Quantcast
Utah

Secret shame: Lifelong impact — Victims, families, society cope with effects of abuse

Comments

Return To Article
  • Summer
    March 28, 2008 6:10 p.m.

    Re: Depressing..
    I am a survivor who does not wish to remain so. Still, Depressing's comments smack of so many I have heard and I find them unhelpful. I chose to honor my body and spirit's need to recover. It is my abuser's and his family's wish that I "get over it". The unspoken here, is that I should get over it on 'their time schedule' and in their way (therapy). I know for a fact that therapy is NOT what I need. I have chosen with my societal conscience to allow my need for kindness from him and his family to be the thing that heals my own wound, and in doing, to heal his and theirs also. It is an unpopular way, true, and very misunderstood, but it IS the thing that I need and no doubt will create good in their lives also, in the long term. It is my belief also that it may be the kind of thing that safeguards other possible victims. It is risky I think, to not honor the victims need to heal however they need as long as it doesn't continue or repeat the cycle.

  • For the curious
    March 19, 2008 4:02 p.m.

    If anyone who questioned the connection between divorce and sexual abuse is still paying attention, Google "divorce abuse stepfathers rate" and you'll find a wealth of information on the subject.

    In fact, the first document that comes up cites research that finds young girls are anywhere from 6 to 40 times more likely to be abused by their stepfathers than by their biological fathers.

  • elsie
    March 19, 2008 12:08 a.m.

    One thing nobody seems to get, is that child molesters choose their quarry carefully. We must make sure we and our children do not have an invisible "victim" sign over our heads. The sex criminals can perceive this weakness.

    Sexual predators are liars, they lie to themselves, their victims and society. I don't believe they ever truly change, even with prison programs. It's just a matter of time before they re-offend.

    Some time ago many women wore buttons that proclaimed "Disarm the Rapist" nice thought, but rape and other sexually based crimes are not about sex. They are about power and a sexual organ was used as the weapon.

  • Sue...Go ahead and yell..
    March 18, 2008 10:34 p.m.

    Most of the abused will not want to read this article or respond. They just wish they could forget and move on. The dynamics involved when it is in family are just too much. Sue..Go ahead and yell...You had something important to say, which is that it is not something a person just "gets over". If you feel the need to type in capitals then you go girl..You stand up and speak! Speak your mind and take control...And never ever let anybody hush you into silence or cause shame, because you have something which needs to be heard.For years I slept with a knife under my mattress...hoping I could pull it out and use it during one of the middle of the night, mouth clamped horrific events..To this day, I wish I had...I know I could have saved others from my same fate..In some of our opinions...no punishment is too harsh. Forgive? Maybe some day..Forget?,,,We only wish we could.

  • wow
    March 18, 2008 9:44 p.m.

    I just have so much respect for those of you who have shared your stories. I, too, am an adult survivor of childhood sex abuse. My story may seem unbelievable, but it's unfortunately true. Just like Anonymous 2, I don't want pity and I don't want you to be afraid. I was abused by BOTH my natural mother AND father. I have been in recovery for almost 15 years. It's been a huge trial for me, but not my only trial. Not knowing any better, I married a controlling, cruel and abusive man. I then became a mother to many children in quick succession. With children and no where to run, my situation became unbearable. I have suffered from debilitating depression, anger, and panic attacks/anxiety. I know it's hard to believe, but abuse is not a death sentence. I used to dream of having my own headstone and resting peacefully six feet under every time I'd passed a cemetary. But I've hung in there; it's a long fight and it's not over yet. God will place the right people and the right things in your path and He will heal you. It just takes patience and faith.

  • Re:Sue
    March 18, 2008 9:28 p.m.

    I feel bad for all that have been abused. It is depressing but very real. True forgiveness and repentance are the only things that will get a victim or abuser back to a healthy lifestyle. Sue, I imagine you are single still because of the trauma you received by this experience.

  • Anonymous 2
    March 18, 2008 8:02 p.m.

    What is the solution, then? Forgiveness is huge. Unfortunately for me, I was sent to the bishop to "repent." I feel resentful about that, but it does not lessen my testimony or rule my life. I have had a very successful life by those looking from the outside.

    As a victim, it is difficult to tell anyone of your experiences because, at least for me, I don't want to be viewed as someone to pity or fear. I don't want anyone to wonder about my life or burdens I carry.

  • Anonymous
    March 18, 2008 7:52 p.m.

    Forgiveness lessens the pain, but it DOES NOT take away the feelings, flash-backs, panic attacks, guilt...need I go on? What a simplistic thought--forgive and it will all go away. If you think this is true, you have never been sexually abused or you wouldn't say such a thing.

    I am a 31-year-old mother of four children, happily married to a great guy and have a good life on the East Bench. However, I was raped (lured, enticed and sexually assaulted) by a nearly 18-year-old HS Senior when I was a 13-year-old HS Freshman. He absolutely knew what he was doing, his room was filled with porn, he was suave and cunning, and he took away my innocence in 5 minutes. I have images that I will never forget, that I literally have to FORCE out of my head to this day. I was young, naive, totally inexperienced sexually, and was assaulted by a guy who KNEW INEXPILICABLY what he was doing.

