The Boys Scouts of American have been defending themselves these past few weeks in a sex abuse case. This case could change the way the scouting organization conducts business. Many people are not very happy to see the scouts get this negative publicity.I wonder if a jury verdict in favor of the victim will make things better? I have been asking myself that question since the trial began. How will this case impact the life of this victim and the lives of other victims of childhood sex abuse.
So tomorrow the closing arguments will begin. The jury will then be faced with a decision that will impact all parties involved. No matter what the jury decides to do the public will be wiser from this case. The scouts could use this as an opportunity to tare down the walls of concealment so they can rebuild with honor.
A verdict in favor of the plaintiff will not give him back the years he lost because of the sexual abuse he endured but it will be a victory. He will have faced his abuser, faced the people who did not protect him, he will have stood proud in the courtroom and faced the scrutiny of the public. This victim has taken his fear and turned it into courage. No matter what the jury does in the court this week this victim is a survivor. He is a hero.
I hope his story is a beacon for others, giving them courage to come forward.
I know all to well the great lengths an organization will go to keeping secrets but I must say I am still always hoping to see an organization do the right thing. Sitting in the courtroom watching opening statements in the sex abuse case against the Boys Scouts of America I witnessed another example of corruption and cover-up. I am sure that sounds harsh but when it comes to our children I believe the duty to protect them from a sex offender should be the number one priority, not the protection of its own reputation. The scouts have over 1000 files documenting a decade of problems with sex abuse from all around the country that they have kept secret. Why? The attorney for the scouts said it was because the files were "were replete with confidential information." This information is confidential? Who do these people think they are. This information should have been turned over to the police.
So what we have here is a big organization with lots of money trying to cover up a crime and we have a lone victim trying to bring the secrets out. Reminds me of David and Goliath. Goliath is an intimidating and powerful force, much like the boy scouts. David faced down Goliath and won. I commend the man in this lawsuit for taking this case all the way to the courtroom. The public needs to know what he has been through. The public needs to know that the Scouts did not protect him from a known child molester. I commend the attorney, Kelly Clark for taking on the Boys Scouts of America. I know this is not an easy task, I know how much easier it would have been to settle this case out of court. This is an example of courageous action in the face of tremendous fear.
I come from a humble catholic upbringing. I was taught that the Pope was perfect. In fact, he was the closest thing to god himself according to the church. So imagine what a shocking revelation for me to learn that the Pope is a man just like all mankind. That his entrance into heaven has the same requirements mine have. He needs food, water and rest just like I do. He worked hard to be where he is today just like I am. What makes him different is he is a leader and he can make a difference in the world I live in. He has direct control over the priests under him. Because of the power the Pope and The Roman Catholic Church hold leaders from all over the world seek his counsel. Yet here they are in the news again because of another pedophile priest.
How long has the Roman Catholic Church been aware of the sex abuse problem, to long. How many more times will we hear in the news about another coverup. When will the new leadership of the Roman Catholic Church come forward and say enough is enough. Why did the Pope protect, conceal, and deny any wrong doing of another Priest?
Do you ever feel like your going 100 miles per hour and boom you can't go anymore? Sometimes that happens to me but this last week I might have crashed into that brick wall harder than usual. "Sex abuse, rape, assault, sex crimes, child abuse, human trafficking, PTSD, drug addiction and more." These terms bombard me every single day when I walk from my kitchen to my office with that first cup of coffee. Don't get me wrong I love what I do but occasionally I feel like I have failed to make a difference. I feel like somehow I am not helping in this uphill battle. I heard myself saying more than once last week "it feels like I am pushing mud up hill with no end in site. Boo hoo poor me.
I started googling burn out and all those terms with the hopes of finding some small flash of inspiration to get me back on track. Nothing really spoke to me. So what I did instead was take this as a sign to re-organize, prioritize and tackle the projects sitting on my desk, one thing at a time. I mean even the act of putting a stamp on an envelope I considered an accomplishment. So what I took away from my most recent encounter with the brick wall is 1) try to see the road signs before I get there and/or 2) Get up and start tearing the wall down one brick at a time.
