From an outside perspective, I belonged to a middle-class family and lived a happy and fulfilled life. I excelled at school and partook in many extra-curricular activities, such as swimming, piano lessons and ballet. I was the textbook definition of a ‘good child’.
My first recollection of abuse was when I was perhaps five or six years old. My parents were arguing and when I tried to intervene, my mother lashed out and struck me across the face.
The stone of her engagement ring cut my face drawing blood. I vaguely remember being upset, however, what sticks with me is the next day. I was at school and met with questions as to what happened to my face. Instinctively I constructed a lie and told everyone that I had walked into the sharp edge of a door.
What amazes me, is that I was able to lie so quickly and convincingly at such a young age. I do not even remember my mother telling me to lie, I just know that felt as if I should.
As I grew older and my mother’s ability to control me diminished, her abuse developed.
There was one time where I truly feared for my life. I do not remember the cause for her distress, however, she became so enraged that she reached for a wooden statue of a seahorse that was in our hallway, and lifted her arm high up to strike me with it. At that moment, I saw her pupils shrink and her face was screwed up in extreme torment. I thought that if she hit me with that statue, I would probably die.
I froze in panic and said nothing. I think my passive reaction caused her to snap out of what I assume was a dissociative state. She changed her mind and she dropped the statue.
Another time, she had kicked my legs so I was sat on the floor and she was slamming my head into the wall. I kicked my legs out towards her and struck her in the chest, hoping to get her away from me. She cried out in pain and began crying, berating me for being abusive and hurting her. The problem with her was that she never thought logically and that situation then became one where I hurt her, regardless of the fact that she had just been assaulting me previously.
Many people have often questioned why myself or my father never spoke out and told anyone about the abuse that we faced. The answer is a complex one, yet it can be simplified to the fact that when you are subjected to abuse for the majority of your life, it can become normalised.
I understood what my mother did was wrong, however, I never believed that it was bad enough to speak out. The other reason is due to embarrassment. The trouble with abuse is the victim often feels ashamed, even though the shame should be entirely on the abuser.
I could not let my friends or teachers know what was happening, yet at the same time, I dreamed that they would somehow know and save me from the horrors that I faced.
When I recall the years of abuse that I faced, I think the emotional abuse affected me much greater than the physical. I did not like to be hit, however, I would’ve chosen that over the alternative, which was the punishment of humiliation.
She achieved this in various ways, such as locking me outside of the front of the house, forcing me to sit outside knowing the neighbours could see me. Another method would be to text my friends shameful and embarrassing messages from my phone, knowing that I would have to pretend it was me, as I could not explain that my mother would do such a thing.
Towards the end, as I neared adolescence, I became really upset with my situation. My mother and father had separated, due to her forcing him to leave, and her distress caused by the dissolution of marriage was taken out on me.
As her mental health spiralled, the emotional abuse and screaming became more frequent. I was nearing the age of taking exams as a sixteen-year-old girl, and I was tired of juggling my school work, with having to look after my mother who was out of control.
I would often have sleepless nights due to her making me sleep on the floor in a cold room as a punishment, or keeping me up by shouting at me for some trivial mistake that I had made. I then became desperate for my situation to change.
At this point, it was still never a viable option in my mind to tell an outsider and get help. Not because I was scared, or because I didn’t think that anyone would believe me. I just simply did not consider doing it. I then started hoping that someone else would save me from my situation. I often opened windows when my mother was in a fit of rage, hoping a neighbour or passerby would hear her and report it.
I shamefully remember hoping that she would do something really drastic- inflict so much damage to me that I would end up in the hospital or that someone would call the police to take her away. Like many others, I ask my younger self: ‘why did you not just simply tell someone?’
Then came the day that completely changed my life. I had recently been in contact with my father and had told him that I could not take the situation anymore and that he must do something. He had a wide range of evidence of her abuse, from text messages to videos. I was at school one day when I was asked to leave my classroom to speak to someone.
The police sat in a room and explained that my father had reported my mother for abuse and that she was in custody.
I was taken to a police safe house in the forest to complete a vulnerable witness video statement, as I was under the age of eighteen and the victim of traumatic crime.
I was asked to outline as much as I could of the abuse that I faced throughout the years. I listed multiple instances in a rather matter of fact way, to which the policeman was shocked. He told me how he was stunned that I could talk of such experiences so calmly and without getting upset.
He also told me how horrified he was, as a father of a young girl, that someone could face what I had. It was at this point, that I truly understood the reality of my experience, causing my resolute appearance to shatter. I broke down in tears, realising that for the first time in my life, somebody else knew what I had faced.
As an adult leading a happy and successful life, I can still see the remnants of my trauma. One of my biggest flaws is that I overthink how others perceive me. I spend hours worrying if I have said something wrong, or embarrassing, which I believe stems from punishments of humiliation, which were designed to render me as vulnerable.
Not a good week for Snapchat. On Thursday, Motherboardreported that “several departments inside social media giant Snap have dedicated tools for accessing user data, and multiple employees have abused their privileged access to spy on Snapchat users.” And now the Sunday Times has published an investigation into allegations that predators are “flocking” to the social media platform, which has become a “haven for child abuse.”
