How Can I Protect My Child From Sexual Assault?

Share Button

How Can I Protect My Child From Sexual Assault?

By RAINN

Sexual abuse can happen to children of any race, socioeconomic group, religion or culture. There is no foolproof way to protect children from sexual abuse, but there are steps you can take to reduce this risk. If something happens to your child, remember that the perpetrator is to blame—not you and especially not the child. Below you’ll find some precautions you can take to help protect the children in your life.

If your child is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call 911. If you aren’t sure of the situation but you suspect the child is being harmed, you can take steps to gauge the situation and put an end to the abuse.

Be involved in the child’s life.

Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right. If you see or hear something that causes concern, you can take action to protect your child.

  • Show interest in their day-to-day lives. Ask them what they did during the day and who they did it with. Who did they sit with at lunchtime? What games did they play after school? Did they enjoy themselves?
  • Get to know the people in your child’s life. Know who your child is spending time with, including other children and adults. Ask your child about the kids they go to school with, the parents of their friends, and other people they may encounter, such as teammates or coaches. Talk about these people openly and ask questions so that your child can feel comfortable doing the same.
  • Choose caregivers carefully. Whether it’s a babysitter, a new school, or an afterschool activity, be diligent about screening caregivers for your child.
  • Talk about the media. Incidents of sexual violence are frequently covered by the news and portrayed in television shows. Ask your child questions about this coverage to start a conversation. Questions like, “Have you ever heard of this happening before?” or “What would you do if you were in this situation?” can signal to your child that these are important issues that they can talk about with you. Learn more about talking to your kids about sexual assault.
  • Know the warning signs. Become familiar with the warning signs of child sexual abuse, and notice any changes with your child, no matter how small. Whether it’s happening to your child or a child you know, you have the potential to make a big difference in that person’s life by stepping in.

Encourage children to speak up.

When someone knows that their voice will be heard and taken seriously, it gives them the courage to speak up when something isn’t right. You can start having these conversations with your children as soon as they begin using words to talk about feelings or emotions. Don’t worry if you haven’t started conversations around these topics with your child—it is never too late.

  • Teach your child about boundaries. Let your child know that no one has the right to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable — this includes hugs from grandparents or even tickling from mom or dad. It is important to let your child know that their body is their own. Just as importantly, remind your child that they do not have the right to touch someone else if that person does not want to be touched.
  • Teach your child how to talk about their bodies. From an early age, teach your child the names of their body parts. Teaching a child these words gives them the ability to come to you when something is wrong. Learn more about talking to children about sexual assault.
  • Be available. Set time aside to spend with your child where they have your undivided attention. Let your child know that they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. If they do come to you with questions or concerns, follow through on your word and make the time to talk.
  • Let them know they won’t get in trouble. Many perpetrators use secret-keeping or threats as a way of keeping children quiet about abuse. Remind your child frequently that they will not get in trouble for talking to you, no matter what they need to say. When they do come to you, follow through on this promise and avoid punishing them for speaking up.
  • Give them the chance to raise new topics. Sometimes asking direct questions like, “Did you have fun?” and “Was it a good time?” won’t give you the answers you need. Give your child a chance to bring up their own concerns or ideas by asking open-ended questions like “Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?”

Warning Signs for Sexual Abuse of Young Children

Share Button

Warning Signs for Young Children

By RAINN

Every 8 minutes, government authorities respond to another report of child sexual abuse.1 Child sexual abuse can include sexual contact with a child, but it may also include other actions, like exposing oneself, sharing obscene images, or taking inappropriate photos or videos of a child. These crimes can have a serious impact of the life and development of a child, and can continue to impact the survivor later in life. Learning the warning signs of child sexual abuse is often the first step to protecting a child that is in danger. If you can spot sexual abuse, you can stop it.

Signs that a child may have been sexually abused

It’s not always easy to spot sexual abuse because perpetrators often take steps to hide their actions. Some signs are easier to spot than others. For instance, some warning signs might be noticed by a caretaker or parent, and are often red flags that the child needs medical attention. Listen to your instincts. If you notice something that isn’t right or someone is making you uncomfortable—even if you can’t put your finger on why—it’s important to talk to the child.

Physical warning signs:

Behavioral signs:

  • Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Bedwetting or soiling the bed, if the child has already outgrown these behaviors
  • Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers, especially if this is a new behavior
  • Tries to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe

Emotional signs:

  • Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics
  • Resuming behaviors that they had grown out of, such as thumbsucking
  • Nightmares or fear of being alone at night
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness

Signs that an adult may be hurting a child

Keeping children safe can be challenging since many perpetrators who sexually abuse children are in positions of trust—93 percent of child sexual assault victims know the perpetrator.2 Keeping a child away from the perpetrator may mean major changes in your own life, even if you are outside of the child’s family.