We often take a lot of responsibility for the abuse. Telling us it is not our fault may help to lessen the guilt of shame, but it can't take it away.
We deal with a lot of shame. Please don't shame a survivor. It is the pattern we are trying to break.
The healing process for a survivor may take years. We may be in and out of therapy several times. New memories may surface, and new experiences may trigger us.
People who are survivors are often caretakers. It is a survival technique. It takes a long time to unlearn that behavior.
Survivors often resent being judged. We have judged and punished ourselves for years. We are usually harder on ourselves that anyone else can be.
People who are survivors don't want your pity.
Don't try to excuse the abuser's behavior.
Don't categorize survivors. Each case of abuse, although it may be similar, is a unique case. We don't all follow the same pattern of healing or behavior.
Not all survivors have clear images of the abuse or assault. We may need to deal with that lack of memories on a regular basis.
Even if we are safe now, we still may be fearful of our attacker or abuser.
Talking about it means "breaking the secret." Many of us are faced with the terror "breaking the secret" every time we talk about the abuse.
If a survivor chooses to talk to you about the abuse or assault, and you are uncomfortable about it, please say so. Let the survivor know you aren't uncomfortable with them, only the issue. The offer to find someone who is comfortable with the issue.
Please don't ask a survivor to forgive and forget. First of all, there is nothing we would rather do than be able to forget. But we can't--we have to learn how to deal with it.
Please don't ask a survivor if they are done dealing with it yet. That is a shaming question. The process of healing may take an entire lifetime.
adapted from the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault
I read the above statement in the newspaper regarding a local rape. The community is standing behind the rapist but what about the victim.
"Fact:The incidence of false reporting of rape is about 2 percent. This is about the same as that for false reporting of other felonies (Department of Social Services). Survivors of sexual assault are often traumatized again when they report the assault or rape since the process of making a police report itself can be very difficult. This re-victimization makes the likelihood of false reporting very minimal. It is far more likely that rape is very under-reported. Some experts estimate that only 1 in 10 rapes are ever reported."
Not a very pleasant topic I know but an important topic. I am working on a rape case in the civil courts-what an eye opening experience. I have heard more negative comments regarding the victim over the past week. Does society need to be reminded that rape happens everyday in this country. It could be your Mother, Sister, Best Friend, Neighbor or Co-worker; I can guarantee you would be outraged if it was someone you know. My next several blog posts will be devoted to this topic. If you have a story you want to share please send it to me.
Please see the link with statistics it is startling.
That comes to my mind whenever I am about to conduct an interview of a potential sex abuse survivor. At the beginning of every interview I start by just talking-I want to talk about the present before I start asking them to dig up bad memories of the past. I never want to be responsible for causing additional trauma. I was thinking about all the instances in our daily life we could practice that Mantra "first do no harm" and I concluded that it all comes down to respect and knowledge.
1 ) Treat the people you meet in your daily life with respect.
2) Do not not pretend to have knowledge in every area. Play to your strenghts only!
If you adopt these two simple rules in your daily interactions you will not cause another person harm.
I can not tell you how many times a week I am asked how do I do this kind of work. My answer is always the same, I am helping people. Which leads to the next questions,what exactly do I do?
If you don't know already, I am a private investigator. I specialize in sex abuse litigation. Which means I am out talking to victims. I work with the attorneys who hire me to find documentation or live witnesses that can testify on behalf of the victims. Most of the cases I work on involve a clergy, teachers or coaches from various organizations. In many instances these organizations knew they had a perpetrator working for them but they covered up the crime(s) to protect themselves. In essence they allowed the fox to feast in the hen house. We know what a farmer would do. If only the institutions I investigate had done the right thing. It is my job to uncover the truth and bring it to the attention of the public.
