A few weeks ago, a friend stumbled across a picture of her 10-year-old son and his younger cousin that threw her for a loop.
While visiting a pirate museum with family, the two boys became intrigued with a statue of a scantily clad woman dressed like a female version of a pirate. His grandmother snapped a picture of the smiling boys, one on either side of the statue—each boy with his hand carefully placed on the woman’s nearly bare chest. My friend was horrified. “He’s only 10!” she cried. “Don’t they realize that’s wrong?” She glanced at me for my opinion. “Um… teachable moment?” I suggested. Read more
New York lawmakers last week closed their 2017 session in “legislative hell,” as one Senator called it, without resolving a number of important issues, including the Child Victims Act, which would reform New York’s antiquated child sex abuse statutes of limitations (SOLs). It would extend the civil and criminal SOLs, revive expired civil SOLs for one year, and eliminate the “notice of claim” requirement that has hobbled public school victims’ access to justice. Read more
Danielle was 14 when she met the man who would soon become her worst nightmare.
“I was adopted by a good Christian family,” she tells me during a recent interview. “I had a great relationship with my father. But when I hit puberty, I was molested and my mom didn’t help. So I ran away.”
Not long after, while waiting for the bus, a man approached her. “He offered me a place to stay, food, all the things I needed. He pumped me full of drugs, then threw me in a room with a bunch of guys and I was for sale.” The man she thought was her knight in shining armor was a human sex trafficker in disguise. Read more
In this era of a White House that seems impervious to the concept of accountability, you might well think this column will be about President Donald Trump. That is a tempting topic to be sure given the constitutional Framers’ baseline belief in the fallibility of humans and the tendency to abuse power in light of Trump’s uncontrollable urge to turn every moment into a moment of self-adulation. But this column is about a more absolute power exercised in a corrupt way.
Have you seen The Keepers on Netflix yet? If not, sit down and binge-watch all seven episodes, Read more
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” didn’t work for the military, and it doesn’t work for the deeply troubling issue of sexual assault either.
Our culture’s longstanding fear of asking and telling about sexual assault has contributed to an epidemic rate of child sexual abuse (1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005). As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I can attest to the deep shame surrounding this issue that keeps both survivors and everyone else silent.
We should consider an alternative approach Read more
The first time I told someone what was happening to me, I had no understanding that I was being sexually abused.
I wasn’t reporting a crime. In my mind, I was confessing a sin. I believed I was having an affair with a minister. It was nearly 10 years later that I even started to understand what really happened—that I was groomed by an experienced, accomplished master abuser—that I was raped.
It’s an interesting word, “rape.” Our culture seems to think it has decided what rape is and what rape isn’t. When the word “rape” is used, most people imagine Read more
For millions of children in the U.S., poverty, neglect or abuse is a reality of everyday life, though these struggles are often hidden from view.
Adult survivors often feel ashamed about and stigmatized for their childhood adversity. This makes it difficult to recognize that these events occur.
While it’s easier to turn away than to face these issues, we can no longer afford to do so. Stress, Read more
The latest sex abuse scandal in the headlines paints USA Gymnastics in as bad a light as you can imagine. Indeed, it is so bad the successful president of the organization, Steven Penny had to resign. This scandal, amidst a series of other sports scandals, has pushed the U.S. Olympic Committee to create a new board to investigate claims of sex abuse, SafeSport, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, with bipartisan support, to introduce the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act. The latter mandates that anyone who suspects abuse in a National Governing Body (NGB) of an Olympic sport must report the suspected abuse to the authorities, extends the statute of limitations for civil suits against perpetrators, bans one-on-one time between coaches and athletes, and imposes other specific requirements on NGBs. Read more
The headlines on child sex abuse have been dominated for years by issues from the Catholic Church, culminating with last year’s Oscar-winning movie, Spotlight. There have been other scandals, of course, like Penn State, the New England boarding schools, and the polygamist sects, among many, but the Catholic cases and issues have continually rolled into the headlines. The latest is that the Manhattan Archdiocese in New York is partially covering the cost of sex abuse claims there by getting a mortgage of $100 million on hotel property that it owns.
I am the last person to say that the Read more
Children in the United States are routinely sacrificed on the pyre of their parents’ faith by pandering politicians without a moral compass. Children don’t vote but insular religious communities often vote as a bloc mandated by the male officials at the top, and that fact is not lost on power-hungry politicians like those in Utah who let the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) patriarchs marry off girls and abandon boys so that the men will have a better place in heaven. The same relationship between elected officials and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities exists: there are known risks to children but these politicians look the other way as they are feted by the rabbis and a community that keeps children at risk. Read more