After Reporting Ongoing Child Abuse, What Can You Do?

by Name Undisclosed
(Location Undisclosed)

Darlene,

My husband and I (not residents of Canada), have reported to a Children's Aid Society, an ongoing case of physical and emotional abuse and neglect of our 8-year-old nephew by his parents, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, residents of Ontario. We believe that there was a case file on my nephew prior to our contact, based on reports from his school, but my sister-in-law has admitted to manipulating the investigations by intimidating and coaching my nephew to lie to case workers, threatening him with more beatings or "being taken away to homes where {he} will be raped". We have since been unable to re-establish communication with the parents and therefore have no way of knowing the status of the investigation or if the case worker has managed to find sufficient evidence in his investigations, and if my nephew and his parents are getting the help that they desperately need.

My husband and I have attended counselling sessions to deal with the shock of discovering the severity of the abuse and the paranoid state of mind of my sister-in-law. We have invited the rest of the family, but they are in denial, and in fear of past childhood abuses being brought to the surface.

Given the laws in Canada that prevent the social worker from providing any feedback even to family members who have reported abuse, is there anything else that we can do to find out if my nephew is still in harm's way or if he is being helped, or to establish ourselves as concerned relatives? Can you recommend any support groups, or legal or social avenues that we can consider?

Many thanks for your advice.

Note from Darlene: My answer to this Ask Darlene question "After Reporting Ongoing Child Abuse, What Can You Do?" can be found below. If you do not see the comments I've written, please be patient, as there is a system glitch regarding comments going live on my site. I replied to your query June 6, 2008, comments titled "I sincerely wanted to be more helpful..." Keep checking back to this page. I thank you and my other visitors for your understanding while I work at getting this minor malfunction rectified.

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Student asking for answers?

by Widian
(Canada)

Hi! I'm a student who is doing a paper on sexual abuse. It would be really helpful for me to answer these questions. I would be Grateful and thankful for your help.

  1. What type of steps would be taking when it is known that a child has been sexually abused?
  2. What drive any adult to sexually abuse a child?
  3. Does the offender have to have a history of being abused as a kid to sexually abuse other children?
  4. What is the percentage/ rate today of girls and boys a like being sexually abused?
  5. What kind of consequences the child would have after being sexually abused at a young age?
  6. Do male victims express their feeling abut the abuse differently than female victims if so why?
  7. What kind of signs you have to look for to know if a child is being sexually abused?
  8. What type of treatment the victims should seek?
  9. How does the victim try to protect him/herself during the act?
  10. Does the male victim use the same method that the female victim uses to protect themselves with during the act?
  11. What kind of behaviors does the victim start to show?
  12. What is so different between the long- short- term effects of sexual abuse?
  13. Does on some situation the victim becomes attached to the offender in any way? If so How do they become attached?
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From England: Any ideas how I can do what you're doing?

by Janet
(London, England)

Dear Darlene,
I live in England and am working on a child abuse prevention programme. Basically I have put my experiences into a programme to help children today. Help them become stronger more able to protect themselves mentally and also encourage children to speak out if they need help.

I read your story and well-done for what you've achieved.

I was wondering if you would be interested in looking at some samples of my works and give me your opinion.

The kind of work you are doing is what I'd like to do in England. Any ideas? I've got some media interest but need to take it that bit further. People are afraid to talk about any form of abuse, sexual being I think the scariest.

I hope you can reply to this request.

Look forward to hearing from you.

J.

Initial reply from Darlene: Janet, firstly, I thank you for the compliment. Secondly, I congratulate and applaud you for your efforts to reach out to prevent child abuse and to help abused children in your country. Thirdly, I wish I could give you the reply you are hoping for. I replied to a similar query from another person in the UK last year. In the interest of time, I must admit to copying and pasting some of what I wrote to her, but please take heart...I've also added a great deal more.

Note from Darlene: Janet, the system glitch regarding some comments not going live has resulted in the necessity to temporarily suspend answering questions through this page. While the malfunction has not yet been fully remedied, I've decided to post your submission in an effort to let you know that I've not ignored you.

If you cannot see below, the answer I've provided to this Ask Darlene question "From England: Any ideas how I can do what you're doing?" rest assured, it is in queue. I posted my comments June 4, 2008, titled " Part 1: Outreach is a challenging task..." and "Part 2: Align yourself with a like-minded organization..." Keep checking back to this page. I thank you, Janet, and my other visitors for your understanding while I work at getting this minor malfunction rectified.


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Need help trying to figure myself out

by Andy
(Canada)

I am a male, 35 years old. Growing up was a very hard thing for me to do. I have been in trouble in school and was suspended most of the time. When I was 11, I turned to drugs and alcohol. I ended up in the Youth Centre and then group homes. When I was 19, I ended up in jail for 13 months for property-related offences. When I turned 22, I found myself in jail again. This time, five and a half years.

Now, at the age of 35, I again am going to jail. I am sitting here trying to help myself and trying to figure out why I am such a bad person. As a child I got beat, up down and side ways by my dad. I was terrified of him. He is the crazy monster of my childhood. I think I have been a victim of child abuse. This would explain why my life is such a hell. I want things to be better, but don't know where to start. Does anyone have any input????

