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TV weatherman shares story of childhood sex abuse to help others

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The convergence of three random incidents brought the memory rushing back to Jason Gough.

The NewsChannel 13 meteorologist was living in Texas at the time, October 2004, and readying to return to his hometown of Albany. That was No. 1. He had just ordered a subscription to National Geographic’s kids’ magazine for his 8-year-old cousin, like the one he had at the same age. No. 2. And then “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” came on TV, just like in 1980 on that brand-new gadget called a VCR at his aunt’s house in Troy …

 He turned ashen and started rocking, his wife, Jennifer, told him later. He doesn’t remember. He does remembering blurting out to her, knowing it for the first time, that he’d been sexually abused when he was a child. His aunt, now deceased, started abusing him when he was 8, and it lasted a couple of years.

Like many victims of sexual abuse, Gough suppressed the memory because it was too painful. He suppressed it a second time, when confronted with a new trauma: The Goughs, both 34 at the time, would soon learn that Jennifer had an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her health would take precedence over everything for a while.

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

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Sex predator dads cause psychological scars on their kids, experts say

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

The arrest of Jerry Sandusky’s son on child molestation charges is a behavioral study and a child psychology seminar rolled up into one.

“When we’re dealing with a sexual predator in the family, the person doesn’t operate in a vacuum, and it causes a chain reaction in the family,” said psychologist Jeffrey Gardere. “Whether molested or not. That kind of psychological cancer in the family can affect members of the family in different ways.”

It was never clear if adopted son Jeffrey was ever abused as a child by his father. But just being around the dysfunctional environment where the predator dad took advantage of children in his care is sure to leave psychological scars, experts said.

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

She still feels the pain of sexual abuse as a child

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

I woke up in cold sweat, barely able to breathe. It was the same nightmare, second night in a row. In the dream, I was molested at my babysitter’s house. It has been years since the nightmare, but I can still remember every part of it – the dress that I wore, the way my hair was tied, and the coldness of the kitchen’s metal sink. I tried to scream, but a man covered my mouth with his hand. I remember how frightened I was.

For years, I had brushed it off as just a dream. But every now and then, the nightmare haunts me.

Six months ago, during a therapy session, the issue resurfaced. Up until then, it was just symbolic of how I grew up without having a voice of my own. But as my therapist started to probe further, fragmented memories began to take shape.

I could vividly remember witnessing adults engaging in sexual acts on numerous occasions, and we were encouraged to participate in the abuse of other children. It was confusing for all of us because while we felt violated and ashamed, it was also pleasurable.
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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

Cops bust Long Island priest after finding child porn, drugs in his home

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

A pervy Episcopal priest left his Long Island parish in handcuffs after cops uncovered a vile kiddie porn stash with victims as young as age 3, officials said Saturday.

A tip led Nassau County police to the Rev. Christopher King and his Long Beach lair, where investigators also uncovered crystal meth and Xanax during the Friday night raid, officials said.

Among the five sick videos found on his computer was a clip of an adult male engaged in sex with “a toddler, approximately 2-3 years of age,” according to a felony complaint against King.

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

Fresno State AD reveals molestation as child, tells other victims ‘don’t be ashamed

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

In a residential treatment facility last month, 44 years of anxiety, guilt and shame began to lift off the shoulders of Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko.

Bartko checked himself into Sierra Tucson, which provides rehabilitation services in Tucson, Ariz., on Dec. 20 with the intent of addressing issues with insomnia and anxiety that began as a child. After some inconclusive tests, a therapist asked Bartko a poignant and terrifying question: “Why did you not sleep when you were 11?”

In that moment, Bartko decided it was time to finally tell someone that he was molested around 35 times in the early 1970s by his childhood Catholic priest and basketball coach, Stephen Kiesle, in the rectory of Saint Joseph Church in Pinole, about 18 miles north of Oakland.

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

Dear doctor: A letter from a survivor of sexual trauma to all medical professionals

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

As a medical professional you have taken an oath to do no harm, but there are ways in which you can hurt your patients without even recognizing you are doing so.

What seems to you as a simple exam may cause injury to those who have been victimized by someone’s touch. This is a subject that we, survivors of sexual violence, have been meaning to discuss with you for some time now, but your authority can be more intimidating than you may know. I am also unsure if you are aware just how much power you, as a physician, hold and to the extent that you affect the lives of all of your patients. Your interactions with us travel much deeper than the physical core.

