Thursday, January 31, 2008

What to say to a rape victim, and more of my story - Part One

I didn't learn this in training - I know this from experience. What you say to someone immediately following a rape, or anytime thereafter for that matter, can have a huge impact on the victim - negative or positive.

Since the majority of rapes are perpetrated by a person the victim knows, it is common for her to feel:

Guilty, Ashamed, Embarrassed - and to doubt herself "What did I do to cause him to think he could have sex with me?"

In the case of an abduction rape, the main thing is FEAR and it is much more traumatic. I'll stick with what I know and use myself as an example.

Things not to say:

"What were you wearing?"
"Did you come on to him?"
"Are you sure he raped you?"
"What did you do to give him the idea you wanted sex?"

You get the picture - do not say ANYTHING that even remotely suggests she did something to provoke the offender. She is most likely beating herself up with these questions and does not need you to enforce them. The bottom line is:

IF A WOMAN SAYS NO - AND THE MAN DOES NOT STOP - IT IS RAPE (or depending on what he does to her or makes her do to him some other form of sexual assault).

When I was raped I felt that I had put myself in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people and therefore I deserved it and got what I asked for. THAT IS BULLSHIT! I wish I could back in time and tell that 14 year old me that she did nothing wrong.

I personally believe that women do have a responsibility to behave the way they want to be treated. But I don't believe that if a woman chooses to wear revealing clothing it means "she's asking for it". If a woman starts to kiss a guy etc. and wants to stop - she has that right. I know several girls who have lost their virginity when they did not want to because they thought it would be worse to get a reputation as "a tease". Its frustrating to be all hot and then have to stop, but that's life....and rape could mean LIFE IN PRISON.

I had a very disturbing conversation with a man last night who would argue what I said above. He believes that there's a fine line between rape and "finishing what was started". I will have to save that for another time. Needless to say we disagreed on many points but it was a good conversation for me to have. It showed me how many people (men and women) view the victim.

More later...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thoughts i need to get out

Once again I learned a lot tonight. Way too much to try and explain here, but it was interesting. Saw some graphic photos of damaged caused by rape. The forensic nurse was incredible. Too tired to talk about it, but she was impressive that 's for damn sure.

I doubted myself tonight while looking at a photo of an examining room and imagining myself sitting next to the victim as she undergoes a humiliating, painful exam. I am the type of person that would not want anyone around...I didn't even want anyone to KNOW what happened to me. I lived with my injuries and risked my health because that was preferable to the shame and intrusion and questions.

Can I really do this? I talked with the supervisor of the whole program and she has a feeling she will want to recruit me to do "more" whatever that means. I didn't ask her why because I don't ask questions like that. I have such a low self worth that I fear asking a questions that relate to me, my best friend gets SO MAD at me because I constantly divert conversations away from myself. I guess in that way, I will be the perfect advocate/counselor because that's what we are suppose to do - focus on the victim. If she asks us about ourself we need to change the topic back to her (in a polite non-obvious way).

But, when a crisis happens, or when someone is hurting, I have no problem focusing everything on the other person and helping them - its one of the few times I don't think self-conscious or self-defeating thoughts.

It reminds of the time a heard loud screaming and went outside to see a woman down the street hysterically yelling "my husband is dead!". I didn't know her but I ran over to her without thinking and just held her. She had come home from the store and found her husband floating face down in the swimming pool.

This blog is not suppose to be about me. But I guess in some ways, it is about me. Its about anyone who needs to talk about the experience of being raped. I like to pretend that I am "fine" when really, I am still full of shame and guilt and anger and it was eons ago. If I can talk even one woman through this process and help her NOT feel shame and guilt, all this will be worth it.

Tonight's Topic:

Tonight in the SAVA class we will be hearing from a Forensic Nurse and also learning about cultural diversity.