Motherboard’s article cited two former employees who claimed that “multiple Snap employees abused their access to Snapchat user data several years ago.” This included the use of “internal tools that allowed Snap employees to access user data, including in some cases location information, their own saved Snaps and personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses.”
SnapLion, one of the tools referenced in the Motherboard article, was designed to gather information for “valid law enforcement requests. Claims that this tool was involved in the alleged misuse have not been verified.
A Snap spokesperson told me that “any perception that employees might be spying on our community is highly troubling and wholly inaccurate. Protecting privacy is paramount at Snap. We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have, including data within tools designed to support law enforcement. Unauthorized access of any kind is a clear violation of the company’s standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination.”
Ironically, it is this limited user data that is central to the Sunday Timesinvestigation. The newspaper’s investigation has uncovered “thousands of reported cases that have involved Snapchat since 2014,” including “pedophiles using the app to elicit indecent images from children and to groom teenagers,” as well as “under-18s spreading child pornography themselves.” This has now resulted in U.K. police “investigating three cases of child exploitation a day linked to the app, [with] messages that self-destruct allowing groomers to avoid detection.”
The Sunday Times quotes Adam Scott Wandt from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York calling Snapchat a “haven” for abusers, arguing that the “self-destruct” nature of Snapchat’s messages “makes it difficult for the police to collect evidence.”
Wandt claims that in this way “Snapchat has distinguished itself as the platform where abuse of children happens… The problem was that adults realized you could do a simple Google search and find out that most Snapchat messages are unrecoverable after 24 hours, even by law enforcement with a warrant.”
The U.K. children’s charity, the NSPCC, rates Snapchat as a high risk, with a spokesperson for the charity explaining that predators intent on grooming children “cast the net wide in the expectation that a small number of children will respond.”
The charity has also warned on self-generated images taken and shared by children themselves. “As soon as that image is shared or screenshotted, the child loses control over it… those images may start on a site like Snapchat, but they could very easily end up circulating among technologically sophisticated offenders, making their way onto the dark web.”
Snap told me that “we care deeply about protecting our community and are sickened by any behavior which involves the abuse of a minor. We work hard to detect, prevent and stop abuse on our platform and encourage everyone – young people, parents and caregivers – to have open conversations about what they’re doing online. We will continue to proactively work with governments, law enforcement and other safety organizations to ensure that Snapchat continues to be a positive and safe environment.”
A similar investigation in March focused on Instagram, with the NSPCC claiming that Facebook’s photo-sharing app has become the leading platform for child grooming in the country. During an 18-month period to September last year, there were more than 5,000 recorded crimes “of sexual communication with a child,” and “a 200% rise in recorded instances in the use of Instagram to target and abuse children.” The charity’s CEO described the figures as “overwhelming evidence that keeping children safe cannot be left to social networks. We cannot wait for the next tragedy before tech companies are made to act.”
This latest investigation makes the same point and comes a little over a month after the U.K. Government published proposals for “tough new measures to ensure the U.K. is the safest place in the world to be online,” claiming these to be the world’s “first online safety laws.” The proposals include an independent regulator with the “powers to take effective enforcement action against companies that have breached their statutory duty of care.” Such enforcement will include “substantial fines” as well as, potentially, the powers “to disrupt the business activities of a non-compliant company… to impose liability on individual members of senior management… and to block non-compliant services.”
The regulation of social media has been in and out of the headlines for most of this year. The prevalence of social media use by under-age children, and the risky interactions those children expose themselves to, has been one of the most disturbing aspects disclosed thus far. Regulation is coming. But the open question is how do the platforms prevent users from deliberately circumventing their security controls with little understanding of the risks they might then face.
I am the Founder/CEO of Digital Barriers—developing advanced surveillance solutions for defence, national security and counter-terrorism. I write about the intersection of geopolitics and cybersecurity, and analyze breaking security and surveillance stories. Contact me at email@example.com .
Pedophiles trade Child Porn through Dropbox Links on Instagram
The Atlantic first reported that teenagers stumbled upon a network of Instagram accounts that were sharing Dropbox links of child porn (Atlantic article). The way it worked is that pedophiles were using certain hashtags on images that advertised how to get in touch. Teens discovered this and proceeded to spam the offending hashtags with hundreds of memes, making it difficult for pedophiles to find each other and trade illegal content.
Brilliant. Kids defending other kids!
And, although it was an admirable diversion, unfortunately these criminals are resourceful. And, with over a billion monthly users, it’s impossible for Instagram to keep pace with nefarious activity.
Maybe your kid already uses Instagram. Great! I’m not saying you need to rip it away. In fact, that is often counterproductive. Instead, we hope this post will help you better understand that the way the app is designed creates risks.
Because remember, not all kids using Instagram end up being groomed and abused.
If your son or daughter receives a private, DM (direct message) from a stranger, does he/she know how to respond? It’s easier to do than you think. Remember, wherever the kids are is where the predators are.
We simply want this post to flash a light in dark places. Since Apple’s App Store Descriptiondoesn’t say anything about predatory activity, it’s our job to tell the truth.
**Warning. Some of the screenshots you will see in this post are not safe for work (NSFW) and include some of the most disturbing content we’ve ever encountered during over four years of researching social media. Nothing has been censored.
