have had to release most of my birth family because they were not in a space to honor the dark truth of our past in order to enter into the light. When I began to speak it, my tribe, like a bunch of crabs in a basket, reached for me as I began to crawl out, trying to pull me back down. I wouldn’t have it, even if it meant they would be left behind.

 “Even though I wasn’t afraid of the energy, I began clapping my hands in front of and behind me, imagining a shield that no one or no presence could penetrate. The alien was the only one who continued to violate that space.

I asked God whom the presence was, knowing in some way, in some amount of time, he would show me.

One night, as I began drifting off to sleep, I saw a beautiful angel in my mind’s eye and realized I was indeed surrounded and protected.

I fell asleep with a sense of peace and knowing.”

 Problem was, as a nine year old, I wasn’t aware that everything in the universe requires balance. When one experiences the beauty of light and begins to constantly pull it in, one must be aware of the presence of darkness.  I was about to learn….

One evening, I went to bed upset. I was angry after a day of having my stepfather pat my bottom and just laugh at my strong “NO!”   I was pissed and was trying to fall asleep, with my heart beating rapidly and anger spewing from my pores.       

Suddenly, I became terrified and afraid to open my eyes.

I felt the alien standing by my bed. He felt not only angry, but evil too.

I Prayed for courage and opened my eyes…….BUT no one was there.

My heart pounded and I hid under my covers, saying the Lord‘s Prayer.  It felt like a dark, dense cloud was hanging above me.  I made my shield and felt like fighting, but I continued to pray for heaven to help me. In my imagination, I saw my bed being surrounded by a loving, white cloud.  Suddenly, I felt guided to breathe deep, to let go of the anger, and feel love.

My breathing began to slow down and, eventually, I left the physical world and drifted off into a deep sleep.

Even though I couldn’t see it with my physical eyes, there HAD been something dark there. I guess it made sense.  If there are good and bad people in the world, there must be different levels on the other side too.

As an adult, I realize now that that my anger and hate helped me first attract the dark energy and presence and, after that, it helped me calm down, breathe, and think of something loving, sending the dark presence away.

 Even at a young age, that experience taught me that the most powerful form of protection is love combined with prayer.  So, I prayed and asked that the alien stop coming into my stepfather’s body and into my room at night.

The prayer didn’t seem to be working, because the angels couldn’t stop the visits.    

I would awaken on top of my stepfather’s sweaty body with my underpants around my ankles and something very familiar between my legs.

He was usually tickling my back and bottom. I just pretended to be asleep, all wrapped up in my extensive metal headgear (for my teeth), too embarrassed and scared to say no or move.

I felt awkward, embarrassed, ugly, and unworthy of respect. A plaything, nothing more. But in my dreams (and subconscious), I fought, yelled, and chased him off. A brave, beautiful heroine.

My nine-year old mind concluded that if I weren’t so ugly, I would be loved.

I also believed that if I could become perfect and beautiful, I would finally be safe.

In the meantime, things went on as usual.

Every morning, the space ship would depart and take the alien home to his planet where he belonged. My stepfather would return to his loving and charming self and would do the things I imagined most normal stepfathers who weren’t being possessed by aliens would do.

The plan that the alien had to hijack my brilliant life pissed me off.  I wanted to rise above it all. I surmised from my earlier experience that if I loved my stepfather enough, the alien wouldn’t be able to get back into his body. The alien would “Poof” be gone, just like the black presence had been sent away.

I tried my hardest to love him with intensity, but to no avail. The alien continued to return for his visits…..until I had the strength to escape.

 As with most children who are harmed by someone they love, trust or know well, life becomes a trial of survival until they feel safe enough to speak their truth and face what they must. I have many adult friends who are just now beginning to speak their truth to me, to their partners, and perhaps to a few trusted friends, However, they are absolutely not ready to confront the perpetrator or the birth family that surrounds the abuse. This is the institution that keeps brilliance stuffed deep down into the darkest of trenches.

 In my friends healing hearts, they know that to speak up is to go against the tribe and that there will be hell to pay and a fight to be had. Most of us innately want to protect ourselves from discomfort and if there has been abuse in your past, you figure you have had your fare share, and rightly so.  I am here to tell you that the truth is always honored when it is brought to light. I am here to tell you that sometimes we can create a new family that is unlike anything you have ever experienced and exactly what you deserve.

