Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Child Molesters

March 26, 2009

It would be wonderful if all child molesters were marked with a big red danger sign on their nose. Then we could easily steer clear of them. Instead, we must trust our gut and watch out for warning signs.

If a new person in your life seems very eager to spend time with your children, pay attention. Be especially alert when you hear yourself frequently saying "You don't need to do that" or "Are you sure?"

Pay attention if your child used to love spending time with a certain person and now seems reluctant. Children are shouting with their actions that something "yucky" is going on. Tune into your younger children's play. Little children play what they are learning. If your child is killing a specific teenager or adult friend with toys, chanting about hating a friend, or is playing in a sexualized way with his toys, or is using sexual words during playtime, your child is distressed and is probably a victim. If your child is excessively clingy all of a sudden, or has radically changed his/her appearance (baggy clothes or sexy clothes are typical signs), or is suddenly doing poorly in school be alert and calmly ask direct questions.

Remember that child abusers are normal looking people--in fact some of them look like especially good or kind people. Watch their behavior and trust it more than their words. Sexual abusers accustom the victim to little bits of questionable touching with "games," roughhousing, tickling, and play.

Trust your gut. If you don't feel comfortable with someone, then close off his/her access to your children. You don't need to prove anything. You don't need to even explain yourself. It is your job to protect your child the best that you can.

If you suspect that your child has been abused in some way, work on being available to listen. Children can only tell their secrets if they feel confident that you won't "go off the deep end" with a big emotional response. Help your child to feel safe with you.

If you find out that your child has been abused by a neighbor, friend, relative, or stranger, report it to the police and seek counseling help for your child (and for yourself too because it causes tremendous stress to cope with what your child has gone through).

Romance Trap

March 27, 2009

Warning to all readers:
Abusers are often romantic and charming (at first):
They are quick to build a romance (wanting to spend every moment with you and get married quickly).
They figure out what you want and then reflect it back to you.
They will do their best to sweep you off your feet.
They will seem "perfect".
They are happy to give gifts or flowers or cards or whatever pleases you (although it may seem like too much too fast the charm quiets your inner voice).

So how do you know if this romantic person is dangerous?

You may not know for sure, but abusers do tend to show their hand, if you know what to look for.

Be suspicious if he/she:
--talks about his/her parent with unresolved anger
--tells off color, sexist jokes
--tells stories about his or her past violent episodes
--sites violent solutions to problems (may all be in a "theoretical way" saying what they'd like to do or would do if...)
--he/she ignores a boundary you set (no matter how small of a boundary. If you said you need to be home by 11PM and he or she won't comply)
--he or she tells you that you really don't mean something
--he/she "steals" physical touch in a way that unsettles you
--he/she is in a big hurry with relationship milestones
--he/she is talking marriage very early in the relationship
--he/she shows disrespect for your stuff (acts as if it is his/hers)
--doesn't seem to like any of your friends
--proposes after only a few weeks or months of knowing one another
--pressures you to change your mind in subtle and not so subtle ways

Give yourself time to think if you:
--Find yourself excusing his/her "little" lies
--Find yourself isolated from your friends
--Are swept off your feet, but you notice that you no longer have any privacy or alone time to speak of
--Love the attention he/she is showering on you, but all the compliments he/she gives are embarrassingly overblown (since when were you the most beautiful, the smartest, the funniest person in the whole world?)
--Notice yourself defending what you believe, think, feel, etc. in charming, flirtatious, little battles
--Discover after a while that this person seems wounded or broken from past relationships with very unreasonable or cruel people. You begin to imagine that your love could make all the difference.
--imagine to yourself that he/she will be less insecure after he/she receives your love

Remember that it is wise to take your time in a new relationship. You have as much time as you need to get to know this new person in your life. It is much better to discover something isn't right while you're dating, rather than after you've said I do.

Get Physical

When working through memories that you’d rather not remember have you ever tried to physically release some of the stress?

A friend of mine bought used dishes and then threw them against a shed wall. The throwing motion and the breaking sound helped her to release anger that she had stored up for years.

Another friend of mine dug a hole and buried letters that she wrote to each of her abusers. The burial released a large portion of her grief and shame that had burdened her since young childhood.

Recently, I threw soppy paper towels at a piece of paper on which a large stick figure represented one of my abusers of the past. I wrote phrases all over the paper. Phrases proclaiming hurtful words and deeds committed against me, phrases naming my feelings, phrases declaring who I want to be, and phrases saying good by to the shame of abuse. I spoke truth aloud as I threw the paper towels. There was something satisfying about hearing the slapping noises and seeing the ink words running and dripping. It worked. By the time I was finished, I felt lighter and freer.

The sky’s the limit on what you choose to do to physically release some of your pent up feelings. I urge you to keep it safe though. Hurting yourself with a physical activity will not help anything. Borrow one of the ideas in this post or use your creativity to design an exercise just for you.

Consider having a trusted friend with you—you don’t need to process alone unless you choose to do so.

Stress releases hormones in our body—and physical activity, tears, and hugs all release anti-stress agents (such as endorphins) into the body. Try getting physical when it feels like the time is right. This tool can be an important part of letting go of the past’s burdens in a way that respects your needs, and also keeps you moving on into your future.

Please post a comment if you’ve had success with a physical way of releasing unwanted baggage.

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft