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.


1 Comment

Does a Sexual Predator Have the Keys to Your Front Door…

…and do you even know?

What if I told you that the people who own the property where you live knowingly hired a convicted sexual predator and they don’t have to tell you?

What if I told you a convicted sex offender has the keys to your front door and you were powerless to know or stop them from having access?

Unbelievably, I may have just described your home if you rent in Florida, and many other homes across the USA.

Even though in Florida, as in most states, sex offenders are prohibited from living within a certain distance from schools, playgrounds and other places where children gather; what they CAN do, is work where your children play and live, without your knowledge. And that’s not the worst of it.

Under Florida law, owners of rental apartments and homes are NOT required to warn you or your family that an employee at the property is a pedophile or sex offender. Children in Florida have been raped by sex offenders who were literally provided the keys to rental units, where the owner knew that the employee was a convicted sex offender. You and your family have the right to make an informed choice of whether to live in housing that employs convicted
sex offenders.

It is because of the irrational and dangerous law as written, that Linda and I ask for your support of “The Florida Sex Offender Rental Notification Act.”

Below you will find a link. Help us to set Florida Law requiring tenants be notified when property owners employ sex offenders.

http://www.saferenting.org/

I would further expound if I felt necessary, but this is pretty darn self-explanatory to myself and Linda. We hope you feel the same.

No matter where you live, PLEASE SIGN and pass along to EVERYONE you know! Then find out what the law says where you live.

http://www.saferenting.org/

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal, Inc.

 


1 Comment

Why Do We Only Put Up Traffic Lights After a Tragedy

Impotent Georgia Act Protects Sexual Predators, Baptist & Catholic Churches and the Insurance companies that underwrite their policies.

Usually when my wife and I travel to Atlanta it’s for visiting friends and family. Atlanta is where we grew up, were high-school sweethearts and eventually where we wed. (Even if it did take me over 25 years to muster the courage to ask her to marry me!)

But this week my wife and I will be in Atlanta with an additional purpose. Actually it will be a two-fold mission.

As with almost every Together We Heal event/conference/etc., we will be teaching parents, guardians, and adults of various leadership and authority positions over children, on how to talk with kids about childhood sexual abuse and better identify the grooming methods of sexual predators.

In addition to this, we’re going to have the opportunity to lobby local representatives and their constituents about making a change that would have permanent, positive benefits for all of the children of our home state. We want to help them see how imperative it is that they pass a law eliminating the statute of limitations on all sex crimes against children.

I know, sounds like a no-brainer, right? Tragically, you’d be wrong. When myself and my wife were sexually abused as children, not one single state had such a law on the books. And it’s only been in last few years that states started passing said laws. Sadly, the pressure from “higher powers” had a greater hold on state assemblies than did the courage to do the right thing.

Based on Together We Heal’s non-profit designation, Federal law limits the amount of time we are able to spend lobbying for laws to protect children and assist victims in attaining any measure of justice. Therefore, we quite literally must make the MOST of every second of time we put forth on this type of effort.

So this week, we will be making one such effort at a DeKalb Women’s Meeting with 2 legislators in attendance. It’s our hope, that since we will be speaking to people who live where our abuse occurred, it will resonate with them on a more personal level.

That being said, here is the reason why Georgia needs to eliminate statute of limitation laws regarding sex crimes against children. And by the way, my personal example is just one in millions that have happened. I’m telling you my story so you can know that this happens all too often.

When I FINALLY gathered enough strength to come forward, name the man who sexually abused me as a child; I did what I was told to do, I went to the police because everyone said that’s what you do and certainly they would help me.

I went to DeKalb County Police Headquarters, the original one on Memorial Drive, and spoke with a detective in the Major Felony division (now called Special Victims Unit). After over 2 hours of excruciatingly painful memories being drawn out, vile detail by vile detail, it finally came to an end.

And that’s when she asked me the question she should’ve started off by asking, ”when did this crime take place?”

I told her from 1981-1984. That’s when she said the words that ripped my heart and stomach COMPLETELY out of my body and threw them in the sewer.

Her reply, “Sorry, but we can’t help you. You waited too long to report this crime.”

WHAT!? I WAITED TOO LONG?! How could I have done anything WRONG here?!?!

She said, “it’s not that you did anything wrong, you just didn’t know. There’s a law called statute of limitations. And in Georgia, since you didn’t come forward by the age of 18, the time limit is up and he can no longer be criminally prosecuted for the offense. No matter what he did to you. No matter how many times or for how many years. You’re just too late.”

Tragically the police, even when they genuinely want to help, have no way of doing so because of the laws OUR legislators keep on the books.

Ask yourself this simple question and let logic dictate the answer.

WHY?

Why would OUR representatives allow such laws to protect the perpetrator and further victimize the abused???

Recently a piece of legislation was passed in Georgia called the Hidden Predator Act (HPA). It was spoken of as some amazing Act, enabling any and all previous victims to come forward and get the justice they were for so long denied.