I always wanted to be a nurse, teacher or counselor but:

  • I hated certain gross bodily secretions (blood doesn't bother me but vomit, pee, etc......I have a hard time with)
  • I don't like teaching (I just wanted to encourage kids not teach them)
  • I was too busy having "fun" to go to college to become a counselor of some type

Its never too late.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I ran across a blog today that broke my heart. It was written by a young woman in Kuwait who had been raped. All stories of rape are horrible, but hers is especially devastating (imo) because of her age and her culture and mostly - her self blame. This is the kind of story that rips my guts out and fills me with so much anger. He really messed up her life. Everything she writes sounds like is a classic example of what a victim endures emotionally. Some people even accused her of making her story up. I have no doubt that its true, whoever wrote it knows. Her link is in my sidebar, "Regaining Life After Rape" and Trying to Regain Life After Rape".

She abandoned her blogs in 2006 but I am hoping someday she will find the comment I left her:

If you ever find this comment, please, please email me. I want to talk to you about what you are going through and went through. Or leave a comment on my blog. You are not alone. It was not your fault. You are still a virgin until you choose not to be....maybe physically that was taken from you but in your heart its yours to keep till you freely choose to give it.

Thank You Anonymous

Someone left a comment here that is so important I am making a post out of it. This is such a typical scenario!

I hope I did not give the impression that most child molesters/rapists are pedophiles. In fact the opposite is true. As I pointed out earlier, a true pedophile is rare. Its the people in your neighborhood that look just like us that need to be watched. This is such a sad story, my heart breaks for this family.

Again, thank you Anonymous for sharing this:

I'm interested in this topic because my daughter was a victim of CSA. The perp was one of our best friends, someone with a wife and daughter the same age as ours, pillar of the community, "Christian", conservative, neighborhood watch, yada, yada, yada. His daughter and mine had been good friends since kindergarten. We babysat for each other; we spent Christmases together. Before I found out what he'd done, if I'd wanted to form a vigilante he would have been one of the first guys on the posse.

So I think it's important to emphasize that most molesting of children is not done by true pedophiles (who are fairly rare) but by your neighbour, your uncle, grandpa, the nice Christian youth pastor, the coach your kid adores, etc. I think these people do have a faulty circuit that makes it possible for them to justify having kids as sexual partners, but they do not see themselves as pedophiles, nor are children typically their first choice, unless it becomes a habit. They go after kids because it is easy. Quite simply they feel like having sex or simply abusing or humiliating someone and they know that the chances of it coming back to bite them are much less likely than if they choose an adult. They find an opportunity and they take advantage of it. In our case my husband was in the hospital with cancer so our attention was directed elsewhere when the abuse began. It continued for about a year. I thought my daughter's depression and anxiety was about her dad's cancer and school.

I'm not sure where the figure of 95% are family members comes from. The figure I have often seen is that 90% of the perpetrators are known to the victim (this includes teen date rape situations) and 60% are family members, the most common family abuser being a stepfather or "boyfriend" of the mother. But I know the statistics on child abuse vary so hugely as to make it almost impossible to say something meaningful at times. For example, sex offender activists are fond of saying that there is only a 5% or less recidivism rate based on studies conducted by the US justice department. However these were short term studies that might only follow the perp for a year after release. Corrections Canada did a much longer term study and found an overall recividism rate of 30% for all sex offenders and over 70% for pedophiles. Of course, this only describes those that are caught - presumably the dumbest ones.

The other figure that I've read consistently is that 1/4 girls and 1/7 boys will be sexually assaulted or abused before they are 18, for girls approximately 1/2 that number by the time they are 11. I've confirmed this with my own independent and unscientific poll of people close enough to me that I told them about my daughter's abuse. 1/4 of them were also sexually assaulted or abused as children. I had known some of them all my life (2 were siblings) and I hadn't know that about them - so strong was their shame that kept it a secret. I am not in some demographic anomaly. I'm middle-class educated white (not that it matters) Canadian, I live in a quiet suburban "safe" neighbourhood. I come from a loving intact family. My family and most of my friends are in the same demographic. I say this because some people think that these things only happen in poor, drug-addled, ethnic neighbourhoods - those are just the people getting caught.