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Being Abused by a Teacher

by Summer
(Hawaii)

My teacher hits me and my friend. He twisted my friend's arm while we were preparing for a play, then he squeezed mine so tight that he could feel my bone. I was just asking him a simple question about where I should sit during the play, and he dragged me by my arm (that he was squeezing) and slammed me down on a chair next to my friend. Then he smiled. My whole class saw this, but I don't think they should tell on him for me.

My friend and I have been though other episodes with him (he touched her shirt right where her chest is, he does stuff like that to me and her all the time). He talks about s*x all the time, too. I am scared to tell the principal because my teacher is really scary and the principal thinks he is a nice guy and always supports my teacher and backs him up.

My friend sobs all the time about what he does. It can't go on. I don't think my principal will take us seriously, and I am scared. What do I do???????? I need help ASAP before matters get worse. (If they even can). Please help me, I'm 12 years old and I'm helpless.

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Reporting in case of former student-teacher relationship

by Kat
(Ontario, Canada)

My question is in example format: 
An adult survivor of childhood incest confides in her former high school teacher. The abuse did not occur during highs school, it stopped before that. The student is now 23 years old....but still meets with her former teacher as friends. Is there ANY legal obligation or duty to report this abuse to the authorities by the former high school teacher? I understand there is no statue of limitations for child abuse, but that would apply to the student and her initiative to press charges, correct? Does the teacher have to report this abuse to anyone or can she keep it confidential? If you need more info, could you post it on the comments page, then I can go back to check and add it.

Great site - most informative and user friendly I've seen thus far in my research on this.

Hope to see this answer soon,
Thank you

Kat

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Pressuring a child to excel in class by hitting/whipping

by Elisa
(Belize)

My child was transferred from a low educational school to an advanced school. My husband wants my son to read and write perfect, spell good, and he never did do that at the other school.

Every night when my son is doing homework, my child gets a whip or two. I have to be there beside him so his father don't hurt him, my son. He is only six, and skinny. I love my son, and I feel sad because I feel he get scared of his father and nervous that he can't talk nor express his self. My husband grew up with his grandmother, never had a mom nor dad, and was abused all his life. Now he wants perfection from his child. I am pregnant and am waiting for a new member to come, but I am afraid he gets the same treatment. We get complains from the teacher that my son doesn't pay attention in class, plays a lot and doesn't listen. What can we do? Does this have to be, with the hitting and so on? Please respond. What can I do to help?

Elisa

Reply from Darlene: Elisa, there is no such thing as perfection. To expect perfection from a child is to emotionally abuse him. Whipping a child to excel in school is the absolute wrong thing to do. Your son is 6 years old; whipping him every day is not only physically and emotionally abusive, it's teaching him all the wrong lessons.

Your husband his teaching him that he's bigger and stronger and angrier, and that he can and WILL hurt him.

He's teaching him that size is might.

He's teaching him that he (your son) is not good enough.

He's teaching him that he's "bad."

He's teaching him that the only way to please his father is to do well in school and that nothing else about him (your son) matters.

He's teaching him to be angry and hostile and fearful and resentful.

He's teaching him to lie in order to avoid painful punishment.

He's teaching him that love equals pain.

He's teaching him that violence is an acceptable to way to handle situations (your son will likely start to become violent himself; he'll learn that lesson very well, if he hasn't already).

Elisa, your son is learning that as his mother, you are either powerless to protect him or refuse to protect him. He doesn't understand why you are standing by. He doesn't understand that you are there to stop your husband from seriously hurting him. He only understands that you do not stop the whippings. If he doesn't already, your son will eventually come to believe that men have all the power, and that women have no power, that women are weak, that women are not to be respected. Are those the lessons you and your husband really want to teach your son?

And consider the fact that if your son is being whipped every night, it obviously isn't doing what it is intended to do. If whipping him was working, does it not make sense that it wouldn't be necessary EVERY night. Your husband is abusing his son every bit as much as he himself was abused; and by not stopping it, you are enabling and accepting the abuse. And yes, your unborn child is in danger of the same treatment. While I believe your husband's motives are in the right place, his methods are not. These whippings must stop.

Elisa, your son may have a learning disability... The remainder of my reply to this Ask Darlene question "Pressuring a child to excel in class by hitting/whipping" can be found below.

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How do I ask my child if she has been sexually abused?

by Name Undisclosed
(Location Undisclosed)

How does a parent ask a child if she is being sexually abuse by anyone?

Reply from Darlene: First and foremost, if you suspect that your child is being sexually abused, report your suspicions to your local child protective services agency, then let them do their job of investigating. Let them question your daughter. If you do suspect sexual abuse and then go ahead and ask your daughter questions, you run the risk of tainting a proper disclosure. It could mean the difference between a substantiated and unsubstantiated disclosure. No loving parent wants to learn that their child was sexually molested, but no loving parent wants their child left with the serious repercussions of continued exposure to sexual abuse because of questions that could—should—have been avoided. In situations of suspected or known sexual abuse, leave the questions to the professionals.

Every parent needs to sit down with their child to discuss appropriate and inappropriate touching; and not just once. This should be an ongoing discussion from the time the child is old enough to communicate. Keep an open dialogue. Use language that is age appropriate, but use proper terms when describing the body parts: penis, vagina, etc.

When you broach the subject, use made up non-threatening scenarios as teaching tools ("What would you do if...?"). Reinforce for them how important it is for them to TELL. Make sure they understand that even if the person is threatening them, or threatening to do something bad to their pet, or to Mom and Dad, that it's only a threat. That Mom and Dad will be safe. That Mom and Dad will protect. Read through the page on this site sex offenders to understand more about how offenders operate and what they tell their young and vulnerable victims to make them keep the secret. And don't forget, it's not only adults who molest. (STAT: In North America, 20% of those charged with sexual offenses are juveniles.)

It's also important to note here that when you are having these open dialogues with your children that they feel safe, that they don't become afraid. Your goal isn't to strike fear in them; it's to empower them.

If your child tells of an incident at school or at the playground, use the situation as an opportunity for learning. Of course, make sure you report any disclosures of sexual abuse against another child. Tell your child why you are reporting: to keep so-and-so safe. Praise your child for telling you. The toughest thing of all is that you must stay calm when your child discloses abuse, whether the abuse is against your child or another child. Keep the environment as normal as possible. Have your nervous breakdown later, away from your child.

Don't just tell your child they can come to you with any problems they might have; model for them in ALL areas of their life that you really are approachable. When Mom or Dad turns around and mindlessly replies, "I'm busy" after the child asks for help with something, even something that seems trivial, Mom or Dad send the message "You're not important." The child walks away believing Mom and Dad really aren't available; and what's worse, they'll walk away believing not only that they aren't valued, but that they are to blame for their perceived unworthiness. That is the nature of children.

Although the concept of "stranger danger" is one that should be addressed, you MUST remember that the overwhelming majority of sexual molestations are done by close, trusted acquaintances and family members of the child.

Parents must teach their children that they have the right to say no to ANY kind of touching, including the right to say no to a simple kiss for Grandma or Grandpa. If they need to test that, let them. When they're ready to give out kisses freely, they will. And they do. Don't forget to tell Grandma and Grandpa, and other family members, what you are trying to achieve so that they also learn to respect the child's right to say no to being touched. Again, your goal here is to empower your child.

When you empower your child, when you keep lines of communication open, when you make yourself truly available to your child and your child believes you are approachable and available, s/he will be far more likely to confide in you.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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I need advice to help someone

by Brian
(Canada)

I am really stuck in a situation that is tearing me apart inside. My twin brother is an abuser, just like our father was. I love him dearly, and want to help him. But he has so much hate and denial and rage, that it scares me and reminds me of my father.

I want to confront him about the abuse and help him, but I don't how to go about it without him going into a rage and hurting me or someone else. He is the total opposite of me, and always has been. He is more like my father than me or my older brother.

He has the temper and the rage to go with it. He shows all the signs of an abuser. He has to be in control all the time. He is very quick- tempered. He lashes out and takes his aggravation out on his girlfriend's little boy. I've seen the abuse first-hand when I lived with him and his girlfriend. It upset me so much, I had to move out. That was over a year ago. I have seen him maybe three times since then. I've seen the other side too, where he can be very loving. He doesn't beat the little boy, but he grabs him and yanks him around and yells at him and berates him.

I got pissed off once, and grabbed him and said, "What are you doing Bruce?" Bruce was my father's name. That really hit home with him, and he calmed down and went for walk. After that, he kept the abuse under control when I was there.

I'm at a loss as what to do. If I report it, he will hate me and my family will hate me, and it will cause his relationship to break up. But all I can think of is this little boy who I used to babysit getting abused by my brother. It makes me angry, and I don't get angry. But I just want to give my brother a shake and ask him, "What hell are you doing?" But the bottom line is, he needs help. And more important, this child needs protection.

Thanks
Brian

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I want a career that will help kids; what courses do I need?

by Lauren M
(Perth, West Australia)

I'm a year 12 student and I am very close to the end of time for school and have to start thinking of a career. Helping children and young adults is what I think I would like to do. But I don't know how to go about it, which is why I thought I'd ask you for help, seeing as it's what you do for a living.

I'm currently writing a year 12 report on child abuse. What I have done so far is so sad. It's even choked me just to write it, which is why I want this as a career. I want to help the children who are being abused by their parents/carer/other member of family.

I originally wanted to go to Africa one day, to help the young children over there. May sound a little extreme, but when I watch the news and see their faces, it kills me every time. But I need to start here and get experience before I think of going there.

Could you please just give me an idea of what sort of courses I need to take in order to help them. I've read your blogs and what you have done for some of these people is truly amazing!

Reply from Darlene: Lauren, I first want to commend you for wanting to help children and young adults. We need more young people like you in our world, young people who are informed and will make a difference.

Before I delve into your question, I must clear up one misconception: I do not make a living at helping people who were abused. I trained and was certified through the Canadian Red Cross RespectED Program as a violence and abuse prevention educator. I have conducted professional workshops and volunteered in high schools to facilitate violence and abuse presentations on behalf of the Canadian Red Cross. At the same time, I created my child abuse effects website. Initially, I was able to do both. As my volume of traffic continued to soar, it became apparent that I would not be able to maintain my website and work with the Red Cross. When I realized I was reaching far more people every day through my website than I could over the course of a year with workshops and presentations, I decided my most valuable contributions would be through my site.

It was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to discontinue my Red Cross work. And though I continue to be a strong supporter of the Canadian Red Cross RespectED Program, I now devote my time to violence and abuse prevention and education through my website.