Be cautious of an adult who spend time with children and exhibits the following behaviors:

  • Does not respect boundaries or listen when someone tells them “no”
  • Engages in touching that a child or child’s parents/guardians have indicated is unwanted
  • Tries to be a child’s friend rather than filling an adult role in the child’s life
  • Does not seem to have age-appropriate relationships
  • Talks with children about their personal problems or relationships
  • Spends time alone with children outside of their role in the child’s life or makes up excuses to be alone with the child
  • Expresses unusual interest in child’s sexual development, such as commenting on sexual characteristics or sexualizing normal behaviors
  • Gives a child gifts without occasion or reason
  • Spends a lot of time with your child or another child you know

Taking action isn’t easy, but it’s important

It’s not always easy to identify child sexual abuse—and it can be even more challenging to step in if you suspect something isn’t right. If a child tells you that someone makes them uncomfortable, even if they can’t tell you anything specific, listen. Talk to someone who can help you figure out if this is something that must be reported, such as a staff member from your local sexual assault service provider. In the meantime, if you are the parent or have influence over the child’s schedule, avoid putting the child in a potentially unsafe situation.

Remember, you are not alone. If you suspect sexual abuse you can talk to someone who is trained to help. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

6 Ways Substance Abuse Can Destroy Your Marriage

Share Button

6 Ways Substance Abuse Can Destroy Your Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Addiction is an overwhelming illness whose hallmark symptoms are the physiological craving of, and emotional attachment to, a legal or illegal substance or practice. Most often, we see addictions in the form of substances like alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs.

Substance abuse is devastating to marriages, families, and relationships. It can result in career loss, financial ruin, divorce, estrangement, and even death. Today, we’ll focus on six landmines that substance abuse plants in your marriage when you’re struggling with addiction.

For all of these issues, we strongly encourage that you and your spouse seek outside professional help. Consult your local minister or physician for reliable recovery resources, like a 12-step system that understands your unique struggle. Addiction is not something you can overcome on your own, but with the right help, you will be able to move past this and rebuild your lives.

DENIAL

Denial is risky business when it comes to facing a life-altering issue like addiction. For the addicted spouse, denial comes in the form of the idea that they’re in control of their addiction–they can stop any time they want. This is frustrating for the non-addicted spouse, who can often (eventually) see the problem for what it is, but finds it difficult to impossible to interact with the addicted spouse who is so strongly rooted in denial.

But many times, especially at first, the non-addicted spouse is also in denial. While the other person may display a host of red flags that point to substance abuse, it can feel easier in the moment for the non-addicted spouse to come up with alternate explanations or write off the signs as coincidence. Denial on the part of the non-addicted spouse is dangerous because it delays the possibility of seeking necessary professional help…even if that help only comes in the form of support for the non-addicted person in the marriage.

HELPLESSNESS

Whether it’s you or your spouse who is struggling with an addiction, helplessness takes root quickly. After a period of denial has passed, an addicted spouse may feel helpless to control what is happening to them; they find themselves at the mercy of the drug. The non-addicted spouse is likely to feel helpless when it comes to their spouse’s addictive behavior because they can’t do anything to stop it or make the situation better.

Feeling totally out of control of any situation–but especially a situation like this–is terrifying, stressful, and unsettling. Both spouses are at risk of seeking out behavior patterns that make them feel more in control of their lives, which can create a volatile situation in the relationship.

DISHONESTY

Addiction breeds dishonesty. It’s nearly an inevitable byproduct of substance abuse. The addicted spouse inherently knows that the substance that’s controlling their life shouldn’t be playing a role in it at all. Yet, because the physiological need for it is very real, they find themselves lying to cover up the problem.

However painful it may be, the non-addicted spouse must keep track of their spouse’s dishonesty. It’s essential to learn the telltale signs that the addicted spouse is lying; he or she may fall into a pattern that is easy to recognize. During and after recovery, the non-addicted spouse may still find it difficult to trust their husband or wife, but if they’ve become familiar with his or her patterns during dishonesty, it could become a framework they can use to evaluate the recovering spouse.

NEGLECT

Addictive substances tend to steal an addicted spouse’s entire focus (perhaps not at first, but eventually, this tends to be the case). This can lead to the spouse neglecting the needs of their family, plus their responsibilities at home and at work. As a result, the addicted spouse may eventually find themselves jobless and even in the throes of financial ruin.