 I understand that I did this only when my daughter was harmed and that I might not have done this simply for myself, because I could handle taking care of them who didn’t honor me. So, I don’t want to judge my adult friends who aren’t honoring themselves by speaking their truth and continuing to honor their birth families so that they feel safe.

 Because of my daughter, my entire being knows there is a much more honoring environment out there. We all deserve the love of a safe and honoring family to call our own. This I know for sure. I also know that this new world family might sometimes look different to the rest of the world, and that is ok with me.



An Alien Encounter, A Look at Sexual Abuse

I am in my therapist’s office, after finding out about my daughter’s sexual abuse, and I am slowly recalling the morning after the first time I was sexually violated by my stepfather…..

I saw myself as a young child, sewing a cloak of many new colors, a cloak of artificial self-esteem and confidence. This new cloak would carry me through most of my adult life. This cloak was a shield protecting me from who I became overnight:

Unworthy, unloved, invisible, ugly, and useless.

That memory opened the flood gate and instantly I was back lying in bed at nine years old wanting to make some sense of the strange encounter. I tried to understand who I was now and how I was supposed to act. At the hands and whims of my stepfather, I had been whisked into a new identity and I was on the lam.

     Alone at nine years of age.                                          

After all, there was enough pressure in the fourth grade. I was already having trouble memorizing my times tables and was getting in trouble for it at home.

I lay there after being my stepfather’s sexual release and looked out my bedroom window. I watched him clean the pool just like any other normal day.

He looked happy, content and even pleased with himself.

My stepfather is Native American. My mother is Caucasian and grew up in a wealthy prominent family in Oregon. My mother left my natural father to sneak off and marry my stepfather. My grandparents were furious and disapproved of the marriage. They loved my natural father and couldn’t understand the abrupt change in my mother’s heart.

I remember vividly when my mother took me to my stepfather’s shack when I was just over two.

He had no electricity. He offered me a glazed donut. There was a couch with a blanket on the back. My mother was acting weird. Looking back, I think it was giddiness. I didn’t like it.

When we left, she closed the door and, in a little girl’s voice, she confided in her toddler that she was going to marry this new man.

I felt like my world had ended. The ironic thing is that I told this memory often to my parents growing up and they were shocked that the memory of such a young child could hold such detailed information. I recalled every detail of his white shack on the corner, both rooms, and the small, almost non-existent kitchen.

They always confirmed with astonishment what I described. We also laughed when I told them that I thought my world had ended, because then we were all busy being a happy, fake family.

As I continued to try and make sense of the horribly shameful and invasive encounter, I realized what was going on. It wasn’t him.  How could it have been? Aren’t parents supposed to protect you and keep you safe no matter what?

I had a new identity and so did he.  It was obvious. A creepy sex-starved alien must have come into his body at night and corrupted his actions. Case solved. The alien obviously thought my life was worth breaking, and that my dreams were worth stepping on. Sick, creepy, alien jerk! My stepfather just didn’t know someone was overtaking his body, that‘s all.

That realization was enough to get me out of bed, dressed, and into the kitchen to grab some breakfast before going to school.

My sister was already at the bar, eating cereal.  As soon as I joined her, my stepfather came in whistling, and asked us how we slept last night.  That was proof there was an alien in our presence.

Up until I could figure out a plan of how to expose the alien, I tried not to be around my stepfather, especially in the evenings.

I went to school and attempted to learn and study as planned, all the while keeping my new identity a secret. I stayed away from friends for a while, not knowing how to act. I was never sure at what point the sex-starved alien would overtake his body and have his way with mine.

Still, the alien found ways to be around me and spy on me.

One evening after a shower, I joined my family in the living room to watch Sonny and Cher. (That show always made me happy. I loved Cher’s energy.)

Instead of having a warm, cozy evening as I intended, the alien laughed in front of everyone and mocked me, doing a dance like the private one I had just done alone in the shower.

Horrified, I realized that he must have been watching me dance nude in the shower.

I thought it had been a private moment of expression, gesturing, and flicking a washrag around. Suddenly, it was shattered, stolen, and turned sick and embarrassing because of his sexual urges.