The remainder of my answer to this Ask Darlene question "I want a career that will help kids; what courses do I need?" can be found below.

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I'm trying to keep my daughter safe

by Name Undisclosed
(Abilene, Texas, USA)

My daughter's father was sent to prison for 13 years in 1993 for injury to a child causing death. I know his name, social security number, and the fact that he lives in Dallas, Texas, but that's all I know. I moved away from Dallas when I was pregnant, so we have never talked again. He does not know my daughter, but he is now out of prison and trying to see her! I would like to read up on his charges and what happened. Where can I find this out? Please let me know if you have an answer.

Thank you

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What do I do to help my child who is being abused?

by Anonymous
(Undisclosed Location)

I have a 6-year-old child, and I believe that she is being abused. Not one person is helping, and I don't know what to do. I feel that I have tried everything that I can. But the courts are still making my kids go to see their dad, and my kids don't want to go. It's has been going on for about 4 years. I'm at the end because I can't do anything to help them. I just feel like running away, and have no one know where I am. What can I do to help them make it though the hard times?

Thanks

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Please Help

by Maggie
(Prince Edward Island, Canada)

I am a 42-year-old mother who has just recently left a very abusive man. I am a Canadian, and live on Prince Edward Island in Eastern Canada. I have 2 teenage sons that are 14 and 15 years old. Their father has been physically and mentally abusive to all of us over many years. But my problem is now my 14-year-old is living with his abusive father, and family protection won't help me, even though they are aware of the abuse from the father. I have no court date as of yet, but because my son is 14, they say he can make his own decisions. By the way, the father is also a drug addict to opiate drugs. Both my children are using drugs and are also both on probation for assaults. I need help, but don't know where to turn on PEI.

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What can I do about possible emotional abuse of my adoptive nephew?

by Pamela
(Littleton, Colorado, USA)

My brother and his wife are in the middle of adopting a 6-year-old boy named Brian. I need to explain some of the behaviour that my brother and his wife show towards Brian, which I believe to be emotional abuse.

First of all, my parents, and my sister and I are not allowed to spend any time with him without my sister-in-law lurking around. She likes to answer his questions for him, like when he asked for a piece of chocolate, she told him he didn't like chocolate. When he asked for an apple, she said you don't like apples, so he couldn't have one.

My sister-in-law has taken Brian to the movies, and she will buy popcorn, and candy, then hold up both and ask him to make a choice between the two. We missed the movie because she became frustrated and we had to leave because he was crying.

She banters him in public with things he can't have, because he made poor choices during the week. She will tell him "Until you make better choices, you won't have the good stuff or the fun." Brian pouts constantly, and she seems to enjoy it.

My brother and his wife are in their mid 40's. My brother expressed that the adoption wasn't his choice, but that his wife insists on it. She won't allow anyone to question her parenting skills, or say a word to her about how cruel she is being. My brother also says that she feels "everyone is out to get her" and so she withdraws from all her friendships and family and holds grudges against anyone that implies she might be doing something wrong. She refers to Brian as "not a normal child" and no-one knows but her how to take care of him.

The other day, my brother and Brian came over to my mom's house for a visit. Brian told Grandma that he "LOST" his GameBoy and was sad by it. My mom asked him where he had it last. He said, "In Sandy's (sis-in-law) car." So, my mom told him she would help him find it. My brother whispered to my mom that he was holding it for him. They are actually giving that poor child guilt of losing something when he just left it in the car. What kind of lesson is that? This is a sample of the kind of badgering, and odd discipline that my brother and mostly his wife is inflicting on Brian.

My concern is, if they are openly disciplining him with cruelty in public and in front of family members, what is really going on in that house?

Please help, I worry so much about him.
Concerned aunt

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I want to help, but how?

by Sheree S
(Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia)

My name is Sheree. I'm in year 10 and I'm 15 years old. I have been reading and hearing about some really bad child abuse and it's makes me sick to my stomach. Is there some way I can help these children just to stop child abuse.

Thank you.
Sheree

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Am I obliged to report?

by Frank
(British Columbia, Canada)

I married a woman back in 1974, and being rather young and naive, I thought that this was a normal person. We had our first child in 1975 in New Westminster. I got a B.ed from SFU and got a job in Dawson. We moved. In 1976 we had our second girl. We left Dawson due to inappropriate relations my wife was having with a couple of men. We ended up in Edmonton, Alberta, as I got a sales position with some travelling.

I now find out that while on the road, my wife didn't regularly feed the girls. She also told my youngest at the age of 8 that she really didn't want her and was going to have an abortion--my daughter has dealt with this for 20 years and has required psychological help. In addition, I had to physically restrain my ex from beating the hell out of my daughter. I feel absolutely horrible about all of this, and wish I had been able to protect my daughters. When in a highly emotionally charged situation like this, it was difficult to make good decisions and I feel negligent in not stopping the abuse. She actually tried to run me over with her car. I was taught by my parents to keep the family together, and that is one piece of advice that doesn't hold true. Am I obliged to still report this situation?

Regards,
Frank

Reply from Darlene: Excellent question, Frank. Since your daughters are now adults, what you described above falls under the category of "historical child abuse."

