Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


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Stop Calling It “Child Porn”

(Ways Language Minimize Victimization)

 

*Trigger Warning*

 

Earlier this week I had a conversation with a man I’ve gotten to know over the last year by reading his posts and watching his videos. Listening to him, it’s clear he has a heart for the vulnerable. His name is Kyle J. Howard and we soon realized a mutual frustration with the way certain words are used.

 

Our conversation centered on the misuse of the term, “child porn”. It got me thinking that some clarity is needed.

 

The arrangement of these words disgusts me on so many of levels, but I will begin with this… “child porn” is not pornography, it is the RAPE of a child!

 

To label video/images as “porn”, implies that there is a consensual and transactional interaction. Such as an adult man or woman receiving payment to permit their bodies be recorded and viewed by other adults in consensual sexual activities.

 

If you ask most any adult in the US, “what is pornography?” you’d probably get this type of response; “when 2 or more consenting adults agree to be paid for having sex on camera.”

 

And because most Americans view pornography as a mutual, consensual transaction; maintaining the word “porn” in front of the word “child” leaves the message to our brains, subconscious or otherwise, that it is not “that bad.”

Or many take the view, well I’m not doing it, I’m just watching it.

 

To do this, is an attempt to use language to lessen or soften the actual effects of this crime. And that is what the sexual exploitation of children is…a CRIME!

 

To record a child being molested and/or raped is not consensual!

 

To view a child being molested and/or raped is not a victimless crime!

 

To view this crime, YOU YOURSELF might as well be the one raping the child. Because that is what you are doing. You are re-victimizing that child OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

 

So let me say this as plain as I can. To record or view the video or images of children being sexually molested and/or raped is not just watching “porn”…you are another one of this child’s rapist!

 

And as Kyle Howard points out, “Pornography is largely made up of sex trafficked women. Porn itself makes one an enabler of sexual assault, sex slavery, and the like…we need to redefine how we see/understand porn entirely.”

 

He goes on to say, “I can’t think of a time where I haven’t referred to child porn as “child rape”. In discussion & teaching, I always refer to child porn as “child rape” in some way.”

 

So PLEASE stop calling it “child porn”. Its child sexually exploitive videos/images.

 

Language is the greatest tool we have for connecting with people. Therefore, precision with language is essential. Inaccurate words not only sow misunderstanding but also dehumanize.

 

Language matters and the way we use words is important.

 

Language shapes our responses to sexual violence.

 

In a recent article addressing how language matters in our responses to sexual violence, discusses how words that are used to describe sexual assault can “linguistically blur rape with healthy consensual sex”(p. 11).

 

For example, Attorney Claudia Bayliff observes that stating that the child “performed oral sex” sounds like a voluntary act, one of mutuality, as opposed to the man “forced his penis in her mouth.” Those two constructions create dramatically different word pictures.

 

In addition, euphemisms such as “child pornography” or “kiddie porn” minimize the violence inherent in such acts. 1

 

All of us need to be incredibly careful not to use the language of consensual sex when we are describing a sexual assault.

 

Don’t believe me? Do you believe we are exaggerating? Why then have we stopped using certain words?

 

Why do we use the term “little person”, rather than the word “midget”? Ask any African-American in the USA what they think of the “N” word. A word so offensive that it won’t be completed in respectful society.

 

Why do we use one of the LGBTQIA designations, rather than the word “faggot”? Or ask a person with a developmental disability what they think of the word “retarded”. Are you beginning to see the point?

 

It’s because those words harm.

 

That is the point of this article. When you use the word “porn”, you diminish the effects of a crime against a child. It’s harmful and hateful.

 

So what is the answer? How do we correct this? Claudia Bayliff gives us some concrete, simple directions:

 

  • Avoid using the language of consensual sex to describe assaultive acts.
  • Use accountable language that places responsibility on the person committing the criminal acts.
  • Help educate others about the importance of using accountable, accurate language when talking about sexual violence.

 

And please, stop calling it child porn!

 

Copyright © 2020 Together We Heal, Inc.

 

 

 

1)   Journal of Forensic Nursing, “Patient, Victim, or
Survivor: Does Language Matter? A Conversation
with Claudia Bayliff

April/June 2015, Volume :11 Number 2, page 63 – 65

2)   Cooper C. L. How language reflects our response
to sexual violence
. Perspectives, 23 (3), 10-11. (2015)

3) Janet Bavelas & Linda Coates, Is it Sex or Assault? Erotic
Versus Violent Language in Sexual Assault Trial
Judgments
, 10 J. Soc. Distress & Homeless 29 (2001).

4) James C. McKinley, Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town,
N.Y. Times, Mar. 8, 2011, at A13.

5) Jackson Katz, DSK’s Alleged Victim Should Not Be Called His “Accuser,” Huffington Post (Aug. 20, 2011), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackson-katz/dsks-alleged-victim-shoul_b_930996.html

 


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Our Worst Fears Becoming A Reality?