    Help him (the perp) or me (the victim)? I would have appreciated some therapy. I will never abuse anyone. However, it is likely that HE is still abusing because it's so EASY to DO and HIDE.

  • stop it
    March 18, 2008 7:51 p.m.

    The "Church" called the police and excommunticated my brother in law within a week of them finding out. The action goes on his permant church record.

    I'm really annoyed by the self proclaimed "ex" offenders and their advice. My brother in law claims to be very helpful and reformed to, even as he fails to admit to more of the crimes he committed. Child molesters are huge con men so why would anyone believe a word they say? It's creepy if you ask me.

  • I'm Thinking About It Too
    March 18, 2008 7:02 p.m.

    Hey Thinking About It: You're wrong about parents; right about our society. How many of us overspent at Christmas? How many of us have or had an interest only mortgage so they could spend more at Christmas? How many of us are struggling to pay down a credit card they lost control of? How many of us are living from payday to payday without a savings account? How many of us dropped out of high-school because we enjoyed TV and socialized but couldn't find the time to study? How many of us take the convenient gas guzzler in the garage to work everyday instead of the bus or carpool?

    Should we be surprised teenagers can't sef-control their hormones when our society preaches lack of self-control? I think the future of our society depends on all of us learning self-control and I think the recession in the news is adaquate proof of my point. Widespread rape and abuse and teenage pregnancy and early marriage which results in divorce and single parents are all very unfortunate symptoms of the larger issue.

    Our society needs to learn self-control!

  • Get A Clue!
    March 18, 2008 6:41 p.m.

    Why is it that we are all so worried about the convicted sex offenders? We know who they are, and if you are smart, you will keep an eye on them. It's the ones who HAVEN'T been convicted that you should worry about! Your husband, your dad, your uncle, your best buddy next door, your girlfriend's husband, your grandpa, your Elder's quorum president, etc. etc.!

    I'm a registered sex offender - enticing a minor on the internet, no abuse ever occured because it was a police sting. I've NEVER abused anyone EVER! I am so tired of people worrying about me! I just want to take them by the shoulders and shake them and say, "I'M NOT THE ONE YOU NEED TO BE WORRIED ABOUT! I'VE DONE MY TIME AND I'VE GOT THE HELP I NEED AND I'M BETTER BECAUSE OF IT! WORRY ABOUT THE PEOPLE CLOSEST TO YOU WHEN THEY ARE AROUND YOUR CHILDREN!!!" I'm waiting for the day that one of the "finger pointers" in my neighborhood/ward is arrested for abusing some kid in the neighborhood. Sorry.

    Wake up people and keep an eye on the friends/relatives closest to you and your kids. They are the real danger!

  • Gabi
    March 18, 2008 6:24 p.m.

    May I add one more comment from a survivor? The LDS church hid my perpetrator's sins/crimes. He went on to molest over 150 children. I've made peace with him and the church within my own soul, but the church has NEVER repented, nor made changes for this to stop.

    None of us were ever offered any help, nor were our families. We have all had troublesome lives and troublesome marriages and divorces. The fallout was horrible. It took 12 years of therapy.

    The other point that should be made regarding offender-focused treatment. According to the last statistics I saw, 80% of male perpetrators are also victims. A victim untreated is more likely to become an offender than a survivor.

    The churches and state MUST stop concealing perpetrators in the name of the priesthood and start the healing at the earliest possible moment.

  • For ex offender
    March 18, 2008 5:05 p.m.

    Thank you. Brilliantly stated. I have a son who abused his little sister. We were all devestated, but had no idea how to respond.

    He has Asperger's syndrome, and while he's completely accountable for his behavior, his circumstances ought to mitigate somewhat the consequences.

    Because the laws are so merciless, I didn't turn him over to the justice system. And I can't get him therapy, because the law mandates that therapists turn him over to the police. He needs help, not prison. Until the law gets to be more human, families will continue to hide their abusive children.

    PS -- I did kick him out of the house to protect my daughter. He'll never be back under our roof, and he understands that if he ever goes near another child without adult supervision, it all hits the fan. It's been four years now, and so far, life ain't good, but he's expressed gratitude that he got caught, and has put himself into circumstances where he doesn't have access to children. It's horrible that it has to be this way -- no therapy, no hope for resolution -- but that's what the world has driven us to.

  • ex offender
    March 18, 2008 4:45 p.m.

    Tried to keep them Safe - Please don't fault yourself. When I was going through therapy if found that sex offenders are one of the best of con people. That is what makes it so hard to determine who will re-offend and who will not.

    It's kind of like terrorism. All they have to be is lucky once. In our society we often are drawn to the friendly, funny, apparently compassionate person because they seem to embody hope. A predator will appear this way and use every opportunity to be 'helpful.'

    If anyone ever pays too much attention to your family or child, don't jump to conclusions but be aware of when they are around and look for tale-tale signs. Secrets, whispering, if a child clings to you when they are around, lack of eating or sleeping, nightmares, as the post before said tickling and other overt displays of touching that seemingly is done in fun. Trust but verify that the person can be trusted.

    93 to 97%, depending of the study, abuses are done by someone you or your child knows. Interview your children after they have been behind closed doors with anyone. Pray for discernment.

