1
February

Let Us Pray….

This weekend will be all about the SuperBowl for many people. Men and women will prepare for the big game by purchasing food, drinks, new clothes to represent their favorite team, and even a new big screen television to enjoy it on. There will be crowds gathering at the homes of friends and family, the local sports bars, and anywhere else a glimpse of the action can be seen. Millions of dollars will be spent on 30 second commercials hoping the brief exposure will increase revenue for everything from potato chips to computer chips. The nation will be mesmerized by the lights, the sound of helmets cracking, and a man wearing a stripe shirt holding his hands parallel in the air screaming “Touchdown!”.

The truth is however, there will be far more going on than most people will ever know. Young girls and boys will be transported like cargo from near and far. Planes, trains, and automobiles will carry terrified children who will serve the deviant pleasures of men and women who like to engage in the sexual exploitation of children. Imagine if you will, a truck carrying a half dozen girls of all races ages 6-17! Or, how about a half dozen boys on a flight from foreign soil who know what the next few days will hold for them. Imagine the terror that rushes through them and yet, the nation is focused on the pigskin and betting odds.

So today, I say Let Us Pray! Let us pray that this evil cease to exist. Let us pray for every child that is being sexually abused all over the world. Let us pray for the children who are already enroute to the big game as sexual predators salivate at the thought of hurting them in ways we can’t even imagine. Let us pray for the mental stability of these boys and girls who have to find a place in their mind to go to just to diminish the pain a little bit. Let us pray for the healing of these children who are treated like property to be bought and sold. Let us pray………..

And let me be clear, a lot of these kids will come from foster homes, orphanages, and other “institutions”. There will also be kids who are offered up by their own parents! But, for those reading this and thinking it doesnt affect them or it is such a downer to an exciting weekend, please understand that the child in that truck could just as easily be YOURS! The children caught up in this world are often lured in by people they know and trust, and before their families know it the kids disappear into a life of sex trafficking and slavery. So please let us not act like this doesn’t affect us or it is just a problem for “those people.”  This demonic behavior knows no bounds, it isn’t polite, it doesn’t care about whether you are a good person or attend church regularly. The people who carry out these sick and twisted acts don’t give a kitty about what you do for a living, or whether you are an American citizen. They care about making money at the expense of a child! They feed the perverted proclivities of a secret society for profit – plain and simple.

So again I say Let Us Pray! Please!

 

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1
January

It’s New Years….so now what?

As the year comes to a close, we must remember that when the clock strikes 12, the confetti falls, and folks are sharing hugs and kisses, for some people,  this will be just another 60 seconds passing by and the pain they are in will still be there at 12:01.  This is why we must be ever mindful of the struggle many people face as a result of experiencing sexual absuse.

The stastitics in the photo above are real and represent the evil that our society faces.  Children are being sexually assaulted in your city, neighborhood, and possibly even your family by people whom they know, and often love and trust.  The voices of these children are often muted because their abusers have convinced them that nobody will believe them if they report the crimes committed against them.  They also fear what the disclosure would do to their familial bonds and relationships so they suffer in silence.  Yet everyday they wish that someone would take notice of the pain in their eyes and come to their rescue, but for many, that help doesn’t come for years, if at all.

This is why we have to keep sounding the alarm and bringing attention to this epidemic.  We can’t overlook inappropriate behavior towards kids, we can’t give our friends and loved ones a pass when we know they have abused kids, and we can’t make the victim responsible for the acts of their abusers.  We have to honor our obligation to protect children near and far.  And, while this isn’t always easy and can sometimes be down right uncomfortable to stand up for what is right when family and friends are calling for us to look the other way, forgive and forget, or sweep things under the rug so the family isn’t embarassed, we simply cannot.

It may be a New Year, but it can be a constant pain for those affected by this evil.  Let’s not get so caught up in our own lives that we can’t see the reality of the evil in this world.  Let’s not be so quick to bury our hands in the sand because we don’t think this epidemic truly affects us.  The truth is, given the staggering statistics about sexual abuse, it is likely that we all know someone who has been sexually assaulted.  So the question is, does this epidemic only matter to you if you have a face to put with the issue?  If so, look around….the faces are all around you!

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20
November

Mixed Messages

As I contemplated writing this, I struggled with how it would be perceived by some. Please understand that our aim is NEVER to offend anyone, but we have accepted the responsibility to provide content that will help you protect your children from the dangers that predators pose to children everywhere. So here it goes…….

Last night I saw the cutest little girl walking by.  As she got close, we had a friendly exchange about her impeccable sense of style.  As we conversed, a man she knew approached her and they shared a quick verbal exchange. He then pulled out a dollar and handed it to her.  As she began to walk away, he asked her if he could have a hug since he had given her the dollar.  She quickly turned to him and complied because they obviously had a relationship, and she felt very comfortable with him. HOWEVER….I immediately cringed on the inside because I saw this as a frequently used grooming tactic of a predator!

Don’t get me wrong, this particular man did not pose a threat to the child, but there is an inherent danger in teaching children that gifts (solicited or unsolicited) come with a price that they should feel obligated to pay.  In her innocence, the little girl gave her trusted family friend a hug in exchange for the dollar because he presented it as what she “owed him” or what she “was supposed to do”.  But…..what happens when someone a child knows and trusts offers them something like candy or money, or a toy and then touches them in an inappropriate way and suggests that the child owed it to him/her as payment for their gift?

The grooming process begins early and typically involve seemingly innocent interactions in the presence of parents and caregivers. A piece of candy here, a dollar there, an unsolicited hug from time to time. Each interaction however, builds more and more trust and suggests to the child that this person is accepted by mom and/or dad. When inappropriate behavior begins, the predator will often reference those previous interactions that occurred in the parents’ presence to reassure the child that the parent gave them permission the carry out their molestation and/or convince them that if they attempted to tell, they wouldn’t be believed because the parents trusts him/her.  Now as adults, we know if our child came to us and said this man or that woman touched them in a way that they didn’t like, we would  believe them.  But, a child does not have the same mature reasoning skills as an adult to decipher between the lies the predator tells and the reality of their parents’ protective nature.  Thus, they often fall prey to the predator because he/she is able to mentally outwit them….AND their parents for that matter.

So the next time a friend, family member, or even a stranger offers your child a gift and requires physical contact in exchange, be it a hug, kiss, or even a hand shake, remind them that gifts shouldn’t come with demands. Let your child know that they do not have to allow anyone into their personal space and they, nor you, need to make any apologies for their decision. Moreover, teach them that it is better to return the gift if the giver isn’t satisfied with a “thank you,” and is requiring that they be allowed to cross your child’s personal boundaries as a way for your child to show his/her gratitude.  These critical lessons of requiring others to respect their personal boundaries today, can prevent them from falling prey to the grooming strategies of sexual predator in their midst Tomorrow!

**Thankfully, the mom in this particular incident took a mental note of the exchange between the man and her daughter so when I mentioned it to her a few moments later, she assured me that she was already preparing to revisit “the conversation” regarding boundaries with her daughter on their way home.**

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16
November

A Mother’s Pain

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Mainly, I think it was because I allowed self doubt to creep in and cause me to question whether I (we) was really helping anyone.  In the quiet recesses of my mind, I questioned whether we could truly end the epidemic that plagues our society and preys on our children.  Day after day we see the stories of child sex abuse taking place in our schools, religious institutions, and homes, and often the crime is lightly punished if at all.  But today….. I have a renewed sense of conviction and WE can stop this epidemic; even if it’s one child at a time.

I attended a screening of a documentary regarding male survivors this past week and a woman who sat on the front row and whose face I never saw touched my heart in ways I can hardly explain.  She spoke of adopting a little boy at the age of five and how devastated she was to learn from him that he had been sexually abused.  Her heart was obviously broken in what seemed to resonate as a million tiny pieces. She cried and shrieked in pain as she recounted his experiences and questioned how she could help him to heal.  She explained that he is now 33 years old and he is struggling with healing and recovery. The pain in her voice was so heart-wrenching and raw; it resounded with the same ache that she felt when her son first first disclosed his abuse. I knew this because I am all too familiar with that pain.

Hearing this mom grieve for the loss of her son’s innocence under such horrific circumstances caused me to sympathize in ways I wish couldn’t. It also reaffirmed the need for forums such as ours that strive to be a soft place for survivors and their families to land. An environment that gives validation to a mother’s pain for something that happened 25+ years ago, but still hurts when the wound is touched or even slightly brushed upon. A place that tells survivors you can heal, but your journey may not look like other people’s.  It will be unique and that’s ok.

Comfortinthestorm.com doesn’t have all the answers – we never professed to. We are about being exactly what our name says; to provide comfort to you no matter what stage of the storm you’re in.  So when a mother is crying and feels helpless, we can say we understand and we’re here to listen. We’re here to tell you that you’re not alone and you don’t have to suffer in silence. We’re here to share our pain and speak healing into someone else’s brokenness thereby placing us one step closer to our own healing.

The evil is around us; it’s being discussed on the evening news, it’s in the newspaper, and it’s on social media, but if we don’t pull our heads out of the sand and acknowledge that it is often closer than we’d like to admit or may be aware of, the stories of abuse will continue. We have to start educating ourselves, our children, and those around us. It’s an uncomfortable topic and many shy away from it, but I can’t stress enough how important of a conversation it is. Conversations regarding awareness and prevention need to be taking place everywhere, all the time. It will save a child, protect their innocence, and prevent a mother’s pain.

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5
October

Letting Go….

Many parents find it hard to step back and allow their young adults to make their own decisions; especially if those decisions are clearly not in their best interest.  I, for one, am one of those parents. However, I am quickly learning that letting go is just as much apart of parenting as cleaning scraped knees and tucking small smiling faces into bed at night. This is not to say that we don’t require our young adults to respect the rules our home and continue to live a life that reflects the morals we’ve instilled in them. It simply forces us to realize that while we often know whats best for them, life is about learning, making mistakes, and hopefully learning from those mistakes.  They need the space to learn and they can only learn by making decisions AND mistakes.  So the next time I have the desire to force my opinion and will, I will step back and ask “Is this a letting go moment?”

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4
August

Parenting Through Tough Times

Parenting through tough times will cause us to question ourselves and God’s plan for our lives. However, the key is to stay the course, adjust as needed, and understand that parenting isn’t for cowards. Mistakes will be made, hard lessons will be learned, and inevitably your child will find fault in some of your decisions. Don’t give up……our children are depending on us.

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3
August

Killing Them Softly

Recently acclaimed music video producer, Aswad Ayinde, was sentenced to 90 years in prison for raping his six daughters over the course of 20+ years. Ayinde fathered six children with his daughters, two of whom died in the home and were subsequently buried by Ayinde. The mother of the girls claimed she lived in constant fear of Ayinde and cites fear as the reason she allowed him to carry out his heinous behavior.

Many questions flood my mind when I ponder the trauma these girls were subjected to well into their adult lives. I can’t even begin to imagine the hell they endured being abused by the person who was supposed to be their biggest protector. Not to mention the disdain that must have developed towards their mother once they realized she wasn’t going to come to their rescue. It is utterly unimaginable that parents could carry out such unconscionable acts against their own kids!

The truth is however, this type of evil, vile, and deviant behavior is carried out everyday in homes across America. Everywhere from small town USA to the projects; likely in my neighborhood and yours. These kids are waiting for someone, anyone to take notice of the oddities surrounding these families; kids who aren’t allowed to play outside, they appear fearful, or present with unexplainable bruising and other injuries. Granted, these things alone aren’t evidence that abuse is occurring, but it won’t hurt to give yourself permission to consider the possibility and pay closer attention to determine if anything is awry.

Often times it is because we are all so conditioned to “mind our own business” that we ignore our intuitions. It is impolite to even consider that someone we know could be capable, let alone involved in such behavior. But, we owe it to these children to take a second look because while millions of fans were singing along to Ayinde’s Killing Me Softly video masterpiece, his children were singing the chorus and meant every word of it!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2380366/Award-winning-music-video-director-gets-90-years-prison-fathering-children-daughters.html

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2
August

Take Back Your Power

I was listening to the victim impact statement from one of Ariel Castro’s captives today, and while she clearly and rightfully holds contempt for the man who stole years of her life, she victoriously proclaimed that he, nor his satanic behavior, will continue to define her. My spirit stood in applause for her conviction because she has made the decision to take back her life. Will it be easy? Of course not! But…..she recognizes that her healing is directly tied to her ability to stop seeing herself as his victim, and instead declare herself a survivor.

