Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. We provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal. We work to expose sexual predators and their methods of getting into our lives.
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.
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
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.
The following is a post a friend of mine wanted to share. She has helped me realize that as survivors of childhood sexual abuse, we are just one set of the victims in this crime. I’m thankful for her sharing with me and pointing out that children, loved-ones and others also suffer the consequences of the abusers actions. Please welcome her writing and the willingness to open up her heart and hurt with us.
When you’re growing up, you look up to your parents for wisdom and to see how you are supposed to be when you grow up. Parents are the ones you’re with the most and they mold you into who you are today.
Parents aren’t perfect, even though when we are young we think they are. We tend to place them on a pedestal and never recognize the tarnish and wear, or what may be going on inside of them. Let’s face it, our job as children is to have fun and play and try to obey our parents because in our minds, we trust they know what’s good for us.
For me, childhood was probably a little more difficult than an average child. It seemed I could never do right. I couldn’t say the right things or be the right way. Yet, somehow inside me – I still would seek out approval from my mother. Call me a glutton for punishment, stubborn, hard-headed, etc., I’ve been called worse.
My mother and I were two independent, head-strong individuals and we clashed like most teenagers do with their parents, but then there were times when I would be on the receiving end of some pretty hateful comments. It wasn’t until I was older that I came to the realization of what was really going on.
Growing up constantly being told you’d never amount to anything isn’t easy to take, nor is hearing how I’m so pathetic. Thousands upon thousands of children hear this at some point in their life. I’m not saying that I’m that different just that I have scars from the verbal abuse I endured.
So why am I on a victims of CSA website and blog? Simply put, I’m a victim of a victim.
No, I was not sexually abused but I did suffer from the effects of CSA, the effects they had on my mother. Because she chose not face the things that happened to her when she was younger, this played a huge role on how she interacted with others. Her relationships with her family and extended family suffered.
On the outside and in public, she was a stunning, beautiful woman. Very intelligent and determined to become more – do more, no one would have ever thought she was battling with her own doubts. At home, she tended to be disconnected, cold and hard-hearted. I don’t remember a lot of hugs and kisses growing up. I sat back and watched as my friends had seemingly great relationships with their mothers and would envy their mother/daughter connection. It was hard.
Over the years, my attempts to reach out and share the events of my life weren’t received very well. I think the most intimate mother/daughter moments we shared were when I got married or when I had my child. It’s still hard – sometimes I mourn that lost relationship – the memories that could have been but never were.
In my early motherhood days, I found myself reacting to things the way my mother used to – quick to anger and disconnected. I came to realize a cycle was starting and not a healthy one. I realized I was turning into my mother and not in those funny, cute ways we joke about with our friends. This cycle of hatred at the world had begun and I had to do something about it to break the cycle or another innocent child would fall victim to this madness. Another relationship would suffer.
You see, during my late high school years, my mom had confided in me her deep dark secret. She was sexually abused as a child. I never really grasped how deep the pain was, how deeply it effected who she had become. I really don’t think the light bulb of that reality hit me until after I had my own child and knew I had to break the cycle of anger.
For those of you out there afraid to take the steps to get help, please realize, you’re not the only victim. How you react to the travesty of what happened to you can last for generations. I’m asking you to take the steps necessary to begin healing – If you don’t do it for you, do it for those you love, your wife, your husband, your children and even your grandchildren.
If you find yourself in my shoes – please know you aren’t alone. Reach out to Together We Heal or find someone you can talk to. Know you are worthy and don’t believe the words spoken in anger. I know it’s not easy to accept, but you can overcome this and break the cycle.
Please don’t ever forget – To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.
By Michelle Lea Anthony-Hopper
Michelle is not just a friend, she’s also the TWH web designer, webmaster and on the Board of Consultants. Much like she was unaware of my abuse, I was unaware of what she had been through until we started working together on projects for TWH. We are honored to have her as an integral member of the TWH team and family.
More unfortunate proof that NO religion, denomination, or group of ANY kind is immune from the plague that is childhood sexual abuse (CSA). When will we as a nation finally take a stand and DEMAND that our children be protected and these pedophiles and sexual predators be prosecuted. Because up to now, it’s been the other way around. These same institutions that are supposed to be the protectors of our kids, victimize them further and hide these atrocities at any costs.