Just a few days ago, we wrote about our concerns that the shelter in place orders, which are absolutely essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19, would potentially lead to more cases of abuse.

 

Yesterday, we heard from the President of RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), Scott Berkowitz, that for the first time ever, a majority of their sexual abuse hotline users were minors.

 

According to Berkowitz, over half of the people who called RAINN’s hotline last month who identified their age, were under 18. Of those, 67% identified their perpetrator as a family member and, within that group, 79% said they were living with that perpetrator.

 

Berkowitz said the reason for the increased calls from minors could be that children can’t access the safety net of other adults they usually see outside the home.

 

“So many minors are now locked at home with their abuser, in the same house,” Berkowitz said. “The safety net that they had ― the parents and teachers and coaches that they would see every day who were likely the first people to notice signs of abuse ― children no longer have contact with those people right now.”

 

To read more about this risk to children, click on The Huffington Post article link here.

 

If you or someone you know is feeling trapped at home with a perpetrator, please reach out to someone you trust. If you don’t feel as though there is someone you can trust, contact one of these hotlines. Or call us at Together We Heal.

 

Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network

https://hotline.rainn.org/online

800.656.HOPE

800.656.4673

 

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

https://www.nsvrc.org/

 

Together We Heal – (754) 234-7975

 

Copyright © 2020 Together We Heal, Inc.


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Pandemic Can Lead To More Abuse

As Linda and I stay sheltered in place to do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19, I can’t help but think about a recent article in the New York Times…

 

The title of the article read, “Coronavirus Roils Every Segment of US Child Welfare System”.

 

The crux of the story and focus of the concern is this; Many child welfare professionals and advocates worry the pandemic will fuel a rise in child abuse and neglect.

 

Schools are closed. Many of these kids are from unstable backgrounds. Possible mental health issues with parents/guardians and drug/alcohol abuse to boot.

 

And with the two groups of people who usually offer some semblance of a safeguard, Teachers and other school employees NOT being able to report signs of abuse due to the school closings…”That’s a recipe for disaster”, said Boston social worker, Adriana Zwick.

 

Not having their eyes and ears means WE are going to have to be theirs, now more than ever. You may be sheltered in place, but you can keep your eyes and ears open in YOUR neighborhood.

 

Since older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19, children have not been a focus of public health efforts.

 

“That’s a mistake”, according to University of Pennsylvania professor Marci Hamilton, also CEO of CHILD USA, a think tank seeking to prevent child abuse and neglect.

 

“Already some areas are reporting spikes in abuse,” she said. “If caseworkers don’t have that protective equipment, it’s likely we’ll have fewer home visits, and fewer home visits mean more kids at risk.”

 

I think the sheriff of Harris County, Ed Gonzalez, said it best in a recent tweet…

“We cannot let a health pandemic become a child abuse pandemic! The number one reporters of child abuse are teachers, but kids aren’t seeing them right now. Neighbors and other family members, PLEASE pay close attention.”

 

Please watch for signs. If you need to know the signs, just ask. We’ll show you places to find the information you need. And then we can find the help the kids need. Together we can keep all children safer during this crisis.

 

To read the NYT article in full, click on the link here.

 

Copyright © 2020 Together We Heal, Inc.


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They Know

The following post was written and spoken by a fellow survivor. Her name is Lori Anne Thompson and we are honored that she shared her post so we could share it with you.

I wrote a few years ago that High Church days like Christmas and Easter can be especially difficult for those who’ve been violated by a member of the clergy. While I tried to verbalize my thoughts and feelings that particular Easter, Lori Anne does so with more insight, and lays bare the pain of this Friday.

We know, and He knows, and I pray after reading this You will know too…

—–

Dear Abuse Survivor/Supporter,

I have prepared this spoken word as a special gift for you. In it may you recognize the ruin in Friday and await the Son Rise on Sunday.

Peace, LA

 

Survivors know just about all there is to know about that Friday.
They know even if they know Him not.

They know about the lies lashed around their wrists and feet.
They know.

They know what it is to be bound and betrayed by a beloved.
They know what kisses were for.
They know.

They know about the salacious set up,
The friends who ran away,
The dark night when they prayed,
And absolutely nothing changed.
They know.

They know the cowardly cower of those who peddle in popularity,
They know the brief plead with the angry mob,
They know the freshly washed hands that claimed immunity.
God help me, they know.

They know what it means to be handed over,
To be stripped;
To be assaulted;
To be beaten,
To be broken;
To have to carry a crushing weight in their weakened estate;
They heard their own knees buckle.
Damn right they know.

They know what it is to be innocent;
To have entrusted their vulnerability to another;
To be laughed at;
To be mocked.
It rings in their ears still.
They KNOW.