I gathered that my mother must have walked in on him so he was trying to make light of it, or I am sure he wouldn’t have said anything and continued his peeping.

I felt violated and overpowered by the cunning alien once again.

I went to my room and closed my door, hoping to shut out the new world I was living in.

I began praying more than ever.

It was around that time that I began sensing a presence around my bed when I slept.  Sometimes it was so present and strong that I was sure that if I opened my eyes, I would see someone standing there. A few times I even peeked, but I never saw anyone there.

Even though I wasn’t afraid of the energy, I began clapping my hands in front of and behind me, imagining a shield that no one or no presence could penetrate. The alien was the only one who continued to violate that space.

I asked God whom the presence was, knowing in some way, in some amount of time, he would show me.

One night, as I began drifting off to sleep, I saw a beautiful angel in my mind’s eye and realized I was indeed surrounded and protected.

I fell asleep with a sense of peace and knowing……

 If you or someone you love has been sexually abused, please join me at www.spiritoflivingwell.com with an all new free tele- support group beginning in June. A private first call, just you and me, is available to monitor and respect your comfort level prior to your first small tele-gathering. Be prepared to be inspired, touched and uplifted by new safe friends on the call.








Night Night, Sleep Tight: A Look at Sexual Abuse….

In every story worth telling, there is a colorful beginning.

This one begins with me…

When my stepfather started caressing me, and lightly tickling my arms, legs, and back, it felt nice.

I felt loved.

I was often watching television when he would cuddle with me on the sofa.  My mother would scratch my back once in a while too. Problem was my mother’s caressing never lasted long.

When my stepfather caressed me, it often lasted a long, long time.

Until everyone else went to bed. Until I fell into a deep, sound sleep.

The first time he began to include and caress my breasts, it caused me to awaken but it also felt somewhat natural.

When it escalated and he first began to take down my underpants, I would awaken startled.

I felt sick, sad, and confused. I pretended to remain asleep out of embarrassment and shame.  My body naturally responded to the caressing so, even though I felt sick, some of it felt good. My body was being stimulated. That made me even more disgusted with myself.

Hence began a long, destructive journey of self-hate, ridicule and blame.

As with all abuse, it escalated over time. The disgust of having a grown man’s organ shoved between my legs when I was a young child was too disorienting and debilitating to put into words.

Was there penetration?  No, not with me.  I guess in his mind that made it OK. Sadly, in some minds, it does not constitute the same act as rape, but it is.

I believe that if a child is fondled, stimulated against their will, or forced to touch, look at, and have a grown man’s penis thrust between their legs, it is rape and should be treated as such.  For an adult to initiate sexual talk and innuendos with a small child, or force penetration with a finger, object or penis, all constitute the same thing. Rape against ones soul, life and future.

My stepfather is a pedophile.

Pedophilia is sexual attraction of an adult to prepubescent children. It is the act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child. The pedophile has a psychosexual disorder that manifests in a sexual preference for a certain age and sex of prepubescent children.

Pedophiles are almost always males.

*Women and children account for over 90% of sexual abuse victims.

*The majority of child victimizers in state prison knew the victim before the crime.

*1/3 had committed their crime against their own child.

*1/2 had a relationship with the victim as a friend, acquaintance, or relative.

* 3/4’s of the violent victimizations took place in the victim’s or the offender’s home.