Please folks, wake up. Don’t wait until its your child or one that you know before you take action. Join us at TWH, or join some group working toward the same goal. 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the US alone are sexually abused before the age of 18. If that number doesn’t get your attention, maybe this one will, those numbers mean between 55 and 70 MILLION people alive today in the US are survivors of CSA. If that doesn’t get your attention obviously either nothing will, you don’t care or you don’t believe it.
But if you do, help us help protect our kids and get these survivors the help they need to begin to heal. And stand up, let your voices be heard by your lawmakers in making REAL change. Demand that there be NO Statute of Limitations on sex crimes against children. Until that happens and we actually prosecute these predators, no effective change will take place.
As a public advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I’m often asked to give interviews. I’ve done local and regional newspapers, local and online radio shows, heck I’ve even been on national T.V.! Whoop dee do, right?! My feelings exactly. So have mass murderers and folks with no teeth and no shirt explaining how tornados sound. (some of which were my relatives by the way!)
Even less talented folks get syndicated T.V. shows making hundreds of thousands of dollars an episode. So you ask, why do I tell you about giving an interview? Because every once in a while, when the planets are aligned and you tilt your head the right way. It all comes together and something good comes from it!
Such was the case this Monday, April 29th, 2013. I was asked by another advocate for survivors of CSA to appear on her radio show to do an interview. She wanted me to tell my story of abuse, teach parents how to better protect their children from sexual predators…the usual path for my regular interview. But this one turned out to be anything but ordinary.
I have grown to know and respect Trish McKnight over the last couple of years as we crossed paths several times doing similar endeavors to raise awareness for our mutual cause. But with April being Child Abuse Awareness month, she wanted to make sure her slate was full of folks that were either experts in the field, had been running organizations to benefit survivors, were survivors of CSA themselves or some combination of all the above. It’s been a pretty steady cast of folks I respect and admire, so when she asked me to be a part, I was humbled. As any survivor can tell you, we have a hard time accepting our own self-worth. And this for me was no exception.
But I deferred to her wisdom, and to benefit those who receive help from the efforts of “Together We Heal”, and said, “sure! I’d be happy to do the interview with you!”
It began as most do, she had an overview of what TWH does, who it benefits, how we help survivors, etc. And throughout, everything ran perfectly. We had callers, we had those with input from online. Trish and I had good chemistry on-air. And I genuinely enjoyed the entire hour and a half we talked. And we TALKED! Non-stop the whole time! It was great! We gave a lot of important information to help parents, we talked with a caller on how we could help their child. I’m telling you, it was perfect. Or so I thought.
After we went off the air. The emails, calls, tweets came pouring in! Folks were reaching out locally and from one end of an ocean to another. The U.K., New Zealand, Venezuela, you name it, we were being inundated with comments about the show, and ALL of them were positive. Which is exactly what you want. To reach as many folks as you can in an effort to help as many as possible. But not EXACTLY what you want when you are in the business to help people. Don’t get me wrong, those encouragements mean the world to me. They are a part of what keeps us going. But there was something missing, something major.
But then, as the calls, emails and tweets started to decline, there in the midst of them was IT. THE reason why myself, Trish, Rachel, Bill, Marci, Andrew, Margie, Blair, Patricia, and so many to name here its impossible to list them all, get up each morning and do what it is we do. A simple, short email stating…
…I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and I need help. Can you help me?
Then shortly after that, a second email and a third, all asking the same thing. All with their own unique, yet similar stories. We have been sexually abused and we need your help.
I immediately responded and will be arranging for their individual needs over the next week. But that’s not the point. The point is that either they were listening to the show, or someone who cares about them was, made a point to get our contact info and then followed up, making sure they had the ability to reach out to us. That’s love folks. That’s people who care about their family and/or friends.
And that’s why we do interviews.
Because we never know when someone who desperately needs our help will be listening. The point – don’t EVER pass on an opportunity because you might not get a second chance. You’ve heard the phrase, either from the Robin Williams movie, “The Dead Poets Society”, or from Latin class if your old enough, Carpe Diem – Seize the Day. Make the most of every opportunity you have. It’s when you least expect it that you get that surprise. The opportunity to help your fellow man or woman. Don’t ever waste that moment.