Four Grooming Paths on Instagram – Comments, Hashtags, Likes, and DMs
If Instagram leadership reads this post, they’ll try really hard to point to their community guidelines and their reporting channels, saying that they don’t allow predatory activity. But we would argue that the very way in which Instagram is designed creates grooming pathways. In other words – no amount of moderation or guidelines can change Instagram’s features. Allow us to explain.
Oh, and one more thing. Many parents who read this might think, “my child has a private account, so they’re fine.” That’s a common, but incorrect conclusion. None of the four feature issues we discuss below are impacted in any way by the privacy of an account. Anyone, whether private or not, can post comments and search hashtags, and anyone can be seen through the like count and sent a message via DM.
Pedophiles exploit Instagram’s comments to network with each other and fish for victims.
Within the comments, pedophiles find other pedophiles and peddle their illegal and disgusting content with each other. Here are a few samples from an endless number of comments (warning – these comments are extremely disturbing)
You also see comments that go directly at young people as a form of “fishing” for victims, waiting for a kid to bite.
Pedophiles exploit Instagram’s hashtags to drop horrible content into good, clean places.
Almost all social media platforms use #hashtags. Think of them as a card catalogue for social media content – a way to categorize millions and millions of images into groups so that I can find exactly what I’m looking for. We love them! Some people use them as a sort of witty, second language.
But the problem is that they can be used by anyone.
Let’s say for a minute that I’m a teen girl who’s interested in modeling. Or cheerleading. And my mom even made me have a private Instagram account (good job, mom!).
I take a photo at the beach with my friends, and I attach the hashtags #teen #teengirl #teenmodel #snapchat. Fabulous. Later on, with my girlfriends, I’m thumbing through the #teenmodel and #snapchat hashtags, and I see this:
See, any predator can attach #teenmodel and #snapchat to their photo. This allows that photo to show up in front of millions of teen girls, thumbing through #snapchat photos, hoping one will “bite.”
Notice in the one photo how part of the “sell” is to convince a girl to join him in Snapchat, which is a very secure environment for secretive activity. After all, >75% of teens have Instagram and >76% (AP Article) of teens have Snapchat, so there’s a good chance that if a kid has one, then they probably have the other.
In other words, #hashtags allow predators to hover over good places like a drone and drop their smut whenever they want. Pay attention to those screenshots – there’s nothing pornographic about them. There’s no swear words. No use of “sex.” But, the very nature of #hashtags as a feature create this grooming path.
And if someone reports the “daddy” posts you see above and Instagram takes them down, no problem. Since Instagram doesn’t require any identity verification, including birthday, real email, credit card, NOTHING, a predator can create another fake account in seconds. This is yet another huge design flaw that creates a situation where pedophiles don’t mind taking great risks and getting shut down – their attitude is, “I’ll just start over.”
[Note: we experienced this with “daddy,” who we reported multiple times. His account would be shut down, and then he popped up with a slightly different username seconds later, posting the same horrifying images of him masturbating and asking kids to connect with him “live.”]
Predators exploit Instagram’s likes (the heart) to identify potential victims.
Going back to our #teenmodel example, if you click on one photo, you might find that it has hundreds of likes (hearts) similar to the photo of the young boy below (sorry, but if you don’t want your photo in blog posts, then keep your account private).
Predators can click on the likes and see everyone who has liked this photo. Everyone. Even if they have a private account. From that list, a predator can identify someone young who looks interesting and send him/her a direct message (DM) – we’ll explain the whole DM feature in more detail next. But, note how the “likes” feature creates a target audience for sexual predators. This is shown in the image below.
Again, it’s a design flaw. The very nature of the likes feature creates a pool of young people for predators to target (to Instagram’s credit, they are considering dropping the “like” count attached to photos, but so far, this has only been speculated).
Which leads us to DMs. Direct Messages.
Pedophiles exploit Instagram DMs (direct messages) to groom kids. And they’re doing it very successfully.
Two weeks ago, PYE created a test Instagram account. This account was clearly for a young girl, who posted two selfies on the first day of existence. Tagged on these photos were hashtags #teen, #teengirl, #teenmodel. This account went out and “liked” a few photos with similar hashtags and followed accounts that were like mine.
Not much happened for the first six days of the account.
Then, one week later, something in Instagram’s algorithm triggered. It was as if some combination of the test account’s activity unleashed a tsunami of DM activity that hasn’t let up over the past four days, averaging over 10 DMs per day. The screenshots below show some of the activity, including a very creative porn link. Note – PYE is the one who scribbled out the man masturbating in the image below. The photo was sent to our test account as a DM, completely exposed.
Can Instagram Fix their Predator Problem?
Maybe. In order to clean up the issues above, Instagram would have to significantly alter numerous, core features. If Instagram were to create a “Safe Mode,” it might have to:
Remove the ability to DM to or with anyone who isn’t an approved follower.
Allow parents to create a whitelisted set of contacts. That means the child can ONLY like, comment, and DM with people who are on the whitelist.
Remove the ability to add hashtags.
I just don’t foresee Instagram making those changes.
What Can Parents do About the Instagram Pedophile Problem?
1. If your kid uses social media, including Instagram, be curious and involved. Remember, not every kid misuses these platforms. But, if you know the risks, then get involved and talk openly with your children about how they’re using the app.
