'That was me when I was a kid'
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- The Effects of a False Allegation of Child Sexual Abuse on an Intact Middle Class Family
- Irish bishop in child sex abuse row steps aside
- Abuse survivors attack 'whitewash'
- Two in three serious child abuse victims 'known to authorities'
- Children's Testimony More Reliable than Physical Exams
The challenge is finding the courage to speak about the unspeakable. But raising one's voice against the scourge of child abuse is key to healing and to prevention, according to those in a position to know.
When Ashland resident Randy Ellison attended the 2009 Abuse Awareness rally in Medford's Vogel Plaza, his plan was to speak out about how he'd suffered at the hands of a trusted preacher. But as he watched the crowd grow and listened to the survivors' stories being read aloud by local community leaders, Ellison's fears about going public got the better of him that day.
"My palms were sweating," Ellison said. "And I realized there was no way I was going to get up and speak at that rally."
So Ellison walked up to the emcee, Dee Anne Everson, director of United Way of Jackson County, handed her a poem he'd written, then bolted for his car.
"I handed it to her. And I exited fast," Ellison said.
Later that day, Everson read his poem and was moved by the painful eloquence it expressed. A few months later, she received a call from Ellison and a request for a face-to-face meeting, she said.
Ellison was sexually abused by a charismatic youth minister, he said. For decades, Ellison had remained silent about the devastation wrought by the trusted leader in his community — a 40-year-old married man with children of his own.
Determined to speak his truth — and with the help of a good therapist — Ellison, now 60, found his public voice, and he uses it to help former and current victims of child sexual abuse within his community and across the state.
Ellison told his story publicly for the first time when he testified before the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee in 2010. His personal story was featured in the Mail Tribune that year. Ellison also spoke before the Jackson County commissioners. And he was the last speaker at the hourlong Child Abuse Network rally in April last year.
"Hiding from it doesn't do any good," Ellison said Monday. "Start the conversation. Victims begin to heal, and public (education and awareness) help limit future occurrences of abuse."
To do otherwise, Ellison said, is to participate in the emotional, physical and spiritual sacrifice of that child.
"It is as if you drained the blood of a child and replaced it with fear, dread, misery and loneliness, " Ellison said at the 2010 rally.
Ellison's words caused some listeners to catch their breath and others to wipe away tears. After the rally, men and women asked to shake his hand or offer a hug as they thanked him for coming forward on behalf of abused children.
Everson said speaking about child abuse is one of the hardest things she's had to do.
"But every time I do (speak), I invariably get a call from someone saying, 'What you were taking about, that was me when I was a kid,' " Everson said.
There were 650 reported and founded cases of child abuse in Jackson County in 2010. That is why people continue coming to Vogel Plaza, listening to the stories of the survivors, and creating change for our community's children, Ellison and Everson said.
"When we stand in Vogel Plaza, we are creating a place where people can talk, share and change," Everson said.
Now board president of Oregon Association of Adult Sexual and Incest Survivors, Ellison continues to testify in Salem, advocating for tougher laws against child sex trafficking and other legislative changes, working to provide new tools for law enforcement, Ellison said.
Ellison, along with another child sexual abuse victim, was also asked to speak before a group of Jesuit priests. The goal was to help them develop an appropriate response to victims, and to protect children, he said.
"To be better stewards in their faith and in protecting kids," Ellison said.
On Wednesday, Ellison will be the emcee at a noontime rally in Vogel Plaza at Central Avenue and Main Street, sponsored by the Jackson County Child Abuse Network.
Statistics show that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday, said Marlene Mish, director of the Children's Advocacy Center. It is estimated that at least 39 million Americans are survivors of child sexual abuse. Using that number, one can estimate that more than 25,000 residents of Jackson County were or are victims of child sexual abuse, she said.
Experts say it will take two to three generations of sustained public effort before we can eradicate child abuse, Ellison said.
"That's a long time and a lot of pain. So let's get going on it," Ellison said.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail email@example.com.
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Courage, victims, and healing
For well over 10 years I have been trying to let members of the adoption community know about a sub-group of adoptees not ever given any sort of attention.
The abused adoptee is not your typical victim of child abuse, and yet there are sooooooooooooooooooooo many of us.
The thing is, it's not safe to speak-out.
We are blasted, we are labeled, we are even reminded how "lucky" we are/were because even if we were abused in horrific ways we will be told by other victims of child abuse, "at least you didn't know for sure you were hated by your own mother."
Is that supposed to be comforting or helpful? I'm not sure.
I just know a lot of sympathy and thanks goes toward those who speak-up and out against child abusers, because in some small way, each time a person brings a troubling issue to light, new attempts can be made to create a larger listening audience, which brings more public awareness, which leads to better prevention programs.