  • STOP THEM
    March 18, 2008 4:35 p.m.

    When a brother in law that we knew for over 20 years tried to molest my daughter and my daughter came home and told me what he said and asked her to do, I tried to stay calm and let her tell me at her own pace with very few questions. She had just had the lecture of good touch bad touch at school and knew to come tell me. We prosecuted this brother in law and found out there were 12 other little girls. He did very little jail time because we were the only ones to prosecute. My family told us we were wrong to prosecute and should handle it in house. We felt like if we didn't prosecute that we would be partly responsible for future attacks on unknowing kids. We lost family members and have been told we need to be forgiving. We have peace knowing that a least most people around him now know exacly what he his.

  • Marie Devine
    March 18, 2008 3:58 p.m.

    I have known the issue on many sides. I know that the abuser has a deep hurt in their lives that was not dealth with and forgiven. There have been great comments given here, experiences lived, lessons to pass on.

    God warned us of many tragedies if we went outside His word. Little by little, we stepped away, we fought to keep alcohol, we fought for women to leave home for a career, we fought for freedom of speech to say whatever you want almost where-ever you want. We have not fought for godliness, yet we need to. The churches don't teach holiness "without which none will see God". We are in the world and of the world, but we think we are out of it.

    God guides us to be modest, yet fashion has us scantily clad, I went through my time of it. We don't realize that modesty and morality are our protections so our society does not promote sexuality. Our culture is infused with sex in so many pictures. God commanded make no likeness of anything..(Exodus 20)... look where breaking that commandment has led.

    In forgiveness and overcoming is where you win all.
    That testimony helps others.

  • to Anon. @ 1:10
    March 18, 2008 3:30 p.m.

    No, the Fear of God is not very effective in restraining the tempted ones, when the world surrounds them daily with messages of instant self-gratification.

    What does work very effectively is the Love of God. He knows each one of us individually. It is the ONLY thing, in 36 years of working with these situations, that I have ever seen or heard that actually changed a perp, and is strengthens both offenders and victims to deal with the healing that is absolutely necessary.

  • re: sue
    March 18, 2008 3:19 p.m.

    STOP YELLING

  • Teaching Kids
    March 18, 2008 3:07 p.m.

    I have a lot of extended family that have dealt with sexual abuse issues. I agree with the comments that it becomes a parents responsibility to know our children and what is going on in their lives, and most importantly to teach them and to LISTEN to them. My son is 5 and we have taught him over and over again that no one is to touch him in certain areas. We don't preach this to him in a condescending or authoritarian way, but in just casual conversation as those topics arrive. We have taught him that if anyone ever does touch him in one of those areas, he is to tell them 'you aren't supposed to touch me there' and then come tell mommy or daddy about it as soon as possible. And I can promise this, if he ever even hints that something happened, even in jest, we would absolutely take it seriously and investigate it. A common denominator for sexual abuse that has occurred in our extended family is that when the child mentioned something, even very casually, it was ignored. People were just too naive to think it really happened. That attitude has to end.

  • sue
    March 18, 2008 3:08 p.m.

    THERE IS HOPE FOR US...THE ABUSE SURVIVOR.. WE CAN GET BETTER...NOT FEEL WE ARE FLAWED, or DEFECTIVE.
    IF YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSED DON'T GIVE UP....THERE IS HELP...THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND. PLEASE SOCIETY STOP TELLING US TO JUST GET OVER IT...WE CAN'T WITH OUT HELP! There is HOPE!!!

  • Concerned, again
    March 18, 2008 3:06 p.m.

    Not to say in any way that all victims will end up abusing. It just seems like many who do abuse, were once victims themselves.

  • Concerned
    March 18, 2008 2:58 p.m.

    Since yesterday's article seemed to say that almost all abusers were at one time a victim, wouldn't our money be better spent helping the victims rather than the perpetrators? Maybe I'm naive but it seems to me that helping the victims would ultimately be like helping the abusers before they actually committed their crimes.

  • Sickened
    March 18, 2008 2:56 p.m.

    As a society we need to accept the fact that sex crimes occur regardless of the character of the persons involved, regardless of their religiosity or lack thereof, regardless of their sex education or lack thereof, and regardless of whether they've seen pornography. We should treat each person involved as a human being capable of receiving and of giving forgiveness, capable of conquering their weaknesses and capable of accomplishing great things. I've read that the rate of recidivism is actually much lower than Sean Hannity or Dr. Laura would have us believe. But I also intimately understand the far-reaching and negative impacts of physical, mental and sexual abuse and think that we should do more to prevent it. I had a neice who was abused by her father and refuses to finger him to authorities because she doesn't want him in prison. Now she's in jail and has lost her kids because she continues to act inappropriately through the loss of self-esteem she suffered for decades. I have another neice who had adjusted fairly well after being abused by a neighbor, supposedly religious, who fled the state for good after he was accused and has never been caught.

  • Anonymous
    March 18, 2008 2:38 p.m.

    I think this is a profound article for all victims of crime. I was recently involved in something very horrific (I have never suffered sexual abuse, and I'm not going to pretend that I could even imagine what that is like) and I could really relate to this article

  • To tried to keep them safe
    March 18, 2008 2:29 p.m.