In Canada, historical cases of child abuse DO NOT carry the same legal requirement to report as do more current cases, or cases of past abuse on children who are still minors. Indeed, even if you did report the situation to the authorities, very little could be done. It would be up to your daughter(s) to make a report; and again, other than taking the statement and putting it on record, law enforcement officials wouldn't be able to do much.

Cases of historical child abuse seldom make it past the prosecutor's desk, primarily because there usually aren't any witnesses and there is little, if any, physical evidence to support a charge being laid. The historical cases that DO find their way to the courts are generally those with multiple victims, all or most of whom would have made a statement, all or most of whom would be willing to testify—child abuse in the Canadian Residential Schools is a prime example.

Historical physical and emotional child abuse and child neglect in families are nearly impossible to prosecute, since the victims are usually confined to one, maybe two, seldom three or more of the adult children of the immediate family. And although historical sexual child abuse is also very difficult to prosecute, the fact that sex offenders tend to have multiple victims makes sex abuse more prosecutable, but generally only when there are multiple victims who are willing to testify.

I've offered more comments, Frank; but some words of caution first. My comments are definitely NOT intended to beat you up in any way, or to pass along blame. I have the utmost respect for the fact that you have asked the question above and that you provided very personal details of the environment your daughters grew up in, including the emotional turmoil that you are now in. You are obviously a very caring father. Please understand that my additional comments are intended to help you help your daughter; but only if you are emotionally ready to help her. And in helping her, you may well be helping yourself. Read my additional comments below.

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What do you do if you see a kid being abused?

by Carmen
(El Dorado, Arizona, USA)


What if you see a kid being abuse? What should you do about it?

Darlene's Reply: Carmen, if you've seen a child being abused, report what you saw to the appropriate reporting agency. Make the call, and tell the person on the other end of the line that you wish to report an incident of child abuse.

In the United States, child abuse must be reported in the state in which it occurred. Some points to keep in mind in the United States:

  • Not all states have a hotline for reporting child abuse.
  • Not all hotlines are reachable 24/7.
  • State hotlines may only be reachable in that particular state.
  • If the state does not have a hotline for reporting child abuse, or if you need to report in a different state than where the abuse took place, contact the Child Help Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) for the appropriate number.
Carmen, the 24-hour-a-day nationwide hotline for the state of Arizona is 888-767-2445.

I suggest you document what you saw, as well as the date and time you saw it. Document only the details; don't include suspicions. Refer to your documented notes when you report the abuse. Each time you see a child being abused, document and report it. Don't ever assume someone else will report; even if someone else does report, lodge a complaint yourself. Remember, when a child is abused, it is everybody's business.

To my visitors: If you can offer more information about reporting child abuse in the state of Arizona, please do so using the comments form below.

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How can I help?

by Victoria
(Radstock, United Kingdom)

My friend is 13 and is abused. I am the same age, so I don't know how I can help. I feel powerless, and I know she is. She told me this a while ago, and I have tried to persuade her to tell her Nan, but I don't know if she will. If and when her mum finds out, she will be in a lot of physical trouble. She has marks on her because of her mum, who has left scratches from pinching and bruises from throwing things at her. My friend has younger siblings who don't understand what is happening to their big sister. They don't know it is wrong.
How can I help my friend without getting her into serious trouble? Last time she phoned Child Line for help, her mother beat her after Social Services came around and she covered everything up. I need to help her! But how?

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Sick people with children; what should I do?

by Anonymous
(Oklahoma, USA)

My sister is staying with a man who sexually abused their son at 6 years old. The child told my brother who told me. Then I brought it out to her. He blamed it on beer and back medicine. This happened about 20 years ago. They have a younger daughter now 23, a grandson who is now 10, and a new 1-month-old grandson. This guy surfs animated cartoon porn on the Internet. My sister ignores finding out if he has abused the daughter or the 10-year-old. Now there is a new boy in the family.

My mom was talking at the table one day with me, my sister and the 10-year-old. My mom said something about goosing someone. The 10-year-old said, "What's that?" So Mom goosed him to show him. The little boy giggled and said, "Gramps does that." My sister ignored this statement, and still nothing is being done. I worry about these kids all the time. What should I do?

Thank You!!!

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What do I do with information?

by Wanda
(Silverhill, Alabama, USA)

I was abused as a child, and consequently I am highly sensitive to the conditions. Someone with whom I work has revealed some things to me that indicate sexual abuse has occurred, but she has now changed her story and won't talk about it. I've heard her tell other stories that strongly indicate an abusive situation exists, but she tells the stories as if they are funny (like a 10-year-old daughter who sleeps on the floor next to her bed). When someone chooses to continue to live in such conditions instead of being confronted with the legal ramifications, the shame that tends to surround it, and the loss of income, what do I do with what I suspect? When someone is not psychologically equipped to deal with the publicity surrounding the exposure of a sex abuser in a family, where do they turn? Where do I turn? I need guidance in how to approach this situation?

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Can anyone help my baby?

by Name Undisclosed
(Ontario, Canada)

I don't know if you can help me, but I will ask anyways. My little girl's daddy is taking me to court for custody of our child. I am so upset, I don't know what to do. He said all these lies about me, and the sad thing about it is, our daughter does not even want to go with him, ever. She says no all the time to him, and she says to him that he is a liar.