The information collected on PPL has yet to make major network news, even though journalists around the world contact us ALL the time. [Journalists seem to prefer the illegal adoption stories, not the abused adoptee stories.] Our information has even been used by JCICS, not that many would know that small little detail...because such details don't get announced and advertised, because, well, let's face it, the adoption-option sells to the general public. The adoption-options saves children from poor care and child abuse, doesn't it? It spares so many from the horrors that go with negligent parents, sicko pedophiles, and your general psycho lunatic who thinks the way to discipline a child is by throwing that child into a dog cage, (or cold basement, or garage), wearing nothing but a chain and a dog collar.
Will it really take two to three generations of sustained public effort before child abuse in adoptive homes can be eradicated?
I gotta be honest, such a thought... knowing what abused adoptees have to go through... I have never felt so depressed in my entire life as I am right now. (Just think, sustained public effort hasn't even started yet!)
How does a victim of adopted family child abuse NOT get depressed?
Encourage Your Child To TELL!
I've been around for a while... and I've wanted to post the following for a long time.
WHY DID YOU NOT TELL??? WHY IS THAT PERPETRATOR NOT IN PRISON???
As a very young child, before the age of 5, I told. It hit like a brick in the face, and I paid dearly for the rest of my mother's life. Nothing was ever the same. I was to blame.
And when my adopted daughter FINALLY told what had been going on for years, I didn't think twice, I went to her, and then we called the police. She was 15 years old.
Somehow, when a very young child tells, it just comes out, without any embellishments or lies. But the 15 year old was angry! And in her innocence, she wanted to make everyone else suffer, too. She hit the mark dead center, and we all suffered horrendously.
After 5 years, the perpetrator is just now realizing that I put him in prison. Not my daughter, but me... I don't regret a thing. I hope he does.
I have my doubts that child sexual abuse (especially of adoptees) will be gone in a few years. Humans are born sexual beings, and where the most powerful emotion in the human is, and always will be sex, the problem will exist.
I believe a proper beginning to an end is to demand that parents fully instill in their children the right to tell. It should be taught to very young children; they should feel the safety of reporting ANYTHING that makes them uncomfortable, with praise and reward being liberally given ALWAYS.
It's like the elephant in the room; everyone knows it's there; and everyone knows children do not feel comfortable telling about sexual abuse. So you come back at me with the fact that an adopted child is so intimidated by the adoptive family members that they can not tell; and when reaching adulthood they possibly do tell, and receive rebuffing as their reward... what then?
Maybe here is where adoption goes MORE wrong, by allowing babies to be adopted; humans who do not have verbal skills. How many adoptions would there be if it was a mandatory law that no child can be adopted before they fully understand the language of the adoptive family, and are fully trained and programed to tell of abuse? Many PAP's would bow out quickly. I know my suggestions are almost un-doable; yet, I see them as more than a band-aid.
Hasn't adoption come to a point where drastic measures are needed?
When will people stop dancing around the elephant?
Not that many Aparents want to learn their belief-system is wrong.
It is much easier to shoot (and banish) the messenger, (and let others think that adopted child has "problems" -- related to birth parents and adoption-issues), than admit there is flaw in one or two (or more) members of the so-called "ideal"/"normal" (highly, uber-dysfunctional) family.
After all, more want to identify with the "good guy" ... the "Good AP" (the good parent), than the adult parent-figure who was told abuse was taking place, but did NOTHING to stop it OR help support the victim.
I'm not sure which is harder... being the victim, knowing the adult is going to protect his/her own before he/she protects the adopted child, or being the adult, stuck in the middle.
That's something both my Aparents have to ask themselves, as a couple, and as individuals.
The F'ed up World...
"I'm not sure which is harder... being the victim, knowing the adult is going to protect his/her own before he/she protects the adopted child, or being the adult, stuck in the middle.
IMO, it's the victim who has the harder position in sexual abuse. And without there being ground-rules, no one wins. The adoptee tells; the AP scrambles to put a lid on it before someone calls the cops. And even though I was the one who called the cops, it STILL didn't turn out right. How can any part of sexual abuse in the adoptive family EVER come out right? NO ONE lives "happily ever after..." no one.
So why adopt in the first place? Isn't ANYONE getting cold feet after the thousands of horror stories finally coming out of the closets of America? Or is it a crap-shoot? Place your money and take your chances? It scares the shit out of me to just read the stories; and I'm afraid this is just a small portion of what is actually happening in "Adoptionland."
This is why I feel adoption should not be allowed within families who already have biological children. I know for a fact that NOT all families stick up for their bio children, which places the adopted child even lower on the safety scale.
"....than admit there is a flaw in one or two (or more) members of the so-called "ideal"/"normal" (highly, uber-dysfunctional) family." EXACTLY! So why doesn't someone put a halt to the mess and start over? Because to demand every PAP and family to undergo mental evaluations, is adoption suicide. WHERE are all the concerned leaders of this country? Hiding in fear because you just about can't find ONE family in America that is not touched by adoption in some way.
But back to the TELL question. How many here, who were abused/neglected in the adoptive home, would do it differently, had they known there are MANY like themselves? How many thought it was just their own family that abused/neglected? How many thought ALL homes in America abused/neglected their children? And how many saw the difference in how the bio children were/are treated and just kept it a secret, because they were treated as inferior?