For the non-addicted spouse, experiencing neglect is detrimental to their health and wellbeing, the health and wellbeing of their children, and the financial stability of the family. Over time, they find themselves shouldering the burden of the addicted spouse’s responsibilities, plus their own. This can lead to anger, resentment, and contempt, which can be difficult to overcome even after the couple has received professional help to overcome the addiction itself.

PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ILLNESS & PAIN

Substance abuse often begins when a person is trying to escape pain of some kind. What addicted individuals often don’t realize is that the substance will eventually cause them physical and psychological pain. Addiction also leads to varying types of illness, brought on by the years of self-harm.

For a non-addicted spouse, psychological pain and illness may occur as a result of the tremendous stress brought on by the addiction. Practice radical self-care and talk to your physician or counselor if your family is facing an addiction that has caused your health to deteriorate. Your recovering spouse and any children you may have will need you to be healthy in the coming months as you face this down.

ABUSE

Unfortunately, addiction is capable of creating an abusive environment in your home–be it verbal, physical, emotional, or otherwise. A person who has become addicted to a substance is susceptible to personality changes that include aggression and violence.

If you are a non-addicted spouse and your husband or wife has become abusive, creating a dangerous environment in your home, get yourself and any children you may have to safety. Consult your counselor for the safest way to communicate to your spouse that you have left the home, and you won’t be able to come back until it is safe for you to be there. Encourage them to seek the help they need to get well so that your family can be together again in a healthy environment.

If you would like help with your marriage or addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

5 Signs of a Painkiller Addiction

Share Button

pills

5 Surefire Signs of Painkiller Addiction

By Promises Treatment Center

You may not fit the stereotype of the “typical addict,” but if you’re using prescription painkillers beyond the scope of your doctor’s recommendations, you may need to take a second look. Prescription drug addiction can sneak up on anyone – soccer moms, high-profile executives and even grandma or grandpa – often without their knowledge. Here are five surefire signs your painkiller use has become a problem:

#1 You’re worried you may be losing control.

Do you keep a small supply of pain medication on you at all times “just in case”? Do you sneak or hide pills? If you’ve tried to cut back or stop using medication for a time but keep returning to prior levels of use, you may have lost control. This is particularly true if you continue using painkillers despite negative consequences in your life.

Addicted individuals may find themselves making urgent calls or unscheduled visits to their doctor or visiting multiple doctors to receive more than one prescription. Some may even find themselves buying pills on the street, forging prescriptions or stealing pills prescribed for others. If insurance no longer covers the cost, some people begin using cheaper, more easily accessible drugs like heroin.

For those who have had problems with drugs or alcohol in the past, this loss of control may be eerily familiar. If you have a history of drug abuse, you’re more likely to become addicted to pain medication as well.

#2 You don’t feel like yourself anymore.

Dependency on painkillers can change your appearance, habits and lifestyle. You may feel a shift in your mood, energy level or ability to concentrate, and may become agitated or hostile, particularly when you don’t have access to your medication. Sleeping and eating patterns may become irregular, causing fatigue and weight gain/loss. Over time, drugs may begin to take precedence over basic grooming and hygiene, resulting in changes to your physical appearance. Social circles may change as well, as your interests become more focused on drug use than connecting with family or friends.

#3 You get defensive if people question you about your medication use.

It may be difficult to recognize changes in yourself, but family, friends and coworkers may start to mention their concerns. When they make comments or ask questions, do you get annoyed or defensive? Rather than deal with other people’s commentary, have you started keeping your feelings and behaviors secret or avoiding people? Keeping secrets is a hallmark of addiction.

#4 You don’t feel good without the medication.

If you’ve become physically dependent on painkillers, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you skip a dose or the medication wears off. Symptoms may include joint and muscle pain, vomiting, headaches, anxiety, sweating and insomnia.

The pain of withdrawal, which can feel similar to the pain you were originally medicating, often leads to the use of more painkillers. In some cases, people will regularly manage withdrawal symptoms by taking more painkillers, often without realizing that these symptoms are the result of the medication itself.

#5 Your family, career and/or schoolwork are beginning to suffer.

You may notice, or others may tell you, that you’re no longer meeting your responsibilities of daily life. Your attendance or grades at school may suffer, a coworker or boss may complain about your performance, or family members may argue that you’re missing important events or neglecting your spouse or children. You may also struggle with financial or legal problems associated with your painkiller use.