Turns out it was smoke and mirrors to make one Georgia representative appear good, but the bill is toothless and practically worthless. Although literally a couple of survivors have been able to utilize this bill, in a state of over 10 million, the VAST MAJORITY of Georgia victims will receive no such justice. Meanwhile, their perpetrators, and the ones protecting them, will remain happy all the live long day.

Why? Because the Southern Baptist Convention, Georgia Baptist Convention, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Roman Catholic Church and the Georgia Lobby for Insurance made it so. They “persuaded” YOUR representatives to remove all language that would give victims the ability to go after the churches, institutions, schools or companies that had any role in enabling, hiding or protecting the predators. By doing this it eliminated the possibility for almost any survivor to get representation. And with no attorney, no justice. Just all of the predators free and clear, to continue abusing, molesting, raping children and murdering their innocence and souls.

Most victims don’t have the strength to come forward, if they ever do, until their 30’s or 40’s, and by then it’s “too late” with the existing laws.

Sexual predators, Baptist & Catholic leaders, the Chamber and Insurance companies know this statistic, so their bean counters and leaders “convinced” legislators to orchestrate the law to read as it does. With the current language, it protects THEIR INTEREST.

And what, might you ask is their interest.

M-O-N-E-Y, NOT Y-O-U.

If these leaders actually cared about their constituents, parishioners, etc., this would not be the case. So to these “so-called” groups of faith and elected officials I say this…

“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

If we work together to do what’s right, protect potential future victims and enable justice for past ones, then we must pass a LAW, not a temporary bill like the one that expires in a little over a year, that does what should’ve been done already.

That’s right, the current HPA expires July 1st 2017, and at that time Georgia goes back to being one of the WORST states in the union for protecting child victims of sexual abuse.

So pass a law that ELIMINATES the statute of limitations on ALL sex crimes against children. And include language that allows for another 2-year window, only this time enable the revival against organizations & institutions and cap the claims at victims aged 53 (18 + 35). Georgia’s current bill allows victims to pursue litigation against the perpetrator only, not the people or organizations that covered it up or assisted them in any way. This is the only way to truly begin to stop this epidemic of abuse, to punish their enablers. If these predators had no protection, they most likely would’ve been caught.

Some very smart folks, who could explain the math about capping the age at 53 much better than I, have set that age for the reasons of how long it takes for most victims to be able to come forward and the age at which the perpetrators would be at that time. This gives the best chance for as many victims as possible to get the Justice that’s been denied them.

And maybe just as important, to expose the predators so that they can’t harm another child. Litigation shines the light and truth on them and that’s what they fear the most. And contrary to what certain church leaders and media members would have you believe, Pedophiles do not “age out” of abusing children.  Fr. John Geoghan in Boston was abusing children in his 80s. The only 2 things that stop them are incarceration and death.

And to the people who inaccurately claim that enabling this 2-year window would inundate the court system with copious amounts of claims. I refer you to Marci A. Hamilton’s website for the facts – If you look at the “Relative Success” document and especially at the chart at the bottom, http://sol-reform.com/data/

you can see (1) the civil revival windows that have been opened against individuals AND institutions have not resulted in an avalanche of claims; (2) there are no false claims that have made it through the system; and (3) Georgia’s window has been relatively ineffective so far because it is only capable of being brought against individual perpetrators and aiders and abettors.

Want to know how many victims in Georgia have been able to file litigation against their abusers?

9

That’s 9 in a state of 10 million with AT LEAST 2 million victims. So far the Baptist & Catholic churches, Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Insurance lobby is winning. And Georgians are losing.

Going back to the question I had you ask yourself, what is the logic in these representative not already passing a law like this. What do THEY have to hide or be afraid of? If nothing, then it should pass unanimously, if not, then please give SERIOUS consideration to replacing your current legislator. Unfortunately, that’s the only language most lawmakers understand. Only when told they won’t be reelected will they actually listen to THEIR constituents.

I wish I could expose my abuser through the courts, but it’s too late for me. And because of this, he has gone on to molest, abuse and rape AT LEAST 7 others. Those are just the ones I know of. God and Frankie Wiley are the only 2 who know how many little boys’ childhood’s he’s murdered.

It’s too late for me, but there are approximately 2 million of your fellow Georgians who need your help. The only way this will happen is if YOU, make a stand, demand your representative pass this law or you vote in someone who will. It’s up to you. What will you do? Please don’t wait until it’s happened to one of your children or grandchildren. I beg of you.

Because I promise you, if you don’t, it WILL happen. The facts are the facts. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys WILL BE sexually abused by the age of 18. The only way this changes is with the ability to prosecute predators. The only way that happens is for the laws to be changed. And the only way that happens is when it matters to you. Will it be before or after it happens to someone you know; someone you love.