    I'm sure you did all you reasonably could. No parent can be with a child 24/7 for 18 years. It simply isn't possible. We seem to put a LOT of blame on parents for things that are often out of their control.

    Hopefully, articles like this will help us heal. They offer a place to exchange better ideas than what we've done in the past. Each group still needs more help--parents, victims, and even perpetrators.

    We need to learn what helps and what doesn't, what makes a real difference, and what simply makes us "feel" safer.

    Part of the problem is in our culture. Even labeling all abuse as "evil" and "perverted" as opposed to "illegal" and "damaging" or "hurtful" often adds fuel to the fire.

    As a survivor of abuse, I know what my father did was traumatizing, but I hate having everyone label him as "an evil pervert."

    If we can let go of the inflammatory words, perhaps some of the stigma will decrease, both for the victim and their assailant.

  • Tried to keep them safe
    March 18, 2008 1:59 p.m.

    As a mother of several children, I tried to keep them safe. No playing behind closed doors, no sleep overs, no playing inside neighbor's homes, etc.

    BUT it happened to my children with a neighbor boy who had a boy from school introduce it to him, who had an adult abuse him.

    My energy to keep them safe came from the several times I was abused as a child. Because of the abuse I grew up thinking I couldn't say NO. I tried so hard to keep my children safe from the warped ideas you take on about intimacy.

    I feel like I FAILED my children. And yet deep in my heart I know I TRIED with all my might to keep them safe!

    I am thankful for the Atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Through HIM there is healing and peace!
    I hope and pray all who have been affected by such evil will apply the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and be healed.

  • Thinking about it
    March 18, 2008 1:57 p.m.

    I suspect that most sexual misconduct is based in culture differences as well as driven by the hormones. For one family sex is part of life, acceptable, even expected. For the next door neighbor it is sacred and has very tight restrictions. Then there is the movie industry which has learned sex makes money. The children don't understand. In the absence of education in the home, they expect commonality of standards and are mixed up by the differences they encounter in school and in their neighborhood. Education by the parents which includes respect for other points of view which doesn't mean acceptance of another point of view is the only answer.

    Again the problem is parents today have turned the responsibility for education of their children over to the public school system. And it's not their fault. Our society does not teach parents to be responsible parents. I think someone needs to start a national movement for responsible parenting in a culture of different standards. Marriage requires a legal certificate. That certificate should require a class on responsible parenting and voice concerns and needs from a child's point of view.

  • To Steve
    March 18, 2008 1:43 p.m.

    I agree. I was the victim of a 5 minute event that my Church and society turned into a life sentence. I was constantly told indirectly, that I should have fought harder, giving my life if necessary. It made me feel guilty for even being alive. Know how many times I thought about suicide?

    I was told that I was now "damaged" and that no respectable young man would want me. Who wants a piece of chewed gum, or a licked cupcake?

    I was also told that "men are different" and they simply can't control themselves. Maybe we need to remind men that they really CAN control themselves, even if a girl is standing stark naked in front of them!

    Just wish these types of "lessons" could be replaced by something much more positive. And hopefully, they are.

  • Innocently blamed
    March 18, 2008 1:46 p.m.

    Yesterday I signed in as "Anonymous" on this series. The fact is I am being tried for "Sex Crime" I did not commit. Sadly if wrongly convicted I face five to life in prison, especially leaning more towards life if I do not "Conform" to the "Treatment" I will be given in the State Prison system. Yet if I "bear false witness" against myself eventually and "Conform" or basically admit to something I NEVER DID, I could get out of prison "If Convicted" of something I never did. Yet doing so could get one out of the prison system and back with my family within 5-7 years. We (My wife & I) are fighting this all the way and hope the truth will come out and this nightmare of nearly two years now will go away. Sadly I don't know if the so called "Victim" is lying or has false memories.

    I will say I feel bad for the victims, and there is opportunities for them to work with Other perpetrators in this state for counciling both for them and the perpetrators. I think maybe Victim Reparations could collect from perpetrators the money for victim counciling.

  • Re: Sad
    March 18, 2008 1:45 p.m.

    Are you sure you have your facts right? Usually, sex offenders get very long sentences, (sometimes too severe) and then have a life sentence of the S.O. registry on top of that. They definitely get punished. In some instances they would get off lighter if they killed their victim than molesting them (and please don't think I'm trying to encourage that). I'm just stating that sentences are often very severe, and probably a big reason why more offenders don't come forward.

  • Sad...
    March 18, 2008 1:12 p.m.

    After reading this series, it was highly discouraging to me to see in yesterday's news (another paper) that a computer "spammer" was up for almost 30 years in prison...yet child molesters may only get a few years, if even that. I think that some of this problem stems that children are not as valued in the justice system - you never see a person who "only" killed a child up for the death penalty...and child rapist rarely gets as long as a sentence as someone who rapes an adult. If anything, I think crimes against children should get a HARSHER penalty. I agree with the ex-offender who said that offenders should pay for their victim's therapy - its the only way I see that they can truly have to take any responsibility for what they've done.

  • Anonymous
    March 18, 2008 1:10 p.m.

    I think there needs to be harsher punishments. Put the fear of god into these sick perverts.

  • re: The elephant in the room
    March 18, 2008 1:03 p.m.