Every year, more than 2 million Americans begin abusing prescription opiates. Take an honest look in the mirror – are you one of them? If you recognize the signs of painkiller addiction in yourself or a loved one, talk to your doctor or a drug treatment center right away. Painkiller addiction is treatable, but only if you reach out for help.

 

If you would like help with struggles with pain or painkiller abuse or addiction, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor.

Fifty Shades of Grey – Erotic Doesn’t Always Mean Romantic

Share Button

grey

Fifty Shades of Grey: Erotic Doesn’t Always Mean Romantic

By John Myer

Fifty Shades of Grey comes out on Valentine’s Day weekend.

The gist of the story:  a billionaire playboy with a fetish for control lures a young girl into his web of sexual deviance.

Curious?

Hardly.

Forms of bondage/domination/sadomasochism have been around for a long time.  BDSM has worn a lot of faces from its most celebrated figure, the dark Marquis De Sade, all the way over to the two most recent fresh-faced actors who now lend it mainstream approval.

I haven’t seen the movie or read the books, and I won’t.  Instead, I did my homework for this blog post by reading production notes and synopses, watching movie trailers, and listening to interviews from the actors.

While I was at it, I paid attention to the comment sections—the gushing remarks of women who read the books and now look forward to the film release.  In the middle of them, I found a lone enthusiastic male.  He wrote, “Great, now I can take my girl to a porn flick for our Valentine’s Day date!”

This irreverent poster simply said what a lot of people have been saying since the Fifty Shades book debut in 2011—that the trilogy is simply pornography for women.  The Fifty Shades fan base on the other hand, calls it harmless fun.

Not everybody sees the fun in it.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation said, “Hollywood is advertising the Fifty Shades story as an erotic love affair, but it is really about sexual abuse and violence against women.  The porn industry has poised men and women to receive the message that sexual violence is enjoyable.  Fifty Shades models this porn message and Hollywood cashes the check.”

Man.  What does all this have to do with romance?  Well, nothing, really.  At least according to the movie’s main character, Christian Grey, who says in the film trailer:  “I don’t do romance.”

Pretty easy to guess what that means.  No excitement of true love.  No commitment between two people.  No trust.  No lifelong connection.  No sweet talk or promises.  No vulnerability or mutual self-sacrifice.  Just “games” of physical stimulation—in effect, soulless sensuality.

I already know what people are going to say. I’ve heard it for decades from guys addicted to pornography.  It doesn’t hurt to watch.   It’s only fantasy.  Fifty fans would also add their movie is only rated R, not XXX.  No actual intercourse is shown.  Just graphic nudity.  Simulation. Imitation.  Suggestion. Role play.  Innuendo.  Mind games.

Really, after all that, does anybody need to see intercourse?

Maybe you could blame my attitude on being old school.  But this isn’t just about conservative values.  I’m certain that a lot of self-confessed moral conservatives will line up for tickets on opening night and bring all their friends.

Seems a bit inconsistent.

But an even weirder moral dissonance comes out of the whole thing. There has never been a greater outcry against domestic violence than of late (with the NFL, Hollywood celebs, and the President of the United States weighing in on it, no less).  How does this new “awareness” gel with the overwhelming female popularity given a tale about a man manipulating, abusing, and sexually dominating a woman?  And then describing her as empowered!

I’m seriously not getting it.

From a theological angle, there’s something hopelessly broken inside every human being.  It can be so dark that it leads even a godly person like the Apostle Paul to confess, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18).  What’s worse, we all get stimulated by the darkness in one another and revel in it.  It’s kind of gross, really—like getting thrills by wearing somebody else’s dirty underwear.  Art that devotes itself to gratuitous explorations of torture, serial murder, or illicit sex always starts off as the product of one person’s lurid fantasy—their sin.  Call me neurotic, but my sin is bad enough, thank you.  I don’t need to “enjoy” anybody else’s.

This is not a suggestion to “cheesify” every piece of literature or film and transform it into Christian Pollyanna.  I’ll be very honest.  Sex and violence are part of the human story.

Even the Bible doesn’t skirt these issues.  You can find them in the pages of Scripture.

On the other hand, we don’t get them in graphic detail.  We don’t know the minutiae of what went on between a naked husband and wife during those long days in the Garden of Eden. We don’t know the particulars of David’s torrid hook-up up with Bathsheba.  Even the Song of Solomon which suggests a long and sustained intimate encounter masks itself in poetic metaphor. And rightfully so.   Anything further would only serve to gratify prurient interests.

Yet the entire premise of the Fifty Shades package is exactly that—sensual.  It doesn’t contain brief risqué moments that advance an overarching story line.   The risqué content is the story line.  Take away the BDSM theme and the whole thing turns into a can of flat soda.