Don’t let this be another example of putting up a traffic light AFTER a tragedy has happened. You have the ability to do something now. Will you?

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal, Inc.


Leave a comment

“It’s Easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”

One of my favorite quotes is by Frederick Douglass who said,

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Please keep these two things in mind when you begin to think, “it’s just too hard to talk with my kids about sexual abuse”.

Here in the USA, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be victims of childhood sexual abuse before they turn 18…don’t let your child be another statistic, don’t let them become another David, or Linda, or or or…

They need your strength and guidance…you CAN talk with them and they will be grateful you did!!

 

If you’re finding it challenging to talk with your kids, please read this post for some guidance:

How To Talk With Your Kids about Sexual Abuse

You are NOT your abuse.

You are NOT what they did to you.

You are NOT your trauma.

You ARE the cleverness that survived.

You ARE the courage that escaped.

You ARE the power that hid & protected a tiny spark of your light.

You will fan that spark into a bonfire of righteous rage and love,

and with it you will burn all their lies to ash!

Do you feel the heat yet Frankie Wiley???

Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


14 Comments

Sometimes I Just Get So Tired…

Sometimes, not always, I get so tired of fighting a battle with those who are supposed to be the one doing the protecting… 

Sometimes, not always, I get so tired of losing said battles to churches, fundamentalist “Christians” and other so-called “people of faith” who seem only to care about the money in their church coffers and potential lawsuits against their precious denominations. Tragically and simultaneously these same folks don’t appear to give a rat’s ass about the innocence, lives and souls of children…

It feels like everyday we turn on the news and hear of another case. This week was no different with Josh Duggar from the TLC show, “19 Kids and Counting” and the news he admitted to sexually abusing at least 5 girls in his family.

It’s 6:24 am and I’m tired. No that doesn’t accurately describe how I’m feeling. In truth, I’m exhausted. Exhausted because I’ve been awake since around 4 a.m., due to screaming myself awake from ANOTHER nightmare of seeing Frankie Wiley’s face over mine and feeling him holding my childhood frame down while he sexually abused me over and over, just as he did for almost 3 years.

I have no doubt this was triggered from the reports of the Duggar family doing more to protect the offender than the victims. Much the same way I feel how the Southern and Georgia Baptist Convention treats myself and countless others who’ve fallen prey to predators they continue to protect.

The only solace I had this morning was my beloved wife, Linda. Because of her, I was once again gently awakened with her loving touch and soothing voice before the nightmare became too much for me to handle.

She asked if I wanted to talk about but at that moment it was simply too much. So I’m doing now what I’ve always done since I began therapy for the sexual abuse I endured, I write. It’s one of my few true releases from the torture, torment and pain.

And in some small way I hope it reveals to other victims/survivors who’ve been through a similar trauma that they are not alone, that we are not alone…that I am not alone…

With every post or article I publish, I try to extend some measure of hope and potential for healing for what we’ve been through. And this one will be no different. It’s just that in the moment I’m too tired to feel like much of an encouragement. Instead, this time I sure would like to hear from you. To hear you say, I know what you mean David.

Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be standing in front of countless numbers of parents, guardians and other adults, looking to me for answers. And I will provide guidance, solutions and direction. I will do so with confidence, conviction and courage. But right now, at this very moment I’m just tired, hurting and scared.

Thank you to all of my friends, family and fellow survivors and advocates. It’s because of y’all I can manage to move forward on my own healing path. And for this same reason you can too.

Thank you for “listening” to me today. This is another example of why it’s so VERY important that we all be there for one another. We all need each other because as we say here…

Not alone, but…together we heal

Thank you to our TWH family. You mean so very much to me. You’ve helped me through and to overcome so much. This is the 8th year since I first came forward about having been sexually abused as a child and in October I will celebrate 10 years of being clean from narcotics. None of this would’ve been possible without your love and support and I genuinely love and appreciate you all from the core of my being and bottom of my heart.

David

Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


1 Comment

Southern Baptists, Catholics, Insurance Lobbyists and The Georgia Chamber of Commerce – SHAME ON YOU ALL!!!

While I had hope that House Bill 17 in Georgia, also known as “The Hidden Predator Act”, would be able to finally give some measure of justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse, the truth is, the bill finally signed into law was practically GUTTED.

These are the follow-up stories that get buried on the 24th back page of the Atlanta-Journal or are posted to the online-only section of a WSB-TV site. And this is why politicians and your local churches are getting away with murder of your children’s future…and souls.

But don’t take my word for it, please read what these two investigative journalists discovered.

Channel 2 investigates ‘Hidden Predator’ act’s challenges
By Terah Boyd and Rachel Stockman.

Sadly and tragically, the bottom line is this. The Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics, Insurance lobbyists and The Georgia Chamber of Commerce chose to put money before children.

Nancy Stanley told Stockman. “Anyone that would put money above children’s lives and these heinous acts that are being done to them, it’s just despicable.” And it is that very thing — Despicable!!!