    My father abused me and my parents had a "happy marriage". He pretended to be very religious and devoted to his family.

    I would like to know from what report you obtained your information, who compiled the information and stats. I would like to research it myself because I feel what you are saying has more to do with belief instead of actual fact.

  • good book
    March 18, 2008 1:06 p.m.

    If more interest, read the book "toxic parents" by Susan Forward. It gives some good steps to help victims of sexual abuse to move on. Therapy is needed, a victim shouldn't try to do it on their own. Even if it is costly, the money is well spend for the rest of your life.

  • Once a victim
    March 18, 2008 12:55 p.m.

    I am a college student and I can speak from experience that when a victim doesn't want therapy, they don't want it because they don't think it will help or for some other reason. But it's still a good idea to try it.
    I was raped for 9 consecutive years as a child by a family member and the last thing I wanted was therapy. I went to therapy about a year after my last rape, and I went to a total of about 8 therapist and the last was a group therapy. I didn't think it would help but it does in the long run. It's been a year since I went to therapy and I have never felt happier and more content with my self and my life. It is something that takes time so we need to be patient but it's worth the effort in going.
    I highly recommend victims to give it a chance.

  • Steve - Re: Depressing...
    March 18, 2008 12:52 p.m.

    "Depressing" got something right, I believe that alot of the trauma victims go through stems from the reactions of everyone around them. Imagine how different and better it would be for them if everyone in their life and the media as well didn't act as if the world had just ended, but rather quietly helped them cope with/overcome it and move on.

    Also, is someone really a "victim" of a crime simply because the law tells them they are (whatever that crime may be)?

  • One question to Foster home
    March 18, 2008 12:38 p.m.

    If movies, TV, and cable shows are causing sex abuse, then why are there so many rapes in Muslim countries where absolutely NONE of these things are allowed, and women are covered from head-to-toe in burkas?

    Ten years ago when my then 10 year old son was charged with starting a fire, the officer at his required class asked if we allowed him to watch "The Simpsons". He then went on to say that at least 90% of the boys he had seen, who started fires, all watched "The Simpsons."

    The next day, we read in the Deseret News that the favorite show of over 90% of 10 year old boys was "The Simpsons." So did watching "The Simpsons" really cause him to start that fire?

    (BTW, he has never started another illegal fire.)

  • Sadder but wiser
    March 18, 2008 12:38 p.m.

    Last week I was talking with my mother, and she wondered why I don't like to talk about my childhood or look at pictures of my childhood, (I'm middle aged). I said, "I don't think you want to know, it has to do with problems that happened in childhood that you've never wanted me to talk about." She said, "What? Oh, that. You mean you haven't got over that yet? You need to learn to forgive and forget." Interesting that people assume if you remember the incident you haven't forgiven. Somehow everyone would like it if victims quickly forgot what happen--the victim is responsible to make everything better. I'm not angry or bitter any more, just really sad that I can't seem to make my family of origin work even now. In case you're wondering, it was my brothers who abused me for years--mom was just the person who saw it happen but ignored it--she wanted (still wants) to believe she raised the perfect family. In a way she's right--we look perfect from the outside.

  • Laurie
    March 18, 2008 12:29 p.m.

    One of my deepest concerns is that so often a clergy or other person of leadership does not often believe the victim when they come forward to voice the abuse.
    We need more resources for the victims to get help and to be able to find a safe place.
    Parents - trust your instincts! If something or someone feels creepy to be around - then for pete's sake...keep your children away from them!! Who cares if that person gets offended by your actions!!

  • Potential Offender
    March 18, 2008 12:25 p.m.

    My dad went to prison when I was ten for molesting my sisters in my family. He also physically abused all of us, to keep us quiet. I think the reason I didn't become like him is that I saw clearly what the abuse had done to my sisters and to all of us. Mom became alcoholic and tried to kill herself several times. Some of my sisters took drugs or married child molesters. I became so full of empathy that I couldn't function, but at least I didn't become like my dad. For a long time I was afraid I would, but I could never have thought of destroying a child's wonderful innocence, even if I would have otherwise been tempted. I have often felt confused by sexuality (maybe most people do), but I can't imagine how a person could look at a child and willingly devastate their entire future.

  • By a GIRL
    March 18, 2008 12:00 p.m.

    I was abused by a much older girl in my neighborhood. I have told one person my whole life, and regret it. The person looks at me as a victim, which I hate. I don't want to be that, I refuse to be that. The only victim of sexual abuse, should be the perpetrator becoming the "victim of the system" they cry about so much. I advocate a zero tolerance approach to these psychos male/female.

  • Foster home
    March 18, 2008 11:25 a.m.

    We've had 20-25 young people stay in our home, anywhere from 2-3 days, to regular foster placement. In EVERY one of the situations, the child had been abused, usually sexually.
    Most were from 'good' neighborhood families, or friends of our children. A few were temporarily unwanted by a step-parent or non-parent (read: Mom's latest live-in boyfriend).

    We learned to expect that they were 'sexperts' far beyond their age level. Many had a vocabulary and experience in the 6th-7th-8th grades that most don't even know about until high school.

    The biggest common denominator with each family was that sex was the accepted theme of the movies they watched, the rental videos, and the TV and cable shows. The children had no boundaries, no sense that what some adult or older sibling started doing to them was wrong, until after it happened.
    Then everybody screamed bloody murder, and couldn't figure out 'how this happened.'

    Slowly we figured out, to show/tell them in plain English the effects of watching today's soft-porn. They could connect the dots.
    About half have mostly overcome their childhood problems.

  • Me too
    March 18, 2008 11:02 a.m.

    Just like "Been There" in the early 1960's we had a trusted family friend/pervery who liked to come and visit and play tickle games with my sister and me. The games escalated and though I told my mother that I didn't like this man, and didn't like it when he came over, and she could see at least the tickling going on, she did nothing to stop it. I didn't tell her everything because I didn't know what to say or how to say it without getting in trouble myself.

    Fortunately, it stopped after a while. I don't know why. Just lucky, I guess.

  • re: The Elephant in the Room
    March 18, 2008 11:01 a.m.

    I am a divorced/remarried mother of two. I was molested when I was a child by MY NATURAL FATHER. Did you not see the article "They're all Nice Guys"??? You cannot blame divorce for sexual abuse. Anyone can be an offender. THERE IS NO PROFILE FOR A SEXUAL OFFENDER. Saying that most cases are where the offender is a step parent or step sibling or mothers new boyfriend... is a lie. I got divorced because my ex-husband was physically violent with me. It was a blessing when I left him and finally found the love of my life. You cannot say that by me getting divorced my children now have a higher chance of being molested because guess what... they are just as likely to be molested by the neighbor...the gardener...the teenage boy or girl down the street...their cousin...their physical education teacher...the list goes on and on. Come on!!!

  • Right on!
    March 18, 2008 10:54 a.m.

    Depressing at 8:32 and Unprepared 5:34 said it well.
    Life is not over, except maybe for the kids in environments that keep them reminded.
    That being said, sometimes the environment is the perpetrator's so that is hard for the kid, unless the perp truly repents.

    Yet we have seen instance after instance where the parents (who sometimes were also offenders) added the unconditional love, humility, forgiveness that the child could use to grow out of this problem just like outgrowing other problems.

    Yes, there are more of the bad environments that continue to be victims of everything - the adversary of all mankind celebrates - but it is possible to choose repentance and forgiveness and keeping busy with other good things in life, and minimize the past. One of the choices is to help others who have been or might become abused. That'll keep ya too busy to dwell on your own!

    Don't give up if you haven't seen this happen. Many of us have.

  • Been There
    March 18, 2008 10:25 a.m.

    It is not the state that's failing these children, it's the parents. It's the mothers who would rather sacrifice their children than give up the men who are abusing them. It's the parent who rationalizes away the behavior of the abuser or simply ignores it for family harmony. Parents who do not protect their children from abuse, or protect a child who is abusing, are beyond contempt. When I told my mother my brother had touched me inappropriately, she turned her back and said nothing. Did he abuse others. Yes. It was only my own sense of outrage that kept him at arm's length during my childhood.

  • Unnamed
    March 18, 2008 10:22 a.m.

    My daughter was abused by a male baby sitter - once.

    My wife and I had always been candid about these things, even when out children we very young. That is why it was only once.

    My wife an my daughter kept this from me for nearly 20 years. The reason being that I would have killed the boy had I known. My wife knew that and looking back, she was right.

    My wife's wisdom had stopped the problem early on and her "duplicity" in not telling me was correct.

    We LDS are going to have to lose our fear of sexual matters.

  • Falsely Accused
    March 18, 2008 10:14 a.m.

    I agree that victims should not be branded. I've seen therapists and professionals - many of whom were abused as children, and who went into their fields on a crusade to right the wrongs that happened to them - actually tell victims to never forgive, and to hate. They tell them this is the worst experience of their lives, and they are damaged and it is the fault of the perpetrator. Amazing.
    All the attention to sex abuse and the way law enforcement is trained to react now has had other negative repercussions. I actually overheard a group of teenage girls plotting to get back at an older guy - who was teasing one of the other girls -by accusing him of sexually abusing her. I saw a text on my daughter's phone from a friend that said, "just tell the cops he sexually abused you and they'll fix him!" My son's soccer coach was falsely accused of sexual assualt and he was put in the SAFE system without a hearing, interview, and did not know what allegations were made against him for three months! The kid admitted to lying, or he'd have been toast.

  • re: Depressing
    March 18, 2008 9:52 a.m.

    If you didn't notice, this is a series, and we're on part 3 of 4. Look for more tomorrow.

    As for your parents' reaction, I'm glad they didn't press it into you. Every case is different, but it seems like people will brand it into kids at time, constantly telling them, "You were abused, you are traumatized and your life will never be the same." I think that does a lot of unnecessary damage.

  • ex offender
    March 18, 2008 9:08 a.m.

    reg: ex offender I really feel bad for your daughter. I do not mean to indicate that we should not focus on the victims. We need to focus on them so they can heal and not feel like victims. The betrayal of a parent is so devastating, I know. It happened to me and I also did it.

    Your soon to be ex can change only when he accepts fully what he did and only then will he be capable of making changes in his life.

    It is his responsibility though. He should be required to pay for any therapy as part of his punishment. I sincerely hope she finds a way out of the darkness he force on her.

    The one thing I cannot stand is someone who re-offends after they had a chance. I believe in second chances but if anyone re-offends I am in favor of life in prison without parole. If his behavior went on for years then he should spend years in prison for his abuse.

    My hope and prayers are for you, your daughter, and your family.

  • The Elephant in the Room
    March 18, 2008 8:51 a.m.

    Wanna know what the single biggest cause of sexual abuse is?

    And no, it's not pornography, or religion, or lack of prisons, or even ignorance.

    It's divorce.

    Statistically speaking, a child's chance of being sexually abused skyrockets when his or her parents split up. As this article illustrates, usually the perpetrator is a step-parent or sibling, or quite often the mother's live-in boyfriend.

    Also, having only a single parent means the child has less supervision, making him more vulnerable to predators.

    But since we as a society are wedded (pun intended) to the concept of easy divorce, this issue is not going to go away any time soon.

  • Unprepared???
    March 18, 2008 8:51 a.m.

    Kids don't need to be born with instruction manuals. They need parents who are actively involved in their lives. Know where your children are and who they are spending time with. Ask questions when they come home from a friends house. Teach them "good touch and bad touch" before they go to preschool or daycare. We need to create open lines of communication and LISTEN to our kids. If they disclose abuse, BELIEVE THEM, and call the police, even if the offender is a relative. These guys never get better if the rest of us sweep it under the rug and they never have to face consequences.

  • Reader
    March 18, 2008 8:53 a.m.

    I think Heather Stringfellow's comment that the system is offender-focused makes an important point. It is interesting to me that the offenders get the treatment while the victims get the blame. For example, if a child is predated upon, society implicitly labels the child as vulnerable. The abuse becomes the child's or parents' fault, i.e. the parents weren't watching closely enough. Society paradoxically iterates that it's not the child's fault while suggesting ways a parent and child can prevent abuse.

  • reg: ex offender
    March 18, 2008 8:47 a.m.

    That's great that you would never hurt or abuse again. Not every offender is like you, it is tricky to know who would do it again & who wouldn't. A lot of offenders don't agree that they even have a problem. That is where the real issue is for sex offenders, because you can't help them if they don't feel accountable.
    As for teaching your children to keep a vigilant eye, that's tough too. I taught my children from a young age not to let anyone touch them anywhere inappropriate. My soon to be ex husband went behind my back undoing all that I taught & convinced one of my girls that it was okay. That continued for over four years. He is now going through the criminal process & doesn't recognize his problem. That is concerning because I don't know how they can help him with his attitude towards it.
    My daughter, the victim, is too young to decide not to be the victim. Sometimes these issues take years to resolve, if ever. She is now 15, confused about the betrayal & deceit from her own father. She is my concern, not him. We should focus on the victims.

  • Depressing...
    March 18, 2008 8:32 a.m.

    What is this, Sex Abuse Month or something? Why all the articles on sex abuse? It's very depressing to read.

    As one who was sexually abused as a child, I have to say that society is making the effects of this much worse than it has to be. To treat a victim as if their life is over and setting the expectations that all is lost if this happens to you is very destructive, in my opinion.

    Thankfully, I had good parents who took the steps to make sure it didn't happen again. But more importantly, they didn't treat me as though I had been ruined for life. Bad things happen in life. You have a choice as to how you will deal with them. You can choose to deal with it and get on with life or you can waste the rest of your life being a victim. Society seems to expect the latter and that is very sad.

  • Elizabeth, Oregon
    March 18, 2008 8:25 a.m.

    Thank you for focusing in the victim.

    One of the scariest aspects, which you didn't touch on, happens when a child victim receives "pleasure" in the course of the abuse. As a long-time foster parent, I believe it to be much easier (not that any aspect of it is easy) to deal with hurtful abuse.

    Regardless, the attention should be given first to the victims, of all ages.

    Thank you for publicizing this issue. It is a monster that thrives in darkness and ignorance. You've shone a light in its face.

  • Joe Schmoe
    March 18, 2008 8:24 a.m.

    I guess it's easier to blame others than be accountable for ourselves.......

    We all need to teach our kids good priciples, healthy boundries and live by them as familes.

    Yes there are exceptions, but in most cases of abuse our children get hurt because we allowed the situation to escalate, un-knowingly of course.

    Accept that we all live in a crummy society, teach your children yourself, and don't be stupid. And for Heaven's sake.....stop living in fear!

    Those that continue to live in fear have no testimony of the Savior or his attoning sacrifice. We can be forgiven of our sins and we can change. Didn't we learn anything in Sunday School?

    I feel this story series has useful information, but it is a bit of a witch hunt unfortunately.

  • Who Else?
    March 18, 2008 8:24 a.m.

    I'm not worried about convicted sex offenders. It's on their record, and if they try anything, and get caught, they're toast. I'm worried about the sex offenders who aren't registered. We need to be careful, but at the same time, remember, things like this could happen to anyone, and we should be careful not to blame the victim, OR the victim's parents (unless they are the perpetrators) for the abuse. I was child raped when I was 6, just before I moved to Utah, and my parents had no idea until they found out on accident when I was 15. Utah needs to put more focus on pro-victim! We need to get our children educated, not only so they don't become abused, but so they don't have negative feelings about those who are abused, because I ran up against a lot of that in Utah County. I have a friend who insists that if you're raped, it's because you're not looking out for yourself. I know of another girl-- no longer a friend-- who, when I insisted that the perpetrator has changed and is now a good man, told me I must have liked being raped. WHAT?