I want to know ALL the reasons why ANY child would not tell...
Good questions to ask...
How many here, who were abused/neglected in the adoptive home, would do it differently, had they known there are MANY like themselves? Do what differently? Tell? I told when I thought it was safe to tell, although I tried many times earlier in my life -- the problem was, my Amother was too caught-up in her own drama to really care about what was being done to me. SHE needed to be seen as the savior and the ideal... how does the adopted daughter tell horrible story after horrible story after even worse horrible story to the woman who behaves like the wounded child?
How many thought it was just their own family that abused/neglected? I knew others had it as bad, if not much worse than me. I even knew another adoptee who had it as bad, if not worse than me -- but I didn't say anything. I was still a child, myself. No one believes the adopted child. We're manipulative liars who like attention, remember?
How many thought ALL homes in America abused/neglected their children? This made matters worse -- I knew there were some screwy people in the world, but nutty wacky people in a family did not/does not mean those people beat or sexually abused one another.
And how many saw the difference in how the bio children were/are treated and just kept it a secret, because they were treated as inferior? Oh PAHLEESE... the bios, no matter how bad, are always favored (spared and protected)... in ways they will never see or understand. The worst of the worst? The bio-children of the adults who were told they could not conceive, but still managed to get pregnant AFTER the adoption-plan. [Did you know there are some who adopt as a way to conceive?]
Rare is the mother or father who will put the first... the adopted...on equal ground as the miracle off-spring. [I haven't met many AP's like, but I'm sure there are some, which why I claim that number is rare.]
Even better.... the grandchildren of the adopted versus the bio-child.
Good grief... the preference becomes SO bloody obvious, then! [How does the adopted adult with baby compete with those siblings who have babies with "grandpa's eyes, and grandma's nose?"]
1. Do you have any memories of your AM being kind and understanding, or was she always unapproachable? If she was usually a self-centered bitch,
then how can all the friends and relatives stand by and watch while that woman brings an adopted baby into the household; wouldn't SOMEONE have second thoughts on giving a reference? Or maybe whole households are enablers and no one dares say a word? I was a very open listener, and still my daughter could not approach me; making me think it might be more important to zero in on everyone as a possible perp (young or old) in trying to protect a child. But who ever knows who that perpetrator is going to be? So it WOULD be best IMO to test the whole family before placing a child. I say, leave no stone unturned. How did your AM come off as the savior? Was this a ploy outside the home?
2. hmmm... I don't think I was smart enough to think my adopted children were liars. I thought they were almost perfect. In fact, one time when I was defending my daughter to a mother of a boy who had pushed my little daughter down (she has C.P.), she asked me if I thought my kids were perfect; which brought my quick response of, YES! as I walked away. In fact, when I realized how gullible I really was, it was too late. Not all AM's think their adopted children are liars who need attention. And when I found out mine were like every other child who lies at times, I was really hurt. I think there are more AM's out there like me, than like your AM. And we are just as dangerous as the ones who think all adopted children are manipulators... the AP's I knew when our children were young, were egotistical enough to believe that just by being in OUR homes, made them better children. And after these children have gotten older, yes, it is very obvious there were many abuses hidden within the homes. Maybe not sexual abuse, but problems that were dealt with harshly.
3. My daughter told me she thought what happened to her was the norm... she would watch other fathers with their little girls and wonder what he did to her.
4. And I can NEVER get an AP to tell me other than they love ALL their children the same... and I laugh up my sleeve because it is so obvious to me (AP with no bio children) that their bio children are treated very differently than the A/children. I've asked that question of many AP's and get the same answer each time. Another reason why I believe AFTER everyone in the PAP's home and extended family are psychologically tested, the decision should be FOR the family without bio children, and AGAINST the family with children, no matter how well they can pass a test.
5. LOL! The grandchildren; OH yes, it happened to me, too. My children are all adopted; and they were treated as inferior to the bio grandchildren in every instance: birthdays, Christmas, etc. The presents were the obvious: $300.00 gifts to the bio grandchildren and homemade scrap teddy bears for mine; a video from a group of videos while the bio kids got the whole set plus the DVD player. ...curled lip snicker...
Again....there is an element of self-preservation that takes place in dysfunctional relationships that most "normal" people do not see or recognize.
I can only use my own life as an example....
My Amother had a best-friend since childhood. This best-friend [I guess] knew all there was to know about my Amother's childhood and experience as a child with an abusive alcoholic father. This best friend also happened to come from a very well-established family, chock-full of doctors and VERY successful people.
Do the math...
What person wants to say "I made a mistake... I totally mis-read the person I thought I knew and loved."?
It's much easier to hate and vilify the adopted child, than the "chosen" love. It's much easier to live in denial, than live with the shit reality brings.
This way of living (living in denial) should NOT be the norm... but for survival-sake, it becomes the new-norm.
It's how we cope.