The relationship between patient and doctor is also mental, built on trust, understanding, and the security of knowing that your doctor has your well-being at heart. We, as your patients, entrust in you the most intimate parts of our bodies and our lives. But this trust has to be earned, and it is much harder for us patients who have been so severely violated. The intent of this letter is not to in any way criticize your work as a physician, but to better inform you of the needs of this specific group of patients.

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

Sex abuse survivor: I’m taking my life back, I’m not your victim anymore

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

This is Galina Velas.

She was sexually abused by her stepfather, Mihail Bourduk, and she wants you to hear her story.

Bourduk, who lives in Torbay with his second wife, did things to Velas that were described as “repugnant” in court. As a result, she lost control of her life.

She battled bulimia for 15 years, the stomach acid from throwing up constantly destroying 17 of her teeth.

She lost two chances at motherhood – one to abortion, the other to adoption – because she was not living a good or a safe life and did not feel she should bring a child into the world.

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

What does hope look like?

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

Georgia has a crisis on its hands. It’s the slow-growing kind: one where kids grow up with family and neighborhood violence, drop out of school and struggle as adults to support themselves and their own family.

And while far too many policymakers neglect the issues that impact kids and families, organizations like CHRIS 180 are working to shift the trajectories of families dealing with the trauma of violence and poverty.

Kathy Colbenson, President and CEO of CHRIS 180, recently spoke with us about the organization’s work and the type of support that can change a child’s life when traumas threaten their ability to even survive everyday.

“There is a young women that, for example, was in our program several years ago, who was third-generation foster care,” Colbenson shared. “That means her grandmother was in foster care, her mother was in foster care as a child and that her mother had six children — of which she was one — and all six of her children ended up in foster care. And there was substance abuse, neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse — all kinds of bad things happened.”

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

Rob Richards, a victim of sexual abuse as a child, speaks of his journey to heal

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protect children. prevent trauma. reuce taxes

Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

Growing up, he was always so angry and fearful but never knew why until finally, as an adult, it all came crashing back the day his dad died.

A victim of sexual and physical abuse as a child and a client of Surpassing Our Survival Society, Rob Richards believes he needs to tell his story of recovery as a way of inspiring others.

“I want to give back, to men in particular, by sharing a story that is full of hope and strength,” said Richards, 59. “It takes some courage – you have to reach a place of vulnerability within yourself to recognize not only what happened to you but that you can move on and that’s where some people get stuck and, unfortunately, stay in a victimized place.”

It’s important for a person to come to a place where the shame and that sense of being a victim is replaced with looking ahead, said Richards, who had deeply repressed the memory of the abuse he suffered as a child until about 10 years ago.

“I had no recollection, no visions, no impressions until the day my father died and then it was like some place in my brain that I hadn’t been able to access opened up and all of the evil, all of the sensations, every single image came flooding into my brain,” said Richards.

– See more at: http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/rob-richards-a-victim-of-sexual-abuse-as-a-child-speaks-of-his-journey-to-heal-1.5327357#sthash.EyAekLW9.dpuf

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

I woke up next to a rape survivor

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

I woke up this morning next to a rape survivor. She was preparing for her first day in a new position. It would seem like a celebratory time. I looked at her getting dressed in the new clothes she bought for this special occasion, while she pointed out the parts of her body that she wasn’t happy with. I pointed back how great she looked in her confident resilience and excitement for the gauntlet she was about to run.

After all, she survived to live this moment.

Not only did she survive her rape, as if that alone isn’t painful enough. She survived the rape aftermath. The war that is fought every single day in memories of the ordeal of waking up and surviving that first morning, the morning after she was raped.

She survived going to the hospital and having a rape kit done. She survived climbing that mountain of sterile anxiety up to the police precinct in New York City, alone, where a detective told her that if she could get her rapist to maybe send a message, or corroborate her story, they might investigate. They might investigate. If she couldn’t get her rapist to corroborate, then she could be arrested for harassment. Is that a gamble you want to take right after living through the unthinkable? Imagine…Man robs store, but thief doesn’t corroborate the story, so the owner is arrested. Sounds unthinkable, unless you have survived rape in the United States. Yet this is the upside down world of so-called justice that women wake up to survive everyday and today, she was surviving knowing that for her there would never be justice. Justice would have been not being raped, because it isn’t a store, it’s your physical being. It is the murder of autonomy and physical self-determination. It is the genocide of agency. You think invoking “genocide” might be going too far. You might reserve the word “genocide” by its legal and international normative standard. Yet, how many women’s agencies must be invaded en mass, murdered self-determination annually, to confront this reality and turn the world right side up in the direction of women’s inherent dignity?