And one more thing, if you think or believe…”well I don’t have anything to worry about because I don’t send my child to a Baptist or Catholic Church so my kids are safe”…think again…

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the U.S., NOT JUST BAPTIST OR CATHOLIC, ALL KIDS, will be sexually abused by the age of 18.

It literally breaks my heart that once again victims of this most heinous crime have been re-victimized by the very organizations and people who are supposed to be there to protect them.

What will it take for folks to finally wake up and realize what is happening to the future generations? How many children’s lives must be ruined before REAL action is taken?

Maybe when it happens to YOUR child or a child YOU KNOW, then maybe you’ll understand why I keep shouting this from the rooftops! But by then you’ll find out, there’s not a damned thing you can do about because you waited too late…

But don’t take my word for it…PLEASE, READ FOR YOURSELF…

 

 

 


12 Comments

Sexual Predators Hiding In Plain Sight

When I first came forward about being sexually abused by a youth minister at Rehoboth Baptist Church, the church where I grew up, I wrote an article called, “Pedophiles Are Like Serial Killers“.

I titled it that because of what an investigator at the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) told me. She said, “David, I believe pedophiles are like serial killers that leave their victims alive.”

I believed it that day and I do more so with each survivor I meet and with every story I hear.

Georgia Representative, Jason Spencer, has sponsored House Bill 17. It’s called “The Hidden Predator Act” and he said this of it in a recent post:

“Child sexual abuse is a secret crime that murders a child’s soul, and child sexual predators will always live among us. One in four girls will become victims, while one in six boys will suffer the same fate. Child sexual predators are often individuals who are close to the child victim, whereby those close relationships make a predator’s identity difficult to expose in the communities where they live.

Predators could be a close family friend, a pastor, a priest, a coach, a teacher, a doctor or even a parent. Many times, the child who is victimized never reports the crime for fear of not being believed by adults. Other times, child victims are so young that they are unaware of what acts are being done to them and lack the verbal capacity to describe the act, leading many victims to act out harshly or engage in other destructive behaviors as they age.

Typically, it is not until well into adulthood that the survivor of the ordeal has the ability to confront their perpetrators. However, in the state of Georgia, by the time survivors of child sexual abuse are ready to seek justice, they are locked out of the court rooms because of our law’s short civil statute of limitations (SOL).”

What Rep. Spencer described is EXACTLY what happened to me and it continues to happen to countless other victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). It took me 26 years to admit the shame, guilt and self-blame I felt about what Frankie Wiley did to me, and I have since learned, there are many others he abused, molested and raped. In 2006, I went to the DeKalb County Police Department to file a report and have charges brought against Frankie. I spent an hour pouring out my soul and crying like a child, to which the detective said…

…”Sorry, it’s too late. You waited too long.”

I waited too long?

What on earth does that mean? How does that make sense? How can a child be held to some legal standards for the crimes of an adult who commits atrocities against them. I felt as if I were being raped all over again.

But it’s a tragic fact in Georgia and MOST EVERY STATE in the USA. They are called Statute of Limitation Laws and instead of protecting the victims, in cases of child sex crimes, they serve only to protect predators.

So right now, in a rare moment in time, YOU have the ability to MAKE HISTORY. And not just in Georgia. If you help this bill get passed into law, it will pave the way for all of the other states to do the same thing, to finally bring justice for victims of the most heinous crime that can be committed against a child.

For those of you who might be reading this blog for the first time I want to assure you of something that regular readers already know – I do NOT deal in hyperbole, so please hear me when I say this cannot be overstated – this bill could be the MOST IMPORTANT BILL EVER in the lives of EVERY Georgian 53 or younger who has suffered from the trauma’s associated with Childhood Sexual Abuse or has a loved one who has.

Rep. Spencer went on to say, “Both criminal prosecution and civil actions are significant ways which validate the survivor and expose the truth to the public. With the recent 2012 criminal justice reform proposals removing the criminal SOL on child sexual abuse cases, coupled with the civil reforms in the Georgia “Hidden Predator Act,” child sexual predators will have a difficult time hiding in Georgia.

As a result, the priority will be to extend real justice to victims instead of enabling monsters to continue to prey on societies most vulnerable. Georgia’s children and families need and deserve the Hidden Predator Act. This reform is a stern warning to child sexual predators: don’t tread on Georgia’s children.”

For more than 30 years Frankie has been allowed to go from church to church, city to city, unencumbered by anything that would prevent him from molesting and raping more little boys. All because of an archaic law championed only by those who seek to hide the monsters in their midst for fear of litigation like the Roman Catholic Church is currently undergoing for protecting pedophiles for decades, even centuries.

Please become OUR champion. Become OUR hero and help us catch those who have killed our childhood, our souls and in too many cases, our lives.

Please help bring these monsters to justice and send a message to predators everywhere by getting the “Hidden Predator Act” passed. Send the message that we will NOT allow them to hide behind outdated laws. Let them know they WILL pay for their crimes.

If you are a resident of Georgia or you know someone who is, go here to find their or your Representative.

http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx

By simply taking a few minutes to click on a link and send an email or make a call, you CAN make a difference. Not only in our lives, but untold numbers of those who will be protected in the future by your actions today.

Help us to stop the enabling of monsters who continue to prey on societies most vulnerable. As Rep. Spencer said, “Georgia’s children and families need and deserve the Hidden Predator Act.”

The following article was written by Rachel Stockman and posted on the WSB-TV website.

“More than a dozen victims came out in support of a new Georgia bill which would extend the statute of limitations in civil court for child sexual abuse victims to 35 years.

This would allow victims to file claims against their attackers until they are 53 years old. Current law bars claims that are filed after a victim is 23 years old.

“We are here under this dome- seeking justice in House Bill 17 to extend the statute of limitations on civil statute so the courtroom doors can be open for the survivors of child sexual abuse,” said Angela Williams, a rape victim, and founder of Voice Today, an advocacy group. Williams says it often takes years — even decades, for victims to come forward.

The “Hidden Predator Act” would also open more investigative records, and would add a two-year window for revival of claims for victims.
“These folks are locked out of the courts and justice is absolutely denied,” said Rep. Jason Spencer (R – Woodbine). Spencer is sponsoring HB 17.

“Georgia is one of the five worst states in country: if you are over the age of 23 you are out of luck,” said Marci Hamilton, a professor of the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York City.”

Please, PLEASE, PLEASE, do something most of us never do…Call or Email your local representative and let them know they MUST VOTE YES for House Bill 17. And if necessary, let them know in the language only a few understand, tell them if they don’t vote yes, you’ll elect someone who will.

Think of it this way, if your child, or the child of someone who is close to you were the victim of murder and that child’s perpetrator were allowed to walk free for 20-30 years, then one day the government said to you, “If you want, we can finally bring your child’s murderer to justice.”

What would you do?

This is where we are at. You have the ability to make history and save lives. Please don’t turn a blind eye today, not now when we are so close. Do you want to protect children or continue allowing pedophiles to get away with murder? The future is in our hands.

***UPDATE***

Below are the names of the state representatives who have this bill in their Committee. Please call them and request that they MOVE IT OUT OF COMMITTEE and BRING IT TO THE FLOOR FOR A VOTE OF YES IN ITS ORIGINAL LANGUAGE.

Wendell Willard
R – Sandy Springs
District 51

Barry Fleming
R – Harlem
District 121

Stephen Allison
R – Blairsville
District 8

Beth Beskin
R – Atlanta
District 54

Roger Bruce
D – Atlanta
District 61

Johnnie Caldwell, Jr.
R – Thomaston
District 131

Stacey Evans
D – Smyrna
District 42

Mike Jacobs
R – Brookhaven
District 80

LaDawn Jones
D – Atlanta
District 62

Trey Kelley
R – Cedartown
District 16

Ronnie Mabra
D – Fayetteville
District 63

Larry O`Neal
R – Bonaire
District 146

Mary Margaret Oliver
D – Decatur
District 82

Jay Powell
R – Camilla
District 171

Dale Rutledge
R – McDonough
District 109

Pam Stephenson
D – Decatur
District 90

Andrew J. Welch
R – McDonough
District 110

Tom Weldon
R – Ringgold
District 3

Rich Golick
R – Smyrna
District 40

Joe Wilkinson
R – Atlanta
District 52

Original location of Rachel Stockman’s article:

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/new-bill-being-pushed-victims-child-sex-abuse/nj3dD/#__federated=1

Original location of Rep. Spencer’s article:

http://gapundit.com/2014/12/03/rep-jason-spencer-dont-tread-georgias-children-house-bill-17-georgia-hidden-predator-act/

Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.


1 Comment

Clergy Sex Abuse Study

We have received a request to participate in a research project. These studies can help with the understanding and treatment of those who have suffered abuse.

Please only participate if you feel strong enough emotionally, mentally, etc., to do so. We don’t want anyone to be triggered due to the level of questions asked.

Most research on clergy abuse has examined the perpetrating clergy rather than the survivors they have impacted. Because so little is known from the survivors’ perspective, a study is being conducted by researchers at Nova Southeastern University (IRB protocol # 04241319Exp) to examine the unique psychological and spiritual effects of clergy sex abuse on those survivors.

We are looking for adults (those over age 18) who survived childhood abuse (before the age of 18) by either a clergy member or a member of their family to participate in this study. Information from survivors of sexual abuse by a family member will allow us to examine how clergy abuse may impact survivors differently than familial abuse.

If you choose to participate in this study, you will be asked to complete an anonymous online survey with questions about your sexual abuse history and your current psychological and spiritual functioning. Because of the importance of having a comparison group, feel free to share this study link with others you know who may have been abused, even if the abuser was not clergy.