2. Use monitoring tools like Bark (7-days free!) and Covenant Eyes (30-days free!) to monitor their smartphone social media and texting activity. Bark actually monitors images within the app for appropriateness and alerts parents when kids venture into inappropriate images.
3. Talk to your kids specifically about direct messages and give them guidance for what to do if someone tricky reaches out to them.
The only way anything will change with big tech companies is if the government does something. We’re convinced of it.
Parents, we love BARK and how it helps parents AND kids. Here’s a real story…
“We knew our son was having some issues with school and in his social circle but he doesn’t talk to us about anything…he googled “What is it called when there’s a war going on inside your brain?”…The fact that he used the word “war” prompted BARK to mark it as violence…Call it depression or anxiety or regular mood swings teens experience, he wasn’t opening up to anyone about this and never mentioned it…I have a psych evaluation setup for him in a few days and I just have to say how grateful I am that BARK caught this. I would otherwise have no idea that this was even an issue for him and we can now get some professional help to ensure that it doesn’t become a true problem.”
Parents, do you want a better idea of what your kids are doing on social media? What about the comments on your daughter’s Instagram photos? Or, iMessage activity on your son’s iPhone? Then, look no further than Bark. You can start a 7-day free trial today.
*Note – links in this post might connect to affiliates who we know and trust. We might earn a small commission if you decide to purchase their services. This costs you nothing! We only recommend what we’ve tested on our own families. Enjoy!
I love life. Seriously! Each. Day. A. Gift. Former CPA, business advisor, youth pastor, development director. Manage marketing efforts for Covenant Eyes and CEO of PYE. God shares wild ideas with me about life while I run. I have a relentless drive to help families use technology well.
Psychologists at California State University, Northridge, studied 234 professional performers, looking for a reason why mental health disorders are so common in the performing arts.
“The notion that artists and performing artists suffered more pathology, including bipolar disorder, troubled us,” dance coordinator and psychologist Paula Thomson, a co-author on the new study, told Psypost.
“No one seemed willing to also include the effects of early childhood adversity and adult trauma and its influence on creativity and psychopathology.”
The study examined 83 actors, directors, and designers; 129 dancers; and 20 musicians and opera singers. These study participants filled out self-report surveys pertaining to childhood adversity, sense of shame, creative experiences, proneness to fantasies, anxiety, and level of engagement in an activity.
The participants were able to be categorised into three groups: those who reported a high level of childhood adversity; those who had experienced a lower or medium level; and those who had experienced little to none.null
It’s the high-level group that demonstrated the greater extremes. These performing artists had much higher anxiety, much more internalised shame, and reported more cumulative past traumatic events. They were also more prone to fantasies.
But they also seemed more connected with the creative process, the researchers said. They were more aware of it, and reported feeling more absorbed in it. They reported heightened awareness of a state of inspiration and a sense of discovery during the process.
They were also able to move more easily between the state of absorption and a more distant state for critical awareness, and were more receptive to art.
“Lastly,” the researchers wrote, “[this] group identified greater appreciation for the transformational quality of creativity, in particular, how the creative process enabled a deeper engagement with the self and world. They recognised that it operated as a powerful force in their life.”
Obviously the study has caveats, as self-reported studies can be prone to personal bias. Also, since it was limited to performing artists, comparisons couldn’t easily be made with other subsets of the population.
Nevertheless, the finding, the researchers said, may indicate that adult performers who have experienced childhood adversity are better able to recognise and value the creative process; and the ability of that group to enjoy the creative process could indicate resilience.
“We are saddened by the number of participants in our study who have suffered multiple forms of childhood adversity as well as adult assaults (both sexual and non-sexual),” Thomson told Psypost.
“So many participants in our sample have experienced poly-traumatization and yet they also embrace their passion for performance and creativity. They are embracing ways to express all that is human.”
Long suspected throughout many CSA Victims’ childhoods, in 2018 Scientific Alert published the following article on the proven-identified link: “Scientists Have Found a Strong Link Between a Terrible Childhood And Being Intensely Creative”. Opening with ‘exposure to abuse, neglect or a dysfunctional family’ throughout a victim’s childhood, expands to join together how these impacts have a clear linkage. Complemented through Counselling and verifying some Victims’ long-held suspicions, this Article gives another (Scientific/Journalistic) POV – which may also satisfy those of us who often felt disbelieved, palmed-away or ignored. We knew what we were/had survived; we just didn’t know how to word, or should I say ‘Scientifically categorise’ what we ‘endured’! … WTF ?!!!… we were only young, innocent kids at their time: the perfect hunting ground, for these Criminal-Pedophilic-Dirty-(typically)-Senior/Old-(WO)-Men.
I apologise for going off on an emotional-outburst, yet this is a toned-down form of many of the conversations had with Victims, Parents and Relations; Thankfully, their mutual aim is to protect this triggering news from younger Siblings; As horrifying as this possibility is to consider, perhaps this is (another) layer of defence which the Criminal-Pedophilic-Dirty-(typically)-Senior/Old-(WO)-Men know of + exploit. Having (naturally?) always having entered the Arts, this Article gives many reasons and answers questions, yet more interests may be shown. Perhaps this is an underlying advantage of Creativity, yet CSA Survivours I’ve spent any time with each have their own ‘checklists’ to work through. At this point, I’ll aim to re-publish the complete Article ASAP, in addition to again providing the Private + Confidential Counsellors. Of great interest, is the amount of focus I am working through with my Counsellor on the “minor and inconsiderate” events, which are actually mounting up to explain the devastating impact which may result.