The best way to keep your kids safe is to never let them be alone with a male (95% of molesters are male) But that's not possible, so the second best thing you can do is this:
-tell your kids about sexual abuse and tell them that it is important to tell you if anyone touches them or even tries to be alone with them, if they show them pictures of naked people or try to give them alcohol - even if it is their dad or their uncle or grandpa or even you. Tell them they have to tell more than one person and keep on telling until someone does something about it. Emphasize that if this happens that it has nothing to do with them, that the adult who does this has a problem and needs help. Tell them you are going to tell all your friends and your child's friends parents, and all your relatives that you have told them this. Then do it. Tell everybody who has anything to do with your kid that you have warned them to tell you if anyone tries to touch them and that you have regular talks about it. Bring it up in conversation frequently - loudly. Child molesters are cowards and opportunists. Just like thieves will pass on cars and houses with alarms, child molesters will pass on kids when they think there is a higher likelihood they will be caught.

As a parent I was stupid. I thought child molesters were that creepy guy living in his mother's basement who drove around in a white van with a puppy in the back. I thought if I warned my kids about "stranger danger" and lived in a nice, safe neighbourhood with nice, safe law-abiding friends my kids would be safe. I was squeamish about talking too much about sexual abuse because I didn't want my kids to be afraid. I even told my daughter's abuser this over dinner once - that I downplayed talking about sex abuse with my kids because I didn't want them to distrust adults and besides I knew they were always with someone I trusted. We pretty much handed her over on a platter. Her life has been ruined and our family wounded for ever and grief-stricken watching her try to fight the inner demons that try and destroy her.

The charges against the perp were eventually dropped because my daughter was too sick to testify. Even if it had gone to court a conviction would have been very difficult - his word against hers and she being a girl who by this time had serious mental health issues. Even if he had been convicted the best result we could have hoped for was a suspended sentence and a couple of years probation. The pig still lives in his big house with his happy family just around the corner.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thinking outloud about child molesting priests and other pedophiles

I am not into statistics so I apologize for not researching this to lay out facts. This is just how I see it. I grew up in the Catholic church and our family knew two priests as close friends. I know that not all priests are perverts - but one of the two I knew did seem to have some issues. The other one left the priesthood, got married and had a family (my family was appalled by that - I loved it).

My point - not ALL priests are child molesters, probably if you looked at the numbers it would be a fairly small percent. But out of the ones who are my question is:

Did they become that way because of a vow of celibacy? Its unnatural to live a lifetime without sex (if ya ask me), so these priests had tons of sexual desires that they were not able to express. Instead of being a man about it and finding a woman, they chose children because they were the least likely to tell anyone about it. I don't get can you say you love God enough to devote your life to him, but then molest the innocent children that you are suppose to be a spiritual father to (for non-Catholics, we refer to priests as "Father So and So")

My other question: Were some of these priests pedophiles that chose this vocation because they knew it would give them access to little boys and/or girls?

This reminds me, pedophiles seek out careers (or volunteer opportunities) where they will be in contact with children. Sad as it is, you should be suspicious of any male that volunteers as your child's sports coach unless they have a child on the team too. Pedophiles need access to children and will often volunteer at the YMCA or as a coach, etc. They look just like the rest of us - normal. There is no way to tell and if they've never been caught, there is nothing found on a background check. Its up to parents to be very cautions (how sad that we have to worry about this....)

Another thing pedophiles do is target single mothers with children the age and sex of their choice. In class we heard story after story of guys finding a woman who to date so he could have access to her kids. When caught the woman always said she had no idea, but admitted that she and her boyfriend didn't have a "sexual connection". UGH!!!!! A man who does not want sex with his girlfriend has a problem!!! (unless its for religious/moral reasons)

One problem with our society is that we have become so sensitive to offending someone, and so friggin politically correct about everything, that no one had the guts to question why males are in certain jobs. Clues that a guy is a pedophile:

  • Never married
  • over 35
  • Lives with mom (or both parents or grandparents)
  • Has a low paying job with gaps in employment
  • Has few friends
  • Enjoys childlike activities - arcades etc.
  • Is a COLLECTOR of something
(we learned yesterday that ALL pedophiles have a collection of something that is neatly organized. It can be stamps, coins, baseball cards....or child porn. But they have never found a true pedophile that did not have a collection - use this info to check out anyone you suspect or as a red flag warning!)