Please help extend our knowledge of the effects of clergy sexual abuse by following the link below:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KFW9XCR

If asked for a password: clergy

David


2 Comments

What is Required to Have a Life of Hope and Healing?

Last week we talked about about something all survivors of abuse grapple with, feeling alone. So now what, how do we get beyond these helpless and hopeless feelings?

Part 2

What is Required to Have a Life of Hope and Healing?

The following article might seem a bit short, when considering what we are talking about. I just want to make it as straightforward as possible. Now within each of these three areas lies a multitude of layers and steps. But for our purposes, I just want it to be succinct.

I would be happy to delve into each one in more detail, and will do so in the near future. For now, I just want us all to grasp the basics for what is required.

Once you open your mind and heart to hope and healing you can begin to experience what myself and other survivors have. A life that is rewarding and fulfilling.

It requires three things; Work, Support and Belief.

WORK

Like anything in life, nothing worth having comes easy. And recovery and healing are no different. As I sat in a room with fellow survivors one evening, one asked, “when does this begin to get easier?” We all let out a nervous chuckle of sorts because we knew what they meant. We had either previously wondered this same question or were currently asking the same thing.

For those of us who were a little farther down the “recovery road”, we chimed in and said, “it’s a back and forth, up and down ride.” You’re going to have good days and bad. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’ve gotten things manageable and that’s when a trigger will occur and out of the blue something bites you in the tail. But no matter where you’re at; day 1 or year 20, it’s a process, and one that’s ongoing. What we all agreed upon is that the work was worth the effort. The alternatives; keeping it bottled up, ignoring it, disregarding the emotions – none of them worked long-term and would eventually lead to bad results.

So what kind of work you ask? Saying the following word is easy, following through is the work. Therapy, whether it’s one-on-one counseling, or in a group setting, it is essential. Recovery takes the help and guidance from others who are either trained and/or have been through what you have. Believe me when I say, I’ve tried doing this on my own, and I know many others who have as well, and none of us were able to make any progress until we enlisted the help of others. It’s doesn’t mean we are weak. To the contrary, admitting we needed help was both a strong and brave thing to do. It meant we cared enough about ourselves and those that love us to get that help, begin to heal and work toward becoming the person we were capable of being.

SUPPORT

We all need it. When we first come forward about being sexually abused, how we are received can determine what happens next. So the person or people we reach out to can be key. I can’t stress this enough. Think carefully about to whom it is you first disclose. I have seen too many survivors hurt by the very ones they went to for help. That’s why we always say, please know we are here to help. And fortunately now, there are many other organizations out there who will offer this same type of real, positive and caring reception of what you’ve been through.

No matter whether it’s a friend, your family or an organization; take that step, reach out and receive the love and support they are willing to provide. And build upon it. Grow your support structure. Sometimes one person might not be available at that exact moment, so develop a group of people you can turn to during those tough times or when triggered.

BELIEF

I’m actually ending where I believe it begins, with belief. The first part is a belief in yourself. From there, it’s a belief that hope and healing ARE possible. And you CAN believe because there are so many who have gone before you and have constructed such a life. We aren’t different from you. We are just like you.

I’d like to say there’s something special about us, or that we have some secret recipe for recovery. But like most things in life, the simplicity is the “work”. So there’s no magic potion, no secret pill.

And that means the hope and healing we are now experiencing are within your grasp as well. As I’ve said, it just takes the work and support.

And I can promise you it’s worth it!

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


16 Comments

How Long Have I Felt Alone?

Feeling Alone, it’s a familiar feeling. It’s altogether too familiar. As a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), I struggled for decades with it. I had it twisted around me like a straight-jacket of discomfort. The result was a never-ending quest for love and acceptance in all the wrong places with none of the right people.

This desperate pursuit eventually had me asking many questions about myself and my life.

Is that why I spent so many years seeking intimacy through empty sexual encounters?

Is that why I would take enough narcotics to drop a work mule and then get out on the road looking for party after party, person after person, hook-up after hook-up, connection after connection.

After I reread that last sentence it dawned on me. It’s that’s word, “connection”. I was looking for a true connection but in the most vile of environments, from the least genuine of people, and in the sketchiest of places with the most dangerous of drugs.

Sadly, when I’d meet a decent person, I’d find a way to sabotage whatever connection was made.

Over the last few years I’ve learned there are different types of “survivors” of CSA. First, there’s the type who grew up with abuse being so much a part of their lives, having no memory of life without it, that it was their “norm”. The second type consists of those who had, up until the abuse began, some sort of “regular” childhood. Once the abuse began, everything changed. Either they became withdrawn or they acted out, with combinations and variations of the two.

From listening to fellow survivors stories, It’s been my understanding that it depended on how old they were when the abuse began, how many years it lasted, who their abuser(s) were, plus a multitude of other factors. But please don’t misunderstand, whether the abuse occurred once or a thousand times, victims are left feeling alone.