You see in 2005, my daughter was about to turn 2, and after she came home from her father's house and while I was bathing her, she all of a sudden asked me, "Why did daddy put his finger in my bum." When I asked her to explain to me, she went to put her finger in her vagina. I was so sick, I did not know what to say...well, I made a doctor's appointment and I called the C.A.S. My doctor said that nothing was torn, but it did look bothering. The C.A.S did nothing. It's like they thought that I made it up...well, everything gets worse from there. If you know someone who could help us I would be forever grateful....

P.S.
Do you know anyone anywhere who would do a lie detector test on people?

Reply from Darlene: I am not a lawyer; and therefore cannot answer your questions. I've decided to post what you wrote on the off-chance that one of my readers can help.

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Can you help me with child abuse research?

by Bless A.
(Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria)

Your site is very nice and I love it. I am doing research on Child Abuse and would like you to help me with this.

I love children and would like to have my own one day, and wouldn't like them to be abused in any way. So please help me with this.

Keep it up.

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How do I "get over" the abuse?

by Kathy
(Sudbury, Ontario, Canada)

I am 47 years of age. When I was 4 years old I was sexually abused by a neighbour, which lasted quite a while. He made me touch him in places that are inappropriate. Then one night, my mother was giving me a bath, and I told her what he was doing. She then told my father and he took actions upon himself. The man lost his job and had to move out of the city. Then when I was 6 or 7, I was molested by a doctor. From the time I was 14 till I was 16, my brother sexually assaulted me. I am an epileptic, and he threatened me by saying no one would ever love someone like myself because I was sick and I would never get married. Every time I see him it all comes back.

I just want to know how to get over it. Right now I am at the point where I just want him to suffer as much as I have. I have been to many psychiatrists, and nothing seems to help. Could you please help me?

Thank You!

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I desperately need help getting through this...

by Rhonda
(Pocahontas, Arkansas, USA)

I'm writing you because I'm out of ideas. I don't know how to get through this. It's every hard for me...My daughter was beaten by her dad, and I took her to the hospital...they took pictures and we are going to court now...but she's having a tough time and I am to...I need some advice how to get through this. It hurts to think about it...I went and picked her up on Christmas Eve night from her dad's house...when we came home, she couldn't walk. I asked what was wrong...she didn't say. I was going to give her a bath, and saw she was covered in bruises...she couldn't walk, she was so sore...she lost hair or got her hair pulled from him...I need help. I'm losing weight from stress like crazy. I cry every day when I come home after taking the kids to school...I need help getting through this...Please help!!!!!

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How do I deal with the guilt?

by Caroline
(United Kingdom)

I'm looking for answers? I am now an adult. When I was a child, my biological father was convicted of sexually abusing his stepdaughter. I have always blocked this out, as I have had not contact since I found out. But I am now doing work with children and have attended a child safety and abuse course, and it has brought it all back. The thing is, now I feel so guilty for not helping a situation I knew nothing about. I cannot help feeling guilty.

What do you suggest? Please help me.

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What do I do when someone I know is being emotionally abused?

by Name Undisclosed
(Manitoba, Canada)

I don't know what to do: 
I'm extremely worried about my little sister's friend. Let's call her Cleo. Me and my sister are extremely close, so she tells me everything. I know her friends and they know me.

Cleo is 13. She is one of a group of four best friends. These aren't like your typical 13-year-olds. They're smart and fun and not clique-ish at all. They're popular and well-liked by everyone at school, but they're never mean. Cleo is self-conscious. She has braces. She's kinda skinny and she has a funny combination of a French-Australian accent with some sort of speech impediment.

Cleo lives with her mom, and I think she has a younger sister. Cleo's mom has problems. My sister's and my mom's and my sister's friends' testimony are: "Cleo's mom is crazy. She's a bitch. She's Bi-polar. She's insecure and picks at Cleo's flaws to make herself feel better. She has major mood swings."

Cleo is becoming very depressed. Her mom will ask why she doesn't have any friends and why she spends all her time by herself. So Cleo calls over here at least twice a day and she calls her two other friends just as much. They don't always talk, Cleo just needs to be making a connection so her mom can't be disappointed that she's a "loner". Then Cleo's mom will yell at her for using the phone too much. Then she'll call Cleo fat and say, "How do you expect to wear a bathing suit this summer?" All sorts of unreasonable things.

Cleo cries every day at school. She talks about dying. She has stopped showering and paying attention at school. She's dieting, and she will explode at the smallest things. I feel terrible because I can't do anything about it. Cleo's mom obviously has some sort of psychiatric problem that she badly needs help with if she'll ever start being fair to her daughter. But who am I to say anything? What can I do; I'm just sixteen and a bystander. I so badly want to take this kid in and keep her with us until her mom gets help, but her mom appears so normal on the outside. But when she's with Cleo, she'll vent everything onto her just to make herself feel better.

I know this is long, but bear with me...we have a mom who only abuses one of her children, only does so emotionally, only when no one else is around, and the fact that her daughter is thirteen and "you know how thirteen year old girls are"... it's such a tough case to prove. And what she's done might not be enough to even have a case at all. But it's eating me up and I just can't stand by and watch. It's heartbreaking and I want to mentor this kid. I know this isn't a place to ask for advice about other peoples' problems, but I'll never forgive myself if something happens to that kid... please just tell me what to do.

