Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Where do you stand?

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Recently I was reading some quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. and this one stuck out to me.  The silent culture that surrounds childhood sexual abuse is something that I have been thinking a lot about, and this quote really hit me.  I can't get over the part "the silence of our friends."

Take a minute to image if you were a child who had been or were being abused.  I am sure pain and guilt would fill your eyes.  I am sure that a part of you would feel ashamed and too embarrassed and scared to tell anyone what was happening to you.  But I am sure that there would be another part of you that would be screaming inside for someone to help you.

The sad thing is that instead of helping, many bystanders who suspect abuse will instead try to ignore it, sweep it under the rug, and hope that it will go away.  For the bystander, friend, or family member, maybe it will go away.  They will move on and never have to talk about it.  But for the victim, if they are left alone with it, it will never go away.  The pain, guilt, and the effects of the abuse will never go away unless someone has the courage to help them.

Just talking about childhood sexual abuse can be uncomfortable.  Confronting a friend or family member about it can be even harder.  But unless we have the courage to break the silence, the culture that surrounds childhood sexual abuse will never change, and your friend or family member may be left to deal with the pain alone.  I hope we can have the strength and courage to do what is right, even though it may be difficult.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Join the Run for Innocence Racing Team

Everyone, Run for Innocence will be sponsoring a limited number of runners in the upcoming Pioneer Day Classic 5k & 10k in Provo, UT on July 23rd.  If you are interested in running with our team, please contact us.

Help us spread the word!  Change the world... one race at a time!

The New Run for Innocence Logo

After a lot of discussion, designing, and hard work, we are pleased to unveil the new logo for Run for Innocence.  We are very pleased with how it turned out and hope that it will effectively convey our message of hope and change.  We wanted to give a special thank you to Scott Capener and Dehn Craig for their help with the designing of the logo.  We were very picky and had a lot of specific requests, but they did a great job!  We also wanted to thank everyone else who helped by giving their input and sharing their thoughts with us.

Thanks everyone!

-James Huntington

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Am I worth it?

Several months ago I was on my way out of the office after a long day at work. I was about to cross the street to where my car was parked when in the gutter I saw a dirty crumpled up old $10 bill. Despite its tattered condition, I knew what the value of that piece of paper was, and needless to say I was ecstatic. I do love finding money, and I knew exactly what I wanted to buy with it... a sandwich. I must have been really hungry at the time.

When I went to the sandwich shop I handed the clerk the cash. She did not question the value even though it wasn't the prettiest bill. There was no careful examination or tests done to prove the value of the bill. She just happily accepted the money and gave me my sandwich.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the worth of an individual, especially how a childhood sexual abuse victim perceives their own worth. Thinking about this little experience reminded me of a story not too long ago.  Here it is.
The $20 Bill (Story)

Source Unknown

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”

Hands started going up.

He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.”

He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill.

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

Still the hands were up in the air.

Well, he replied, “What if I do this?”

And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.

“Now, who still wants it?”

Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20,” he said.

“Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless.”

“But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you.”

“The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE and WHOSE WE ARE. You are special - Don’t EVER forget it.”
The $20 bill in this story, despite being dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt was still worth $20.  The dirty $10 bill I found in the gutter outside my work was still worth $10.  And you, despite life's hardships, trials, and tribulations are are worth no less than anyone else.  If you are a victim of abuse, you may feel defiled, damaged, or worthless, but you're not.  You are still YOU.  You mean everything and are worth more than anything to those that truly love and care about you.

In my life I have found myself on numerous occasions asking the question, "Am I worth it?"  For long time I didn't know the answer, but now I do.  I am worth it, and so are you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Child sex abuse is fueled by public silence

The following article is being shared with the permission of the original author.  We are posting this as a follow up to our April 26th post "Silence."

The Morning Call

Tammy Lerner doesn't begrudge breast cancer its pink ribbons, popular fundraising organizations or high-profile walks.

She just wishes the battle to combat child sex abuse could attract that kind of support.

As a co-founder of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse and a survivor of child sex abuse, she's frustrated that people don't recognize the social and economic costs. So she contacted me after my most recent article about predators within the Catholic Church and the institutional efforts to shield them, applauded my coverage but noted, "I wonder why it is that clergy sexual abuse has dominated media coverage within the issue of CSA since 2001, yet it comprises a mere 5 percent of CSA incidents."