Remember: Pedophiles and Child Molesters are not the same, there are child molesters everywhere! Be on the alert!

Here is a recent story out of my local paper

and a good article describing pedophiles

Endless Cycle

Lacey left a comment sharing about her cousin was molested by a priest as a child and how it ruined his entire life.

I wish she was exaggerating. I wish her comment was shocking.

But its neither, its common and its rampant.

In the case of Lacey's cousin it sounds as if he turned to alcohol and homosexuality and died of liver disease at the age of 39.

In many cases, male victims become the next generation of offenders. Then there are minority of boys and girls who grow up to live healthy lives.

Will the cycle ever end? That's one reason for this blog. The more people talk about these horrible subjects the more aware they are....and perhaps they can save the children that they know from becoming victims. That's the only hope I see

less victims now = less predators in the future

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Inside the minds of criminals and cops....

Today's class was heavy and full of information. I don't know how much of it I will be able to use, but I now have "inside info" on what goes on behind the scenes in the investigation of a sexual abuse/rape case. It was fascinating to get hear what the cops go through and also what goes on in the mind of a sexual predator/rapist/etc.

The class was led by two police officers who are experts in the field. They shared stories, showed us videos of actual interrogations they had done, and even gave us some of their "secret techniques" for getting an offender to confess.

After the last couple of weeks we have heard some pretty hardcore stuff in class and even though none of us are desensitized, you do get accustomed to being horrified by these stories....but nothing prepared me something I heard today, I think the majority of the class gasped. Without too many details, I'll just share the bottom line:

I heard a 9 year old boy (on a recording) confront his dad and say "Dad, I didn't like it when you put your dick in my butt". The father said "Oh, I'm sorry buddy." Can you imagine? This happens all the time. Its unspeakable, so I won't even try to express how it made me feel to hear that innocent young voice saying that...In the above case the perpetrator is in prison and will hopefully stay there for a loooooong time.

Here is something new and upsetting I learned that relates to the above:

I pointed out Megan's Law website in a post the other day. I assumed that ALL the registered sex offenders in California had to sign up on that site. I was wrong. If you read the fine print you will learn that:

In the cases of FAMILY MEMBERS they have a choice of whether or not to register on the site. Who the hell would choose to do it if they don't have to!


So, all the pervs you see on there molested, raped or abused someone outside their family. There are a hell of a lot sickos still on the lose. The reasoning behind this? They have suffered enough because most of them lose their family as a result, many lose their jobs, etc. So why inconvenience then any further? Grrrrr?

That reminds me - all this applies to the State of California. Different states have different laws. The most lenient states: New Mexico and Nevada. The strictest: Texas.

Other thought that are rambling through my brain that I just have to get out:

1. A few years ago there was a horrendous rape case here....I don't even want to name it on my blog because its so disgusting. Well, the dude (he's only 22) got out of jail today and is once again freeing roaming the streets after only a three short years in prison.

2. Stereotypes can be accurate, or totally off base, but criminal profiles paint a very clear picture and we can use that info to protect our children and ourselves. For example, if your kid has a sports coach that is single and/or does not have a child on the team - you better make sure you keep an eye on him.

3. True pedophiles are actually uncommon. 85% of child molesters are "situational" and will act out with whoever is available rather than seeking them out. Sadly this is not an uncommon scenario: a guy is sitting around watching TV alone with his stepdaughter and has never sexually touched a kid is his life but for some reason he suddenly feels compelled to and....well it happens way too often.

4. A true pedophile will openly state that they LOVE children and that its perfectly natural for them to have the relationship they have. They think we are unloving for not understanding. Did you see the interview of Michael Jackson several years ago? Enough said.