Reply from Darlene: First of all, this IS the place to find out what to do when you know or suspect child abuse. Secondly, you are a special person for caring so much, and taking the time to find out what to do to help this girl you've named Cleo.

Remainder of reply from Darlene to this Ask Darlene question "What do I do when someone I know is being emotionally abused?" can be found below.

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How do I tell my boyfriend my father sexually abused me?

by Staci
(Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA)

I was wondering how I could tell my boyfriend that I was sexually abused when I was around 15. We have been dating for 1 year and I want to tell him, but I just don't know how. Any suggestions would help.
Thank you.

Reply from Darlene: There are so many variables here, Staci, that I cannot give you a simple answer. You are apprehensive because of fear over the way your boyfriend will respond to your disclosure. The number 1 reason sexual abuse victims do not disclose is they are afraid they won't be believed. Ask yourself, Why am I afraid? Will he do something rash? Do you believe he will go after your father? Or are you worried that he'll reject you in some way? The answers to these questions will determine the approach you'll want to take, if you take one at all.

You've been seeing this person for a year, so I'm guessing that the relationship is serious and could lead you down the aisle. If your fear is that he won't believe you or that he'll reject you, then your relationship with him is tenuous. You need to be able to trust this man implicitly in order to tell him such highly personal details of your past. If you don't have that trust, I recommend you DON'T tell him, and that you run, don't walk away from a continued relationship with him. Trust is HUGE in a healthy relationship.

Beyond the trust issue, a great deal depends on the reason you want to tell him in the first place AND the nature of your relationship with him. Why you want to tell him is as important as how...read the remainder of my answer to this Ask Darlene question "How do I tell my boyfriend my father sexually abused me?" below.

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Can you help me with a child abuse research paper?

by Mindy R
(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

I am doing a research paper on child abuse because I am a victim. I was wondering if you can help me out with it?

Reply from Darlene: Mindy, I'm very sorry to hear that you are a victim of child abuse. If you are still in that environment and still being abused, TELL someone, someone who can help you. If you aren't, I hope you will get help to deal with the emotional residue, help in the form of counselling. It sounds as though you've decided to do your research paper on the subject of child abuse, because you were personally affected by child abuse. This may well be your way of turning pain into power. I commend you for that!

While I'm honoured that you would ask for my help, I'm not in a position to do so, Mindy. I can only offer the multitude of pages on this site for information and the references included at the bottom of any page that provides statistical data. Depending on the direction you choose to take with regard to your research, you might also find the stories, articles, commentaries, questions and replies to each provide additional valuable data. I only ask that you observe all copyright laws.

I wish you all the best with your paper, Mindy.

Add your comments to this Ask Darlene question "Can you help me with a child abuse research paper?" below.

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My ex-boyfriend is abused: How do I help?

by Mia
(Red Bluff, California, USA)

I'm 16 years old. I'd like to talk about the abuse my ex-boyfriend, Aaron, gets from his parents. The other night, I was over at his house, just sleeping over. He forgot to take his pills, so his dad threw him up against a wall and continuously hit him about 3 times. His mom called him and his sister worthless dumbasses. And his dad threatened to kick him out of the house and put burses on him if he doesn't take his pills. Ugh, when I saw him crying it hurt me so much and made me start crying.

No child should ever have to suffer with physical abuse, or any type of abuse, for that matter. Especially at age 17, like him. I need some kind of help for him. His parents call him psycho, dumbass, shithead, retarded, just about anything there is. And I just wish there was something, someway I could help out. When I see my ex crying his heart out, it makes me so sad. I can't stand it.

Please, please...how do I help my ex?

Sincerely,
Mia B

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How do I get my daughter to disclose if she was abused?

by Cassie
(Texas, USA)

My oldest daughter was sexually abused by her paternal grandmother. We have addressed the issue and she is currently in play therapy. We are in the process of the trial now. However, my youngest daughter is now developing issues (for about a year or so) with severe anger and hostility. This anger is directed mainly at me and my oldest daughter.

She does not know my oldest daughter was sexually abused, but she does know the grandmother hurt her sister (both children are now 7 and 8 years old). I am afraid she was also abused, but I do not know how to find out without telling her that her sister was abused or without "implanting" false memories. How can I find out or gain disclosure in a manner which would not implicate the abuse her sister endured?

Over the past two years she has wet the bed on several occasions (something her sister also did), is extremely angry and violent (hitting me and her sister, yelling, screaming, banging her head against the wall, lashing out at others) and has shown signs of low self-esteem. These issues trigger the notion and signs of sexual abuse. Now, neither girl has seen their paternal grandmother in three years—except for two occasions, which resulted in modifications of visitation orders (for their biological father) after I found out they had been around her.

Her behavior worries me. I wonder if she is not attempting to tell me something has indeed happened, but is afraid to actually disclose.

Initial reply from Darlene: I first want to say how very sorry I am to learn that your daughter was sexually abused and that your family is now in the throes of a court case. A trial is a very trying experience for adults; it can be even more traumatizing for children. With such emotional turmoil in the home, children see how pained the adults are in their lives, the adults they depend on for all their physical and emotional needs. Then they blame themselves for all that is wrong around them, because that is the nature of children. Whether or not your youngest daughter was also sexually abused, I cannot say. Her behaviour and physical signs may indeed be reflective of abuse, but they may also be how she is dealing with the situation at hand.