They know what it means to have their reputation,
Their sanity,
Their station,
Their family,
Their friends,
Their integrity…
Stripped, ripped, ruined, robbed, and hung in half naked rags in public humiliation.
This, they know too well.

They know what is feels like to be forsaken,
To have all affirmation turn away.
To be utterly destroyed and alone.
I hang my head and I weep from somewhere deep.
Don’t you know, they know?

They know what it is to descend to the depths of darkness and death,
To watch as parts of themselves are crucified.
Oh yes… curious onlooker, religious scholar, high priest, and peddler…
They know.

 

Please visit Lori Anne’s site to read more:

https://loriannethompson.com/2019/04/18/they-know/

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Together We Heal


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Addressing Sexual Abuse Within Faith Communities

With April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, I wanted to start it off with an interview I had the privilege of doing with Rachel Grant and her amazing resource for survivors, “Beyond Surviving”.

Do yourself a favor, check out her website. Rachel continues to teach me so much that helps in my own healing journey.

This particular podcast we cover subject matter that’s had an immeasurable impact on and in my life. Both as someone who was victimized by a minister and now as someone who is working to make faith communities safer for children.

In this Beyond Surviving Podcast, (Look for S6 E3 – David Pittman) we’ll discuss why I partnered with GRACE, and how that work is transforming faith communities so they can better protect children, better identify predatory behavior, and properly respond to those who’ve been harmed.

Today, we’ll answer these questions and I’ll have some questions for you to determine if your faith community is properly prepared.

Is Your Faith Community prepared to properly respond to sexual abuse?

How would they respond to the perpetrator and how would they respond to the victim?

Why would it matter to me if I’m not religious?

Where can we find resources to educate our church?

Link to the podcast:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/beyond-surviving-with-rachel-grant/id876092316?mt=2

On YouTube:

https://youtu.be/J5vowK2dn2E

Resources:

http://www.netgrace.org

http://www.jewishsacredspaces.org

http://www.together-we-heal.org

http://www.togetherweheal.wordpress.com

Contact me directly:

dpittman@together-we-heal.org

(754) 234-7975


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The Truth About Sexual Abuse within the Southern Baptist Church

At last the truth is made known in the national media. At last predators like the one who murdered the innocence of my childhood and derailed my life for decades can no longer hide behind a church wall and pastor’s robe. And as you will read, our stories are not the exception, they are the rule. To abuse, deny, cover-up, victim shame and silence has been the “MO” for decades. Mine and countless others. I know most of you have probably read Part 1 of this story, but we are posting all 3 parts here so you can grasp the totality of the reach of sexual abuse within the SBC.

Please read, share, and then call your Pastor and DEMAND that change, REAL change be made. No more lip service. No more platitudes. This is not a Catholic problem. This is a HUMAN PROBLEM that exists in every denomination. Sexual predators use the church because people of faith are more trusting and forgiving and this is turned against them and used in evil, manipulating ways.

We must strike while the iron is hot and before it gets buried in the next news cycle. Please don’t let anymore time pass. Don’t assume someone else will speak to your church leadership. This is up to you now…

Part 1:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Southern-Baptist-sexual-abuse-spreads-as-leaders-13588038.php

Part 2:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Southern-Baptist-churches-hired-ministers-accused-13588233.php

Part 3:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/All-too-often-Southern-Baptist-youth-pastors-13588292.php


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Will the Southern Baptist Church Finally Live What It Preaches?

This week Together We Heal, as an organization, and myself, David Pittman as an individual, have joined forces with Justice For Anne, For A Time Such As This & several fellow advocates. Together we have issued a statement that was most perfectly articulated by fellow advocate Ryan Ashton:

—-

“If you please, read the joint statement myself and fellow abuse survivors and advocates delivered to the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) yesterday regarding their announcement of a sexual abuse study group:

“We all have a decision—to become more polarized and distrustful of one another, hide, build barriers, and perpetuate numerous injustices. Or we can face this evil together, choosing to create a culture where healing and safety are the norm, where love and compassion dwell, where children and families flourish, and the hope of the gospel maintains its integrity. We sign with that hope, committed to a future where no one in the Church has to say “Me Too” ever again.”

—-

Everything we do at Together We Heal and GRACE is because of the past and current failures of those within the church to better protect children and properly respond to those who’ve been harmed. It is our hope that the SBC will begin to live up to the call of Christ they espouse and not be just another one of those “cast to the bottom of the sea with a millstone around their neck”.

If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

The time is long overdue. The ball is in your court SBC leaders and church members. Do you truly believe the scripture you preach and teach? Then BE THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS and quit giving lip service and protecting sexual predators.

The world, and Christ, is watching…

You can read the full statement here:

https://www.forsuchatimeasthisrally.com/inthenews/a-joint-statement-regarding-the-sbc-sexual-abuse-presidential-study-group