  • ex offender
    March 18, 2008 8:16 a.m.

    If you rely on government to solve all problems you will be disappointed.

    Teach your children and then keep a vigilant eye. The best thing that happened to me was being caught as I was forced to deal with the issues that caused my offense. I was given a second chance after I completed all my penalties and I will do everything in my power not to re-offend again.

    It is not the laws that keep me from re-offending but my past shame and my desire to never hurt anyone like that again. I don't want anyone to hurt as I hurt again.

    For those that think I cannot change then your opinion will not matter to me because I am above your petty nature. If you want people to re-offend then never give them hope of being able to change. If you want people to hurt others then take paint a scarlet SO on them and they will not disappoint you.

    Many say that the victims never escape their prison, but they can chose not to be a victim just as an offender can choose not to re-offend.

    I pray for both.

  • Mc
    March 18, 2008 8:14 a.m.

    Sex offender treatment programs are part of keeping citizens safe because eventually the offender will probably be out of prison. If offenders can come to realize the devastating effects of their behavior and care about the feelings of others, society will be much safer when they are released. I believe that people can change and overcome past urges, if they want to badly enough. We have to help them want to change. We have to be vigilant while giving offenders the opportunity to show they have changed. Never letting them move on from what they were doesn't benefit anyone.

  • ex offender
    March 18, 2008 8:13 a.m.

    If there was anything I could do to take back what I did, I would. If my death could help then I would desire it. Those things are not possible for me.

    For Still Concerned, the only way to make everyone perfect safe it to take away all freedom from all people. This is an issue that requires parenting skills, trust, and faith.

    Remember, this has been going on since the beginning of time. Therapy works for those who want help and unless they get it things will get worse. To help the victims part of the sentence should be a requirement to pay for therapy or have special fines that go into a victims fund to help pay for therapy.

    If you don't want this issue to become hidden in families then don't make laws that preclude a chance to re-enter society.

    Many families, once they read about some of the issues that have affected victims and offenders may think twice about turning someone in if they think that the laws are too harsh.

    This is an issue that must be dealt with in love and support for the victim and holding offenders responsible for their actions.

  • Still Concerned
    March 18, 2008 7:44 a.m.

    I know for a fact that Utah is NOT doing what it should in releasing convicted sex offenders from prison. Between trying to "save money", believing those up for parole when they are counciled in prison and joining the idiotic "rehabiitators", tax money is spent on prison "treatment" and after release these UNrehabilitated, lieing "actors" are NOT "watched" as closely as the public deserves.
    PARENTS & FAMILIES raise people. If mistakes or neglect or ignorance or "genes" produce a sex offender it is a FACT that the resulting person is what they ARE. The state`s FIRST responsibility is to WATCH the offender (too BAD if that is "intrusive") and KNOW what he/she is doing and with whom! (For example Talk to involved children within the offenders` life.) And CONTINUE the close surveylance using monies now wasted on prison counciling. The only "prison involvement" should be a set of rules signed off on and an understanding that close supervision will follow prison. Period! The "State" is GOVERNMENT. Governments do POORLY raising children OR changing behavior! They have a different FUNCTION! Keeping citizens safe!

  • Thanks.
    March 18, 2008 6:58 a.m.

    It's good to bring this horrible things out. This is a good reversion from the current mess Bush has lead our nation in to.

  • Anonymous
    March 18, 2008 6:42 a.m.

    That was a really good comment, Unprepared.

  • Abuse Crisis
    March 18, 2008 6:46 a.m.

    This type of abuse is truly atrocious and saddening. Those with children have to be suspicious of everyone and must be sure to openly explain what constitutes abuse to now even their toddlers. We also need to be more sympathetic to victims, giving a listening ear and helping them as much as we can. It is shocking what we choose not to except as a problem, not just in Utah, but throughout the world. Thanks goes to those who assisted in putting these articles together and who support getting the truth out to the public so we can better prepare for and counter this growing tradegy.

  • Unprepared
    March 18, 2008 5:34 a.m.

    When we got married, they forgot to give us a parenting manual. So we didn't know about all the problems kids could run into. We were extremely naive.
    When our oldest three were still under 6, a neighbor molested all three of them repeatedly. We were clueless.
    By the time they were teenagers, they were sneakily acting out with each other and our younger children. We still didn't catch on.
    Then our daughter's best friend went into a treatment facility, and the counselors discovered she had been molested by the same man, saying he had gotten to "half the kids in the county." The rest of the story about our own came out, devastating us.
    It took years, and we are grateful to church leaders who taught forgiveness, and supported us through the crises. But the kids have forgiven the perpetrator. He served his sentence but is still running around in denial. They are truly free, he is not. God can do that, the penal system can't.
    They are all happily married, much wiser, raising grandchildren who will be safer because their parents are Prepared.
    Victims can survive, and thrive. There is hope.