Yet she survives and so does her dignity, unscathed.

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

Lady Gaga Opens Up About Struggling With PTSD In Emotional Letter

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

 

During a “Today” show segment that aired on Monday, Lady Gaga revealed she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The singer’s admission came about two years after she opened up about being sexually assaulted at the age of 19. On Wednesday, Gaga elaborated on life with PTSD in an open letter published on her Born This Way Foundation website.

“It is a daily effort for me, even during this album cycle, to regulate my nervous system so that I don’t panic over circumstances that to many would seem like normal life situations,” the pop star wrote, before expanding on dealing with triggering memories.

“I am continuing to learn how to transcend this because I know I can. If you relate to what I am sharing, please know that you can too,” the “Joanne” singer added.

You can read her letter in full below:

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1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now

Survivors surviving the holidays

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Have you signed the petition to protect children from sexual abuse?  Click here to sign now.

There is one inevitability in my life during the holidays- by the Monday after Thanksgiving, a certain friend of mine will ask “why aren’t you more festive around Christmas?” To her, the fact that I don’t get doe-eyed when I hear “Jingle Bells” is an affront to God and country, kittens and sunshine. One year, she bought me a tiny tree. My dog promptly ate it -with no prompting from me.

This annual exchange between me and my friend doesn’t bother me, per se, but it reminds me of the gap between survivors and non-survivors. That gap becomes a chasm around the holidays, and some of us fall in.

Euphemisms aside, in our very commercial society, the holiday season is about children, family and money. Three things I don’t have, and three things survivors predictably have complex relationships with.

Those of us who have survived abuse, neglect and household dysfunction, are the group of people most frequently coping with loss or relinquishment of children. Women with high ACE scores are more likely to find themselves in abusive relationships as adults. An unfortunate fact of abusive relationships is that leaving often means losing custody of your child, or spending Christmas wondering how your child is doing, as a judge made them spend it with the man who has proven himself so dangerous. Survivors of either sex with high ACE scores are also more likely to have relinquished a child, either voluntarily (placing them up for adoption), or through action of the state. If a parent voluntarily relinquishes a child, they are still likely to grieve for them, as will a parent whose child is removed by the state. So all the commercials featuring bright-eyed children are a dagger in the heart for many survivors, and most of them are too ashamed of their situation to acknowledge it.

No one is more likely to abuse a child than their family. We like to think that when a child is abused by a family member, a non-offending member does the right thing, the child is immediately protected, and the rest of the family sides with the child. Sadly, this is rare. Disclosures of sexual or non-sexual abuse tend to tear families along generational or matrimonial lines. Particularly with sexual abuse, the child who discloses often becomes a pariah in the family and is blamed for “breaking the family up”. Survivors, whether abused inside or outside of their family, often develop problems with drugs and mental illness, and these things can cause rifts in families. Many families force victims to choose between spending time with someone who hurt them greatly, or not spending time with the family. Many families push a victim towards reconciliation, forgiveness, or otherwise express great insensitivity. And some survivors struggle to spend time in the physical house where they were abused- this can be a very strong trigger for panic attacks or PTSD.

The ACE study proves that surviving childhood trauma increases the odds of someone suffering a range of physical and mental illnesses throughout their life. It’s hard to obtain an education or hold a steady job when you’re struggling with your physical and mental health. Add an abusive relationship into the mix, add an arrest for drug addiction into the mix, or add a background where you didn’t learn life-skills involving money, and you start to see why survivors are more likely to struggle with poverty and even homelessness than their non-abused peers. Indeed, the ACE study found a positive correlation between ACE scores, financial difficulty and even homelessness.

So now we’ve established that a big chunk of Americans are likely to have all sorts of negative feelings around this time of year, and feel those feelings are forbidden by the rest of the world. Now what?

There are lots of things you can do to be a good friend, a good relative, and a generally decent and sensitive person to survivors over the holiday season. And if you think you don’t know any survivors, think again- 67% of Americans have ACE scores of at least one, and 22% survived sexual abuse as a child. You may not know any survivors who introduce themselves as such, but you know survivors.

If you have a friend who withdraws, who complains of being “down”, who has lots of weird, hard-to-explain health issues, etc,. during the holiday season, your job isn’t to convince them to love the holidays.