Exposing these crimes is part of the healing process for many victims. I feel I am instrumental in this process. The people I work for know that I will not give up on an investigation until I uncover the truth! So as odd at it may be for people to believe me-I do love my job.
Two years in a row I have helped others raising money to partipate in the Breast Cancer 3 Day, it was never my intention to sign up for this challenging walk. I helped raise money, I walked and walked and walked so they could each get into shape for the distance required but I never thought I would take up this cause. I am not sure when it happened but suddenly I was filling out the on-line application committing myself to this journey.
As the Nike slogan goes "JUST DO IT." So here I am walking for a cure. My team is called Bootylicious Babes Fight Breast Cancer, crasy I know but what I am learning is the crazier the better. My team consists of one other walker but the real team is all the women who have volunteered to help us raise the money and walk with us to get in shape. I am so blessed.
Consider participating in one of these walks. You can walk, you can help at the walk by signing up to be a crew member or you can help someone like me. It feels good to do something for others.
Victims’of child abuse (sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect) pay a severe price but do you actually know what it costs society.
In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse Americanconducted a study to determine the direct and indirect costs childhood abuse and neglect have on American. The study concluded that it cost an estimated $103.8 billion dollars annually to respond to child abuse.
Because this area of interest is related to my specialty as a private investigator I get to chat with folks daily about this topic.I never meet someone who does not care but I am always surprised at how little people know or understand. Child abuse in particularly sexual abuse is not something people want to discuss.I think the way to gain the attention of American is to point out the financial price we all pay for the perpetrators crime .
I wonder what would happen if Americans put more resources and emphasis on prevention.
For more information about this topic click this link
Every community has a multitude of ways you can become involved for the great good. I attended the Rockwood Business Coalition Mtg this morning. What a great group of committed people. I left feeling like I could make a difference in this area. It does not have to take much of your time to become more invested in the area you leave. Look into ways that you can make a difference.
Thanks Park Place Coffee and Crepes for encouraging me to become part of my own community.
To start off the New Year right I want to get back to blogging. I started blogging a little over a year ago, I admit I had some ambivalence about it. When I first started I wasn't sure I would have anything to say but mostly I wasn't sure anyone would read my blog. Well, I was surprised to find I had plenty to say and you guys had great feedback. So the fear of blogging is behing me. I love it, I love to blog about random things that come up, I love to blog about my profession and I love the interaction with the readers.
So here I am back at it for the new year. This year I would like to extend an invitation all of you, please share on my blog. Submit ideas or blog posts of your own. Your are welcome to use some of the topics I already have as a starting point, share a personal story or start a new topic. I can't wait to read your stuff.
I have not been inspired to blog for several weeks. I do not think it is any coincidence that my last blog post was in memory of my brother. I had not even realized that until I was inspired today to finally get back to writing.
Sitting in my office this morning contemplating some witness interviews for a new sex abuse case, something hanging on my wall caught my eye. A poster size thank you card from a case I worked back in 2002. Twenty men came to a mediation involving a very large sex abuse case. I investigated this case as the head paralegal. I also attended the mediation to offer support to these men and their families. As I read some of the messages they wrote I felt a tremendous amount of gratitude and love to these wonderful people. I want to share some of these quotes with you today.
"Thank you for your help, you have given me and others a chance to heal and grow." "Thank you for being apart of our army and going to battle with us." "...thank you for your roles in our healing." "...thank you for wielding the mighty swords of justice..."
"To all of you who have done so much for so many of us-you will never know all the ways in which your hard work, your time, your encouragement and your support have changed our lives for always."
As I read this poster today I finally feel the inspiration I need to kick start my blogging. I can not list all of the "thank you comments", but I can say thank you back. I can say thank you everyday by continuing to fight for justice when someone needs a champion. I can continue to shine a light on the crimes done to adult survivors of childhood sex abuse.