She says incidence rates for child sex abuse are about 10 times as high as cancer, yet billions of dollars are devoted to cancer research and very little to child sex abuse research and prevention. "CSA is a public health epidemic of such monumental proportions that 1 in 4 girls will be afflicted with it, as will 1 out of 5-6 boys."

So we sat down to talk about the failure to give this issue the attention it deserves, and the New Tripoli woman kept returning to … elephants.

Imagine elephants walking down a busy street or crashing around in the house next door. Potentially very destructive. Someone would have to address that, right? Police. Firefighters. Elephant tamers.

Child sex abuse is just as big, just as destructive, inflicting long-term serious health effects on its victims, destroying individuals and families, adversely affecting schools and workplaces. Yet it's largely ignored, except in terms of treating the victims we know about and occasionally prosecuting the perpetrators. "I don't think people understand how many elephants are walking around," she said.

Her own story is instructive. Lerner got a phone call in 1998 from her cousin. "Do you remember what John [not his real name] did?" the cousin asked.

Those six words made the 28-year-old wife and mother feel sick to her stomach. "It was like my whole world just stopped," Lerner told me.

What two members of her large extended family had done was to sexually abuse her for several years, beginning when she was about 4. Her cousin was another victim of one of them.

As she and her cousin began talking about something that the family always had avoided talking about, they considered how many other victims there had been. Lerner has more than 20 first cousins.

They decided to split up the list of cousins and begin calling. Before long, they had uncovered five more girls who had been abused by one or both of these men.

Unfortunately, Lerner quickly learned that the statute of limitations had expired for all the victims but one younger cousin who wasn't willing to press charges. So there was nothing anyone could do, civilly or criminally. This made Lerner very angry. She not only wanted these men to be punished, but she wanted their names in the newspaper to alert other families and perhaps bring more victims forward. "I know what I've endured," she said. "I didn't want anyone else to endure it."

This frustration energized her to finally speak publicly about her own abuse and to actively support legislation that would make Pennsylvania less predator-friendly. Since then, there have been incremental improvements. In 2002, the state criminal and civil statutes of limitations for childhood sex abuse were extended to the year when the victim is 30 years old. The criminal statute of limitations was further extended to age 50 in the wake of the 2005 grand jury report about sex abuse and cover-ups in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

The problem with many of the crimes unveiled in these grand jury reports and other cases has been that these statute of limitation extensions aren't retroactive, leaving an army of victims with no legal recourse against their tormentors. The latest grand jury recommended a two-year window in which the statutes would be suspended for all civil cases so the victims — including many whose abuse was concealed specifically so the abusers would reach the protection of the statute of limitations — finally can pursue justice.

A few days after we met, Lerner was asked to participate in a Harrisburg press conference focusing on new House Bills 832 and 853, which respectively would eliminate civil and criminal statutes of limitations and open that two-year civil window. Several victims' groups were represented.

This brings us back to where I started, with the difficulty all of them have found in stirring the public to give child sex abuse the same kind of attention and money that other public health issues receive. Fundraising is really difficult, for a variety of reasons.

There's the misguided perception that this is an attack on the Catholic Church, when in fact priests are a tiny part of the problem. There's the stigma this subject carries, making it painful even to talk about, let alone embrace as a cause. There's skepticism about repressed memories or, if they weren't repressed, the reliability of adults' memories of things that happened to them as children. "I can't remember what I had for breakfast last week," someone will say, "and you remember this?'

Well, yes. Their lives were changed by those events. "When I was a little girl," Lerner said, "I never thought, 'I want to be director of a foundation to fight child sex abuse.' That's not what I wanted to be."

And if you think there would be a wave of false accusations, try to imagine how painful it is to say someone molested you, to go through the ordeal of court and publicity. Most victims aren't looking for a big payout, and in many cases, evidence would be hard to come by. They're looking for some acknowledgment, for assurances that other people will be protected and maybe for the counseling or other medical care they need to pick up the pieces. Just putting that perpetrator's name in a lawsuit means so much, Lerner said, when you've been suffering so long in silence.

"Silence is what keeps this thing fueled," she said.

Rest assured that there are those who infinitely prefer that silence and that they'll lobby against this legislation. I hope you encourage your representatives to listen to the voices of the victims, not the predators and their protectors.

An elephant this big should not be invisible. 610-820-6105
Here is a link to the original article by Bill White, Child sex abuse is fueled by public silence.