Listen to them attentively and without judgment. Do not try to influence them into making a particular decision with their family. Never invalidate another survivor’s story- don’t do this any time of the year in front of anyone, but especially don’t do it in front of a struggling survivor. Keep the lines of communication open, even if little communication happens. Spend time with them, even if you’re not doing something “festive”. If your friend talks about their abuse with you, listen. Don’t ask them for details or interpretations. If you can accommodate your friend at your annual holiday celebration, if they would fit in and be comfortable, invite them. If you’ve invited them before, and they’ve always said no, continue to invite them. Sometimes that simple act can mean the world to someone.

When I use the term “struggling”, I’m using it loosely to mean anything from people being a bit more withdrawn, more sad, more angry, more vulnerable, to sinking badly into depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

It’s good to know signs of serious depression. If you’re worried about your friend, tell them so. Offer to help them connect with mental-health resources in your community. Offer to take them to a doctor’s appointment. Once again, even making the offer can be very significant.

All of these tips apply to a relative of yours who’s a survivor, too. But there’s a particular misery unintentionally bestowed upon survivors by their families every year. I doubt many people will read this thinking “I have a sex offender in my family and I want to understand the etiquette involved from a survivor’s point of view”. But here’s the trick- researchers estimate as many as 10% of men and between 1-3% of women are sex offenders. They have families, too. Only 10% of those who sexually offend against a child will ever see a day behind bars. Most children don’t disclose their sexual abuse before adulthood. So there are many, many families in which one member alleges that another did something unspeakable to them, and yet the police and courts aren’t involved. The person making the accusation probably isn’t the most stable limb of their family tree- they’ve likely got a history of mental illness, substance abuse and bad relationships. And it is ever so easy to assume the accusations (which must be false, right?) are a result of that dysfunction. Realistically, it’s much more likely that the abuse really happened, and it’s the cause of the dysfunction.

It is not the intent of this article to tell anyone what to do within their family. But I do want to explain, from a survivor’s point of view, what it is like to be told something like “all I want is one day for the whole family to be together” or “if you were a good ___, you would do this for me”.

Child abuse is not something that someone “just gets over”. The ACE study proves this. The CDC estimated the actual cost of surviving any form of child abuse- sexual or non-sexual, is about $240,000. That figure only includes increased health expenses and decreased lifetime productivity- pain and suffering don’t enter the equation. Victims of abuse can forgive their abusers. Many do, and many find the experience beneficial. But forgiving them does not re-wire their brain. It does not change their immune system, their endocrine system, the way their DNA has been expressed in myriad tissues in their body. It does not cure their PTSD or anxiety disorder. So expecting a victim of abuse to “just get over” the abuse for one day is like asking someone with cancer to “get over it” for a day.

Another thing to remember about child abuse victims is this- it is never their fault. When a victim and an abuser are expected to be equally responsible for maintaining family harmony, you are saying that someone who chose to do something enormously harmful to an innocent victim is bearing the same responsibility as someone who was an innocent victim. As much as families often come up with interesting ways of understanding abuse within their midst, a child can never be blamed for their own abuse. If you can wrap your mind around that, you are taking a huge step towards building a stronger family and becoming a better person.

If someone in your family has abused a child, there is nothing wrong with loving them. You do not need to banish them from your family. But if you want to maintain family integrity, don’t do things that unintentionally banish their victim, either. Do not be offended if a victim doesn’t want to spend time with their abuser. Do not be offended if a victim wants to avoid meeting at a certain place. Do not be offended if a victim says they have no interest in forgiving their abuser. And don’t blame their natural responses to their abuse for causing family disharmony. If there is any way you can arrange family functions so that both victim and abuser get to socialize with family, but not at the same time, you’re doing something truly good.

Perhaps the biggest reason I don’t love the holiday season is because it makes so many people feel inadequate. Rather than cling to an ideal most people can never achieve, I wish more people would celebrate what they have and what they’ve accomplished in life. Be proud of the survivors in your family. Believe them. And by doing so, you’re giving them a gift that is truly precious.

 

1 in 5 New York Kids Are Sexually Abused. Help Prevent That

The CDC reports that 1 in 5 children are sexually abused.

9 out of 10 of the perpetrators are never brought to justice and never appear on sex offender registries.

They are protected by New York State laws.

Sign this petition and change that. Protect NY Kids.

Sign Petition Now
Melanie Blow

Melanie Blow

COO, Stop Abuse Campaign

A survivor of incest, psychological abuse and a host of other childhood trauma, Melanie now uses her talents to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Melanie has over a decade of legislative advocacy regarding children’s issues, and she has been published in newspapers, magazines and blogs all across the country.

Melanie has an ACE score of 6.


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