**3 in 4 child victims of violence were female.

~~~BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991~~

Sexually abused children are more often of the opposite sex (about twice as often) and are typically 13 years of age or younger. They may be within or outside the pedophile’s family.

The saddest fact of all to me is that most male and female children are sexually abused by someone they love, trust or know well:

Sexual fantasies, looking, or fondling are more common than genital contact, although abuse escalates as time goes on. Just like a drug addict or alcoholic, more intense sexual activity is needed to create the same high.

Many children who are not helped and forced to interact with their abuser develop a repressed memory in order to survive and make sense of their lives. They have a strong need to feel safe and their mind assists them by repressing the memory until they can handle it. Small triggers may occur along the way allowing snippets to come forward.

 Because my mother said she didn’t believe me…. and did nothing to help me… but extol my step father’s virtues, my mind protected me and I believed I had the two most wonderful loving parents in the world.

Horrifically, I personally discovered my dark truth on the day I discovered my daughters. My mind had protected me and allowed my daughter to be harmed.
I want you to know my daughter is doing beautifully because I rallied the troops and fought for her honor. Together we placed him in jail even though my mother paid big bucks for the best defense attorney in town to keep him out of jail and well fed at home.

 I want you to know I too, am doing really well, even though my mother told many family members and friends that we were lying and I was abandoned from some of their love and support. I want you to know that my daughter is living her dream and dancing and that I am now living mine.

 I want you to know that it is never too late to live your dream. As a young child I was going to be an actress and then my step father harmed me and all of my self esteem, creativity and confidence seeped out of me like a pin pricked balloon.

Today, I am working on a feature film project that will film here in Portland. I am having a blast and loving my life!

My husband and I want to assist you in living your dream and doing what you love! Coming soon to www.spiritoflivingwell.com will be an inspirational and powerful tele-seminar to catapult you into your dreams!

No matter what you have been through the time is here for you now to jump into your dreams. You can do this, you can! Trust me, I know.

 (If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused or has a loved one that has been, please join my free national sexual abuse tele-seminar at www.spiritoflivingwell.com)


Unlocking The Diary, Letting the Light Pour In

I am about to invite you into my life in a way I have never done before. I am unlocking my diary and posting excerpts every few days in succession.

 Warning: This post is direct as it came from my actual diary…. it is even often extremely challenging for me to re-read. I share it because my daughter, son and I, are now living our dream life. We are now safe and loved forever and that is my greatest wish for you.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.


Have you ever felt raw, vulnerable, unprotected, lonely, frightened and full of rage?

Have you ever had to endure a reality so horrible that just getting out of bed seemed too large of a task?

A few years ago, like most single, working parents, it was challenging enough just to get through the day, and place a hot dinner on the table at the end of it.

Then, at 4:20 pm on September 21, 2005, my firstborn child, my beautiful 12-year-old Brenna, released herself from the shackles of her hidden pain and told me her story of sexual abuse at the hands of my stepfather.   

The truth of the assault upon my daughter cracked me open. My guts, along with my past, spilled out all over the floor right in front of me.

In that moment of gutting, I awakened to the deeply repressed truth of my own sexual abuse at the hands of the same man.

Within that horrid black moment, a small stream of truth and light began to filter in. Brenna, my son Carter, and I… began walking our individual paths to self-empowerment, side by side…. by side.  

This story, our story, is a true story about finding heaven in the deepest and darkest of places.

It is a story about demanding your power back.

It is a story of awareness shared to honor the dreams of our children and the child within all of us.

It is birthed to celebrate the dreams of my daughter in a world that has no choice but to change.

Up until that fateful day in 2005, my mother and stepfather had been a huge source of support for us in every way. I was blessed with their generosity of time, shared dinners and even with their financial gifts, which as a single mother, I was beyond grateful for.

Now, I could no longer hide from my own dark truth by simply focusing on saving my daughter. I needed to look at the past that came hurling out of my insides…in order to save myself as well.  No longer could I color my past happy, or numb it away in order to survive.

In reality, my repressed memory opened the door for my daughter to be harmed. I was gutted and I questioned if I could survive.

Everything I had made up and believed to be true, the me that I had been presenting to the world, turned out to be fake.

I am sharing our story because today, less than four years later, my children and I are thriving because we faced the truth and stench of what was laid out before us.

We didn’t hide from our dark secret, as my mother would soon urge us to do.

We found the courage to face family members that blamed us for protecting the integrity of our souls and then abandoned us because it was easier to do that than face the truth that we had a pedophile in our family.

Instead of a hug, we were pushed away in disgrace.

Life became much harder for quite a while because of that abandonment.

But it never got as bad as my fears led me to believe it would. EVER.  
We all have our “stories“ that are chock full of human pain. We also have the power to overcome these stories and be better because of them.

This is not a journey for the faint-hearted, but I promise you that it is worth every step. Join me?

 Next post: Night, Night, Sleep tight

 Join me for a free national sexual abuse tele-seminar at www.spiritoflivingwell.com


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