To anyone looking at my life, I gave the appearance as if all was fantastic in my world! It would seem as if nothing so evil and certainly crimes so heinous could not be happening to me. After all, my abuser had total control over me. He was in the position of both male AND spiritual authority over me. In essence, he had possession of my mind, body and soul. He convinced me that no one would believe me anyway. And on top of that, the time and place where I grew up, we did not talk about anything negative and we certainly didn’t tell anyone else outside the family about such things. Who am I kidding, we didn’t even tell our family.

For the three years the sexual abuse occurred, no one knew what my youth minister, Frankie Wiley was doing to me, or to any of the boys he was molesting, abusing and raping at the same time. And since all of us felt we were the only ones to which it was happening, we felt completely alone. As I said, a feeling that would become more familiar than any other, and the driving force behind my desire to be loved, to be wanted, to feel “warm and fuzzy”, as the sex and narcotics both temporarily and falsely made me feel.

So as victims of these crimes, what do we do with this feeling of being “alone”? I have described how I dealt with it for the better part of 30 years. In doing so, I destroyed multiple careers, many relationships and almost lost my life.

Once I finally got clean and removed the fog of narcotics hanging over me, I was able to seek the help of one-on-one counseling and support groups that taught me proper coping skills. Now I know what to do when “triggered” or when I become overcome with the guilt, shame and self-blame associated with being sexually abused. I was also very fortunate to have a family willing to help me when I came forward about the abuse. Not everyone is so lucky. They assisted me in getting clean by keeping food in my belly and a roof over my head while I got my head clear.

I’m so thankful for all those who have helped me in the past and still help me to this day. And the reason I’m telling you all of this is to let my fellow survivors and their loved ones know what I’ve learned…help, healing and recovery are all possible.

As many of you know, I’m now married to the most amazing woman who loves me for who I am. Together, we work with victims and survivors. We see their healing begin and are witness to lives changing on a weekly basis.

I am now even able to be an active member of a church again. Having been abused by a minister, I had sworn at one time never to darken the doors of any religious institution. In my heart at that time, I believed God had allowed this and I hated Him for it. I eventually understood there was only one person to blame for the pain; my abuser, Frankie Wiley. And I see clearly now from his actions, he is not a Christian. A true Christian would not sexually abuse multiple boys at various churches over decades of time. Nor should I discount my belief because of what this sexual predator did to me and so many other little boys. I have decided not to allow his crimes to prevent me from receiving joy and peace from my belief.

My life now is one I had not dreamed possible. But when I opened my mind and heart to hope and healing, I began to finally experience what is possible for us all.

And that’s why I want all survivors to know THIS story, MY story, can be THEIR story. Turning your life into one that is both productive and fulfilling is within your reach, if only you’ll reach out to those willing to help you.

We are here to help. And together, we can truly heal.

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.


3 Comments

The Sexual Exploitation of Children: What If Anything is The Church Going to Do About It?

The following was posted on August 30th, 2014 at our friend and colleague, Boz Tchividjian’s blog, “Rhymes With Religion”. Boz has been a consistent advocate for children from his time as a prosecutor to his current position as the founder of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment),

Being a grandson of Billy Graham, one would reasonably assume the work he does would be welcomed at churches, especially Southern Baptist, whose numbers are an approximate 15.75 million among 46,000 congregations.

We are learning, quite tragically, most churches only do the work of eradicating sexual predators in their midst when forced to do so. And even then, seldom to never is there any acceptance of responsibility or “heaven” forbid an actual apology to the victims and their families. Even more egregious are the few times a conviction for sex crimes against a child are secured.

Thankfully there are groups like GRACE, SharedHope, Together We Heal and others doing what we would all expect and should demand of the Church – protect children and care for those who’ve fallen victim to this most heinous of crimes. But until that occurs, we will continue to do the work. Our children are worthy of and owed protection; and survivors of the trauma of childhood sexual abuse deserve to be cared for and shown compassion and love.

Thank you Boz and thank you SharedHope for the work you do to advocate for all children and those already harmed by the wickedness of sexual predators and those who protect and defend the indefensible.

In the past few years, a there has been a growing interest amongst many Americans in raising awareness and combatting the international commercial sexual exploitation of children. This is when an adult solicits or engages in a sexual act with a child in exchange for something of value. Many incredible individuals and organizations are focusing on this global horror and are beginning to make a real difference in the lives of untold numbers of vulnerable children around the world. Only recently are our eyes beginning to open to the ugly fact that this evil also permeates in the small towns and big cities of this nation. This has been clearly evidenced in a report released this past week by SharedHope, a Christian organization that is combating sex trafficking and serving abuse survivors. The Demanding Justice Report is one of the first comprehensive studies of its kind that examines the domestic commercial sexual exploitation of children. The heartbreaking and eye-opening findings of this study are a loud call to action to every American. Especially to those of us who call ourselves Christ followers.

