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Archive for September, 2008

I am currently in training for a new job. It is a part-time position that I can do from home on my computer. It is very flexible, which works out nicely with my schedule. So far, training is going well.

However (and you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?), the training requires me to use my real name. That is unbelievably difficult for me. I have been active online for years, and I have always gone by “Faith.” That name feels like the “online me.” I have to remember not to refer to myself as Faith in this online training.

And here is the kicker about why I am having such a hard time in using my real name – It is the same name as my mother/abuser. That really stinks, doesn’t it?

My mother’s name is “Faye,” and she named me “Faye Anne.” My parents called me “Annie” until I was seven years old. Annie is who I identify with as the original child. When I was seven, Annie went to sleep. I woke up one morning and did not know who I was. Everyone kept calling me Annie, but that name did not fit. I hated Annie.

So, I insisted upon being called by my first name, which happens to be the same name as my mother/abuser. I don’t think I knew this when I made that decision, or at least that part of myself (my host personality) did not.

So, now I have the instructor and my fellow students-in-training calling me by my mother’s name. That has been triggering. But I really don’t know how to tell them to call me Faith when that is not any part of my legal name.

I guess I will figure out a way to ride this out. It just really stinks. At least my sister was not named after our mother-abuser.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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When people hear the phrase “self-injury,” they generally think about people who cut themselves (cutting). However, cutting is only one type of self-injury.

People use numerous other types of self-injury, including…

  • Banging head
  • Breaking bones
  • Burning themselves
  • Picking at skin and/or scabs
  • Pulling out hair and/or eyebrows

Pulling out your hair, including your eyebrows, is not a form of self-injury that I see a lot of discussion about, but this form of self-injury happens much more frequently than you might realize.

People who pull out their hair are self-injuring for the same reasons as others who engage in self-injury: They are managing their emotions. The person feels anxiety or other strong negative emotion. When he or she pulls out hair, the anxiety eases. The person continues to pull out his hair because doing so is an effective way to manage the stress.

Of course, pulling out your hair comes with physical consequences, just like any other form of self-injury does. People who pull out their hair can wind up with bald patches on their head. They might have to pencil in their eyebrows with makeup because they have plucked out all of their eyebrow hairs. Also, once all of the hair has been removed, there is nothing left to manage the repressed emotions.

If you self-injure by pulling out your hair, you are not alone. Many people do this but are afraid or ashamed to talk about it. It really does make logical sense why you do this. Whenever you pull out your hair, you feel a reduction in your overwhelming level of anxiety or other strong emotions.

There are other, more positive, ways to cope with your emotions. The best way is to talk about them. Rather than express yourself physically, try talking about what you are feeling. Write down your feelings in a journal. Allow yourself to cry. As you learn to manage your emotions in other, more positive ways, you will feel less of a compulsive to pull out your hair.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Over on my professional blog, one of my colleagues wrote a blog entry about a link between child abuse and asthma. She cites a research study that found that children who were either physically or sexually abused were twice as likely to develop asthma.

I am fascinated by this finding.

I do not have asthma, but my sister does. She has been diagnosed with occupational asthma, but we suspect that she might have asthma that is more chronic. Due to her financial situation, she keeps delaying getting that checked out.

I posted a thread over at Isurvive on this topic, and quite a few abuse survivors reported that they do, in fact, have asthma. Others reported other bronchial issues.

While I don’t have asthma, I do have severe allergies to dust mites, mold, and cats. I am not sure if that is related to the abuse or not.

Ironically, my son is the one who has asthma in our family, and he has not been abused in any way. However, his birth mother smoked during her pregnancy. (She did not discover she was pregnant until her third trimester, so she did not intentionally expose him to prenatal smoking.) There is a strong link between prenatal smoking and asthma, so I can’t say that this was a complete surprise.

I wonder if there is a direct link between child abuse and asthma or whether it ties into the lifestyle of many abusers. My most sadistic abusers smoked. Abusers use crutches to manage their issues, including harming children, so it would not surprise me to learn that a high percentage of child abusers smoke. If that is the case, then it could be the exposure to secondhand smoke that is the culprit rather than the abuse itself.

I would be curious to learn about additional studies on this topic.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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Scarecrow

I frequently receive emails asking if there is some sort of cult “holiday” approaching. Ritual abuse survivors often know intuitively when a cult holiday is approaching. Seemingly out of nowhere, the ritual abuse survivor starts dissociating more frequently and feeling an enormous amount of anxiety. Whenever this happens to me, I try to remember to look at the calendar.

For example, if you suffered from ritual abuse and have been feeling out of sorts lately, it might be because the Fall Equinox is approaching (September 21). Cults often “celebrate” the changing of the seasons, so many ritual abuse survivors become triggered by the approach of the Spring and Fall Equinoxes as well as the Summer and Winter Solstices.