5. Pedophiles CAN NOT BE REHABILITATED. There is proof of this (at least I am convinced)

a) some men actually ask to be physically castrated to try and stop their behavior. Even though this leaves them impotent and unable to have an erection, they still THINK about it all the time and often still molest children with their hands/mouth.

b) imagine this: You are a 40 year heterosexual woman. Can you suddenly change your sexual preference and start liking 6 year old boys? NO! And men who like 6 year old boys can't change their preference to mature woman either. Its just the way they have always been and will always be.

6. MySpace is not nearly as bad as people make it sound. The problem is when parents don't know what their kids are doing on it. Today's use of Myspace is the normal, typical way teens when we used to talk on the phone for hours as teens - now they talk online.

7. If there are show's like "How to Catch a Predator" on TV how can anyone be stupid enough to still get caught? I don't know, but they do. Over and over again.

8. This is not really valid but I have to say it: Why is there always one very annoying person in any class that asks detailed long questions two minutes and makes everyone irritated? Thank goodness the cops leading the class didn't put up with it and told her to hold her frigging questions till the end. Of course that didn't stop her, but it did cut down on how often she did it.

9. We also saw a videotaped interview with a pedophile that was serving a life prison (without parole). He freely shared about what went through his mind, how he found his victims, how he gained their trust...etc. etc. It was very informative - and sickening.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Male Victims of Sexual Abuse

Last night's class was very informative and interesting. The first hour and a half we learned about how to talk specifically with boys and male adolescents.

Sexual abuse affects them very differently than girls because the majority of perpetrators are also male. So in addition to the trauma, humiliation, fear and anger one naturally goes through - these boys also wonder if this will make them homosexual, or maybe make them think they are homosexual because they experienced pleasure.

IMPORTANT FACT: Our bodies are designed to respond to pleasure. As difficult as it is to comprehend, even in the midst of a violent act such as rape or molestation, the victim may experience pleasure physically. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THEY ENJOY IT. It is a physical response to stimulus. They can be crying, angry and hurt and still be aroused.

Obviously in boys this is a more obvious response. This confuses them and makes them feel sickened with themselves for having that reaction physically while being violated. Its one of the thing that makes it difficult for them to report.

The average age for a boy to be sexually abused is between 6 - 14. At this age boys have an entirely different set of fears in addition to the fears that the girls have because of the same sex issues involved.

Its really very sad because our justice system does not seem to have the same sympathy for boys as girls....that is UNACCEPTABLE...and people are working to change it.

I will finish this later.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

From Two to Ninety Two

Last nights class had two sections:

Child molestation

Elderly abuse/rape

During the session on children we learned mostly about how to talk to kids and use forms of play therapy to get them to talk. We didn't hear any detailed graphic stories - you can pick up your local paper or turn on the news to read about that, so she didn't feel the need to educate us on the "why or what" but on the "how" to help afterwards. It was informative.

The hardest thing to know about children being abused is that it is so often a family member, a father, step-father or older brother. Males and females are at equal risk. Its devastating for a child - obviously. But here's what gets to me:

When the mother KNOWS and chooses to go into denial rather than help her daughter. We heard several stories about that and I personally know someone who's mother turned a blind eye to her husband having sex with all three of her daughters. HOW can a mother do this?

What surprised me and devastated me was learning about elder abuse and rape. Its not something that gets talked about, and rarely gets reported. One woman that was raped was 92 year old. The question that comes up is:

"How could anyone possibly find a 92 year old woman sexually appealing?"

The answer is (this is the single most important fact about rape):

Its a violent crime that has to do with power and control
(the power and control are what get the rapist aroused, not the fact that the woman/man is sexy)

More on this later. I learned so much last night. It was sad.

I think child molestation IS about sex, but I didn't have a chance to ask that question. I will find out. Child molestation is different...I think...still learning.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Worst Offenders of them All

I have class tonight. The topics will be Child Sexual Abuse. It won't be easy to listen to but its so important to learn how to deal with a child victim.

Its pretty common knowledge that in the prison system, those serving time for sexually abusing children are the most hated inmates of all - by other inmates and guards, and are often brutally attacked or even killed. Its inconceivable to most of us how anyone could use and abuse a young child that way.