Everyone should take the time to read this report. In this short post, I want to highlight just a small sample of its findings and what they mean for those of us who are a part of a faith community:

Who are the buyers? The age of those who commit these sexual offenses against children ranged from 18-89 years of age, with the average age being 42. Ninety-nine percent of these offenders were male. In the cases where the profession of the perpetrator was available, over 65 percent were in professions of authority such as attorneys, police officers, and ministers. Fifty-six percent were identified as working in occupations that had regular access to children, including teachers, coaches, and youth service organizations.

Who are the victims? Of the cases studied, almost 80 percent of the child victims were female. Approximately 10 percent of the victims were under the age of eleven, while almost 42 percent were between the ages of 11 and 15. The rest were between the ages of 16 and 18. In at least five of the cases reviewed during this study, children who were abused were actually charged with prostitution! Surprisingly, in only a small number of the cases were the young victims identified as being a runaway.

How do perpetrators access the child victims? The study found that the most common way those who engage in the commercial sexual exploitation of children access their prey is through direct contact in person, via text message, email, or phone. In almost 50 percent of the studied cases, the perpetrator was given access to the child through a third party such as a parent, older sibling, or a pimp.

What happens to buyers who get caught? This report studied four large urban locations and identified 134 cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children offenses. Of those cases, 118 were officially prosecuted.

Unfortunately, only 44 of those prosecuted cases resulted in convictions for offenses related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. For example, 38 of the perpetrators arrested for paying to engage in sexual contact with a child were only convicted of a prostitution solicitation offense!

What does our society communicate to child sexual abuse offenders when they get caught and only get charged with a prostitution related offense? Even worse, what are we communicating to precious children when they learn that the adult who violated them merely got convicted of soliciting a prostitute?

Only five percent of the 118 prosecuted cases resulted in the defendant receiving a sentence that included incarceration. This means that 95 percent of the buyers who were prosecuted for some form of commercial sexual exploitation of a child never served a day behind bars!

This past week, I have spent a bit of time struggling with what these extremely disturbing results mean to those of us who identify ourselves as Christians? Though I am still struggling, here are just a few of my initial thoughts that I’d like to share:

We often think of the commercial sexual exploitation of children being perpetrated by large organized trafficking rings upon children who are almost exclusively runaways. Though that is tragically true in way too many cases, this report seems to indicate that this abuse is being perpetrated by the adults in our community that we least expect upon children that we so often assume are not at risk. This report opens our eyes to the grave reality that the commercial sexual exploitation of children has no boundaries. All children are at risk.

There is little doubt that those who will pay money to sexually victimize a child are not limited to just those whom they pay to abuse. For every lawyer, doctor, coach, teacher, or pastor who is paying for sexual contact with a child, one can only wonder how many are doing so without the need to pay anything. This tells me that the prevalence of this heinous crime is far greater than we can determine. Furthermore, this study reminds us of how it is very common for perpetrators to intentionally seek out professions of trust and that most make direct contact with their victims in person, or using some form of technology. Do we truly grasp these alarming realities about dangerous adults who are members of our faith communities? If so, what if anything is the Church going to do about it? Aren’t we the Church?

This report confirms the horror that no age is off limits to those who sexually assault children. We are also exposed to the lesser-known horror that a large number of these child victims are being delivered into the hands of offenders by their very own family members. Do we truly grasp these dark realities about the precious child victims who are members of our faith communities? Should we not be equally concerned about the children who are outside of our faith communities? If so, what if anything is the Church going to do about it? Aren’t we the Church?

As a former prosecutor, I was extremely bothered to learn that so few offenders are sent to prison for raping children in exchange for money. What does it say about a culture when an adult who pays to sexually victimize a child is only charged with prostitution solicitation? What does it say about a culture that actually prosecutes sexually victimized children as prostitutes? Do we truly grasp these dark realities that demonstrate such little concern about those who sexually exploit children? If so, what if anything is the Church going to do about it? Aren’t we the Church?

Questions are a certainly a good starting point. However, simply asking questions isn’t enough. It’s too easy for many of us to feel like we have sufficiently responded to these dark realities by simply asking tough questions. In my experience, questions that are not followed up by actions are nothing more than indifference hiding behind a pretty mask. As Christians, we embrace a different reality. A reality about a God who doesn’t simply respond to the dark realities with questions. He actually poured himself out to the point of death in order to bring light to that darkness. That is the beautiful redemption story. Our response to this mind-blowing truth is to follow Jesus into the dark realities as we pour our own lives out in actions that will make a difference. Actions that expose the dark deeds of offenders, protect and serve children, and help to transform a culture that all too often protects those who must be punished and punishes those who must be protected.

May each question propel us forward into action. It’s time to get moving.

This article can be viewed at its original location here:

http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/08/30/sexual-exploitation-children-anything-church-going/

Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.