This young woman will no doubt be in therapy for years and will fight for her healing each and every day because of the depth of the trauma she experienced.  However, she has decided to take control of healing and she is starting by taking back her power! She literally stood flat footed in the presence of the evil that tried to destroy her and declared, “You can’t control me anymore.” This was a huge step on her road to recovery.

May the Lord continue to heal her (and all survivors)…mind, body, soul, and spirit.

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9
April

Religion Doesn’t Trump Responsibility

I think many bible quoting and bible believing Christians have religion and responsibility all mixed up!!

I was reading a post today and a young woman was sharing that she had been sexually abused at the age of seven by her uncle. She said the abuse went on for several years. When she told her mother, the mom told him to apologize and hug her and all was well!  The woman went on to say that she was healed because of her faith and she had learned to forgive him.
Dozens of people commented by saying, “Amen.” Now, while I get that we should most definitely support this young woman for having survived a horrific childhood, I was pissed that no one was stating the obvious; how in the world did this mother think that an apology and a hug was all that this baby needed? And furthermore, what the heck does justice have to do with forgiveness?
So let me deal with this is a couple different phases….
1) Amen the fact that this woman has survived, but don’t overlook the obvious. Everyone reading that post should have been outraged that this girl was sexually abused and nobody did anything about it.
We have to stop acting as though an Amen and a prayer is enough because its not! We have to start speaking up and speaking out about the adults who allow these predators to get a pass for their actions simply because they share some DNA with the parent or child.
2) The fact that this man was not brought to justice simply means that while this child’s abuse ended, the trauma was yet beginning for another precious child. Research shows that these predators don’t just stop abusing kids because they get caught. Oh no….they can have hundreds of victims in their lifetime, so by giving them a pass, you literally give them license, opportunity, and means to abuse over and over.
3) Where did we get the idea that forgiveness meant there was no accountability for one’s actions? The bible does speak of forgiveness as a characteristic of being God-like, but it was never intended to give sexual predators a get out of jail free card. You can forgive (clearly those who know me are well aware that I have issues with forgiving these folks, but that’s just me), but you still call the police and allow the legal system to investigate and prosecute. I don’t believe there are any crowns being given out in Heaven for being so forgiving that you would allow someone to sexually abuse your child and not hold them accountable.
4) If The Lord speaks of it being better to throw yourself off of a cliff with a stone tied around your neck than to hurt one of the children, do you not think there wouldnt be some culpability for those who also turned a blind eye to a child being hurt? Even with all the well-intentioned faith in the world, I just have to believe that God expects more from us when we discover a predator in our midst; esp when they have already abused a child.
5) If one part of the body hurts, then we all hurt. So lets talk this through….if you as a believer knows The Lord is concerned about the children, doesn’t that make them part of the body too? And if they be part of the body, shouldn’t our interests be rooted in protecting them, and not the predator? After all, the predator is clearly not part of the body of believers or they wouldn’t be sexually abusing kids!!! So why the heck do so called bible quoting and bible believing Christians go to such great lengths to protect the devil and his imps?
6) What message are we sending the child when we tell them to just forgive uncle so and so for raping her? How about, uncle so and so’s demonic sexual pleasure is more important than her own right not to be violated. How about, that she has no control over what happens to her body and anyone can do with her as they please. How about, the family is more concerned with uncle so and so’s sick behind than her physical, mental and emotional well-being.
So what’s my point? Stop acting like faith without works is going to produce any kind of results! We are going to have to pray for sexual abuse to end AND make predators accountable for their actions. Our religion doesnt absolve us from responsibility – it demands that we take responsibility! That means our brothers, fathers, cousins, uncles, teachers, clergymen, and family friends are going to have to be outed for the predators that they are and required to face the consequences.  Take a wimpy stance when you’re being talked about, being lied on, or overlooked for your talents, but don’t be a wimp when it comes to protecting the babies. If we don’t do it, who will?