Hopes are that each of you, your loved ones and each of our ecosystems copes alright throughout this COVID19 Pandemic.
Any one sign doesn’t mean that a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you begin asking questions and consider seeking help. Keep in mind that some of these signs can emerge at other times of stress such as:
During a divorce
Death of a family member or pet
Problems at school or with friends
Other anxiety-inducing or traumatic events
Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent
Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
Seems distracted or distant at odd times
Has a sudden change in eating habits
Refuses to eat
Loses or drastically increases appetite
Has trouble swallowing.
Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
Talks about a new older friend
Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge
Signs more typical of younger children
An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
Has new words for private body parts
Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
Signs more typical in adolescents
Self-injury (cutting, burning)
Inadequate personal hygiene
Drug and alcohol abuse
Running away from home
Fear of intimacy or closeness
Compulsive eating or dieting
Physical warning signs
Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare. If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor. Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.
Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
What You Can Do If You See Warning Signs
Create a Safety Plan. Don’t wait for “proof” of child sexual abuse.
Look for patterns of behavior that make children less safe. Keep track of behaviors that concern you. This Sample Journal Page can be a helpful tool.
If you have questions or would like resources or guidance for responding to a specific situation, visit our Online Help Center.
Share Prevention Tip Sheets in Your Community
We encourage you to print and share these tip sheets in your family and community. Our tip sheets are licensed under the Creative Commons, which allows you to reproduce them as long as you follow these Guidelines. Please contact us about permissions and to tell us how you plan to put our resources to work.
Losing a loved one is one of the most distressing and, unfortunately, common experiences people face. Most people experiencing normal grief and bereavement have a period of sorrow, numbness, and even guilt and anger. Gradually these feelings ease, and it’s possible to accept loss and move forward.
For some people, feelings of loss are debilitating and don’t improve even after time passes. This is known as complicated grief, sometimes called persistent complex bereavement disorder. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble recovering from the loss and resuming your own life.
Different people follow different paths through the grieving experience. The order and timing of these phases may vary from person to person:
Accepting the reality of your loss
Allowing yourself to experience the pain of your loss
Adjusting to a new reality in which the deceased is no longer present
Having other relationships
These differences are normal. But if you’re unable to move through these stages more than a year after the death of a loved one, you may have complicated grief. If so, seek treatment. It can help you come to terms with your loss and reclaim a sense of acceptance and peace.
During the first few months after a loss, many signs and symptoms of normal grief are the same as those of complicated grief. However, while normal grief symptoms gradually start to fade over time, those of complicated grief linger or get worse. Complicated grief is like being in an ongoing, heightened state of mourning that keeps you from healing.
Signs and symptoms of complicated grief may include:
Intense sorrow, pain and rumination over the loss of your loved one
Focus on little else but your loved one’s death
Extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or excessive avoidance of reminders
Intense and persistent longing or pining for the deceased
Problems accepting the death
Numbness or detachment
Bitterness about your loss
Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
Lack of trust in others
Inability to enjoy life or think back on positive experiences with your loved one
Complicated grief also may be indicated if you continue to:
Have trouble carrying out normal routines
Isolate from others and withdraw from social activities
Experience depression, deep sadness, guilt or self-blame
Believe that you did something wrong or could have prevented the death
Feel life isn’t worth living without your loved one
Wish you had died along with your loved one
When to see a doctor
Contact your doctor or a mental health professional if you have intense grief and problems functioning that don’t improve at least one year after the passing of your loved one.
If you have thoughts of suicide
At times, people with complicated grief may consider suicide. If you’re thinking about suicide, talk to someone you trust. If you think you may act on suicidal feelings, call 000 or 112 (if calling from a Mobile Phone). Or call a suicide hotline number: In Australia, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) to reach a trained Counsellor. For NRS Applications call 1800 555 677. Interpreter: 13 14 50
It’s not known what causes complicated grief. As with many mental health disorders, it may involve your environment, your personality, inherited traits and your body’s natural chemical makeup.
Complicated grief occurs more often in females and with older age. Factors that may increase the risk of developing complicated grief include:
An unexpected or violent death, such as death from a car accident, or the murder or suicide of a loved one
Death of a child
Close or dependent relationship to the deceased person
Social isolation or loss of a support system or friendships
Past history of depression, separation anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Traumatic childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect
Other major life stressors, such as major financial hardships
Complicated grief can affect you physically, mentally and socially. Without appropriate treatment, complications may include:
Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Anxiety, including PTSD
Significant sleep disturbances
Increased risk of physical illness, such as heart disease, cancer or high blood pressure
Long-term difficulty with daily living, relationships or work activities
Alcohol, nicotine use or substance misuse
It’s not clear how to prevent complicated grief. Getting counseling soon after a loss may help, especially for people at increased risk of developing complicated grief. In addition, caregivers providing end-of-life care for a loved one may benefit from counseling and support to help prepare for death and its emotional aftermath.