Many times we have events in our lives that shape the person we are today. I can probably count on my hands the times that profoundly impacted me--the day my Brother died was one of those days. Today it has been ten years since his passing and he is very much on my mind.
So many things about the world are different today and yet so many things are the same. I often wonder what he would think about things, many things I am sure I already know what he would say. Once or twice over the years I have forgotten myself and thought "I need to call Mark" those are the time that suck. Sometimes I am surprised when I realize a few days have passed since he crossed my mind and other days he comes to my mind over and over. I see him in my parents, I hear him in my son and I feel his presence when I am in conflict. His daughter has some of his mannerisms and she definitely has his smile. The gift that our love ones leave us is the imprint they leave behind. It is in the intangible and tangible things. It is different for everyone.
In my mind he is young and handsome. I choose to smile rather than cry. I am grateful that I sat with him as he took his last breath-truly that was a gift and on the rare occasion he visits me in my dreams I wake up in a good mood.
I believe the Jewish mourning period of one year is more than appropriate because all mourning should end. It should end so that it can be replaced by happy memories and celebration. Lucky me I have so many happy memories.
If you have a minute today please add a happy memory about my Brother. It would be a great way to celebrate his life today.
If you had a list of things you wanted to do in this life what would they be?
My Bucket list
1.Start my business---DONE!
2.Help out a friend---Still doing!
3.See a sunrise from the other side of the world--DONE!
5.See my son graduate from College (he is 13),
6.Go to the airport one day and just buy a ticket to anywhere,
7.Take a trip with my Brother to the Seven Wonders of the World,
8.Sing (I always wanted to be a singer),
9.Reconnect with an old friend from High School (who it is will remain a secret),
10.Drive across the United States and back with no plan,
12.Visit the places from the book Eat, Pray, Love,
13.Finish my college degree,
14.Race a car.
What are the blanks you ask. They are for the things I will add to my list as I go. Our "Bucket List" should evolve and grow. Some things will fall away because we have done them. Those will be the things we count as blessings.
In life we run into rough spots, obstacles in the road so to speak and the things that keep us going are the things we look forward to. So never leave your "Bucket List" stagnant. Let it change and grow. And, on the off chance you do something amazing that was not listed that is one more thing you can list in the blesssings category.
In the end it will be the things you move from your "Bucket List" because you have done them that will define the life you live. Big or small make your list and let it grow. Look back over it once and a while because you will be amazed at how much you have accomplished. You will be grateful!
Please read the article below regarding pedophile Bradley Stowell. His case is an example of why I do the work I do. Pedophiles far to often are protected and the damage they do can never be undone. Shame on anyone who protects them!!!!
As an expert in sex abuse litigation you would think that nothing surprises me but every once in a while something does. The concept of human trafficing is frightening. I liken it to a scary movie because it is. At any point a child can disapear off the street, never to be seen again. How is that possible in the year 2010!"Portland has the second highest standing in the country for sex trafficking with over 50 percent of those victims being children. It is a serious problem in East County which is being addressed on several fronts by leaders from the County, the Sheriff’s Department, school districts and churches, as well as other agencies and nonprofits.
Today in the United States, it is estimated that 300,000 minors are being trafficked for sexual exploitation. Ninety percent of the victims are American citizens. Second only to the drug trade, human trafficking is the largest criminal industry in the world, and the fastest growing crime on the planet. In 2007, human slave traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined. Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, but has dramatic impacts right here in Multnomah County."
Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, gift, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church and a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And, so it is with you that we are in charge of our attitudes.
For more information: David Clohessy of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) 314-566-9790
Former Portland priest is sued for child sex abuse
New lawsuit is filed last week in Orange County California
(NOTE: the priest below worked in Portland in 2002 at Ascension Parish in Southeast Portland. After a newspaper article in 2002 revealed the 1995 settlement, Krumm admitted sexual misconduct in the early 1970s.)