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7
April

Dying To Keep A Secret?

I was listening to Natalie Lamb, Life Coach and Founder of It’s Your Choice, on the radio today and she made the statement that “We are all as sick as our secrets.” I’ve heard her say this before, but today these words resonated within me and caused an array of flashing lights to go off in my head!  It was like I was standing on the edge of the planet and looking back at it from a completely different perspective.

When my daughter initially disclosed her sexual abuse, I was plagued with all kinds of guilt.  The guilt of not knowing, the guilt of not protecting her, the guilt of being a working mom and being sure this wouldn’t have happened if I was a stay-at-home mom (false assumption on my part), the guilt of what others would think about me as a parent, and the guilt of being a failure in my own mother’s eyes.  Yes, all these things went through my mind in the days following her disclosure.  But, even with all of that, it never occurred to me that we should keep her abuse a secret and not demand her abuser face criminal charges for what he had done.  We also made sure that other people in the family were aware so they could investigate whether there were others in the family who had been victimized by this individual.

It never occurred to us that we would have to keep it a secret and sweep it under the rug for the sake of saving face with others, or for fear of being judged harshly by friends, family and strangers.  Of course, we used discretion initially because we wanted to make sure our daughter was protected mentally and emotionally, but it was never about making her keep it a secret any longer.  She had carried that secret long enough and she had the right to tell anyone she felt compelled to share with.  Although, as parents, we definitely gave her advice about sharing, it was NEVER about creating shame, nor was it about protecting us.  It was about being in control of her life-story and deciding for herself who became privy to that information.

I must say however, there were some members in our family who weren’t as comfortable about her sharing, nor were they in favor of this blog.  They believe subjects like sexual abuse should be treated as private family matters that we shouldn’t discuss publicly.   But what if I told you that many of the mental, emotional and physical problems that many people face today are often the direct result of abuse and trauma that they experienced as children and they felt pressured (or was actually forced) to keep quiet about it?

We probably all have someone in our family who just never could get things quite together in life.  They had trouble holding down a job, abused drugs or alcohol, seemed to be a little out of touch most of the time, or just always acted up when the family came together.  But consider just for a moment that this person isn’t just an all-around screw up and quite possibly is being help captive by the secrets that they’ve been carrying all these years.  Maybe their behavioral patterns and choices were simply a cry for help.  What must it feel like to have been sexually abused by someone you know or even trusted; to have never received any counseling, and then told to be quiet about it because it wasn’t in good taste to talk about it, especially with those outside of the family?  How is that person supposed to act?  After-all, they were essentially told that their abuser and the reputation of the family was more important than them!

Now what about the ones that made them carry the secret?  Don’t think that they were simply able to go on with life with no consequences.  Oh no…there has to be a mental battle for the part they played in over-looking or excusing the abuse of a child – even if it’s a subconscious battle.  So now they are running from what they’ve allowed to go on and if you ask me, the secret they are carrying has to weigh on them too.  Undoubtedly, their actions manifest themselves via some kind of mental, emotional or physical problem.  Nobody gets off scott-free when a child is harmed – I wholeheartedly believe God designed it that way!

So now….are we not all as sick as our secrets?  Every child that was forced to swallow the reality of their abuse is dealing with the lasting trauma of their abuse, and every adult who enabled the abuser to avoid the penalty of their action is also carrying the burden for their part in the crime.  And, while everyone is sick because of the secret, the only innocent party is the child!  The adults brought it on themselves.

We must change our perspective on child sex abuse and stop making it something shameful for the child and the family.  Speaking up and speaking out will shed light on these evil predators and prevent them from hurting other children.  I’ve just scratched the surface here….there are so many other facets of keeping these secrets that we haven’t talked about – generational incest, pregnancy and genetic disorders and abnormalities, identity crisis and sexual dysfunction, poverty, chronic depression, and innumerable failed relationships.  We are a sick society and to a great extent, it’s because we are carrying baggage that we need not carry!

Protect the child, not the predator.

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