Talking. Talking about your grief and allowing yourself to cry also can help prevent you from getting stuck in your sadness. As painful as it is, trust that in most cases, your pain will start to lift if you allow yourself to feel it.
Support. Family members, friends, social support groups and your faith community are all good options to help you work through your grief. You may be able to find a support group focused on a particular type of loss, such as the death of a spouse or a child. Ask your doctor to recommend local resources.
Bereavement counseling. Through early counseling after a loss, you can explore emotions surrounding your loss and learn healthy coping skills. This may help prevent negative thoughts and beliefs from gaining such a strong hold that they’re difficult to overcome.
Does the mention of any of the terms of ‘corruption, abuse, deception, obstruction’ cause a creepy feeling, the hairs on the back of your neck stand, or a chill run down your spine? You may have been effected by any of inappropriate issues, that are still becoming prevalent today. Most of us are familiar with the saying of “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely”. (Lord Acton)
Translations of this are often made into areas of vulnerability: Teacher-Students (pedophilia), Church Leader-Youth (child sexual abuser), Sports Coach-Player (privatelessons), Disability Carer-disabled (manipulation), Government-Indigenous (stolen generations), Caretaker-Retiree (aged care abuse) and Banks-Customers (coercion). Thankfully, there’s been many Royal Commissions called, with more to come. Our ‘RoyalCommBBC’ is only a small example of what can be possible, when the Sharing of beneficial Information-News-Experiences-Solutions are made.
A great part of any Institution, is that like members typically stick together. It’s been found that when ‘reality hits home’, many of us acknowledge that they’re not alone AND there is a simple solution available. This is where RCbbc can help, in supporting past Students, Parents and Friends in contacting experts in their fields.
As the recent HBO documentary Leaving Neverlandso powerfully demonstrated, many adults have yet to tell anyone that they were sexually abused as a child—not their partners, not their friends, not their family members, not even their therapists. Many of us are familiar with the reasons why children do not come forward to report child sexual abuse, but many don’t understand why adults continue to carry this secret, sometimes to their graves. I have been counseling adult victims of child sexual abuse for the past 35 years. In this article, I’ll discuss many of the reasons why some adults continue to keep silent when it comes to being a victim of child sexual abuse.
Many former victims of child sexual abuse are confused as to whether they were, in fact, sexually abused. This can be due to a lack of understanding as to what constitutes sexual abuse, because many people are misinformed as to what child sexual abuse actually is. For example, many people think of childhood sexual abuse as an adult having intercourse with a child—penetration of a penis inside a vagina or in the case of male on male sexual abuse, a male penetrating the child’s anus. But most childhood sexual abuse does not involve intercourse. Also, many people think of childhood sexual abuse as being an adult molesting a child. But childhood sexual abuse also includes an older child molesting a younger child. Child sexual abuse includes any contact between an adult and a child or an older child and a younger child for the purposes of sexual stimulation that results in sexual gratification for the older person. This can range from non-touching offenses, such as exhibitionism and showing child pornography, to fondling and oral sex, to penetration and child prostitution.
As the young men in Leaving Neverland explained, they did not realize that they had been sexually abused until they were in their thirties. Instead, they considered what allegedly occurred between themselves and Michael Jackson as a love affair in which they consented to all the activities that occurred. This kind of thinking is common for former victims of child sexual abuse. It wasn’t until one of the young men had a child of his own that he came to realize what had happened to him. When he thought of someone doing to his son what had been done to him, it suddenly dawned on him that he had been abused. “I’d kill anyone who did that to my son. Why didn’t I feel anything when I thought about what Michael did to me?” the young man shared. This lack of awareness and the inability to connect with and have empathy for themselves as a child is not uncommon in former victims of child sexual abuse.
Another issue that may add to the confusion is the issue of receiving pleasure. Although there is often physical pain involved with child sexual abuse, that isn’t always the case. For some victims, there is no physical pain at all. And victims have often reported experiencing some physical pleasure, even with the most violent and sadistic types of sexual abuse. This confuses victims, causing them to believe that perhaps they gave consent or may have even instigated the sexual involvement. The reasoning goes like this, “If my body responded (through a pleasurable sensation, an orgasm, an erection) it must mean that I wanted it.”
It is very important to understand that experiencing physical pleasure does not signify consent. Our bodies are created to respond to physical touch, no matter who is doing the touching. And many victims of abuse were so deprived of affection that they spontaneously accept and respond to any physical attention, no matter what its source.
Another reason why many question whether they were really abused is that they may not have a clear memory of what happened. They may have only vague memories or no memories at all, just a strong suspicion based on their feelings and perhaps their symptoms. It’s difficult to believe your feelings when you have no or very few actual memories. Some people will even doubt the memories they do have, fearing that “I’m just imagining” or “I’m making this up.”
One reason why someone may have no memories or vague memories is the common practice of victims to dissociate. Dissociation is a disconnection between a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, and actions, and sense of who he or she is. This is a normal phenomenon that everyone has experienced. Examples of mild, normal dissociation include daydreaming, “highway hypnosis,” or getting lost in a book or movie, all of which involve losing touch with an awareness of one’s immediate surroundings.