Any holiday that is meaningful to Christianity is often desecrated by the cult on the same days, so ritual abuse survivors often find themselves triggered by the coming of Christmas and Easter. Just about any holiday can be triggering for abuse survivors, but the triggering by Christmas and Easter is often much more severe.

And then there is Halloween, which can be extremely triggering to ritual abuse survivors. I continue to be triggered by seeing people walking around in black robes. Even though I know they are only children, just seeing the robes causes me to dissociate.

Another day that is often triggering to a ritual abuse survivor is the person’s birthday. Reaching different milestones in age (such as ages 6 or 9) often involved more severe abuse, so birthdays can be triggering.

If you want to see a list of cult holidays, get Chrystine Oksana’s book, Safe Passage to Healing. She provides a detailed list of occult holidays for paganism, witchcraft, and Satanism.

Also, keep an eye out for the full moon. I continue to get triggered the night before a full moon. No matter how well I have been sleeping all month, I am guaranteed to toss and turn on the night before the full moon.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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This week, I have been writing about Senate Bill 1738, also known as the Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2008, which Oprah profiled on her show on Monday. To me, it was such a no-brainer to pass this bill, so I have been taken aback by all of the controversy surrounding Senate Bill 1738 and the Oprah show.

Apparently, the Democrats and Republicans have decided to get into a p@$$ing match over whose version of the bill will be passed into law. People are pointing out that Oprah supports Senate Bill 1738, Barak Obama, and Joe Biden.

Let me be clear – I am a card-carrying Republican, so nobody can make those claims about me. However, that is going to change if the Republicans vote down Senate Bill 1738 as part of their political agenda. I cannot and will not support a party that sacrifices our children for their own political agenda.

According to Oprah Criticized for Senate Bill 1738, Unrelated to GOP Boycott, the Democrats are trying to bundle Senate Bill 1738 (which was submitted by Senator Joe Biden) with a bunch of unrelated legislation that the Republicans will not support. Meanwhile, Senator Tom Colburn M.D. worked with Senator John McCain to write a similar bill, Senate Bill 3344, called the Securing Adolescents from Exploitation-Online (SAFE) Act of 2007, which was also voted down. So, we have both parties sacrificing our country’s children for the sake of their own political agendas.

Abused children are not pawns in the big political game – they are children whose lives are a living hell, and it is apparently going to stay that way as the Democrats and Republicans are using abused children’s very deep pain to further their own political agendas. This makes me nauseous. Voters need to take a very strong stand that we will not sacrifice our children for their political posturing.

I did not need to watch the Oprah show to know how abused and exploited children are treated. I lived it.

++++ graphic sexual abuse and animal rape triggers ++++

I was eight years old. I was taken from my bed at night and driven to a remote location. I was stripped naked and laid down on a table under the stars in the woods. I was shivering, not only from the cold but from sheer terror. These people had already slaughtered my dog right in front of me and threatened to do the same to my sister if I ever told. I was not going to resist, especially with my sister present that night.

They brought out a dog – a tan boxer. They pulled my legs apart and invited the dog to rape me vaginally. It did. Cameras were clicking as the dog did this to me. I couldn’t see past the flashbulbs in the dark.

Who knows how many perverts saw those pictures? For all I know, they are still in circulation today. Nobody saved me from these people, and that was far from the only time I was photographed being sexually assaulted.

According to Oprah’s guest, he only has the manpower to follow up on 2% of the leads. He chooses the 2% by those that law enforcement is most likely to catch. My photographs were taken in the dark, not in a bedroom like the man discussed on Oprah’s show. My picture would have fallen in the 98% pile.

And, thanks to the Republicans and Democrats, that is where my picture would stay. While they pointed finger at each other and ultimately accomplished nothing, I would be pulled out of my bed at night again … and again … and again to be raped, tortured, and exploited on camera for perverts all over the world to view and use in their own sick fantasies.

The children who are being exploited daily cannot speak for themselves, but I can speak for them. Those children need to be saved. I don’t care if it costs $6.30 or $89.59 for a family of four, depending upon which version of the bill is voted into law. (See Oprah Criticized for Senate Bill 1738, Unrelated to GOP Boycott.) We need to save our children.

I was only eight years old when that dog raped me on camera. Isn’t saving an eight-year-old little girl from years of exploitation worth $100 a family? If it was your child being raped on camera, wouldn’t you pay $100 to save him or her?

Please write to your congressmen and tell them to pass a bill to enable law enforcement to stop child predators. I don’t care if they pass Senate Bill 1738 or Senate Bill 3344 – I just want one passed.

Hey, here’s a novel concept. How about working together for once and focusing on saving the children? I will be watching my Congressmen. If a child exploitation bill is not passed into law this year, I will be voting no to every single representative of mine who is running for reelection, regardless of party affiliation.