I’m not under the illusion that this blog article is actually going to stop folks from doing what they’re already dying to do—that is, see the movie.  I just wish we’d stop and think about it.  Better yet, I wish we’d bring our Bibles and our relationship with God into the choices of daily life.  That includes the books we feed our minds, and the screens we sit in front of.

We say something is okay if it’s entertaining.  It’s okay if it’s funny. It’s okay if it turns us on.  But fellow Christian, when is something not okay?

Maybe this movie will tank, but given the fact that there are another two books left to adapt, the franchise doesn’t look like it’s going to go away.  At any rate, I’ll make a prediction about the folks who may not enjoy it:

  • Any woman who has escaped the sexual slave trade.
  • Any woman who has ever tried to hook up with a fetish-driven mustang.
  • Any woman who has ever made the fatal mistake of marrying one of those mustangs.
  • Any man who honestly sees himself and his gender as being servant, protector, and lover, not taker.

Wow.  A whole movie that tells a woman it’s fun to be used by a guy in his play room, no strings attached.

That makes me want to turn fifty shades of boiling mad.

9 Things You Should Know About Intimate Partner Violence

Share Button

9 Things You Should Know About Intimate Partner Violence

By Joe Carter

The issue of intimate partner violence has been in the news recently after the National Football League suspended Ray Rice for hitting his finacee. A video from an elevator camera surfaced in which Rice is seen punching Janay Palmer in the face, knocking her unconscious. Rice and Palmer were wed the next day.

Here are nine things you should know about intimate partner violence.

quiet1. The term “intimate partner violence” (IPV) describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur across age, ethnic, gender, and economic lines, among persons with disabilities, among both heterosexual and same-sex couples, and does not require sexual intimacy. IPV affects more than 12 million Americans each year.

2. In 48 population-based surveys from around the world, 10-69 percent of women reported being physically assaulted by an intimate male partner at some point in their lives. In large national studies, the range is between 10-34 percent.

3. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 women (22.3 percent) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men (14.0 percent) have experienced the same. Female victims frequently experienced multiple forms of IPV (i.e. rape, physical violence, stalking); male victims most often experienced physical violence.

4. Women who experienced rape or stalking by any perpetrator or physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime were more likely than women who did not experience these forms of violence to report having asthma, diabetes, and irritable bowel syndrome. Thepercentage of women who consider their mental health to be poor is almost three times higher among women with a history of violence than among those without. Women with disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk of intimate partner violence, especially severe violence, than women without disabilities. Men and women who experienced these forms of violence were more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty with sleeping, activity limitations, poor physical health, and poor mental health than men and women who did not experience these forms of violence.

5. Most female victims of completed rape (78.7 percent) experienced their first rape before the age of 25 and almost half (40.4 percent) experienced their first rape before age 18 (28.3 percent between 11 and 17 years old and 12.1 percent at or before the age of 10). About 35 percent of women who were raped as minors also were raped as adults compared to 14 percent of women without an early rape history. More than a quarter of male victims of completed rape (28 percent) were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.

6. Approximately 1 in 5 Black (22.0 percent) and White (18.8 percent) non-Hispanic women, and 1 in 7 Hispanic women (14.6 percent) in the United States have experienced rape at some point in their lives. More than one-quarter of women (26.9 percent) who identified as American Indian or as Alaska Native and 1 in 3 women (33.5 percent) who identified as multiracial non-Hispanic reported rape victimization in their lifetime. One out of 59 White non-Hispanic men (1.7 percent) has experienced rape at some point in his life. Nearly one-third of multiracial non-Hispanic men (31.6 percent) and over one-quarter of Hispanic men (26.2 percent) reported sexual violence other than rape in their lifetimes. Male rape victims and male victims of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences reported predominantly male perpetrators.

7. In 2002–11, 8 percent of female intimate partner victimizations involved some form of sexual violence during the incident. About 4 percent of females and 8 percent of males who were victimized by an intimate partner were shot at, stabbed, or hit with a weapon in 2002–11.

8. Three fourths of all murder-suicides (74 percent) involved an intimate partner. Of these, 96 percent were women killed by their intimate partners. Interpersonal violence is the leading cause of female homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy. On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.

9. Adolescents and adults are often unaware that teens experience dating violence. In a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey. About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.

____________________________________________

If you or someone you know is or has encountered intimate partner violence, please seek help. See our Support page for some potential resources.  

Please feel free to give CornerStone Family Services a call to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach: 614.459.3003.