During traumatic experiences such as crime, victimization, abuse, accidents, and other disasters, dissociation can help a person tolerate something that might otherwise be too difficult to bear. In situations like these, the person may dissociate the memory from the place, circumstances, and feelings caused by the overwhelming event, mentally escaping from the fear, pain, and horror of the event.
When faced with an overwhelming situation from which there is no physical escape, a child may learn to “go away” in her head. Children typically use this ability as a defense against physical and emotional pain or fear of that pain. For example, when a child is being sexually abused, in order to protect herself from the repeated invasion of her deepest inner self she may turn off the connection between her mind and her body creating the sensation of “leaving one’s body.” This common defense mechanism helps the victim to survive the assault by numbing herself or otherwise separating herself from the trauma occurring to the body. In this way, although the child’s body is being violated, the child does not have to actually “feel” what is happening to her. Many victims have described this situation as “being up on the ceiling, looking down on my own body” as the abuse occurred. It is as though the abuse is not happening to them as a person but just to their body.
While dissociation helps the victim to survive the violation, it can make it difficult to later remember the details of the experience. This can create problems when it comes to a victim coming to terms with whether or not they were actually abused. If you were not in your body when the abuse occurred, it will naturally affect your memory. You won’t “remember” the physical sensations of what the abuser did to your body or what you were made to do to the abuser’s body. This can cause you to doubt your memory and add to the tendency to deny what occurred.
Sometimes the reason victims don’t have clear memories of the abuse is that they were drugged or plied with alcohol by the abuser. It’s rather common for perpetrators to sedate their victims with alcohol or drugs as a way of gaining control over them and of ensuring that they will not tell anyone about the abuse. Victims who were sedated often describe their memories as “fuzzy” or have only short “snapshots” of memories that they may have a difficult time making sense of.
Some victims of child sexual abuse deny that they were abused, others deny that it caused them any harm, while still others deny that they need help. There are many reasons for denial. One of the most significant is that victims don’t want to face the pain, fear, and shame that comes with admitting that they were sexually abused.
Like dissociation, denial is a defense mechanism designed to prevent us from facing things that are too painful to face at the time. It can even allow us to block out or “forget” intense pain caused by emotional or physical trauma such as childhood sexual abuse. But denial can also prevent us from facing the truth and can continue way past the time when it served a positive function. This is what my former client Natasha shared with me: “I knew for a long time before admitting it in here that I was abused by my grandfather. But I just couldn’t face it. It was just too painful to admit to myself that someone I loved so much and someone who had been so kind to me could also do such vile things to me. And so I pretended it never happened.”
Another reason some people deny that they were sexually abused is that it forces them to admit that they became abusive themselves as a consequence of having been abused. If a former victim went on to abuse other children he may have an investment in believing that children are never really “forced or manipulated” into sex with an adult or older child. He may convince himself that children do so willingly and that they get pleasure from the abuse. This kind of denial often keeps former victims from admitting that they themselves were abused.article continues after advertisementnull
There are many legitimate reasons that former victims are afraid to tell someone they were sexually abused, even as adults. These include:
Their perpetrator threatened them. It is common for child molesters to threaten to kill their victims if they tell or to kill family members or pets. Even though being afraid of their perpetrator after becoming an adult may not make any logical sense, it is very common for former victims to continue to fear their abuser.
They are afraid they will not be believed. This fear is especially potent when a former victim has had the experience of not being believed in the past. And often, the belief that they will not be believed often comes from the perpetrator telling them things like, “No one will believe you if you do tell.”
They are afraid of the consequences once the secret is out. such as family disruption or violence. Some former victims fear that if they tell a family member about being abused, that person will become enraged and perhaps become violent toward the perpetrator.
Any time someone is victimized, he or she will feel shame because they feel helpless and this feeling of helplessness causes the victim to feel humiliated. There is also the shame that comes when a child’s body is invaded in such an intimate way by an adult. Add to this the shame associated with being involved with something that the child knows is taboo. Sometimes a child also feels shame when her body “betrays” her by responding to the touch of the perpetrator.
This overwhelming feeling of shame often causes a former victim to feel compelled to keep the secret of the abuse because he or she feels so bad, dirty, damaged, or corrupted. The feeling of shame can be one of the most powerful deterrents to a victim disclosing having been abused. This is what one former client shared with me about her shame about being abused: “I didn’t tell anyone when my drama teacher started abusing me because I felt so humiliated that I didn’t want anyone else to know about it. I felt disgusting, the lowest of the low. I guess most of all I felt so much shame about the things he did to me and made me do to him that I didn’t feel I deserved to be helped.”
Self-blame is another major reason why victims keep their secret. Victims tend to blame themselves for the abuse they suffered, especially when it is a parent who sexually abused them. Children want to feel loved and accepted by their parents and because of this, they will make up all kinds of excuses for a parent’s behavior, even if that behavior is abusive. Most often children blame themselves for “causing” their parent to abuse them. Why? Because children naturally tend to be egocentric—that is, they assume that they themselves are the cause of everything. Needing to protect their attachment to their parents magnifies this tendency.
Perpetrators take advantage of a child’s tendency to blame themselves by telling the child it was their fault. They shouldn’t have sat in his lap the way they did. They shouldn’t have looked at him the way they did. They shouldn’t have dressed the way they did.