For sometime now I have felt like a “voice in the wilderness” when it comes to exposing the childhood sexual abuse occurring within the confines of the Southern Baptist Church. Since my abuse happened at the hands of a youth minister at a prominent SBC church in suburban Atlanta, I have received nothing but contempt and distain from those in power within the SBC. This man, who admitted to a pastor and deacon that he sexually abused me just keeps getting moved from church to church…sound familiar? And I am not is only victim. 6 others have come forward telling their own story of abuse. These are just the boys I KNOW about, ages ranging from 9 to 15 at the time the abuse occurred. Only God and Frankie know how many little boys he’s actually molested, abused and raped.
His name is Frankie Wiley and currently acts as the “Praise Leader” at Trinity Baptist Church in Ashburn, GA. All I get from the SBC, is that they “will pray for me”, but no one seems to be willing to act on KNOWN pedophiles using their facilities as a hunting ground for new victims. Even the pastor of Trinity, Rodney Brown, knows the truth and refuses to do anything about it. He actually called me and told me “I was a bad person for causing a split in HIS church.” To which I replied, he is the one giving a known pedophile access to children. And the last time I checked, it’s not HIS church, the church is the body of believers, not the man standing in the pulpit. After which, he has given no reply.
The constant rhetoric I am told is that, “each church is autonomous”. The problem with this fallacy is that if each so-called autonomous church doesn’t pay the SBC a certain amount of money, they are not allowed to send “Messengers” (or delegates if you think of it in political terms) to the national convention to vote on issues and help create the platform with which the SBC uses to have guidelines that “rule” over each church. Sound “autonomous” to you?
It has been clear to me for sometime now, and it looks like others are recognizing that the SBC is no better than the Catholic Church when it comes to covering up the pedophiles hiding under the cloak of ministry. Below you will find an article that shows exactly what I’ve been saying for years.
As we have seen in recent news, no religious organization is immune. Childhood sexual abuse occurs in churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, Boy Scouts, etc. We have got to stand up for these children who aren’t able to speak up for themselves. Help us help these children. Demand the immediate removal of known child molesters like Frankie Wiley.
Since I know the people reading this blog are folks that care about children, care about survivors of CSA, and want to do something about it. I feel the need to let you know about ANOTHER child who has committed suicide after being sexually assaulted and humiliated online. Read, and do what y’all do best…take action based on what you know is the right thing to do since law enforcement doesn’t have the balls, courage and moral fortitude to do something about it!
It’s up to US; survivors of CSA, loved ones of survivors and others who actually give a damn about children losing their lives. We can no longer depend on the so-called justice system getting justice for these children. Bless you all for doing the right thing!
From the FB page of Cale Harbour – He has asked that I post his story and to help “Together We Heal” as it helps others. Please take time to read his story of hope and healing.
I keep wondering how to start this story. Earlier this year, my good friend David Pittman posted the remarkable story of his struggle being a victim of child sexual abuse. David and I have been good friends for many years and I want to show my support for the work he is doing. This strikes close to me because I too am a victim of this crime and by the same person that abused David. In actuality I was victimized two different times. The first occurrence was an instructor at a summer reading program. The other was a youth minister who started out counseling me to get over the first trauma. The specific details are no longer important. Fortunately, I was not left with severe trauma from these events. However, dealing with the emotions and putting everything into perspective took some time.
David summed up the practices of child predators quite well. They start with small remarks, gestures, comments, or questions. Then some touching and assurances that everything is fine. The interaction slowly progresses and becomes more intimate. This doesn’t happen all at once. It is a detailed, thought out strategy in order to slowly break down the defenses until they can manipulate the child into satisfying their desires.
I never thought about sharing this publically until recently. I was fortunate enough to marry a wonderful woman who served as the support I needed to finish healing and move forward. For me, this part of my life has very little impact on me today. However, in reading not only David Pittman’s story but also all the other responses to his story, it is obvious that this type of personal violation can leave scars and wounds that never truly heal. It is for this reason that I felt like sharing my past as a sign that this can be overcome. There is healing and life can move forward. To anyone who has suffered from this I want to say “Healing does occur”. The Bible tells us in Joel 2:25 that He can make up for the time the ‘Locusts’ have eaten away.
For everyone who reads this, please take a look at David Pittman’s various sites for “Together We Heal”.
together-we-heal.org – Visit the website
@together_weheal – Follow on Twitter