Yet...chances are the predator was once an abused child him/herself. Not always, but more often than not.

So somewhere in time a terrible cycle was started that continued down through the generations.

What really makes me sick is the guys like that dude (don't even want his name on my blog) that proudly admit to liking little girls and even has a website giving hints to other pedophiles how to find them, with photos he's taken of little girls out in public places with their parents! He says he's never touched one and therefore has broken no laws. Right. I find that hard to believe.

When Megan's Law website (it lists all registered sex offenders by area) first appeared online I immediately did a search of my city and found about 20 men on it. ONE OF THEM WAS A NEIGHBOR


He was on there for:

Offense Code

You can imagine how this made me feel? I had known this man, his wife and his son for 7 years when I went to the same church. People left thier kids with him every week. I was even his assistant for awhile. I never would imagine such a "nice guy" doing such vile acts.

Its our job as parents to teach our children that under NO CIRCUMSTANCE should anyone touch them inappropriately. Of course the trick is to teach them what that means at a level they can understand without scaring them and making them paranoid.

I also think we need to know who lives in our neighborhoods. I was shocked that the guy that lives so near me was on the list. Pedophiles are often seemingly "average" guys.

Being molested by an adult as a young child is so confusing and traumatic. Most of the people I know that have lived through it have had dealt with major relationship problems as a result.

I'll share anything helpful that I learn tonight.

Monday, January 21, 2008

There is only one way to stop rape

No one in our class could figure out what it was.

We came up with lots of way to AVOID being raped, but there is only one way for it to not happen:

When the rapist listens and responds to the word "NO".

This may sound simplistic, but think about it.

So, men are the only one who can stop rape.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Uncomfortable Topic

The subject of rape, child molestation or any form of sexual abuse is probably one of the most uncomfortable topics of all to talk about, but that's not a good excuse to keep silent. Educating people, especially young women, can make a difference.

This blog is for me because I need to talk about it both from the perspective of a survivor and as someone in training to be an advocate for victims.

This blog is for you because the more you know the more you can either help, or if you are also a victim, heal.

There is so much I want to say, I had to start a new blog to say it. Anyone who reads here is invited to contact me via email or in the comments. For years I did not share my story with anyone out of shame, fear, humiliation and self blame. Now its relatively easy for me to talk about. I'll be posting it soon.

SAVA Class One

Here are ten random points/thoughts I came away with after my class today:

1. There is only one way to stop rape. No one in our class could figure out what it was, before I reveal the answer I'd love to hear your thoughts.

2. Victim or Survivor? I belong to a forum for women that is a wonderful, safe, gentle and loving place for women who've been raped/assulted to share their stories and support other women (and there is a section for men as well). On the site they ask us to use the word SURVIVOR rather than VICTIM.

Today in class the instructor pointed out that even though someone determined that it was impoliticly correct and un-empowering to use the word "victim", it was an important part of the healing process to acknowledge that the person raped or abused was indeed a VICTIM. The number one reason women don't discuss rape is because of shame and thinking they were partly responsible for what happened. This is not true and its one of the main things I hope to educate people about here.

3. Child and adolescent survivors are 2 -5 times more likely to be attacked again in their lifetime.

4. Rape is not about sex. It is about power and control. Even though its sexual in nature, its VIOLENCE. Sadly people call it a "sex crime" which is very misleading (way more about this later!)

5. Regardless of what it seems like on TV, being the victim of a rape and going through the court process can take years and can be as degrading to the victim as the actual crime. It is a hard crime to prove and for juries to convict on. Later I will share a local story that is the most horrific example in California State history of a victim being put on trial for a brutal, vicious gang rape.

6. We learned about the history of rape from the beginning of civilization. It was very, very disturbing. Women were treated as objects/possessions for centuries.

7. 85% of all rapes are committed by an acquaintance of the victim (in my county the stat is 97%!).

8. The most common age for a rape victim is between 16 - 24.

9. Most stranger abduction rapists look like "normal" guys and are typically married with a family.

10. Jail sentences for rape are usually very lenient.