Children are extremely intuitive. They don't have the language or understanding capabilities, but their other senses are highly acute. They can read body language and emotional upheaval in someone they love in the blink of an eye. Children have radar for any kind of tension in the home...then they tell themselves, "It's all my fault."

But because children can't articulate what they are feeling, they often lash out at the very people they love the most.

Your eldest daughter is in play therapy. This type of therapy has been shown to be beneficial under such circumstances. Play therapy may also be a good idea for your youngest daughter. If not play therapy, some other form of counselling. The remainder of my answer to this Ask Darlene question "How do I get my daughter to disclose if she was abused?" can be found below.

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Thank you and a question about furthering public awareness

by James W.
(Dowagiac, Michigan, USA)

I just finished my article, I Was On Oprah on this site, and want to commend you on the wonderful work you've done on this website. I'm blown away. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You are a true blessing to men and boys who were abused.

What can be done to further the cause of public awareness of child abuse in schools and the media?

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Interested in helping

by Sara
(Undisclosed Location)

I am very much interested in helping the victims of child abuse, but don't know how to as I am only a teenager. Please help me with any advice you can.

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Other than counselling, what are my father's options?

by Nicole
(California, USA)

My father is dealing with severe depression, along with my aunt, both of whom had been physically abused by their stepmom over 30 years ago. I feel that both of them need closure to get over their emotional trauma. What laws apply or how do you think other than counseling would help them?

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Can you help me find a qualified therapist?

by Charles
(Clarksville, Tennessee, USA)

Sick and tired of falling: 
Many years ago I was drugged, sodomized and raped. I never told anyone for years. Finally, I sought medical and psychological help that seemed to end in a deeper mental stress and pain. My main issue is my appearance and how I walk. My right and left hips are uneven in size and symmetry and is causing back problems when I walk and sit down. I'm trying to find a doctor and a qualified therapist that can help. I was wondering if you knew of any in Clarksville, Tn.

Reply from Darlene: Charles, I really can't help you with your question; but perhaps one of my visitors can. If you are looking for a physical therapist, I can only suggest you do a search with Google using the term "therapists in Clarksville Tn"

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Mum keeps taking him back; what do I do?

by Sarah H
(Leatherhead, UK)

A few nights ago, I witnessed my mum getting abused by my stepdad. He begs for forgiveness, and she always takes him back. It is whenever he drinks. Please, I need some advice. It is not the first time.

Reply from Darlene: Witnessing family violence is emotional abuse, Sarah. It's a form of terrorizing.

I suggest you contact ChildLine in the UK at 0800-1111 to speak confidentially with a counsellor. Check out their website at www.donthideit.com to get a better idea of what they are all about. You shouldn't have to be dealing with violence in your home, Sarah.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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Any advice on what households can do to fix the problem of child abuse?

by Reece
(Waikato, New Zealand)

I am writing a speech in English for child abuse. I want to inform everyone about how these people have suffered and what can be done to fix these problems as such in households. Have you got any advice?

Thanks

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My girlfriend was sexually abused as a kid; what do I do?

by A boyfriend
(Location Undisclosed)

I've just found out my girlfriend was sexually abused when she was a kid by her neighbor. When she told me, she sounded real calm and told me she's doing alright now. I would like to know as a boyfriend what should I do? Apparently, nobody knows about this.

Thank you.

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Is it ever too late?

by Janet B
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I was raped by a male babysitter when I was eight years old. I didn't tell my mother for four long years. When I told her what happened and by who, she told me he'd gone on to rape a five-year-old and was caught and put in a mental institution. I would like to confirm this and maybe even pursue some type of legal action. Unfortunately, this was forty years ago. Do you think I have any options?

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I'm a homeless teenager: Where do I go for help?

by Cynthia
(Prince Edward Island, Canada)

I'm 17 years old, and I have no family left. Neither one of my parents wants anything else to do with me, and I don't have a job. I'm still in school, trying to finish my last semester in grade 12, but not having a place to live is extremely hard for me, especially not knowing what to expect the next day. I'm just wondering if you know of anything that I can do to get help or how to find a place to live?

Reply from Darlene: I'm so very sorry you have to deal with this, Cynthia. It isn't right and it isn't fair. You deserve better than this horrible situation. In spite of these appalling circumstances, you are not quitting school. You are to be congratulated for staying so strong and determined; I so commend you for your decision. You have a great deal of inner strength; be very proud of that.

Cynthia, there are resources out there that are in place to help you. Speak to your counsellor at school; the school needs to know your personal situation.

Some other resources:

Contact Child Protection/Youth Services. In Charlottetown, the number is (902) 368-6161. According to the government website, Maureen MacEwen is the contact. If this information is outdated, your school counsellor will have the current number and contact person. Your counsellor will either make the call for you, or s/he can be there for you when you make the call for yourself.

Kids Helpline is another valuable resource for you. They can be reached at 1-800-668-6868. There is every chance they will refer you to Child Protection Services.

A local women's shelter is yet another resource. For more information, in Charlottetown the numbers are: (902) 892-0960 or Toll-free: 1-800-240-9894. But again, they will likely refer you to Child Protection Services, so contact them first.

Keep your head up, Cynthia. There are people out there willing to help. Just reach out to them in the same way you've reached out to me. And please, let me know how you are doing. I really do care.

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