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Archive for April 23rd, 2009

I know I have mentioned this before, but I am going to revisit the issue. I hate security questions. You know the ones I am talking about – What is your mother’s maiden name? What street did you live on as a child? Yes, I understand the need for them, but can’t at least some of them have something to do with the present and not the past? How about What is your favorite color? or What is your favorite TV show?

I recently went to my cell phone provider to renew my plan. Part of the process involves choosing a security question. The choices are just awful for a child abuse survivor:

  • What is your mother’s maiden name? You mean the maiden name of the woman who raped me throughout my elementary years?
  • On what street did you live as a child? You mean the street in which I was tortured throughout my childhood?
  • What was the name of your childhood pet? You mean the dog that was slaughtered right in front of me?

Why would I possibly want to think about this horrible trauma whenever I need to inquire about an issue with my cell phone? Why should I have to think about these awful memories to access my bank account?

Yes, I understand that not every person on the planet has suffered childhood trauma like I have, but quite a few have been abused. I have seen statistics as high as 1 in 3 women and 1 in five men. That is a lot of people who don’t want to think about their mother’s maiden name, childhood home, or first pet whenever they need to access information about their accounts. There has got to be a better way to offer security without having to retraumatize the customer.

Fortunately, some places do have other questions that are not as upsetting to me. I like the ones that ask about my high school mascot or the name of my first school. Those memories do not bother me. I just don’t want to talk about my family every time I access my accounts.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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