We as humans have a need to maintain a sense of control over our lives, even when we have lost control, as in the case of child sexual abuse. As a way of maintaining a false sense of control, many victims will blame themselves for their abuse. This occurs both in children at the time of their abuse as well as with adults who are still struggling with admitting they were abused in childhood. The unconscious reasoning goes like this: “If I continue to believe it was my own fault, that I brought this on myself, I can still be in control. I don’t have to face the feeling of helplessness and powerlessness that comes with being victimized. I can maintain my sense of dignity and avoid feeling humiliated.”
Sometimes victims blame themselves for the abuse because they hold the perpetrator in such high esteem. They couldn’t imagine that this respected person would do such a thing to them unless they had somehow encouraged it in some way. This was the situation with my former client Gabriel. Coming from a devout Catholic family, Gabriel became an altar boy when he was 9 years old. Like the rest of the parishioners, Gabriel adored the priest. That is why it was particularly shocking to Gabriel when one day the priest asked him to stay after mass and then sexually molested him.
Gabriel could not comprehend what the priest had done. He knew that what had happened was a sin and that priests were not supposed to be sexual. So in order to make sense of what had happened, he simply blamed himself. Somehow, he decided, he must have seduced the priest. He even believed that since he had begun to masturbate a few months earlier, the priest must have known about this and was punishing him or teaching him a lesson.
Finally, another reason victims tend to blame themselves is our culture’s tendency to blame the victim. “Victim” has become a dirty word in our culture, where victims are often blamed and even shamed. There are even spiritual beliefs that hold that if something bad happens to you it is because of your own negative thoughts or attitudes. Cultural influences like this serve to blame victims rather than encourage a self-compassionate acknowledgment of suffering. Former victims of sexual abuse as members of this culture accept this view, often without question.
A Need to Protect the Perpetrator
As evidenced by the behavior and thinking of the two young men in the Leaving Neverland documentary, some former victims still care about the perpetrator and want to protect him or her. In addition, as part of the grooming process, perpetrators work to separate the child or adolescent from their parents and their peers, typically fostering in the child a sense that he or she is special to the offender and giving a kind of attention or love to the child that he or she needs. Sometimes, the initial relationship of trust between a child and an adult or older child transforms so gradually into one of sexual exploitation that the child barely notices it. Between the time when the attention a child is receiving seems to be something positive in the child’s life and the moment when the sexual abuse begins, something significant has occurred. But the child may not be sure what it was and often remains confused about the person who has been significant to him but has now begun to abuse him. They can be plagued with questions such as: “Does he really love me?” and “Could I have caused these things to happen?”
For many former victims, it is only after months or even years of therapybefore they develop enough trust in someone to tell their secret. Unfortunately, for various reasons, many former victims never make it to a therapist, even as adults.
If you are one of the many people who continue to carry the secret of childhood sexual abuse, it is vital that you break your silence. Even though it is difficult to reach the point where you can finally tell someone, this dark secret can make you sick, emotionally, psychologically, even physically. It can eat at you from inside, draining you of vital energy and good health.
The secret of child sexual abuse is especially shaming. It can make you feel like there is something seriously wrong with you; that you are inferior or worthless. You want to hide for fear of your secret being exposed. You don’t want to look other people in the eye for fear that they will discover who you really are and what you have done. You don’t want people to get too close for fear of them finding out your dark secret. And to make matters worse, carrying around this secret isolates you from other people. It makes you feel different from others. It makes you feel alone.
There is already a tremendous amount of darkness connected to child sexual abuse: the clandestine, sinister way it is accomplished, the manipulation and dishonesty surrounding it, the lies and deception used to keep it a secret, the darkness and pain surrounding the violation of a child’s most intimate parts of his or her body, and the violation of the child’s integrity. Keeping the abuse a secret adds darkness to an already dark and sinister act.
When you don’t share the secret of child sexual abuse, you don’t have the opportunity to receive the support, understanding, and healing that you so need and deserve. You continue to feel alone and to blame yourself. You continue to be overwhelmed with fear and shame.
I urge anyone who is still struggling because they can’t tell anyone about their victimization to seek counseling.
Over the weekend before Australia Day (Fri-Mon 17-20 Jan 20) there was a dramatic leap in Viewers of our RCbbc Blog! As shown, by the following jump in Stat’s, there was a profound interest in recent Statements of Past Students + their Families. Of great intrigue, is the increased overlaps between publicly reported instances of ChildSexualAbuse and the Elite levels of society. Throughout many countries, schools and religions there is commonly cases of the ‘untouchable Elites’ overpowering the ‘lower, working class’.
It’s particularly worth noting that BBC’s current Headmaster, Paul Brown has removed the abilities of ‘Low SES backgrounds’ Applicants to be favoured in Scholarship + Bursary Applications. Whilst this may be a short-term remedy, the human nature of pedophiles will continue. As demonstrated by numerous current + previous staff, animal instinct is to shift to another ‘hunting ground’, or strategically-further-seclude their predator behaviours. Cessation (stopping) is not an option, after experiencing BBC’s earlier scenarios.
Counselling is also worth noting as a great resource, as after countless solo attempts even further detail has become revealed of my own BBC Old Boys’ abuses. This brings to mind the saying that “there’s more than one way to ‘skin a 🐈’”.