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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cartoons and Child Abuse

Honestly there is never a good time to discuss Child Abuse and Rape as far as most people are concerned. Frankly the subject makes them very uncomfortable and for another part of the population (a much larger part then anyone would ever believe) it just causes them to re-live their nightmare all over again. I am one who falls into the latter category.

Without going into specifics, I was violently sexually assaulted as a pre-teenage kid. (Note: Since there are some of my family and friends that were not aware of this, I want to state that I was not assaulted/abused by a family member or friend. My parents only found out themselves a few years ago when I spoke to them about it after therapy.) I long ago started dealing with the aftermath of those events though it has been a long, difficult road toward finding a comfortable place in this world. Nightmares, unexplained fear, drug/alcohol abuse, night sweats/day sweats, blanket mistrust of basically everyone, Suicidal thoughts/attempt, Long Term Psychological Therapy...all the goodies that go along with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Yep, been there.....I'll tell you those monstrous ghosts of that night are still there, lingering just out of sight yet I've come to terms with them in my own way. We aren't friends and never will be but I accept them for what they are. And I have moved on...

As a result of those experiences I have become very sensitive to the issues of Child Abuse, Sexual Child Abuse, Abuse in General, Rape, etc. for obvious reasons. In the course of my life, I have met many wonderful people who have had some horrific experiences of such abuse and managed to survive and THRIVE. Yet...

I still have a great deal of anger, hidden but not far away....waiting it seems for a reason to come alive. And occasionally, I can get really upset by things. It can be hearing about the abuse of a child on TV, or someone that knows somebody whose been abused. I feel anger when I think about the fact that so many people victimized by abuse STILL suffer in silence. That's a very hard one for want to help everyone see that they don't have to suffer that way any more. Yet there are some who never get the's so sad.

So I have always tried to be open about what happened to me, in case my story may in some small way help someone else. It's the least I can do, really....though discussing it can be very difficult, it is worth it.

That brings me to the reason I'm blogging about this today. There is a Face Book phenomenon going on right now where people are changing there profile pic to a cartoon character from their childhood to bring awareness to the issue of child abuse.

Honestly, I really don't know what I really think or feel about this. The bottom line is I believe that anytime this subject is discussed, especially on an international level as it is right now, it is a good thing. But somehow, it  just doesn't seem like enough...basically because folks will change their pics, they'll talk about it at work for a day or two, it will be on the TV news for awhile, then will be forgotten.

Some child Welfare Workers have been very out spoken in their criticism, One saying  “I’m a social worker in child welfare. I’m sorry, but this cartoon profile picture fad is stupidest thing I’ve heard of in quite awhile. You really want to prevent child abuse? Help out your friends and family that have kids and are stressed out, volunteer with a youth group, volunteer at a non-profit that works with families, become a foster parent, or develop an after school program. But don’t change your goddamn profile picture and think you’ve done anything to prevent child abuse. Thanks for nothing.”  Another describing this phenomenon as “slacktivism-— “It makes the people involved feel better about themselves and allows them to feel like something is being done about the problem without them actually doing anything.”

I don't really agree or feel that extreme about it but I do get a sense that this is a bit of a fad, it's cool now then it will quickly fade away and achieve very little to nothing. But it doesn't have to...

So I'm sitting here today to write this post. Hoping that by saying my little piece, it may shed a bit more light on this awful subject. There are many ways to get involved whether it's volunteering or working with youth, Big Brother/Big Sister, Social Agencies have many programs. Of course everything starts at home with family and friends. So many victims of child abuse that I know suffered their abuse basically in broad daylight. They say the signs were there for others to see friends, family, teachers....but no one did.

Worse, one woman I know told her parents on several occasions, what was happening to her only to be called a liar. She was sexually abused by her dad's sister for 11 years! They simply would not accept the truth.....This lovely gal, to this day has simply the saddest eyes I have ever seen in my life.

I'm not going to tell anyone whether to change their profile pic or not...follow your heart, it will take you where you need to go. Just please understand that a bunch of people changing their Profile Pictures on FaceBook for a week is not going to make Child Abuse go away....

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