*** Updated 9/23/08 — See Update on the Protect Our Children Act for a way to help pressure the Senate into passing the legislation to protect children without having to get into party politics. We need to act fast. ***

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Photo Credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I watched Oprah’s show on Senate Bill 1738: Child Protection Act yesterday. All I can say is, “Wow!!” Good job, Oprah!!

Oprah knocked that ball right out of the park. I would not be surprised if Senators from all over the country have their inboxes and mailboxes flooded with support of Senate Bill 1738.

I did not know this when I wrote my post yesterday, but we really need the Senate to hear this bill before they recess at the end of the month. So, time is of the essence. Don’t wait – send a message to your senators today.

You can email your senators by going to this link. Select your state from the pull-down menu. The website will provide you with the contact information for both of your senators. You can send them a snail mail letter, place a phone call, or send them an email by clicking on the link. Just contact them!

Back to Oprah’s show – Nothing in what she shared surprised me due to all that I suffered as a child as well as the stories of other abuse survivors that I have heard over the years. However, I did hear “new” information about ways that some of these child predators groom the children for abuse.

Child predators provide one another with “how to” instructions for abusing children of different ages. They create sexually-explicit “training videos” in which they make cartoon characters do sexual acts between a child character and an adult cartoon character. It is really sick stuff.

One of Oprah’s guests was a man who invented a new software program that is very effective in tracking down child predators who distribute child pornography over the Internet. She also had three teenage girls on the show who were victims of the same predator. That predator was caught through this software. I think they said that the predator had posted over 800 photos and videos of child abuse involving multiple girls.

The man who tracks down predators through his software said that he only has the man power to follow up on around 2% of the leads. This is where Senate Bill 1738 comes into play. That bill would appropriate up to one billion dollars toward resources that focus exclusively on catching these child predators and saving those children.

Nothing can be done for me at this point in my life. I suffered from child pornography and severe abuse. Nobody saved me, but I can save someone else. My heart goes out to the children who are living in the middle of the h@#$ that I endured throughout my childhood. No child should have to live that way.

We child abuse survivors have been looking for a way to make a difference. This is one way to do it. Please, please, please click on this link and contact your senators today.

*** Updated 9/23/08 — See Update on the Protect Our Children Act for a way to help pressure the Senate into passing the legislation to protect children without having to get into party politics. We need to act fast. ***

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Be sure to watch today’s Oprah show. She is going to be exploring “Internet Predators: How Bad is It?” Here is the description of the episode from her website:

No one knows how bad it really is or [how] fast it spreads…it’s time we all found out. Online sex predators—we’ve got to change the law.

One issue she will be covering is a proposed change in the law. The Senate is considering Senate Bill 1738, which would appropriate millions of dollars toward fighting Internet kiddie porn. Here is a summary of the bill, which is also known as the Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2008:

A bill to establish a Special Counsel for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction within the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, to improve the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, to increase resources for regional computer forensic labs, and to make other improvements to increase the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute predators. – Govtrack.us

The statistics in the bill are disturbing but not surprising to me. The bill cites research by the Department of Justice, the University of New Hampshire, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that found that those arrested for possession of child pornography included the following:

  • 83% have images of children 6-12 years old
  • 39% have images of children 3-5 years old
  • 19% have images of children under the age of 3 years old

See Sec. 2 Findings under subsection (2) in Senate Bill 1738.

It gets worse.

The images and videos being trafficked typically depict sexual assaults that are both graphic and brutal. The same research indicates that 80 percent of known child pornography possessors have images of children being sexually penetrated and 21 percent have images depicting children bound, gagged, blindfolded, or ‘‘otherwise enduring sadistic sex.’’ Just 1 percent restricted their collecting to images of simple child nudity.

See Sec. 2 Findings under subsection (3) in Senate Bill 1738.

These people are not only taking nude photographs of children. They rape every orifice. They take pictures of children being sexually assaulted by animals. This type of abuse is not limited to older children. Very young children, even toddlers, are photographed experiencing this type of severe sexual abuse.

Every single person reading this blog needs to contact your senator in support of this bill. As someone who was once a victim of a kiddie porn ring, I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that we invest money in stopping these kiddie porn rings from continuing to hurt innocent children.

Kiddie porn has been a problem for decades, and it has only gotten worse. While the Internet has brought many positives into our lives, it has also enabled kiddie porn rings to more easily distribute their pornography. This needs to stop. The Combating Child Exploitation Act of 2008 is a good step in the right direction.

*** Updated 9/23/08 — See Update on the Protect Our Children Act for a way to help pressure the Senate into passing the legislation to protect children without having to get into party politics. We need to act fast. ***

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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